Northwest Center for Optimal Health: Natural Medicine Specialists





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Natural Medicine Q&A
Ask Dr. P
by Kasra Pournadeali, ND
Natural Medicine Specialist

Q: Dr. P, my cardiologist suggests I quit coffee because he thinks itís raising my blood pressure. Is this really necessary? Thanks, John.

A: John, as a coffee lover, I can definitely relate. However, the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant that although temporarily improves your awareness, dilates your breathing passages, and suppresses appetite, can have many undesirable effects. Long term, regular use of caffeine decreases exercise & stress tolerance, depletes your body of important minerals necessary for bone & heart health, can cause irregular heart rhythms, increase your blood pressure, and irritate your urinary systemís lining. Many other effects of caffeine like aggravation of ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux (creating the need for acid blockers,) and promoting fibrocystic breast disease in women, are best avoided. Again, I love coffee, and here in the northwest, itís considered a staple. It is however, not appropriate for all. Switching to decaf or hot tea may be helpful in your situation. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about it, and remember to thank your cardiologist-- dietary modification should always be employed prior to drug therapy when possible.

Q: Dr. P, Iíve been told by my nutritionist that sugar should be avoided altogether. Is it really that bad? Shelly

A: Shelly, the universal answer is it depends! Sugar, in its natural, cane form contains other nutrients which help balance sugarís negative effects. Refined, white sugar is not the same. Consumption of refined white sugar correlates with increased insulin resistance, adult-onset diabetes, and the multiple other health problems, like early heart disease, mental decline, and early aging. Amazingly, cultures that consume high amounts of sugar, in its natural cane form, have a very low incidence of adult onset diabetes and obesity, whereas Americans have a relatively high occurrence. The average sugar intake for an American is 100 pounds of sugar per year, more than any other culture. I suspect that as more doctors learn about the diseases associated with high refined sugar intake, they will be recommending moderation, abstinence, or at least consuming sugar in a natural, unrefined form. Minimally processed foods (as nature intended) are almost always better than processed foods. Refined sugar is just one example.

Q: Dr. P, What is the difference between an allergy to gluten, and an allergy to wheat? Thanks, Greg.

A: Greg, gluten is a polypeptide found in grains including wheat, oat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut & triticale. Gluten is also found in many other foods, which contain these grains, or is added as a thickening agent. Sensitivity to gluten is also called Celiac disease, while sensitivity to wheat alone has no special name. One can be sensitive to gluten, where you do not tolerate wheat and the other grains, or sensitive to wheat (tolerating other gluten grains). As many as 1 in 200 people have gluten sensitivity, but are unaware of it. Although it was previously only diagnosed with a biopsy, now inexpensive blood & saliva tests are available. For more information visit the website (recommended by many of my patients). For more information about natural medicine, or past articles, visit our website at Have a great month!

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Northwest Center for Optimal Health at (360) 651-9355.

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