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Archive for May, 2015

hashimoto s linked to autism copy

Managing your hypothyroidism isn’t just about losing weight and having warm hands and feet. If you’re a woman who could get pregnant, it could play a role in whether you have a child with autism. A 2015 Finnish study that looked at risk factors associated with autism found that women who tested positive for autoimmune hypothyroidism, or Hashimoto’s, were more 80 percent more likely to give birth to a child who developed autism than women who did not.

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system destroys the thyroid. But Hashimoto’s is only one of many autoimmune diseases. Autoimmunity means the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the very thing it was designed to protect — you. Which organ, gland, tissue, or chemical the immune system attacks depends on different factors, such as genetic predisposition and what triggered the autoimmunity. For instance, certain foods or chemicals are linked with certain autoimmune conditions. Rates of autoimmune disease are skyrocketing and many people go undiagnosed for years or a lifetime despite symptoms.

Similar studies have also made correlations between autoimmune diseases in the mother and increased risk of autism in their offspring. For instance, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel conditions have also been suggested as links to autism.

Why maternal autoimmunity can cause autism

Why can maternal autoimmunity cause autism in a child? Immune cells, called antibodies, that coordinate attack of the mother’s body in autoimmunity can be passed to the child. This can cause the child to be born with an autoimmune reaction already taking place in his or her body. In some case of autism, they are finding that these children are born with autoimmune attacks happening in the brain.

Evidence of this was demonstrated in a startling way when scientists injected one group of pregnant monkeys with antibodies taken from human mothers with autistic children. Another group of pregnant monkeys was injected with antibodies taken from mothers of neurotypical children. Compared to the control group, the monkeys who received the antibodies from mothers of autistic children gave birth to monkeys who grew to demonstrate atypical social behavior.

Manage autoimmunity before pregnancy

If you’re a woman who would like to get pregnant, it’s important to screen for and appropriately manage any autoimmune condition you may have. For instance, if you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, it’s not enough to just take thyroid hormone. If you leave the autoimmune component of your thyroid condition unchecked, it could lead to more autoimmune diseases and you are at risk of passing the autoimmune antibodies to your child.

Managing autoimmunity is a comprehensive dietary and lifestyle approach designed to regulate an overzealous immune system so it does not attack the body. People with unchecked autoimmunity tend to be in very inflammatory states. Autoimmune management involves a comprehensive diet to reduce this inflammation.

Sometimes chemicals or metals can trigger or exacerbate autoimmunity, so it’s good to screen for that as well with the Cyrex Array 11 Chemical Immune Reactivity Screen  This doesn’t tell you the quantity of chemicals or metals in your body like other tests, but rather whether your immune system is reacting to them. This is vital information when you have autoimmunity.

Lifestyle factors such as chronic stress, too little sleep, an unhealthy relationship, a job you hate, and other negative influences can also raise inflammation and provoke autoimmunity. These are important factors to consider as well when managing an autoimmune disease.

It’s vital to shore up your health, balance your immune system, and manage any known or undiagnosed autoimmune reactions before getting pregnant. This will increase the likelihood of having a neurologically healthy child. Ask my office for more pre-conception advice.

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fitness not fatness predicts mortality

We’ve long been told if we want to be healthier and live longer we need to drop the pounds, but turns out being fit is the best predictor for longevity, even if you’re overweight.

A team of researchers examined a collection of studies that together looked at thousands of people for as long as 16 years.

They divided study subjects into three groups: normal weight, overweight, and obese. They then divided them into fit and unfit groups based on endurance tests, typically running on a treadmill.

Their analysis showed that the subjects’ performance in the endurance tests determined their mortality risk in the coming years, not their weight. In fact, the unfit people had twice the risk of dying as the fit people, regardless of their weight. Overweight and obese people who were fit had the same mortality risks as fit participants who were normal weight.

In a nutshell  A thin unfit person is twice as likely to die as an obese fit person. This is great news to those who have struggled much of their lives, unsuccessfully, to lose weight. As long as they keep exercising, they can expect to live a longer, healthier life.

A big downside to the study was that the majority of subjects were men, so we can’t say for sure how the results apply to women. Also, it would be interesting to look at a study like this in relation to diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and other chronic health risks. The researchers only looked at length of life and not occurrence of disease.

So what does being fit look like?

Fortunately, enjoying these benefits of being fit does not require you to be a warrior at the gym or at Crossfit. In fact, in functional medicine we know that over exercising (which varies from person to person) is a great way to tax your health.

Most of the “fit” study participants were evaluated for an average of eight to 12 minutes on a treadmill. This falls in line with federal guidelines that suggest as little as two and a half hours of exercise a week, which can be done in increments as short as 10 minutes at a time, qualify you as fit.

Ways to meet those weekly goals can include parking far enough away from your destination that you have to walk 10 minutes to reach it, using a standing or stationary bike desk at work, and taking regular brisk walks.

Exercise is about much more than living longer

The promise of a longer life does not actually provide much motivation for many people, especially those who are younger. Instead, it’s important to look at other benefits of regular exercise.

Regular walking and other exercise have been shown to improve brain function, ward off depression  and boost self-esteem  and even curb cravings and addiction.

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451 FDA sued for gluten meds

A man with celiac disease is suing the FDA, demanding they take action on the undisclosed use of wheat in an estimated 150 different prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

Although about 1 percent of the population suffers from celiac disease, vastly more have gluten sensitivity and must also abstain from eating wheat to avoid a variety of health conditions that typically involve inflammation, such as joint pain, brain-based disorders, skin problems, gut problems, and more.

The man sued the FDA after they failed to respond to a petition he filed after developing gluten reactions to a generic drug he had been taking.

Manufacturers do not disclose the use of wheat in their prescription and OTC drugs, making it a crapshoot for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity who must take them. The man filing the lawsuit had to call the manufacturer to inquire about the use of gluten in that specific batch of drugs. (Filler ingredients are changed regularly.)

Although it’s unclear how many drugs contain gluten — a serious problem when it’s that difficult to ascertain — a university pharmacist has so far catalogued 150 drugs that don’t contain gluten  Unfortunately, however, even these drugs are questionable as there is no oversight regarding cross-contamination with gluten. In other words, if the drugs are made on equipment or in an area contaminated with gluten, then they are no longer gluten-free. Many drugs also contain corn  potato, or soy, ingredients that may cross-react with gluten, causing symptoms.

It’s good to know which drugs contain gluten, especially since some autoimmune diseases are linked in the science with gluten. If you take a medication regularly to help manage your autoimmune condition (such as insulin), it’s worth calling the manufacturer to ensure it is gluten-free. Gluten is linked to 55 diseases so far, the majority of them autoimmune and many of them neurological.

Gluten also in many household products

Medications aren’t the only thing not required to list gluten as an ingredient. Some body products and household items also contain hidden gluten.

Manufacturers often use wheat in fillers, lubricants or absorbents in various body products. While gluten is not absorbed through the skin, it is possible to transfer traces from your hands or face to your mouth, where it can be swallowed and cause symptoms.

Examples of products that may contain hidden gluten include cosmetics and lip balm; lotions and sunscreens; stickers, stamps, and envelope glue; toothpaste; soaps; play dough; pet food; and laundry detergent.

How to protect yourself from hidden gluten

Unfortunately, your doctor or pharmacist may not know whether a drug or product contains gluten. It may be up to you to hunt down which are safe. The list of gluten-free drugs compiled by the university pharmacist is helpful.

Fortunately, when it comes to body and household products, many people have already done the research and reported their results online  Finding out whether a product is safe may be just a click away so you don’t have to go through the hassle of tracking down the right person in the company.

In response to consumer demand, an increasing number of companies are making and marketing gluten-free body products so just a quick glance at the label can tell you if it’s safe.

Also, for parents of children with a gluten-sensitivity, finding safe play dough can be a hassle; the name-brand stuff is wheat-based and we know it’s difficult for kids to keep their hands out of their mouths. Fortunately, some gluten-free brands of play dough are now available online, as well as plenty of very easy recipes to make your own.

Although it takes a little bit of extra effort to use medications and other products that are gluten-free, it’s worth the peace of mind to avoid provoking inflammatory reactions and symptoms.

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diets don t work copy

After studying dieting for 20 years, a researcher concluded diets simply don’t work, a fact countless Americans have spent 20-plus years of their own lives validating.

Why? Dieting is constructed around faulty principles that defy human biology and psychology. The “calories in versus calories out” model fails to account for hormonal shifts during weight loss, the psychological consequences of deprivation, and the futility of willpower when it comes to eating.

In a nutshell, the human body has mechanisms in place designed to compensate for starvation.

Three things that cause diets to fail

The researcher found three key reasons why diets fail:

  • The deprivation of dieting wires your brain to notice food more and to make food appear more appetizing, tempting, and harder to resist.
  • Weight loss through calorie restriction causes hormonal shifts that decrease satiety hormones and increase hunger hormones. As a result, you feel less full on the same amount of food than you used to.
  • Calorie restriction slows down your metabolism so that you become more efficient at storing fat and less efficient at burning it. This is why people actually become heavier after each diet.

In essence, dieting is starving, and your body responds to a diet just as it would to a famine — with these responses that have kept humans alive throughout the ages.

What’s worse, the dieting industry has spun this built-in failure into a $61 billion dollar industry that preys on insecurities and hopes while ignoring some basic tenets of human function.

What about willpower?

When it comes to dieting, willpower is a poor tool. For example, if you use willpower to avoid Facebook during a two-hour work project and succeed except for during the last 10 minutes, that last-minute lapse does not undo your previous success. However, if you sit in front of a platter of donuts during a two-hour meeting and resist them except during the last 10 minutes, that last-minute lapse has undone your previous success.

The study found that the slightest distractions can trigger overeating in those who are dieting. It also concluded that the paltry 5 percent who do succeed at maintaining their weight loss devote their lives to their weight, living like a starving person.

So does this mean I can never lose weight?

Thankfully, no. The key is to eat consciously with a focus on health and nutrition, not to starve your body and trigger binges and rebounds. Many people who follow a functional medicine approach to health find weight loss is just one of the many benefits they experience.

For instance, your excess weight could be the result of low thyroid function, food intolerances, blood sugar imbalances, sleep deprivation, and even over exercising. Excess weight is typically a symptom of a deeper problem and addressing the underlying cause can result in gradual, healthy, and hunger-free weight loss. And not everyone is meant to be rail thin — you may need to adjust your expectations to honor your body’s set point and not society’s.

Also, many people have dug themselves into a deep hole of self-loathing because of their many dieting failures. This causes chronic and sometimes severe stress that can impact your biology and serve as another barrier to weight loss. It’s important to honor your physiology and rewire your belief systems around eating and your body to facilitate more positivity and relaxation.

Ask my office for more advice on the proper care and feeding of your body.

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