The Healthiest Kids on the Block

July 31, 2015

bigstock-Kids-Superhero-67023205Did you know that 40% of daily calories of US children and adolescents aged 2-18 years come from added sugar and solid fats? Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.

Raising healthy kids sounds pretty simple: Provide good nutrition, 60 minutes of daily physical activity, and create a joyful and safe home environment. Do that, and you’ll reduce your child’s risk for obesity, diabetes, and other chronic disease. But you’re up against a host of unhealthy temptations including advertising, peer pressure, and an abundance of junk food in shiny packaging.

The first and most important step you have to take for your child’s health is modeling healthy habits in front of them. Make a healthy lifestyle a family affair. Keep things simple. And don’t give up when kids get picky. The tips and resources provided below will keep you on track.

Keep Kids in Motion. Once kids return to school, they are sedentary for the better part of the day. Outside of school, make sure your kids have opportunities to stretch, strengthen, and build endurance for 60 minutes daily. Make time for creative play at the park where children can engage all the major muscle groups. Provide opportunities for trying new sports or creative movement classes. Get the whole family involved with obstacle courses, biking, or hiking. When the weather outside is too hot or cold, visit an indoor pool, playscape, climbing gym, or bounce-house facility. Create a joyful atmosphere at home, check stress at the door (which is easier to do if you are exercising), and encourage playtime.

Limit Screen Time. With more schools incorporating digital devices into curricula, it’s important to monitor your child’s free time on the screen. For younger children, set a daily limit of 60 minutes, and for older children, set a limit of 120 minutes for all media–TV, movies, and games.

Consider having a “digital-free zone” in your home: one room designated just for reading, games, and music sans the headphones. Also, make one day a week (e.g., Sunday) a “device-free day” for all family members. Play games or get physically active, together.

A Balanced Diet, Not a Food Fight. No matter their age, kids can be picky eaters. Offer your child choices at meals that are acceptable to you, health promoting, and palatable. Model the healthy eating habits you want your child to have whether they are at home or out with friends.

When it comes to getting kids to try new foods, get creative: Blend veggies into homemade smoothies. Serve raw veggies with hummus. Make zucchini-based brownies. Incorporate blended or finely chopped veggies into pasta sauce for use on pizza and spaghetti. Try healthier ice cream options like Bliss (raw, vegan, organic and tastes great) or Arctic Zero.  Involve your kids in creating a beautiful fruit salad. Kids’ palates change as they age; what they like/don’t like at age 3 is likely to be different at 13 and even 23!

Introduce and reintroduce healthy selections at all meal and snack times. And don’t fight about food…that only creates a lousy mood for everyone at mealtimes. Sometimes, it really is okay to skip the asparagus and still have dessert.

Tame the Sweet Tooth. Sugar intake for children is recommended to 3-4 teaspoons a day. Cutting back on soda, candy, and cookies is only the first step. Read labels to identify added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and food dyes that can be hidden in foods including bread, condiments such as ketchup, crackers, cookies, candy and canned and frozen foods. Make your own frozen treats from fresh fruit, and cut down on packaged foods.

Sleep Well. During sleep, children’s bodies generate hormones important to healthy growth and development. A good night of rest allows children to wake energized for the following day. Research has shown that sleep plays a role in maintaining a healthy weight and promoting a positive mood. Try to keep kids to a daily sleep-wake routine, especially during the school week.

Healthy diet and exercise make a huge difference in the health and demeanor of children. If challenged with a behavioral and/or physical health issue you can take it a step further. At HealthBridge Medical Center we will often run lab tests to determine if a child has specific food allergies, or a particularly high demand for certain nutrients like zinc, magnesium or essential fatty acids for example.  Getting specific with nutrient supplementation and adjusting the diet accordingly makes for much happier and healthier children. It is always worth the time and effort involved.

In health,

Dr. Gina

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ADHD Linked to Allergies and Asthma in Boys

September 25, 2013

autismBoys diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are more likely also to have asthma, allergies and skin infections than youngsters without ADHD, a new study finds, suggesting a possible link between these conditions. Of those in the study, boys newly diagnosed with ADHD were 40 percent more likely to have asthma, 50 percent more likely to have needed a prescription for allergy medicine and 50 percent more likely to have had a bacterial skin infection than other boys. “Our study provides additional evidence to support the hypothesis that atopic disorders, such as asthma and food allergies increase the risk of developing ADHD,” the authors wrote, adding that further research is necessary to determine just how these conditions might be connected. Their results were published in the August issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Read more here.

Naturopathic Medical Doctors have seen this connection for a long time. Inflammatory conditions such as asthma and allergies trigger behavioral disorders.  To successfully treat ADHD we must address allergies, and additional underlying factors that cause inflammation.

In health,

Dr. Gina


Concierge Integrative Medical Services

November 4, 2012

Just a quick post to share my excitement as our medical practice expands to offer to our patients the only medical service of its kind in southern California.

As you know, I am passionate about integrative medicine, and after 15 years treating patients and teaching physicians how to practice this medicine, I am still in awe of the results that come with helping the body to heal itself.  There are natural options available for major health challenges, like depression, infertility, ADHD, hormone imbalance, memory loss, chronic pain, and rheumatoid arthritis.

I have been practicing concierge medicine with our high profile patients and am now offering this service to more people.

As a concierge patient you have the option for home visits, a private line to the doctor, help with shopping for the best foods for your body, and a more personal and direct relationship, the way medicine used to be practiced, when your doctor was also a family friend.

Read about our patients’ experiences to learn firsthand from others who have gotten results with the help of this medicine.

You can call our offices at 310-734-0950 (Beverly Hills) or 949-715-9321 (Newport Beach) for more info.

In health,
Dr. Gina

Was your Child Mislabeled with ADHD?

August 18, 2010

A new study released by Michigan State University found that nearly 1 million children have been misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  The reason, the study found, was that kids who are youngest in their grades have a 60% greater chance of being diagnosed with ADHD. Nothing to do with brain chemistry, or the genuine need for medications.  Simply due to their age. The details of this study were just published in USA Today.

There are beneficial naturopathic treatments for those labeled with ADHD. The beauty of Naturopathic Medicine is that doctors are treating the individual. Even if your child was diagnosed with ADHD, a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor will work on the underlying cause of the behavioral challenges and not simply treat the label your child was given by writing a script for Ritalin or other popular ADHD medication.  This individualized treatment helps to prevent misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatments with unknown long-term effects to a child’s developing brain and nervous system. Let’s focus on what is in the best interest of the children, now and in the future.  Finding a doctor who takes the time to get to know your child, run appropriate lab tests to pinpoint the imbalances, and is focused on addressing the underlying cause of your child’s behavioral challenges is a reasonable place to start.

Yours in health,

Dr. G


The Connection Between Autism and the Gut Discussed in Latest Issue of Pediatrics

January 6, 2010

Below is a summary report prepared by Rebecca Estepp for TACA (Talk About Curing Autism), an organization that LTP Natural Medical Center supports.  The report discusses two articles published in Pediatrics that make the association between gastrointestinal imbalances and Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I am pleased to see that mainstream medicine is beginning to acknowledge the connection between the gut and the brain.  100% of our patients with Autism are tested and treated for gastrointestinal imbalances.  There is no question that doing so generates positive results.  For more information on treating brain/biochemical disorders visit www.sicksyndrome.com. This site discusses the link between brain dysfunction and inflammation in the body, and ways to treat the condition using Naturopathic Medicine. One of the most significant ways to reduce inflammation in the brain is by testing for and treating digestive disturbances.

There is an old saying known in the Naturopathic Medical community that the gut is the second brain.  Modern research is now starting to validate this notion.

In health,

Dr. Gina

Pediatrics Looks at Gastrointestinal Disorders and Autism


January 4, 2010

Prepared by Rebecca Estepp

Two reports were released yesterday in the American Academy of Pediatrics medical journal, Pediatrics. Both articles focused on gastrointestinal disorders in individuals with autism. The first report entitled Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals With ASDs: A Consensus Report is a review of available medical literature surrounding autism and gastrointestinal symptoms from a panel of experts.  These experts came to the following conclusions:

• Medical disorders, including gastrointestinal problems, occur commonly in individuals with ASDs, but because symptoms may be atypical these medical conditions may be undiagnosed.

• Individuals with ASDs whose families report gastrointestinal symptoms warrant a thorough gastrointestinal evaluation.

• The care of individuals who are non-verbal or have difficulties in communication or who display self-injurious or other problem behaviors present special challenges. Nevertheless, the approach to evaluation and diagnosis of possible underlying medical conditions, in particular gastrointestinal disorders, should be no different from the standards of care for persons without ASDs. (emphasis added)

• The communication impairments characteristic of ASDs may lead to unusual presentations of gastrointestinal disorders, including sleep disorders and problem behaviors.

• Management of co-occurring gastrointestinal problems in individuals with ASDs usually begins with the primary care provider and may eventually warrant multidisciplinary consultation.

• Anecdotal reports that restricted diets may ameliorate symptoms of ASDs in some children have not been supported or refuted in the scientific literature, but these data do not address the possibility that there exists a subgroup of individuals who may respond to such diets.

• Integrating behavioral and biomedical approaches can be advantageous in conceptualizing the role of pain as a setting event for problem behavior, facilitating diagnosis and addressing residual pain symptoms to enhance the quality of life.

The second report, Recommendations for Evaluation and Treatment of Common Gastrointestinal Problems in Children With ASDs. provides health care providers guidelines in treating abdominal pain, chronic constipation, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. This report recognizes that the expression of gastrointestinal disease can be diverse in individuals with ASDs. It also concludes that unusual behaviors can be a result of gastrointestinal disorders.

TACA views these two reports as giant leaps forward for treatment of gastrointestinal symptoms that cause unnecessary pain to many individuals with autism and their families. This landmark paper will pave the way for pediatricians across the country to start treating children suffering through different gastrointestinal maladies.  We sincerely hope this is the first step towards individuals with autism receiving the medical treatments they need and deserve.

About TACA

Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) provides information, resources, and support to families affected by autism. For families who have just received the autism diagnosis, TACA aims to speed up the cycle time from the autism diagnosis to effective treatments. TACA helps to strengthen the autism community by connecting families and the professionals who can help them, allowing them to share stories and information to help people with autism be the best they can be.


PBS Documentary on Naturopathic Medicine

January 12, 2009


PBS TO AIR DOCUMENTARY FOCUSING ON NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE FEATURING DR. GINA NICK

Windsor Broadcast Productions, well known for its long running PBS series American Health Journal is producing a documentary focusing on Naturopathic Medicine. The documentary will be comprised of seven 30 minute segments on such topics as Mental Health, Adult Allergies, ADD & ADHA. The documentary will initially run on PBS in the greater Orange County, California area sometime in March 2009 and is expected to reach a nationwide audience later in the year.herbs2

One of the segments features Dr. Gina Nick and her naturopathic approach to dealing with Chronic Pain.

Some of the key messages highlighted throughout the series are:

* Naturopathic Doctors are trustworthy, credible, and a qualified choice for healthcare

* Naturopathic medicine offers a continuum of care

* Naturopathic medicine is the “new norm” for health and healthcare

* Naturopathic doctors believe in the power of the human being to regain greater health

Dr. Nick and LTP Natural Medical Center specialize in the prevention of dis-ease, optimizing overall health and providing a sense of well being.

Knowledge is power. LTP Natural Medical Center hopes you will tune-in to this very exciting documentary series and empower yourself with knowledge about the natural approach to your health.


Mast Cells, Sickness Syndrome Implicated in Autism

December 22, 2008

stomach-internallyResearchers Theoharis Theoharides and colleagues from Tufts University have identified a link between mast cells (immune cells that cause allergic sneezing) and autism.  The researchers found that among 400 people with mastocytosis (excess mast cells in the body) the incidence of autism was five to seven times higher that the rate in the general population.

Interestingly, mast cells are found in significant quantities in the brain and in the gut, where they play a role in intestinal permeability and the blood brain barrier.

I have found in practice that the majority of patients facing autism, ADHD, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia have intestinal permeability and a hyper-response to foods that are not digested properly.  Sickness Syndrome is a condition that involves the immune system and links disorders in the gut with inflammation in the brain and mental health disorders.

There is an old saying that your gut is your second brain.  This new research paired with the newly identified Sickness Syndrome condition, brings new light to this saying.

When treating patients with autism, it becomes imperative to supply specific digestive enzymes, and an autism-specific nutritional protocol that works to repair the gastrointestinal tract, optimize the integrity of the blood brain barrier and reduce inflammation in the brain.  By doing so you invariably decrease mast cell production, which can lead to a relief of symptoms related to this hyper immune response.

The diagnosis of autism has increased to approximately one in every 180 people.  It is time that physicians treating autism begin to integrate the basic principles of Sickness Syndrome (connection between stress, digestion and inflammation in the brain) into our treatment protocols, to serve the best interests of children, adults and the families affected by this condition.

In health,

Dr. G


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