Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blood test for health: Functional ranges versus lab ranges

functional versus lab ranges

Did your blood test for a health problem say you’re perfectly healthy even though you suffer from fatigue, brain fog, hair loss, digestive issues, joint pain, or other symptoms that make you miserable? Does your doctor give you a prescription for antidepressants or tell you to seek therapy because your problems “don’t exist.”

Many doctors dismiss people’s health complaints because of an incomplete blood test that only looks for full-blown diseases instead of trends toward disease. In functional medicine, however, we use a blood test for assessing risk of disease before it develops. This way you can do something about it before it’s too late. For instance, a fasting blood glucose over 100 mg/dL can identify a risk for diabetes long before a diagnosis. Or more complete thyroid testing can explain hypothyroid symptoms when a standard test shows results are “normal.”

Functional medicine uses a blood test for a return to health

Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of symptoms instead of overriding them with drugs or surgery. One tool we use to accomplish this is to interpret blood tests using functional ranges, which outline the parameters of good health.

In contrast, the ranges most doctors use are based on a bell-curve analysis of all the people who visited that lab over a certain period of time, many of whom are very sick. These lab ranges have broadened over the last few decades as health of the American population has declined. As a result, more and more people with real health problems are told they’re fine because their lab results fall within these wide ranges.

Do you really want to evaluate your health in comparison to all the sick people who visited your lab, or do you want to look at a blood test for what constitutes good health?

Looking for blood test patterns 

Because functional medicine is based on an in-depth knowledge of human physiology and how various systems in the body work together, we also look at a blood test for patterns instead of just looking at individual markers. By doing this, we see how these different systems influence one another to cause a constellation of symptoms.

For instance, looking at different white blood cells reveals whether an immune reaction is chronic or acute, and whether a virus, a bacterial infection, allergies, or parasite may be causing it. Other patterns can help us identify fatty liver, leaky gut, different types of anemia, or even a possible autoimmune disorder.

Blood test for functional medicine is more thorough

A blood test for functional medicine also includes more markers that standard blood tests. For instance, many doctors only look at TSH, a basic thyroid marker, when running a blood test for hypothyroidism. In functional medicine, however, we know that Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland, is responsible for 90 percent of hypothyroid cases in the United States. Therefore we also test thyroid antibodies to screen for autoimmunity along with other thyroid markers for more information.

A blood test for a functional medicine approach can also help us know what other tests may be necessary, such as a gastrointestinal panel or further testing for anemia.

Principles of functional medicine

Once the potential problems or risks have been assessed, the functional medicine practitioner uses a variety of science-backed, non-pharmaceutical approaches to restore health. These include:

  • Adjustments to the diet
  • Lifestyle changes (such as eating breakfast, proper sleep hygiene, physical activity, or reduction of stress)
  • The use of botanicals or nutritional compounds to improve physiological function
  • Other natural medicine approaches customized for the patient based on lab testing

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lesser known causes of anxiety

what causes anxiety

Suffering from anxiety is like being held prisoner in a place where worry infuses every thought, your heart pounds, and the world seems jarring and disorienting. With anti-anxiety medications among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States, Americans are clearly suffering. Though medications relieve the symptoms, they don’t address the cause.

Some causes of anxiety are obvious: stimulants such as caffeine, weight loss pills, energy drinks, or supplements that increase energy. Psychological or emotional stressors, such as having to speak in public or prepare for a major exam, can also bring on bouts of anxiety.

However, chronic anxiety can have lesser-known causes that, if managed, can relieve symptoms and negate the need for medication. Although the cause of anxiety can sometimes be neurologically complex, other times it can be as simple as making some changes to your diet and lifestyle. Below are a few lesser-known causes of anxiety.

GAD autoimmunity and anxiety

GAD stands for glutamic acid decarboxylase, an enzyme that triggers production of the brain’s primary calming chemical, called GABA. Some people develop an autoimmune reaction to GAD, which means their immune system erroneously attacks and destroys it. As a result, they can’t make enough GABA to calm the brain and anxiety goes up. GAD autoimmunity is also linked to obsessive compulsive disorder, motion sickness, vertigo, facial tics, and other symptoms. GAD autoimmunity is more common in those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease and a gluten-free diet can alleviate symptoms.

Gluten and anxiety

Gluten has other links to anxiety. It’s hard to believe something as innocent as your morning toast or a bowl of spaghetti could cause anxiety, but recent research shows that is the case for many people. Gluten has been shown to trigger inflammation in the brain and autoimmune attacks against brain tissue, which can cause anxiety. Although a gluten-free diet is an important first step, many people find they also need to eliminate other foods such as dairy, eggs, or other grains to dampen immune flare-ups and anxiety. An anti-inflammatory autoimmune diet is a good beginning to address brain health.

Blood sugar imbalances and anxiety

It’s amazing how many chronic health issues stem from a blood sugar imbalance caused by eating a high-carbohydrate diet. Every time you eat too many carbs in the way of breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, desserts, pastries, soda or sweet coffee drinks you send blood sugar and insulin surging and crashing. When this happens daily it can create a multitude of neurological symptoms, including anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability, and fatigue. Skipping meals and drinking too much coffee also feeds this cycle. A lower-carb, whole foods diet with enough healthy proteins and fats can keep energy on an even keel and tame anxiety.

Unmanaged Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

The majority of cases of hypothyroidism in this country are autoimmune, meaning the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. When an autoimmune attack flares, damage to the gland spills thyroid hormone into the bloodstream, which can amp up metabolism and cause symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and heart palpitations. In this case proper management of the autoimmune thyroid condition can help subdue anxiety.

These are just a handful of possible causes of anxiety typically overlooked in the standard health care model. Ask my office for other strategies on managing anxiety using natural means.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why sleep is more difficult for women

female hormones sleep

Is there a torture worse than hitting the sack exhausted from a long day only to toss and turn for hours, unable to fall asleep? Or perhaps you fall asleep but later bolt awake and can’t fall back asleep?

By the time women hit their mid 30s or early 40s, many struggle with sleep. Either it’s difficult to fall asleep, difficult to stay asleep, or both. Although sleep difficulties can have many causes, fluctuations of female hormone prior to and during the transition to menopause can steal many hours of precious sleep.

Female hormone imbalances and sleep problems

When a woman enters perimenopause, her production of estrogen and progesterone begins to decline. Ideally the adrenal glands, which produce stress hormones, take over production of these hormones to ensure a smooth transition into menopause. Unfortunately, most women today enter perimenopause (pre-menopause) in a state of chronic stress and their adrenals glands are either producing too much or too little of stress hormones. To take on the added job of producing sex hormones is simply more than they can handle. That’s when sleep issues can kick in, as balanced levels of estrogen and progesterone are necessary for healthy sleep. Other symptoms may include hot flashes, night sweats, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and more.

Women may also experience sleep issues during certain times of the menstrual cycle when hormone levels fluctuate.

Low progesterone and problems sleeping

Low progesterone seems to have become increasingly common among women and can play a large role in sleep problems. Progesterone is referred to as the “calming hormone” whereas estrogen is more excitatory, and low progesterone is associated with sleeping difficulties.

Chronic stress can impact progesterone levels. Every time you experience stress your adrenal glands release cortisol, a stress hormone. When demand for cortisol is constantly high the body borrows pregnenolone, which is needed to make progesterone and other hormones, to make cortisol instead. This is called “pregnenolone steal” because the body steals pregnenolone from the hormone cascade in order to keep pace with the demands of stress.

Stopping pregnenolone steal may help improve hormone function and improve sleep. Strategies for stopping pregnenolone steal include an anti-inflammatory diet, which eases the body’s burden of stress. You may also need to work on restoring gut health, taming chronic inflammation, or managing an autoimmune disease appropriately, approaches that benefit from the guidance of an experienced practitioner.

Estrogen and sleep problems

When estrogen is too high and progesterone too low, it can cause sleep problems for the obvious reason—there is too much of the excitatory estrogen compared to the calming progesterone and the brain can’t calm down enough to rest. A proper ratio between the two is important.

However, low estrogen can also contribute to sleep problems. Estrogen is intimately connected with serotonin, a brain chemical associated that is converted to melatonin, a sleep hormone. Low estrogen may lead to low serotonin activity and contribute not only to sleep problems but also depression and anxiety. The female brain is highly dependent on sufficient estrogen for normal function in general, and low estrogen can also cause symptoms that include brain fog and memory loss.

Strategies to support hormone balance

Tending to adrenal function and other health issues may help correct hormonal imbalances. This includes not only reducing lifestyle stress, but also eliminating dietary stressors. Eating a diet lower in carbohydrates to prevent blood sugar swings, avoiding foods that cause an immune reaction, not drinking too much alcohol, tending to bacterial gut infections and other aspects of digestive health, and supporting immune balance are all whole-body approaches that can foster proper hormone function and improve sleep.

Ask my office for help in supporting healthy hormonal balance, and improving sleep.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Baby videos can lower IQ; better ways to boost baby's brain

educational DVDs lower child IQ

Popping in a DVD for a baby or toddler can provide a brief but blessed break for the harried parent, and playing an educational video takes some of the sting out of the guilt. Unfortunately, even an educational video featuring classical music, shapes, colors, and early words may do more harm than good according to researchers. A child’s brain needs constant physical activity and interaction with the environment to develop properly, and time in front of the screen suspends that development, even if it’s an educational video or computer game.

Research shows the younger a child begins spending time in front of the screen, the lower they score on language tests, despite being taught language on educational videos or television. Unfortunately, almost 90 percent of children spend two to three hours per day in front of a screen by the time they are two years old.

Educational videos overlook brain development basics

A parent who wants her child to read or learn numbers early overlooks some basics of brain development. The timing of left and right hemisphere development is of utmost importance during these first years of life.

A child’s right brain is dominant through about age three. The right brain governs the ability to read emotions, see the big picture, intuition, creativity, and imagination. Experts say teaching more left-brained activities, such as language, critical thinking, logic, and math is not appropriate during this critical right-brain period of development.

In fact, childhood brain issues such as ADHD or autism spectrum disorders reflect lopsided growth of the hemispheres, with the left brain often dominating a weaker right brain. This explains why these children may be academically gifted but have difficulty with such right-brain tasks as reading social cues.

Although watching educational TV or videos won’t necessarily cause a brain development disorder, experts say it can delay the development of crucial wiring and even delay language development.

Better educational alternatives to TV and videos

Physical activity and healthy interaction with the environment are the most vital aspects to a properly developing brain. Babies and toddlers do not need traditional education on TV and videos. Simply becoming part of the world around them is highly educational for them. Ample access to physical movement appropriate for the child’s age (i.e., do not put a child who should be learning to crawl in a walker or leave her strapped in a car seat for much of the day) is vital for proper brain growth, as is playing with age-appropriate toys, loving interaction and touch from caregivers, the ability to safely observe and explore his world, and protection from overstimulation.

Healthy brain development starts in the womb

Although the early years of life are critical to brain development, brain health starts in the womb and is significantly affected by the mother’s health (and, according to newer research, the father’s age—children of men older than 50 are significantly more likely to have autism).

To maximize a baby’s brain power, both parents should start with functional medicine principles before the baby has even been conceived. These include stabilizing blood sugar, eliminating foods that cause inflammation, detoxification, balancing hormone, adrenal, and thyroid health, and repairing the gut, which is the seat of the immune system. The health of the mother’s immune system significantly impacts the development of her baby’s brain, and many women today unknowingly suffer from autoimmune or chronic conditions that imbalance their immune system.

Ask my office for tips on how best to support health nutritionally prior to conception, during nursing, or after your baby is born.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chew more thoroughly for better health and weight loss

chew thoroughly for weight loss health

Gandhi’s advice to chew your drink and drink your food has stood the test of time. Although what you eat is important, how you eat deserves equal attention as research shows chewing thoroughly and eating slowly helps prevent weight gain and improves digestion.

Chewing more thoroughly suppresses appetite

A series of recent studies show chewing each bite thoroughly reduces appetite, lowers calorie intake, and can aid weight loss. That’s because the hormones that leave us feeling satiated don’t kick in until 20 to 40 minutes after you begin eating.

For instance, one study measured the release of gut hormones that suppress appetite in subjects five minutes and 30 minutes after they consumed a meal. The results showed eating the meal more slowly increased the secretion of appetite-reducing hormones.

In another study a group of both lean and obese men ate the exact same meal twice in one day. For the first meal they were instructed to chew each bite 15 times and for the second meal, 40 times. The results showed that whether lean or obese, the men consumed 12 percent less food when they had to chew each mouthful 40 times.

Another recent study showed lengthening the time of your meal can decrease hunger, something many European cultures practice regularly. Stretching a meal over two hours by taking breaks makes the food seem more rewarding, lowers grehlin, a hormone that induces hunger, and raises hormones that increase satiety.

Chewing thoroughly improves health

Digestion starts in the mouth, not the stomach. Saliva contains enzymes that begin the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Exposing food to saliva for longer periods of time in your mouth creates less stress on the rest of the digestive tract, which frees up more energy so you feel better.

Taking the time to eat slowly and consciously also gives the digestive tract ample notice to secrete stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes, gallbladder bile, and other chemicals to completely digest your food for maximum nutrient absorption. By wolfing down your meal you throw improperly digested food into an unprepared digestive system, which is stressful and can create symptoms of bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, or stomach pain.

Because the immune system resides largely in the gut, chewing thoroughly is one way to promote better immune health.

Healthier foods require more chewing

You may have noticed that many processed and fast foods are so easy to chew you hardly need teeth. Whole foods, on the other hand, tend to require more chewing. Simply choosing a whole foods diet free of refined foods can encourage you to chew more thoroughly.

However, you may need some outside reinforcement to develop a better chewing habit. Here are some strategies:

  • Take the time to sit down and calmly eat a meal
  • Take small bites
  • Count so you chew each mouthful 20 or more times—until your food is completely liquid
  • Pay attention to the taste, texture, and flavor of your meals; avoid reading or watching TV while eating
  • Try to make meals into lengthy, relaxing occasions as often as possible

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why eating breakfast prevents weight gain and fatigue

importance of breakfast

Breakfast is the easiest meal to skip—mornings are rushed and many people don’t have an appetite when they wake up. Some people even feel nauseous in the morning (which indicates a blood sugar disorder). But if you skip breakfast you may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts, increasing your risk of obesity and blood sugar disorders, and robbing your brain of energy.

Skipping breakfast associated with obesity

Numerous studies show skipping breakfast is associated with higher rates of obesity in both children and adults. Some people erroneously think that by skipping breakfast they consume fewer calories and thus aid weight loss. However, skipping breakfast can set into motion an unhealthy metabolic cascade that eventually leads to excess fat.

Breakfast is the first meal after a long night of fasting. In the absence of food, the body must release stored glucose to fuel the brain or create glucose by breaking down muscle tissue. This process is made possible by stress hormones.

Skipping breakfast when your brain and body are starved for energy exaggerates this stress response, forcing the body to continually pump out stress hormones to fuel the brain. These stress hormones also explain why some people wake up feeling nauseous. Although it seems counter-intuitive, eating can actually relieve that morning nausea by inhibiting the stress response.

The habitual stress response caused by skipping breakfast and other meals promotes weight gain, upsets hormonal balance, causes inflammation, hinders brain function, and can lead to symptoms such as migraines, depression, mood swings, shakiness, lightheadedness, brain fog, sleep disorders, and more. Eating meals high in sugar and carbohydrates also contributes to this problem by causing energy to continually spike and crash throughout the day.

Eating breakfast is an important strategy when it comes to preventing weight gain and fatigue.

Skipping breakfast makes you more prone to overeating or poor food choices

Skipping breakfast can increase your chances of overindulging or making poor food choices later in the day. When your energy is crashing and your brain is starving for fuel, downing a caramel latte or package of mini donuts suddenly seems unavoidable. A well-fueled brain is better equipped to make healthier choices and not succumb to a mad grab for the nearest source of quick energy (for which the American food industry seems to be designed).

A recent study validated this tendency, showing participants who skipped breakfast were more likely to seek out high-calorie junk foods and that dieters who skip meals are more prone to gain weight over the long run. Their brain scans showed skipping meals stimulated the brain in a way that made high-calorie foods seem more appealing. Those who skipped breakfast also ate about 20 percent more at lunch.

Breakfast keeps body and brain on an even keel

Breakfast should emphasize healthy proteins and fat (avoid sugary, starchy breakfasts) to start the day on an even keel and maximize brain function. Eat frequently enough to avoid blood sugar crashes, and include protein, healthy fat, and fiber (vegetables) with every meal to sustain energy and prevent fatigue throughout the day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The importance of keeping a food diary

food diary weight loss food intolerances

Whether you want to lose weight or manage an autoimmune disease, studies show keeping a food diary is one of the best ways to ensure success. For instance, diet research shows those who keep a food diary lose 30 to 50 percent more weight than those who don’t.

Keeping a food diary keeps you honest

It’s easy to think you are eating or behaving one way when the reality is strikingly different. Keeping track of everything you eat, portion sizes, and when you eat lifts the veil on bad habits you have managed to hide from yourself, such as how much sugar you really eat, how big your portions are, how frequently (or infrequently) you eat, or how often you eat a food you know causes problems for you.

Keeping a food diary for weight loss

One of the most popular reasons to keep a food diary is for weight loss. Most people underestimate portion sizes or how often they eat. Measuring the peanut butter or mayonnaise may show you’re eating much more than you thought.

Knowing you have to record everything is also great motivation to stick to your plan. That tantalizing dessert loses appeal when you see how those extra calories or grams of carbohydrates are going to kill your numbers at the end of the day. On the other hand, jotting down your exercise feels great.

It’s also good to tie in timing, location, and emotions with your meals. You may notice waiting too long between meals predisposes you to a binge, or that a particular person or situation increases your sugar cravings.

Keeping a food diary for health changes

Food diaries aren’t just for weight loss. Many people must make dramatic dietary changes to manage a chronic health condition. Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis all respond positively to changes in diet. Tracking both what you eat and your symptoms not only helps with compliance, but also can show you if any foods flare up your condition. For instance, you may be following a gluten-free and dairy-free diet but notice your health worsens when you eat eggs.

Keeping a food diary to find food intolerances

In fact, a food diary is an excellent tool for an elimination-provocation diet. These diets involve eliminating common dietary immune triggers such as grains (gluten in particular), dairy, eggs, soy, and sweeteners for a number of weeks. After the elimination period you add in each food one at a time every 48 to 72 hours and monitor your reactions.

Most people don’t realize they have a food intolerance because either they eat the food all the time or because reactions can happen up to 72 hours later. By removing the foods for a period of time and then introducing them singly, the immune system will typically produce a noticeable reaction if that food is an issue. It’s important to record symptoms as they appear. They can be very diverse and affect the skin, digestive tract, respiratory system, mood, mental function, joints, and more.

Ask my office about tips for keeping a food journal, weight loss, and implementing an elimination-provocation diet.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Are you always hungry? You could have leptin resistance

always hungry leptin resistance

You would think people who are overweight or obese would never feel hungry—after all, they have all that extra fat to burn. But in a cruel twist of metabolic trickery, carrying excess fat can actually make you hungrier thanks to a phenomenon called leptin resistance.

What is leptin?

Leptin is a “satiety” hormone secreted by fat cells that tells the brain when you have had enough to eat. Eating causes the secretion of leptin, which signals that the stomach is full and it’s time to stop eating. Between meals or during long periods without food, leptin levels drop, triggering hunger and motivating you to eat and replenish the body’s energy stores.

Leptin resistance causes you to always feel hungry

Because fat cells secrete leptin, overweight and obese people should never feel hungry. Unfortunately, the reverse happens. Excess fat secretes too much leptin, bombarding leptin receptors on cells. Eventually these cells become overwhelmed and shut down their leptin receptors to protect themselves. This is called leptin resistance—leptin can no longer get into the cells to deliver their message that the stomach is full and it’s time to stop eating.

Hence the leptin-resistant person always feels hungry and is prone to overeat, even if she or he is carrying plenty of fat. In addition to causing chronic hunger, leptin resistance doubly vexes the overweight person by promoting fat storage and making it tough to lose weight.

Leptin serves other roles beyond hunger and satiety. It is also important for fertility, libido, and puberty. Leptin resistance could explain why obese girls are 80 percent more likely to start puberty earlier than girls of normal weight.

High triglycerides block leptin

High triglycerides have been shown to block leptin. Diets high in alcohol, sugars and carbohydrate-rich foods, such as breads, pasta, rice, and potatoes, raise triglycerides considerably. High triglycerides have been shown to block the ability of leptin to pass into the brain to tell it you’re full.

Diet can reverse leptin resistance and chronic hunger

The key to unwinding leptin resistance is to adopt a diet that will restore leptin sensitivity. The eating habits that typically lead to being overweight or obese—overeating and eating too many sweets and starchy foods, processed foods, and foods fried in industrialized fats—also lead to leptin resistance, high triglycerides, and hence the feeling of always being hungry.

To restore leptin sensitivity, diminish chronic hunger, and release excess fat, consider the following leptin facts and begin making the changes you need to your own diet and lifestyle.

  • Regular exercise, particularly strength training and interval training, lowers leptin.
  • Sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup found in sweets and sodas make the brain resistant to leptin. Sweets also raise triglycerides so leptin can’t reach the brain.
  • Healthy fats activate leptin’s satiety switch. Eat coconut oil, butter, ghee, olive oil, avocado, salmon, etc. as part of a lower-carb diet.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids regulate leptin sensitivity. Ask your practitioner whether a fish or krill oil supplement may help you.
  • Overeating causes leptin resistance. Ditch the sodas, sweets, processed foods, and high-carbohydrate foods, which trigger cravings in many people. Healthy fats and sufficient protein curb cravings. Consider hypnotherapy, acupuncture, or other tools to address an eating disorder that may cause you to overeat.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mother’s inflammation raises risk of child’s autism, asthma, and allergies

mother s autoimmunity autism

While practitioners of functional medicine have long understood the link between the health of a mother’s immune system and the risk of giving birth to a child with autism, asthma, allergies, and other disorders, it is validating to see this information in the New York Times: An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism.

In this article, the author reports one-third of autism cases are the result of an inflammatory disease that began in the womb, thanks to the mother’s imbalanced immune system. Looking back through 20 years of data, researchers discovered that infections during pregnancy increase the risk of autism. Hospitalization for a viral infection (i.e., the flu) during the first trimester tripled the odds for autism, while a bacterial infection (including urinary tract infections) during the second trimester increased the risk by 40 percent.

Maternal autoimmunity increases risk of autism in children

While viral and bacterial infections have declined over the last 60 years, autoimmune and chronic inflammatory disorders are steadily climbing. Autoimmune disease dwarfs cancer and heart disease combined, now affecting about 50 million people, or 20 percent of the population.

Investigation revealed it isn’t the infections themselves that cause autism, but instead the reaction of the mother’s immune system to infection (her inflammatory response), as well as the overall health of her immune system.

One study of 700,000 births found that a mother’s rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, or Type 1 diabetes more than doubles the risk of autism in her child. Other research has connected additional autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, with an increased risk of giving birth to a child who develops autism.

In an autoimmune response, the immune system mistakenly creates antibodies to the body’s own tissue, thereby tagging the tissue for destruction. Researchers have found that some mothers of autistic children create antibodies to the brain tissue of their fetus, meaning the child is a born with a brain already developmentally imbalanced by immune destruction. In fact, research indicates that mothers of children with autism are five times more likely to have anti-brain antibodies in their systems.

Chronic inflammation in pregnancy raises risk of childhood disorders

Other risk factors for autism include maternal asthma, allergies, insulin resistance, obesity, and chronic low-grade inflammation. In other words, when a mom’s immune system is in constant overdrive—never getting the opportunity to rest—the development of the fetal brain is adversely affected and the overall risk for disorders is increased.

Western diet and lifestyle behind inflammation and autoimmunity

Unfortunately, the story An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism veers into the promise of using whip worms—yes, worms—to tame the out-of-control immune system. The theory is that autoimmune disease has skyrocketed in developed nations because we are too clean.

The article fails to mention those other hallmarks of Western civilization besides good hygiene: overabundant diets laden with sweet, starchy, processed foods; chronic stress; a sedentary lifestyle; and daily bombardment of environmental toxins.

Thankfully, practitioners of functional medicine have measures other than the whip-worm therapy to manage autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation, all backed by peer-reviewed science. These include an autoimmune diet and the use of targeted, customized nutritional therapies.

Ask my office how we can assist you in balancing your immune system and, in so doing, help you to lower the risk of giving birth to a child with asthma, allergies, autism, or other brain and immune disorders.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wake up at 3 a.m. and can't fall back asleep? Consider low blood sugar

wake up at 3 a m

Do you consistently wake up around 3 a.m. and can’t fall back asleep? Although the reasons for sleep problems can be complex, waking up too early is often a symptom of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and can be remedied through dietary changes and nutritional therapy.

Why you wake up at 3 a.m.

The brain is highly active at night, transforming short-term memory into long-term memory and carrying out repair and regeneration, and it depends on a steady supply of energy to do these tasks. When you sleep at night your body goes into a fasting state. In order not to deprive the brain of the food it needs for energy, the body compensates by gradually raising cortisol, an adrenal hormone. Cortisol stimulates the body to release or create glucose to supply the brain with energy during the night-long fast.

Chronic low blood sugar, however, throws a kink in this process. People with hypoglycemia tend to have difficulty making the right amount of cortisol at the right times of the day or night. They also have blood sugar levels that spike and then crash throughout the day. If they go too long without eating they experience lightheadedness, irritability, shakiness, a spacey feeling, and other symptoms that signify the brain is not getting enough glucose.

In these cases, not only does blood sugar drop too low during the night, but the adrenal glands don't produce enough cortisol to keep the brain fueled. In response, the body sounds the emergency alarm by releasing “fight-or-flight” hormones. These stress hormones raise blood sugar back to a safer level. Unfortunately, they also raise stress, which can cause anxiety or panic in the middle of the night. Hence the waking up at 3 a.m. and not being able to fall back asleep.

How to fall asleep if you wake up at 3 a.m.

A quick fix for waking up at 3 a.m. can be as simple as eating a small amount of protein, with perhaps some fat thrown in—a spoonful of nut butter, a little bit of meat, or a hard-boiled egg. For some people this raises blood sugar to a healthier level and sustains it so they can fall back asleep. It’s best not to eat something sweet or starchy (however tempting to your hungry brain) because this will just cause blood sugar to spike and crash again.

Daytime tips to avoid waking up at 3 a.m.

Although a 3 a.m. snack may help you fall back asleep, it’s better to prevent that anxious awakening in the first place. If you wake up regularly at 3 a.m. you may suffer from chronic low blood sugar and need dietary therapy. Symptoms include:

  • Sugar cravings
  • Irritability, light-headedness, dizziness, or brain fog if meals are missed
  • Lack of appetite or nausea in the morning
  • The need for caffeine for energy
  • Eating to relieve fatigue
  • Energy crashes in the afternoon

A diet that stabilizes daytime blood sugar levels will have you sleeping better. This requires that you:

  • Never skip breakfast and eat a breakfast lower in carbohydrates. If you have chronic low blood sugar you may have lost the ability to feel hunger and you need to eat in the morning and throughout the day (even if you don't feel like it).
  • Eat frequently enough so blood sugar does not crash.
  • Ditch the sweets and starchy foods and adopt a lower-carbohydrate diet. People with low blood sugar symptoms typically eat too many sweets and starchy foods (breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.) and also frequently skip meals. Go for foods lower on the glycemic index and eat enough protein and healthy fats to sustain your energy.

A variety of nutritional compounds can further support your blood sugar handling and stress hormone functions so you sleep better. Ask my office how we can help.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vitamin B12 deficiency more common than thought

B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common than people realize and can mimic or cause other disorders. A B12 deficiency is linked with memory loss, anemia, cardiovascular disease, and autism, to name a few. B12 is necessary for the brain and nervous system to function and for other aspects of health. It’s believed B12 deficiency is due in most cases not to lack of dietary sources but to poor absorption of the vitamin in the digestive tract.

Could your declining brain function be a B12 deficiency?

Because B12 is so vital for brain function, a B12 deficiency can manifest as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, shakiness, depression, and loss of memory and cognition that can mimic the beginnings of dementia. It’s especially important to pay attention to a possible B12 deficiency in older people as the ability to absorb the vitamin declines with age. Studies show older people with higher B12 levels show less brain shrinkage and cognitive decline than their B12 deficient counterparts.

Is your anemia a B12 deficiency?

Other common manifestations of B12 deficiency are symptoms of anemia, which include fatigue, lethargy and weakness. Many people with B12 anemia discover they have an autoimmune disease called pernicious anemia, which inhibits the absorption of B12. In this case managing the autoimmune disease is important as well as supplementing with B12 sublingually or through injection.

A deficiency in B12 is also linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, autism, autoimmune disease, infertility, and more.

B12 deficiency often due to poor absorption

So what causes B12 deficiency? For many people it’s due not to diet but rather to poor absorption of nutrients.

Many people today have damaged guts due to diets high in inflammatory foods, chronic stress, and food intolerances, such as to gluten. It’s difficult for nutrients such as B12 to pass through an inflamed and damaged gut lining into the bloodstream.

Other factors that can lead to a B12 deficiency include a decline in stomach acid (common in elderly), the use of antacids and acid-blocking drugs, the use of metformin and other prescription drugs, alcoholism, and weight-loss surgery.

Repairing and restoring gut health should always be addressed in the event of a B12 deficiency.

Vegans and vegetarians at risk for B12 deficiency

One group at risk for dietary deficiency of B12 are vegans and vegetarians—B12 is only found in animal foods. Natural plant sources of B12 such as spirulina, algae, seaweed, or grasses are poorly absorbed and may give a false reading of normal B12 on a lab result. This population especially should supplement with B12.

Also, although gut bacteria can synthesize B12, this requires healthy gut function and flora, and most of it is synthesized downstream of the small intestine where B12 is absorbed.

Taking B12

Recommended doses of B12 vary depending on whether you have a deficiency, and you should work with a qualified health care practitioner to determine the best dose. However, there is a low risk of B12 toxicity.

The more bioavailable form of B12 supplementation is methyl B12, or methylcobalamin, as opposed to the more common, synthetic cyanocobalamin. Not only is methyl B12 more neurologically active, it also enhances a liver detoxification process called methylation, which can reduce inflammation.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Meet Dr. Stadler

Dr. Redd and the Staff at RedRiver Health and Wellness Center would like to introduce Dr. Paul Stadler, Chiropractic Physician, to our practice. Dr. Stadler has joined our South Jordan location and has already make a very positive impact on our office. We are excited to have him as part of our team and welcome him to the practice.

Dr. Paul Stadler grew up in Arizona. He attended BYU were he graduated with honors and a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science/Physiology. He pursued his Doctor of Chiropractic at Parker University where he graduated as the Salutatorian.

Dr. Stadler has specialty training in disorders of the endocrine system, motor vehicle accident rehabilitation, and sports injuries. He has served as Director of Seminars for the ProActive seminar series and has served as part of the medical staff for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer events in Texas and Idaho.

"I have found that when people are properly informed, they usually make the right decisions. Most people want to be healthy, but they have not been properly educated on how to attain this goal. I have devoted my professional life to this cause."
-Dr. Paul Stadler

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Are you alkaline enough? How to reduce acidity for better health

are you alkaline enough copy

If your body becomes too acidic it can lead to health problems—good pH balance is necessary for cells to function properly. Too much acidity plays a role in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain and inflammation, autoimmune disease, and other chronic conditions. Fortunately, we can make the body more alkaline simply through changes to the diet.

How do you know if you are too acidic?

Many people are overly acidic today because of the modern diet. Below are some symptoms:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle twitches
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Brain fog
  • Poor brain function
  • Reduced endurance for exercise
  • Swelling and bloating
  • Salt cravings
  • Difficulty holding breath
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Poor sleep

Testing for acid or alkaline pH

You can also test your body’s pH. Although a salivary test is a popular way to test pH it does not have much support in the scientific literature. Testing through blood is not accurate because blood pH fluctuates only if there is an acute event, such as poisoning or kidney or lung disease. However, if the blood test markers CO2 and anion gap are outside of functional medicine ranges it suggests acidity.

A urinary test has been demonstrated to be an accurate reflection of how acidic or alkaline you are and reflects whether nutritional therapy or changes in your diet are helping you become more alkaline. Ideal urinary pH is suggested to be between 7.2–7.8. It’s important to note, however, that infections, bacterial overgrowth, dehydration, incontinence, and other issues can affect the results of your urinary pH test.

How do you become more alkaline?

It’s easy in today’s world to become too acidic. Diets high in sugars, simple starches, and junk foods can lead to excess acidity. Caffeinated drinks, sodas, and alcohol promote acidity as well. Eating too much meat and not enough produce is another dietary factor. It is not necessary to become a vegan or vegetarian to maintain a good pH, however a diet based on ample leafy green and colorful vegetables as well as some fruits are at the foundation of an alkaline diet. The alkaline diet is rich in magnesium, potassium, calcium, and other minerals that help your body maintain a healthy pH.

Anemia, asthma, and poor blood sugar regulation can prevent you from being alkaline enough

Certain health conditions such as anemia or asthma can prevent you from being alkaline enough. Stable blood sugar levels are also necessary for good alkalinity. A diet high in carbohydrates and sugars will promote acidity, as will having low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or high blood sugar (insulin resistance). It’s important not to skip meals or to overeat and to eat regularly enough to prevent your energy from crashing if you want to maintain a good pH.

If acidity becomes too severe it can be life threatening. Diabetes, kidney disease, and lung disease are health conditions that can raise the risk of acidifying the body to an extreme degree and require medical attention.

Nutritional therapy to be more alkaline

Although sodium bicarbonate can quickly alkalinize the system, it is too high in sodium to be used regularly. Instead, in addition to adopting a more alkalinizing diet, some nutritional compounds may help move you toward a more alkaline state more quickly.

Contact my office for ideas on how nutritional therapy can help you to be more alkaline.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Is your blood pressure too low?

low blood pressure adrenal fatigue

We all hear about the risks associated with high blood pressure, but having low blood pressure can also pose health risks. When you have low blood pressure your blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients, is not being sufficiently pushed into the tissues throughout your body, including the brain. This means your brain and other organs are not getting enough oxygen to work as well as they could. A blood pressure of 120/80 is considered healthy and if the upper or lower number deviates by 10 your blood pressure is in an abnormal range.

Low blood pressure associated with adrenal fatigue

Low blood pressure is typically associated with poor adrenal function. The adrenal glands, which sit atop the kidneys, produce stress hormones and play an important role in regulating blood pressure. Many people today have fatigued adrenal glands thanks to chronic stress, poor diets, low blood sugar, chronic infections, digestive problems, inflammation, or other issues. Chronic stress from any or all of these factors may wear out the adrenal glands, causing adrenal fatigue. As a result, your body has a harder time maintaining health and balance through life’s ups and downs. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue may include constant tiredness, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and low blood pressure.

Feeling faint when you stand up

A common type of low blood pressure is a orthostatic hypotension, a drop in blood pressure when you go from sitting to standing that causes lightheadedness. For the person with orthostatic hypotension, standing up causes blood to pool in the legs. This slows the flow of blood back to the heart and decreases the amount of blood pumped from the heart. Medical professionals diagnose orthostatic hypotension when the top number falls by 20 and the bottom number falls by 10 upon standing.

Although lightheadedness is not cause for alarm, if standing up causes you to faint you should seek medical attention. Orthostatic hypotension also increases the risk of falling for elderly people. Orthostatic hypotension is common among people with low blood pressure and hypoglycemia, although people with high blood pressure can also have orthostatic hypotension.

What to do for low blood pressure and adrenal fatigue

If you have low blood pressure and suspect you may have adrenal fatigue, consider having an adrenal saliva test. This test measures how much cortisol, an important adrenal hormone, your body makes, and whether your cortisol level follows healthy daily patterns.

Although people with high blood pressure are told to avoid salt, those with low blood pressure may actually benefit by adding sea salt to their food.

Also, certain nutritional compounds have been shown to support adrenal function and thus healthy blood pressure. Because adrenal fatigue is always secondary to another problem, it’s important to find out what is taxing the adrenal system and address that as well. Eating a diet that prevents your blood sugar from dropping too low and causing symptoms of hypoglycemia is another important key. Strategies include eating a good breakfast, ditching sweets, starchy foods and sweetened drinks, eating regularly enough to sustain blood sugar, and making sure never to skip meals.

For more advice on supporting healthy adrenal function and blood pressure, contact my office.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Low cholesterol caution: Why you need cholesterol

why you need cholesterol

We frequently hear about the dangers of high cholesterol, but keeping cholesterol as low as many doctors recommend may be doing your body more harm than good.

Although conventional medicine has demonized cholesterol and many healthy foods as a consequence, too little cholesterol can be harmful in a variety of ways. Your body uses cholesterol to make cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D, bile acids (to help you digest fats), and it’s vital to good brain function.

Cholesterol prevents depression and memory loss

Cholesterol is abundant in brain and nervous tissue. It provides insulation around nerve cells that transmit electrical impulses, thus maintaining healthy communication in the brain. It also supports the activity of neurotransmitters, chemicals used for communication that greatly affect our mood, personality, and cognitive function. In fact, sufficient cholesterol is necessary to prevent depression and cholesterol-lowering medications have been linked with loss of memory and cognition.

The majority of your brain is made up of fat and the fats you eat help determine the chemical structure of your brain. Many of the foods people are told to avoid in order to lower cholesterol—eggs, fatty meats and fish, butter—also contain choline, a precursor to a brain chemical called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is necessary for learning, memory, concentration, and focus. It’s important to eat healthy, natural fats and avoid processed vegetable oils. You also want to strictly avoid trans fats, or hydrogenated oils, which have been shown to damage the brain and raise your risk for heart disease.

Cholesterol needed for healthy hormones

Cholesterol is a primary building block for the reproductive hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and adrenal hormones. When cholesterol is too low, hormone deficiencies may result. Sufficient cholesterol is also necessary to digest vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are found in fats and are important antioxidants.

Although cholesterol scares are over inflated, it is nevertheless important to pay attention to other lipid panel markers, such as the ratio of HDL to LDL, triglyceride levels, and small, dense LDL. It is important to note too that some people have a genetic tendency toward extremely high cholesterol. In those situations medical attention beyond diet may be necessary.

Inflammation is the real culprit in heart disease

Researchers are increasingly finding chronic inflammation, not healthy dietary fats, damages the walls of the arteries and raises the risk of heart disease. Cholesterol's job is to repair this damage by creating patches, or plaques—it is more the Band-Aid for arterial damage than the cause.

High blood sugar and insulin increase inflammation and heart disease risk

High blood sugar and insulin levels are a primary cause of chronic inflammation. Sweet and starchy foods such as desserts, pastries, cereal, white rice, sodas and sweet drinks, and any other foods that spike the blood sugar and subsequently insulin are the real threat to the arterial walls.

When it comes to looking at your risk of heart disease on a blood test, inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein in the blood that rises in response to inflammation, are important to check. High triglycerides and abnormal blood sugar levels are other markers that can reflect whether your diet may be promoting inflammation.

To learn more about healthy cholesterol and a genuine heart-healthy diet, contact my office.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How to motivate yourself to exercise

motivate yourself to exercise

Exercise is the golden bullet when it comes to lowering your risk of heart disease, bone loss, dementia, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and a long list of other modern health maladies. Yet many Americans just can’t seem to make the time or find the motivation.

The problem, say researchers in a New York Times article who have studied the issue, is that exercise is a “should” instead of a “want.” For many people, exercising to prevent a possible health problem later in life is not a good enough reason to get out of the office chair or off the sofa. Being scared into exercising because of a current health condition, like obesity, heart disease or bone loss, may be more effective, but still fails many.

Give exercise an emotional hook

With most of the population struggling with overstuffed schedules, people will only fit in what they feel is absolutely necessary for that moment. Therefore, say research psychologists, we need an emotional hook to compel us to stay physically active. The solution is not to exercise for theoretical medical reasons or some long-off health goal, but because it makes your life better now. Instead of using media scare tactics or self-admonishment to make yourself exercise, find what’s enjoyable about it and use that.

For instance, one researcher suggests a busy working mom use a walk with her kids as a way to spend time with her children and teach them the importance of physical activity.

Another woman, struggling with obesity and diabetes, decided to use long walks to spend time away from her kids and fulfill a life-long dream of taking photos during her walks to use for paintings later.

Another woman in her 60s meets her daily goal of walking for an hour thanks to the company of a friend, so that her morning walks are also a time to socialize.

Reasons that will motivate you to exercise

A number of emotional benefits can help motivate you to exercise if health goals aren’t good enough carrots on a stick. Below are some reasons that may give you cause to get moving.

  • Sleep better at night
  • Relieve depression
  • Relieve anxiety
  • Relieve stress
  • Boost energy and productivity
  • Better able to cope with daily frustrations
  • Endorphin rush, that natural high from physical exertion that lasts for hours
  • Boost self-esteem; exercise makes you feel better about yourself and how you look
  • Time to socialize if you exercise with one or more friends (adding the health bonus of socialization)
  • Time with the family
  • Time away from the family
  • Time with a favorite pet
  • Time doing something fun and playful (dance, skating, Frisbee, golf, hiking, etc.)

Making exercise fun improves motivation

When trying to meet your exercise “dementia-prevention” quota or weight loss goal, it’s easy to get trapped in a boring, noisy gym, staring at the television while on the treadmill, or going through a tired old weights routine. Although certainly better than not exercising at all, some people may find such routines too boring and eventually lose motivation to continue.

Find ways to turn your exercise into play time; scientists have found other species of intelligent animals, such as dolphins, chimps, and otters, play throughout their adult lives as a way to stay active and socially connected. Think back to when you were a child and what you found enjoyable. Perhaps you will have more fun taking your walks to an outdoor hiking area, swimming, doing Zumba, or even roller skating.

Although regular exercise is a powerful tool for health, its ability to simply enhance your current quality of life is undersold by the media. By dropping the health obligations and making exercise into something fun and enjoyable, you will look forward to doing it every day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Diet for diabetes may be different than you thought—20 percent are “type 1.5”

diet for diabetes

Although insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes get pinned on diet and lifestyle choices, in some cases these disorders could be associated with an autoimmune reaction, which is the mechanism behind type 1 diabetes. If so, this changes the diet for diabetes to manage the autoimmune condition. It is estimated that 20 percent of people with type 2 diabetes also have an autoimmune reaction against the cells of their pancreas, prompting researchers to dub this “type 1.5 diabetes.” Type 1.5 diabetes may be even more prevalent than type 1 diabetes.

Insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) and diabetes are typically linked with a long-standing diet heavy in sweet, starchy foods and processed fats, as well as overeating and a lack of exercise. This is often referred to as “adult-onset diabetes,” although it’s becoming more common in younger people as their obesity rates rise. In these cases a diet for diabetes would involve managing blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes, referred to as “juvenile diabetes,” is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin.

A person with type 1.5 diabetes may have aspects of both: diet and lifestyle affect pancreatic function, as does an autoimmune reaction which may or may not have been identified. In this case a diet for diabetes would address blood sugar and autoimmune management.

Are you a slender, healthy diabetic or pre-diabetic? Consider type 1.5

Some individuals are at a healthy body weight, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet yet can’t seem to control their consistently high blood sugar levels. With type 1.5 diabetes an autoimmune reaction destroys cells of the pancreas, but the pancreas still secretes insulin—autoimmune damage is not advanced enough to shut down insulin function. In type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, more than 90 percent of the insulin-producing cells have been destroyed. Because a person with type 1.5 diabetes has not sustained pancreatic damage to such a great degree he or she is often misdiagnosed.

Identifying type 1.5 diabetes

If a diet for diabetes that is lower in carbohydrates begins moving blood sugar toward a normal range, it may be that your insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes does not have an autoimmune component. However, if insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes are stubborn despite a diet for diabetes, or if you are slender and active, it’s worth screening for antibodies against pancreatic beta and islet cells. Additionally, some people have antibodies against the glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) enzyme, which is involved in the release of insulin from the pancreas. GAD is also found in areas of the brain, and an autoimmune reaction to GAD may be associated not only with a blood sugar disorder but also with such neurological symptoms as obsessive-compulsive disorder, dizziness, or problems with balance.

A diet for type 1.5 diabetes

Because type 1.5 diabetes is autoimmune, these individuals will want to go beyond a diet for diabetes that manages blood sugar to include managing the immune system. This means strictly avoiding immune-reactive foods, which for most people includes gluten and dairy. The GAD enzyme may cross-react with gluten so that eating gluten can stimulate an immune attack against GAD. Additional foods that trigger autoimmune reactions can be ferreted out by adhering to an autoimmune diet for a period of time. With type 1.5 diabetes, a diet for diabetes should be an autoimmune diet that also manages blood sugar.

Beyond a diet for diabetes, a number of nutritional compounds have been shown to regulate the immune system and dampen autoimmunity. Ask my office for advice on managing autoimmunity.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When your blood is drawn could affect TSH level and hypothyroidism diagnosis


If you check your thyroid levels in the afternoon with a blood draw, results may come back normal even though you’re hypothyroid, according to a new study. Checking your TSH in the morning can give you more accurate results.

Like other hormones in the body, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) follows a daily rhythm and is not consistent throughout the day. Researchers in the study evaluated untreated patients with subclinical hypothyroidism along with patients taking a T4 hormone. They tested the participants’ TSH before 8 a.m. and again between 2 and 4 p.m.

In both groups TSH dropped substantially during the afternoon test, which would have led to hypothyroidism not being diagnosed in about 50 percent of the untreated participants.

Their TSH was 5.83 mU/L in the morning and 3.79 mIU/L in the afternoon. In the group being treated with thyroid medication TSH was 3.27 mIU/L in the morning and 2.18 mIU/L in the afternoon.

2004 study also showed that late morning, non-fasting TSH dropped 26 percent compared to early morning, fasting TSH.

Timing of TSH test adds new ammunition to thyroid range controversy

The researchers concluded that the timing of your blood draw plays an important role in how to decipher the results of your thyroid panel.

Unfortunately, even with an early morning blood draw, many hypothyroid patients still slip through the cracks because most doctors use ranges that are too wide.

It’s still very common for doctors to diagnose hypothyroidism using a TSH range of 0.5 to 5.0 mIU/L even though the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommended years ago the range should be 0.3 to 3.0 mIU/L.

Functional medicine uses narrower ranges and more markers to identify hypothyroidism

In functional medicine we use an even narrower range of 1.8 to 3 mIU/L. We also know in functional medicine that looking at TSH alone can miss hypothyroidism.

For some, TSH may be normal but other thyroid markers are off. That’s why it’s important to order a thyroid panel that looks at a more complete thyroid picture, which can include total and free T4 and T3, reverse T3, free thyroxine index (FTI), T3 uptake, and thyroid binding globulins. Many conditions can cause poor thyroid function, including inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and chronic stress. Evaluating other thyroid markers gives insight into these imbalances.

Always screen for autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

In addition to these markers, anyone with hypothyroid symptoms should be screened for Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s accounts for about 90 percent of hypothyroid cases in the United States. You screen for Hashimoto’s by checking TPO and TGB antibodies.

Although thyroid medications may be necessary to maintain thyroid function, they do not address the immune system’s relentless attack against the thyroid gland. Not managing Hashimoto’s increases the risk of developing other autoimmune diseases. These can include pernicious anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, and Type I diabetes.

Ask my office how to properly evaluate your thyroid symptoms and lab markers for appropriate thyroid management.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Your antacid may be doing more harm than good


No one can be blamed for wanting relief, especially when acid reflux makes it feel like molten lava is shooting up through your esophagus. Antacids can bring quick relief, but their long-term use can also bring lasting problems. It’s better to identify and address the underlying causes of acid reflux than simply to squelch the symptoms.

Acid reflux occurs when the contents of the stomach backwash into the esophagus. These contents can include stomach acid, bile, food, or sour liquid. Although the lining of the stomach is designed to handle such an acidic environment, the more delicate tissue of the esophagus is not. As a result, symptoms include indigestion, a burning sensation in the chest (heartburn), and tasting regurgitated food or liquid in the back of your mouth.

Many factors can cause acid reflux, including overeating, obesity, or the types of foods you eat. Spicy foods, fried foods, coffee, chocolate, and citrus are frequently cited as triggering acid reflux. When the reflux becomes constant, it’s worth exploring some of the common underlying conditions.

Possible underlying causes of acid reflux

H. pylori overgrowth: An H. pylori infection occurs in the stomach and is the most common chronic bacterial infection, affecting more than 50 percent of the world’s population. An H. pylori infection may promote acid reflux by decreasing stomach acid. Although acid reflux is associated with too much acidity, the truth is in many cases too little stomach acid causes acid reflux, which I’ll explain in the next paragraph.

Too little stomach acid: Sufficient stomach acid is necessary to break down dietary proteins, ensure absorption of vital nutrients and minerals, and protect the digestive tract from harmful bacteria. It’s believed that low stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria, results in improperly digested food lingering too long in the stomach. Eventually it backwashes into the esophagus, and although the contents are not acidic enough for the stomach, they are too acidic for the delicate esophageal tissue. Factors that cause too little stomach acid include an H. pylori infection, a nutrient-poor diet, stress, and antacid medications.

Gluten: If you eat gluten, it could be a culprit in your acid reflux. One study found chronic acid reflux affected 30 percent of patients with celiac disease compared to less than 5 percent of those not diagnosed with the disease. Another study found almost 40 percent of children with celiac disease suffer from esophagitis, inflammation of the esophagus that causes heartburn.

Acid reflux usually just one of many digestive symptoms

Acid reflux is often just one of many digestive symptoms that can result from poor digestion, food intolerances, chronic stress, gut infections, and other factors. In fact, one study showed that participants with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were nearly twice as likely as non IBS participants to suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic, advanced form of acid reflux. Conversely, another study found a majority of participants with GERD also suffered from IBS.

Although antacids can bring temporarily relief, they may also worsen your acid reflux problem in the long run. Ultimately, antacids reduce stomach acid, hinder digestion, and inhibit nutrient absorption. In addition, antacids are shown to weaken bones and increase the risk of food poisoning.

For natural ways to relieve your acid reflux, please contact my office.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Meet the Doctors at RedRiver

Dr. Joshua J. Redd

Dr. Joshua J. Redd, Chiropractic Physician, is nationally recognized for his Hashimotos’s Low Thyroid and Autoimmune programs. He is highly trained and experienced in managing physiological and endocrine imbalances. He is helping patients from across the United States and other countries who are suffering from immune, endocrine and neurological disorders by providing a scientific and evidence based alternative medicine approach for patients who are suffering from these challenging chronic conditions.

Dr. Redd has a Bachelors of Science in Health and Wellness along with a Bachelors of Science in Anatomy. He is a Doctor of Chiropractic from Parker University. After chiropractic school, Dr. Redd became Certified in Functional Medicine and earned a Diplomat from the American Board of Functional Medicine. He is Certified from Bridgeport University in the following areas:  Mastering Functional Blood Chemistry, Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis, and Mastering the Thyroid. He is also Certified  from the American Board of Functional Medicine in the following areas:  Functional Immunology and Functional Gastroenterology.

Dr. Redd received numerous academic and athletic scholarships and awards during his undergraduate programs. He maintained a 3.9 GPA while playing on Dixie State College’s football team. He has over 100 specialty hours specific to Low Thyroid and Hashimoto’s Disease, and over 400 hours of post graduate schooling.

In the Salt Lake City area, Dr. Redd was responsible for hiring the medical staff for the Utah Blaze arena football team in 2010, and in 2012 he was selected to be on a panel of doctors for the First Lady of Utah’s Conference. He is a board member for the B-Strong Foundation and is also a health expert for ABC4 Healthy Utah. He teaches a religious studies group weekly at the State Prison in the Women’s section, where he has taught for the past two years. Dr. Redd has devoted a large part of his life to service in the community and his church. He continues to give back to the community by working with qualified patients through his pro-bono programs, where he has helped over 100 people manage their conditions.

“One of the most gratifying things in my life is having a patient go from zero good days in a month to 25 good days in a month by teaching him/her the tools necessary to stay healthy.”  - Dr. Joshua Redd

Dr. J. Brinton Anderson
Dr. Andersen was born and raised in Anchorage Alaska. His family moved to Moses Lake, Washington, where he graduated from Moses Lake High School. After graduation he served a full time mission in South Korea for his church.  He attended BYU, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, and then Southern California University of Health Sciences, where he received his Doctor of Chiropractic.
Growing up he played basketball, baseball, and tennis. Initially his desire was to be involved in sports medicine. However, after learning about the possibilities and need of patients with chronic and autoimmune conditions, he turned his interest to functional medicine.
He married his wife, Cheralyn, in 2011. His interests involve fishing, hiking, and being active. He is excited to be with RedRiver Health and Wellness Center and loves being a part in helping our patients reach their health goals.


Dr. Samuel Gage

Dr. Samuel Gage grew up in Rexburg Idaho.  He attended BYU-Idaho and Southern California University of Health Sciences, where he graduated as the Valedictorian of his Chiropractic class.  Dr. Gage has a wide variety of specialty training, from golf injuries to IV nutrition and injection therapy, along with functional medicine.  He and his wife have been married for almost 7 years and have a baby girl. In his spare time Dr Gage enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, golfing, and spending time with his family.
“I love to get people feeling better.  Helping people overcome chronic, difficult to treat conditions is very rewarding.  I have so much fun that I hardly consider this work.”
-        Dr. Samuel Gage

Dr. Michael Gadway

Dr. Michael Gadway MS, DC joins the RedRiver Health and Wellness centers having spent the past 20 years studying and practicing the science of natural health. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, he went on to earn his Master’s degree in Natural Health. After working in the health field for 10 years, while he and his wife raised six boys, he went back to school and became a Chiropractic Physician. While at the University of Western States, he specialized in physiological and diagnostic medicine. Since graduation he has been working towards his Diplomate in Functional Medicine.

Dr. Jeremy Swindlehurst

Dr. Jeremy Swindlehurst  grew up in Washington County, Utah and completed his undergraduate work at Dixie State College.  He continued his education at Parker College of Chiropractic where he earned a Bachelors of Science in Anatomy, a Bachelors of Science in Health and Wellness, and a Doctorate of Chiropractic.  His clinical rotation was done at the V.A. Hospital in Dallas, Texas.
Dr. Swindlehurst has continued his education by specializing in Disorders of the Endocrine System. He also has a Certification in Chiropractic Clinical Neurology. 
He has been married since 2005 to his wife, Lyndsey, and they have two children.  He enjoys fishing, camping, boating, playing basketball, and spending time with his family.