Thu, 30 March 2017
Although the autoimmune diet is a well known foundation for managing chronic health issues, some people are dismayed to find embarking on it makes them feel worse. What gives? The sudden change in diet can temporarily upset your chemistry and reveal hidden health problems.
If you have been accustomed to eating gluten, dairy, grains, sugars, and processed foods, going cold turkey off those foods is a radical shift. Likewise, adding in lots of vegetables can also shock a digestive system unaccustomed to ample plant fiber.
Most people feel significantly better on the autoimmune diet. If you’re not one of them, however, don’t give up on the diet. Instead, look for the underlying reason why.
Feeling temporarily worse on the AIP diet
Following are common adverse reactions to the autoimmune diet. Knowing why you react negatively can further help you on your wellness journey.
Low blood sugar. Symptoms of low blood sugar and adrenal fatigue can worsen on this diet. This is usually caused by not eating enough or frequently enough. The general recommendation is to eat every two to three hours, however, some people may initially need a bite or two every hour until blood sugar stabilizes and they can go longer without eating. Avoid sugary fruits and investigate what else may be taxing your adrenal function, such as brain-based issues, autoimmunity, or chronic infection.
New food sensitivities. When gut damage is bad and inflammation high, it’s possible to develop food sensitivities to new foods on the autoimmune diet. This is very frustrating for people as the diet is already so limited. This can be a complex situation that requires concerted effort to tame inflammation and repair the gut.
Opioid withdrawal reactions. Opioids are morphine-like chemicals made by the body that reduce pain and create a feeling of euphoria and well-being. Some people become dependent on foods that release opioids in the brain, namely gluten and dairy. They can initially experience depression, anger, lethargy, and agitation on the autoimmune diet. For those with serious opioid addictions to gluten and dairy, withdrawal can be intense.
Brain chemical imbalance. A diet high in processed carbohydrates affects brain chemicals that influence our mood, particularly serotonin and dopamine. Suddenly switching to a lower carbohydrate diet can disrupt the balance of brain chemicals and cause temporary changes in mood, behavior, and personality. If this sounds familiar, you may need to gradually lower carbohydrate consumption.
Insomnia and anxiety. Some people report irresolvable insomnia and anxiety if carbohydrate consumption is too low. If these symptoms persist long after an adjustment period, you may simply need to use trial and error to find the carbohydrate “sweet spot” that lets you sleep but also keeps blood sugar in check.
Difficulty digesting fiber. The autoimmune diet is heavy on vegetables. For those with compromised digestive function, this can overwhelm the gut. Concerted gut repair nutritional therapy can ease you into a higher fiber diet.
Histamine intolerance. This is a reaction to aged or fermented foods that causes myriad symptoms, including rashes, runny nose, or headaches. Avoiding these foods for a while can help the gut heal so you can eat them later.
Yeast and bacteria die-off reactions. Going cold turkey off processed carbs, gluten, and dairy can cause a sudden and uncomfortable die off of harmful yeast and bacteria in your gut. This is especially true in the case of poor liver detoxification and constipation. Supporting the body’s pathways of elimination can help.
These are a few of the issues that can arise when you switch to the autoimmune diet. Don't forget to consider the grief and anger you may feel about missing your favorite foods. However, if you weather the transition and ferret out sources of discomfort, your newfound health will more than make up for the rough legs of the journey.
Category:Blog -- posted at: 12:09pm EDT
Tue, 21 March 2017
Hypothyroidism has received a lot of attention online since the publication of Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Datis Kharrazian in 2009. While many facets should be addressed in managing hypothyroidism, one of the most important continues to be a gluten-free diet.
Research shows ninety percent of hypothyroidism cases are due to an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. This disease is called Hashimoto’s.
Most doctors do not test for Hashimoto’s because it does not change treatment, which is thyroid medication. Also, many cases of hypothyroidism go undiagnosed because Hashimoto’s can cause the lab marker TSH to fluctuate.
Where does gluten fit in with this? Numerous studies have linked an immune reaction to gluten with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Whether it’s a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, gluten triggers an autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland in many people. Most of these people do not even know they are sensitive to gluten.
Going off gluten is the first step with Hashimoto’s
Studies, clinical observation, and patient stories make a very strong case for the benefits of going gluten-free to better manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism symptoms.
A number of studies from several countries show a link between Hashimoto’s and gluten. This is because the protein structure of gluten closely resembles that of thyroid tissue. When your immune system reacts to gluten, it may start erroneously reacting to thyroid tissue as well. This will cause the immune system to attack and destroy thyroid tissue in a case of mistaken identity.
Studies also show patients improve on a strict gluten-free diet. One study showed as many as 71 percent of subjects resolved their hypothyroid symptoms after following a strict gluten-free diet for one year.
Why you may need to stop eating other foods too
Sorry to say, going gluten-free alone doesn’t always work. Many people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism also need to go dairy-free. Dairy, whether it’s cow, goat, or sheep, is the second biggest problem food for people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Many people simply have an immune intolerance to dairy and aren’t aware of it until they stop consuming it. However, in an immune sensitive individual, the body may also mistake dairy for gluten and trigger an immune reaction that ultimately ends up targeting the thyroid.
For those serious about managing their Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, a gluten-free and dairy-free diet frequently results in profound alleviation of symptoms, if not total remission.
Many find they may need to eliminate additional foods, such as certain grains, eggs, or soy. An elimination/provocation diet can help you figure out what your immune system reacts to, or a comprehensive food sensitivity test is another option.
What is there left to eat?
If you’re used to eating without restrictions, eliminating gluten, dairy, and possibly other foods to manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroid symptoms may seem overwhelming and too restrictive. Many people are left wondering, what is left to eat?
Rest assured there is more than enough to eat. Most people fare well on a paleo diet that is primarily vegetables (a diverse array of plenty of vegetables helps create the healthy gut bacteria that improve immunity.)
More importantly, symptoms and general health improves so dramatically that people come to love their new diet and despise the way they feel after they cheat.
Ask my office for more information about implementing a gluten- and dairy-free diet.
Category:Blog -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
Thu, 16 March 2017
If a child suddenly develops behavioral and neurological symptoms after a strep infection, PANDAS should be suspected. PANDAS is a neuro-immune disorder in which a strep infection triggers brain inflammation and the immune system starts to attack and destroy brain tissue, causing a sudden onset of neurological symptoms.
PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.
PANS, or Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, is similar, except environmental factors or other infections trigger symptoms.
PANDAS diagnosis criteria
PANS diagnosis criteria:
Abrupt, dramatic onset of OCD or severely limited food intake and the addition of at least two of the following:
Functional neurology help for PANDAS/PANS
Because PANDAS and PANS involve the immune system, management involves testing markers for inflammation, infections, immune function, and brain autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks and destroys brain tissue).
It’s also helpful to conduct a functional neurology exam to identify compromised areas of the brain, as well as to establish a baseline of brain function.
Repeat testing can show you how well PANDAS/PANS protocols are working. Functional neurology rehabilitation may also help with recovery. For instance, therapies targeting different areas of the brain can calm an over active immune system and over activation of pathways.
Functional medicine help for PANDAS/PANS
Additionally, functional medicine strategies may include removing inflammatory triggers from the diet and the environment; nutritional therapies to lower inflammation and support brain health; addressing blood sugar, gut health, and toxicity; supporting neurotransmitters; and repairing mitochondrial function and the blood-brain barrier.
Conventional medical help for PANDAS/PANS
Therapies from the conventional model that have been shown to help include steroids and NSAIDs for inflammation; plasmapharesis (plasma exchange) to reduce antibodies; intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) to support immune modulation; and immune modulating medications when necessary.
Understanding the PANDAS/PANS brain
When PANDAS/PANS strikes a child — an estimated 1 in 200 children are affected — parents become both frightened and devastated. Understanding what is happening in the brain can help alleviate anxiety.
The functional neurology exam can help identify which pathways in the brain are affected. PANDAS/PANS typically affects communication loops between the basal ganglia, cerebellum, and frontal lobe.
Act quickly to address PANDAS/PANS
PANDAS/PANS is a significant and scary disorder, but taking action quickly improves the chances of an optimal outcome. For more information, contact my office.
Category:Blog -- posted at: 6:04pm EDT
Wed, 8 March 2017
More than one in seven children suffer from developmental disorders today. But this doesn’t mean change isn’t possible. The brain is enormously malleable, or plastic, and with the right input on a consistent basis using functional neurology, we often can improve brain function.
Common childhood brain development disorders today include:
How brain development disorders arise
These disorders can arise for a variety of reasons, such as:
Poor brain development unfolds in a variety of ways. For instance, important milestones in brain development, such as crawling, may be skipped. The brain is a highly complex network of multiple pathways. Proper formation of this network of pathways depends in part on the child going through each milestone of development.
When the brain fails to develop correctly, one hemisphere grows more slowly than the other, giving rise to various disorders that are either left-brain dominant or right-brain dominant. This is why we see kids who are intellectually advanced (left brain) yet socially and emotionally delayed (right brain). As this imbalance progresses, the brain finds it increasingly difficult to network between the hemispheres, causing poor function.
Also, infections and autoimmune attacks against areas of the brain sabotage proper development and hinder function in those pathways. For instance, the basal ganglia, which helps regulate involuntary motor movements, is a common site of viral and autoimmune attack. This can cause disorders such as PANDAS, OCD, Tourette syndrome, and tics.
Start with metabolic health of the brain
Functional neurology also includes addressing the metabolic health of the brain. If the brain is struggling with inflammation, iron deficiency, blood sugar imbalances, or chronic poor health from a bad diet, it will not respond as well to rehabilitation. Additionally, children’s brains require ample healthy fatty acids — EPA and DHA.
Metabolic issues to look out for with brain development disorders include:
Functional neurology brain exercises for brain development disorders
Fortunately, functional neurology can address brain development disorders.
The types of brain rehabilitation a child needs depends on patient history and a functional neurology examination, which assesses brain function, areas of under and over development, and areas that are over stimulated or under stimulated. The functional neurologist can then tailor exercises to the brain environment and adjust them over time as function improves.
Many families report swift and significant shifts in behavior, mood, sociability, learning, and other brain-based signs.
Ask my office how functional neurology can help if your child has a brain based developmental disorder.
Category:Blog -- posted at: 7:07pm EDT
Thu, 2 March 2017
Category:Blog -- posted at: 1:25pm EDT
Thu, 2 March 2017
Brain Fog and associated signs and symptoms such as decreased mental clarity, decreased mental performance, increased occurence of loss of keys, and increased occurence of forgeting names with faces should not be shrugged off as old age. This may be an early sign of neurodegeneration that could progress to Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.
How can we know our risk? Are there lab markers that we can use to give us an indication of where we are on the spectrum of neurodegeneration?
Yes, there are. In today's show we will dive into a couple and discuss what to do about it if your levels of these biomarkers are unhealthy.
Direct download: Brain_Fog_Alzheimers_and_Homocysteine.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 10:15am EDT