Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gluten: Friend or foe?

Gluten: Friend or Foe?

I get asked this question a lot; “Are we more intolerant to gluten now or have diseases like celiac’s and gluten sensitivity finally just made it mainstream and so we are more aware of gluten?”
I think the answer is twofold, but a lot of the intolerances to gluten have been fairly recent due to the way grains like wheat are grown and farmed now. 

Dr. Monroe says, “The wheat we have now is different than what it used to be.  It’s a hybridized version. Wheat was about 4.5 feet tall and would fall down in bad weather so a lot of the crops were wasted.  In the hybridization process, they now have dwarfed wheat that is much higher in gluten and they have found a bunch of new proteins that weren’t in the original wheat.  The human body is having trouble dealing with those new proteins and higher gluten content.  I truly believe that’s what happening now.  The autism rate is skyrocketing as well (from this and immunizations).”

In addition, it’s almost impossible to avoid.  I’ve just discovered I’m gluten intolerant (non-celiac) and was already sensitive to wheat and corn.  It isn’t a huge adjustment because of that, but I have to be more careful now when eating out, buying packaged foods, or at social gatherings.  It really limits what you can consume…not to mention beer!

My general rule: stick with food you cooked yourself, healthy staples like vegetables, meats, fruit, and food in its original form. If you need a bakery fix: Rice flour works amazingly as a flour substitute.  When I bake, people can’t tell the difference.  Unfortunately for me, gluten-free baked goods sold in stores still contain ingredients that bother my stomach- tapioca starch, corn, maltodextrin, xanthan gum, and corn starch are all commonly used, so watch out if you think this may be a problem for you.  If it's not, there are several stores and bakeries in the area offering options for you.

Dr. Monroe offers allergy testing in her office- no needles, pricks, or blood tests involved.  Contact her if you think you might be suffering from a gluten sensitivity, IBS, celiac disease, or just have questions. 916-448-9927 or  She is located in Sacramento, CA.

·    Contact us if you have any questions!! We're no strangers to gluten sensitivity and would be happy to help.

 -                  -Briana & Dr. Mom 

Some history about the changes in wheat:
In 1943, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (IMWIC) began to help Mexico achieve agricultural self-sufficiency.  This grew into a worldwide effort to increase the yield of corn, soy, and wheat.  Hybridization took over soon, and many different strains of wheat were being planted and harvested. 
By 1980, thousands of new strains of wheat had been produced.  These new varieties were geared towards making the plant resistant to environmental conditions, developing a greater resistance to pathogens (such as fungus), and an increased yield per acre (tenfold greater than farms of a century ago).
The increased yield meant top heavy plants.  Grain losses occurred as plants could not withstand the weight.  Due to this, manipulation occurred to produce a smaller “dwarf” variety of wheat.
There are numerous farms which grow and harvest wheat, however these are not available on the commercial market. 
Despite these increases in crop yield, no animal or human safety testing had been conducted on these new strains of wheat.  Geneticists were confident that hybridization yielded safe products for human consumption.  Products were released into the market, unquestioned.  The assumption was that altered protein structures, enzyme qualities, and gluten content would have no human consequence. 
It was later discovered that wheat gluten had the most significant changes with hybridization. 
Upon comparison of two parent strains of wheat, 95% of the proteins expressed in the offspring are same, 5% are unique, found in neither parent.  When compared to century-old strains of wheat, gluten proteins associated with celiac disease were found in higher quantities.   

New, never-before-seen gluten proteins are now being discovered which are foreign to the body.  Some estimates suggest that the hybridization and genetic engineering of wheat has resulted in an up to 500 fold increase in wheat gluten produced today.  This may be one of the primary reasons behind the massive rise in incidence of wheat gluten intolerance and celiac disease in recent decades.       

  •         More than 99% of wheat crops are now “dwarfed,” growing to only 18” tall.
Non-hybridized wheat grows naturally to 4.5 feet tall.
  •        New proteins are forming which the body is unfamiliar with.

(*Information courtesy of DiagnosTechs Gastrointestinal Health Panel, 2012)

Additional resources:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is allergy season already upon us…?

So many of us suffer from allergies, especially in the Sacramento valley.  It's winter, but for most of us, it's not too early to start thinking about the upcoming allergy season.  Read on...

Dr. Monroe says:
“I’d like to remind people that this is the beginning of allergy season and the pollen count is already up for the season.  As an example from last week, the pollen count was 4.8 based on a 1-12 scale. The predominant pollen was alder.  The following day, pollens dropped down to 2.8.  Tree pollens are already beginning for the season!

Now is the time I would recommend to my patients to come in to the office and pick up some Zone 9 so that we can prepare for a possibly rough allergy season like last year.  When we don't have enough cold weather, the pollen is even worse than it was the previous season. 

Just want to prepare people and to help facilitate taking care of yourselves!

*Zone 9 is a homeopathic allergy treatment that is equivalent to taking shots in that it slowly allows your body to tolerate grasses, trees, and weeds.  Zone 9 is a specific product for this area that has somewhere around 150 of the major grasses, trees and weeds of the Sacramento Valley and it's one that will help desensitize you so that you can tolerate the pollens when they increase in your surroundings.”

Dr. Monroe’s office is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:30am to 4:30pm.  She is located in East Sacramento at 5025 J Street, Suite 205, or you can call her office for more information: 916-448-9927.

Pollen & Mold Levels from the National Allergy Bureau, a service of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Station:  Roseville, CA
Allergy Medical Group of the North Area
Date of Pollen and Mold Count: 01/16/2013

Pollen & Mold Summary
Trees: Moderate Concentration
Weeds: Absent
Grass: Absent
Mold:  Low Concentration

My husband and I both have animal allergies and can attest to a similar desensitizing treatment for animal dander.  We have both noticed far less sneezing, itching, and rashes associated with the animals we have and are very thankful to have gotten the treatment from my (Dr.) mom.
Be healthy and take advantage of the resources that having a Naturopathic Doctor close by can provide to you!
-Briana & Dr. Mom 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Cheer: Alcohol & The Holidays

The holidays are upon us again and we need not be reminded that it also poses many a temptation to compromise our health: the goodies, drinking, late nights and stress.
A new study done by Rutgers University helps us remember that, while moderate drinking can help our cardiovascular health, there is a fine line between having a few…and a few too many.
So we aren't telling you not to enjoy your holidays, but keep in mind your friends upstairs (also known as your nerves and brain cells) and go easy on them this holiday.

Read the findings here:

Take care of yourself this holiday and enjoy your holiday treats in moderation!
Briana & Dr. Mom Naturopath

More here:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Your Health, Your Vote, & GMO

It’s that time of year again- politicians are at each other’s throats with false promises for the American people.  But here’s something on the ballot regarding health that’s important not only to California voters, but nationwide. 

Most people don't have the time or care to research all the ins and outs of each measure on the ballot.  Here’s the short of it, a study done on GMO corn and why we should have the right to know.

 "First-Ever Lifetime Feeding Study Finds Genetically Engineered Corn Causes Massive Tumors, Organ Damage, and Early Death"
September 22, 2012
By Dr. Mercola

  * A two-year long French feeding study designed to evaluate the long-term health effects of a genetically engineered corn found that rats fed Monsanto’s maize developed massive breast tumors, kidney and liver damage, and other serious health problems. The major onslaught of diseases set in during the 13th month.
    * Female rats that ate genetically engineered corn died 2-3 times more than controls, and more rapidly, while the male GE-fed rats had tumors that occurred up to a year-and-a-half earlier than rats not fed GE corn.
    * According to results from a 10-year long feeding study on rats, mice, pigs and salmon, genetically engineered feed causes obesity, along with significant changes in the digestive system and major organs, including the liver, kidneys, pancreas, genitals and more.
    * The EPA admits there’s “mounting evidence” that Monsanto’s insecticide-fighting YieldGard corn is losing its effectiveness in the Midwest. Last year, rootworms resistant to the toxin in the genetically designed corn infested fields in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska.
    * Genetically engineered foods are responsible for development of resistant weeds and pests; increased pathogenic virulence; degradation of soil quality; reduced nutrient content in food; exponential rise in infertility and birth defects; reduced crop yields, and more...

"Passing Prop 37 is Key to Expanding Sustainable Agriculture in North America.
Nestle has donated nearly $1.17 million to the "No on 37 Coalition," which is working to prevent the labeling of GE foods in California. So much for listening to consumers...
   "Although many organic consumers and natural health activists already understand the importance of Proposition 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Foods Act, it cannot be overemphasized that winning the battle over Prop 37 is perhaps the most important food fight Americans – not just Californians – have faced so far. Once food manufacturers can no longer label or market GE-tainted foods as "natural" or "all-natural," and once all GE ingredients are clearly marked, millions of consumers will demand non-GE alternatives, and organic and non-GE food sales will dramatically increase.
    But in order to win this fight for the right to know what's in our food, we need your help, as the biotech industry will surely outspend us by 100 to 1, if not more, for their propaganda.
    It's important to realize that getting this law passed in California would have the same overall effect as a national law, as large companies are not likely going to label their products as genetically engineered when sold in California (the 8th largest economy in the world), but not when sold in other states. Doing so would be a costly PR disaster. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can, regardless of what state you live in.
Including the European Union, approximately 50 countries currently require labeling of GE foods (CTRTK, 2012).  Unfortunately, the United States (US) is not one of these countries. You don’t have to be for or against genetically modified foods to do so.  Proposition 37 will mandate only the right to know when we are consuming a genetically modified food product.  Protect your right to choose what you put in your body. Vote yes on Prop 37.

Happy voting!

*A recent, thought-provoking article on Big Food vs. The Food Movement.  CLICK HERE.
*Some biology basics of GMO.  CLICK HERE.
*Corn by Any Other Name: A related post about corn and what products contain corn byproducts.  CLICK HERE. 
*Support California's YES ON 37 initiative, CLICK HERE.

Friday, October 5, 2012

What's in a Sunscreen?

There's a chill starting in the air, summer is finally on its way out. But before we swap our sandals for sweaters, there's still a few more barbecues and summer sunscreen days left to make a healthy switch.  But not all sunscreens are created equal, even ones that are sold under so-called “natural” brand names.

$800 million is spent on sunscreen annually and there are more than 1,800 sunscreens on the market today.  It’s no surprise that the Food & Drug Administration has failed to protect consumers from harmful chemicals & additives and allows misleading labels on food products, cosmetics, and household products, but rarely have I thought of sunscreen as being one of those products.  I have always thought I was lucky to remember sunscreen to prevent skin cancer on those all day fun in the sun days, not worried about what was in that sunscreen.

Enter the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetics Database.

The cosmetics database website was made to help you figure out what's in your beauty products, including your sunscreen.  Peruse it the next time you're scouring the sunscreen aisles but want a healthy option for you and your family to slather on.  It includes moisturizers, cosmetics, lotions, and sunscreen.

Some of the best sunscreens for 2012?  Click here to see a list of the best beach and sport sunscreens listed as safe for you and your family.

Want to know more about the sunscreens you already have?  Click here to search by name in their research database. 

Worried about your kids?  They include a list of children’s sunscreens that don’t make the grade

There’s even an app for that!  Download the sunscreen buyer’s guide in iTunes here. 

I gotta say, I’m looking forward to having Fall this year…but next time I purchase sunscreen, I’ll be brushing up on the EWG’s database first.

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy this sun while it lasts! :-)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Awww Nuts!: Food for Thought

We know nuts are good for us, but here’s a tidbit about nuts you may not know.  Raw nuts are better for you because roasting at high temperatures causes the oils to turn into harmful substances.  Re-sharing a post on the topic:

Raw Organic Nuts Vs. Roasted: Which Is Better for You?

By now, you probably realize that nuts are good for you. Yes, they’re high in calories, but they’re also loaded with monounsaturated fats which help to improve your lipid profile and decrease your risk of heart disease. You should be getting more nuts; but instead of turning to roasted nuts, as most people do, you may want to consider the health benefits of raw organic nuts.
What advantage do raw organic nuts have over roasted ones? One area of considerable concern with regard to roasted nuts is the issue of acrylamides. Acrylamides are chemicals formed when certain foods containing the amino acid asparagine are heated to a high temperature. The problem with acrylamides is they’ve been shown to cause cancer in animals and are strongly believed to be carcinogenic in humans. The majority of nuts contain enough asparagine that when roasted to high temperatures they form significant amounts of these cancer causing chemicals.
The way to avoid the formation of dangerous acrylamides is to eat raw organic nuts rather than the roasted variety. This is particularly true of almonds which generally form higher levels of acrylamides than do other roasted nuts. The hazelnut is a nut with lower levels of asparagines so it’s least likely to form high levels of acrylamides.
There’s also some question as to whether heating nuts to high temperatures alters the healthy fats that make them so beneficial for the heart. Heat has the ability to cause changes in chemical bonds which may affect structures such as fats. High heat can also increase the formation of free radicals which have negative effects on the body by damaging DNA, the genetic material. These free radicals can also cause a reaction called lipid peroxidation which can injure the walls of blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease.
Obviously, it’s healthier to eat raw organic nuts that it is to eat nuts roasted to high temperatures. If you don’t like the taste of raw nuts, oneoption is to roast your own nuts at home using lower temperatures. Acrylamide formation doesn’t begin to occur until temperatures rise above 240 degrees Farenheit and free radicals generally don’t form until temperatures go above 170 degrees Farenenheit. Roasting your nuts in an oven where the temperature is kept at around 160 degrees Farenehit will give you that roasted nut flavor without destroying the health benefits.
After an initial adjustment period, you may find you enjoy the taste of raw organic nuts over roasted ones. You can pump up the flavor by adding herbs and spices such as garlic, curry, Italian seasoning, or onion powder. Don’t forget about making your own nut butter out of raw organic nuts. These taste so much better than store bought varieties and are far healthier. Enjoy exploring the world of raw organic nuts.

This week's re-post courtesy of the link below:

This article was news to me and my mom!  I'm going to the local store this week to find some raw nuts!  I'd love to hear your feedback on this or the topic of raw nuts.  E-mail us at drmomnaturopath(at)
Have a healthy week!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Adventures in raw & vegan food in Sacramento: The Green Boheme

I’m allergic to wheat, corn, and dairy.  I not only know how hard it is to eat healthy, I know how hard it is to eat in public with friends while avoiding the foods I’m allergic to.  I hate being “that customer” who inevitably has to ask what’s in every dish so as not to contaminate my meal.  And you know what?  Most of the time I don’t ask anymore, just suffer silently hours after I get home from this social meal.  It stinks. 

I have to preface this by saying I’m a meat eater.  I’m blood type O and frankly feel fantastic when I eat meat.  I’m not vegan, nor do I eat raw very often because my stomach is pretty finicky.  I love the environment, and I love meat.  I think I can have my cake (meat) and eat it too.

I have to admit, I was most excited to try their desserts. After all, I am a dessert first kinda gal and there are so few desserts left in the world I get to enjoy.  To my delight, there were several desserts to choose from, but I chose the berry something er other pie.  It was like a creamy pie with berries on top.  De-lish.  No dairy, no wheat, no corn, and definitely satisfied my sweet tooth.  I would come back for dessert alone.

Probably my biggest gripe about restaurants is that they either have good food or good dessert, and when they have good dessert they do not have anything I can ingest.  Problem fixed- go to The Green Boheme! 

I take it from our visit though, that they often improvise on ingredients and don’t always have the dish you ordered last time.  If you’re worried, call ahead to check. 

Our group also ordered the tostada, veggin’ out pizza, the pesto pizza (it’s been years since I had pizza!), and a lasagna dish.  Most dishes had a greens mixture on top, which was really fresh, and had some similar flavors.  I loved the sauce on the lasagna, and being able to pick up a “pizza” and eat it had been a thing of the past!  Others loved the sun-dried tomato flavors, freshness, and unique ingredients.  I’d pass on the hot chocolate next time.  It was overwhelmingly filled with cayenne pepper.

The end result was a rarity for me when I go out to eat: no stomach pains upon arriving at home. Due to my many food allergies, going out to eat usually ends in pain, no matter how careful I’ve been.  I will say that not everyone in our party had the same experience.  If you’re not used to eating raw, it can be challenging on the gut, which reiterates the fact that health and diet are not one size fits all.  My belly was pleased, my taste buds were tantalized, and the atmosphere was relaxed.

A week or so prior, Dr. Monroe was asked by The Green Boheme's owner and head chef, Brooke Preston, to try out the restaurant, which incited the repeat visit:

“She spent some time with us, sharing her knowledge and expertise of raw and vegan food.  She was extremely knowledgeable with different health conditions and foods that could be ingested for those conditions. 
The food was good, the flavors, the different textures.  I absolutely loved the blueberry crisp.  I couldn’t believe there was no dairy in anything, I had to keep asking!  The only thing I had to watch out for was corn in an occasional dish, but otherwise, everything was great!  I was really impressed with her knowledge and quality of the food.  Thank you for your hospitality and time, Brooke!”

I guess I’m my mother’s daughter with the blueberry crisp.  We’ll do dessert first next time.

They have several other offerings to the community: a 30-day raw food challenge, “cooking”classes, and lunchtime delivery service for those office folks who can’t get out for a healthy lunch.

If you've been to The Green Boheme or have any raw or vegan food suggestions, recipes, or comments, please share!  I’m especially excited to start preparing some raw desserts now that I’ve had a little flavor, love baking, and am experienced with alternative baking ingredients.  Maybe that will be a future post.

I will end with a quote that I thought particularly fitting, found framed in the bathroom of The Green Boheme (yes, I notice things like this):

I Am 
I was regretting the past
and fearing the future.
Suddenly, my Lord was speaking.
"My name is I Am."

He paused. I waited. He continued.

"When you live in the past,
with its mistakes and regrets,
it is hard. I am not there.
My name is not "I was."

When you live in the future,
with its problems and fears,
it is hard. I am not there.
My name is not "I will be."

When you live in this moment
it is not hard. I am here.
My name is "I AM."

By Helen Mallicoat

Have a wonderful weekend and try some vegan or raw food and let us know what you think- Comments welcome!  Questions can be sent to drmomnaturopath(at)