Eat Well, Live Long – An interview with my naturopath

Posted on December 16, 2009

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Two of the easiest (and cheapest!) things you can do to manage your health are -exercise & -eat well. Of late, there has been a massive over-saturation of food-products that claim to help “lower this!” or “increase your fiber intake that!” (very few of which actually are what they claim). This over-saturation does make it more challenging to know what is truly healthy from what is only claiming to be so, however, all these products do indicate that we are taking an ever longer glance at our health & wellness, and how food plays a role in the management of it.

This week, we are so fortunate to have Dr. John D. Turner granting us an interview on how food, specifically gluten, plays a role in the improving or declining health of individuals. His interview sheds light on “optimal wellness” for non-athletes & athletes alike!

Dr. Turner has been the person to treat & guide me to good health through homeopathic, nutritional & supportive services. He also was the Dr. to diagnose my gluten intolerance after many different Dr.’s wrote my symptoms off as “just the way you’re built,” “take this pill for the rest of your life,” or as not really being a ‘big’ issue, even though I felt like my wellness was an important issue to me. I owe him the world & he’s been kind enough to share some insights in this interview. Please enjoy!

Kate: Dr. Turner, in 1 or 2 sentences, what is/are your practice philosophy(s) as relating to the care of ones’ health?

Dr. Turner: Health is a balance of the structural, nutritional, & emotional aspects of our beings. You cannot influence one part of the triangle without affecting the other two.

Kate: Celiacs’ disease is portrayed as a fairly UNcommon issue…is this true? What % of the pop has Celiacs? Can you estimate a % that has it & does not know it?

Dr. Turner: Uncommon? No. Poorly Diagnosed? Yes. Statistically it is diagnosed in 1 of every 200 individuals or 0.5% of the population, but that is the extreme form of the disease & only discovered through invasive diagnostic techniques. There are some estimates that say as much as 40% of the population could have some form of Celiacs’ disease & not be aware of it.

 Kate: Why kind of issues/symptoms can gluten create in the body for someone with gluten intolerance/Celiacs’ & for someone without intolerance of any kind?

 Dr. Turner: One of the reasons its poorly diagnosed is that the vast majority of the symptoms are not gastrointestinal. Headaches are one of the most common non-GI symptoms. There is a 20% decrease in blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain during a gluten sensitivity reaction. Because of the constant stress on the immune system, the adrenal glands are eventually depleted and a host of problems can occur…anything from hypothyroid function to hormone imbalances to hypoglycemia.

Kate: Gluten intolerance is a very real issue to me and many people, however, it’s been written about as some catchall name for when a person feels better in body/mind/or spirit after cutting grains from their diet & that it is not actually diagnosable (from Slate.com, 2009). Would you give me your thoughts on this statement & also how you can diagnose gluten intolerance?

 Dr. Turner: The statement seems counter-intuitive to me. If someone feels better in body, mind & spirit after cutting grains out of their diet then who cares what you label it, you are obviously healthier. To diagnose gluten intolerance, we use laboratory testing to measure gliadin antibodies in a persons’ saliva. This method can register a ‘false negatives’ if someones’ Secretory IgA is suppressed due to adrenal imbalances. We also use applied kinesiology, or muscle testing, and sometimes we use a computerized acupuncture device to energetically test for sensitivities.

Kate: What are the short & long-term consequences of consuming gluten when you’re intolerant to some degree?

 Dr. Turner: Allergic gastritis due to food allergies will result in a reduction of the hydrochloric acid secretions in the stomach which will in turn impair protein digestion & overall nutrient absorption. Long term, this leads to malnourishment, dysbiosis, and symptoms of acid-reflux.

Kate: Does consuming too much gluten affect other chemical or hormonal functions of your body? Am I correct in assuming over-consumption also lays the groundwork for a Candida overgrowth?

 Dr. Turner: I’ve mentioned the endocrine imbalances related to Celiacs’ disease, you can only imagine the end result of year of poor nutritional support to the reproductive system, musculoskeletal system, & nervous system. Because of the low acid in the stomach resulting from allergic reactions, there is a rapid & dramatic rise in Candida growth in the stomach, small intestine & esophagus.

Kate: If you don’t have an intolerance, can you eat gluten freely without consequence?

 Dr. Turner: Too much grain based foods will drive the inflammation up in your body even if you don’t have an intolerance. Hard fiber from grains also tend to constipate you.

Kate: Is there any support for the idea of advising patients to go gluten-free (or very gluten-reduced) for improved sports performance or improved performance in daily functions, even if they are not intolerant?

 Dr. Turner: Although grains containing gluten can provide you with glycogen for muscle energy, they also make you more acidic which will increase inflammatory proteins. If you have an intolerance & don’t know it, then you will notice a big difference in how you feel, both mentally & physically, during and after your workouts (after removing gluten).

Kate: Is there anything else you think is vital for people to know about gluten or the over-consumption of grains?

Dr. Turner: Grains & fiber became a large part of our diets when two men, Mr. Kellogg & Mr. Graham, led a puritanical campaign at the turn of the century. Their premise was that constipation resulted in pressure being applied to our reproductive organs which generated “carnal thoughts.” Their solution was to eat lots and lots of fiber. Sadly, our modern-day food pyramid hasn’t wavered from that stance very much. (Link to this amazing historically factual story here. Of note – how corn flakes were invented by letting corn grains go stale!)

I would like to thank Dr. Turner for sharing his time & valuable education with us! Your interview has shed even more light on the fact that ‘all is not as it seems’ in the colorful & snazzy world of food-product-marketing & that we need to be constantly vigilant of what is going in our mouth & whether it is taking us toward optimal health or further from it.

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