Bye Bye Amalgams

Today I had the last of my amalgams (mercury fillings) removed.  I’ve had them for years, as these were the only fillings available to us baby boomers all those years ago!  It’s taken 3 sittings – each roughly 40 minutes and quite honestly, it was a breeze.  Yes, it came at a price, but hopefully the health benefit will far outweigh the financial cost and my private health fund paid a bit too, which was a bonus.  For someone who hates the dentist, this was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. But, let me say it right here and now, the removal of amalgams MUST ONLY be done by a holistic or biological dentist. The procedure is not complicated,  but preventing mercury toxicity during the removal is critical not only to the patient’s health but also the dentist and technician’s health.

I had quizzed my previous dentist many times about the risk of heavy metal poisoning from the mercury in the mouth and always got the same reply: “Just leave them be, they are safer in your mouth than trying to remove them!” What a load of hogwash. As part of my health crusade, I was determined to have them removed as all my research pointed to chronic long term health issues as a result of mercury toxicity.

Our bodies are designed to naturally detoxify mercury and other heavy metals, but can only cope with incidental exposure, not chronic long term exposure. How effectively we detoxify naturally depends on how healthy we are, our genes, our gene expression, the exposure levels, and whether we are slow or fast detoxifiers.  Mercury fillings emit vapour all the time, the fillings are in our mouths, next to our mucous membranes and a few inches below our brains…it would be unreasonable to believe that our body can cope with this exposure 24/7 and effectively detox us fully. As mercury crosses the blood brain barrier (it is fat soluble and the brain is 60% fat), neurological symptoms including depression, anxiety, memory loss and even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease have been attributed to toxic exposure and accumulation. Besides our brain, the vapour leaches into our saliva, which we swallow and so expose our entire digestive tract to mercury too.  And what do we have in our digestive tract other than our digestive system?  Our immune system!  So what effect does mercury have on our immune system?  And don’t forget that neurotransmitters are made in our gut and in our brain, so this is a double whammy for mercury causing neurological issues!

But how does the body cope with what it is exposed to?  Well it can’t so it stores what we don’t detoxify naturally and it stores it in our body fat … and we are supposed to lose this fat in the winter and whoosh, out goes the mercury.  In a perfect world, yes this would be so, but I was fat for so many years, not much mercury had a chance to leave my body!  So yes, I’m sure my amalgams have contributed to my health issues.

So in order to support my body’s natural detoxification pathways and safely eliminate mercury from my body, I put myself on a “detox” programme of sorts. The critical first step was to ensure that my diet was optimal, and mine is by the mere nature of what I eat and don’t eat and I’ve eaten like this for almost 2 years. The second step is – go slow and proceed with caution, under the care of someone who knows how to coach you through this. Certain foods and supplements can help support your body and its detoxification pathways and are essential to help rid your body of accumulated mercury.  You can’t go from 6 amalgams to no amalgams in a couple of weeks. Your biological dentist is the one who will decide and advise you on how long you need to detoxify for and at what rate the amalgams should be removed. If you go too fast, your body won’t be able to remove the mercury quickly enough and you could end up with severe kidney issues.  Mercury leaves the body via urine, faeces, breathing out and breast milk!

Besides dental amalgam exposure, mercury is found in fish, air, drinking water, vaccines, fluorescent light bulbs, thermostats and thermometers, batteries, red tattoo dye, and many more readily available products.

Thank you Simon at Ozone Dental, Adelaide, for helping me on my journey.

Our 10 Day Food Detox

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Detox?  I never believed in doing a detox before, so why now?  People ask me all the time what prompted our drastic change in eating habits and lifestyle, so here it is.

Sunday 27th April 2014 is one Sunday I won’t forget.

Heading out for my weekly Sunday morning “walk and talk” with my soul sister, I decided to test my blood glucose level (BGL).  6 months prior to this I had removed as much processed food from our diet and was trying to eat as organic and free range/grass fed/pastured as possible.  My aim was to improve our health.  We have 2 grand daughters who live in Canada, and I wanted to remain as healthy as I could to enable us to travel and visit them as often as we could.  Over the 6 month period, I had lost about 3kg but my main health concern was still the debilitating arthritic pain I had to put up with.  Why I decided to test my BGL that day, I’ll never know, but I’ve always trusted my instincts and so I just did.  I had just finished a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and my BGL was 6mmol/L which did not concern me too much as there is plenty of fructose in orange juice.  My husband who was standing by watching, and forever the skeptic, decided that he wanted to know what his BGL was too.  Horror of all horrors, his was a fasting level and it was 8.2mmol/L!  There and then we decided that it was all systems go, from zero to hero, starting immediately.  I had been reading the 10-Day Detox Diet by Mark Hyman, but had been a bit skeptical about how it could work so quickly.  Now there was a definite need to try something drastic straight away and so there was no transition.  I purged the fridge, purged the pantry, bought our own glucometer and test strips, an iHealth fancy scale and we started the same day!  The last thing I wanted was for my husband to be on medication as I was very aware of all the potential side effects.  We were going to conquer this health challenge and hopefully beat it.

And so we began what has now become our new lifestyle.

Although this is called a detox, it is important to realize that it is a FOOD detox.  It is not a lemon and water cleansing detox, liquid only, starvation diet.  The body is detoxed of all processed food, wheat/gluten, obviously sugar, soy, dairy products, caffeine and alcohol. All of these foodstuffs have the potential to cause many different disease states mainly due to their inflammatory properties, so by eliminating them we reduce inflammation, kick start the body’s hormones to work as they should and hopefully fix the problem!  In modern technological terms we were about to “restore our factory settings”!  Everybody who completes the 10 day detox feels so much better that they hopefully carry on eating as close to how they did during the detox for ever after! Well this is what the book claims, so we were hopeful.

This is it in a nutshell.  If you are interested in the science behind everything, there are 3 books I have read by Dr Mark Hyman where everything is discussed in detail.  I bought The Blood Sugar Solution and The Blood Sugar Solution Cook Book on iBooks and The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet on Amazon.  Mark Hyman has a website where you can request journal sheets, how to work with your doctor, etc, so have a look here when you get the chance.   Mark Hyman is a functional medical doctor as opposed to most GP’s who practice conventional medicine.  Functional medical doctors treat the system, not the symptom thereby creating health and a happy person, allowing weight loss to follow naturally once all the body’s systems are working as they should.

Unfortunately “everything in moderation”, which is a typical food industry slogan, has failed abysmally in the prevention of disease and obesity.  The food industry only want you to buy their food, so they have chemically manipulated products in order to make us biologically addicted and the most addictive thing appears to be the sugar!  So as an unsuspecting customer you want more and more sugar, so definitely not in moderation and so the avalanche of a host of imbalances arises in the body which leads to disease state after disease state…. Think of it like expecting a cocaine addict to be happy with a little bit every day….

So Dr Hyman claims that the 10 day detox is enough time to reset all your hormones and make you healthy and happy (most, if not all of the hormones in your body are controlled by insulin to a certain degree) and get you off biologically addicted foodstuffs that the food industry want you to eat to keep them rich, while the pharmaceutical companies wish to keep you dependent on medication.

The 10 day detox is successful if you do it the right way.  You will reset your biology very quickly and by eating the right food at the right times, made properly from real food so it is delicious, you won’t be hungry and you will see results.  His website gives you tools to use for journaling and he also tells you what supplements you should use.  The change in how you feel will usually be accompanied by a change in eating patterns and behaviour which is what is needed to keep you on this path.  Just like disease is contagious, health is also contagious.  I know that where I work the girls will say to me, “there is food on the back table, but we know you won’t eat it”…hopefully they too will eat less and less of the junk they call food.  If you want to be healthy and lose weight, it is also easier to succeed if you don’t do it alone.  Doing it with someone or as part of a group doubles your success rate.

So this is what we did:

OUT WITH THE BAD

  • All sugar products or anything containing sugar such as honey, agave…soft drinks, bottled teas, fruit juice, sports drinks as well as ALL diet drinks
  • gluten and grains (wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats)
  • dairy (milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream, butter, cream, casein)
  • beans, any type (they ferment in your gut and this causes inflammation…) and legumes (except green beans)
  • all soy and soy products
  • all processed and factory made foods
  • all refined and processed vegetable oils
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • any stimulants or sedatives unless you are on regular medication…
  • if you are a smoker of course you should stop but this may not be the time..overcome one addiction at a time
  • media overload, phones, texting, internet, television, social media…
  • eating dinner less than 3 hours before bed

IN WITH THE GOOD

Your body needs to heal, detoxify, and shed excess weight.  The combination of foods and lifestyle changes is designed to work synergistically to help “restore your factory settings” .  You add in potent healing and detoxing elements.

  • Foods that boost detox pathways – foods rich in B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants and phytonutrients that are naturally found in BOK CHOY, BROCCOLI, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, CABBAGE, CAULIFLOWER, CAYENNE PEPPER, CILANTRO, GARLIC, GINGER, KALE, LEMON, ONION, PARSLEY, ROSEMARY, WATERCRESS AND SEA VEGETABLES (IF YOU CAN FIND THEM) LIKE KOMBU.  EGGS are not a plant but contain detoxifying nutrients and sulfur.
  • foods that reduce inflammation – inflammation is your body’s normal reaction to fighting off bacteria or healing an infection.  We usually don’t know when we have an inflamed (or leaky) gut but it is your immune system fighting off stress, bad food, allergens, etc in your gut. Anything that causes inflammation will also cause insulin resistance and insulin resistance makes your body generate belly fat and hold on to your spare tyre. So we need foods that will reduce inflammation. (foods that CAUSE the inflammation are sugar, refined carbs, tran fats, excess omega 6 fats from processed plant/vegetable oils, ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS, msg, gluten, grains and dairy).  Foods that are rich in omega 3 fats such as SALMON, omega 3 rich EGGS, GRASS FED BEEF, CHIA SEEDS, HEMP SEEDS, FLAX SEEDS, WALNUTS… Spices that are anti-inflammatory include TURMERIC. Other foodstuffs that reduce inflammation are BERRIES, DARK GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES, EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, HEALTHY FATS FOUND IN NUTS AND AVOCADO as well as HIGH QUALITY PROTEIN, LIKE ORGANIC POULTRY AND WILD SEAFOOD.
  • foods that improve gut function – we need good bugs in our digestive system to stay healthy.  Eating junk causes bad bugs to grow and thrive and they produce toxins and gas that cause inflammation, weight gain, bloated tummy, etc.When you eat the wrong food, you create a harmful imbalance that damages your gut lining, creating a leaky gut.  Partially digested food particles and microbial toxins then leak across your gut triggering an inflammatory response as they are foreign substances.  The inflammation in turn damages your metabolism, affects how your brain controls appetite and creates insulin resistance and WEIGHT GAIN! It is essential to follow the whole-food, high fibre, low starch and low sugar diet that this detox is based on to starve the bad bugs and feed the good bugs. PUMPKIN SEEDS, BOK CHOY, KALE, TOMATOES, CARROTS, CHICKEN, TURKEY, SALMON, ONIONS AND PARSLEY all improve gut function.
  • foods that balance blood sugar – PROTEIN IS KEY FOR BALANCING YOUR BLOOD SUGAR.  Include some form of lean, preferably organic or grass fed animal protein with delicious vegetables or salad.
  • exercise – begin each day with a 30 minute walk – exercise reduces craving and regulates appetite, improves insulin sensitivity, boosts your mitochondria and metabolism, mobilizes detox pathways, reduces cortisol (the stress hormone that causes belly fat), reduces inflammation and promotes better sleep. If you already go to the gym or do another form of exercise, continue with this but restrict cardio to a maximum of 30 minutes at a time (cardio for 40 minutes and more increases your levels of cortisol which increases insulin resistance and this leads to fat storage)
  • supplements – this creates lots of confusion – vitamins and minerals are not drugs and don’t work like drugs, but they are essential to ensure every chemical reaction in our body happens so that our bodies functions properly.  Each reaction requires a catalyst (enzyme) and each catalyst has a helper (coenzyme). Vitamins and minerals are these helpers. Regarding weight loss –  nutrients play a critical role. You burn calories better, your appetite is regulated, inflammation is lowered, detoxification is boosted, digestion aided, stress hormones regulated and you cells become more insulin sensitive. The food we eat today is not as nutrient dense as food was 50 years ago.  Soils have been depleted of minerals and even if we eat organic, when our bodies are detoxing they usually need a little help.
  • hydration – drink drink drink – plenty of water – 2.2litres for females, 2.8litres for males
  • journaling – write down what you eat and how you feel
  • relaxation – this is essential. Stress increases your levels of insulin, cytokines (causing inflammation) and cortisol (causing belly fat).  Stress also increases your appetite and your carb and sugar cravings, triggering the metabolic dysfunction that leads to weight gain. A DETOX BATH helps de-stress your nervous system.
  • Rhythm – get your rhythm back by getting your timing right, what time you wake up, what time you go to sleep, meal times, the time you take to eat, the time you exercise and the time you relax…get it right!  Don’t skip meals, don’t eat late, and most important don’t skip breakfast. DON’T EAT LESS THAN 3 HOURS BEFORE BEDTIME.
  • Sleep – is absolutely essential. If you deprive your body of sleep, it increases levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and suppresses the appetite-controlling hormone leptin.  Sleep is a natural appetite suppressant, especially when it comes to sugar.
  • 5 DEEP BREATHS 5 TIMES A DAY – 5 deep breaths in and out – do this on waking up, before breakfast, lunch and dinner and at bedtime. The trigger for relaxation response is your breath…when you take a deep breath you stimulate the vagus nerve, which runs from your brain through your chest cavity into all your organs. Your immune cells, your stem cells, and all other organs and tissues in your body are connected to this nerve.  Stimulating the vagus nerve signals the production of hormones that calm your nervous system, reduce cortisol, help you metabolize your food, boost your brain function and naturally regulate your appetite.  Simply by breathing deeply and activating the vagus nerve, your body starts to boost metabolism and increase fat burning.
  • This is what your vagus nerve triggers when you stimulate it:
  1. reduced appetite and food intake
  2. reduced rate of turning food into fat
  3. increased metabolism and energy expenditure
  4. increased fat burning in your cells
  5. reduced appetite-stimulating hormones
  6. improved insulin sensitivity
  7. reduced inflammation
  8. increased number of and connections between your brain cells
  9. reduced body weight….

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All of this is straight out of the book.  I am not a medical doctor, but I have taken control of our health and have experienced the most remarkable success in improving my health (and that of my husband) by knowing exactly what we eat at all times.  There is lots more to come…