Posts Categorized as: Nutrition
Hypothyroidism has received a lot of attention online since the publication of Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Datis Kharrazian in 2009. While many facets should be addressed in managing hypothyroidism, one of the most important continues to be a gluten-free diet.
Research shows ninety percent of hypothyroidism cases are due to an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. This disease is called Hashimoto’s.
Most doctors do not test for Hashimoto’s because it does not change treatment, which is thyroid medication. Also, many cases of hypothyroidism go undiagnosed because Hashimoto’s can cause the lab marker TSH to fluctuate.
Where does gluten fit in with this? Numerous studies have linked an immune reaction to gluten with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Whether it’s a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, gluten triggers an autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland in many people. Most of these people do not even know they are sensitive to gluten.
Going off gluten is the first step with Hashimoto’s
Studies, clinical observation, and patient stories make a very strong case for the benefits of going gluten-free to better manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism symptoms.
A number of studies for several countries show a link between Hashimoto’s and gluten. This is because the protein structure of gluten closely resembles that of thyroid tissue. When your immune system reacts to gluten, it may start erroneously reacting to thyroid tissue as well. This will cause the immune system to attack and destroy thyroid tissue in a case of mistaken identity.
Studies also show patients improve on a strict gluten-free diet. One study showed as many as 71 percent of subjects resolved their hypothyroid symptoms after following a strict gluten-free diet for one year.
Why you may need to stop eating other foods too
Sorry to say, going gluten-free alone doesn’t always work. Many people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism also need to go dairy-free. Dairy, whether it’s cow, goat, or sheep, is the second biggest problem food for people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Many people simply have an immune intolerance to dairy and aren’t aware of it until they stop consuming it. However, in an immune sensitive individual, the body may also mistake dairy for gluten and trigger an immune reaction that ultimately ends up targeting the thyroid.
For those serious about managing their Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, a gluten-free and dairy-free diet frequently results in profound alleviation of symptoms, if not total remission.
Many find they may need to eliminate additional foods, such as certain grains, eggs, or soy. An elimination/provocation diet can help you figure out what your immune system reacts to, or a comprehensive food sensitivity test from Cyrex Labs.
What is there left to eat?
If you’re used to eating without restrictions, eliminating gluten, dairy, and possibly other foods to manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroid symptoms may seem overwhelming and too restrictive. Many people are left wondering, what is left to eat?
Rest assured there is more than enough to eat. Most people fare well on a paleo diet that is primarily vegetables (a diverse array of plenty of vegetables helps create the healthy gut bacteria that improve immunity.)
More importantly, symptoms and general health improves so dramatically that people come to love their new diet and despise the way they feel after they cheat.
Ask my office for more information about implementing a gluten- and dairy-free diet.
Did you know too much iron is toxic and inflammatory? If you are working to manage a chronic inflammatory condition, make sure high iron levels aren’t sabotaging your efforts. (Likewise, low iron levels can also make it difficult or impossible to heal.)
Hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder in which the body absorbs too much dietary iron. It is a relatively common condition, affecting approximately a million people in the United States. Symptoms typically include joint pain, chronic fatigue, heart flutters, and abdominal pain. Untreated hemochromatosis increases the risk of diabetes, arthritis, liver inflammation (cirrhosis), sexual dysfunction, and other diseases.
Psychological symptoms may include depression, anxiety, nervous tics, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Iron accumulation in the basal ganglia of the brain can interfere significantly with neurological functioning, leading to movement disorders and/or dementia.
Because symptoms vary so much and the disorder is associated with differing conditions, hemochromatosis often goes undiagnosed. If hemochromatosis is suspected, a series of three blood tests known collectively as the Iron Panel confirm diagnosis.
Once hemochromatosis has been identified, it can be addressed in two ways. The medical treatment for hemochromatosis is phlebotomy, which means periodically drawing blood from the body. This helps normalize the body’s iron levels and can relieve many, though not all, hemochromatosis symptoms.
The other way to alleviate symptoms and reduce the dangers of hemochromatosis is through diet — avoiding certain foods and supplements, while favoring others.
What to Avoid
Don’t take iron supplements or multivitamins that contain iron. Even people who have not been diagnosed with hemochromatosis should be cautious of iron supplements (many different factors besides iron deficiency cause anemia, find the root cause for your anemia before taking iron).
Certain medical conditions, such as restless leg syndrome, are associated with iron deficiency, and iron supplements may be prescribed or recommended for these conditions. However, anyone should have their iron levels checked first before taking supplements.
Stay away from vitamin C supplements and orange juice, as vitamin C increases iron absorption. (It is generally okay, however, to eat whole foods that contain vitamin C.)
Avoid or at least minimize alcohol consumption. Alcohol compromises liver function, the organ most vulnerable to too much iron.
Stay away from shellfish and raw fish as they may contain infectious bacteria that people with hemochromatosis are particularly vulnerable to.
Avoid or minimize red meat consumption. Red meat contains a form of iron that the body absorbs most easily.
Avoid or minimize sugar intake. Sugar increases iron absorption.
What to Increase
Essentially, there are two types of foods that a person with hemochromatosis should eat plenty of.
The first category is foods that inhibit iron absorption, such as:
- Green or black tea
- Raw kale
- Foods rich in calcium, magnesium, polyphenols, tannins, phylates and/or oxalates.
The second category is foods that contain iron, but in a form difficult to absorb. Nearly all vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and beans are in this category. Many of them contain oxalates as well, which reduce iron absorption.
If you are going to occasionally consume some foods that have easily absorbed iron, such as meat or sweets, combine them with foods that block iron absorption.
A hemochromatosis diet need not necessarily be overly strict. Much of it will depend on an individual’s level of iron overload, as revealed by lab tests. Ask my office for more information on hemochromatosis and whether it may be hindering your functional medicine protocol.
New research shows increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables can boost your well-being in as little as two weeks. Although the study didn’t explain why, previous studies show eating more vegetables impacts brain, immune, and gut health — all of which affect your mood.
The New Zealand study divided more than 170 young adults into three groups. The researchers personally gave one group two servings on fresh fruits and vegetables each day. The second group was given vouchers and text reminders to consume extra produce. The third group was not given any produce or vouchers.
The first group given the extra produce in person consumed an average of 3.7 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. After two weeks they reported feeling improvements in mood, vitality, motivation, as well as a flourishing of well-being.
The other two groups reported no change.
5 ways eating more produce makes you feel better
When you look at the effects of a plant-based diet on health, the results of this study are no surprise.
Here are five reasons why eating more fruits and vegetables can make you happier and more motivated:
Eating more vegetables increases the gut bacteria that promotes relaxation. Brain scans show healthy gut bacteria promotes relaxation.
Eating more vegetables increases the gut bacteria that lower brain inflammation. A Harvard-affiliated study found that healthy gut bacteria lowers brain inflammation, thus lowering the risk of dementia. Brain inflammation is also linked with depression, anxiety, and irritability.
Eating more vegetables increases the gut bacteria that lower depression, anxiety, eating disorders, autism symptoms, and obesity. By now you get the picture. Studies continue to find links between gut bacteria and a variety of mood and mental disorders. Eating a wide variety of plenty of produce is the best way to create a healthy diversity of gut bacteria.
Regular bowel movements from increased fiber of a high-vegetable diet improve your mood. It’s no mystery why constipated babies are so fussy. Research shows a higher prevalence of mood disorders in those with chronic constipation. Although myriad factors can cause constipation, often it’s as simple as too little plant fiber. Eating ample amounts of vegetables and fruits promotes regular, healthy bowel movements (unless you have a gut disorder that makes digesting produce difficult). Constipation increases circulating toxins in the body, which can inflame the brain and leads to bad moods.
What does a serving of vegetables look like?
The new recommendation from the American Institute for Cancer Research is to eat at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables, but ideally you should eat seven to ten. Five of those servings should be vegetables and two to three fruit (to avoid consuming too much sugar). In other words, two-thirds of each meal should be vegetables.
A “serving” is a vague reference. Here are some ideas of what a serving looks like:
- ½ cup of fruit
- 1 medium piece of fruit
- ¼ cup of dried fruit
- 1 cup of leafy vegetables
- ½ cup of cooked or raw vegetables
Most Americans don’t eat near enough vegetables. It takes some practice and discipline to develop a vegetable habit (vegetable for breakfast, anyone?), but once you do you’ll be motivated by how much better you feel.
Pre-prep veggies for quick salads, and make big batches of veggie soups and stews to facilitate the transition.
Do you suffer from acid reflux, indigestion, slow gut transit time, or feeling like there’s a brick in your stomach after eating? Or perhaps you’re on a restricted diet for a chronic health condition but still react to an ever shrinking list of foods. If so, you need to work on restoring digestion.
Many factors affect digestion, including aging, poor brain function that affects gut function, poor diet, and more. Often the problem often isn’t the food itself, but a hyper sensitive immune system reacting to food proteins that are not broken down properly. Thankfully, you can improve your symptoms greatly with proper supplementation.
Breakdown of food proteins is key for good digestion
For good digestion, you need sufficient hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzyme activity in the gut. These both serve the important function of breaking down food proteins, which prevents the immune system from targeting them and causing symptoms.
HCl is naturally present in the stomach and is vital for digestion of proteins. Low HCl symptoms include:
- Not feeling well after eating meat
- Feeling like meat sits in their stomach too long
- Feeling like they ate a brick
- Acid reflux
It may sound contrary that low stomach acid can cause acid reflux. In fact, many people with acid reflux-like symptoms are mistakenly prescribed acid-blockers intended to cut stomach acid, when in fact it’s low stomach acid causing the problem — the low stomach acid results in undigested food becoming rancid and moving back up the esophagus to cause the pain and burning sensation. What these people need is additional HCl to improve digestion.
Many people with poor digestion also have poor pancreatic enzyme output. Similar to stomach acid, these enzymes are critical to break apart food proteins so the immune system doesn’t react to them, causing inflammation.
Supplement with HCl and digestive enzymes for healthy digestion
Supplementing with HCl and digestive enzymes can go a long way toward improving your digestion by supporting breakdown of food proteins as well as relieving symptoms.
Follow this advice when supplementing with HCl and digestive enzymes:
- HCl: Supplement with HCl when you eat meats to help break down the proteins better. This will not only improve your digestion but also bring you relief from uncomfortable symptoms.
- Digestive enzymes: Take these with all meals; include pepsin, bromelain and proteases. Look for a high-quality, broad-spectrum digestive enzyme supplement with a minimum of fillers.
Oral tolerance and digestive function
It’s particularly important for people with food sensitivities to support food protein breakdown with proper levels of HCl and digestive enzymes. At the root of this is the concept of oral tolerance Oral tolerance is how well a person’s immune system can tolerate acceptable foods while responding appropriately to bacteria or other harmful compounds.
While there are other factors that affect oral tolerance, it’s important for food proteins to be broken down small enough that the body accepts them and doesn’t mount an immune reaction causing symptoms.
You’ve heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” When we can’t digest food properly, it means our bodies aren’t getting the fuel to function at their best. If you suffer from symptoms of poor digestion or food sensitivities, contact my office.
Millions of people drink diet soda in the belief they’re preventing weight gain, and the soda industry invests millions of dollars to perpetuate this belief. Research, however, paints a different picture — diet sodas are dangerous and can make you fat.
Artificial, low-calorie sweeteners used in diet sodas confuse the body and derange its ability to metabolize sugar and carbohydrates. This “confusion” increases hunger and sugar cravings.
Also, artificial sweeteners create imbalances in gut bacteria boosting the bacteria that turn calories into body fat, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and inflammation.
Diet sodas bring bigger risks than obesity
The health risks associated with diet soda are far more serious than weight gain.
The primary sweetener used in diet sodas, aspartame (which goes by the benign-sounding names Equal and NutraSweet), has been linked to numerous cardiovascular conditions, including stroke, heart failure, and heart attack.
In fact, a nine-year study of 60,000 women showed women who drank two or more cans of diet soda a day were 50 percent more likely to die of heart disease.
Moreover, aspartame overstimulates the brain chemical dopamine, which over time can result in depression, migraine headaches, and seizures.
The other FDA-approved artificial sweeteners — saccharin, neotame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium — have also been linked to increased risk for heart disease and other health conditions.
Aspartame is a controversial topic. It has been linked to myriad health conditions, some as serious as brain tumors, birth defects, cancer, and memory loss, and is behind numerous complaints to the FDA. However, industry science holds fast to its safety.
Fruit juice is not a healthy substitute
Unfortunately, fruit juice is not a healthy substitute for soda. Fructose is every bit as fattening and inflammatory as sugar or chemical sweeteners. Excessive consumption of fruit juice also puts you at risk of heart disease and diabetes.
In contrast, eating whole fruit also has you consuming fiber, enzymes, minerals and other healthful compounds stripped away by juicing. Also, chewing tells your brain that you’ve eaten, which reduces your appetite.
If you are addicted to diet sodas (as many people are), you may have to wean yourself gradually. Begin by substituting sparkling water with lemon or lime juice, or even just plain water, for some of your sweet drinks. Often when you think you want something sweet, you’re really just thirsty, and plain filtered water will do you fine.
With patience, you can develop an automatic preference for whole, healthy, unsweetened foods and drinks, largely because they make you feel better. After a while, the foods you crave most can actually be those that are best for your body.
Ask my office about transitioning to a whole foods diet so you can feel and function your best.
If you’re like most people, you over indulged during the holidays and now you’d like to reboot your health with a detox diet. The autoimmune diet calms inflammation, stimulates repair and recovery, and boosts energy while preventing hunger. It also helps tame autoimmunity and repair leaky gut.
Remove foods that cause inflammation
Many foods people eat daily can be inflammatory, causing fatigue, rashes, joint pain, digestive issues, headaches, anxiety, depression, autoimmune flare ups, and more.
The foods most people react to are gluten, dairy, various grains, eggs, nuts, and nightshades. Sugar, sweeteners, and sweet fruits also cause inflammation.
The autoimmune detox diet calms inflammation
People new to this diet often wonder if there is anything left to eat. There is plenty to eat on the autoimmune diet! In fact, the autoimmune diet more closely resembles what people have eaten for most of human history.
The diet is based on grass-fed and organic meats, wild fish, healthy fats, fermented foods, and lots of veggies. Eating plenty of vegetables will help build good gut bacteria, detoxify the liver, and boost immune health and tolerance of more foods.
Healthy fats include coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and ghee (if tolerated). Avoid processed vegetable oils and strictly avoid hydrogenated oils, or trans fats.
The rewards of feeling better outweigh the downsides of the diet
The autoimmune detox diet is certainly more work than eating fast food or microwave meals. But the rewards in how much better it will make you feel are worth the effort.
This diet requires planning and preparation. You may experience cravings, low energy, and some detox symptoms for a few days in the beginning. Online support groups can be very reassuring and helpful.
However, it doesn’t take long before most people feel an increase in energy and well being and actually come to enjoy the diet. Many also lose unwanted fat.
After following the diet for 30 to 90 days, you may wish to add in some of the eliminated foods — one at a time every 72 hours — to see whether you react to any of them. This will help you customize a lifelong diet that is healthy but satisfying. Many find going off at least gluten and dairy bring substantial health benefits.
Supplements to enhance detoxification and gut repair
Certain nutritional compounds can aid in your health reboot. Some are great at supporting liver detoxification, gut repair, blood sugar balance, and stress handling, all of which can aid you in your new diet. Just call my office for advice.
Foods to avoid on the autoimmune detox diet
- Sugars and sweeteners, including honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc.
- High-glycemic fruits: Watermelon, mango, pineapple, grapes, canned and dried fruits, etc.
- Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and other nightshades
- Grains: Wheat, oats, rice, barley, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, etc.
- Dairy: Milk, cream, cheese, butter, whey
- Eggs or foods that contain eggs (mayonnaise)
- Soy: Soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, etc.
- Lectins: Lectins are compounds that can promote leaky gut. Avoid nuts, beans, soy, nightshades, peanut oil, peanut butter, and soy and soy products while on the diet. You may be able to add some or all back in later.
- Coffee: For some coffee over taxes the adrenal glands. Many instant coffees contain gluten.
- Processed and canned foods
Foods to eat
- Most vegetables (except nightshades and mushrooms): Asparagus, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, beets, cauliflower, carrots, celery, artichokes, garlic, onions, zucchini, squash, rhubarb, cucumbers, turnips, watercress, etc. Eat with every meal!
- Fermented foods: Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled ginger, fermented cucumbers, coconut yogurt, kombucha, etc. You must make your own or buy one of the few available truly fermented brands. (If you have histamine intolerance you may need to avoid these.)
- Meats: Grass-fed and organic chicken, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, etc., and wild fish
- Low glycemic fruits sparingly: Apricots, plums, apple, peach, pear, cherries, berries, etc.
- Coconut: Coconut butter, milk, cream, oil
- Herbal teas, non-stimulating, non-caffeinated
- Olives and olive oil
- Ghee (butter oil) unless severe dairy allergy
If you are sleepy after eating, always hungry, and can’t lose weight, you may suffer from insulin resistance, which raises your risk for diabetes. The good news is insulin resistance is often reversible through simple dietary changes.
How do you know if you have insulin resistance? See if any of these symptoms apply to you:
⦁ Fatigue after meals
⦁ General fatigue
⦁ Constant hunger
⦁ Craving for sweets not relieved by eating them
⦁ Must have sweets after meals
⦁ Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
⦁ Frequent urination
⦁ Increased appetite and thirst
⦁ Difficulty losing weight
⦁ Migrating aches and pains
⦁ Trouble falling asleep
⦁ Why is insulin resistance dangerous?
Insulin resistance, also known as pre-diabetes, is uncomfortable, but it’s also dangerous. It is linked with Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, chronic pain, hormone imbalances, and many other common modern maladies.
But that’s not all. Insulin resistance can also kill your libido and make you chronically tired.
If you’re a woman, insulin resistance causes testosterone to spike so you lose your hair and develop male characteristics. If you’re a man, it raises estrogen levels so you get “moobs” and cry at commercials. These are some pretty undesirable consequences for a sugar habit!
What causes insulin resistance?
The good news and the bad news is insulin resistance is caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. This is bad news because it means giving up some comforts, but it’s good news because it means radically changing your health is highly doable!
A diet high in sugars and carbohydrates—sugars, sweets, sodas, pastries, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, grains, beans, and other starchy foods —leads to high blood sugar and insulin resistance.
Because high blood sugar is dangerous to the body, the pancreas secretes insulin to lower it. Insulin escorts sugar out of the bloodstream and into the body’s cells. Excess sugar is converted into fat for storage.
When this response happens regularly every day, as it does for millions of Americans, the cells become overwhelmed from the constant bombardment of insulin. In defense, they become resistant to insulin and refuse it entry. Now you have high blood sugar and high insulin in your bloodstream, causing inflammation, throwing off hormone balance, and degenerating the brain.
This is why insulin resistance causes fatigue after meals. The insulin-resistant cells are deprived of glucose for energy, converting all that extra sugar into fat is draining, and the whole process saps brain function.
Many people have both insulin resistance and low blood sugar. This means their energy crashes not only after meals, but between meals too. Either way, stabilizing blood sugar is your key to better health and losing weight.
The most important thing is to ditch the sugar and eat only as many complex carbohydrates as your body needs (it varies from person to person). Eat tons of veggies for fiber and to build good gut bacteria. Start checking your fasting blood sugar in the morning and shoot for a level between 80 and 100. Anything over 100 is too high. Also, exercise daily, with bursts of high intensity and some weight training, to sensitize your cells to insulin.
Various herbs and nutrients can help reverse insulin resistance — ask my office for a recommendation.
Gallbladder surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgeries today. Did you know simply going gluten-free may lower the risk of needing gallbladder surgery?
For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers a wide range of adverse reactions, from joint pain to poor brain function. In the last several years, research has also linked gluten with gallbladder disease in gluten-sensitive individuals.
Gluten sensitivity largely undiagnosed
An astonishing number of people are gluten intolerant but do not know it. Undiagnosed gluten sensitivity can cause leaky gut, chronic pain, inflammation, neurological damage, and autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue). Gluten sensitivity is estimated to affect between 20 and 40 percent of the general population, and is less frequently identified than celiac disease, though this is changing.
How gluten can raise the risk of gallbladder surgery
So how can gluten raise the risk of requiring gallbladder surgery? The process begins with damage to the small intestine. This damage inhibits its ability to properly secrete a hormone called cholecystokinin. Cholecystokinin is the hormone that signals the gallbladder when it’s time to release bile, which aids in the digestion and absorption of fat. As a result, bile builds up in the gallbladder, causing inflammation and raising the risk of gallbladder disease and subsequent gallbladder surgery.
Approximately 60 percent of people with celiac disease — an autoimmune reaction to gluten — also have gallbladder, liver, or pancreatic conditions, and this is apparently one reason why.
Why you need a gallbladder
Although you can live without your gallbladder, it is essential to overall health. The bile stored and secreted by the gallbladder enables you to digest fats. Without a gallbladder, your liver still produces bile, but the bile just “leaks” continually into the small intestine. This means there are no adequate reserves of bile to break down fats when needed.
These fats then become rancid and inflame the digestive tract while fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids
are not properly absorbed. Ultimately, this compromises the function of your entire digestive tract. In fact, studies have linked gallbladder removal with an elevated risk of colon cancer.
Also, if the gallbladder is not removed but isn’t doing its job well, this can be detrimental to liver function.
It is worth caring for your gallbladder to preserve the health of your digestive system, and hence your immune system. If you are sensitive to gluten, it’s important to go gluten-free to maintain gallbladder health and lower your risk of needing gallbladder surgery.
Additionally, your gallbladder appreciates a diet high in omega 3 essential fatty acids, and free of processed oils and hydrogenated fats. And in general, it is safest to keep starchy carbs (cake, potatoes, white flour, refined sugar, etc.) to a minimum.
Various botanicals and nutrients can support liver and gallbladder health. They include milk thistle seed extract, dandelion root, ginger root, and phosphatidyl choline.
If you have already had your gallbladder removed, don’t despair. Taking ox bile with your meals can help you emulsify and absorb your fats, which are vital for many aspects of health including brain function. For more information, contact my office.
Turns out gluten isn’t the only culprit when it comes to an immune reaction to wheat.
New research suggests non-gluten proteins are also a source of those immune reactions to wheat.
Wheat proteins called ATIs also trigger reactions
The new suspects are a family of proteins called amylase-trypsin inhibitors, or ATIs. While they make up only four percent of the proteins in wheat, ATIs can trigger powerful immune reactions that can spread from the gut to other tissues in the body, such as the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen, and even the brain.
ATIs are also shown to inflame pre-existing chronic conditions, including multiple sclerosis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, non-alcohol fatty liver disease, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease.
And, ultimately, ATIs contribute to the development of gluten sensitivity.
At this time, it’s not entirely clear how much of a role ATI proteins play compared to gluten. We know from the work of Aristo Vojdani, PhD that people with symptoms of gluten sensitivity have been shown to react to several different types of gluten, as well as lectins and agglutinin.
The evolution of understanding wheat sensitivity
It used to be celiac disease was the only recognized immune reaction to wheat. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that affects a small percent of the population and requires medically invasive diagnostic criteria.
Only more recently has mainstream medicine begun to accept non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Newer research, the sheer volume of gluten-sensitive patients, and the explosion of the gluten-free market has made gluten sensitivity impossible to deny.
For decades patients who tested negative for celiac disease or even gluten sensitivity (standard testing is severely limited) have been told “It’s all in your head.” Today, the scientific legitimacy of an immune reaction to wheat is growing.
Likewise, a growing number of doctors are more willing to offer a diagnosis of gluten sensitivity and effective treatment strategies.
Gluten reactions occur in brain and elsewhere
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity can include digestive issues such as abdominal pain and symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, common symptoms not related to the gut include headaches, joint pain, eczema, brain fog, and a number of dysfunctions related to the brain and nervous system.
These symptoms improve quickly on a gluten-free diet for many.
Research on wheat immune sensitivity continues
Research continues and in the future, it may be your doctor recommends an “ATI-free” diet instead of a gluten-free diet for wheat sensitivity.
Either way, if you react to gluten, avoiding it is the best choice for your long-term health.
If you have concerns about reactions to gluten, contact my office. Functional medicine has effective protocols to assess, diagnose, and manage gluten sensitivity.
Got gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, IBS…or maybe all of the above? Then you may have SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
Doctors have long blamed stubborn gut problems on stress. For the person whose life is dictated by the cruel whims of their digestive system, this can feel like shame and blame. Thanks to new research, these days we know many things cause gut problems. They include food sensitivities (especially to gluten and dairy), leaky gut, gut inflammation, autoimmunity, poor brain function, and SIBO.
SIBO results from too much bacteria that belong in the large intestine migrating into the small intestine. When these bacteria consume sugars and carbohydrates, they produce large amounts of gas that causes not only bloating, belching, and flatulence, but also constipation or diarrhea (depending on the type of gas produced).
These bacteria also inflame and damage the lining of the intestinal tract, causing leaky gut. Leaky gut allows undigested foods, bacteria, yeast, and other antigens into the bloodstream, triggering inflammation, autoimmunity, and chronic disease.
Many different lab tests, stringent dietary strategies (managing SIBO often requires a diet that restricts most everything but meats and a limited variety vegetables), and treatment protocols exist to treat SIBO, and sometimes it’s a matter of trial and error to land on an approach that works.
But if you don’t want a relapse, it’s important to ask why you have SIBO in the first place.
The causes include:
⦁ Food poisoning
⦁ Poor diet and excess sugar
⦁ Low stomach acid
⦁ Repeated antibiotic use
⦁ Chronic stress
⦁ Problems with brain function or health
Brain function is one of the most overlooked and unaddressed causes of SIBO. The digestive system maintains close communication with the brain. Poor brain function leads to poor gut function (this explains why people often suffer from gut problems after a head injury). Digestive juices and hormones are not sufficiently released, motility slows so that food sits longer in the intestines, giving rise to bacterial overgrowth, and the valve between the small and large intestine does not stay shut, allowing bacteria from the colon to escape into the small intestine where it does not belong. All of these are examples of how poor brain function leads to SIBO.
This explains how childhood brain development disorders, brain injuries, brain inflammation, brain degeneration, and brain aging all contribute to SIBO.
The elderly are especially vulnerable to malnutrition caused by SIBO, as are the increasing numbers of children born with autism and other brain development disorders. Fortunately, you can improve gut function through simple exercises that help tone the digestive system and prevent relapses of SIBO.
Managing SIBO does not have a one-size-fits-all solution, and there are various ways to approach it that include both nutraceutical and/or pharmaceutical approaches. Diet is always an important strategy. For more information, contact my office.