June 18, 2010

My Quest to Digest. ~ Sharon Marrama

Some Tips for those with Digestive Problems.

There comes a point where enough is enough.

After about a year of dealing with digestive problems that I thought were most likely prompted by hormonal changes, I decided to seek some medical advice.

My first step was to my trusted endocrinologist, Dr. Robert Dluhy, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. I have been under Dr. Dluhy’s care for 20 plus years. Dr. Dluhy asked me many questions, and concluded that my problems were most likely dietary. He sent me to the lab for blood work to confirm. The lab work included a test for Celiac Sprue, a common digestive ailment which came back negative. He then referred me to his colleague and the Brigham’s famed gastroenterologist, Dr. Norton Greenberger.

Dr. Greenberger asked me about every aspect of my life. As when some doctors are not sure what to say about a non-diagnosis, I expected him attribute it to stress, but he did not.  Again, the discussion returned to dietary. He sent me away with a book he authored 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion and made me promise to have a colonoscopy within the year (though I have not scheduled that yet!).

Dr. Greenberger’s book touches upon many reasons for digestive interruptions. His approach is simple.

Week One: Start a Food Diary/Log
Week Two: Change your eating habits according to what you logged in week one
Week Three: Eliminate the Problem Foods (process of elimination)
Week Four: Chart a New Course

The book also lists what foods to avoid for common problem and even offers some decent recipes. All in all I felt I was on the right track.

But then I enrolled in a class, Consumer Health, at Salem State College with Judi Lasser.  One day we went on a “field trip” to Advanced Health and Wellness in Andover, where we met Dr. Amanda Tracey (who actually went to high school with my daughter). I had been toying with the notion of adding the care of a Naturopathic Doctor to my preventative health care plan, and this was the affirmation that I needed.

You might ask: Why a Naturopathic Doctor? Naturopathic medicine uses safe and non toxic therapies to restore and maintain balance in the body. Herbal medicine, homeopathy and life style counseling are often used in conjunction with one another.

Your next question: What is their training? You may be surprised to learn that a licensed (key word is licensed) ND has completed eight years of education and the first two graduate level years are the same as an MD. They then break away and an ND begins to focus on natural therapies to promote health and wellness. Yes, imagine —  an herb instead of a pill, acupuncture instead of pain medication and above all, they promote proper nutrition.

My initial consultation lasted over one hour. I completed a detailed health questionnaire and had a formal interview with Dr. Tracy.

Among her suggestions.

> Get a colonoscopy (OMG again with the colonoscopy!)
> Have a stool test (yucky)
> Make some dietary changes
> Maybe a colon cleanse (for details)

I will offer you a few of the dietary changes, because they were pretty good suggestions.

You see, we are what we eat, and for many years we have been pouring chemicals and toxins into our bodies.  There comes a point where enough is enough.

Yogurt, daily, she suggested organic, such as Stoneyfield, Fage Greek
Eat Sprouted Grain Products
Turkey — buy Nitrate Free (I think Boars Head is nitrate free)
Flax Oil — use mixed in salad dressing or yogurt, or make your own dressing
Tea — really any kind but suggested green, red, white and herbal (Yogi Tea is good)
Multivitamins and Calcium — Dr. Tracey selected a brand for me based on my needs.  I was tired of taking a multivitamin and, B complex, E, D, etc. She researched what would be the best for me and now I can take two with breakfast and two with dinner.

Dr. Tracey also suggested that I visit this website. There was lots of useful information on this site from a tuna calculator that tells you how much you should eat based on your size due to mercury content, to a list of the “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables, these have the highest levels of pesticides.

They strongly suggest that you buy these organic: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes.

The cleanest fruits and vegetables (safe to buy conventional): onions, avocadoes, frozen sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, asparagus, frozen peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papayas.

I have also opted to change some of the day-to-day products I use including—toothpaste, mouth wash, laundry detergent, (and no more fabric sheets), house cleaner (no more Windex and 409).  Trader Joe’s has a great selection of environmentally (and people) friendly alternatives that are economically priced. Oh yeah, and only soy candles.

I am not trying to change the world just to make mine a little better, by learning to relax, restore and rejuvenate. This coupled with my conventional medical care, chiropractic and yoga has me on the right path.

What could be next — acupuncture?

Sharon was born in the Boston suburb of Woburn, Massachusetts in 1957.  As the first of five children, Sharon quickly learned to become a leader, mediator and communicator. Aside from family commitments and the joy of spending quality time with her grandson Connor, Sharon is dedicated to the following goals: enhancing her writing skills as she prepares to write a book, developing her yoga practice, and finishing her college degree. Sharon’s long term goals include preserving balance in her daily life, maintaining a healthy mind-body-spirit, and living a fulfilled life.  To learn more about Sharon and her passions, visit her website.

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