Tag Archives: autoimmunity

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Food Sensitivity Testing: When and Why

Food Sensitivity Testing: When and Why

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Autoimmunity: Are You One of the 50 Million Plus?

In keeping with the theme of our last post, we will delve into the puzzling and agonizing world of autoimmunity and how it relates to functional medicine.  The first couple of  eye opening paragraphs below were scribed by Dr. Datis Kharrazian and could make a substantial difference in quality of life.

“Autoimmunity has become a growing epidemic and many individuals seeking care in the healthcare system are suffering from autoimmunity.  Autoimmunity is basically the loss of self tolerance, or the inability for the immune system to recognize self-tissue from foreign or pathogenic organisms, leading to an attack upon oneself.”

(I’d be remiss here if I didn’t briefly touch on one of the reasons why our trusty immune system may turn on us and it comes down to what we knowingly put in our bodies. When the food we eat leads to issues within our gut, lending to leaky gut or intestinal permeability, one of our main barrier systems of our bodies becomes compromised and foreign and undigested particles are allowed entry.
Our immune system sees this and does it’s job and attacks.  Problem solved.

The issue arises when the presence of unwanted invaders persists and the immune system must continually attack.  This puts the immune system on hyperactive defense mode and eventually, due to the similarity in structure between certain tissues and certain foods, the up regulated immune system begins to also attack our own tissues.

This can lead to the start of rheumatoid osteoarthritis as the immune system attacks the joints and breaks down cartilage, or diabetes 1 as the pancreas is attacked (studies now illustrating the similarity in structure of the beta cells of the pancreas and the casein proteins found in milk), MS as the protective covering of our central nervous system, myelin is broken down, or hypothyroidism (Hashimotto’s) as the thyroid is attacked (similar protein structure between thyroid tissue and gluten).

While diet is a major player in the development or facilitation of an autoimmune reaction, the list of catalysts goes well beyond that including many other environmental toxins.)

“The loss of self-tolerance and the development of autoimmunity is a major reason why many individuals notice a rapid decline in their health and seek consultation with a healthcare professional.  Unfortunately, autoimmunity leads to a destructive process to various tissues over several years, and early autoimmunity may be easily overlooked in the current healthcare model.

In the current system, autoimmune disease is not diagnosed until the tissue has already been destroyed.  In other words, an individual may have cartilage antibodies for several years and suffer significant pain, but they will probably not be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis until they have severe joint deformity.
Another person may have subtle autoimmunity to myelin and present with diverse neurological symptoms, but they will not be diagnosed because their MRI does not show enough destruction to be sensitive to MRI findings.  It is now clear that the antibodies to tissues appear years before total destruction is obvious, and during these years, individuals suffer from symptoms associated with the destructive process.”

In the all too common scenario like the one above, a person suffering from the early stages of autoimmunity seeks consultation and since they do not have total tissue destruction, they are not diagnosed with any conditions.  At this point many individuals end up seeking alternative medicine, as conventional models offer them very little support in the early stages.

Functional medicine looks at autoimmunity through a different lens, classifying it into three stages.

1) Silent Autoimmunity: antibodies present, but no symptoms.
2) Autoimmune Reaction: antibodies AND symptoms present, BUT not enough tissue destroyed to be diagnosed as an autoimmune disease.
3) Autoimmune Disease: antibodies present, symptoms may or may not be present, enough tissue destruction to diagnose.

So what can you do with all this empowering information? Well, speak with a healthcare professional who goes beyond the black and white and looks at things from a functional perspective.  A review of history and symptoms will be done along with an exam.  Appropriate  blood work can be ordered and analyzed and if need be tests looking for specific antibodies can also be obtained.

With this information the appropriate nutritional, dietary and lifestyle modifications can be made in order to potentially delay progression or keep symptoms quiet by lessening inflammation, controlling the immune system and addressing any other systems specific to the individual.

Curious?

Want to know more?

Have some specific questions?

Call us anytime (321-848-0987) to explore the liberating possibilities.

Some Thoughts on Depression, Pain and Stroke

We’ll take it easy on you with this week’s post as we head into another weekend.  Sometimes I have to repeatedly re-read some of the facts and figures during my constant investigation of the ever growing and changing research.  These are a few of those “double take” paragraphs that I have compiled and felt compelled to share.  Take it in, embrace the empowerment and make the necessary changes.

DEPRESSION – INFLAMMATORY DIET LINK

For 12 years, researchers tracked the diet habits and health outcomes of more than 43,000 women — none of whom had depression at the start of the study period. Here’s what they found: Women who sipped soft drinks, ate fatty red meat, or consumed refined grains (like pasta, white bread, crackers, or chips) daily were 29 to 41% more likely to be diagnosed or treated for depression than those who stuck to a healthier diet. Blood tests revealed that women who ate the above foods also tested significantly higher for three biomarkers of inflammation.

http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/certain-foods-linked-inflammation-and-depression?cm_mmc=MSN-_-PVN_News-_-Pass%20The%20Pasta–And%20The%20Prozac-_-Pass%20The%20Pasta–And%20The%20Prozac%20SL

GOT PAIN?  PATIENT BEWARE

Back pain accounts for more than $100 billion in annual U.S. healthcare costs and is the second leading cause of physician visits and hospitalizations.

What Happens When Physicians Don’t Know How to Treat Pain?

They resort to the only treatment they know: prescription drugs to treat inflammation, arthritis, back pain, stress, and autoimmunity. And now we’re facing another epidemic on top of chronic pain: prescription drug abuse.

The latter has been called the fastest-growing drug problem in the US by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as the number of deaths from opioid painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone rose nearly four-fold between 1999 and 2009.  Pain medications were involved in 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008.

The overdoses now kill more people than cocaine and heroin combined. As USA Today recently reported, more US states are now taking action to try and stop this growing problem.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/10/states-prescription-drug-painkiller-abuse/2961389/

STROKE: MORE EVIDENCE TO GET UP, MOVE AND NOT BE A STATISTIC

The American Heart Association reports 800,000 Americans suffer from stroke each year. Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the US and the fourth leading cause of death. Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable, because for the most part, strokes are the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Recent research published in the journal Stroke found that, if you’re inactive, you have a 20 percent higher risk for having a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack) than people who exercise enough to break a sweat at least four times a week.

The study involved more than 27,000 Americans for an average of 5.7 years, male and female, Caucasian and African-American.  It included a larger proportion of people from the “Stroke Belt” states, where stroke rates are higher (Virginia, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, and Alabama).

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23868271?dopt=Abstract

Get out there and move! Have a great weekend.

The Perfect Time of Year For a Cleanse

A new year is upon us and with that comes resolutions involving more trips to the gym and less trips to the fridge.  Resolutions, both big and small, are always heavy on January 1st due to the chance at a new start or big change that the date represents.

While personal cultivation can and should be taking place constantly throughout each year, we can’t deny the symbolic, cultural opportunity the new year presents.  It is because of this that the idea of a cleanse and/or detox is ideal to clean the slate and start you out on the right foot.

No matter how healthy or cautious you may be, exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins is inevitable.  Some of these cause immediate damage, while others can accumulate in your body, leading to future damage, especially as the accumulation builds.  Other times these outside invaders (some invited, some not) can cause damage to various organs in the body like your brain, liver, or gut, leading to future issues due to sub-par function.  Think of a leaky gut here, coupled with food sensitivities, systemic inflammation, autoimmunity, and more.

There are many different types of cleanses that serve to assist in ridding your body of the various wastes and toxins that have accumulated in your tissues throughout the holidays, this past year, or your whole life.  Through various dietary restrictions and supplemental support, your body is allowed the opportunity to calm itself rather than being on heightened defense or attack. Toxins are mobilized and detoxified through the liver and thus prepared for removal by way of excretion.

Depending on the type of cleanse utilized, the intestinal tract is also relieved of the constant bombardment of processed foods, grains, and sugars.  This allows your major barrier system and site of 80% of your immune system to begin to heal.  Providing additional support can then help repair, rebuild, and refortify the wall between you and the chemicals, bacteria, and other pathogens that can and may have already been disrupting your internal systems causing inflammation, organ malfunction and an over or under active immune system.

Depending on your personal goals and individual health condition, it is important to select a cleanse/detox program that is not only going to relinquish the inflammatory external stimuli, but deliver support for the systems involved in the process (liver, intestines, kidneys, etc.).  For example, you want to provide the body with the proper support to mobilize any toxins from the fat cells throughout your body and then provide the necessary co-factors to convert them to a water soluble form so that they can be eliminated.

An added bonus to any adequate program is the opportunity to reap the benefits of a sustained restricted diet.  This involves sticking to a menu where the usual hyper-allergenic and problematic foods are avoided for 3-4 weeks.  This is the basic premise behind a standard elimination diet and allows your body to completely eliminate certain potentially problematic proteins from the body.

At the conclusion of the cleanse you now have the option to reintroduce any of the foods you avoided.  When you do this one by one it provides the opportunity to identify potential sensitivities by way of a rash, headache, fatigue, bloating, etc.  Or after refraining from ingesting a certain food you may decide to forego reintroduction altogether and eliminate it outright from your usual meal routine.

To reiterate, and at the risk of being too cliché, the new year provides the perfect time to clean out and restart, repair, rebuild, and recharge your life.  A cleanse/detox program can serve as an ideal way to not only take your health to the next level, but can be quite physically and mentally liberating as well.

If this sounds exciting to you then please, by all means give us a call (321-848-0987).  Together we can sit down (in person or over the phone), discuss your health history, identify your goals, and ultimately construct a plan to leave you refreshed and recharged for 2014 and beyond.

What Causes That Post Meal Crash?

It seems as though nodding off after a holiday meal is just as much of a tradition as eating a Christmas tree or decorating a Thanksgiving turkey.  (Did you catch that or did I catch you drowsy from your last meal?) But why does this happen?  And worse, are you someone who is routinely tired after meals, regardless of the time of year?

The reason behind this varies depending on your specific situation, but mainly involves too many carbohydrates and poor blood sugar control.  Ideally, when we consume carbs/sugars the pancreas releases a proportionate amount of insulin which then delivers the glucose (end result of crab breakdown) to our cells for energy.

On one level we have someone who usually eats relatively healthy, but just consumed a carb load as if they were preparing to hibernate.  The flooding of glucose into the blood alarms the pancreas who, being the diligent little organ he is, dumps insulin to handle the carb load. (Elevated insulin levels due to too many carbs or outright insulin resistance is also not a good thing and has been linked to everything from inflammation to autoimmunity and cancer).

The pancreas wants to make sure all the glucose can catch a ride to a cell so it overcompensates with the amount of insulin secreted.  This also happens with people who have poor blood sugar control (aka dysglycemic).  The end result here is the glucose being cleared from the blood so rapidly that you have now gone from one extreme to the other; from blood sugar spike to crash.  This can lead to symptoms of hypoglycemia; which include light headedness, headaches and feeling tired.

Another reason for the post meal siesta occurs when our tissues become resistant to the insulin that is attempting to clear the blood of and deliver glucose.  This can also happen from over doing it on carbs and is the mechanism behind diabetes type II.  Anyone concerned with intelligently controlling your weight should perk up for this explanation.

When your tissues become insulin resistant due to poor diet, lack of exercise or binge eating, the glucose remains in the circulating blood causing damage to your brain and blood vessels. (We then have our body’s natural bandaid called in (cholesterol), to patch up the damage from the dysglycemia and insulin resistance.)

Your body wants to keep your blood glucose levels under control, so when plan A doesn’t work (glucose cleared from blood by insulin), plan B kicks in.  The glucose is then converted to triglycerides and stored around your midsection as, you guessed it, fat.  In many cases it’s excess carbs, not fat in your diet that leads towards poor blood sugar control, possible diabetes, insulin resistance, aaaaand additional weight gain in the form of glucose being converted to and stored as body fat.

This conversion of glucose to triglycerides en route to your fanny is a process that requires a lot of your body’s energy/fuel.  So much so that it actually leaves you tired and crashing, and thus we have the post meal coma.

Add to this the fact that this process can also raise serotonin levels.  As we’ve discussed in past posts, serotonin is actually the precursor to the sleep hormone melotonin, and because of that can induce drowsiness.  This is also the reason turkey knocks you out as it contains the precursor to serotonin, tryptophan.

Hopefully this sheds some light on the subject for those curious about why we hit the hay after scarfing down a delicious feast.  Enjoy the holiday.  Indulge if you like as you now know what’s going on within and the possible dangers routinely doing so can pose.

However, if you are someone who struggles with cravings, crashes, and weight as we discussed, make it a point to address these signs of internal dysfunction before they get worse.  We’re coming up on a new year which serves as an ideal time to get serious and make your health a priority.

Again, enjoy the holidays and come see us when you’re ready to step it up in the new year.