Bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn. Fatigue. Aches and pains. Could any of these symptoms be from something you’re eating?
Identifying food allergens and sensitivities can be tricky. Many times, these symptoms lead people to their medical doctor or to a specialist such as an Allergist or Immunologist who run the typical Skin prick test or blood work evaluating for food allergens.
Unfortunately, the results of these tests often do not correlate with the patient’s complaints. This is because, if indeed the culprit is a food, these tests are a limited snapshot of only one or two types of immune reactions.
The Skin scratch (Pin-Prick or Patch) test measures IgE antibody response. IgE antibodies produce immediate and powerful histamine type reactions in the body also known as anaphylaxis. Symptoms can vary in severity from mild hives or hay fever to tongue or throat swelling and blocked airways.
Most patients know when they have this type of reaction because it occurs within minutes to a couple of hours after eating the offending food or being exposed to an allergen such as bee venom from a sting.
While an IgE response is powerful, IgE antibodies are the least abundant in the body. IgG antibodies, on the other hand, are the most abundant. Representing 75% of human antibodies, an IgG food response can produce a multitude of symptoms from gut issues to fatigue to brain fog and everything in-between. The challenge is that it can take 24-72 hours to produce those symptoms after the first exposure to the problem food. So, in other words, if you ate eggs on Monday and felt fine, but Wednesday morning you woke up with abdominal cramps or constipation (or insert any symptom here), then you would not be able to make a clear correlation to the eggs you ate on Monday.
To make matters even more complicated, the immune system can also produce other types of reactions such as a T-cell response that can also cause food reactions and are not measured by IgG, IgE, IgA or IgM immunoglobulins.
And, perhaps most importantly, an overgrowth of bacteria, fungi or other infections in your gut can create a host of food reactions and symptoms that may be indistinguishable from an IgG or T-cell response.
Therefore, if you are experiencing any symptoms, it is ideal to first be screened for intestinal Dysbiosis, also known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut is a condition in which the intestinal lining of your gut becomes inflamed and develops small holes that leach inflammatory proteins from food, bacteria and other potential harmful agents into the blood stream. (Stay tuned for my Kicking Candida and Leaky Gut blog)
Finally, the most complex food reactions are gluten sensitivity and casein (or dairy) sensitivity. Both gluten and dairy are very long chain amino acids that need to be evaluated in a completely different light than most other foods because of the complexity of their molecular structure. Since the subject of gluten is so multi-faceted, it is worthy of its own blog series, which I will be launching next week…so stay tuned!
In my practice, I have found it very useful to run specific IgG testing, T-cell response testing, in-depth gluten and dairy analysis, and Leaky Gut screening to understand the source of your symptoms.
I also use Food Allergy Elimination Diets, especially when all this testing becomes unaffordable.
If you suspect you have a food sensitivity but don’t know which foods are causing the problem, and want to try one type of Food Allergy Elimination Diet at home, here’s what to do:
(this includes wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, triticale, and conventional oats)
Most of the time when a patient shows me their lab work the only thyroid tests that have been previously run are: TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), and sometimes, T4 (one type of thyroid hormone).
This is a very limited snapshot of thyroid function. For one, it does not include T3, the active form of thyroid hormone that the cells need to function. And, it does not evaluate for auto-immune thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s, which constitutes at least 60% or more of most modern day thyroid conditions in America. (see previous article).
It is crucial to test for and rule out Hashimoto’s since this is an auto-immune condition and as such poses many more risks then just Primary Hypothyroidism (a non-auto-immune condition). The two antibodies that every person should have run if a thyroid condition is suspected is TPO (Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies) and TGA (Thyroglobulin Antibodies).
Auto-immune disease means that the immune system is the cause of the issue, not the thyroid gland itself. In auto-immune disease, the immune system attacks specific or multiple organs, tissues, glands or any part of the body. It is a confusion, or disfunction of the immune system. Western medicine diagnosis auto-immune disease by what tissue the immune system is attacking.
For instance, in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), the immune system attacks the joints. In Systemic Lupus (SLE), the immune system attacks multiple tissues such as joints, connective tissue, heart and more. In Multiple Sclerosis, the immune system is attacking the brain and central nervous system. And, in Hashimoto’s the immune system is attacking the thyroid.
Once there is a diagnosis of just one auto-immune disease, there is high risk for developing further auto-immune conditions, as auto-immune disease typically occurs in duos and triads. Like the bully in the schoolyard, if the immune system isn’t addressed, then the bully runs amok and will attack anyone (or tissue) that appears as a threat.
From the pharmaceutical perspective, there is no difference in treatment approach between Primary Hypothyroidism and Auto-Immune Hashimoto’s. The Western medical paradigm continues to be thyroid hormone replacement therapy for both. Why? Simply because the immune suppressive drugs often used in RA or SLE have not been proven to help (and can make things worse) in Hashimoto’s.
Fortunately, there are several botanicals that can support a healthy balance of the immune system and thyroid function (Bladderwrack, Ashwagandha, Bacopa, just to name a few). And, there are numerous dietary and lifestyle changes that can make a huge impact on the functioning of these systems as well as improve symptoms. (see previous article).
Other labs that provide useful information in understanding thyroid function include reverse T3, T3 Uptake, thyroid binding globulin, free T4/free T3, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and insulin.
Finally, evaluating for Leaky Gut, heavy metal or toxin overload and even infections are instrumental in understanding the nature of the imbalance and putting together a targeted approach to healing and balancing the body.
Want to eat healthy but just don’t know what to do? There is great evidence that going Paleo may be your solution! But, wait! There is also great evidence that going Vegan may be for you. No? If that’s not it, just go gluten-free that might work too…
As a Clinical Nutritionist, Acupuncture Physician and national lecturer on Functional Medicine, I can tell you—as I tell the medical doctors, nutritionists, naturopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors, veterinarians, dentists, nurses and other health practitioners that attend my seminars-- that I have personally done it ALL.
Vegan, Paleo, Vegetarian, Low-Carb, No-Carb, and everything in-between. I don’t believe in asking my patients to do something that I haven’t tried myself. And, having my own unique combination of genetics and health issues to contend with since childhood, I’ve had to search and learn just like everyone else.
After two decades of research, hundreds of patients and my own personal dietary trials, I can say with confidence that the above diet plans and food choices are just as true as they are false.
The issue is that we’ve been asking the wrong question all along. It’s not, “What food is healthy?” If you set a candy bar and a banana in front of most people and ask this question, they know (and you do too!) the answer. If you have digestive complaints, fatigue, body pain, auto-immune disease or just want to feel vital again, the real question needs to be, “What food is healthy for ME?”
You are unique. Your individual biochemistry—how your cells, organs, tissues and glands function—differs, in varying degrees, from your friend, your spouse and even your family members.
Ever wonder why a friend takes a supplement that they say solved their health issue, but when you take that same supplement or nutrient it doesn’t work? Or, does someone you know swear their vegan or Paleo diet is the best thing since ‘gluten-free sliced bread’, but when you try the same diet you either don’t get the same results or, in fact, feel worse?
This is due to your individual biochemistry. Multiple factors impact how your body functions. And, therefore, will dictate what nutrients you need and what types of food your body can digest and absorb.
One consideration is how you were brought up eating in childhood (yes, your past diets can come back to haunt you). Other factors include types of toxins you have been exposed to throughout your lifetime, the number of courses of antibiotics you’ve taken since birth, medications or supplements you take, bacteria, yeast and other infections, food allergies or sensitivities, how well you methylate (or detoxify), and the health of the microbes in your gut, which is perhaps the most influential of all.
These factors interplay with your personal genetics to create a health picture that is uniquely YOU. And, for most people struggling with a symptom or health problem, the one-size-fits-all approach no longer works.
Of course, there are some foundational principles that ALL people need to do to be healthy. Here are my top 5—if you are not already doing these, this is where to start:
1. Avoid Chemicals, Food Colorings, And Preservatives
2. Eat Vegetables
3. Watch Your Sugar Intake And Avoid ALL Sugar Substitutes
4. Eliminate Hydrogenated And Rancid Oils (Canola, Soy, Corn, Safflower Oils, Sunflower Oils)
5. Eat Healthy Fats (Such As Olive Oil, Avocado, Coconut Oil, Eggs, Grass-Fed Meats)
Other than this, the types of healthy fats, proteins, vegetables, other carbohydrates, and how much of each will vary from person to person.
So, how do you know what is right for you?
If you are struggling with a symptom or health issue, it may be time to seek an expert who can identify your personal bio-individual nutritional needs.
For my patients who deal with chronic symptoms, running specialized lab testing and nutritional analysis is crucial to getting to the bottom of things. Like anything, the types of testing needed is different for each person. Some types of testing may include food allergy/sensitivity panels, tests that look at cellular or organ function, panels that evaluate the health of your gut or overgrowth of pathogens such as yeast and bacteria, and genetic tests that check for faulty detoxification, among others.
The concept that, “One person’s food is another’s poison," is centuries old but is tried and true. What works for some may not work for you. This goes well beyond your blood type and deeper than a well-balanced plate. If you have symptoms or are struggling with a health issue, you owe it to yourself to understand not only how your body functions but what it needs to function best.
And, I'm happy to help you enjoy breakfast again!
On a daily basis, patients come to me and say, “I was worried about my thyroid, but my doctor tested me and everything is fine.”
Thyroid Disease is currently at epidemic levels in the United States, impacting over 20 million Americans. The American Thyroid Association estimates that 1 in 8 women have thyroid disease and at least 60% of those suffering from thyroid disease remain undiagnosed. 1
It is now estimated that the majority of hypothyroid cases, some 60-90%, are in fact due to the auto-immune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for doctors to fail to run the crucial antibodies that rule out this disorder. It is for this reason that thousands of patients go undiagnosed for years, suffering needlessly from a debilitating auto-immune disease.
From weight issues to fatigue, a poorly functioning thyroid can cause a laundry list of problems. While some people may experience only one or two symptoms, others may experience any number or mix of the following symptoms:
But there is hope! There are a range of botanicals that support thyroid function and many ways that good nutrition and lifestyle can reduce symptoms. Here are just a few tips to get you started:
Top 3 Foods TO Optimize Thyroid Function
**Please note that supplementing with vitamins to get these crucial nutrients is NOT the same as getting them from these foods. When consuming non-food sources such as synthetic vitamins, we run a very high risk of creating a further imbalance
Top 10 Foods And Environmental Hazards That Block Thyroid Function
Most of us can easily say “yes” to at least one of the above symptoms,so you are not alone! In fact, it is quite exceptional for me to meet a patient who does not or has not experienced blood sugar fluctuations. Even if we don’t think we’re consuming too many sweets, there are so many sources of hidden sugars in the American diet, that most of us have no idea the role sugar is playing in our health.
For example,one of the top three sources of added sugar in the American diet is….drum roll please….grains and breakfast cereals. Not chocolate bars or gummy bears. It’s your breakfast. Or your sandwich. Or your breakfast-sandwich!
IN THE UNITED STATES:
The average American drinks 53 gallons of soft drinks per year and consumes 152 lbs. of sugar per year. This amounts to 31.5 teaspoons of sugars per day!
Now, this may or may not be you, but consider whether your diet is unnecessarily triggering an insulin response and surge of glucose (sugar) into your system. By looking at the list of typical blood sugar fluctuation symptoms above, you can get a sense if blood sugar may be a problem for you.
Without nutritional intervention and prevention, over time chronic blood sugar fluctuations lead to conditions such as Metabolic Syndrome and Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, heart disease, hardening of the arteries and much more. These Conditions Are PREVENTABLE!
At 3 Points Health & Wellness, our Sugar Slayer Program and our 10 Day Sugar Detox can help you lick your cravings, balance your blood glucose and prevent you from becoming a statistic.
Fatigue is one of the most common reasons why patients seek my help. There are many causes for low energy from exhaustive lifestyles and poor sleep to more complex issues such as thyroid disease, chronic infections such as Epstein Barre (the virus that causes mono), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and auto-immune disease among others. However, the most common cause is STRESS, wreaking havoc on the adrenal glands.
At 3 Points Health & Wellness, we evaluate the simple and the complex and find the cause for your lack of energy and vitality. Then, we correct the imbalances through food, lifestyle, supplements and herbal medicines.
Is it your adrenal glands? If you have any of the below symptoms, it may be a good idea to have your adrenals tested.
• Tired In The Afternoon
• 2-4 Pm “Slump”
• Difficulty Waking Up, Slow Starter
• Rely On Caffeine To Get Going
• Trouble Falling Asleep Or Staying Asleep
• Craving Sugar Or Salt
• Inability To Handle Stress
• Poor Memory Or Concentration, Brain Fog
• Chronic Allergies
How many bowel movements do you have a day?
This, undoubtedly, will be one of the very first questions I ask you. While your western doctor may say, “it’s okay,” to go to the bathroom every 2-3 days, from the preventative medicine viewpoint, this is a big red flag.
Why? Because having your personal sewer system back up for even one day over-exposes your tissues to toxins and wastes that leave you vulnerable to the development of leaky gut syndrome, inflammation, and the development of disease down the line.
Good digestion, or lack thereof, is now being hailed as the one of the mostimportantaspects of our health. 70% of our immune system is in the gut and the gut is the source of 100 million neurons (cells of the nervous system) which is why it is often referred to as “the second brain”.
Your gut is also home to 100 trillion bacteria, called our microbiome. There remains a very delicate and crucial balance of good bacteria (also known as intestinal flora) to bad bacteria in this microbiome.These bacteria perform crucial functions for our body on a daily basis. Here are just a few:
Unfortunately, the typical American diet and lifestyle wipes out these crucial bacteria through the overuse of antibiotics, antacids, over the counter pain medications and nutrient poor diets. Additionally, over 3,000 chemicals are allowed in our food supply which can damage our microbiome.Here are just a few chemicals that can wreak havoc on your digestion, may not be present on a food label, yet may be lurking in your food:
Whether you are chronically constipated or suffer from diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (fluctuating constipation and diarrhea), acid reflux, heartburn, stomach aches, gas or indigestion, 3 Points Health &Wellness has several Gut Healing and Microbiome Programs to help you heal.
It is true that detoxification is a modern-day phenomenon. Our body is innately equipped to detox both internally generated as well as environmental toxins. Our liver neutralizes or transforms toxins through its own chemical process and the rest is sent to one of two toxic waste dump sites-- to be eliminated through urine or feces.
Over a century ago, prior to industrialization and the downfall of the American diet, our own internal detoxification system sufficed. Unfortunately, nowadays, our systems need additional support to maintain optimal health.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the average American consumes four pounds of pesticides each year and has residues from over 400 toxic substances in their body. More than 3,000 chemical additives are found in the foods we eat. And, even if we try to eat all organic, studies are now showing those pesticides still show up in our systems. In a study by the Environmental Working Group, bromine-based fire retardant (found in textiles, plastics, electronics, clothes and furniture) was found at high levels in the breast milk of American women at a rate 75 times higher than the average European woman.
With chronic diseases on the rise, including auto-immune disease, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, allergies, eczema, and obesity (the list goes on and on), detoxification is now a critical element in preventionof disease and maintenance of good health.
At 3 Points, we have a number of different detoxification programs, and each can be customized to your personal needs and health concerns.