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Juicing for Health

Juicing for Health

Last year I wrote a couple pieces on nutrition in which I discussed the details around food sensitivities (and here). I have also explained the dietary universals—the aspects of nutrition applicable to all people; not just the nuances so often discussed by proponents of one dietary system over another. And while I do not discount the validity of many of these systems (vegan, raw food, Paleo and so forth), no one system is right for every person. So when I discuss universals, I mean, what you need to survive and thrive as a human being—nutritionally, hydrationally and environmentally (internal).

In this post I am going to discuss a powerful health practice from the context of maintaining and maximizing one of these universals—nutrition. The practice is juicing, and the benefit, in a nutshell, is receiving the maximal amount of nutrients in smallest quantity of food. I will tell you my personal experience with juicing—both as a youth and an adult—what I think is happening physiologically when we consume a high-nutrient food source, and why I think juicing as a practice is such a powerhouse for maintaining and optimizing nutritional health.

Child and Teen Nutrition

Child and Teen Nutrition

I have been juicing, in a sense, since I was a preteen. My mom did the juicing, but I was the recipient of the health benefits during my most formative developmental years. My mom would make many different blends, but carrot juice was always a staple. My teen years had the typical moments of poor food choices, and sometimes far more than I had been used to at a younger age. My mom was convinced that the juice would give me the “necessary nutrients,” and that she could feel at ease about my health, knowing full well how I was challenging it on my own accord. We ate well at home always: With my mom, it was top quality foods all the time—hearty, healthy and full of love. But I was drinking (booze), smoking (everything), and eating junk food on a regular basis, and so she just sensed that it would be the most protective health practice against the lifestyle I was leading.

As I entered adulthood, I would continue to have fresh juice occasionally, usually from a health food store (Erewhon Juice Bar, baby!), which can be expensive, and thus limited…but always when I was with my mom. She always had juicers at her place, multiple kinds at times, and it was simply a staple that she had gotten used to. However, my habit never picked up on its own until just recently.

It is no secret that I have had a number of digestive challenges over the last few years, and as a result, I have had to find the diet that works best for me. Again when I speak of diet, I am not speaking of the fad variety, but of a way of eating. I have already explained the certain food sensitivities I have, so I actually have a limited pool of foods that I can eat from comfortably. For this reason, I must have a way to get the maximal nutrients, otherwise I risk malnutrition.

Healthy Nutrition and Juicing Machines

Healthy Nutrition and Juicing Machines

Regular readers of this blog will remember that, three years ago last week, I purchased my first personal juicer—the Omega J8003 Juice Machine. I have been drinking fresh juice 4-6 times per week consistently ever since, and my experiences have been amazing! Because of the big bang of nutrients I get with each juicing, I have had to eat far less than what I’ve needed in the past, which has actually led to significant weight loss. Did I need to lose weight? No! But as a result of this habit, I have morphed into a new ‘healthy weight,’ shape and size…really impressive for a man whose age is considered the typical time of decline by conventional wisdom. But more importantly, my energy levels are at their tip-top, and here is what I think is happening:

As I discuss in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, poor nutrient intake is a very likely factor in overeating, weight gain and obesity. When the body needs nutrients it will do what it knows best: create the hunger response to ensure that more nutrients are brought in. It does not know which foods will actually be consumed, but the Innate Intelligence of the body will always work toward getting what it needs through its physiology, so the hunger response is an obvious tool it has to increase the chances of getting the necessary nutrients. I really started thinking about this concept when I had considered how many times I have eaten pizza in far larger quantities than I normally eat as a whole. I am sure many of you have had a similar experience: Three large slices of pizza consumed, yet three more could easily be put away, while that overfull, but still hungry feeling, persists. C’mon, you’ve done it, or you’ve seen someone else do it. And when it happens you think…how the heck did I just put away that entire large pizza?

Nutrition Education (explains why I could probably eat this whole thing)

Nutrition Education (explains why I could probably eat this whole thing)

I believe it is because the pizza, being high in calories—from dough to cheese to meats—yet low in nutrients (tomato sauce is not an adequate source of calories, nor are the multitudes of vegetables one can put on their pizza, although I am certain the more produce the better) that the body can go through hunger pangs despite the quantity of food consumed being large. And it doesn’t have to be pizza either—it can be any nutrient-poor meal, including some of the ones people regularly prepare at home. But of course this is all purely speculation, and as such I would need more information to solidify my suspicions about this physiological phenomenon.

Once I started juicing, however, I noticed that I needed less food overall. My hunger levels diminished, so that even the portions I consume at my regular (non-juice) meals have decreased significantly. Again, because of my diet, I have a somewhat narrower pool of food items from which to choose, those which my body responds to positively in vibrancy and smooth (functional) digestion. This parameter ends up making me a creature of habit, even more so than my natural tendencies. I am fortunate as well that I only eat when I feel hungry—no snacking or nervous/bored eating for me—which may seem like a no-brainer, but it is habit many people pick up, and consequently have a hard time shaking. So because of my habits of eating only when hungry and choosing from a small group of food items, I pretty much eat the same things every day—same breakfast and same basic lunch. And for dinner…well it’s a pint or two of fresh juice for me.

I only drink two different mixes of juice, which I alternate on successive juicing days. I make a carrot, apple, and ginger concoction, as well as something I call the Citrus Blast—orange, grapefruit and lemon. For my personal physiology—my nuanced physical body—the carrot concoction aids in my digestion, and gives me a quick burst of energy, while the Citrus Blast is a load of energy that might actually keep me up at night if I end up drinking it too late. This burst of energy is not a wiry caffeine-type of energy, but a pure, clean and unmistakable feeling within me. My body thrives on these juices.

Juicing Benefits

Juicing Benefits

I have noticed that when I am hungry at night a juice will usually satisfy it. Rarely do I require more food. Can you understand what this does for my calorie intake? It has been reduced significantly. So I get this blast of nutrients—vitamins C, A and some Bs from the citrus, while the carrot concoction provides vitamins A, C, K as well as potassium from the carrots, apples and ginger—which seems to be what my body loves, and this keeps me from having to eat larger quantities of food to provide the same amount of nutrients. As it turns out, the calories I receive from breakfast and lunch, along with those provided by the juice, is enough to power me through the night (most often spent doing mental work, which requires a higher carbohydrate load to power the brain. The carbohydrate dominant juice, then, balances the higher protein of my earlier meals).

Just think about what I get from each glass of juice:

Juicing Recipes:

Campos’ Carrot Concoction

  • 12-14 carrots (depending upon size)
  • 2 apples
  • ~ 4 oz ginger(maybe the size of a medium adult fist)

Campos’ Citrus Blast

  • 4 oranges
  • 2 grapefruits
  • 1 whole lemon
Juice Diet—more for less

Juice Diet—more for less

Look at how many fruits I would have to eat for an equivalence of nutrients. Granted, there are other benefits to eating the whole fruit, as proponents of eating whole fruits and vegetables so rightly point out—from fiber to bioflavonoids—but as far as getting optimal nutrients is concerned…well I am sure you can see where the advantage lies.

This is the power of juicing: A blast of nutrients, low calories, and a high propensity for curbing hunger make juicing a super-activity when it comes to nutritional health. Yes some in the health sciences try to refute many nutritional claims, citing lack of evidence as the rationale; and as I said in the beginning of this piece, I can only speculate because truth be told, the studies haven’t been done to answer some of these claims (although plenty of supportive evidence exists to the benefits of good nutrition in health and wellbeing). But I can assert confidently that neither is there evidence showing the harm of certain nutritional practices, and of which I am certain none will be found to implicate the practice of juicing as a detriment to anyone’s health. What this means for you, then, is that the proof is in the pudding. For a few pennies a day (in comparison to meals eaten outside of the home, including juices made at juice bars the cost of juicing at home is nominal), you can prove to yourself the power of juicing.

Juice: healthy food choices

Juice: healthy food choices

You are not bound by my nuances either—if you can handle greens, by all means, green it up. Berries, bananas, flax seed, you name it—juice whatever you’d like.  Just remember that the produce must be clean and fresh. You cannot be harmed by drinking fresh juices (unless you are diabetic). So for the cost…well, it’s a no-brainer to me: it’s so worth the try. A good juicer will run you about $200 (US). That’s a big fat “Duh!” from a middle-aged fart who has lost weight and increased his energy levels just by juicing.

Getting sufficient (if not optimal) nutrients at the most efficient calorie intake necessary for survival is a metabolic universal. Obviously the activity and lifestyle of the organism will dictate the most efficient levels. But in today’s modern world, where the ever-growing number of conveniences decreases our energy expenditures greatly, we would all benefit from packing the most nutrient-rich punch in the smallest amount of food possible…and for my money it’s fresh juices all the way. Try juicing—you’ll see soon enough.


food allergiesSeveral months ago I wrote a post on food sensitivities, and how I believe this ubiquitous human trait to be at the root of the inordinate amount of digestive disorders plaguing the US and much of the western world today. I would like to take this time to explain the process by which I believe food sensitivities move from a source of irritation, to symptoms, to chronic conditions, to frank diseases over time; and I will also discuss how this process is currently dealt with by the mainstream medical machine (your doctors). Once I am finished, I think you will clearly understand why I think this dynamic is what’s really leading to the explosion of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders in modern society.

As I have explained before, I believe that every person on this planet is sensitive to a variety of foods. These sensitivities differ from individual to individual. They can be as unique in their totality as the person possessing them. Some people are sensitive to nuts, some to dairy and others to shellfish—yes, your typical food allergens; the one’s that medical science recognizes and even tests for.

Berry + Walnut Salad with Strawberry Vinagrette (Copy)But some people are sensitive to foods that modern medicine would never consider causative agents in your typical GI disorders. Berries, melons, leafy green vegetables, chocolate, mint can all be disruptive to some people. I know—I happen to be sensitive to every one of these foods, each causing me symptoms that over time can become quite serious (I’ve done the research). And I have seen everything from chicken, to blueberries, to tomatoes cause symptoms in my children. Now while I believe that food sensitivities vary among people, I am quite certain that they follow a pattern of inheritance. One of my children definitely shares my sensitivities, while the other is similar to her mother, a food sensitivity body-type inheritance if you will.

I wish to be clear that I am not talking about food allergies here, which are a very distinct type of immune reaction to undigested proteins. The body sees these proteins as foreign and, as a result, goes on attack. This is precisely what medical science looks for when they do food allergy testing. The foods typically known to cause allergic reactions (some life threatening, like anaphylaxis) are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, shellfish, soy and wheat (the “big eight”).

Food sensitivities, however, are somewhat controversial among medical professionals (particularly in the UK and Netherlands), and thus do not show up on the radar of most medical doctors. Although I know a handful of rather open-minded and wise docs, I am certain that most shrug-off the notion that food sensitivities are primary causative factors to many GI symptoms epidemic in modern society. This is a big mistake.

Symptoms-of-Acid-Reflux

After consuming a food that one is sensitive to, the body can respond in a number of different ways. My observation is that there exists a sensitivity spectrum within each person, such that some foods will cause a worse reaction than others in a person. For instance, I can actually have a few berries here and there—a blessing as I absolutely love them—and an occasional green salad won’t bother me too much, despite the fact that I can barely digest lettuce (I’ll spare you from the gory details, but let’s just say my body removes it as quickly as possible). Too much of either, however, and I get heartburn (acid reflux) and watery stool respectively (Sorry! Some gory details are necessary). Pork is another food I must be cautious with. While I love salami, more than just a little leads to some serious heartburn for me, which can last as long as a few days. Chocolate, on the other hand, hits me hard: I’ve had multiple episodes of severe gastritis, which on at least one occasion had sent me to the ER, where I had my healthy appendix graciously removed (because the notion that food sensitivities might be leading to a severe case of gastritis just wasn’t in the playbook [read: consciousness] of the staff there).

All of these GI symptoms—from the minor to the severe—are simply the body’s attempt to remove an ingested food item that is acting like a poison to that body-type. I will admit, though, that I do not know the exact mechanism of the food sensitivity reactions. That will be for medical science to figure out once they finally acknowledge the prevalence and etiology of the phenomenon. But I am rather confident that most GI symptoms are the body’s intelligent response to the ingestion of a food which is an irritant (in the case of foods which lie on the milder side of the spectrum) or toxin (chocolate in me) to that body.

acid reflux medication

Think about it: Halitosis, hiccups, heartburn, excessive gas, bloating, cramping, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea—all are symptoms of the body trying to either remove an ingested food item, or the effects of that item being digested incompletely. But since your average medical doctor will likely not consider food sensitivities as a factor in your GI disorder, what do you think happens? Yes, he or she will go into the standard medical playbook, consider the symptoms only, and prescribe a treatment based on the severity and duration of those symptoms. Short-term and mild GI symptoms (those on the lower end of the spectrum) will get medicated, while the more severe and chronic cases will receive first a bevy of diagnostic testing (to observe how your physiology is changing—think endoscopy and colonoscopy) and then either medication, surgery or both. No doubt some docs will consider diet to a slight degree in your case management, but rarely will they do so as a serious or long term approach. And that’s where the real fun begins.

So the patient goes home with his or her medication and goes back to business as usual. You see, the rationale behind the medical approach to GI disorders, in general, is that it’s due to a genetic predisposition. In other words, they believe that by chance one just overproduces gastric acid leading to reflux; or by poor luck of the draw, one’s intestinal motility lags, so digested food is passed through the system slowly (causing constipation). The answer, then, is to overcome this genetic defect in physiological function by prescribing a powerful chemical substance. So essentially the medical message is, “Sorry you’re just one unlucky sucker, but you’re also lucky because we have the solution—medicine!” Now does this message really make sense?

roll-the-dice

Try applying that logic to any other physical phenomenon and you will see how truly pathetic it is. It’s akin to believing in spirits, and you know how science feels about that… This belief, which unfortunately has been infused into the consciousness of the general public, leads to symptom suppression, which works for a short time only, since the actual cause of symptoms has not been addressed. Ultimately, the body will work hard to overcome this suppression, because symptoms are not only the body’s response to insult, but also its communication—a way of letting us know that something is wrong. In this case, digestive symptoms are our body’s way of letting us know that we are poisoning it. And how does the human body overcome medicinal suppression—by increasing its physiological response, which in turn, increases symptoms.

So in practical terms: If you take heartburn meds for long enough, your body will fight back with greater heartburn. If you take antiflatulents, anti-diarrheals or anti-constipation meds long-term, then just watch your body rebound with even worse flatulence, worse diarrhea and worse constipation, whatever the case might be. Don’t believe me? Then go for it, but if you’re wise you’ll just take a look around you at all the people suffering from digestive disorders, and you’ll see them playing out the exact scenario I am describing.

Stomach-Cancer

Stomach Cancer

Over time this cycle of increasing GI symptoms, to suppression with medications, to even worse GI symptoms, to suppression with more potent medication, to even worse symptoms, is what I believe is the precursor to serious GI diseases—things like Barrett’s esophagus, stomach cancer, acute pancreatitis, cholecystitis, gallstones, Crohn’s disease, and colon cancer. I’m fairly confident that every one of these disorders results from repeatedly eating foods that the body is sensitive to, and ultimately, they act as a form of poison leading to pathophysiology and frank disease.

I’d like to finish by asking two final questions: One, do you really think pharmaceutical scientists, medical doctors, herb pushers or anybody else selling an outside-in remedy for your digestive disorders is smarter than your own body? And two, do you really think that the random chance, crummy luck of the genetic draw explanation for the prevalence of digestive disorders in the western world makes more sense than the innate intelligence of the body communicating through symptoms explanation? I thought so. Listen to your body.

More to come.


food_sensitivity_350 (Copy)

I recently discussed the concept of physiological variability, and how it’s factor most responsible for rendering a one-diet-best-for-all nonexistent. Part of that variability expresses itself in the form of food sensitivities. Every person walking this planet has a sensitivity to one food item or another–of this I am convinced; and it would make sense, since we probably share some genetic differences with a group of others, which account for these sensitivities. And it’s these food sensitivities, I believe, that are responsible for the majority of gastrointestinal or digestive ailments plaguing the world today.

To give you an example, I cannot handle berries of any kind digestively. Yes berries. They give me heartburn. Now I can eat a handful here or there; a small amount not being the problem (a blessing that allows me occasional indulgences). It is if I were to eat either a large amount in one sitting (unlikely), or a moderate amount over a longer period (much more likely) that I would experience significant symptoms.

berries (Copy)How do I know that berries bother me? Well I didn’t for many years, but I simply observed…and as I learned to become more in-tune with the messages my body sends me (subject of an upcoming post), I became aware of the various foods that caused me symptoms.

It is not that a handful of berries is benign to my body, I’d like to point out–I just don’t have symptoms severe enough to really challenge me one way or another with a small amount. So even just a moderate amount of berries can give me an ever-so-slight heartburn. But I am definitely aware of the subtle change. To be so one really needs to practice tuning into one’s interoceptive senses.

food-sensitivities (Copy)Most people, however, are unaware of which foods they are sensitive to, with the exception perhaps of some real obvious ones, like lactose intolerance, for example, or allergies to shell fish…you know, the typical “food allergies” recognized by medical science. But sensitivity to berries, or mint, or chocolate (all sensitivities of mine) are not, and may never be, recognized by western medicine; I guess only time will tell. But again, I believe that every person walking the planet has sensitivities to foods western medical science would consider perfectly normal, non-reactive foods.

But one need only look as far as the prevalence of gastrointestinal disorders in the U.S. According to the Health and Human Service’s National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC):

  • 60 to 70 million people in the U.S. affected by one digestive disorder or another
  • 13.5 million people hospitalized every year
  • 236,164 annual deaths
  • 12 percent of all inpatient procedures
  • 31 percent of all ambulatory procedures

The conditions include:

Why so many digestive disorders? As I’ve said before, when medical science has no explanation for the true cause of disease, it tends to fall back on the ol’ randomness reasoning, disguised as something sophisticated, which they call genetics. Yeah right. Genetics are highly intertwined with evolutionary processes; our digestive systems evolved over millions of years. Genetics, as it is rationalized, is NOT the cause of the high prevalence of GI disorders—it’s diet!

gene-11 (Copy)Yes, GI disorders are about what you eat and drink. Some of that is obvious, like the amount of food one eats, or how much booze one imbibes, but I am convinced that the majority of digestive disorders stems from people chronically ingesting foods that they are sensitive to. It can be subtle enough for awhile that they don’t catch what’s bothering them—and believe me it’s very easy to blow off when symptoms are minor and transient—but over time, or as a particular food increases in frequency of consumption, symptoms can intensify, and even lead to flat out disease. Further, because many of these foods are considered “healthy” by medical science, academia, the popular media, and the average man’s common sense…well, they get overlooked.

Because, yeah, everybody knows that berries are good for you—why would they be harmful?

Next post: The probable sequence of events leading from sensitivity to disease. Stay tuned.

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