Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Return to Sweets as Treats

The amount of added sugar in the American diet is significant! We have moved away from treating sweets like treats. We often eat sweets at every meal. Our typical dietary choices of refined and packaged foods are loaded with extra sweetness. "Added sugar" includes sweeteners like table sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, and maple syrup. It does NOT include naturally occurring sugars found in fruits, grains, and milk. Food label reading unfortunately does not help us figure out just how much added sugar is in a product because current regulations do not require food manufacturers to differentiate the naturally occurring sugars from those added in!
Why do we care about the amount of added sugar we are consuming? For one, we know that a diet high in added sugar contributes to cavities as well as elevated triglycerides, which can increase our risk for heart disease and diabetes. Food with added sugars are often lacking in healthy amounts of vitamins and minerals. What are some of the biggest sources of added sugar in our diet? The short list would include sodas, fruit juices with added sugars, many children's cereals, baked goods, and coffee/tea with added sweeteners.
The American Heart Association recommends that women consume less than 6 teaspoons of added sugars a day, and men consume less than 9-10 teaspoons of added sugar a day. To give you a visual of this, a typical soda contains 9-10 teaspoons of added sugar. For women, that is going overboard the recommended upper limit. Recent studies have shown that teenagers may get up to 25% of their daily caloric intake from added sugars! Children and teens should aim for less than 5-10% of their daily caloric intake from added sugars.
If you are interested in reducing your added sugar intake, know that you can retrain your taste buds to enjoy a full range of tastes in addition to sweet. Take out the daily sodas and sweetened fruit juices. Instead, eat the whole fruit and drink some sparkling water with added lemon or lime or ginger. Limit the amount of excess sweetener in your coffee and tea and consider stevia or simply a teaspoon or less of sugar as healthier options.
For more information, go to:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let's Change the Way We Eat

"Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live, and let's change the way we treat each other. You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do what we gotta do, to survive." - Tupac Shakur, the late African American rapper

One in three adults and one in five children is overweight. We are a country that is overweight yet undernourished. There are many issues contributing the the high rates of childhood obesity in our country- politics of food, social habits and screen time, big businesses marketing food products directly to kids, poor city planning, high energy and low nutrient school lunches, and lack of physical education in our schools

So why should we care about childhood obesity? Because obese kids are more likely to:

Be bullied,
Suffer childhood diabetes and sleep apnea and fatty liver disease,
Grow up to be obese adults with a long list of health problems,
Perform worse in school, and
Have a short lifespan than their parents.

What can you do?

Cook and eat a meal with your kids at home at least once a day, using whole foods like vegetables, eggs, fish, and whole grains
Demand a shift in priorities that you want your schools to equally support the healthy development of kids' minds AND bodies
Eat breakfast every day that includes protein (eggs, cheese, bacon) , fiber (oatmeal, grits, apple sauce), and colored fruits or vegetables (sweet potato, grapes)
Turn the screens and gadgets off after two hours
Play outside doing something you love every day
Drink water not soda

The ECO Project:

Bob’s Red Mill, an internationally known whole grain company based in Oregon, and NCNM, the National College of Natural Medicine, have teamed up to address the many issues that are contributing to the high rate of childhood obesity in our state. The mission of the ECO Project is to reduce chronic disease and morbidity associated with childhood obesity by empowering children, families, and communities through education to make and have access to healthy choices. The ECO Project will offer a series of twelve weekly workshops to children and families in the Portland and Gresham area that will provide education and training to both adults and children about cooking with whole foods and improving overall fitness.

How can I learn more about participating with the ECO Project?

Contact the Lead Physician, Dr. Courtney Jackson, at 503-552-1521 or send an email to

Friday, May 21, 2010

Spring into Health with Simple Detox Strategies

Detoxification means the process of metabolizing toxins to make them less harmful or reducing toxic exposure to the body. Toxins come in all forms. Some we make, like ammonia from the breakdown of proteins, and some we are exposed to. The EPA’s National Human Adipose Tissue Study in 1982 showed that all over the country, people tested positive 100% of the time for dangerous solvents like styrene, benzene, and xylene. The body wants to safely metabolize and remove toxins in the body in order to retain balance. The major organs that are involved in this detox process include the liver, the intestines, the bladder, the lungs, and the skin. Many common symptoms that people experience in our society, such as headaches, bloating, gas, migraines, arthritis, fatigue, mood problems, acne, constipation, insomnia, and obesity can be related to the suboptimal functioning of these organs. Support your body's detox abilities with the following simple tasks:

1. Support your digestive tract by eating anti-inflammatory foods like fresh and steamed vegetables, whole fruits, seeds and sprouts, whole grains that are non-gluten, fish oils and plant oils (olive, flax, borage, black currant), free-range turkey and chicken, non-farm-raised fish, and legumes. The colored pigments in fruits and vegetables supply valuable phytochemicals that serve as antioxidants. Eat from the rainbow daily, getting at least six servings of colored foods in your diet. And, be sure to chew your food well until it liquefies before swallowing.

2. Supply health gut bugs (aka probiotics ) that will assist in the detoxification of heavy metals like cadmium and assist in the supply of important nutrients involved in detoxification, like B vitamins.

3. Do dry skin brushing before you bathe to support lymphatic movement.

4. Support circulation through the liver and lymphatic vessels with hydrotherapy, which is the simple practice of alternating hot and cold water in the shower or bath, and walk 30 minutes daily.

5. Apply castor oil packs to your belly to aid digestion. Traditional medicine hails castor oil packs as very healthy promoting for your liver. And don't forget liver-loving herbs like tumeric, dandelion leaf and root, and milk thistle.

6. Breathe deeply 100 times daily.

7. Stay well hydrated (2 liters of pure water/day for most people) to support the kidneys' filtration of your blood.

8. Laugh and cry regularly to support your healthy elimination of emotions.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Whole-Hearted Health

February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Heart disease claims more lives than the next six causes of death combined and is significantly more deadly than cancer. The good news is that, to a large extent, the disease is both modifiable and preventable. Naturopathic medicine has much to offer in the prevention and treatment of heart disease.

Please take a moment to assess your current heart health status to better understand which medical conditions or lifestyle habits may increase your risk of developing heart disease. How many of the following apply to you?

  • Positive Family History (Parent or sibling has heart disease.)
  • High Saturated or Trans Fat Diet (Saturated fats are found in animal products. Trans fats are in deep fried and processed foods.)
  • Low Complex Carbohydrate Diet (Complex carbohydrates include whole grains like oats, brown rice, and quinoa. Simple carbohydrates are processed grains like flours.
  • Sedentary (Less than 30 minutes of physical activity every day)
  • Symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, heart palpitations, poor circulation, or leg swelling
  • Tobacco Use
  • Increased Alcohol Intake (Greater than 1 alcoholic drink/day for women and greater than 2 alcoholic drinks/day for men.)
  • Moderate to severe stress in life
  • Overweight
  • Elevated Blood Lipids like cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes or elevated fasting blood sugar
  • African American or Hispanic

Know your body measurements that are important assessments for heart disease:

1) Body Mass Index (BMI), a function of height and weight

2) Blood Pressure

3) Waist Measurement at largest circumference

4) Waist to Hip Ratio

Consider further cardiac and metabolic evaluation IF:

· BMI is greater than 24

· Blood pressure greater than 130/85mmHg. Optimal blood pressure is around 120/80 mmHg.

· Waist measurement is greater than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men

· Waist: Hip ratio greater than .9 for men and .8 for women

Do you have baseline screening lab work to know your risks for heart disease?

The following lab work provides an important evaluation of your risks for heart disease:

· Lipid panel (including total cholesterol, triglyceride, LDL, VLDL, and HDL)

· Homocysteine, Fibrinogen, and CRP-hs

· Fasting glucose and HbA1C

It is important to know your risk factors for heart disease. It is also important to be proactive in preventing common chronic diseases, such as heart disease. Lifestyle choices can make significant improvements in overall wellness. Why not begin with some heart-healthy food choices!



Grind up 2 Tablespoons of flax seed and add to your cereal, oatmeal, salad, or stir-fry. The omega-3 fatty acids and fiber are excellent for overall heart health.


Cold-water, wild fish like salmon, sardines, and halibut provide healthy fats that protect your heart and blood vessels. They promote healthy lipid ratios in your blood like raising HDL and lowering triglycerides. If you are not consuming fish weekly, consider supplementing with a fish oil. Be sure to read your labels to assess for heavy metal contamination.


Dark green leafy vegetables and whole grains can provide valuable magnesium. Magnesium can be beneficial for maintaining a healthy blood pressure and improving stress tolerance.


Chronic inflammation can contribute to heart disease. Ginger is an effective anti-inflammatory food.


Garlic’s impact on the heart is wide-ranging. It can be beneficial for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and promoting healthy lipid ratios.


The leaves and berries of this plant provide valuable flavonoids which protect your heart and blood vessels. Hawthorne can contribute to lowering blood pressure and serves as an antioxidant. Enjoy the berries in a tea or delight in the delicious extract.


This heart-healthy stalk contributes to daily insoluble fiber intake. This promotes regular, daily bowel movements, helping cholesterol to exit the body. Additionally, celery can cause a diuretic effect, which can contribute to lowering blood pressure.


An excellent source of soluble fiber, oat bran can assist with lowering cholesterol levels.


The more bitter, the better. Dark chocolate is rich is antioxidants, which are needed to protect the heart from the oxidation of LDL, known as the “bad” cholesterol.


B vitamins like folate, B12, and B6 can help the body reduce metabolites like homocysteine which are related to an increased risk for heart disease. In addition, they support the body’s ability to handle stress and to detoxify, which are both important for heart health.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What to do about the flu?

Whether you choose to vaccinate or not this year against the flu, it is important to feel confident that you are making an informed decision. Public health recommendations for the flu vaccination are often based on promoting herd immunity, which by its very nature, does not incorporate individualized health-care decision-making. Dr. Heather Zwickey, Dean of Research at the National College of Natural Medicine, my alma mater, has created a wonderful document called "Balancing the H1N1 Risk with Vaccination" to help you weigh the risk of getting the disease versus the risk of getting the vaccination. (Dr. Zwickey's complete article is available at: I would like to share pertinent points to consider from her article:

Are you a healthy adult?
  • 5-10% of HEALTHY Americans between the ages of 18-50 experience the flu, while anadditional 30-50% are infected with the flu but don't experience symptoms
  • If you are infected with the flu virus, you can infect others 24 hours before symptoms develop (ie- fever, headaches, muscle aches, dry cough, sore throat, stomach symptoms) and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick

If you are a HEALTHY adult, when should you CONSIDER getting the flu shot?
  • If you are caring for others who are in a high-risk category to suffer significant consequences associated with the flu (ie: infants, pregnant women, hospital or clinic patients, obese people, alcoholics, people with lung disease)
  • If you cannot afford to miss 7 days of work should you come down with flu-like symptoms. The vaccine can be 80-96% effective in preventing flu in healthy adults under 65 years old. (The Science Daily, September 13, 2009)
  • In contrast, in adults with certain illnesses like COPD, heart disease, liver or kidney problems, immune suppression, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases, or for those adults who live in a chronic-care facility, the flu shot may be safer than getting the flu.
Who should strongly consider avoiding the H1N1 flu shot?
  • History of severe reaction to past flu vaccine
  • Allergic to eggs
  • Currently ill with a fever
  • Under 6 months of age
  • History of asthma (the flu shot may aggravate breathing issues and current studies are evaluating more specifically the impact of the flu shot on people with asthma)
What about vaccinating children over 6 months old?
  • The October 5th, 2009 version of Science Daily reports the following degree ofprotection from the H1N1 vaccine in different age groups: a) 10-17 year olds: 76% protection from virus with a single dose of vaccine, b) less than 9 years old: 36% protection from a single dose of vaccine, and c) kids 6-35 months: 25% protection from the virus with a single dose of vaccine
  • The aforementioned statistics suggest that the H1N1 vaccine doesn't appear to be very effective for young kids
And if I do decide to get the H1N1 vaccination?
  • Be sure to request the mercury-free version of the flu vaccine. These are pre-filled syringes that do not contain mercury.
  • Avoid the nasal version of the H1N1 vaccine IF you are a child under 2 years old or if you have a compromised immune system. The nasal version contains a live, mutated version of the H1N1 virus that some people may not be able to tolerate.
Again, please visit to read Dr. Zwickey's complete article.

As a Naturopathic Doctor, let me provide some insight to other questions you may have regarding the flu...

How do I best support my immune system to prevent getting the flu?
  • I suggest a high dose of what my colleague, Dr. Louise Edwards, N.D., refers to as Vitamin R! This means adequate Rest and Relaxation to allow you to Rebuild and Recover from any exposure to the flu virus. If you are not sleeping well at night for approximately 8 continuous hours and you are continually stressed out, you are more susceptible to getting sick.
  • Consider supplementing with Vitamin D and probiotics to support the immune response and to promote resistance to infections.
  • Work with a qualified natural medicine practitioner who can advise you on appropriate homeopathic and botanical remedies to take that address this year's flu.
  • Stay well hydrated (this usually means 2-3 liters of pure water for most people) and avoid sugary drinks. Reduce coffee (1-2 cups at most) and caffeine intake as this can create a "stress" response in the body.
  • Wash hands regularly, especially after being in a crowded place. Avoid touching your eyes and nose. If someone around you sneezes or coughs, try to move to a clean air environment.
And if you do get the flu, what can you do???
  • Contact a natural medicine practitioner who can offer the correct homeopathic remedy to assist your recovery.
  • Fevers are the body's way of stimulating an effective immune response. In healthy adults and children, safe fevers can go as high as 104 degrees F! If you or your child has a fever (>100 degrees F), stay in close communication with your health care provider so that they can help you navigate through the fever, and they can alert you to concerning signs. Tepid baths, homeopathic remedies, and botanical medicine can assist with the discomforts associated with fevers.
  • Maintain high doses of Vitamin R (rest and relaxation). Plan to stay home for 5-7 days.
  • Water therapy: Stay well hydrated, especially with a fever. Your pee should be copious and clear. Hydrotherapy! Home treatments can include warming socks and alternating hot and cold compresses to the chest and throat.
  • Continue probiotics and Vitamin D supplementation.
  • Eat chicken soup or a light menu with steamed vegetables, garlic, onions, and ginger. Avoid sugary foods.

I hope this information assists you in your health-care decision-making! Breathe easy and be well.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Introduction to Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) practice naturopathic medicine, a distinct system of primary health care that uses the best of both modern and traditional medical practices. Naturopathic medicine recognizes both the art and science of medicine to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles upon which its practice is based.
The principles of naturopathic medicine include:
1. The healing power of nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in every person and works to stimulate this energy.
2. Identify and treat the underlying cause of illness or disease rather than simply suppress symptoms.
3. First do no harm: All medical professionals abide by this principle. Naturopathic Doctors seek to follow this principle by utilizing medicinal substances that minimize the risk of harmful side effects and by avoiding, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms.
4. Doctor as teacher: NDs educate and motivate their patients to learn daily living habits to optimize their wellness. They also recognize the importance of the doctor-patient relationship in healing.
5. Treat the whole person: NDs take into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, social, and environment factors of every patient. This requires extended time in the office visits to listen to each patient's story.
6. Prevention: NDs emphasize the prevention of chronic disease in humans. They recognize the connection between individual health, community health, and environmental health.

NDS are trained in a variety of treatment modalities including nutritional medicine, botanical medicine, naturopathic manipulation, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, lifestyle counseling, and pharmacology. Diagnosis tools include standard laboratory testing, imaging, and physical exams, as well as other assessment methods specific to the naturopathic profession, such as food intolerance tests.

Currently only 15 states regulate the naturopathic profession: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Washington D.C. In these states, consumers of naturopathic medicine can be assured that their ND has met the following credentials: 1) Completed a 4-year undergraduate with pre-med training, 2) Graduated from a 4-year residential, graduate naturopathic medical school which is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education, and 3) Passed rigorous board exams carried out by NABNE, a regulatory agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. In unlicensed states, anyone- regardless of training- can claim to be a "Naturopath".

Dr. Courtney Jackson is a board certified Naturopathic Doctor and is recognized as a primary care doctor in states that regulate the naturopathic profession. She is currently in practice in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in delivering excellent, individualized, naturopathic medicine to her patients. Dr. Jackson treats a variety of conditions including fatigue, digestive disorders, metabolic disease, and hormonal imbalances.