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Archive for April, 2013

do you have autoimmunity

Do you have chronic pain, chronic fatigue, or other mysterious symptoms that make you miserable? But does your doctor say your lab tests are fine and you’re perfectly healthy? It could be you have an autoimmune reaction and don’t know it.

People can develop an autoimmune reaction to virtually any tissue, enzyme, or protein in their body. Autoimmunity means the immune system has failed to distinguish between foreign invaders, which it was designed to attack, and body tissue, which it was designed to protect. As a result, the immune system attacks and destroys specific parts of the body.

Symptoms of autoimmunity vary depending on which part of the body is being attacked, but they often include chronic pain, chronic fatigue, brain fog, poor neurological function, chronic inflammation, digestive problems, or poor mood.

A primary characteristic of undiagnosed autoimmunity is chronic pain, chronic fatigue, or other symptoms that seem irresolvable, despite “normal” lab tests and scans. Perhaps you even have been told your health symptoms are due to depression and you need to take antidepressants—this is not uncommon.

Autoimmunity may not be diagnosed as disease

What may be happening is that you have an autoimmune reaction to one or more parts of your body that is causing chronic pain, chronic fatigue, or other symptoms, but the condition is not advanced enough to be diagnosed through conventional testing and qualified as a “disease.” As Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MNeuroSci, author of Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? and Why Isn’t My Brain Working? explains, people can have symptoms years or even decades before being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

For instance, a person may have trouble controlling blood sugar despite a good diet because of an autoimmune reaction in the pancreas. However, not enough tissue has been destroyed for a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Or a person can have symptoms of multiple sclerosis, but not enough tissue has been destroyed for it to show up on an MRI. Or persistent and severe adrenal fatigue could be the result of autoimmunity in the adrenal glands that is not advanced enough to be diagnosed as Addison’s disease.

This is not to say you should assume a health problem is autoimmune in nature, but when it is persistent and stubborn, it is a possibility to consider.

You can test for autoimmunity before it progresses to disease

Fortunately, we have autoimmunity testing today that can screen for antibodies against multiple tissues to determine whether an autoimmune reaction is causing chronic pain, chronic fatigue, or other symptoms. Antibodies are proteins that tag a foreign compound for the immune system to destroy and remove. When you produce higher than normal levels of antibodies to certain parts of the body (it’s normal for old and dying cells to be tagged for removal), this means you are having an autoimmune reaction against that tissue or enzyme.

When a person presents with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, or other persistent symptoms, screening for an autoimmune reaction can help us determine whether that plays a role in symptoms. If so, we then know we can work on balancing an overzealous and improperly functioning immune system. Also, if your test shows an autoimmune reaction but you have no symptoms, you now know that proper diet and lifestyle choices will help prevent the progression of autoimmunity.

Today we have many scientifically proven strategies to tame autoimmunity, improve function, and increase your well being. These include an autoimmune diet and nutritional compounds to balance the immune system and quench inflammation.

Ask my office how we can help you get to the bottom of mysterious conditions, such as chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and other symptoms. Despite what your doctor may have told you, you are not making up your chronic symptoms or simply in need of antidepressants.

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2 52 cup of fear

Do you start your mornings with your treasured “cup of fear?” As far as your body is concerned, that lovely and seemingly harmless cup of coffee could be tantamount to getting mugged or running from a hungry lion. The physiological reactions caused by caffeine that jumpstart you in the morning are the same reactions triggered by fear.

Morning fatigue could signify adrenal imbalance

We are meant to feel rested and alert in the mornings. Waking up feeling like you have been hit by a garbage truck means you may have an adrenal imbalance. The adrenal glands sit atop each kidney and release adrenal hormones that help keep the body regulated during times of stress. Adrenal function also plays important roles in the sleep-wake cycle, so that you feel tired in the evening and alert in the morning, and are able to sleep soundly through the night. In fact, the health of the entire body relies in part on sound adrenal function: immune health, hormone balance, digestive operations, brain function, and more.

Depending on caffeine to get going in the morning is a sign the delicately orchestrated relationship between the adrenal glands and the rest of the body is out of balance. A morning cup of coffee stimulates the adrenal glands to release “fight-or-flight” adrenal hormones. This raises your heartbeat, dilates your pupils, tightens the muscles, raises your blood pressure, slows blood flow to the stomach, and releases glucose into the bloodstream. Together these effects on the central nervous system boost energy. The body designed this response to help us get out of a dangerous situation by either running or fighting. However, these days, many use the same response just to get ready for work each morning.

The downsides of coffee on health

As many know, giving up coffee is hard and can come with unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. This is partly because caffeine also stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates the “pleasure and reward” centers in the brain and is associated with addiction. This also means over time you need more caffeine for the same effects.

For the person suffering from adrenal dysfunction—producing too little or too much of adrenal hormone—caffeine can intensify your adrenal problems. Although it gives you energy, it’s a short-term fix with long-term consequences making an existing problem worse. In addition to taxing adrenal function, caffeine can cause sleep problems, irritability, anxiety, and high blood pressure. It’s also a diuretic that can deplete you of important minerals and electrolytes. A trap many coffee drinkers fall into is that the coffee makes them sleep poorly and they feel terrible in the morning. So they drink coffee to get them going, which again makes them sleep poorly, in a self-perpetuating vicious cycle that gradually worsens adrenal function.

Restoring adrenal function is foundational to managing many health issues in functional medicine, including chronic disease, autoimmune disease, hypothyroidism, obesity, blood sugar imbalances (insulin resistance or hypoglycemia), and other disorders. When you are working on restoring your health from these conditions, coffee can work against your efforts.

Coffee habit depends on health

This isn’t to say coffee is all bad. Although some studies show negative consequences from caffeine, others show its benefits. As with many things in health, it is something that must be considered on a case-by-case basis. If your adrenal and blood sugar function is healthy (you do not suffer from insulin resistance, diabetes, low blood sugar, adrenal fatigue, or hyper adrenal function), moderate consumption of organic coffee may be fine for you.

Ask my office how we can help you restore your adrenal function and kick your dependence on coffee to function.

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For as long as I can remember, Friday nights have been known to many families as “Pizza Night”. It makes the end of the week so much easier, get off work, pick up the kids, order a pizza, relax and bond with the family. So for those of us who have gone grain free, we may not be just missing the convenience and taste of pizza, but the memories we have associated with it.

While calling someone up to order a paleo pizza still isn’t an option, MANY pizza places do offer gluten free pizza, but it still isn’t paleo, and if you have celiac disease it’s usually to risky to hope for no cross contamination. There are convenient and easy gluten free options to make gluten free pizza at home (Udi’s, Rudis, Bob’s Red Mill), but if you want want a REAL paleo pizza crust, that actually resembles real pizza,  we’re hoping we’ve found the recipe for you. It’s easy, minimal ingredients, and no cauliflower to be found!

This pizza recipes comes from Ben Kreps, though he credits Liz from Eat the Cookie to giving him a starting off point. Ben seems to just be a normal guy living the primal lifestyle, but a fair warning, that he gives to anyone visiting his page: “If you are easily offended by the thoughts, words, or actions of others leave now. This site is my creative outlet to share anything and everything.” Besides sharing Ben’s recipe, we have also posted his video of the recipe below.

Now, if your ready, without any further adieu:

Perfect Primal Gluten Free Pizza Crust

Ingredients

4 eggs

1/2 cup of coconut milk

1/3 cup of SIFTED coconut flour

1/3 cup flax meal

1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions

– Preheat oven to 350°

– In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut milk and eggs

– Sift the dry ingredients together (coconut flour, flax meal, baking powder) into a separate bowl

– Add dry mixed ingredients to milk/egg mixture and mix well

– Once all ingredients have been thoroughly combined your “pizza crust” should have the consistency of pancake batter

– If you would like to add some flavor to your crust now would be the time to do so, Ben suggests garlic powder, oregano and basil to taste

– Line a baking pan with parchment paper and pour batter into whatever shape you want your pizza to be

– Cook at 350° (depending on your oven’s personality) for 10 minutes

– After 10 minutes, flip over your crust and cook for about another 10 or so until it is browned to whatever level you like, be aware that you will be putting it back in the oven one more time, so don’t darken this side too much

– While the crust is cooking prep your pizza toppings

– After the crust has cooked for about 10 minutes on each side, pull the pan out and load up the crust (feta, peppers, chicken, fresh tomato sauce, olive oil, whatever sounds good tonight)

– Switch the oven to broil and put the pizza back in until the cheese has melted or the crust has finished browning to your liking.

And that’s it! Cut it up and enjoy!

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infertility causes

The failure to conceive can be very distressing to couples, and rates of infertility in both women and men are on the rise, affecting between 10 to 15 percent of couples. Although some causes are well known, couples should consider lesser known but important factors when trying to conceive.

Some of the more commonly known reasons couples fail to conceive include the mother’s age, obesity, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), varicose veins in the scrotum, and fallopian tube damage.

However, also addressing less commonly known causes of infertility not only can improve the chances of conception, but also lower the risk of giving birth to a child with asthma, allergies, or a brain development disorder such as autism or ADHD.

Lesser known causes of infertility

Below are some lesser-known but important factors to consider when trying to conceive.

Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function, can cause infertility, miscarriages, or complications with pregnancy. Low levels of thyroid hormone affect reproductive function in women. Also, most cases of hypothyroidism are caused by Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. Research shows a correlation between infertility in women and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Women should have their thyroid function tested before trying to conceive as success rates improve when the condition is treated. Ask my office how we can help you manage the underlying cause of hypothyroidism.

Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Research suggests undiagnosed celiac disease is correlated with infertility in both women and men, and pregnancy complications. Couples wishing to conceive should be screened for a gluten intolerance using newer, more advanced gluten testing (conventional testing fails to diagnose many gluten-intolerant people). Because intolerances to other foods cause chronic inflammation, another barrier to fertility, it’s a good idea to rule out other food intolerances with testing or an elimination diet.

Autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is a disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys a part of the body. This process greatly imbalances the immune system and increases inflammation. I talked earlier about autoimmune thyroid disease, but studies show other autoimmune diseases can affect fertility. Additionally, an autoimmune disease can attack reproductive organs, directly impacting their function. For instance, women can have an autoimmune reaction to their ovaries or men can react to their sperm.

Environmental toxins. Many environmental toxins are linked with infertility in both women and men. Studies suggest environmental toxins impair semen quality in men, and affect various affects aspects of reproduction in women. If a couple does conceive, exposure to environmental toxins can affect the fertility of their children. We can minimize our exposure to toxins by eating a whole foods diet, drinking filtered water, and using natural body and home care products. Also, certain nutritional therapy strategies, such as glutathione support, can help you become more resilient to toxins. If you are trying to conceive, ask my office for strategies on safely reducing your toxic burden.

PCOS. Although PCOS is a recognized cause of infertility, lesser known are the causes of PCOS. In functional medicine we recognize PCOS as a hormonal imbalance caused by diet and lifestyle choices. Excess sugars and refined carbohydrates, lack of exercise, and chronic stress are factors that contribute to PCOS, which is frequently linked with insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes.

Good pre-conception health lowers risk of asthma, allergies, and autism in children

It is best to ferret out and address any health issues, some of which may cause no symptoms, before trying to conceive. Autoimmune disease, chronic inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and other health problems not only can hinder conception, but they also affect the health of the immune system and brain health of the child. Managing these issues prior to conception can help prevent asthma, eczema, allergies, food intolerances, autoimmunity and brain development disorders such as autism or ADHD.

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There’s an old leafy green that seems to be on every ones lips; KALE! This cruciferous veggie is suddenly hip, trending on twitter, talked about in TV shows, it’s even made it’s way into fashion with Kale t-shirts! All this buzz is great news, because this is a great vegetable that can help lower cholesterol and decrease absorption of dietary fat. It’s packed with beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, is rich in calcium, and also a source of a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells!

With all the benefits there are to kale, the many different ways that you can prepare it, and all the delicious things you can pair it with, no wonder people can’t stop talking about and eating it. If you have a hankering for some delicious raw kale, check out our recipe below:

 

Raw Kale Salad

Ingredients:

Anja's kale salad

1 bunch of fresh lacinato kale de-stemmed and cut in small pieces

1 avocado

2 T finely cut red onion

3 T toasted sunflower seeds

Bunch of sprouts

Finely chopped olives (green, black, kalmata… your choice)

Marinade:

olive oil

apple cider vinegar (or lemon)

salt and pepper

Directions:

-Mix together ingredients for marinade

-Place kale in large salad bowl and pour marinade over leaves, “Massage” leaves for a few minutes

-Combine remaining ingredients, mix well

-Place in fridge and let stand for 1 hour before serving

ENJOY!

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2 48 got allergies fix gut

When the sneezing, sniffling, and runny eyes of springtime kick in, most people grab for the allergy pills, antihistamines, and eye drops. But did you know you can greatly relieve if not banish your allergy symptoms by fixing your gut?

It may sound crazy that your gut health would affect your sinuses, but in fact the two systems are very intertwined. Both the respiratory tract and the digestive tract are immune barriers, meaning it’s their job to protect the body from outside invaders.

The gut in particular profoundly influences the entire immune system. When gut health suffers so does the rest of your body, and the result for many people are allergy symptoms that flare up each spring.

A common culprit in allergy symptoms is leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability. Leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of the digestive tract becomes inflamed and porous, allowing undigested foods, bacteria, yeasts, and other toxins into the sterile bloodstream. The immune system launches an attack on these toxins, which creates inflammation throughout the body. For many people, this happens every time they eat.

This inflammation manifests in different ways for different people. It can cause joint pain, skin problems, digestive complaints, autoimmune disease, issues with brain function, fatigue, chronic pain, and…seasonal allergies.

What causes leaky gut and seasonal allergies?

Leaky gut is very common today and can cause bloating, heartburn, gas, constipation, diarrhea, or pain. However, many people with leaky gut have no digestive symptoms at all.

One of the most common causes of leaky gut is eating gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and other wheat-like grains. Wheat today is not like the wheat from past generations. It has been genetically altered, processed, and stored in ways that make it very damaging to people’s guts.

Sometimes simply removing gluten from the diet can profoundly relieve allergy symptoms by allowing the gut to recover and repair. Because leaky gut leads to food intolerances and food allergies, you may need to eliminate other foods, such as dairy, eggs, or other grains. You may find significant allergy relief by following an anti-inflammatory diet, or you can ask my office about a lab test to screen for food sensitivities.

Another factor that contributes to leaky gut and allergy symptoms is an imbalance of gut bacteria. The digestive tract holds several pounds of bacteria that play a large role in immune function. When the bad bacteria overwhelm the good, inflammation and allergies result. Leaky gut repair includes nurturing your beneficial bacteria with probiotics and fermented foods to improve allergy symptoms.

Chronic stress also weakens and inflames the digestive tract, causing leaky gut and seasonal allergies. Stress doesn’t just have to come from a stressful lifestyle or lack of sleep, although those certainly play a role. Eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods is stressful to the body, as is an unmanaged autoimmune disease, or hormones that are out of whack and causing miserable PMS or menopausal symptoms. These are just a few metabolic factors that contribute to leaky gut and seasonal allergies.

Find seasonal allergy relief by fixing your leaky gut

You don’t have to needlessly suffer every spring and depend on allergy medicines to function. In fact, you should see your allergies as a red flag that your body needs attention. Leaky gut can lead to much more serious conditions than allergies, such as autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, etc.), depression and anxiety, neurological diseases, and more. By repairing your leaky gut and improving your allergy symptoms, you can prevent or even resolve more serious problems.

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