Archive for Monday, April 27, 2009

Experts to discuss natural keys to better physical, mental health

Hilary Brown, owner of Local Burger, prepares food at her restaurant, 714 Vt., in this 2009 photo.

Hilary Brown, owner of Local Burger, prepares food at her restaurant, 714 Vt., in this 2009 photo.

April 27, 2009


Past Event
Experts to discuss "Healthy Body, Healthy Mind"

  • When: Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Where: Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine St., Lawrence
  • More on this event....

Oskaloosa resident Sue Westwind said she suffered from depression and anxiety most of her life.

She began having migraines when she reached puberty. When she married, she wanted to have children but couldn’t.

She adopted two baby girls, Natalya and Starra Zweygardt, who are about 11 months apart in age. By age 3, Natalya was diagnosed with autism.

Meanwhile, Westwind continued to suffer from depression. She had more migraines. She had symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and all-over joint pain.

“I was absolutely stressed out about autism, and my own health was terrible,” Westwind said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to take care of my kids and then it just kind of hit me, ‘Why don’t I try some of the nutritional strategies that I am working on with Natty?’”

At age 48, Westwind eliminated dairy and gluten from her diet.

“Honestly, within two weeks, my life was turning around. I had energy, clarity, optimism — things that I had just never really experienced before.

“I lost 30 pounds and the main thing is just the negative patterns of thought that I had worked on in therapy for decades just really literally went away. It just stopped.”

Westwind also learned she needed to avoid caffeine, as just one cup of green tea can trigger a migraine. Now, she is migraine-free.

Westwind wants to help empower Lawrence residents by sharing her story and bringing a handful of health experts together on May 6 to talk about natural solutions for depression.

She hopes the community event — “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind” — kicks off a new support group for mental wellness.

“I want people in Lawrence to know what’s out there for resources,” she said.

Power of food

Hilary Brown, owner of Local Burger, 714 Vt., will be among the speakers.

She firmly believes food is tied to the mind, and the effect is more powerful than most people think.

Since childhood, Brown said she suffered from headaches, ear infections and attention-deficit disorder. In her early 30s, she decided to see a naturopathic doctor and found out that she had multiple food allergies. She stopped eating gluten, dairy and eggs, among other things, and started taking supplements.

“It was the greatest thing ever,” Brown said. “I could focus because I had my mind back and I could think clearly. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could finally be Hilary.”

She also will share the short documentary “Localize Me,” when a 29-year-old fast-food junkie ate only meals from her restaurant for 30 days. He lost 20 pounds and lowered his blood pressure and cholesterol level. She plans to share some of her restaurant’s fare at the May 6 event.

“I am definitely passionate about the power that food can have on one’s mind.”

Six-step program

Stephen Ilardi, an associate professor in psychology at Kansas University, will share his six-step program — Therapeutic Lifestyle Change — to protect against and help treat depression.

“They are not rocket science. Yes, they are hard to do when you are depressed, but it is not impossible,” he said. “I’ve seen patient after patient make it happen.”

The six steps are: aerobic exercise, omega-3 fatty acids, sunlight exposure, sleep, social connection and engaging activity.

“These are really basic sorts of thing that most people just don’t really realize just how potent they are.”

At KU, Ilardi and graduate students have been conducting clinical trials that compare TLC therapy with other usual treatments for depression, which usually means taking medication. So far, the results have been “very encouraging and very striking,” Ilardi said.

His wife, Maria Ilardi, also will be at the “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind” event. She has been an advanced registered nurse practitioner at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center in Lawrence for nine years.

“There’s many things that someone can do before using anti-depressant medications to treat depression,” she said.

Her suggestions are similar to those in the TLC program. Among them are: aerobic exercise, sleep, omega-3 fatty acids and social support.

“When people get depressed, they tend to withdraw and they stop seeing the social contacts that they normally would see. I encourage people to be as active as possible and not spend a lot of time in bed sleeping or sitting in front of a TV. Really any activity will decrease depression.”

Growing problem

Stephen Ilardi said depression is an epidemic. One in four adults suffers from the illness, a rate he believes will only increase.

“We face an epidemic as a country because we were never designed for the pace of 21st century life,” he said. “We were never designed for the sedentary, socially isolated, indoor, poorly nourished, sleep-deprived, frenzied pace of 21st century life.”

And the economy is not helping.

“Obviously, if you can’t pay your bills, you are going to have more stress and more anxiety and more depression,” he said.

— Health and environment reporter Karrey Britt writes a health beat blog and is also on


christy kennedy 9 years, 1 month ago

I accumulated seemingly unrelated and increasingly debilitating symptoms over the years and despite seeking medical help had to finally figure out on my own that I was gluten sensitive at age 45. Testing confirmed that my children and mother were as well, and this explained much of the ill health going back several generations on our family tree. We've been on gluten-free diets (and also avoid dairy and other things each of us is sensitive to) for nearly five years. Many symptoms improved or went away quickly and others, seen in our culture as just "what happens when we grow older," are improving as well.

The symptom list is long and very diverse—not all gluten-sensitive individuals have GI symptoms, and the ingestion of gluten by undiagnosed/sensitive individuals can result in symptoms in nearly any organ or system in the body. I would encourage anyone with mysterious and chronic health complaints to look into it and to ask for a blood test called a celiac panel, which looks for three antibodies that react to gluten.

NOTE: You do NOT have to have Celiac Disease to be gluten sensitive. Gluten sensitivity or intolerance affects a large segment of the population and true celiacs, who have the more serious version and symptoms, are only a small percentage of that group.

Also know that most doctors are not familiar enough with this very common problem* to spot it in the first place, and that many will misinterpret test results and then offer not only prescriptions that mask (and sometimes exacerbate) symptoms but also give unhelpful or actually dangerous advice. I say this from actual/numerous experiences with a variety of doctors that different family members and I have seen. (We're now getting great help from a local naturopath.)

*Identified by a Greek physician nearly 2000 years ago, Celiac Disease was long thought to be a very rare condition. Studies show that 1 on 120 people have CD and more like ! in 7 are gluten sensitive.

Many doctors insist on a positive gut biopsy (all of ours were negative), or ignore a result of reactivity in one or another of the antibodies and will tell a patient they don't need to worry about cutting out grains because they are not satisfied to the standard they were taught. THE GOLD STANDARD for whether or not someone should be on a gluten free diet is if symptoms go away when grain is avoided and if symptoms return if grains are again ingested.

There's not enough room in the comment section to explain this properly, but when just one of my symptoms — I'd had migraines for 20 years and was up to two that lasted 2-3 days per week — went away within 48 of being on a gluten free diet, and stayed away, I was convinced.

There's a lot of information out there, people. Find out what ails you and do something about it.

christy kennedy 9 years, 1 month ago

p.s. THANKS to Hilary and everybody else promoting our community's wellness. We LOVE Local Burger!

kseagle 9 years, 1 month ago

Local Burger....hmmm....where to start.....low quality food, food is way over priced, dirty facility, poor service, very slow service and bad attitude employees. Yep, that sums it all up.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 1 month ago

Lemme guess, kseagle-- someone made you go there instead of McDonalds once, and you haven't stopped whining ever since.

introversion 9 years, 1 month ago

my guess is that kseagle tried to get a job there but was rejected, or something like that.

This is a great idea for a program, and a great bit of reporting. This is positive exposure of a positive program which allows people one more resource for self-betterment.

I have benefitted from dietary changes too- eating actual food, and trying to eliminate mass produced, processed food from my diet has done wonders for me mentally and physically.

awl 9 years, 1 month ago

Dempsey's Burger/The Burger Stand is waaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy better than Local Burger anyway.

Quigly 9 years, 1 month ago

Went there once. One of the worst burgers I ever had. Gave more than half of it to my dog. Most expensive dog treat ever. I am a chef, I am a small rancher and raise all grass fed and organic beef. I sat in a spot so I could see what they were doing. It was a shame. But I am glad she feels better right.

awl 9 years, 1 month ago

burgers and food too expensive. they are super small and have no taste. too bad because it is a good concept.

lwctown 9 years, 1 month ago

Local Burger rocks. Great Food based on a great concept.

kseagle 9 years, 1 month ago

No, 5 Guys beats Local Burger any day.

btw introversion, you are so far off.

Christine Anderson 9 years, 1 month ago

Oy! I have such mixed feelings when I read articles like this. There is no denying that what we eat DOES impact our health. But I have to ask a few questions, and I do not mean them sarcastically. 1) If we eliminate dairy from our diets, how do we get the calcium we need? Esp. premenopausal women? What about Vit. D? 2) If we eliminate all grains, how do we get the B vitamins we need? 3) I sincerely hope Ms. IIardi does not intend to imply that patients taking antidepressants should forsake taking them in favor of these other "six steps"? I believe these are excellent suggestions that should be used as adjunct therapies, NOT to replace medication. That would not be responsible practice. What would the psychiatrists at Bert Nash think of this approach? 4) Omega-3's-absolutely.

I have a precious 10 yr. old son who is profoundly autistic. I have had countless persons, all who mean well, come up to me and say, "If you just take away wheat and milk, he'll be cured." Didn't work. Others say, "If you just give him these supplements, (which are nothing but sugar) he'll be cured." Wrong again. It's got to the point where it's hurtful. Everyone seems to have a different opinion( and of course, they're each right) on how to "fix" an autstic child. In my son's case, I believe it is mostly hereditary, as my now deceased sister also had an autistic son. They never used any of these "wonder" diets on him, and he's progressed out of needing special ed. My boy-not so.

The same thing just is not going to be "the answer" for every person!! Btw, I also used to have horrible migraines. They went away when I divorced my first husband.

Thinking_Out_Loud 9 years, 1 month ago

I've always wondered why an article that mentions someone who is working hard, being productive, contributing to the economy, etc. seems to invite downward social comparisons on this forum. What's so hard about saying "Here's a local business woman who has opened and maintained a successful business. She contributes more to society than she gets back from it. Good for her!"?

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 1 month ago

Misplacedcheesehead, I must respectfully disagree with you on a number of points:

1) Lactose tolerance is actually a very unusual and very recent trait in terms of human evolution. In many people of non-European ancestry, the body ceases to produce lactase into adulthood. People with Scandinavian ancestry usually have the highest percentage of lactose tolerance, and people with Thai ancestry have almost zero lactose tolerance. People 40,000 years ago and the larger portion of humans on Earth at this moment get along fine without consuming dairy products.

2) One can apply this same analytical tool to human consumption of grains. Grains were not cultivated and consumed as a staple until relatively late in human history. For 80,000 or so years, we did just fine on a diet in which grains of any kind were either nonexistent or gathered and eaten in very small quantities. Also, if you are from Western Europe, your likelihood of developing celiac's disease (caused by wheat/spelt/barley/rye/etc.) increases, especially if you are Irish. Coincidentally, far western Europe was one of the last places that grain agriculture reached.

3) Dr. Ilardi is both an excellent professor and a very compassionate human being in general. Bert Nash is fine with this treatment in outpatient cases, as far as I know. Bert Nash offers cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication therapy, or both in conjunction. Ilardi's program would most likely fall into the category of cognitive-behavioral therapy with some nutrition and lifestyle changes thrown into the mix. Besides, some people opt out of the medication option completely.

Personally, I have a gluten sensitivity. Also, I can't eat much dairy without it putting me into a psychological funk. It is the casein in dairy products, not the lactose, that bothers me.

I'll close this post by saying that I am of the opinion that many chronic medical symptoms have nutritional causes/influences, whether it be from gluten, lactose, casein, eggs, monosodium glutamate, etc. I was amazed when I stopped eating wheat products. Every now and then, I'll accidentally consume soy sauce or beer with wheat in it. Usually, I know within the first couple swallows that I've just ingested some wheat gluten. I get irritable, my jaw clenches up, thinking clearly becomes extremely difficult, and I just start feeling like hell. For some reason, soy sauce seems to be the worst.

black_butterfly 9 years, 1 month ago

Oh My Goodness! While I agree totally with the concept of more healthy, natural food, I would not eat a morsel of anything this woman has prepared. It is too bad for her because she is trying to do a great thing by bringing healthy restaraunt food to Lawrence. I wonder how many times she brushes her hair back with her hands while preparing food. Why would she allow LJW to photograph her with her hair hanging down like that. She should have pulled it all up neatly with no strands hanging. That is disgusting. No thank you, I will prepare my own natural healthy foods in my own clean kitchen where I KNOW that the hands preparing the food have been thoroughly washed and sanitized and no hair can fall in the food.

BrianR 9 years, 1 month ago

kseagle (Anonymous) says… "btw introversion, you are so far off."

Ok, did someone put wasabi in your neti pot?

pumpkinpatch 9 years, 1 month ago

My 8 year old daughter is allergic to wheat. We found this out when she was 6. There are other types of grains which can be used in place of wheat. One just has to have the patience to try them out to see which works best for them.

Also on the dairy note, there are plenty of alternatives available to choose from, rice, soy, etc. One just has to think outside of what we have all been brought up to believe to be the only choices we have.

Redwoodcoast--soy sauce has wheat in it. read the ingredients.

Its amazing what you find in our foods when you just read the labels. Sometimes scary too.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

I get grumpy when I don't eat..... I am always hungry

RKLOG 9 years, 1 month ago

My thoughtheart prayers and felt. I mean my heartfelt thanks and prayers.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.