Research has confirmed what many people have long known: Gluten sensitivity is a real thing.
A Columbia University Medical Center study found gluten sensitivity is not an imagined condition, as many seem to think these days, and that celiac disease or a wheat allergy are not required to react to gluten.
Although people with gluten sensitivity may not demonstrate classic symptoms or lab markers of celiac disease, gluten nevertheless causes an acute immune response in gluten sensitive people.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity vary widely and often include fatigue, brain fog, memory problems, mood imbalances, joint pain, skin eruptions, respiratory issues, and worsening of existing health conditions.
Gluten sensitivity different than celiac disease
In celiac disease, the immune response to gluten happens primarily in the small intestine.
With gluten sensitivity, however, the immune response is systemic, meaning the inflammatory cells travel in the bloodstream throughout the body. This explains why symptoms vary so widely.
Researchers found that six months on a gluten-free diet normalized the immune response and significantly improved patient symptoms.
Gluten sensitivity awareness crucial for patients
Studies like this are important to help educate doctors that gluten sensitivity can cause chronic health problems.
Many doctors still believe that only celiac disease is to blame for a reaction to gluten. Because gluten sensitivity is largely dismissed and conventional testing for it is so inadequate, many patients unnecessarily suffer from undiagnosed gluten sensitivity.
Gluten linked to autoimmunity and brain disorders
What’s worse, gluten is linked to many autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease is a condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys tissue in the body. Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes.
However, the tissue most commonly attacked in response to gluten sensitivity is neurological tissue.
In other words, your undiagnosed gluten sensitivity could be destroying your brain. This is why gluten causes brain-based disorders in many people.
Gluten sensitivity more common than celiac
Celiac disease was long thought to affect about 1 percent of the population, but newer research shows rates have gone up 700 percent in the last 50 years.
Also, numbers are likely even higher because testing for celiac disease is extremely stringent and outdated. (Diagnostic criteria were developed in Europe, where a celiac diagnosis qualifies one for disability payments.)
Estimates for the rate of gluten sensitivity range from 6 percent of the population to considerably higher—a randomized population sample of 500 people conducted by immunologist Aristo Vojdani, PhD found one in three people had gluten sensitivity.
Proper testing and strict gluten-free diet are vital
Most testing for gluten sensitivity is inaccurate as people can react to at least 12 different compounds in gluten. Standard tests only screen for one, alpha gliadin.
Also, many people have cross reactions to gluten, meaning they respond to other foods they eat as if it were gluten. Dairy is one of the most common of these. It’s important to test for cross-reactive foods and remove them from the diet along with gluten.
It’s also vital to strictly adhere to a gluten-free diet as the occasional cheat can keep inflammation high and chances at symptom recovery low.
Ask my office for advice on the latest in testing for gluten sensitivity.
Have you noticed how shockingly bright streetlights are these days? Although they’re great for night time visibility, the newer LED streetlights tamper with the body’s internal clock, skewing metabolic function and raising disease risk.
The effect of blue-rich white light at night on human health is so significant that the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a policy statement about street lighting.
It warns they are five times more disruptive to the human sleep cycle than traditional street lighting and that recent large surveys link brighter residential lighting with reduced sleep, poor functioning, and more obesity. The lighting also increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
These bright blue-white lights also strain the eyes and can cause problems walking or driving safely at night. Enough blue light can even damage the retina.
How night time lighting can be safer for health
LED lights were introduced because they consume less energy. The AMA suggests ways to make the lighting friendlier to human biology (and that of area wildlife):
- Lowering the color temperature of the lights away from the blue end of the spectrum (which signals the brain it is daytime) and towards the orange end of the spectrum. Current lights have a color temperature of 4000K to 5000K. Compare this with the use of fire and candles human have used for most of history, at 1800K. The AMA recommends lights be no bluer than 3000K.
- Better shielding the light to reduce eye-straining glare.
- Using adaptive controls to dim or extinguish the lights.
Residents complaining about bright lights
You don’t have to understand the science to feel the effects of these lights. Already residents in areas where
they are installed around the country are complaining, saying the lights feel like a car lot or strip mall parking lot. The LED street lamps also light up the insides of homes, especially in hilly areas such as Seattle.
The majority of Davis, California residents found them so objectionable the city agreed to replace all existing LED streetlights with more biologically friendly lighting.
Do you need sunglasses at night?
Of course, it’s dangerous to wear dark glasses at night. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have recourse if LED streetlights are a part of your life.
You can switch the light coming into your eyes to a friendlier hue by wearing orange or rose tinted glasses that aren’t sunglasses. Examples include affordable Uvex safety glasses from Amazon, orange glasses from Low Blue Lights (these glasses are more expensive because they are scratch resistant), or rose tinted migraine glasses.
Also, cities are taking note of complaints, so be sure to add your voice.
Avoid night time blue lights indoors too
LED streetlights aren’t the only culprits when it comes to confusing your sleep-wake cycle. LED televisions, smart phones, tablets, computers, and LED bulbs also bombard you with too much blue light at night, hindering the output of sleep hormones.
Purchasing orange bulbs for lamps, orange filters to put over your screens, or wearing orange glasses a couple of hours before bed are ways to encourage the production of sleep hormones and maintain the delicate but important sleep-wake cycle.
While many women automatically assume that carrying a child and severe pain in the lower back go hand in hand, they are often surprised when they learn that this is not necessarily the case. In fact, chiropractic care can often help alleviate back pain for pregnant women by as much as 85%.
We've worked with many pregnant women suffering from back pain in our Portland office.
One piece of research published in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies involved 115 women who were pregnant (most of which were in their third trimester) and reported pain in their lower back region, pelvic area, or both. Data was gathered prior to the study, as well as one week, one month, three months, and one year after treatment commenced. At each follow-up, the participants were asked to rate their level of pain based on a 7-point scale to determine whether it was better, worse, or stayed the same. The results?
52% reported that their pain was better after one week of chiropractic treatment. After one month, that amount jumped up to 70 percent, climbing even more to 85 percent showing improvement at the three month mark. Positive effects were still reported at six months post-treatment, which was generally after childbirth, and continued to the final data collection one year after treatment commenced.
There are also many additional benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy. Not only does it efficiently relieve back pain, but it does it in a completely natural and non-invasive way. This means that you don't have to worry about taking any drugs or undergoing any type of treatment that could potentially harm your unborn child.
Furthermore, it makes your time spent carrying your baby more pleasant. When you're not distracted with pain, you can enjoy the experience even more as you prepare your home and your life for all of the fun and exciting changes that lie ahead.
You don't have to suffer from back pain during pregnancy. We're here in Portland to help with natural chiropractic care. Give us a call today at (503) 771-1974 to make an appointment.
Peterson CK, Muhlemann D, & Humphreys BK. Outcomes of pregnant patients with low back pain undergoing chiropractic treatment: a prospective cohort study with short term, medium term and 1 year follow-up. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2014;22(15):doi:10.1186/2045-709X-22-15.
Star Trek’s Zoe Saldano recently revealed she has Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, a thyroid disease affecting millions of women that causes weight gain, fatigue, depression, cold hands and feet, brain fog, constipation, and many other symptoms.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune thyroid disease. Autoimmunity is a condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue, in this case the thyroid gland. It is one of the most common autoimmune diseases, affecting an estimated more than 23 million people.
The thyroid gland governs metabolism in the body and produces thyroid hormones, which are needed by every cell in the body, including brain cells.
This is why a thyroid disease such as Hashimoto’s causes a person to gradually lose function, feel run down, lose brain function, and find it impossible to lose weight (although not in Saldano’s case.)
Saldano’s unusual explanation for Hashimoto’s
When asked about her Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism diagnosis, Saldano said, “Your body doesn’t have the energy it needs to filter toxins, causing it to believe that it has an infection, so it’s always inflamed.”
This is an unusual and narrow explanation for autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s.
Research shows multiple factors play into the development of an autoimmune disease, including:
Genetic susceptibility (Saldano’s family members have Hashimoto’s)
⦁ Imbalanced immunity
⦁ Food sensitivities
⦁ Environmental toxins
⦁ Leaky gut
⦁ Chronic stress
⦁ Gender (autoimmunity mainly affects women)
⦁ Hormone imbalances
⦁ Blood sugar imbalances
⦁ Chronic inflammation
⦁ Viral or bacterial infection
In a nutshell, rarely can we point to one defining trigger of autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Typically, a person experiences a number of chronic health issues that go undiagnosed until the overburdened immune system tips into an over zealous attack on the body.
What Saldano is doing right for Hashimoto’s
Although her explanation for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism may be a bit off base, Saldano otherwise puts forth some good lifestyle examples.
For starters, she follows a gluten-free and dairy-free diet. Studies link these foods with autoimmunity, including Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
She also talks about the stress reducing techniques of not being too hard on herself and surrounding herself with the support of loved ones.
How to find out if you have Hashimoto’s
Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism often goes undiagnosed in the conventional health care model. This is because doctors often only test for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) to prescribe medication.
About 95 percent of hypothyroid cases are due to Hashimoto’s. It’s important to check for TPO and TGB antibodies, which tell you if you have autoimmunity. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to balance and regulate the immune system so it stops attacking the body.
For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, contact my office.
Most cases of chronic disease can be linked to stress, even if that stress is more physical than psychological. About two-thirds of doctor’s visits are for stress-related complaints.[SB1]
How does stress causes disease? The body responds to stress by making adrenal hormones (such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol) that cause the “fight or flight” response. This response raises blood pressure, increases the heart rate, and sends blood to the limbs in preparation for action. The sweaty palms, quickened breathing, and jitters before a job interview, first date, or big test? That’s from stress hormones.
A healthy body quickly returns to normal after a stressful situation. The problem with life today is stress is ongoing and many people never return to “normal.” Chronic financial worries, a stressful job, or a bad relationship keep us locked in fight-or-flight.
Stress doesn’t have to be only related to lifestyle. In fact, stressors to the body are more insidious and can be more damaging. These include a diet high in sugar and starchy foods, not eating enough or eating too much, gut problems, food intolerances, high or low blood sugar, diabetes, anemia, autoimmune disease, chronic pain, and environmental toxins.
How stress damages your body
Unrelenting stress causes continual production of cortisol. Cortisol is known as the aging hormone because it breaks us down more quickly. Chronic high cortisol is linked to:
- increased belly fat
- insulin resistance
- high blood pressure
- low energy
- suppressed immunity
- reduced libido
- bone loss
- heart problems
Symptoms of chronic stress
You might think this is a no-brainer — a symptom of chronic stress is feeling stressed out.
This is true in many, but not all cases. Other lesser-known symptoms that indicate stress is robbing you of health include: constant fatigue, energy crashes, difficulty recovering from stressful events, headaches, trouble falling and staying asleep, trouble waking up, emotional mood swings, sugar and caffeine cravings, irritability, lightheadedness between meals, eating to relieve fatigue, dizziness upon standing, and gastric ulcers.
How to buffer damages of stress
The most important first step in addressing stress to better manage chronic disease is obvious: remove the stressors. This can mean a diet and lifestyle overhaul.
It also means adding in activities that lower stress and release chemicals and hormones that lower inflammation and improve overall health of the body and brain.
These include plenty of sleep, meditation, daily physical activity, hobbies, socializing, laughter, a healthy whole foods diet, avoiding junk foods, and more.
Daily stress is a way of life for the average American. Just the toxic chemicals we encounter in our environment are considerably stressful. Urban life, traffic, raising children, and existing illnesses are examples of potent stressors you can’t simply jettison.
PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is the most common female hormonal imbalance today. PCOS has far reaching consequences, including an increased risk of autism in offspring. The good news it may be reversible through diet and lifestyle changes.
PCOS is a condition in which an imbalance in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone causes cysts to grow on the ovaries. While this can be painful, the consequences of PCOS can be severe, including a 60 percent increased risk in giving birth to a baby who will develop an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The symptoms of PCOS
Consider the symptoms of PCOS, below, which reflect how pervasive this disorder is on the body as a whole.
Here are some symptoms:
⦁ Irregular menstrual periods
⦁ Ovarian cysts
⦁ Acne, oily skin, or dandruff
⦁ Obesity and excess weight, usually concentrated around the abdomen
⦁ Male pattern baldness
⦁ Dark, thick patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs
⦁ Skin tags
⦁ Anxiety or depression
⦁ Sleep apnea
PCOS causes male attributes
The hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS cause higher levels of the male hormone testosterone. This in turn leads to the development of such male attributes as male pattern balding, facial hair growth, deepening voice, and perhaps a more aggressive or indifferent personality.
What causes PCOS?
It’s no accident that symptoms of PCOS are similar to those of high blood sugar and diabetes. Although genetic predisposition plays a role in PCOS, the diet and lifestyle factors that cause insulin resistance (high blood sugar) and type 2 diabetes also cause PCOS: a diet high in sugars and processed carbohydrates, lack of plant fiber, overeating, and lack of exercise.
The upside to this is that switching to a whole foods diet that is free of sugar, lower in processed carbs, and high in vegetables and adding in daily physical activity can help reverse not only high blood sugar but also PCOS. For younger women this paves the path to a smoother transition through perimenopause and menopause, a period in life that can be made miserable by blood sugar imbalances.
The vicious cycle between PCOS and blood sugar
Standard lab markers that can identify PCOS include a fasting blood sugar of over 100 and elevated triglycerides and cholesterol, especially if triglycerides are higher than cholesterol. Not surprisingly, these are also markers found with insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells become less sensitive to insulin due to a high-sugar, high-carbohydrate diet, over eating, and sedentary lifestyle.
This leads to high testosterone and PCOS in women (and elevated estrogen in men).
Unfortunately, elevated testosterone causes cells to become more resistant to insulin, thus creating more testosterone in a vicious cycle.
If you would like advice on managing PCOS naturally, ask my office for advice on functional medicine strategies to balance your blood sugar and hormones.
Although some people are still hesitant about chiropractic, even the American Medical Association (AMA) suggests that adjustments should be tried prior to surgical treatment--the one option that should be a last resort.
Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has seen many back pain patients in our Portland office who have been hurting for years and who are afraid that they might need an operation for their back pain. Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has had great success in helping patients recover and avoid risky surgery, and the science backs up our experience.
For example, in one study carried out on almost 2,000 Washington State workers who suffered from a back injury while at work, more than 40% who saw a surgeon first following their injury found themselves having back surgery within three years. That compares to just 1.5% of the patients who first sought treatment with chiropractic care, proving that this natural approach is very effective at keeping you out of the operating room.
There are alternatives to risky medical procedures. Chiropractic is a proven effective and safe way to improve the function of your spine, which is the root cause of back pain. Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has helped many patients in Portland recover. Give our office a call today at (503) 771-1974 for an appointment.
Goodman DM, Burke AE, Livingston. Low Back Pain. The Journal of the American Medical Association 2013;309(16);1738.
Keeney BJ, Fulton-Kehoe D, Turner JA, et al. Early predictors of lumbar spine surgery after occupational back injury: results from a prospective study of workers in Washington State. Spine 2013;38(11):953-964.
It’s a common argument: “You don’t need to take supplements if you eat a good diet.” Although a good diet is foundational to good health, supplements play an instrumental role in various health conditions.
People who don’t understand the value of supplements think they exist only to profit off of “suckers for snake oil.” To be sure, those products exist.
Others view them as dangerous and unregulated compounds that should be taken off the market. Those products exist as well.
The United States is unique compared to the rest of the west in terms of of the freedom of our supplement market. Supplement availability in Europe and Canada is severely limited compared to the United States.
With this comes pros and cons.
How to be a smart supplement shopper
The key to understanding supplements is to understand the underlying causes of your condition.
For instance, ten different people can each have a different cause for leaky gut, insomnia, pain, depression, and so on. Buying a “depression supplement,” or an “insomnia supplement,” can result in failure and frustration.
Also, quality matters. Supplements from your local chain supermarket are not going to meet the same standards of quality, care, specificity, and educational support of supplements sold through a practitioner.
The good news about our supplement market is we have access to high quality supplements and education.
Why you may need supplements
Here are some reasons you may need supplements even if you eat a pristine whole foods diet.
Because you are aging. As we age certain functions start to diminish, such as digestion, brain function, recovery time, hormone balance, and more.
Digestive supplements support diminishing hydrochloric acid and pancreatic enzyme support. Brain nutrients help support oxygenation and activity of the brain (although they won’t compensate for poor diet and lifestyle). Various herbs support hormone balance and energy production.
Because we live in a stressful, toxic world. We are dealing with extreme levels of stress and toxic chemicals in our food and environment. This contributes to such conditions as chronic pain, inflammation, autoimmunity, and brain dysfunctions. Many supplements are designed to buffer the effects of the stressful and toxic burdens we deal with daily.
Because many of us grew up eating a crap diet. You may eat a good diet now, but if you grew up on junk food and a sedentary lifestyle, you may have sustained metabolic damage, such as unstable blood sugar, hormonal imbalance, poor stress handling, chronic inflammation, autoimmunity, and more. These don’t always reverse themselves through diet alone.
Supplements geared toward stabilizing blood sugar, supporting stress handling, and taming inflammation can super charge your whole foods diet.
Because our foods are compromised. Even if you eat the perfect diet, studies show our foods aren’t as nutrient dense as they were in the past. You still may benefit from at least a good multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplement.
“Supplements” actually have a long history of use
This is a broad overview of ways supplements can help. Most supplements consist of herbs and other natural compounds that have sound scientific support and have been used throughout history around the globe. While pharmaceuticals have been a vital boon to medicine, they are also relative newcomers.
Ask my office for advice on how to supplement smartly.
If you have diabetes, whether it’s type 1 or type 2, your doctor likely recommended a diet endorsed by the American Diabetes Association. But did you know the diabetic diet recommends foods that could be slowly worsening your diabetes condition?
Turns out there is more to a diabetic diet than grams of carbs and sugar, although those are vitally important.
For people with type 1 diabetes and for an estimated 20 percent of people with type 2 diabetes, diabetes is an autoimmune disease.
This means the immune system is attacking and destroying the parts of the pancreas involved in insulin production and regulation. Over time destruction is severe enough the body can no longer adequately regulate blood sugar.
Certain foods on the diabetic diet, such as gluten and dairy, have been shown to both trigger autoimmunity and make it worse.
Many type 2 diabetics have autoimmune diabetes
People with type 1 diabetes, which begins in childhood, understand diabetes is an autoimmune condition.
However, many people with type 2 diabetes can go for years without knowing there is an autoimmune component to their diabetes, which generally sets in during adulthood.
This type of diabetes is called type 1.5 diabetes, latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA), or even double diabetes.
Type 1.5 diabetes involves the lifestyle components of being overweight or obese and eating a diet that promotes high blood sugar, along with the autoimmune component that slowly destroys the insulin-producing abilities of the pancreas.
Where the diabetic diet fails
Although grams of carbs and sugars are vital considerations for people with all types of diabetes, what is overlooked is the immune reactivity of foods.
Research shows a link between certain foods and the triggering or exacerbating of autoimmune diseases such as type 1 and type 1.5 diabetes.
If you have an immune reaction to certain foods and consume them daily, they are going to keep the immune system in a constant state of inflammation and attacking body tissue. This makes blood sugar continually difficult to manage, despite careful consumptions of carbs and sugars.
Foods to avoid with autoimmune diabetes
The two top foods to avoid if you have autoimmune diabetes are gluten and dairy. Both have been linked to a number of autoimmune diseases, including diabetes.
Gluten has been shown to trigger an autoimmune attack against the GAD enzyme, which plays a role in insulin regulation and brain function. Casein, the protein in dairy products, has also been linked with autoimmune diabetes.
If you have a sensitivity to these foods or other common immune reactive foods, it is worth getting tested or doing an elimination diet. Knowing which foods are provoking an autoimmune attack can help you better manage your type 1 or type 1.5 diabetes.
Ask my office for more advice on ways to tame inflammation and manage your autoimmune diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, it’s important to rule out autoimmunity.
Are you often wide awake around 3 or 4 a.m., your mind racing with anxiety, but then collapsing into a near coma in the late afternoon? This maddening cycle of waking up and falling asleep at inconvenient hours is often relieved by managing low blood sugar.
Why you’re wide awake at 3 or 4 a.m.
Although sleep is a time for the body to rest, your brain is still busy working on repair and regeneration, transforming the day’s impressions into lasting memories, and keeping you entertained with dreams.
The brain demands more fuel than any other organ, about 20 percent of the body’s total supply. These needs don’t abate during sleep, when your body is fasting.
In the absence of food, the body keeps the brain going by gradually raising the adrenal hormone cortisol, which triggers the production of glucose to feed the brain through the night.
At least in theory.
Chronic low blood sugar breaks this system down because it skews cortisol rhythms and release. When your brain starts to run low on fuel during the night, cortisol may lag in triggering glucose release.
The brain cannot wait until breakfast and perceives this lack of fuel supply as an emergency. As a result, the body releases more urgent “fight-or-flight” adrenal hormones, which raise blood sugar back to safe levels.
Unfortunately, these adrenals hormones are also designed to help you either flee from danger or fight it. This does not bode well for a sound night’s sleep and explains why if you wake up at 3 or 4 a.m., it’s usually with a mind racing with worry.
Meanwhile, 12 hours later when you could really use the energy to finish a work project or deal with after-school duties, you crash and can barely function thanks to blood sugar and cortisol levels bottoming out. Reaching for that shot of caffeine may pull you through, but in the long run it’s only compounding the problem.
How to fall asleep if you wake up at 3 a.m.
If you wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. with a racing mind, eating a little something may feed your brain and calm your mind so you can fall back asleep. But do not eat something sugary, which will spike blood sugar and perpetuate the cycle. Instead, eat some protein and fat.
Examples include nut butter, a little bit of meat, boiled egg, or a coconut snack. Have these prepared ahead of time and even next to your bed so you don’t have to go into the kitchen and turn on bright lights. You will not feel hungry because adrenal hormones are appetite suppressants, but you don’t need to eat much.
How to avoid the afternoon crash
To avoid the afternoon crash without caffeine you need to stabilize blood sugar as a way of life. Eat frequently enough to avoid sending blood sugar into a nose dive, and avoid foods that cause blood sugar to spike and crash: Sugar, caffeine, energy drinks, too many carbohydrates, and starchy carbs.
How do you know if you have low blood sugar?
Low blood sugar symptoms include:
- Sugar cravings
- Irritability, lightheadedness, dizziness, or brain fog if meals are missed
- Lack of appetite or nausea in the morning (this is caused by stress hormones)
- The need for caffeine for energy
- Eating to relieve fatigue
A variety of nutritional compounds can further support your blood sugar handling and stress hormone functions so you sleep better. Ask us for advice.