Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to our live online chat with holistic practitioner Fran Sussman! Thanks so much for joining Fran today. She welcomes your questions on holistic health and well-being.
(just slightly edited for clarity!)
Q: Comment From JanetK
I read in your column today that you’re supposed to eat plenty of oil every day, in addition to nuts. My problem is that I am on a diet and oils and nuts are so high calorie, I don’t want to waste calories on them so I avoid them.
A: As I’ve always said, losing weight is not about calories. It’s about healthy, dense nutrition, and healthy fats are very much a part of that. There are numerous studies showing that people who eat healthy oils and nuts actually lose weight, not gain it.
When I refer to nuts, I’m referring to those that grow on trees, almonds, cashews, macadamia, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, etc. Peanuts are not a nut, they are a legume. You may remember years ago there was a lot of news about aflatoxins in peanuts. That’s a mold and it’s still an issue. Peanuts are a very common problems for people who are chronically ill or trying to lose weight, and most people, I find, do better by eliminating them and switching to nuts and nut butters.
Q: Comment From Joe
Please let me know any anti-aging secrets you have. I’d definitely like to try some
A: Good question! It’s all about the basics. A minimum of 8 hours of sound sleep, healthy nutrition with minimal junk, plenty of good-quality water, appropriate exercise. I don’t think supplements are the answer. I think it’s more about lifestyle, and anybody can make positive changes at any age.
Q: Comment From Darla
Is high fructose corn syrup really bad and why? You see all the commercials saying it’s bad and then the ones for corn syrup that say it’s just from corn and NOT bad. Is Stevia or agave a better sweetener?
A: Yes, it really is. And unfortunately, most agave is, too. If you’re trying to lose weight, or if you’re dealing with any chronic illness, the only sweeteners you should use are stevia or xylitol. Erythritol is also looking very promising, as more research emerges. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a little bit of sugar sometimes, but keep in mind that everything has consequences. Stevia and xylitol have really good consequences; xylitol has many therapeutic benefits. Sugar, whether brown, organic, natural, etc., and also honey, agave, maple syrup, etc., are all understood pretty much the same way by your body, and most of us do not need additional sugar in our diets.
Q: Comment From dee
what do you suggest for people who suffer with fibromyalgia with ibs-c ? any special diet or supplements
A: Obviously, I can’t do individual treatment online today. I would certainly recommend cleaning up your diet, reducing stress, and getting enough rest, but there can be so many different underlying factors for these complex and chronic issues. I believe one of the reasons I am successful with my clients is because I take a thorough history and individualize everything, in terms of recommendations. I would be happy to do that for you if you make an appointment.
Q: Comment From Darla
So Stevia and Xylitol are ok. If my stomach reacts to sugar alcohols is Xylitol a sugar alcohol?
A: I find that when people have gastrointestinal upset from xylitol, it is almost always because they have unaddressed gut issues. If you clean up the gut, identify and eliminate food sensitivities, and do some repair, usually xylitol is tolerated with no problem whatsoever. So, it’s not that xylitol is causing the problem — it’s pointing to another problem.
Xylitol is sometimes called a sugar alcohol or a poly sugar. It is naturally present in many foods and in our own bodies.
Q: Comment From Faith
Do you have any suggestions for how to manage gastric reflux?
A: Usually it has to do with an underlying problem of food sensitivities. Again, I would look to that and supplements that help heal the mucosal lining of the gut. Most common food sensitivities are gluten, dairy, peanuts, corn, soy and eggs. I’ve been very successful helping people with this. It’s not usually a difficult problem, but we have to identify exactly what the issue is for you.
Q: Comment From Susan
What are your views on vaccines, especially for children?
A: This is a very difficult question, and one that each parent must make their own peace with. What I recommend is, that you do the research on the risk of the disease, the risk of the illness, both in terms of contracting it and in terms of treating it, and the risk and effectiveness of the vaccination, and then decide what you can best live with for your child(ren). Unfortunately in New York State, we are not legally allowed to partially vaccinate, and the only exemption is a religious exemption, which is difficult to prove. If you send me an email, I can recommend a good book, or look on my website. It has a lot of good information that will help you with this process in an impartial way. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Website is fransussman.com.
Here is the book:
Q: Comment From Linda
Is there anything that can help with schizoaffective disorder? Anything that can help stop hearing voices? Someone very close to me is suffering and won’t get help.
A: I would consider anything I could suggest adjunctive to appropriate medical treatment. However, there is some interesting research on the connections between gluten-sensitivities and schizoaffective disorder. Most people don’t realize that gluten causes inflammation in the brain, and 70 percent of people who are gluten-sensitive do not have GI symptoms, but have mental or emotional symptoms.
Q: Comment From Janet
What do you recommend for high cholesterol?
A: As today’s column discusses, the best approach is to have healthy fats, good quality lean protein and reduce refined and processed carbohydrates, which are the real cause of high cholesterol. Instead of processed carbs, have more healthy fat and some complex carbs from real food, like sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, berries, squash, etc.
There are also some very safe, natural supplements that help clients lower cholesterol more quickly as they are changing their nutrition. I have had many clients who were unsuccessful using statins, but were able to lower their cholesterol dramatically with lifestyle changes — and they felt so much better, too.
Q: Comment From Linda
What does an initial consultation with you entail?
A: An initial consultation is two and a half hours; that gives me a good hour to take a very thorough history: medical, family, sleep, nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, etc. Then I spend about an hour doing some detective work, kind of weaving all the strands together and figuring out what the underlying issues are. And then, finally, develop a program for you, including nutrition and supplements as appropriate, as well as some lifestyle changes. I also look at blood work and am happy to evaluate any supplements you are already taking.
Q: Comment From Trevor
This year I became vegan and also started working out more with goals of gaining muscle. Anything special you would recommend for my diet? Any supplements that I would need? Also how do you feel about soy protein? Thanks
A: I applaud your desire to improve your health and your body composition — that’s great! I think it’s harder to do that on a vegan diet, but it’s certainly possible. I would strongly recommend that you use hemp, pea and/or rice proteins to supplement your protein every day. Using a product that combines all 3 offers the best taste and texture, as well as a complete amino acid profile.
I am not a fan of soy, as it can be suppressive to the thyroid and also can have estrogenic effects, something, as a guy, you certainly don’t want. There are forms of creatine that are really supportive, not only to muscle building, but to the brain and health overall. But these are not the ones commonly found commercially. And please make sure that you get plenty of healthy fat — that will help you reach your goals, as well. If you would like specific product recommendations, please contact me.
Q: Comment From Sam in Chester
I’m dieting –again!– and trying to resist sugary foods, but, as usual, it takes more will power than I seem to have. What advice/motivation can you offer to people in my position?
A: Great question, Sam! Sugar can be highly addictive. This is not a metaphor, but an actual fact. For many people, it is better – and actually easier – to go cold turkey and eliminate sugar completely. You may be surprised at how your cravings utterly disappear within a few days of doing this. Use only stevia and xylitol if you need sweeteners. You may also need to eliminate foods that your body interprets as sugar, such as refined and processed carbohydrates, including breads, crackers, pasta, etc. My clients are consistently amazed that once they do this, willpower is no longer the issue it was. It’s so much more bio-chemical than people realize. So, don’t fight biochemistry!
Q: Comment From Dan D.
What safe holistic product can be used to add IODINE to the diet?
A: I would look to seaweeds. Just make sure that they’re certified free of contamination from heavy metals.
A: To answer the question from “Guest” about TSH, etc: I trained with endocrinologist Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, and I find her approach very successful. It involves 4 steps to balancing hormones: First, nutrition including identifying and eliminating food sensitivities and balancing macronutrients, meaning protein, fat and carbs. Second, stress-management including sleep issues. Third, lowering toxic burden. And lastly, hormonally appropriate exercise. I find that when I take people through these steps, that about 85 to 90 percent of the time, their hormones re-balance naturally. That said, natural thyroid supplementation is not a terrible thing, and works well for many people. You were right that working overnight 3 times a week makes it much harder to stay in balance. This is a huge stress on your health, but of course, not everybody has the option of changing their work hours. Do try to allow yourself to sleep more on the nights that you can.
Q: Comment From Dan D.
Is raw unprocessed sugar on your good guy list of sweeteners?
A: Nope, sorry, it’s still just sugar. It will contribute to making you fat and it will feed any microbes in your body. It may be marginally better than white sugar, but I don’t recommend it.
We have time for a couple more questions; thanks!
Q: Comment From Guest
can you discuss your thoughts on treatment of ADHD without medications?
A: Thank you so much for asking. This has been one of my passions for 20 years. I have worked with many kids whose doctors said they would never have diagnosed them after we made the changes I recommended. A combination of nutrition, homeopathy and supplements can bring very dramatic results. And I love working with kids!
There area couple of articles on my web site (fransussman.com) that give more detailed suggestions. Here are links to a few:
ADHD Medications Don’t Work Long Term
Q: Comment From Dan D.
Thank you Dr. Sussman for your time and very informative views
A: Thank you very much! But I really need to clarify that I am not a doctor, nor am I a medical professional. I counsel people about health and lifestyle.
Q: Can you help with allergies?
A: If you’re talking about environmental allergies, my clients taught me about this a long time ago. What I found was that when we identified and eliminated food sensitivities, the environmental sensitivities disappeared on their own. Clients would come back the next year and report that they no longer had hay fever or reaction to pollens or their sister’s cat, etc. So, I recommend finding out about your food sensitivities, which will help your overall health dramatically, and will most likely eliminate the environmental sensitivities permanently.
A: You can look at my column in the Times Herald-Record from a few weeks ago on High Intensity Interval Training. This explains how burst training, rather than long, steady-state cardio, supports our hormones and is a very important part of healthy aging. So what kind of exercise you do can affect your hormones in many ways, and the wrong kind can actually increase stress hormones, increase fat storage and work against long-term health.
Q: How do you successfully balance everything you do? being a full time mom and a full time health practitioner?
A: That’s such a sweet question, thank you! I haven’t always kept perfect balance, for sure. But I have learned that the only time I get sick is when I don’t get enough sleep or I let stress override my life. So I have learned to prioritize taking care of myself and how can I teach that to my clients if I don’t do it myself? I think it also helps to passionately love almost everything in my life, including my work and my kids. Yoga, meditation, friends, family and my animals all help keep me in balance.
Q: Comment From Cheyenne Q.
What, if any, is a natural alternative to antacid medications that are used to alleviate stomach irritations caused by other medications?
A: This is a good question because suppressing stomach acid long-term makes it harder for the stomach to do its job of digestion. The stomach can only function when it’s very acidic. So if you eliminate acid, you are more likely to end up with nutritional deficits, especially with the minerals like calcium and iron. Not to sound like a broken record, but my first thought would be to look at food sensitivities, particularly gluten or dairy. In terms of alternative things to take, there are many soothing nutriceuticals. Again, I don’t feel comfortable making specific recommendations without taking a history and knowing what’s going on, but ones you might look into are L-glutamine powder, marshmallow root, mastica.
That’s all the time we have today for questions. I had so much fun hearing what you’re interested in and having the opportunity to chat with you all. I hope it was inspiring and informative. I encourage you all, if you have additional questions, to send them to me at email@example.com and maybe they’ll end up the subject of another Holistic Outlook column.