Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

The average American gains a couple of pounds or more during the Holiday Season. With the abundance of parties, cookies and traditions that involve food, it’s no wonder. Unfortunately many Americans have trouble shedding that weight in the upcoming year and instead just keep adding to that. 

What did you weigh in your 20s? If that number has increased, you see how it can sneak up on you.

The good news is that you can thoroughly enjoy the Holidays without putting your health at risk. You have to be willing to make some changes, but you definitely don’t have to starve. 

If you are attending a function for work or at a hotel, the tips below should help. If you are fairly certain that what is being served is a large departure from how you need to eat, do consider eating a small meal before you leave the house. It will handle any hunger and allow you to mingle and enjoy everyone’s company without having to eat food you know will get you in trouble. 

When you are dining at a friend’s or family member’s home, it is much easier to have some control. Some options are to bring a big healthy salad and an entrĂ©e that you can eat. You’ll be contributing to the hostess plus saving yourself from getting into trouble.

Consider bringing a carrot or cucumber of celery stick already cut into pieces. How hard is it to throw that in a baggy before you leave the house? And with it you have a way of enjoying the hummus or guacamole that’s being served while avoiding the crackers. Add half an avocado to your goody bag and you won’t be hungry.

Below we provide alternatives to the pound enhancing, disease promoting Holiday fare so pervasive at this time of year.


Instead of This                                                  Try This!
Cheese and crackers                                      Hummus or guacamole dipped with veggies
Cereal mix with nuts                                      Raw or dry roasted nuts (fresh, not from a can)
Pigs in a blanket                                             Chili (try Amy’s Organic Chili, canned but great)
Cheesy dip, hot or cold                                  Shrimp with cocktail sauce
Pot stickers                                                     Chicken or veggie skewer – check the sauce


Instead of This                                                  Try This!
Baked macaroni and cheese                      Opt for the plain chicken, or cold salmon
Prime rib – large slice                                 Small slice or try chicken or salmon                             
Chicken or turkey with stuffing                 The meat is fine, just avoid the stuffing
Vegetable casserole with cheese                Try to find some plain veggies or salad


Instead of This                                                  Try This!
Holiday cookies                                                 Organic dark chocolate (bring some with you!)
Gooey cake                                                        Coconut ice cream (Try Bliss brand, it’s delicious)
Fruit cake                                                           Fresh fruit and nuts


Instead of this                                                   Try This!
Margaritas                                                       A glass wine - Pinot Noir is highest in antioxidants
Champagne                                                      One small glass is fine, otherwise have wine
Egg nog                                                             Try the “So” brand made from coconut milk
More than one drink                                      Water! Staying hydrated will help you lose weight

Remember to enjoy some long walks or outside activities that keep you exercising.
And most importantly, truly enjoy the company of friends and families.

Visit us at If you have questions or need any help, I’m here for you! Call 408-733-0400.

Our best wishes to you and yours for a joyful Holiday Season! 

Until next time, I wish you very good health.  

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”

Holiday Tips when Trying to be Healthy


If the holidays are typically a difficult time for you to eat healthy, you'll want to learn these tips. You can easily enjoy a healthy and fun eating experience despite all the bad holiday food that surrounds you! 

Learn from a doctor and author.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Picky Eaters? Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

How Do You Get a Child to Eat Healthfully?

As a mom of three, I went through many years of the lunch nightmare. It goes something like this: 

“Why didn’t you eat your lunch sweetie?” 
“I didn’t like it – it was yucky.” 

“But last week you said you loved it when I made the exact same thing.” 
“I don’t know. I just don’t like it.” 

Does that sound familiar?

Despite the fact that my children are now grown, that conversation feels like it happened yesterday. You want to feed your children well. You want them to eat what you feed them. And you want them to be healthy so that they can learn and do well in school. That can be a tall order. Add with a food sensitivity such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy... it can be, well, a nightmare. Hopefully this article will help. Over the years, I came up with several good ideas that got my kids through school with few illnesses, zero antibiotics, excellent GPAs, and they are now healthy adults who eat well.

Be Honest About Good Nutrition

Before we get started I wanted to share a philosophy I utilize when dealing with children and changing their lifestyle and diet. I used this with my own children and those whom I have had the privilege to care for over the years. Treat them like adults. What I mean is that you should be honest and talk to children as you would talk to a close friend – don’t talk down to them. As an example, if you change from pepperoni to sliced organic chicken slices, let them know why. 

Tell your child that the pepperoni has lots of chemicals and preservatives that will actually make his/her body sick. Obviously you don’t want that—and neither does he/she—so you are changing over to a cold cut that won’t create damage. If your child asks why his friend’s mother feeds his friend pepperoni (or other junk food), let your child know that his friend’s mom just might not know better. And of course, set a good example by eating well yourself. 

Work with your child to slowly change his/her taste buds until they enjoy fresh fruit and good food. Yes, this will take time. Yes, there will be some periods of frustration. Yes, you do need to be tenacious. But it’s so very worth it. If you ask my children if they appreciated all my efforts to keep them healthy, they will respond with a resounding and grateful “yes”.

Don't Discuss Your Own Dislikes of Food

Another suggestion is to try to avoid mentioning your own food dislikes. If you ‘hate’ certain vegetables that you know are healthy, don’t mention that to your children. Just purchase the healthiest vegetables, lightly cook them and serve them with a smile. Who knows? You might start to find some that you like! I can't tell you how many adults who rarely eat vegetables have told me that they don't eat them because their mother or father didn't like them. This is a shame and something we don't need to perpetuate.

Experiment: Try new things, especially ones involving healthy fruits and veggies. Good quality fruits and vegetables are delicious. Plus, your tastes change as you get older and as you get healthier. Something you didn’t like before you may find is quite tasty now. Keep trying new things!

10 Tips for Healthy Lunches

Drink water 1. When it comes to beverages stick with water.
I know that may be difficult at first, but it’s worth it to make the transition. If your child is stuck on juice, try the trick of diluting it more and more with purified water. If you’re subtle, they won’t notice. Concurrently let them know that you’ve learned that fruit is best eaten, rather than drunk, and you’ll be adding delicious organic sweet fruit to their lunch box along with water that is more hydrating. Further, as a clinical nutritionist, I should note that a vast majority of our population is dehydrated—children included. The body works much better when properly hydrated. 

Hint: Make sure that the fruit you include is tasty. There’s no faster way of turning a child off from a fruit or vegetable than by giving them one that tastes bad.
2. Make extra dinner from the night before that can be used for lunch. Whether it’s a pasta meal with meat and veggies, or a stir fry, or soup or chili, heat it in the morning and put it in a thermos that will keep it warm. If they liked it for dinner, they’ll like it for 
lunch. Just don’t serve it AGAIN for dinner—you’ll have a mutiny! 

Hint: Take organic kale and chop it very finely. Add it to soups, chili, tomato sauce, stir fry—everything. It’s so small that they won’t taste it, but it’s in there and very healthy 
for them.
hummus 3. Serve hummus.
It's a protein-rich dip that can be dipped into with celery sticks, carrot sticks, pieces of cucumber—or really any raw veggies of choice. Hummus is filling too.

4. Another option on celery sticks or apple and pear slices is almond butter or peanut butter. (I know that some schools "outlaw" peanuts if a child has a serious allergy, so consider other butters such as almond or cashew.)

5. For salad lovers: Some kids love salad, bless them, and you can just put the undressed salad in a Tupperware container and send the dressing separately. Salads are a great way to get a lot of veggies into your kids. Ours typically consists of organic spring green mix, arugula, celery, green or red onion, avocado, red cabbage, cucumber and tomatoes. You could add shredded carrot, zucchini, sunflower seeds, and more—have fun with it and change up the ingredients to keep it interesting. 

organic egg salad  6. Egg salad is a nice main course.
Just ensure that your container keeps it cold within their lunch box. I don’t recommend canned tuna, or much of any tuna, since the fish tends to have high mercury content. Definitely not good for developed nervous systems. 
organic turkey slices 7. Cold cuts that have no chemicals or preservatives are good as "roll-ups"or on a sandwich.
Personally the only place I ever found "clean" cold cuts was Whole Foods, but check around and see what you find at your local grocer. The ingredients of the ones we used were only these 3: chicken/turkey, salt, water—that’s it! The only liability of these was that they would go bad within about 5 days due to the lack of preservatives. They're a good thing health-wise, but important to keep track of so you’re not throwing good food away. 

Hint: If your child is addicted to bologna or salami, for example, Whole Foods likely has a healthier version you can switch to while you’re weaning to healthier options. The chemicals and preservatives in standard cold cuts put them squarely in the category of a Frankenfood—too far from the real thing to be ingested by a body that wants to be healthy.
8.Serve fresh nuts and fruit, or raisins (or other dried fruit). Make sure all are organic and the nuts are raw or freshly dry roasted. Nuts roasted in oil are frequently rancid which is a bad fat; something you want to avoid.

Healthy fruit and nut balls 9. There are some very healthy desserts you can make that are easy, raw (in many cases), and fun to make with your children.
Go online and search “fruit and nut balls” and you’ll find many, many options. They typically involve dates, a nut butter, dried fruit, coconut, fresh nuts, cocoa powder, etc. What makes them fun is that you can change up the ingredients to make them taste different so you don’t get bored. Try to avoid the ones with sugar or lots of chocolate. Believe me, the dates and other dried fruit will make it sweet enough, and these are very satisfying. We are trying to decrease the size of the sweet tooth—these healthy desserts will help.

Read food labels 10. Read labels—please!
It's so easy to grab the heavily processed, chemical filled, artificial "something" that your child wants because his friend has it or he saw it advertised on TV. Don't do it! Read the ingredients. If it's more than 5 ingredients, it's likely too heavily processed to be healthy. If it contains words that you don't have in your own pantry, such as "red dye" or "sodium benzoate", don't buy it—it's a Frankenfood. Such foods are addictive, fattening and inflammatory.—all things you want to avoid if you want a healthy body. 

I hope this was helpful. Please write me back with any great ideas you have that we can share with other parents.

Is Your Child Gluten Sensitive?

It is better to find out sooner than later—contact us at If you have questions or need any help, I’m here for you! Call 408-733-0400.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”

Monday, October 27, 2014

Best Blood Test to Diagnose Gluten Sensitivity

New Research Argues There IS a Test for Gluten Sensitivity

Mainstream literature continues to state there is no blood test for gluten sensitivity. While it may not be perfect (but what tests are?) some researchers offer a differing opinion, and I wanted to share their results with you.

While there is no further argument of the existence of gluten sensitivity, having a blood test that everyone can agree on has not yet occurred. In a 2012 study published in Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology entitled “Serological Tests in Gluten Sensitivity”, the authors set out to characterize a potential pattern in blood testing that would be helpful in diagnosing gluten sensitivity as compared with celiac disease. They took 78 patients with gluten sensitivity and 80 patients with celiac disease, and retrospectively tested their blood for four standard tests, three of which are classically used for celiac disease, and one that is more commonly thought to be accurate for gluten sensitivity.

For those of you who like the specifics, the tests used were: 

1) IgG DGP-AGA (deamidated gliadin peptide antibodies)
2) IgA tTGA (tissue transglutaminase antibodies)
3) IgA EmA (endomysial antibodies)
4) IgG/IgA AGA (anti-gliadin antibodies)

And the Winner Is...

Here are the findings: The  IgG AGA test was the winner in detecting gluten sensitive patients—56.4% were positive. The test doesn’t rule out the presence of celiac disease however. 81.2% of celiac patients were also positive. The IgA version of the same AGA test yielded vastly different, although not unexpected, results. The test was elevated in only 7% of gluten sensitive patients while 75% of those with celiac disease were positive. Why is that not a surprise?

IgA is found on the mucous membranes of the body where it is exposed to outside foreign substances: nose, lungs, GI tract, ears, eyes, etc. 

Since celiac disease mostly affects the lining of the GI tract, it isn’t unexpected that the IgA part of the immune system might be most affected. But when you compared the "classic" celiac tests against the gluten sensitive patients, the results were rather definitive—only one gluten sensitive patient was positive for DGP-AGA and zero gluten sensitive patients demonstrated a positivity for tTGA or EmA. But the celiacs showed a positivity rate of 88.7%, 98.7% and 95% respectively for these three tests.

What Do We Know From This?

A couple of things: 1) Ensure that when you are tested you receive a complete panel of tests, including all those mentioned above. Additionally both the IgA and IgG versions should be included, especially for the AGA test. 2) When interpreting the tests, remember that you are doing more than just ruling out celiac disease.

For many doctors that is their goal. Despite international research knowledge to the contrary, many doctors still don’t appreciate the existence of gluten sensitivity. While no single test is perfect, if you’re suspecting celiac and you test positive for the classic celiac panel of tTGA, EmA and DGP-AGA, then you’ve likely identified your condition. If you know that you do poorly with gluten and test positive for AGA, especially the IgG version, and negative for the rest of the celiac panel, you can feel more assured of a gluten sensitive diagnosis.

Some other tell-tale signs of gluten sensitivity, according to the researchers, are a varied clinical picture, meaning many symptoms occurring at the same time. And while many of these symptoms are similar to another disease, IBS, the authors warn against considering gluten sensitivity as a subtype of IBS. The "extraintestinal" symptoms so common with gluten sensitivity are not typically seen in those patients suffering with IBS, making the distinction clear, in these researchers’ opinion.

The common complaints associated with gluten sensitivity include:

• abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation
• foggy mind, tiredness
• eczema/skin rash
• headache
• joint/muscle pain
• numbness of legs/arms
• depression
• anemia
• together with a normal or mildly abnormal lining of the small intestine

In conclusion, when you’re building a case for gluten sensitivity, you need to look at several factors: blood testing, symptoms, and reactions to eating and eliminating gluten.

New Information on Celiac Genes

In the past, the rule of thumb was that "you could never have celiac disease if you didn’t carry the genes for it". That remains true, but these researchers cited findings from 2010 that demonstrated a full 40-50% of gluten sensitive patients possess the same genetic profile as those with celiac disease—HLA DQ2 or DQ8. And with that we watch another stable datum ‘bite the dust’. This opens the door to a new interpretation of genetic testing that doctors should be aware of. Instead of being too quick to tell a patient that while they may have the genes for celiac disease, considering that their blood tests are negative for the disease they’re fine to eat gluten; we now understand that such genes can be present in a case of gluten sensitivity as well. And as we now know, the classic celiac blood tests would be negative in such a case.

I believe we’ll be seeing a wide array of genes responsible for these diseases in the future. But knowing that almost half of those with gluten sensitivity demonstrate the exact same genetic profile as someone with celiac disease is important to know when a patient or their doctor is trying to make an accurate diagnosis. Based on this common gene profile, it is then not surprising to learn that gluten sensitivity can be found in celiac disease family members. In this study almost 13% of the gluten sensitive patients were first degree relatives of celiac patients.

What Might the Future Hold?

As a clinical nutritionist, I have been speaking of celiac disease and claiming the existence of gluten sensitivity for over two decades now. We continue to discover more and more about these conditions. One day there will be a near perfect test and one day we will readily and easily diagnose most all of those suffering. And that my friends, will be a good day! I hope you found this informative.

Find Out Your Gluten Sensitivity Level!

Get diagnosed!—contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION

Visit us at If you have questions or need any help, I’m here for you! Call 408-733-0400.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Want Good Health? Following a Gluten-Free Diet is Not Enough

When it comes to the area of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, I’ve had a pet peeve that I’ve had for a long time. And that is the recommendations associated with a celiac disease or gluten sensitivity diagnosis.  What are those recommendations? A gluten free diet and that’s it. 

There is nothing wrong, of course, with the recommendation of a gluten-free diet but when that is all that it recommended that is where I have a problem – a big problem. Why? Solely instituting a gluten-free diet is never (at least 95% of the time) enough to cause a person to completely regain their health. It’s hard enough to eliminate gluten from your diet without at least reaping the benefits of feeling great as a result. After all, the goal is to vastly improve a patient’s health.

The Results of an Ongoing Study Reveals...

It is for this reason we created the term “Secondary Effects of Gluten”. It is what we use, after a diagnosis, to address everything else that needs to be taken care of after one has begun a gluten-free diet. We have seen the value of addressing the secondary effects of gluten for the past two decades. Yet I continue to be surprised at the lack of awareness associated with only implementing a gluten-free diet with this group of individuals. I was therefore happy and vindicated to see the results of an ongoing clinical trial for celiac patients. The study followed 117 adults in the United States with a diagnosis of celiac disease. These individuals were adhering to a gluten-free diet as “best they could”. On average they were individuals who had received their diagnosis over six years prior – meaning they were not new to following a gluten-free diet.

Despite their ‘veteran’ status and efforts at following a gluten-free diet, the researchers discovered that the following:
• 95% or 111 of the 117 participants showed evidence of ongoing inflammation of the lining of their small intestine.

• In 65% of the individuals the inflammation was so extensive that is was consistent with patients whose celiac disease was untreated – meaning it looked as if the person wasn’t following a gluten-free diet at all, even though they were.

• Even in those whose blood tests were negative for antibodies (meaning their blood test for active celiac disease was negative) they still demonstrated significant inflammation of their small intestine similar to the damage seen before adopting a gluten-free diet.

What does this all mean? Exactly what I and my fellow clinicians here at HealthNOW have been stating for almost two decades – instituting a gluten-free diet cannot be the only action that a person diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity takes. More must be done and that ‘more’ is the implementation of the secondary effects of gluten.

What are the Secondary Effects of Gluten?

  1. Testing for the presence of infections in the intestinal tract
  2. Isolating if other food sensitivities exist - common are dairy, corn, soy
  3. Testing to see if there are any cross-reactive food reactions occurring
  4. Ensuring that the probiotic population in the small intestine is healthy and robust
  5. Ruling out any enzyme or nutritional deficiencies
  6. Normalizing any adrenal or hormonal imbalance
  7. Ruling out any other sources of toxins such as Lyme’s disease or heavy metal toxicity.
  8. Ensuring that the individual is on a healthy diet, not just a gluten-free diet - and that's saying a lot in our era of gluten-free 'junk food'. You can be gluten-free and still not eat your 9 servings of fruits and veggies every day, as an example.
That’s the list. As you can see it’s not terribly long, nor does it involve the use of any scary drugs or surgery. But if you don’t address the factors that are pertinent to the individual in front of you, you’ll end up like the participants of this study – with an inflamed gut and therefore at an increased risk of lymphoma (cancer), not to mention other serious health complications.

It's Just Not Fair!

Recommending solely a gluten-free diet to these individuals is unacceptable. I realize that the reason for this problem lies squarely in the arena of pharmaceuticals. Doctors in this country really don’t know what to do for a disease that doesn’t have a drug to control it. Because celiac disease has no medication to treat it and is known to respond to a gluten-free diet, that’s what they recommend. And that’s all they recommend. The secondary effects as delineated above are not typical actions in traditional medical environments and I think that’s why we don’t see them occurring. But it is to the detriment of the patient and this research supports my view.

Want To Get To The Root Cause?

If you want more than just a Diet—contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION. And if you are not local to us, our DESTINATION CLINIC treats patients from across the country and internationally. We will help you find the underlying root cause!

Visit us at If you have questions or need any help, I’m here for you! Call 408-733-0400.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Want to Be Smarter and Avoid Heart Disease? Try Gluten-Free!

Going gluten free has some powerful benefits! If that sounds a little too good to be true, I promise I'm not exaggerating. We will be looking at the result of two research studies that confirm that those who follow a gluten-free diet do reap some nice rewards.

In the first study published in Digestive Diseases & Sciences entitled “Characteristics of patients who avoid wheat and/or gluten in the absence of celiac disease”, the authors wanted to look at the characteristics of patients with gluten sensitivity in the U.S. They found that patients with gluten sensitivity were similar to patients with celiac disease in regards their BMI (body mass index that measures levels of obesity) and hemoglobin levels. Those with gluten sensitivity had a lower BMI than controls. The group also showed a lower incidence of hypertension and an improved cardiovascular profile similar to those patients with celiac disease when following a gluten free diet.  

Gluten Free = A Healthier Heart

In other words, gluten sensitive patients following a gluten-free diet were less obese and had healthier hearts than their gluten-eating counterparts. The researchers didn’t know whether to cite the diet alone or a combination of eating gluten-free and having a certain genetic profile. We have learned that almost half of those suffering with gluten sensitivity have the same genetic profile as those with celiac disease, so there may be some validity in the gene theory. 

A Gluten Free Diet Made Celiacs Smarter

The next study was published in the Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Volume 28, 2013. The article title was a mouthful: “Cognitive performance improves in concert with histological and serological improvement over the first 12 months of a gluten-free diet in patients with newly-diagnosed celiac disease”. Basically all it means is that newly diagnosed celiacs got smarter during their first 12 months on a gluten-free diet and that change was associated with blood tests improving and their gut healing.

Eating Gluten Created the Same Deficits Mentally as Being Drunk

As we have spoken of many times, gluten affects more than just the GI tract. There is a well established correlation between the inflammation associated with celiac disease and changes in behavior, mood and cognitive function. This study looked at the cognitive function in patients newly diagnosed with celiac disease and tracked it as they implemented a gluten-free diet over their first year. Cognitive ability in memory, visual/spatial acuity, motor function and attention was all measured.

The results were rather fascinating: A newly diagnosed celiac has such diminished cognitive function that it was comparable to someone with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. In other words, cognitive ability was equivalent to someone who was drunk.

After a year on a gluten-free diet however, those participants who showed a fully healed intestine (and that’s a point worth repeating—only those who fully healed received this benefit) revealed a normal cognitive function level. The improvement, cognitively speaking, paralleled the improvement in their blood values and gut healing. As you can see, I wasn’t exaggerating with my title for this post. Frankly, the more we learn about gluten the less I like it for almost everyone, regardless of their celiac or gluten sensitive status. But that’s a discussion for another post. 

Do You Want To Go Gluten Free?

If so—contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION.  
Call (408) 733-0400 to schedule. 

If you are not local to us, our DESTINATION CLINIC treats patients from across the country and internationally. We will help you find the underlying root cause!

Visit us at If you have questions or need any help, I’m here for you! 

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”