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Archive for December, 2016

new year detox diet

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
  • Mushrooms
  • 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.
  • Alcohol
  • 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
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is stress making you sick copy

You’ve probably heard it over and over: Stress raises the risk of disease. But how do you know if your stress is the disease-causing kind? It’s helpful to know some signs and about the adrenal stress test.

Severe stress can either cause you to be fatigued all the time, wired all the time, or a mix of both. Or maybe stress manifests as sleep issues.

It’s not uncommon for people to become so used to being stressed out they fail to realize it’s an issue. They have forgotten how not to feel stressed out.

Symptoms of fatigue-based stress

  • Fatigue
  • Slow to get going in the morning
  • Energy crash in the afternoon
  • Craving sweets, caffeine, or nicotine
  • Unstable behavior; moodiness
  • Shaky, light-headed, or irritable if meals are delayed
  • Inability to stay asleep
  • Dizziness when moving from sitting to standing

Symptoms of wired stress

  • Excess belly fat
  • Insulin resistance (high blood sugar)
  • Insomnia
  • Not feeling rested in the morning
  • Women grow facial hair; men grow breasts
  • PCOS in women (polycystic ovarian syndrome)

How to do a lab test for stress

You can do an adrenal stress test to measure how well your body deals with stress using your saliva; it’s also called an adrenal salivary panel. Your adrenal glands are two small glands that sit atop each kidney that secrete stress hormones.

To get the most from the adrenal stress test, do the test a second time after following a health protocol for four to six weeks. This shows you whether you’re on the right track with your healing approach.

This is because stress in the body is always caused by more than just the stress that we perceive, for example low or high blood sugar, an infection, or autoimmune disease.

Adrenal health should improve as you manage these conditions. If things do not improve, it means you must keep searching to find out what is taxing the body.

Measuring your sleep-wake cycle

Another way to gauge stress with the adrenal stress test is to look at your sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm.

Are you alert in the morning and sleepy at night? An abnormal circadian rhythm is one symptom of adrenal stress.

Your primary stress hormone, cortisol, should be high in the morning and low at night on an adrenal stress test. Many people have a backwards rhythm causing fatigue in the morning and insomnia at night. Or, instead of a gradual decline of cortisol during the day, it may drop in the afternoon, causing an energy crash.

Where are you on the adrenal stress test scale?

By measuring several markers, the adrenal stress test can tell you whether you are in:

  • The “alarm reaction” of high adrenal hormones
  • Adrenal exhaustion and chronic tiredness
  • Somewhere in between

You do not necessarily have to progress from alarm reaction to adrenal fatigue. It’s possible to jump between phases, or stay in one phase for years.

The adrenal stress test also measures immune cells called total SIgA. This is a measure of how stress has impacted your immune system over time. If SIgA is low, it can mean you are more susceptible to food intolerances, infections, and weakened immunity.

Start with blood sugar stability to manage stress

One of the most common causes of chronic stress is a blood sugar imbalance  Addressing high or low blood sugar are vital to addressing chronic stress.

Various herbal and nutritional compounds, such as adrenal adaptogens, can profoundly influence adrenal function. Ask my office about the adrenal stress test and how you can support your adrenal health.

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what is functional medicine copy

You may have noticed the term “functional medicine” becoming more popular. What is functional medicine and how is it different from regular medicine? Functional medicine addresses health disorders by looking at their root causes rather than masking symptoms with drugs or surgery.

By looking at root causes, you improve your energy, sleep, vitality, and even libido. This is why seeing a functional medicine doctor for a gut problem can also improve your brain function and hormone issues. Everything in the body works together.

Root causes: Address engine, not engine light

If the engine light of your car comes on, do you find a way to turn off the engine light, or do you investigate under the hood?

That analogy works for functional medicine.

Functional medicine is not about giving you a drug for a symptom, but instead investigating why you have that symptom and working on that instead.

For example, suppose 10 different people have the same complaint, whether it is depression, fatigue, digestive problems, or persistent skin rashes.

Each of those 10 people can have the same symptom, but for 10 very different reasons.

An overgrowth of gut bacteria may be causing depression in one person, while it is a gluten intolerance in another.

Fatigue can be the result of low blood sugar in one person, and autoimmune B12 anemia disease in another.

You must know why you have a health problem

Until you understand why you are suffering from a health problem, chasing after drugs or therapies can keep landing you at dead ends.

Functional medicine relies on published, peer-reviewed science to help us understand how the body works and where breakdowns occur.

Lab tests, questionnaires, in-office exams, and a discussion about your case history help the functional medicine practitioner learn where the root cause lies.

Five common functional medicine root causes

Although different people can have the same symptom for different reasons, functional medicine often finds common root causes. Some of them are:

  • Food intolerances, especially to gluten and dairy
  • Low blood sugar
  • High blood sugar (insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes)
  • Intestinal bacterial and yeast overgrowths
  • Autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue)

Addressing one or all of these factors, depending on the person, can relieve not only the symptom that brought you to the office, but a number of other symptoms as well.

There are no specialties in the human body

The body is a highly complex web in which all systems and parts are related.

The body does not have specialties in the way medicine does. The digestive system — or any other system in the body — does not function independently of the rest of the body.

For instance, if autoimmune disease is destroying the thyroid gland, it’s not just the thyroid you address, but also the immune system. If the gallbladder is acting up, addressing a gluten intolerance and chronic inflammation can sometimes prevent gallbladder surgery.

Functional medicine is about reversing or stopping the progression of disease as much as possible without the use of drugs or surgery (although medication and surgery should not be avoided when needed).

It’s also about feeling as good as you should feel. For more information, please contact my office.

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 insulin resistance

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.

Reversing insulin resistance

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.

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Bruce Blaus

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 needing 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.

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