Alternative Health

QI WOULD appreciate if you could recommend a remedy for recurring eustachian tube infection.

A. You don’t mention if the infection is in a child or an adult. This is a far more common occurrence in young children, partly because the eustachian tube is much shorter during infancy and early childhood (usually around 18mm in length - it grows to around 30-40mm by the age of seven years), and sits on a more shallow angle from the middle ear.

The function of the eustachian tube is to assist in the clearing of secretions from the middle ear into the nasopharynx. This helps to protect the middle ear from changes in pressure. We open the eustachian tubes whenever we yawn, swallow, chew, or sneeze - letting air into the middle air, and allowing secretions to clear. When resting, these tubes are in a closed position.

When air is not able to flow normally into the middle air, or secretions are not able to clear, infection and dysfunction of the eustachian tubes can occur.

Allergies are a common underlying cause when it comes to eustachian tube infection, so cutting out grains and dairy is often necessary to put a stop to recurrent infection. This helps by reducing mucous production, which assists in the drainage of fluid from the middle ear. In fact, underlying allergies are one of the key reasons for glue ear. Viral infection can also cause damage within the ear, leading to repeat infections.

Craniosacral therapy is often very useful in treating eustachian tube infection issues, working on a subtle level to achieve balance within the inner and middle ear. Homeopathy is another modality which has a reputation for working well in such cases, particularly if it is a child being treated. Contact the Irish College of Homoeopathic Medicine (066-9765816) to find a local practitioner.

Q. I have a problem with my bowel: it is called diverticulitis. What do you suggest?

A. Diverticulitis is a condition where small pouch-like sacs appear along the lining of the small and large intestines. The undigested food becomes trapped, leading to inflammation and bacterial infection, which can result in the formation of a small hard mass known as a fecalth. Often diverticulitis occurs as a result of chronic constipation.

One of the most important things you can do is to mindfully chew your food. Exclude nuts and seeds from your diet as they generally exacerbate this condition. Sprouted seeds are okay, since they are a valuable source of the right kind of fibre and nutrients.

To repair your gut and get it back to its original healthy state, it can help to adopt the diet you would feed to a small child. We gradually build up tolerances to foods and substances which we would never dream of giving children and infants, and in doing so, we can stray far from the path of healthful choices. This is where simple low-allergen fruits and vegetables are ideal.

Greens can be useful in terms of nutrients, but are potentially problematic because they are difficult to chew to the extent where they are broken down enough before swallowing. Green smoothies are the ideal solution. Blend a handful or two of leafy greens together with a cup of pure water and a whole pear (cored) or two, according to taste, and you have a nutrient and fibre rich combo which is unlikely to cause sensitivity issues.

The blending process helps to ensure that the nutrients are bioavailable without the concern of larger particles becoming trapped in your intestinal pockets.

Avoid tomatoes, citrus, and alcohol. Most vegetables should be fine, so long as they are either well-cooked or blended to help prevent the accumulation of food residues.

Broccoli, beans, and carrots are great since they contain hemicellulose fibres which absorb water, bulking and softening waste as it travels through your system.

As with most intestinal disorders, a good quality probiotic will do wonders to restore gut health and prevent infection. Aloe vera juice on a relatively empty stomach (first thing in the morning and last thing before bed) soothes inflammation and heals the mucous membranes. You may also want to invest in some olive leaf extract if you feel that bacterial infection is already an issue in the intestinal pockets.

Rather than taking a hit and miss approach with your diet, I suggest you follow what is known as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). This diet has been tailored to relieve the symptoms associated with a range of chronic intestinal disorders, including diverticulitis.

The underlying principle of the SCD is that eliminating complex carbohydrates, refined sugars, and lactose for a significant length of time will starve out the harmful bacteria in our intestines. Elaine Gottschall’s popular book, Breaking the vicious cycle: Intestinal health through diet, describes the SCD in great detail and offers information on how to make the diet work for you.

Megan puts the spotlight on: Weight Loss

LOSING weight is top of most to-do lists at the beginning of the year. A quarter way in and chances are a tiny percentage of people are still on target.

Part of the problem is the word ‘diet’, which suggests restrictive and gruelling regimes that have defeated us in the past. Most of us understand that fad diets do more harm than good, and if we want sustainable weight loss, we need long-term lifestyle changes.

To begin, avoid all processed and refined foods. Don’t just cut back - give them up. Eating whole foods is the best way to get nutrients in their natural state, so that you get maximum benefits. Eat plenty of raw fruit and vegetables, and if you eat meats then make sure that they are lean and unprocessed, without preservatives or additives.

Grains are often touted as the base of a healthy diet, however this food group requires a great deal of processing to make them appealing or edible.

Some individuals tolerate grains better than others, but it pays to cut them out while slimming down, then you can introduce them back into your diet gradually, once you have achieved your goal weight.

Some fats are good for you - choose cold-pressed extra virgin oils (only use coconut oil for cooking) and foods such as nuts, seeds and avocados.

Get your omega essential fatty acids via oily fish, chia seeds, or a quality supplement.

Drink more water, and avoid refined sugar (and artificial sweeteners) at all costs - many sugar-free and ‘diet’ products have been shown to trigger weight gain. Exercise, sleep and stress management will all go a long way towards supporting your ideal weight and energy levels. Getting to bed by 10pm is essential, since it is between this time and 2am that our bodies are working to balance out hormonal processes - the magic weight-loss window.


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