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Getting a Hold of Auto-Immunity

Controlling Auto-Immunity

Don’t Detox Without Performing This Essential Step

Everyone wants to find the most efficient path to health, wellness, and longevity.  This overwhelming demand creates an abundance of products and protocols claiming to be the best.  One of the hottest buzzwords amongst these products is the detox.  And while a true detox/cleanse can not be overlooked as an intricate tool to utilize during the construction or renovation of our health, there exists a separate targeted approach that is just as, if not more important when it comes to creating an internal environment that facilitates the ability to thrive.

What we are talking about is fortifying the site where the bulk of our immune system resides.

We are talking about ensuring that maximum potential is achieved when it comes to reaping the benefits of the foods we consume via absorption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals; and conversely minimizing the risk for nutritional deficiencies and infection.

We are talking about rebuilding the major barrier systems of our body that protect us from exposure and subsequent damage to our respiratory system, digestive tract, skin, and brain.

We are talking about optimizing and balancing the immune response and not ending up as a statistic representing the alarming growing number of seemingly idiopathic auto-immune conditions sweeping the country.

We are talking about setting the stage to grab control of glucose and insulin levels, weight and minimizing the stress response from within.

The foundation for health that we’re talking about is an optimally functioning GI (gastrointestinal) or digestive tract.  Healing and sealing any intestinal permeability or a leaky gut is absolutely essential when looking to address a countless number of issues.  Improving function on this level often times leads to an attenuation or outright termination of seemingly disconnected signs or symptoms.  When we recognize, respect and comprehend the complex interwoven matrix that is our bodies, this holistic approach becomes not only understandable but mandatory for attaining true health from the inside out.

For a number or reasons (diet [food sensitivities or high sugar/carb], antibiotics, chlorinated water, excessive use of NSAIDs, etc.) our intestinal wall can begin to falter.  This is problematic due to the fact that the majority of our immune system resides there and because it serves as a major barrier system in our bodies.

It’s relation to the three other major barrier systems (blood brain barrier, lungs, and skin) becomes blatantly obvious when gut dysfunction leads to mental fog, fatigue and forgetfulness, respiratory infections and asthma, or psoriasis and eczema, respectfully.  Further strengthening of the relationship is seen when correction of the gut dysfunction leads to a change in many of the aforementioned conditions.

This is where full acknowledgement and respect must be paid to the holistic nature of our bodies.  When one of these barrier systems is effected, damaged or dysfunctional, the effects can be seen amongst the others.  Never is this so obvious as when healing and sealing the intestines, coupled with an elimination diet leads to massive improvements or outright resolution of what appears to be unrelated issues.

If a leaky gut is left unaddressed, undigested food particles and other organisms that would otherwise be refused access, freely enter into our bloodstream.  This causes the immune system to do it’s job and launch an attack on the unwanted visitors.

The problem occurs as the immune system is called upon to perform this search and seizure so frequently that it becomes hypersensitive and begins to attack our own tissues, some of which have a similar molecular structure to the unwanted invaders.  This can manifest as allergies, asthma, rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis), hypothyroidism; even MS depending on the tissue attacked.

The longer the door is open and an attack persists, the more tissues that can suffer as condition after condition can begin to mount.  It is for these handful reasons, and countless more that fortifying the gut by way of clearing, replacing and rebuilding is at the core; the foundation of attaining optimal health.

More than 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates appeared to be onto something when he stated, “all disease begins in the gut.”  In a relatively short time, the changes I’ve witnessed personally and clinically have been nothing short of game changing for all involved.

The knowledge and path to practical implementation exists and is waiting.

As always, we’re ready when you are.

What Goes ON Your Body, Goes IN Your Body.

When we work with patients in an attempt to improve underlying function by way of ridding the body of toxins and potential triggers, healing and sealing the gut and balancing the immune system, we often focus on dietary and supplemental support.  Mainly we are making changes as to what goes IN the body.

However, we often overlook what could potentially be the major source of systemic irritation and continued suffering.  We often overlook things like our everyday toiletries and cosmetics.  These are items that we voluntarily apply to our skin and thus invite into our bodies, sometimes numerous times a day.  The simple fact is that what we put on our body is just as important as what we put in our body because what we put on our body goes into our body.

When you apply a product to your skin, whether it be deodorant to the arm pit, lotion on the hands, or makeup on the face, the ingredients of that product are absorbed through the skin and into the circulatory system.  It is here where they can now travel the bloodstream, gaining access to any and every organ of your body, including the brain.

This is why as you continue your journey to wellness enlightenment and longevity, reading the labels on ALL items, not just food becomes an essential practice.

If you decide to be proactive and take a gander at the fine print label you will often find ingredients that you either can’t pronounce or make you scratch your head.  I implore you dig a little deeper into each ingredient.  You may find independent studies (not funded by the company that stands to incur a financial gain off the success of the product) done on those particular ingredients that may lead to the use of words like “carcinogenic,” or “endocrine disruptor.”  These words are thrown around so often due to the extensive menu of modern ingredients that they often lose their significance or meaning altogether.

Let’s start with the first one; carcinogenic.  This means cancer causing.  Yes, the one and only devastating cancer.  The one that continues to claim an increasing number of lives each year despite the acknowledged fact (by the World Health Organization) that approximately half of these cases could be prevented if current medical knowledge were acted upon and lifestyle strategies were implemented.  These lifestyle strategies include the voluntary daily use and topical application AND THUS SYSTEMIC APPLICATION of products containing carcinogenic ingredients.

One of the reasons a word like carcinogenic loses it’s steam is due to the prevalence of cancer. We become so inundated with studies demonstrating a possible cancer link here or an increase in tumor growth there, to the point that a surrender to circumstance is summed up in the phrase: “everything causes cancer.”

Well this simply is not true. In actuality certain lifestyle modifications are shown to do quite the opposite and vice versa.  The above referenced phrase serves as the proverbial white flag and explanation that I’ll continue to do what I want despite the information suggesting that it may be detrimental to my health and length of life.

The term endocrine disruptor is used to refer to interference with the normal expression of hormones.  However, even when we use the term hormone disruptor, the extent of the widespread ramifications are usually not fully understood.  When most people hear the word hormone they mainly think of the sex hormones; testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, etc.  While disruption of hormones does indeed include these, it extends well beyond that.

One of the intricate mechanisms the internal body utilizes for communication and subsequent function is carried out by chemical messengers known as hormones.  These hormones range from the aforementioned reproductive hormones (which are vital regardless of age), the oh so popular thyroid hormones, the adrenal (stress) hormones, human growth hormone or HGH which helps us repair daily damage and has been touted as the anti-aging hormone, to Vitamin D which is actually considered a hormone due to all of the changes and processes it is involved in throughout the body.

The reason why this can be such a serious issue is due to the fact that our bodies operate as an interwoven matrix in which balance is key.  Any disruption of one aspect will have a direct effect on another.  Overworked adrenal glands having a dampening effect on the thyroid gland, for example.

For something to be labeled as a potential disruptor means the potential to throw off homeostasis or balance exists.  This can contribute to sleep disturbances, issues with blood sugar handling and fat storage, hypo or hyperthyroid symptoms, slow wound healing or prolonged muscle soreness, hot flashes, fertility issues; and the list goes on.  This is not a term to be taken lightly, especially if you have a poor diet or are a growing child.

In the case for carcinogenic or endocrine disrupting ingredients, often times the argument is made that the tests were done on animals so we don’t know how it will effect humans, or that the amount used in the product is so small that it’s harmless.  First off, an ingredient doubling the rate of tumor growth in any life form should be a red flag.  If there is any doubt as to safety and an option exists, especially when it comes to cancer, wouldn’t it be wise to exercise that option rather than turn a blind eye to research?  It’s all about stacking that deck here people.

Secondly, while there may be small or even trace amounts of certain substances within a product, many times these are products that are applied and reapplied to the skin on a daily basis.  As we’ve covered, this provides open access to your body via absorption through the skin and into the bloodstream.  Chemicals and toxins can then continue to circulate, often times in more toxic forms due to other metabolic interactions that take place within the body.  These toxins can then bioaccumulate in the body, mostly in fat (brain is ~70% fat by the way).

So you see even using small amounts can accumulate if the application is a daily ritual.  Add to this the potential impediment to breaking down and excreting these chemicals if there is sluggish liver function, which can be caused by toxic overload.  This is a real “chicken or egg” situation and is why using safer products and providing the liver with the support it needs with an annual detox/cleanse are two essentials for wellness.

In closing, let me just reiterate what I’ve said before.  There is no full proof way to achieve a guarantee for disease avoidance or even premature death.  However, there does exist ways to potentially facilitate that process in one direction or the other.

When it comes to the often overlooked ingredients in our skin care products and their similarly underestimated far reaching effects, it would serve as another strong step in the direction of clean living, wellness, and longevity to avoid these chemicals; even if the potential exists.  Why increase your potential for cancer or hormone disruption if you don’t have to?

Need help getting started?  Don’t know where to find alternative products?  Let us know and we’d be happy to share with you the products we utilize for our own family.

Why Gluten Free???

It seems that one of the trendiest topics being thrown around the health food arena today is a gluten free diet. However, unlike other diet fads, the reason to eliminate gluten from your diet is backed by a sound scientific explanation and significant positive changes have been seen when the gluten is kicked to the curb. This should be reassuring news to anyone who has heard the negative spin on gluten, but wondered whether or not it is just another excuse for food manufactures and restaurants to up-charge that gluten-free item.

What is Gluten Anyway?

Gluten is a protein that is found in grains like wheat, rye oats, millet and barely. Gluten, or wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), is a type of protein called a lectin. (Keep in mind as you read that ALL grains [whole grains, corn, rice, etc.] contain these lectins, so all can wreak the same havoc I am about to describe.) Due to the structure of these lectins, they are not able to be broken down during the digestive process as other more friendly foods would. That leaves large protein structures intact and imbedded in your intestinal lining. Eventually, they make their way through your intestinal lining and this is where the problems begin.

Now that these lectins have entered the blood stream, they have access to your entire body. I’m talking everywhere from your reproductive organs, to your pancreas, to your brain. Once this unfamiliar protein structure is detected by the immune system, anti-bodies are created in order to get rid of the inappropriate foreign invader as it would a bacteria or virus. To understand what happens next, it needs to be understood that everything in your body is made up of a sequence of amino acids strung together to form a protein. Unfortunately these lectins have a remarkably similar amino acid sequence as many of the tissues in your body. So, now as your immune system works properly to destroy the unwanted foreign structure, it also begins to attack your own tissues due to something referred to as micro or molecular mimicry, and thus you have the start of an autoimmune disease. The situation is even further amplified due to the fact that when the large, awkward lectin (in this case WGA) makes its way through the intestinal lining, it also damaged it. This is what is commonly referred to as your “leaky gut.” The cascade continues, and now other proteins pass through the intestinal wall before being adequately broken down by the intestinal digestive enzymes. Immune responses are now generated to otherwise harmless foods. Food allergies and the start of other autoimmune diseases now have the green light to commence.

But Wait, There’s More?

Grains must be looked at as living things. They are a simple people with their objective being to survive long enough to reproduce. To do this, they must receive nourishment and have some sort of defense mechanism. Grains contain these things called phytates (or anti-nutrients) which tightly bind to minerals like calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium in order to nourish the grain and enable germination. All good for the grain, but not so good if that sucker is making a home inside of you. The phytate property of the grain enables it to powerfully bind the above listed essential minerals. This leaves you deficient and the door wide open for osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, reduced immune function and wound healing, and fatigue and heart problems, respectively. For survival, the lectin also comes equipped with protease inhibitors, meaning it actually inhibits some of the enzymes from breaking it down. This means that all food being digested is now subject to your digestive tracts reduction in breakdown capability. Translation: less absorption of the nutrients you need to survive.

Many people suffer from and are diagnosed with celiac disease. This is an autoimmune disease, able to be directly correlated with gluten as the cause. Many people suffer from various conditions and symptoms to which the medical community remains baffled as far as a cause. Often times, people feel completely fine or have minor issues and therefore dismiss their diet as having any effect on their health. Even if there are no external signs and symptoms present, some potentially hazardous, internal destruction could still be taking place. Gluten sensitivity is a lesser version of an outright allergy and is much more common. Conditions such as RA, MS, fibromyalgia, insomnia, depression, Parkinson’s, autism, and hypothyroidism (to name a few) have all benefited from cutting gluten (and other grains) out of the diet.

Do You Have an Issue With Gluten?

Well, if any of the above conditions or mechanisms of internal destruction described above doesn’t sound that pleasant to you, it may be worthwhile to find out. A simple way to do this is to eliminate the grains from your diet for 30-60 days. I know this may seem crazy, especially since another devious characteristic of gluten is that it comes fully loaded with molecules that fit into opiate receptors in your brain. Translation: It is actually addictive. But a simple period of trial and error may actually result in some of those seemingly minor issues disappearing. Upon completion of the gluten free period, you may even notice an instant headache or stomach issue when you attempt to reintroduce the beloved grains. This is your body politely asking you to knock it off before it gets worse. You now have evidence of an otherwise undetectable food sensitivity, and are empowered to make a change before things potentially get worse. Seems like this would be a better solution than taking side-effect carrying medications, or worse, winding up with some debilitating disease in the golden years, all because those cookies were calling your name.

A great read providing further explanation behind the mechanisms and possible destruction that can occur, along with meal plans and recipes to attempt a gluten-free lifestyle is: The Paleo Solution, The Original Human Diet, by Rob Wolf. Much of the above information was referenced from there.

Other References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10884708
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1737870/
http://paleodietlifestyle.com/11-ways-gluten-and-wheat-can-damage-your-health/