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In my previous article, I introduced the idea that modern changes in wheat processing may change the makeup of wheat, making it more immune-stimulating.

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The prevalence of celiac disease is estimated to have increased two- to four-fold over the last 50 years. But why? What’s behind the sudden rise in celiac disease and non-celiac wheat sensitivity?

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Have you tried every diet in the book, spent hundreds — or even thousands — on weight loss products, specialized foods and fitness products, only to find you’re right back where you began? Maybe you lost a few pounds here and there, but never found a diet plan that really worked for you, and eventually gained back any weight you’d lost.

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You may have seen the recent USA Today article, Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy, based on a statement released by the American Heart Association advising Americans to replace saturated fat (as is found in coconut oil) with omega-6 rich polyunsaturated fatty acids from vegetable oils. The article quickly went viral on social media, causing a panic among natural foodies, crunchy moms and those who’ve used coconut as a substitute for vegetable oil and other cooking oils.

But here’s why I don’t want you to panic about coconut oil. Coconut oil is an absolutely healthy fat especially when eaten on a low carbohydrate diet.

When coconut oil is added to a healthy whole foods-based, low-carbohydrate diet, you will see an improvement in your lipid profile over time.

The USA Today article calls coconut oil out for raising the LDL (a.k.a. “bad”) cholesterol levels in seven out of seven controlled trials. But the reality is that on their own, high cholesterol levels are a poor predictor of cardiovascular risk. In fact, the most recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee no longer considers dietary cholesterol a nutrient of concern, given that there is "no appreciable relationship between dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol or clinical cardiovascular events in general populations,” so cholesterol content should not deter you from consumption of saturated fat. (Mozaffarian & Ludwig, 2015)

Low cholesterol has also been indicated as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, suicide, homicide, accidental deaths, and morbid depression. Other research has shown that women with a total cholesterol below 195 mg/dL have a higher risk of mortality compared to women with higher total cholesterol. (Petrusson, Sigurdsson, Bengtsson, Nilsen, & Getz, 2012).

Saturated fats are only a concern when eating with highly refined carbohydrates as in the Standard American Diet.

The saturated fat in coconut oil isn’t all bad for you, either. In fact, recent data in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which compiled data from 21 studies including more than 340,000 people who were followed for an average of 14 years, concluded that there is no clear relationship between the consumption of saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. (Siri-Tarino, Sun, Hu, & Krauss, 2010)

A high-fat diet may actually reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance. A trial published in the American Journal of Nutrition in 2016 showed that eating a high-fat diet improved biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk and insulin resistance. (Veum et al., 2016) Replacing proteins and carbohydrates (sugar, wheat, etc) with healthy fats, including coconut oil, may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. There is little evidence that a low-fat-high-carb diet aids in the prevention of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes or obesity. (Mozaffarian & Ludwig, 2015)

The consumption of extra virgin coconut oil has been demonstrated to significantly reduce body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference and produce significant increases in concentrations of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in patients with coronary artery disease. (Cardoso et al., 2015)

While coconut oil certainly isn’t as unhealthy as the USA Today article claims, it must be consumed in moderation with an otherwise healthy diet. If you simply add coconut oil into your Standard American Diet, you will not see the potential health benefits coconut oil has to offer.

Read more about coconut oil and its benefits here.

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Too much stress in your life doesn’t just affect your mental well being, it wreaks havoc on your body and could lead to symptoms mirroring those of hypothyroidism.

Types of Stress

Stress comes in a number of ways, some impacting us more than others and at different times in our lives. At some point in time, most of us will experience stress in some (or all) of these forms:

  • Financial stress

  • Relationships

  • Schedules

  • Commutes

  • Raising children

  • The stock market

  • Skipping meals

  • Living a “western” lifestyle

There are other factors not commonly considered when people think of “stress” which also burden the adrenal glands. Fluctuating blood sugar is the most common way that adrenal dysfunction and high or low cortisol can wreak havoc on the body’s metabolism by causing hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Other common factors that stress the adrenals are dysbiosis, food intolerances (especially gluten), chronic infections and autoimmune issues, environmental toxin and inflammation.

Stress and Your Body

The adrenals are two glands that are about the size of your thumbnail that sit atop the kidneys. They secrete hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones are responsible for our body’s response to stress. Adrenal fatigue is the name given to a poorly working adrenal gland in response to mental, emotional or physical stress.

Common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and waking up

  • Mood swings

  • Frequent illness and susceptibility to colds and flues

  • Irritability or lightheadedness between meals

  • Sugar and caffeine cravings

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Eating to relieve fatigue

  • Dizziness when moving from sitting or lying to standing

  • Gastric ulcers

Poor functioning adrenals can cause hypothyroid symptoms without any problem in the thyroid gland itself. In such cases, treating the thyroid is both unnecessary and ineffective and addressing the adrenals themselves is the key to improving thyroid function. Many times, people, especially women, have been treated with thyroid hormones only to have no relief of their symptoms of weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, insomnia, etc.

Adrenal stress can also impact thyroid function more direct ways, including the following five mechanisms:

Promotes Autoimmunity by Weakening Immune Barriers — The digestive tract, lungs and the blood-brain barrier are the primary immune barriers in the body. They prevent foreign substances from entering the bloodstream and the brain. Adrenal stress weakens these barriers and promotes poor immune system regulation. When these immune barriers are porous large proteins and other antigens like lipopolysaccharides are able to pass into the bloodstream or brain where they don’t belong. The immune system gets keyed up and we become more prone to autoimmune diseases.

Disrupts the HPA Axis — Studies have shown that the inflammatory cytokines (messengers) IL-1 beta, IL-6 and TNF-alpha, which are released during the stress response, down-regulate the HPA-axis and reduce levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). So your body doesn’t make as much thyroid hormones.

Reduces Conversion of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (active thyroid hormone) — 93% of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland is T4, in inactive thyroid hormone that must be converted into T3 before it can be used by the cells. The inflammatory cytokines from adrenal stressors disrupt the hypothalmus-pituitary-adrenal gland (HPA ) axis, they also interfere with the conversion of T4 to T3 in peripheral tissues such as the liver and the gut. Inflammatory cytokines have been shown to suppress the conversion of T4 to T3. In fact, inflammatory cytokines have been shown to suppress thyroid receptors on the cells making the thyroid hormones ineffective at increasing cellular activity. While there’s no practical way to measure receptor site sensitivity in a clinical setting, the research suggests thyroid receptor messaging is decreased in autoimmune and other inflammatory conditions.

Causes Other Hormonal Imbalances — Cortisol is released by the adrenals during the stress response. Prolonged cortisol elevations, caused by chronic stress, decrease the liver’s ability to detox excess estrogens from the blood. Excess estrogen increases thyroid binding globulin (TBG), the proteins that thyroid hormone is attached to as it’s transported through the body, making the hormone inactive. TBG is like a cab that drives the hormone around. When it is not functional, the thyroid hormone cannot get out of the cab. Other drugs can also increase elevated TBG including birth control pills and estrogen replacement.

What Do You Do If You Have Poor Adrenal Function?

Adrenal stress is caused by many factors from diet, lifestyle and psychological stress to immune issues, dybiosis and inflammation. When these conditions exist, they must be addressed or any attempt to support the adrenals directly will either fail or be only partially successful.

General guidelines for adrenal health:

  • Stabilize blood sugar via a balanced paleo or ketogenic diet

  • Practice stress management and relaxation techniques

  • Avoid dietary causes of inflammation – food intolerances, Omega 6 fats, processed foods

  • Have fun, laugh and make pleasure a regular part of your life

  • Take adequate intake of Omega 3 fats DHA & EPA

  • Additional nutritional supplementation of phosphatidylserine and adaptogenic herbs like Siberian ginseng, Ashwagandha, Rholdiola and Holy basil leaf extract are also helpful in supporting the adrenal glands

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Individuals dealing with skin cancer have options when it comes treatment. There are both conventional skin cancer treatments, as well as natural methods for treating skin cancer available.

Let’s take a look at the options.

Conventional Skin Cancer Treatments

The National Cancer Institute recommends five different types of standard skin cancer treatments, including:

• Surgery – cut the tumor out
• Chemotherapy – poison the tumor
• Radiation therapy – burn the tumor
• Photodynamic therapy – drug and laser light therapy to kill cancer cells
• Biologic therapy – using the immune system to fight cancer

In many cases, these treatment options can have extreme side effects and actually damage the immune system and increase the likelihood of treatment-induced infections such as pneumonia or Candidiasis or increased risk of metastasis because the immune system can no longer monitor and control abnormal cell growth.

Natural Treatment Options

While conventional skin cancer treatments can be effective (though not without some risk), some patients may benefit from homeopathic skin cancer treatments, such as using natural essential oils with cancer fighting properties. These include: frankincense, myrrh, black raspberry seed and eggplant extract oils.

Frankincense Oil – Frankincense oil has been used for thousands of years as a treatment for health concerns. There are 17 active agents in most frankincense species and researchers have set out to determine which ones exactly target which type of tumors. Several (major) clinical studies have been recently published proving its ability to kill various cancers including breast, bladder and skin tumors. There are 17 active agents in most frankincense species and researchers have set out to determine which ones exactly target which type of tumors. (Source)

Myrrh Oil – Myrrh oil has also been used for thousands of years as a treatment. Two studies show myrrh may kill certain cancer cells, including: prostate cancer, breast and skin cancer cells. (Source)

Black Raspberry Seed Oil – Black raspberry seed oil has immune boosting properties and may target the tumor itself. (Source)

Eggplant Extract – According to a study published in Cancer Letters, a cream with a 10% concentration of solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides (BEC) – a phytochemical extracted from eggplant – has been clinically proven as an effective treatment for keratosis, basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, selectively killing cancer cells without harming normal cells.

How to Apply these Oils

A great way to get all the healing benefits of each of these treatments is to make your own skin ointment blend, using 100% pure essential oils.

Combine:
5 mL of Frankincense oil
5 mL of Myrrh oil
5 mL of Black Raspberry oil
1 Tbsp organic eggplant extract cream

Directions: Apply your treatment on the affected area twice a day or as needed.

If you have sensitive skin, or allergies, then I recommend testing any skin treatment first.

Before you apply to your skin, place a small drop of each oil on the inside of your arm and let sit overnight.

If you show no redness, then you should be clear to use these oils topically.

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How you eat and the personal care products you use can have a direct effect on your skin’s appearance and health. If you want to have clean, healthy skin and to reduce your risk for skin cancer, it’s time to clean up your diet and remove all toxins from your environment.

Use natural or organic cleaning products. Drink filtered water. Use non-chemical beauty products (especially avoid sodium laurel sulfate, propylene glycol, parabens, etc.) Check out the guide from Environmental Working Group to help you choose healthier skincare products. You can also try making your own skin care products out of natural elements (here are some recipes to start with).

Since cancer thrives in an acidic and toxic environment, it is important to remove any foods that increase inflammation in the body, including:

  • Processed foods

  • Refined sugars (corn syrup and artificial sweeteners)

  • Omega 6 vegetable oils like corn and soy oil

  • Fast food

What foods should you be eating for healthy skin?

  • Lots of healthy vegetables in a rainbow of colors.

  • Organic grass-fed meat and eggs

  • Wild-caught fish

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Healthy fats such as avocado, cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil, ghee or clarified butter

  • Fruits such as berries (blackberries, blueberries, goji berries, etc.)

Make it your goal to eat seven to nine servings (1/2 cup cooked or one cup raw) of fruits and vegetables each day.

Using skin healthy supplements can also help eliminate toxins in your body and reduce your risk of skin problems. Consider supplements such as:

Vitamin D — Ironically, one of the proven vitamins to combat cancer is also the one that you get from being in the sun! Take a supplement Vitamin D3 with MK7 (a form of vitamin K) to boost your immune system and help fight cancer.

Probiotics — Seventy-five percent of your immune system is in your gut and the probiotics are the stars that keep your gut healthy. When given the right nutrients, your immune system is designed to fight cancer. Taking a variety of soil-based and food-based probiotics is important to build up the culture in your intestines. We recommend Prescript-Assist by Ancient Minerals and a variety of other food-based probiotics such as UltraFlora Balance in our practice with great results.

Selenium — This mineral found in water, soil and some foods has been found to reduce the risk of death from skin cancer by 50 percent and using it resulted in 37 percent fewer malignancies according to a study published in the 1996 Journal of American Medial Association. Selenium supplements should be taken in moderation though. It is best to consume selenium from whole food sources like Brazil nuts, walnuts, free-range chicken or grass-fed beef.

Curcumin — A substance found in tumeric, curcumin has a long and storied past as a natural cancer cure. Several studies on cancer proved that curcumin is effective at killing cancer and preventing further cancer growth and metastasis. Studies have shown it to be effective against breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells.

Pancreatic (Proteolytic) Enzymes — Pancreatic enzymes taken between meals become proteolytic enzymes. This enzyme is released into your bloodstream to break down scar tissue and clean up debris and old cells. In a cancer patient, the pancreas may not be able to keep up with the demand to create enough enzymes to digest the protein-based cell walls of cancer cells. Studies in 1981 showed that enzyme treatment was shown to be extremely effective in reducing the symptoms of cancer and helping to reverse it.

Stay tuned for our next article on skin cancer treatments.

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Here are five key reasons today’s food contains fewer nutrients than the food of past generations:

1. Monoculture farming (the practice of growing a single crop on a very large scale) over crop rotation has depleted the soil of key nutrients.

2. The Agri-business companies harvest early before the produce has ripened and really assimilated all the nutrients from the soil.

3. Selecting limited food crops for ideal flavor but not variety and nutritional content.

4. More toxins in our food (pesticides, preservatives and even BPA).

5. Environmental chemicals in our air (pesticides, herbicides), skin care, hair products and toothpaste.

Adequate nutrition — including: vitamins, minerals, amino acids, phytonutrients and essential fats like omega 3s — is essential to the body’s detoxifying process. Increased toxin load in our environment and diet means more need for more nutrients. Lack of nutrition means lack of ability to detoxify. Our bodies simply cannot keep up.

When the body cannot keep up with the detox process, toxins bioaccumulate, leading to illness and disease, such as cancer. When we have less nutrition from our food, we have less capacity to detox. According to a study published in Scientific American, “Workers who apply certain pesticides to farm fields are twice as likely to contract melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer…The findings add to evidence suggesting that frequent use of pesticides could raise the risk of melanoma. Rates of the disease have tripled in the United States in the last 30 years, with sun exposure identified as the major cause.” These chemicals are used in the United States on a variety of crops, including nuts, vegetables and fruits.

So could it be that skin cancer is from toxin exposure and the sun is actually helpful. Vitamin D is cancer protective. So therefore, sun exposure without getting burned would be cancer protective.

When you eat food that is low in nutritional value and high in inflammatory Omega-6s and your body is forced to manage toxins we were not designed to detoxify, then your body becomes toxic, and full of free radicals. It becomes inflamed, and acidic which is the prime environment for cancer.

What is Skin Cancer?

Healthy cells in our body grow and then at a prescribed time, the cell replicates and then dies in a process called apoptosis. Cancer occurs when cells abnormally grow and no longer get the “die” message. Skin cancer occurs when the skin cells begin to abnormally grow. Any abnormal growth of skin cells is considered skin cancer, but only two are considered malignant.

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What are the Types of Skin Cancer?

There are three primary types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and is relatively harmless. This type of skin cancer often appears as red patches, shiny bumps or scars. It is estimated that up to 3.0 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed each year. Basal cell carcinoma is usually benign because it rarely metastasizes (spreads) past the original tumor site.

Squamous cell carcinoma is a malignant type of cancer and occurs when upper layers of the skin become mutated and abnormal cells start to grow uncontrollably. Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma include open sores or scaly red patches that can also bleed or crust. Squamous cell carcinoma has a raised boarder pattern and a small hole in the middle. It’s been reported that 700,000 cases are diagnosed each year resulting in 2,500 deaths.

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of malignant and potentially fatal skin cancer. Melanomas skin cancer symptoms are bumps or patches that resemble moles and are usually black or brown with irregular borders. However, they can be blue, pink, red, white or even skin-colored. If detected early, melanomas are generally curable. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanomas “develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells…triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.”

The ABCDE’s of Skin Cancer Symptoms

These five keys of skin cancer symptoms can help you recognize skin cancer early.

Asymmetry — Moles are usually round in shape. Draw a line through the middle of the mole or lesion on your skin. The two halves should be even or symmetrical. If the mole is not symmetrical this is a sign that the tumor may be malignant.

Border — Non-malignant tumors will typically have a smooth, regular border. The border of an early melanoma will generally be uneven or jagged.

Color — A mole has only one color. Melanomas often have color variation of shades of black, brown, and tan. They may also be blue, red and other colors.

Diameter — As a rule of thumb, non-malignant skin cancers are smaller than ¼ inch in diameter. Melanomas are usually larger in diameter, so keep an eye on anything that is larger.

Evolving — If the mole changes in color, elevation, size, or shape and bleeding, crusting and itching are signs that you should have the mole checked.

Not all cancers fit the ABCDE’s. Other symptoms of skin cancer include: pigmented patches or growths that grow beyond their border, redness, swelling, tenderness, pain or sensitivity in a bump or mole.

It is important to take note of any new skin spots or growths, and consult with your doctor for any moles, freckles, or spots that seem different from the others.

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Here are the current stats on skin cancer reported in the media:

  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

  • Almost 90 percent of melanomas can be linked to sun exposure and ultraviolet (UV) radiation, usually from sunburns not just from sun exposure.

  • Regular daily use of sunscreen (SPF 15+) reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.

  • One person dies of melanoma every hour.

But are these claims completely true? Skin cancer rates are increasing despite sunscreen use and despite the fact that more people are spending time indoors rather than outdoors. So what gives?

Here are some truths you need to know about skin cancer:

  • The sun does NOT cause skin cancer.According to the British Journal of Dermatology, studies have already disproven this theory as it has been discovered that most skin cancer did not develop from areas or freckles created by sun exposure.

  • We need vitamin D to live, and regular full body sun exposure is the healthiest way to synthesize Vitamin D. Our cannot make vitamin D without sun exposure. According to the Environmental Working Group research: “Every major public health authority — the FDA, National Cancer Institute and International Agency for Research on Cancer — has concluded that the available data do not support the assertion that sunscreens alone reduce the rate of skin cancer.”

  • Many sunscreens are filled with toxic chemicals that have been linked to skin cancer. Even the best sunscreens pose certain risks.

So if sunscreen does not protect against cancer, then what does? The first question we all should be asking is this: is the rise in skin cancer caused by the sun?

Could it be that the changes in our nutrition, diet and foods or environmental factors such as bioaccumulation of toxins from body care products, sunscreen and other pollutants are the real cause of the rise in skin cancer?

The good news is there are many options available to reduce your risk of bioaccumulation of toxins and overall risk. It is first important to know what toxins contribute to skin cancer, what skin cancer is, the five skin cancer symptoms, and natural aids to your skin’s health. These topics will be covered in my next few blog posts. So stay tuned!