Updated and reposted on 6/8/2018.
CLIMATE CHANGE HAS LANDED US IN ANOTHER BAD ALLERGY SEASON AND I’M HEARING FROM MANY PEOPLE THAT THEY’RE IN MISERY AGAIN WITH SEVERE SINUS CONGESTION. SO I’M REPOSTING THIS PIECE DESCRIBING THE PROTOCOL I CAME UP WITH TWO YEARS AGO FOR CLEARING SINUS CONGESTION WITHOUT PHARMACEUTICALS.
I RARELY SUCCUMB TO VIRAL ILLNESSES BUT LAST WEEK, DURING A TIME OF GREATER THAN USUAL STRESS, WAS FELLED BY A NASTY HEAD COLD THAT FILLED MY SINUSES WITH GUNK SO I COULD BARELY BREATHE AND THEN PROGRESSED INTO MY LUNGS WITH A DEEP, WET COUGH.
THIS PROTOCOL WORKED AGAIN. I’VE USED BOTH PRODUCTS IN MY NETI POT THREE MORNINGS IN A ROW AND HAVE FELT INCREASINGLY BETTER EACH DAY. THIS TIME AROUND I MIXED BOTH SUPPLEMENTS TOGETHER:
- ALLICIDIN – A POTENT GARLIC EXTRACT TO DEGRADE THE SLIMY BIOFILMS THAT HAD FORMED IN MY SINUSES
- REPHRESH – PROBIOTICS TO REBALANCE THE CLEARLY OUT OF BALANCE FUNGAL AND BACTERIAL FLORA IN MY SINUSES
THIS METHOD ACTUALLY FIXES THE PROBLEM RATHER THAN TEMPORARILY EASING THE SYMPTOMS OF THE PROBLEM. IT’S A LIFE SAVER FOR ME SINCE MY BODY REACTS VERY BADLY TO BOTH DECONGESTANTS AND ANTIHISTAMINES.
HERE’S A VIDEO EXPLAINING THE NUMEROUS HEALTH BENEFITS OF PREMIER RESEARCH LABS’ NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT, ALLICIDIN:
I COULDN’T FIND AN INFORMATIONAL VIDEO ABOUT REPHRESH.
BOTH ALLICIDIN AND REPHRESH ARE AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON.
ORIGINAL POST 10/9/2016
Those of you who know me personally or follow this blog know my focus is on addressing the underlying cause(s) of a health problem rather than simply putting band aids on its symptoms – and also that I generally react badly to pharmaceuticals. So when my sinuses became horribly stuffed up during the second long period of very hot, wet weather this past summer (mercifully over now) and the congestion kept getting worse instead of going away, I knew I had to figure out what was causing this misery in my sinus microbiome and how to fix it.
After suffering through chronic sinus problems for decades, culminating in two surgeries to remove nasal polyps, and not wanting to live that way any more, I’d set myself the task of stopping my allergies and thought I’d succeeded once and for all. Yet, after many years of relatively easy breathing, this past summer’s extreme weather did me in.
My symptoms this time around were:
- Intense pressure above and below my eyes – felt like polar bears were lodged in the sinuses behind my cheeks, pressing down on my upper teeth
- A chronically dripping nose
- Frequent, violent sneezing spells
- A raw throat from the post nasal drip
- Inability to breathe through my nose
- Lack of energy
- Molasses brain
- Momentary temperature spikes
- Feeling like Spanish moss was wrapped around my vocal cords
- Occasional laryngitis
- Coughing and need to clear my throat
- Blocked up ears
- Chronically dry mouth
- Decreased sense of smell and taste
- Gasping for air while eating
- Interrupted sleep since lying down made everything much worse
- Bad breath (not that I could smell it myself)
- Generally feeling exhausted and disgusting
I was miserable but at least I didn’t develop a sinus infection or start growing nasal polyps again before figuring out what to do.
Here’s a 3-D Animation describing how the sinuses work, what can go wrong, and a medical procedure for blockage that I’d never want to have:
WHAT I TRIED
First I turned to my old standbys for sinusitis and various promising-sounding things other people suggested, each of which provided a modicum of relief for short times – 10 minutes to a few hours:
- Washing my sinuses out with a mixture of sea salt and filtered water
- Sinusin (a homeopathic nasal spray)
- Aller-Max (a gluten free, non-drowsy supplement containing quercetin, bromelain, and Vitamin C)
- XClear (a nasal spray containing xylitol)
- Sinusalia (a homeopathic supplement)
- Firmly pressing on acupressure points on my face and chest that impact the sinuses
- Two homeopathic remedies, Drainage Tone and Aller Chord II
- Coating the inside of my nostrils with castor oil
- Dots of eucalyptus and tea tree oil below my nostrils
- Using an electric steamer/inhaler to make my sinuses drain
- A ThermalOn Dry Eye Compress (to put moist heat directly over my sinuses)
- Avoiding dairy
- Eating more fermented foods
- Belly laughing to stimulate my vagus nerves
- Himalayan Chandra Neti Wash Plus
Clearly this persistent sinus congestion was different from anything I’d experienced before. I felt frustrated and exhausted – pretty much like this but nowhere near as cute:
So I did some more research and learned about the formation of biofilms in the sinuses.
BIOFILMS: BACTERIA & FUNGI
“Biofilms are highly structured communities of microorganisms that attach to one another and to surfaces. The microorganisms group together and form a slimy, polysaccharide cover. This layer is highly protective for the organisms within it, and when new bacteria are produced they stay within the slimy layer. With the introduction of antibiotic-produced glycogen, the biofilms have an almost endless food source that can be used once antibiotic exposure has ended.” (Oak Crest Institute of Science, 2013)
Many types of bacteria clump together inside protective biofilms, making the bacteria inaccessible to pharmaceuticals and natural substances that would weaken or kill them – producing chronic misery when this happens inside our noses and sinuses.
Bacterial biofilm in a person with chronic sinusitis
And to make the sinus congestion situation worse, fungi (molds are types of fungi) have also been shown to form biofilms on the mucosal linings of the sinuses and nostrils. (Healy et al, 2008).
“You might be wondering why antibiotics and antifungal drugs are ineffective for chronic sinus infections. It’s because of the Bio-Film formation. Biofilms are colonies of microbes that form a mass which is resistant to drug therapy.
“Chronic Sinusitis, nasal polyposis, asthma and eosinophilia are quite common and may co-exist as a syndrome. Chronic bacterial or fungal sinus infection with Bio-Film formation has been implicated in this syndrome. Many of these patients have been on multiple courses of antibiotics and/or antifungal drugs which are completely ineffective because of bio-film formation. Many of these patients have undergone repeated nasal sinus surgeries, and are commonly steroid dependent from chronic use of prednisone.” (Dach, 2014)
A LINK BETWEEN ANTIOBIOTICS & BIOFILM FORMATION
Here’s more evidence for how antibiotics can be harmful: ‘Scientist Finds Link between Antibiotics and Bacterial Biofilm Formation Cause of Chronic Ear, Sinus, and Lung Infections’.
From the article:
“Researchers from the University of Southern California and the Oak Crest Institute of Science have discovered the link between antibiotics and bacterial biofilm formation leading to chronic lung, sinus and ear infections. The study results, published in the current issue of PLOS ONE, illustrate how bacterial biofilms can actually thrive, rather than decrease, when given low doses of antibiotics.
“’This research addresses the long standing issues surrounding chronic ear infections and why some children experience repeated ear infections even after antibiotic treatment,’ said Paul Webster, Ph.D., lead author, senior staff scientist at USC and senior faculty at the Oak Crest Institute of Science. ‘Once the biofilm forms, it becomes stronger with each treatment of antibiotics.’” (Oak Crest Institute of Science, 2013)
And from an article called ‘Antibiotic Use Increases Risk of Developing Chronic Sinusitis’:
“Yes, of course this makes sense!…. Many rounds of antibiotics have an effect not just in one area of the body, but kill off both good and bad bacteria in many areas of the human body. The researchers in this study found that taking antibiotics for a reason OTHER THAN SINUSITIS was associated with an increased risk of developing chronic sinusitis (as compared to those people not receiving antibiotics). Use of antibiotics more than doubles the odds of developing chronic sinusitis without nasal polyps. And this effect lasted for at least 2 years. Other research has already associated antibiotic use with “decreased microbial diversity” in our microbiome and with “opportunistic infections” such as Candida albicans and Clostridium difficile. Diseases such as Crohn’s disease and diabetes are also linked to antibiotic use. In other words, when there is a disturbance in the microbiome (e.g.from antibiotics) and the community of microbes becomes “out of whack”, then pathogenic bacteria are “enriched” (increase) and can dominate.” (Silgailis, 2016)
WHAT WORKED TO BREAK DOWN THE BIOFILMS
This was helpful information. Now I knew I was probably dealing with biofilms that had started growing in my sinuses and nostrils to protect colonies of bacteria and molds. This certainly explained why nothing I’d tried was slowing down my ever increasing sinus congestion.
I remembered that a garlic supplement called Allicidin had been effective in breaking down the biofilm-covered spores containing a nasty bacterium called Clostridium difficile that had taken over my colon in 2010. I’d read that some people with sinus infections had found relief from washing their sinuses with probiotics so I decided to try the same with Allicidin. I emptied the contents of an Allicidin capsule into my neti pot, added filtered water, and irrigated my sinuses with the mixture.
This worked immediately! It was messy, involved a fairly intense burning sensation, and left a mild smell of garlic in my nose for a while afterwards – but I was able to breathe through my nose again for the first time in many weeks. If you’re going to try it, I suggest doing it in the shower.
This information about Allicidin is from Dr Johnson’s Premier Nutrition.
The Broad-Spectrum Anti-Infective Properties of Allicidin™
- ANTIBACTERIAL – Various researchers have shown that garlic extracts exhibit a wide spectrum of antibacterial activity against gram-negative and gram-positve bacteria including species of Escherichia, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Klebsiella, Bacilus, Helicobacter pylori, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
- ANTIFUNGAL – Garlic extracts have a strong antifungal effect and inhibit the formation of mycotoxins like the aflatoxin of Aspergillus parasiticus. Pure allicin was also found to have a high anti-candidal activity and was effective against various species of Candida, Cryptococcous, Trichophyton, Epidermphyton and Microsporum.
- ANTIPARASITIC – Garlic extract has been used for centuries to treat people suffering from dysentery, intestinal worms and intestinal protozoan parasites such as Giardia, Leishmania major, Leptomonas colosama and Crithidia fasciculate.
- ANTIVIRAL – Research shows that garlic extracts are effective against numerous viruses that cause colds and flu. Evidence points towards allicin and ajone as the main components responsible for the antiviral activitiy.
- BIOFILM DEGREDATION – Biofilms are sticky slime that surround large clumps of bacteria. These biofilms protect pathogenic bacteria and helps them spread throughout the body. Stabilized allicin has been shown to have a powerful capacity for biofilm destruction, therefore rendering bacteria helpless.
Ideal for Supporting the Following Conditions:
- Fungal (mold/candida) and Bacterial Infection
- Acne support
- Biofilm Overgrowth
- Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Health
- Bladder Infection and Frequent Nightly Urination
- Sinus Infection and Congestion
- Animals: Heartworm
Allicin Organosulfur Complex™…………………………………………………………………………….350mg
Garlic (bulb) Extract (Allium Sativum), Bear Garlic (leaf) (Allium ursinum)
Botani-Pro Blend™ ……………………………………………………………….115mg
Organic Hyssop (leaf, stem) (Hussopus officinalis), Parsley (leaf)(Petroselinum crispum), Asparagus (Stalk) (Asparagus officinalis)
(from Allicin OrganoSulfu Complex™)
Vegetable Cellulose Capsules
100% solvent-free, excipient-free vegetable capsules. No magnesium stearate (a toxic excipient), corn, milk, soy, salt, sugar, wheat, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, binders, glues or other toxic tagalongs as found in tablets and gelatin capsules.
WHAT WORKED TO KILL THE MOLDS AND BACTERIA
Now that the biofilms growing in my sinuses had been disrupted, exposing the molds and bacterial colonies proliferating in there, I set about finding a combination of probiotics to zap those bacteria and molds.
As a starting point, I turned to Chris Kresser’s excellent article Chronic Sinus Problems: Another Role for Probiotics? and also looked through the many readers’ comments to see what other sinus sufferers had found helpful. I recommend this article to you. (Kresser, 8/18/2015)
Based on a convincing recommendation by one of Kresser’s readers, I first emptied the contents of two capsules of Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain Formula into my neti pot, added filtered water, and did a nasal irrigation with the mixture. This helped a lot – but only for a few hours.
Bio-Kult contains these live bacteria cultures:
Bacillus subtilis PXN 21
Bifidobacterium bifidum PXN 23
Bifidobacterium breve PXN 25
Bifidobacterium infantis PXN 27
Bifidobacterium longum PXN 30
Lactobacillus acidophilus PXN 35
Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus PXN 39
Lactobacillus casei PXN 37
Lactobacillus plantarum PXN 47
Lactobacillus rhamnosus PXN 54
Lactobacillus helveticus PXN 45
Lactobacillus salivarius PXN 57
Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis PXN 63
Streptococcus thermophilus PXN 66
So I went back to Kresser’s article to search more deeply and followed some links to two articles by Silgailis, where, in her readers’ comments, I found information about the effectiveness of two probiotic bacteria, lactobacillus reuteri and lactobacillus rhamnosus, for sinusitis. (Silgailis, 2015) & (Silgailis, 2016)
Bio-Kult contains some l. rhamnosus (but not a lot) and no l. reuteri. So I did another Google search for a supplement containing only these two particular strains of probiotic bacteria and found a product called RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic Feminine Supplement that contains large amounts of l. rhamnosus GR-1 and l. reuteri RC-14. L. The box says, “Balances Yeast & Bacteria to Maintain Feminine Health”.
Yeasts, like molds, are fungi. So this probiotic combination looked promising for treating my sinusitis. L. rhamnosus in particular is known to be effective against both fungi and pathological bacteria. (Kiefer, 2008)
The Product Description on Amazon:
- RepHresh Pro-B is a probiotic feminine supplement taken orally once daily to balance yeast and bacteria.
- Lactobacillus, yeast, and other bacteria are all naturally present in your body and optimum feminine health occurs when there is a healthy balance of these elements to support feminine health.
- RepHresh Pro-B feminine supplement contains patented and clinically tested strains of probiotic lactobacillus that have been shown to work with your body to balance yeast and bacteria.
- RepHresh Pro-B supplement lets you take control of your feminine health every day by helping to maintain flora in a normal range.*
- RepHresh Pro-B is a natural supplement and comes in an easy-to-swallow capsule.
- RepHresh Pro-B is the #1 feminine probiotic supplement in the US in the latest 52 weeks ending 16 March 2016 according to The Nielsen Company data.
L. rhamnosus GR-1, L. reuteri RC-14, Dextrose Anhydrate, Gelatin, Potato Starch, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Magnesium Stearate, Titanium Dioxide
So, when this probiotic supplement containing large amounts of lactobacillus reuteri and lactobacillus rhamnosus arrived from Amazon, I emptied the contents of two capsules into my neti pot, added filtered water, and did a thorough nasal irrigation with the mixture. As with the Allicidin mixture, this burned a bit but was very much worth it!
Since it’s a good idea to switch up your probiotics periodically, I’m now taking the Bio-Kult probiotics supplement by mouth and RepHresh Pro-B on alternating days to maximize the variety of helpful probiotics supporting my gut microbiome.
A Note on Vaginal Infections:
Vaginal infections are most often caused by an overrun of a yeast called Candida albicans. If your gut microbiome is out of balance or you use feminine hygiene products that destroy the balance in your vaginal microbiome, you’re likely to get at least one – if not many more – vaginal infections in your lifetime. See ‘Warding Off Chronic Yeast and Bacterial Infections’ to learn how to use probiotics to prevent both chronic bacterial and yeast infections. (Kiefer, 2008)
USING A NETI POT
This video shows how to use a neti pot for sinus irrigation:
In the morning, I use my neti pot in the shower where it doesn’t matter how messy the process becomes. I’ve also installed a small, chlorine-removing water filter (available on Amazon, easy to install) so fill the pot directly with warm, filtered water from the shower head. The filter is a Rainshow’r CQ-1000-NH Dechlorinating Shower Filter. And, when I’m not using any of the supplements described above, I put some inexpensive La Baleine Fine Sea Salt in my neti pot in lieu of the salt packets the woman in the video uses.
In the evenings before bedtime, I use the neti pot over the bathroom sink.
HIMALAYAN CHANDRA NETI WASH PLUS
Over the years, I’ve found it helpful to add this neti pot wash made by Himalayan Chandra occasionally when I use my neti pot in the shower. And now that those nasty sinus biofilms have been degraded, this wash has become effective again.
The wash is available on Amazon.
“Neti Wash Plus contains zinc and herbal extracts that add anti-microbial and anti-viral support to your nasal wash. Zinc helps to tone and astringe the nasal passages reducing excess mucus and promoting clear, healthy sinuses. Studies show that Zinc reduces the duration and symptoms of the common cold, slowing the replication of rhinoviruses which typically cause colds. Neti Wash Plus contains Zinc Acetate –a form of Zinc shown to be more effective in shortening the duration of the common cold. Neti Wash Plus also contains extracts of Grapefruit Seed and Goldenseal Root, found by scientists to inhibit the growth of hundreds of strains of pathogens. Grapefruit Seed Extract has been used by the natural foods industry for over 20 years as an antibiotic, disinfectant, and antiseptic. Perfect for use with the Himalayan Institute Neti Pot.*
“Ingredients: Zinc acetate, Goldenseal root (Hydrastis canadensis), Phellodendron bark (Phellodendron amurense), Coptis root (Coptis chinensis), Barberry root bark (Berberis vulgaris), Grapefruit seed extract, vegetable glycerin and distilled, purified water.”
TWO HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES FOR ALLERGIES AND SINUS CONGESTION
Before Allicidin succeeded in disrupting the biofilms, I’d started taking two homeopathic remedies my chiropractor had recommended for this summer sinus misery but then stopped when the congestion just kept getting worse. Now that the molds and bacteria living inside those biofilms have been exposed and destroyed, I’ve started taking these remedies again and am finding them helpful.
ALLER-CHORD F – a homeopathic remedy for food allergens
DRAINAGE-TONE – a homeopathic remedy for swollen glands, sinus congestion, and skin eruptions
Both are made by energetix.
SOME ADDITIONAL IDEAS
While researching this post, I came across this interesting idea for breaking down biofilms in the nose and sinus cavities:
“New sinus therapeutics, including baby shampoo sinus irrigation and probiotic sinus rinses, can lessen symptoms and ward off sinus infections, according to doctors at Baylor College of Medicine.
“These new therapies are targeting the bacteria in ways that haven’t been utilized in the past,” said Dr. Mas Takashima, director of the Sinus Center at Baylor. “These techniques are helping those with chronic and acute sinusitis. Whenever I tell my patients about the new therapeutic protocols they’re very surprised, but they get the results they want and need.
“He said the concept behind baby shampoo irrigation is cleansing the naval cavity with a surfactant. By doing this, the biofilms, or oily layers that bad bacteria create to protect itself from irrigation, are broken down.” (Parsons, 2015)
I haven’t tried the Johnson’s Baby Shampoo technique myself (and don’t think I will because of the product’s toxic ingredients*), but here’s a report from someone who did and found it tremendously helpful. (Mertes, 12/4/2013)
* Ingredients in Johnson’s Baby Shampoo:
Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, PEG-150 Distearate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Chloride, Glycerin, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Polyquaternium-10, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Potassium Acrylates Copolymer, Yellow 6, Yellow 10, Parfum.
At least it doesn’t contain carcinogenic parabens.
Perhaps there’s a baby shampoo that’s free of toxic ingredients and still acts as a surfactant to break down biofilms. Please let me know if you come across one.
Another suggestion from my chiropractor, Denice Hilty Siedzik:
“You may want to consider emptying a probiotic capsule in a little water and swishing it in your mouth and swallowing just before bed. Be sure to not drink anything after. This may also help healthy bacteria migrate to your sinuses.” (Siedzik, 2016)
CLIMATE CHANGE AND MOLDS: LOOKING AHEAD
Unless you’re in steadfast denial, it’s obvious that climate change is real and that here in the Northeast US we’re likely in for warmer winters with fewer or no hard freezes plus longer, hotter, and wetter summers – ideal conditions for molds to proliferate. I know that Lower Manhattan, where I live, receives waves of pollens (which I’ve never been allergic to) blowing in from the west in the spring and fall so it eventually occurred to me that greatly increased numbers of mold spores were probably also blowing in now. I’ve been reactive to molds for as long as I can remember.
And if this wet, warming trend continues, it will be increasingly difficult to cope with molds in future years. So I was highly motivated to figure out how to improve my ability to deal with these minuscule airborne fungi and keep my airways open.
BETTER EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH THIS ASPECT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
After breaking down the biofilms in my sinuses and nose with Allicidin and then zapping the molds and bacteria with the probiotics in RepHresh, the things and techniques listed in the WHAT I TRIED section above now help again to reduce sinus inflammation and keep me breathing through my nose.
Now that it’s October, the hot, humid weather has mercifully stopped, but I know my sinuses are still being exposed to an increased level of molds in the air. Since the initial irrigations with Allicidin and RepHresh in September, I needed to repeat the two-step treatment once last week when we had a return of some warm, humid days and the mold levels were high again.
Having these tools in my ongoing battle with nasal allergies, I now feel better equipped to deal with the hot, rainy summers in our future.
This is my earlier post on Probiotics for Sinusitis and Sinus Infection. (Hardin, 9/16/2014) in case you want to read more about sinuses and the gut microbiome.
And here’s a link to my 2011 article Successful holistic treatment of Clostridium difficile gut infection: case study in case you’re interested in how I vanquished C. diff without resorting to any antibiotics – which had degraded by gut microbiome over the years and set the stage for my colon’s being colonized by that nasty bacterium in the first place.
Dach, J. (12/30/2014). BioFilms in Chronic Rhino Sinusitis. See: http://jeffreydachmd.com/2014/12/biofilms-chronic-rhino-sinusitis/
Dr Johnson’s Premier Nutrition. (2016). Allicidin. See: http://www.drjsupplements.com/allicidin/
Hardin, J.R. (2011). Successful holistic treatment of Clostridium difficile gut infection: case study. Oriental Medicine Journal, 19:4, 24-37. See http://issuu.com/davidmiller4/docs/c._difficile_omj_article_lo_res
Hardin, J.R. (9.14.2014). Probiotics for Sinusitis and Sinus Infection. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/09/18/probiotics-sinusitis-sinus-infection/
Healy, D.Y. et al. (2008). Biofilms with fungi in chronic rhinosinusitis. Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, 138:5, 641-647. See: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0194599808001058
Kiefer, D. (2008). Warding Off Chronic Yeast and Bacterial Infections. Life Extension Magazine. See: http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2008/3/warding-off-chronic-yeast-and-bacterial-infections/page-01
Kresser, C. (8/18/2015). Chronic Sinus Problems: Another Role for Probiotics? See: https://chriskresser.com/chronic-sinus-problems-another-role-for-probiotics/
Mertes, M. (12/4/2013). How I beat my sinusitis by snorting baby shampoo. See: http://www.omaha.com/livewellnebraska/how-i-beat-my-sinusitis-by-snorting-baby-shampoo/article_f5086ea0-b9a6-5a9c-9fc3-f96090a4ac1e.html
Oak Crest Institute of Science. (2013). Scientist Finds Link between Antibiotics and Bacterial Biofilm Formation Cause of Chronic Ear, Sinus, and Lung Infections. See: http://www.oak-crest.org/oakcrest-news/scientist-finds-link-between-antibiotics-and-bacterial-biofilm-formation-cause-of-chronic-ear-sinus-and-lung-infections/
Parsons, J. (4/6/2015). New ways to flush out sinus infections. See: https://www.bcm.edu/news/head-and-neck/new-ways-to-flush-sinus-infection
Siedzik, D.H. (2016). Personal communication.
Silgailis, M. (2015). The One Probiotic That Treats Sinusitis. See: http://lactobacto.com/2015/01/12/the-one-probiotic-that-cures-sinusitis/
Silgailis, M. (2016). Antibiotic Use Increases Risk of Developing Chronic Sinusitis. See: http://lactobacto.com/2016/08/30/any-antibiotic-use-increases-risk-of-developing-chronic-sinusitis/
© Copyright 2016. & 2018 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
OUR TEETH ARE CONNECTED TO OUR ORGANS, TISSUES, & GLANDS
“In accordance with ancient Chinese medicine, the mouth is a reflection of the person’s total health. Ancient Chinese physicians would examine the patient’s teeth, gums, tongue and oral cavity before they examined the rest of patient’s body.” (My Dentist, undated)
You can use this INTERACTIVE MERIDIAN TOOTH CHART to learn about each tooth’s relationship to your overall health. For example, if you enter BREAST in the ‘Select An Organ’ box, you’ll see that these teeth share meridians with the breasts: 17, 16, 26, 27, 35, 34, 44, and 45.
Then you can click on each of those teeth to see which other organs are connected on that meridian.
I highly recommend doing this. It’s illuminating. For example, here’s what you get when you enter KIDNEYS and click on Tooth #3, the first molar:
WHAT IS A ROOT CANAL PROCEDURE
“Root canal treatment is the removal of the tooth’s pulp, a small, thread-like tissue in the center of the tooth. Once the damaged, diseased or dead pulp is removed, the remaining space is cleaned, shaped and filled. This procedure seals off the root canal. Years ago, teeth with diseased or injured pulps were removed. Today, root canal treatment saves many teeth that would otherwise be lost.
“The most common causes of pulp damage or death are:
A cracked tooth
A deep cavity
An injury to a tooth, such as a severe knock to the tooth, either recent or in the past
“Once the pulp is infected or dead, if left untreated, pus can build up at the root tip in the jawbone, forming an abscess. An abscess can destroy the bone surrounding the tooth and cause pain.” (Colgate Oral Care Center, 2016)
Root canal information (American Association of Endodontics, 2016):
More than 15 million root canals are performed every year.
More than 41,000 root canals are performed each day.
Endodontists perform 25 root canal treatments each week; general dentists perform fewer than 2.
That’s a lot of root canal procedures – but are they safe? Many dentists, doctors, and researchers say ‘no’, that root canals pose serious health risks for the vast majority of us whose immune system functioning has been depressed by poor diet, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, chronic high stress level, exposure to toxins, leaky gut, autoimmune conditions, chronic illness, chronic lack of sleep, etc.
WHAT INFRARED THERMOGRAPHY CAN SHOW
“Infrared thermography is the technique of converting infrared energy (radiant heat) into an image that a person can see and understand. We ordinarily see in visible light. We can compare infrared to visible light – they are not the same, but they are analogous….
“… an infrared camera creates an image by converting radiant heat energy into a signal that can be displayed on a monitor (and later printed).
“The infrared energy emitted from an object is directly proportional to its temperature. Therefore temperatures are accurately measured by the infrared camera.” (Iris Associates, undated)
“The theory behind thermal imaging, also called digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI), is that normal and abnormal tissues have different heat signatures. So a thermal image, when read by an experienced examiner and run through the proper computer analyses, may reveal the infrared evidence of a potential or actual health issue that may not yet be detectable by other means, such as an X-ray, CAT scan, or MRI.” (Integrative Life Solutions, 2016)
Images taken by infrared thermography cameras can be grayscale or color coded.
This grayscale infrared image looks odd because we ordinarily see in visible light while this image shows radiant heat. As you can see from the temperature scale to the left of the image, the light areas are warmer than the dark areas.
See Reveal Your Body’s Secrets Through Clinical Thermography and How Does Thermography Work? if you’re interested in getting more information about the technique.
On the color legend (along the right side) accompanying the set of four infrared thermograms below, the reds at the top indicate inflammation while the greens and blues at the bottom indicate the absence of inflammation. You can see that the circled area of muscle pain in the woman’s upper arm is cool (blue) so her pain is not due to inflammation, which would have registered in the red range. She does, however, have quite a lot of inflammation elsewhere in her upper body.
Airport security in Greece screens for fever, a sign of infection. Presumably, the man shown on the thermography screen was allowed into the country.
Thermal imaging camera & screen, in an airport terminal in Greece. Thermal imaging can detect fever, one of the signs of infection.
Another infrared thermogram, this one of a house, shows that the windows and most of the siding are doing a good job of keeping the house cozy inside (mostly blue and green) while the roof and a few other areas are allowing a lot of heat loss (bright red).
ROOT CANALS & BREAST CANCER
Thermography lets us visualize the relationship between root canals and cancers developing in the breasts. The two sets of thermograms below illustrate, in both grayscale and color, this connection.
The top row in the first set of four shows significant breast inflammation after a failed root canal extraction. The bottom row in this set shows a great reduction of the inflammation following the tooth’s extraction.
Before and After Effects of Failed Root Canal Extraction on the Breasts
Top Row – 2012: (Former Camera)
Note the lymph flow from the neck into the chest and breasts, particularly the right breast.
R – TH 4, L – TH 2
Bottom Row – 2015: (Current Camera)
Note the significant reduction in chest inflammation, the increased symmetry between breasts, and the lack of heat/thermal features therein.
R – TH 1, L – TH 1
Following the left tooth #14 extraction, the client’s Thermobiological Risk in the right breast decreased from HIGH risk (4) to LOWEST risk (1). Prevention was supported!!! Of what, we’ll never know… (Thermogram Center, 2016)
This pair of thermograms below, of a woman who’d had a mastectomy a year earlier, shows intense inflammation in her breast area and chest lymph system (left image) and a rear molar socket infection on the same side (right image). The thermographer noted, “In the upper left image, lymphatic drainage from the right side of the mouth into the chest is apparent.”
Tooth Socket Infection and Breast Cancer
This 46 year old female used thermal imaging in 2010 after having had a mastectomy just over a year earlier. While she hadn‘t understood that many teeth can affect the breast, her thermal imaging and the tooth and organ chart revealed to her the possibility of a back molar socket infection and breast connection. In the upper left image, lymphatic drainage from the right side of the mouth into the chest is apparent. (The Thermogram Center, 2016)
“In a study of 150 breast cancer patients by Dr. Rau, in Switzerland, 147 of them had had root canals on the same meridian as the breast cancer. The other 3 also had dental problems on the same meridian, but they were not caused by root canals, they were infections in the jawbone caused by some other dental procedure.” (Kehr, 2016)
If you have had a root canal and have had, or are concerned about getting breast cancer, I recommend reading Ann Credible’s post about her own experience that led to her understanding the link between root canal, breast cancer, and several other unpleasant symptoms she was experiencing: Do Root Canals Cause Breast Cancer?
“The Breast Meridian is connected to the 4th and 5th tooth from the center tooth, right and left, upper and lower jaw. In other words, if you have a hunk of metal or a root canal in one of those teeth, seriously consider having that issue repaired by a biological dentist.
“Dr. Robert Jones, a researcher of the relationship between root canals and breast cancer, found an extremely high correlation between root canals and breast cancer. In a 5 year study with over 300 cases, Dr. Jones found the following
93 percent of women with breast cancer had root canals
7 percent had other oral pathology
Tumors, in the majority of cases, occurred on the same side of the body as the root canal(s) or other oral pathology
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A ROOT CANAL
Root canals harm the body in two ways:
They create a toxic drip of pathogenic bacteria that impairs the body’s immune system.
Through the acupuncture meridian system, the toxic tooth energetically affects the organ connected to the tooth.
ANATOMY OF A TOOTH
Our teeth contain small holes that run horizontally from the inside of the tooth to the outside located within the dentin. Our larger teeth, like molars, can contain up to 3 miles of these tubules.
Microscopic Image of Dentinal Tubules in a Tooth (greatly enlarged)
Microscopic Image of Bacteria Growing Inside the Dentinal Tubules of a Root Canaled Tooth
ROOT CANALS PROMOTE SECONDARY INFECTIONS, RELEASING PATHOGENIC BACTERIA INTO THE BODY
“Root canals seem to only place a bandage over a life threatening problem, and more appropriately merely delay the onset of major health issues. Unfortunately there is an underlying misconception that infective agents such as microbes, fungi, and viruses are successfully disinfected within teeth’s gums. However, there are miles of microscopic tubules which are never exposed to sanitizing chemicals.
“In studies, up to 50% of the pathogenic bacteria population remained following treatment with the common disinfectant sodium hypochlorite. Adding human error to the equation, secondary health complications arising from root canals seem more likely than not.” (Jockers, 2016)
One of the toxic anaerobic bacteria that is often present in a root canal is Enterococcus faecalis. As its name suggests, E. faecalis originates inside the digestive and genitourinary tracts. When it colonizes elsewhere in the body, it can cause life threatening conditions such as endocarditis, septicemia, urinary tract infections, and meningitis. It is highly pathogenic and often antibiotic resistant.
In the mouth, E. facaelis colonies are responsible for the formation of abscesses, pus and destruction of tissue.
“E. faecalis has been frequently found in root canal-treated teeth in prevalence values ranging from 30% to 90% of the cases. Root canal-treated teeth are about nine times more likely to harbor E. faecalis than cases of primary infections.” (Wikipedia, 7/21/2016)
In addition to Enterococcus faecalis, other dangerous bacteria are often found living in tooth systems after a root canal (Jockers, 2016):
Pseudomonas: Symptoms associated with Pseudomonas bacteria include a weakened immune system, pneumonia, and blood infections.
Staphylococci: Staph bacteria cause skin infections and are often present in pneumonia, blood poisoning, and toxic shock syndrome.
Streptococci: Populations of these types of bacteria cause strep throat, pain, fever, dizziness, swelling, confusion, abnormal blood pressure, and toxic shock syndrome. As the most frequent cause of necrotizing fasciitis, Streptococcus pyogenes, is often referred to as the ‘flesh-eating bacteria’.
Root canals create toxic and dangerous conditions in the mouth. Our teeth are living organisms that connect to the rest of the body via the tubules in each tooth – around 3 miles of tubules per tooth.
“Saving a dying, infected tooth would be like trying to save an infected appendix or gall bladder, stuffing it with bleach (sodium hypochlorite is routinely used in root canals) and other toxic chemicals, hoping that there would be no effects of long term infections. Sound silly?
“That is exactly what happens when you get a root canal.” (Desaulniers, 2012)
No matter what efforts are made to kill the pathogenic bacteria living in a root canaled tooth, the truth is that these dead teeth can become seriously toxic sites continuously dripping infection into the body. (Desaulniers, 2012), (Jockers, 2016), & (Mercola, 2015)
ROOT CANALS GREATLY INCREASE THE RISK OF SERIOUS DISEASES
Dr. Weston Price (1870-1948) was a prominent dentist known for his meticulous research and writings on the relationship between nutrition, dental and physical health. In 1913 he founded a research institute called the National Dental Association, which later became the research section of the American Dental Association. Price was the NDA’s chairman from 1914 to 1928.
Weston A. Price, DDS
A century ago, “Price was concerned about the pathological bacteria found in nearly all root canal teeth of that time. He was able to transfer diseases harbored by humans from their extracted root canal teeth into rabbits by inserting a fragment of a root canal root under the skin in the belly area of a test rabbit. He found that root canal fragments from a person who had suffered a heart attack, when implanted into a rabbit, would cause a heart attack in the rabbit within a few weeks. Transference of heart disease could be accomplished 100 percent of the time. Some diseases transferred only 88 percent of the time, but the handwriting was on the wall.” (Huggins, 2010)
The truth about root canals may have been written on the wall a century ago but Price was labeled a ‘radical’ by the dental profession, which continued to declare that root canals were perfectly safe. And by the way, the dental mercury in ‘amalgam’ fillings, was first exposed as a serious health hazard well over a century ago – in 1840 – yet most of us still have these fillings in our teeth. Amalgam fillings are 50% mercury. (Huggins, 2010)
“Dr. Josef Issels, the ‘father of Integrative Medicine’ found that, in his 40 years of treating ‘terminal’ cancer patients, 97% of his cancer patients had root canals.” (Desaulniers, 2012)
Root canals have been linked to a wide variety of health conditions known to be adversely affected by inflammation in the body, including:
Heart disease: heart attacks, endocarditis, heart valve infection
(Jockers, 2016) & (Mercola, 2012)
“We have identified 28 bacteria that the literature reports are related to heart diseases, including heart attack, endocarditis, and heart valve infection. Neurological diseases are in second place with 23 bacteria reported to be causative or contributing factors. Liver function, kidney, breast cancer – the list becomes alarming, so it is time to inform the public what dentists cannot tell you out of fear of retribution from injured patients and their own association. The Dental Association would move from being one of the most respected professions to the least respected…
“How many people are affected, and how?
“While I cannot list every potential in this article, our figures indicate that over 90 percent of the patients seeking help for dental related problems suffer from chronic fatigue, and that’s just one example. How tiring can bacteria be? One group certainly can contribute. They are called “porins.” Few doctors and even fewer humans have ever heard of porins. The word comes from “pores.” These bacteria drill holes in red blood cells – pores – that allow hemoglobin to escape into the surrounding blood where the bacteria are lurking to suck up the iron. These bacteria, the porin producers, have a very high appetite for iron, and hemoglobin furnishes a never ending supply.
“Once a red blood cell has a few pores punched in it – a sleeve is inserted as well, such that the red blood cell cannot heal – the red cell bleeds to death. Now the liver has to process all that hemoglobin scrap relieved of its iron, and calm the body from irritations due to the red cell contents being where they do not belong.
“Another new kid on the block that may be dentally related is meningitis, which is a growing epidemic. When reading an article about the need for another meningitis vaccine, I recalled seeing meningitis listed as an effect of a few different bacteria that thrive in root canals and cavitations. Capnocytophaga ochnacea; Gemella morbillorum; Klebsiella oxytoca; Neisseria meningitidis; Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and a few more.” (Mercola, 2012)
You wouldn’t purchase a car just because a salesperson or an ad says it’s great. Wouldn’t you also want to know if it’s the right one for you?
If you want to take more responsibility for maintaining or improving your own and your family’s health, you would be wise to look into the pro’s and con’s of doing whatever your doctors and dentists say needs to be done before actually doing it. Be an informed consumer so, if you do decide to take any particular piece of medical advice, you will be giving INFORMED rather than BLIND consent.
FIND A HOLISTIC OR BIOLOGICAL DENTIST
Many, probably most, dentists and physicians don’t understand the connection between root canals and breast cancer or other illnesses. If you take your health seriously, it would be wise to find a biological or holistic dentist for all your oral health care.
You can search the following sites to see if there are these types of dentists in your area: International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, the (IAOMT)International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (IABDM) and the Holistic Dental Association. (Jockers, 2016)
FOR MORE INFORMATION
If you want more information on root canals and why they’re dangerous, take a look at Dr Robert Mercola’s 2015 article Toxic Tooth—How a Root Canal Could Be Making You Sick.
Also see the 2014 book by Robert Kulacz, DDS, and T.E. Levy, MD, JD, The Toxic Tooth: How a root canal could be making you sick.
This is Kulacz and Levy’s website for their Toxic Tooth book: http://welcome.toxictooth.com/. It’s worth taking a look.
American Association of Endodontics. (2016). Endodontic Facts. See: http://www.aae.org/about-aae/news-room/endodontic-facts.aspx
AnnCredible.com. (2015). Do Root Canals Cause Breast Cancer? See: http://www.anncredible.com/2015/02/do-root-canals-cause-breast-cancer.html
Colgate Oral Care Center. (2016). What Is Root Canal Treatment?. See: http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/procedures/root-canals/article/what-is-root-canal-treatment?thumbparam=root-canals/490636003
Desaulniers, V. (2012). Is your root canal increasing your risk for Breast Cancer? Breast Cancer Conqueror. See: http://breastcancerconqueror.com/is-your-root-canal-increasing-your-risk-for-breast-cancer/
Holistic Dental Association. (2016). See: http://holisticdental.org
Homeopathic Dental Hygiene Clinic. (2016). Meridian Tooth Chart. See: http://www.healthyteeth4life.ca/meridian-tooth-chart/
Huggins, H. (2010). Root Canal Dangers. See: http://www.westonaprice.org/holistic-healthcare/root-canal-dangers/
Integrative Life Solutions. (2016). Reveal Your Body’s Secrets Through Clinical Thermography. See: http://www.integrativelifesolutions.com/Thermographyhome.jsp
International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (IABDM). (2016). See: https://iabdm.org
International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT. (2016). See: https://iaomt.org
Iris Associates. (Undated). How Does Thermography Work? See: http://www.irisinfrared.com/How%20Does%20It%20Work.htm
Jockers, D. (2016). Are Root Canals Really a Cause of Cancer? The Truth About Cancer. See: https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/root-canals-cause-cancer/
Kulacz, R. & Levy, T.E. (2014). The Toxic Tooth: How a root canal could be making you sick. See: https://www.amazon.com/Toxic-Tooth-canal-could-making/dp/0983772827
Kulacz, R. & Levy, T.E. (2014). The Toxic Tooth. See: http://welcome.toxictooth.com/
Mercola, R. (2012). How a Root Canal Can Affect Your Health. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/10/02/dr-huggins-discusses-root-canals.aspx
Mercola, R. (2015). Toxic Tooth—How a Root Canal Could Be Making You Sick. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/05/31/root-canal-teeth.aspx
Thermogram Center. (2016). Thermal Images: Teeth. See: http://www.thermogramcenter.com/our-services/thermal-images/teeth-images/
Wikipedia. (7/21/2016). Enterococcus faecalis. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterococcus_faecalis
© Copyright 2016. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
The following is a guest post written by Kelly Brogan, MD, a New York City based holistic women’s health psychiatrist and author of A Mind of Your Own: How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives for ParsleyHealth.com:
7 facts about Depression that will Blow You Away
March 16, 2016
“A silent tragedy in the history of modern health care is happening right now in America, but no one is talking about it. We have been told a story of depression: that it is caused by a chemical imbalance and cured by a chemical fix—a prescription. More than 30 million of us take antidepressants, including one in seven women . Millions more are tempted to try them to end chronic, unyielding distress, irritability, and emotional “offness”—trapped by an exhausting inner agitation they can’t shake.
“The human body interacts in its environment with deep intelligence. Your body creates symptoms for a reason.
“It is time, even according to leaders in the field, to let go of this false narrative and take a fresh look at where science is leading us. The human body interacts in its environment with deep intelligence. Your body creates symptoms for a reason. Depression is a meaningful symptom of a mismatch, biologically, with lifestyle—we eat a poor diet, harbor too much stress, lack sufficient physical movement, deprive ourselves of natural sunlight, expose ourselves to environmental toxicants, and take too many drugs. Inflammation is the language that the body speaks, expressing imbalance, inviting change. We usually suppress these symptoms with medication but that is like turning off the smoke alarm when you have a fire going on.
“LET’S GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT:
“1. Depression is often an inflammatory condition
a manifestation of irregularities in the body that often start far away from the brain and are not associated with so-called “chemical imbalances.” The medical literature has emphasized the role of inflammation in mental illness (1) for more than twenty years (unfortunately, it takes an average of 17 years (2) for the data that exposes inefficacy and/or a signal of harm, to trickle down into your doctor’s daily routine; a time lag problem that makes medicine’s standard of care “evidence-based” only in theory and not practice). Not a single study has proven that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.(3).
“That is about as misguided as putting a bandage over a nail stuck in your foot and taking aspirin. It’s absolutely missing an opportunity to “remove the splinter” and resolve the problem from the source.
“2. Antidepressants have the potential to irreversibly disable the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
Despite what you’ve been led to believe, antidepressants have repeatedly been shown in long-term scientific studies to worsen the course of mental illness—to say nothing of the risks of liver damage, bleeding, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and reduced cognitive function they entail. The dirtiest little secret of all is the fact that antidepressants are among the most difficult drugs to taper from, more so than alcohol and opiates.
“3. The effect is not a cure.
Even if we accepted the proposition that these drugs are helpful for some people (82% of which is due to the placebo effect according to Dr. Irving Kirsch), extrapolating a medical cause from this observation would be akin to saying that shyness is caused by a deficiency of alcohol, or that headaches are caused by a lack of codeine. And what about a genetic vulnerability? Is there such thing as a depression gene? In 2003, a study published in Science (4) suggested that those with genetic variation in their serotonin transporter were three times more likely to be depressed. But six years later this idea was wiped out by a meta-analysis of 14,000 patients published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (5) that denied such an association.
“4. Most prescriptions for antidepressants are doled out by family doctors—not psychiatrists,
with seven percent of all visits to a primary care doctor ending with an antidepressant (6) prescription. What’s more, when the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health did its own examination into the prevalence of mental disorders, it found that most people who take antidepressants never meet the medical criteria for a bona fide diagnosis of major depression, and many who are given antidepressants for things like OCD, panic disorder, social phobia, and anxiety also don’t qualify as actually having these conditions.
“5. The Great Pretenders.
Many different physical conditions create psychiatric symptoms but aren’t themselves “psychiatric.” Two prime examples: (8). We think that we need to “cure” the brain, but in reality
WE NEED TO LOOK AT THE WHOLE BODY’S ECOSYSTEM: INTESTINAL HEALTH, HORMONAL INTERACTIONS, THE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS, BLOOD SUGAR BALANCE, AND TOXICANT EXPOSURE
“6. Basic lifestyle interventions can facilitate the body’s powerful self-healing mechanisms to end depression:
dietary modifications (more healthy fats and less sugar, dairy, and gluten); natural supplements like B vitamins and probiotics that don’t require a prescription and can even be delivered through certain foods; minimizing exposures to biology-disrupting toxicants like fluoride in tap water, chemicals in common drugs like Tylenol and statins, and fragrances in cosmetics; harnessing the power of sufficient sleep and physical movement; and behavioral techniques aimed at promoting the relaxation response.
“7. Depression is an opportunity.
It is a sign for us to stop and figure out what’s causing our imbalance rather than just masking, suppressing, or rerouting the symptoms. It’s a chance to choose a new story, to engage in radical transformation, to say yes to a different life experience.
“Join the revolution. Find out more in A Mind of Your Own: How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives.
“Kelly Brogan completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in Systems Neuroscience. She is board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, and is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. She is a mother of two.
Kelly Brogan, MD
Parsley Health, whose website is where Dr Brogan’s post appears, was founded by Functional Medicine doc Robin Berzin, MD, as a membership-based wellness practice. Berzin’s site describes her novel approach to the practice of medicine this way:
“Parsley Health is a high-tech, holistic medical practice and wellness center. We offer detoxes, gut healing programs and medical memberships to help you live your healthiest life.
“WE’RE A MEMBERSHIP-BASED WELLNESS PRACTICE AND WE BELIEVE IN YOUR POTENTIAL TO THRIVE.
“We get to know our members as individuals. We help you cleanse and renew your body, embrace a healthier lifestyle and live better.
“Our comprehensive testing reveals how your body is functioning today and helps you discover the underlying causes of chronic pain and disease.
“Dr. Robin Berzin founded Parsley Health because she believes health care can and should be different.”
Robin Berzin, MD, founder of Parsley Health
Here’s information on Parsley Health’s membership program in case you live in the NYC area and are interested in subscribing. The practice is located at:
120 E 23RD ST, 5TH FLOOR
NEW YORK, NY 10010
Many thanks to Colleen Hodgetts for sending Dr Kelly Brogan’s article my way.
Brogan, K. (2016). 7 facts about Depression that will Blow You Away. See: https://parsleyhealth.com/holisticdepression/
Brogan, K. & Loberg, K. (2016). A Mind of Your Own: How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives. See: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=A+Mind+of+Your+Own%3A+How+Women+Can+Heal+Their+Bodies+to+Reclaim+Their+Lives
Parsley Health. (2016). See: parsleyhealth.com
© Copyright 2016. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
A reader of my post Dark Circles Under Your Eyes? Improve Your Gut Bacteria wrote to ask what tests to ask your doctor for if you have problems with your gut microbiome.
That’s not so easy to answer for two reasons: First, the whole field of gut bacteria is quite new. And second, many if not most doctors don’t know a whole lot about the gut microbiome and its role in keeping us healthy or making us sick.
That doctors often don’t know much about the gut microbiome is clearly related to it’s being a new field – but the situation is also made worse by the enormous pressures the pharmaceutical industry and what is sometimes referred to as the “medical–industrial complex” exert on doctors to continue along the current path of treating symptoms with drugs and/or surgeries while ignoring the symptoms’ underlying causes.
Let’s hope the paradigm will shift.
MY MEDICAL JOURNEY – AND PERSONAL BIAS
It took me many decades to identify the underlying source of my own gut microbiome imbalance and autoimmune conditions and figure out how to correct them. On this journey, the types of professionals who were the most helpful have been Chiropractors who do Applied Kinesiology and know how to support health with nutrition (foods and nutritional supplements), Functional Medicine docs, Integrative Medicine docs, Naturopaths, Energy Medicine practitioners, and Nutritionists.
I’ve pretty much stopped relying on mainstream MD specialists – except for the rare ones who understand that pharmaceuticals only suppress symptoms but don’t correct any underlying problem.
When I have blood work done by my Internist (who’s a devoted doctor and a lovely man whom I enjoy seeing), I know I’m probably not going to take any pharmaceutical he might prescribe so ask to be emailed the results and take them to the Chiropractor who’s my main health care provider. She reads the report, discusses the meaning of the results with me, and recommends what I can do about any problematic findings. For example, I have an under active thyroid (hypothyroidism) and sometimes Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an autoimmune thyroid problem). She has successfully regulated my thyroid functioning with nutritional supplements for many years.
Before asking my Internist for blood work, I also get my Chiropractor’s recommendations for exactly what blood work will be helpful. The Internists and Endocrinologists I’d seen in the past were likely to order only the basic thyroid tests. My Chiropractor orders those to see if my thyroid is under functioning, tests to measure whether my pituitary and adrenals are involved, and thyroid antibody tests to see if my thyroid is also having an autoimmune problem again.
So that’s where I’m coming from as I try to answer the question about what tests to request from a traditional medical doctor.
INCREASED GUT PERMEABILITY – AKA LEAKY GUT
When your intestinal mucosal lining (the place that’s home to your gut’s good bacteria and other probiotic micro-organisms) becomes abnormally permeable (a condition known as intestinal hyperpermeability), tiny leaks develop from your intestines into your bloodstream. These openings allow things (bad bacteria and their toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and other substances) to pass through the intestinal walls directly into your bloodstream instead of being propelled further along your GI tract to where they can be neutralized and/or excreted.
Your immune system reads these substances leaked into your bloodstream as dangerous invaders, triggering an autoimmune reaction. As the leaks continue to allow more and more substances through the gut lining directly into the bloodstream, your body becomes chronically inflamed … and chronic inflammation is a precursor to autoimmune diseases and a long list of other serious health problems. (Axe, 2016) & (Weil, 2005)
DR JOSH AXE’S RECOMMENDATIONS
Dr Josh Axe’s article What Kind of Leaky Gut Test Should You Take? may help you figure out what tests to ask for if you suspect you have a leaky gut that’s causing various chronic autoimmune conditions and diseases – including dark circles under your eyes. Dr. Axe is a Doctor of Natural Medicine, a Clinical Nutritionist, and a Chiropractor.
The tests he recommends are:
See Dr Axe’s article for more information on these tests.
TESTS FOR ADRENAL FATIGUE
In an article called Testing For Adrenal Fatigue, Wellness Coach and author Fawne Hansen discusses the types of tests needed to measure adrenal functioning. Among them are:
- A series of cortisol measures
- An ACTH Challenge
- A variety of thyroid tests
Hansen says, “Diagnosing Adrenal Fatigue from a single test or symptom is impossible. To make an accurate diagnosis, doctors and naturopaths need to look at a range of tests, sometimes conducted multiple times, and take note of every symptom. This requires experience and a thorough knowledge of the various systems in our bodies, as well as some patience too. It may require two or three visits to the doctor before you can be sure that you have Adrenal Fatigue.” (Hansen, 2016)
She has written an eBook called The Adrenal Fatigue Solution with Naturopath Dr. Eric Wood.
BLOOD TESTS FOR ELEVATED INFLAMMATION
Chronic inflammation in the body is a precursor to most kinds of diseases. C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance produced in the liver that increases when there’s inflammation in the body.
There are two blood tests for elevated CRP: One test can detect a general elevation of CRP, associated with general inflammatory changes in the body and considered a non-specific marker for disease. The other test, called hs-CRP (highly sensitive CRP), is a measure of inflammation in blood vessels and is used to help establish heart disease risk.
Integrative Medicine doc Andrew Weil, MD’s article Elevated C-reactive Protein (CRP) explains the meaning of elevated CRP, its symptoms and causes, how it’s diagnosed, how conventional medicine treats it, and how he treats it with an anti-inflammatory diet. (Weil, 2016)
COMPREHENSIVE TESTING FOR GUT DYSBIOSIS
“THIS POLLUTED POND IS OVERGROWN WITH BACTERIA … SIMILAR TO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR GUT IS OVERGROWN WITH THE BAD GUYS” – http://www.therootofhealth.com/dysbiosis/
Gut dysbiosis (sometimes called gut dysbacteriosis) is the technical term for a microbial imbalance in the digestive tract. MaryAnn Copson, who has worked in the Alternative, Functional, Holistic, and Energy Medicine fields for over 35 years, offers a DYSBIOSIS METABOLIC MARKERS KIT for comprehensive testing of gut dysbiosis.
Her extensive training includes:
- Neuro-Reproductive Endocrine Certification
- Certified Licensed Nutritionist
- Robertson Research Institute Level II Verified Biochemical Profile Clinician for the Brain Chemistry Optimization Program
- Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner
- Certified Reflexologist
- Herbal Apprenticeship
- Practitioner Byronomics Energy Management and Diagnosis
- Nutritional Treatment for Mood Disorders
- Metabolic Typing and Nutritional Planning
- Supplements and other Natural Remedies
- Vitamin D Deficiency Assessment and Nutritional Treatment
- Genetics of Mood Disorders
See Testing for Dysbiosis to read more about the causes and effects of gut dysbiosis and to purchase a test kit. You collect the specimens in the privacy of your home and mail them in the kit directly to the independent medical lab she uses. She’ll forward a copy of your results to you when she’s received them and you then schedule a time for the two of you to talk. She’ll interpret your results for you and discuss their implications along with possible nutritional and lifestyle treatment programs for re-balancing your gut flora.
From Copson’s site (Copson, 2014):
“Why test for Dysbiosis?
“Dybiosis can be a significant factor in many health problems. The Dysbiosis Metabolic Marker Test, because it measures the by-products of microbial metabolism which are excreted in the urine, is particularly useful in detecting the presence of pathogenic microbial overgrowth and in guiding and monitoring therapy.
“Treatments for dysbiosis may involve removal of the offending organisms with anti-microbials. Dietary changes and food supplements are used for replacement of beneficial bacteria, restoration of digestive function, and mucosal repair.
“A repeat test should show improvement within 90 days.”
The Dysbiosis Metabolic Marker Test measures the following:
“All of the above compounds reported are produced by bacteria, yeast, fungi and protozoa that may colonize or grow in the small intestines. Dysbiosis involves overgrowth of one or more species leading to increased production of these compounds that are absorbed and excreted in the urine.” (Copson, 2014)
I don’t know if the kit, the lab work, and working with her (via phone or in person – she’s in Shipman, Virginia) on what to do about your results would be covered by your health insurance (if you’re lucky enough to have any).
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON TOPICS MENTIONED IN THIS POST
INCREASED GUT PERMEABILITY
See INCREASED GUT PERMEABILITY – CAUSES & CONSEQUENCES for an explanation of how the condition of your intestinal lining (the place where your gut probiotics live) affects your health.
IntestiNEW TO REDUCE GUT PERMEABILITY
See IntestiNEW TO STRENGTHEN YOUR DIGESTIVE LINING to read about IntestiNEW, a nutritional supplement that improves the condition of your gut’s intestinal lining and reduces chronic inflammation in the body.
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES & CONDITIONS
In autoimmune diseases and conditions, the immune system misreads healthy cells as if they were dangerous invaders and attempts to destroy them. An autoimmune process can affect one or more types of body tissues and organs.
If you wish to learn more, here are two lists of autoimmune diseases and conditions:
AUTOIMMUNE AND AUTOIMMUNE-RELATED DISEASES (AARDA, 2016)
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE LIST (Anon, 2014)
There are autoimmune conditions and diseases that don’t appear on these two lists.
I was searching for a helpful article on autoimmunity to include here and was only finding ones claiming that autoimmune diseases are incurable but their symptoms could perhaps be reduced by pharmaceuticals. Then it occurred to me to google “autoimmune diseases alternative” and found this article by Functional Medicine doc Mark Hyman, MD: How to Stop Attacking Yourself: 9 Steps to Heal Autoimmune Disease. (Hyman, 2015)
Dr Hyman is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine.
From Dr Hyman’s article:
“INFLAMMATION IS A “HOT” TOPIC IN MEDICINE. It appears connected to almost every known chronic disease — from heart disease to cancer, diabetes to obesity, autism to dementia, and even depression.
“Other inflammatory diseases such as allergies, asthma, arthritis, and autoimmune disease are increasing at dramatic rates. As physicians we are trained to shut off inflammation with aspirin, anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil or Motrin, steroids, and increasingly more powerful immune suppressing medication with serious side effects.
“But we are not trained to find and treat the underlying causes of inflammation in chronic disease. Hidden allergens, infections, environmental toxins, an inflammatory diet, and stress are the real causes of these inflammatory conditions.
“Autoimmune diseases, specifically, now affect 24 million people and include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more.
“These are often addressed by powerful immune suppressing medication and not by addressing the cause. That’s like taking a lot of aspirin while you are standing on a tack. The treatment is not more aspirin or a strong immune suppressant, but removing the tack.
“It you want to cool off inflammation in the body, you must find the source. Treat the fire, not the smoke. In medicine we are mostly taught to diagnose disease by symptoms, NOT by their underlying cause.”
Autoimmune conditions are connected by one central biochemical process: A runaway immune response also known as systemic inflammation that results in your body attacking its own tissues.
– Functional Medicine doc Mark Hyman, MD
INFORMATION ON THYROID FUNCTION TESTS
See Thyroid Function Tests for what the American Thyroid Association says about commonly ordered thyroid tests. (American Thyroid Association, 2014)
Chiropractor and Nutritionist Dr David Dahlman’s article Thyroid Tests discusses how the thyroid works, which tests are needed to assess its function, and how to interpret those tests. (Dahlman, 2015)
An article by Naturopath Peter de Ruyter, called Alternative Hypothyroidism Tests Are Necessary For Determining An Underactive Thyroid, presents information on thyroid imbalances and thyroid function tests from a Holistic Medical perspective, which includes the adrenals’ relationship to the thyroid. (de Ruyter, 2012)
THE MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
See MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX for more information on how and why the US’s health care industry remains wedded to its focus on using pharmaceuticals and surgeries to treat symptoms rather than helping us stay healthy.
From the article:
“The concept of the medical-industrial complex was first introduced in the 1971 book, The American Health Empire (Ehrenreich and Ehrenreich 1971) by Health-PAC. The medical-industrial complex (MIC) refers to the health industry, which is composed of the multibillion-dollar congeries of enterprises including doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, insurance companies, drug manufacturers, hospital supply and equipment companies, real estate and construction businesses, health systems consulting and accounting firms, and banks. As employed by the Ehrenreichs, the concept conveys the idea that an important (if not the primary) function of the health care system in the United States is business (that is, to make profits) with two other secondary functions, research and education.”
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association. (2016). List of Diseases: Autoimmune and Autoimmune-Related Diseases. See: http://www.aarda.org/autoimmune-information/list-of-diseases/
American Thyroid Association. (2014). Thyroid Function Tests. See: http://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/patients/brochures/FunctionTests_brochure.pdf
Anon. (2014). Autoimmune Disease List. See: http://autoimmunediseaselist.com
Axe, J. (2016). What Kind of Leaky Gut Test Should You Take? See: http://draxe.com/leaky-gut-test/
de Ruyter, P. (2012). Alternative Hypothyroidism Tests Are Necessary For Determining An Underactive Thyroid. See: http://www.holistic-hypothyroidism-solutions.com/alternative-hypothyroidism-tests.html
Copson, M. (2014). Testing for Dysbiosis. See: http://functionalhealthtests.com/dysbiosis.html
EduLearnSoc.org. (2012). Medical-Industrial Complex. See: http://edu.learnsoc.org/Chapters/21%20health%20and%20medicine/12%20medical-industrial%20complex.htm
Hansen, E. (2016). Testing for Adrenal Fatigue. See: http://adrenalfatiguesolution.com/testing-for-adrenal-fatigue/
Hansen, D. & Wood, E. (2014). The Adrenal Fatigue Solution: How to regain your vitality and restore your energy levels. (eBook). See: https://adrenalfatiguesolution.com/get-started/
Hardin, J.R. (1/10/2016). IntestiNEW to Strengthen Your Digestive Lining. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2016/01/10/intestinew-to-help-strengthen-your-digestive-lining/
Hardin, J.R. (7/12/2015). Dark Circles Under Your Eyes? Improve Your Gut Bacteria. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2015/07/12/dark-circles-under-your-eyes-improve-your-gut-bacteria/
Hardin, J.R. (5/10/2015). INCREASED GUT PERMEABILITY – CAUSES & CONSEQUENCES. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2015/05/10/increased-gut-permeability-causes-consequences/
Hyman, M. (2015). How to Stop Attacking Yourself: 9 Steps to Heal Autoimmune Disease. See: http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/07/30/how-to-stop-attacking-yourself-9-steps-to-heal-autoimmune-disease/
Weil, A. (2016). Elevated C-reactive Protein (CRP). See: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03424/Elevated-Creactive-Protein-CRP.html
Weil, A. (2005). What Is Leaky Gut? See: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA361058/what-is-leaky-gut.html
© Copyright 2016. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
Updated 7/5/2015 & 7/9/2015.
Very good news! An exciting new field of medicine is on the horizon: PSYCHOBIOTICS.
PROBIOTICS are micro-organisms that have beneficial effects on the body when consumed.
Ted Dinan, Catherine Stanton, and John Cryan, pioneering researchers in the field, define a PSYCHOBIOTIC as “a live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness”. (Dinan, Stanton & Cryan, 2013)
Scientists are discovering that some probiotic micro-organisms living in our guts are also psychoactive. That is, they deliver neuroactive substances such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonin that influence the brain via the gut-brain axis.
I’d say that the field of psychobiotics in the not so distant future will be understood more broadly to include all of us, not just those with diagnosable mental illnesses. For example, we’ll be able to fine tune our anxiety levels day to day – by taking particular probiotics before events we know make us anxious (public speaking, flying, big dates, exams). And, even better, we’ll be able to AVOID depression’s deep troughs of despair and the exhausting paralysis of anxiety by nourishing healthy populations of the appropriate probiotics in our guts.
As we understand the gut-brain axis at this point, communications between the gut and the brain (and vice versa) travel via the long vagus nerve, spinal cord, and/or neuroendocrine systems to mediate various physical and mental states – including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Here’s a diagram of the vagus nerve’s path, showing the organs it connects between the brain at its top end and the intestines at its bottom end. You can see what an important communication highway it provides for the body, allowing the brain, lungs, heart, spleen, liver, kidneys, pancreas, stomach, and intestines to ‘talk’ to one another.
THE VAGUS NERVE
It runs from the brain stem down each side of the neck, across the chest, down through the abdomen allowing the brain, lungs, heart, spleen, liver, pancreas, kidneys, stomach and intestines to communicate bi-directionally along its network.
“So far, psychobiotics have been most extensively studied in … patients with irritable bowel syndrome, where positive benefits have been reported for a number of organisms including Bifidobacterium infantis. Evidence is emerging of benefits in alleviating symptoms of depression and in chronic fatigue syndrome. Such benefits may be related to the anti-inflammatory actions of certain psychobiotics and a capacity to reduce hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity. ” (Dinan, Stanton & Cryan, 2013)
Did you notice the mention of the anti-inflammatory actions of probiotics in the quote above?
Most physical and mental diseases have inflammation as their root cause. The vast majority of our immune system, about 70% of it, is located in the gut microbiome. Unbalance in the composition of microbes there creates inflammation inside the intestinal linings, increasing gut permeability, leading to chronic inflammation elsewhere in the body – and disease.
This is my short hand explanation for how the connection works:
Chronic imbalance of microbes in the gut –> chronic inflammation in the gut –> increased gut permeability –> chronic inflammation elsewhere in the body –> diseases in the gut and/or elsewhere in the body
These signaling irregularities affect our emotions, mental abilities, behaviors, and perception of and reactions to pain (nociception). The whole system is something like an enormous, highly complex switchboard. If something interferes with signaling somewhere in the system, a circuit can malfunction and perhaps cause the entire switchboard to break down.
Chronic imbalances in our gut bacteria that lead to gut-brain axis signaling irregularities can also lead to a wide variety of other health problems – including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, migraines, thyroid problems, dental issues, cancers, degenerative neurological diseases, obesity, ADD/ADHD, allergies, asthma, autism, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic Lyme disease … and many, many more. And they all begin with the health of the several pounds of miniscule critters living in our gut microbiomes.
Our gut microbiome, the 100 trillion micro-organisms (500-1,000 species of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other tiny life forms) living in our intestinal linings, is so important to the proper functioning of the entire body that many scientists now regard it as an organ in and of itself. The theory is that these micro-organisms communicate with the nervous system using some of the same neurochemicals the body uses to relay messages in the brain. (Smith, 2015)
These several pounds of micro-organisms in our guts secrete a large number of neurochemicals, including dopamine, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the very same chemicals our neurons use to communicate and regulate mood – and chemicals that also play a role in GI disorders, which, not strangely, are associated with high levels of depression and anxiety. (Smith, 2015)
ANXIETY, OBSESSIVE BEHAVIOR, LEAKY GUT AND BACTEROIDES FRAGILIS
In 2013, microbiology researchers Mazmanian and Hsiao published research results that linked a specific variety of probiotic bacteria with anxious behaviors in mice. The mice were known to have alterations in their gut microbiota and GI barrier defects (increased gut permeability, AKA leaky gut) and also exhibited anxious, obsessive behaviors (such as obsessively burying marbles). When they were given oral doses of one of two strains of the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis (probiotic bacteria found in normal gut flora), both their GI problems and maladaptive behaviors improved. (Hsiao et al, 2013) (Smith, 2015)
STRESS, DEPRESSION AND THE PROBIOTICS LACTOBACILLUS AND BIFIDOBACTERIUM
A recent study found that a combination of the probiotics Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum (probiotic bacteria found in healthy human gut microbiomes) reduced anxiety, depression, and stress levels and improved coping strategies. (Messaoudi, 2011)
Our psychological and physiological reactions to fear and stress play a large role in depression. People suffering from major depression also have elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone our adrenals release to get us ready to fight for our lives or flee from the danger. Back when we frequently encountered predatory animals and were often in a fight or flight situation, this elevated release of cortisol was a very useful thing.
What often happens now is that we live in a state of chronic cortisol overproduction, over stimulated, afraid, unable to calm down, wearing out our adrenals. Chronically elevated cortisol production interferes with learning and memory, lowers immune functioning, decreases bone density, increases weight gain, raises blood pressure and cholesterol levels, leads to heart disease, increases risk for depression and anxiety, decreases resilience – and is generally exhausting. A combination of the probiotics, Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum, was found to reduce cortisol levels. (Berglund, 2013) (Davidson, 2014)
GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is our central nervous system’s chief inhibitory neurotransmitter, playing a central role in reducing neuronal excitability throughout the body and regulating muscle tone. (Wikipedia, 2015)
Many physiological and psychological processes associated with depression, including negative ruminations, can be traced to a deficiency in the neurotransmitter GABA. Microbes that actively secrete GABA in the gut have been identified by researchers. Chief among them are strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Bifidobacterium longum has anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and antimutagenic properties and may protect you from developing colon cancer. It’s present in breast milk and is one of the first probiotics to colonize a newborn’s gut.
Swiss and Emmenthaler cheeses contain Lactobacillus helveticus. (We’re talking about real cheeses, not the tasteless, processed kinds often found prepackaged in the US.)
Bifodobacterium longum is found in unprocessed yogurts, various types of fermented dairy foods (kefir’s a good choice), and fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut.
Good news for those of us who love dark chocolate: The plentiful polyphenols in dark chocolate serve as PREbiotics, nourishing the beneficial Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in our guts. (Davidson, 2014) The higher the cacao and lower the sugar content the better. Organic and fair trade also if possible.
Both L. helveticus and B. longum can also be taken as supplements.
MOOD, OXYTOCIN AND LACTOBACILLUS REUTERI
A team of biologists at MIT found that another probiotic strain, Lactobacillus reuteri, improved mood, restored a youthful appearance to the skin, and promoted general health by increasing levels of oxytocin, the love hormone. (Davidson, 2015)
L. reuteri is one of the fastest colonizing probiotic bacteria available. This is a good thing – colonizing probiotic strains of bacteria in your gut can restore your health.
ANXIETY, DEPRESSION AND LACTOBACILLUS RHAMNOSUS (Davidson, 2014) (Mercola, 2011) (Saey, 2011)
Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a bacterial strain that has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in anxious mice.
GABA, the central nervous system’s principal inhibitory neurotransmitter, regulates many physiological and psychological processes in the body. Alterations in GABA receptor expression are linked to the the development of anxiety and depression.
Study results published in 2011 shed light on exactly how L. rhamnosus in the gut impacts the brain’s chemistry.
The researchers found that the probiotic L. rhamnosus markedly affected GABA levels in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.
When the vagus nerve was severed, GABA receptor levels and the animals’ behavior remained unchanged after treatment with L. rhamnosus, confirming that the vagus nerve is most likely the primary pathway of communication between the bacteria in the gut and the brain.
The researchers allow that the vagus nerve is the obvious communication route but perhaps not the only one, that messaging may also occur via other nerves or chemicals in the blood.
If you doubt there’s a direct connection between the health of the gut microbiome and mental health, keep in mind that functional bowel disorders and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression are generally comorbid (they generally occur together).
Strains of L. rhamnosus are found in some dairy products such as live culture yogurts, cheeses (eg, real Parmigiano Reggiano), and kefir. They’re also found in fermented dry sausages and some fermented soy cheeses. (Panyko, 2015)
PAIN, CHRONIC FATIGUE, DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND LACTOBACILLUS ACIDOPHILUS
Lactobacillus acidophilus improves the functioning of canabinoid receptors in the spinal cord that are important for regulating pain perception. (Davidson, 2014)
A 2009 study to see if treatment with live L. acidophilus was helpful for chronic fatigue syndrome and the depression that’s part of it showed promising results. When the researchers supplemented chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers with a live casie strain of L. acidophilus for two months, they saw a significant decrease in the subjects’ depression, anxiety, and general emotional distress. (Rao et al, 2009)
Food sources of L. acidophilus include live culture yogurt and other fermented foods such as sauerkraut, sauerkraut juice, kimchi, miso, chutneys, and kefir.
SEROTININ, CHRONIC INFLAMMATION AND BIFIDOBACTERIUM INFANTIS
A number of microbes can produce other neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. For example, Bifidobacterium infantis, taken as an probotic, alters serotonin levels – just like Prozac but without the undesirable side effects. (Davidson, 2014)
Bifidobacterium infantis has been clinically demonstrated to be very good at reducing the symptoms caused by chronic immune activation in the gut, autoimmune diseases, and excessive cortisol release. So it, along with some other probiotic bacteria, is a good choice for people with leaky gut, IBS, IBD, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease. (Nootriment, 2015)
Infantis in this bacteria’s name indicates that it’s a strain vitally important for infant health. B. infantis is usually one of the first probiotics mothers pass on to their babies during vaginal births. Many scientists and doctors therefore recommend that pregnant women take it as a supplement.
The main benefit from B. infantis is to improve digestion and protect us against infection and sickness. It has also been shown to fight allergies and prevent kidney stones. It accomplishes all this by producing large amounts of acid to make our digestive tracts and vaginas inhospitable to pathogenic bacteria and parasites. (Jerkunica, 2015)
If you’ve decided to add ready-made fermented foods like sauerkraut or pickles to your diet for their probiotic benefits, remember it’s only the truly fermented versions that are helpful. The ones made with vinegar, although they may say ‘pickled’ on their labels, aren’t actually fermented and don’t offer any probiotic or enzymatic benefits. Look for the fermented versions in the refrigerated areas in stores.
Fermented foods contain living cultures. Refrigeration slows down the fermentation process. The brine may be cloudy – full of lactic acid bacterial growth (the desirable probiotics) created during fermentation. The jar lids may be slightly swollen from the ongoing fermentation process. Fermented pickles have a complex taste – they’re alive on your tongue. Pickles made with vinegar taste like vinegar.
Years ago, when I was living in Cambridge, MA, my neighborhood grocery store was Savenor’s. Mrs Savenor kept a huge, wooden pickle barrel next to the checkout counter. The top of the barrel was open. The brine was cloudy, sometimes scummy looking, and every once in a while the barrel emitted a big belch of gas. I thought the whole thing was unsanitary and never bought her pickles. Now I wish I’d known then what I’ve since learned about the benefits of that living culture.
Savenor’s was also where Julia Child shopped for her meats. The Childs lived in the neighborhood of beautiful big houses on the north side of Kirkland Street. I was in the neighborhood of old apartment buildings on the south side of Kirkland, where students and other people with little money lived.
Here’s a fond memoir about Mrs Savenor by one of her grandsons, Alan Savenor: How a Matriarch Ran Savenor’s. She was a character. Reputedly, she’d smuggled her young boys out of Lithuania by walking across the border with them under her voluminous, floor length skirt when the Nazis set about exterminating all the Jews there.
For those of you interested in improving your gut microbiomes and overall health by eating probiotic-rich foods, here’s a good article on Probiotics & Fermented Foods written by the Sacramento Natural Foods Coop.
YOUR BRAIN ON BUGS
This is what pioneering Integrative Health doc J. E. Williams, OMD, has to say about psychobiotics and how best to get them into your body:
“Microbiota, those microscopic bugs that live in your body—mainly in the gut—can influence brain chemistry and consequently behavior. We know that Clostridium difficile, the nasty gut hospital-based gut infection that kills 14,000 people each year in the U.S., is associated with depression and dementia. Two antidepressants, mirtazapine (Remeron) and fluoxetine (Prozac), are linked to a nearly 50 percent increased risk for Clostridium difficile infection.
“Doctors have long known that foods and changes in the gastrointestinal system are associated with mood changes. Does the pathway to happiness actually exist in your gut?
Sources of Psychobiotics
“Probiotics come in a variety of forms, from powders and capsules to foods such as yogurt, dairy drinks, infant formulas, cheese, and even some energy snack bars. Any of these forms may be effective for digestive problems as long as they contain the right kind of beneficial organisms in adequate numbers.
“In my clinical experience, I’ve found that supplements with live friendly bacteria in high dosages are more effective for treatment of depression, immune deficiency, and gastrointestinal problems then consuming yogurt or fermented vegetables alone.
“We’re finding that most diseases, including psychiatric illnesses, have inflammation as their root cause. Inflammation is associated with immune system imbalance and disruption of hormone activity. Probiotics may also influence how your genes work. Psychobiotics could target genes responsible influencing neurotransmitters like GABA that have a strong connection to mood and behavior.
“We know that “gluten brain” is a type of mental fog common in people with gluten sensitivity. People with gluten sensitivity feel better when eliminating wheat, but the benefit is limited. If you have tried the gluten-free diet and wonder what’s next, consider psychobiotics
“The autonomic nervous system links the brain and gut largely through the vagus nerve. More than 90 percent of the body’s serotonin, a feel good neurotransmitter, lies within the gut. In fact, your gut has a mind of its own and it’s called the enteric nervous system.
“Changes in diet have immediate effects on the bacterial composition in your gut. Antibiotics have disastrous effects on gut bacteria. Now we have good research and more than enough clinical evidence that specialized probiotic bacteria are essential for health, and also profoundly influence mood.
“So, it’s not surprising that when your gut is healthier, so is your brain and mood. Your immune system works better too, so you have fewer episodes of the cold and/or flu.”
– Williams, 2014
IS YOUR FATE IN YOUR GENES?: GENETICS VS EPIGENETICS
If there’s been mental illness – say depression, anxiety or panic disorder, OCD, autism, schizophrenia – in your family as far back as anyone can remember, you needn’t feel that you or your children are doomed. Genetics is the study of genes, heredity, and genetic variation in living organisms. Epigenetics is the study of factors that turn genes on and off and affect how cells read genes.
Your genetics account for only 25% of the chance you’ll develop a disease. The other 75% is environmental (both internal and external) and therefore largely up to you. So take very good care of your gut microbiome. Provide it with lots of good microbes (probiotics and psychobiotics) to keep a good balance in there and avoid the bad ones (bacterial pathogens and other toxins) as much as possible.
This is also true of genetic predispositions for heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and pretty much every other illness. You are not a prisoner of your genes. Probiotics influence activity in our genes, allowing them to express their contents in a positive, disease-fighting manner.
Research has shown that probiotic bacteria produce positive changes in the mucosal lining of the small intestines which affect gene activity and cellular reactions.
“Consumption of a dairy drink containing three strains of probiotic bacteria was associated with changes in the activity of hundreds of genes, with the changes resembling the effects of certain medicines in the human body, including medicines that positively influence the immune system and those for lowering blood pressure.”
– Mercola, 2010
STAY TUNED! There’s lots of good research being done now on the relationship between probiotics in the gut, mood – and pretty much every other working of the body.
Many thanks to both Liz Poirier and Alex Tatusian for pointing me to the New York Times Magazine article by Peter Andrey Smith, which prompted this post: Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood? It’s very good and I recommend reading it.
Berglund, C. (2013). Cortisol: Why “The Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1: 5 simple ways to lower your cortisol levels without drugs. See: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1
Davidson, J. (2014). Nature’s Bounty: The Psychobiotic Revolution. Psychology Today. See: https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201404/natures-bounty-the-psychobiotic-revolution
Dinan, T.G., Stanton, C., Cryan, J.F. (2013). Psychobiotics: A Novel Class of Psychotropic. Biological Psychiatry: A Journal of Psychiatric Neuroscience and Therapeutics. See: http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(13)00408-3/abstract
Hsiao, E.Y. et al. (2013). Microbiota modulate behavioral and physiological abnormalities associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. Cell, 155:7, 1451-63. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24315484
Jerkunica, E. (2015). Facts About B. Infantis Probiotic Strain. See: http://probiotics.org/9-health-benefits-of-bifidobacterium-infantis/
Mercola, R. (2010). The Healing Power of Probiotics Impresses Researchers. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/11/probiotics-healing-power-impresses-researchers.aspx
Mercola, R. (2011). Hike Up Your Happy Hormones With Probiotic Supplements. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/22/this-supplement-can-actually-make-you-happy.aspx
Messaoudi, M. et al. (2011). Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition, 105:5, 755-64. See
Nootriment. (2015). Bifidobacterium Infantis Probiotic Supplements Review. See: http://nootriment.com/bifidobacterium-infantis/
Panyko, J. (2015). Lactobacillus rhamnosus: Probiotic Bacteria with Impressive Health Benefits. See: http://www.powerofprobiotics.com/Lactobacillus-rhamnosus.html
Rao, A.V. et al. (2009). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Gut Pathogens, 1:6. See: http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/1/1/6
Sacramento Natural Foods Coop. (undated). Probiotics & Fermented Foods. See: http://www.sacfoodcoop.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=438%3Aprobiotics-a-fermented-foods&catid=59%3Aconsumer-guides&lang=us&Itemid=65
Saey, T. H. (2011). Belly bacteria boss the brain: Gut microbes can change neurochemistry and influence behavior. Science. News. See: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/belly-bacteria-boss-brain
Savenor, A. (2013). How a Matriarch Ran Savenor’s. See: http://www.theeditorial.com/think/2013/12/10/how-a-matriarch-ran-savenors
Smith, P.A. (6/28/2015). Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood? New York Times Magazine. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/can-the-bacteria-in-your-gut-explain-your-mood.html?_r=1
Wikipedia. (6/23/2015). gamma-Aminobutyric acid. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma-Aminobutyric_acid
Williams, J.E. (2014). YOUR BRAIN ON BUGS—WILL BACTERIA BE THE NEXT TREATMENT FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION? See: http://renegadehealth.com/blog/2014/02/28/your-brain-on-bugs-will-bacteria-be-the-next-treatment-for-anxiety-and-depression
© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
I can’t count the times I’ve been assured something is gluten free only to discover 20 minutes later that it wasn’t. This post is for those of us who have celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or gluten allergy … practical advice from Functional Medicine doc Amy Myers on what to do if you’ve accidentally consumed some gluten. These are Dr Myers’ recommendations for what to do when you realize you’ve been zapped:
If you are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease you know all too well about accidentally ingesting gluten — otherwise known as getting “glutened.”
The outward manifestation of getting glutened may be different for everyone, and can cause a variety of symptoms such as brain fog, diarrhea, constipation, headache, rash, weakness, joint pain, swelling, vomiting, and fatigue. However, inside your gut the effects are essentially the same; gluten is wreaking havoc. Gluten causes inflammation and damage to the intestines. Ridding yourself of this inflammatory protein, reducing inflammation and healing your gut from the damage are essential to recovering as quickly as possible.
3 Steps To Recover After Getting Glutened
1. The more quickly you can get the gluten out of your system, the better you’ll feel.
These three things will help you do that promptly and effectively:
Digestive Enzymes. Digestive enzymes help speed up the breakdown and absorption of macronutrients. Be sure to take an enzyme that includes dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP-IV), which helps break down gluten specifically. In fact, I recommend that those with celiac and gluten intolerance take enzymes with DPP-IV when dining out.
Binding agents. Activated charcoal and bentonite clay bind toxins and help reduce gas and bloating. It’s best to increase water intake when taking either of these to avoid constipation, which will only delay healing.
Hydration. Fluids will help flush your system and keep you hydrated if you’re vomiting or have diarrhea. In addition to regular water, you can try coconut water, which contains electrolytes that may have been lost through vomiting or diarrhea.
2. Decrease inflammation.
Inflammation occurs naturally in our body when there has been an insult or injury to it. Decreasing this inflammation is essential to healing your gut. These three things will help you reduce inflammation quickly:
Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oils, flax and chia seeds are full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. I recommend 1-2 grams of omega-3 oils daily. You can go up to 4 grams a day for a week after accidental gluten ingestion.
Ginger has high levels of gingerol, which gives it a natural spicy flavor and acts as an anti-inflammatory in the body. It also has potent anti-nausea properties and can ease stomach cramping. I like to drink warm ginger tea as a comforting, anti-inflammatory beverage.
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family that contains the active ingredient curcumin, which is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. My anti-inflammatory smoothie with turmeric is a great drink to help you quickly recover from getting glutened.
3. Heal your gut.
Nearly 70% of our immune system is in our gut. Having a healthy gut is crucial for optimal health. The six things below will help you heal your gut.
Probiotics. Routinely, I recommend taking a highly concentrated probiotic (25-100 billion units) a day. I advise my patients to “double-up” on their probiotic dose for a week after a gluten exposure.
L-Glutamine. Glutamine is an amino acid that is great for repairing damage to the gut, helping the gut lining to regrow and repair, undoing the damage caused by gluten. I recommend 3-5 grams a day for a week after exposure.
Slippery elm. Slippery elm contains mucilage, which stimulates nerve endings in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to increase its secretion of mucus. Mucus forms a barrier in the gut to protect it and promote healing.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). DGL is an herb that’s been used for more than 3,000 years in the treatment of digestive issues, including ulcers and indigestion. DGL also supports the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the GI tract.
Marshmallow root is a multipurpose supplement that can be used for respiratory or digestive relief. Like slippery elm, it contains mucilage, which eases the inflammation in the stomach lining, heals ulcers, and treats both diarrhea and constipation by creating a protective lining on the digestive tract.
Bone broth is very high in the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine and proline. The gelatin in bone broth protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract that may get disrupted by being glutened.
Once you realize that you have been glutened, implement this three-step approach as soon as possible. If you are not seeing any improvement in your symptoms after three days or you’re getting worse. I would advise you to follow up with your physician.
See Dr Myers’ entire article here.
To learn more about Dr Myers and peruse her useful website go to http://www.amymyersmd.com/ .
Myers, A. (2014). 3 Steps to Recover After Getting Glutened. See: http://www.amymyersmd.com/2013/08/3-steps-to-recover-after-getting-glutened/
© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
Last updated 6/2/2015.
Gluten is a protein found in many grains and seeds, principally wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, and triticale. It is the composite of the storage proteins gliadin and a glutenin conjoined with starch in the endosperm of various grass-related grains. (Wikipedia, 5/29/2015)
Although gluten-containing foods are an important part of the modern diet, many humans have difficulty digesting gluten. The effects of this trouble can be immediately apparent in some people while in others, deleterious reactions to gluten make themselves known only over time.
As many as 20 million Americans may be sensitive to gluten. Another 3 million have celiac disease and 400,000 – 600,000 are allergic to wheat. (Woodward, 2011)
That’s a lot of people!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF GLUTEN IN THE HUMAN DIET (Guthrie, 2010)
The consumption of grains is relatively new to our diet, dating from when we stopped being nomadic hunter-gatherers, settled down and started growing crops and domesticating animals, 15,000 years ago at the earliest. Before that time, our ancestors mostly ate the meat of animals they hunted, along with wild fruits, plants, tubers, nuts, and seeds they foraged. The planting of dietary grains as crops originated in Mesopotamia.
Some of us have adapted well to our largely grain-filled diets. Many of us have not. For example, about 30% of northern Europeans carry genes for gluten problems.
Furthermore, the wheat we eat today is also considerably changed. In today’s modern version of wheat, up to 90% of its protein content now consists of gluten – 10 times what it was even 100 years ago.
Einkorn (ancient wheat) vs Modern Wheat
In people with celiac disease, ingesting gluten causes the body to attack the small intestine. For the 30-40% of people who have a non-celiac gluten intolerance, the immune system mistakes gluten for a foreign body (a pathogenic bacteria or virus) and mobilizes an arsenal of antibodies to attack the ‘invader’. For me, even the small amount of gluten on French fries cooked in oil shared by a flour-containing food (eg, something breaded) is enough to set off a full blown gluten reaction.
On average, an American consumes about 150 pounds of wheat each year. We get it in the processed foods we rely on, breads, baked goods, pasta. There’s also gluten in many commercially produced seasonings and most bacon. Wheat flour is used widely as a breading and thickening agent. I recently learned the hard way that even some nutritional supplements contain gluten.
Think about what you ate today. Did you have toast, a muffin, a bagel, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal (usually processed in factories that also process wheat) for breakfast? A sandwich, pizza, a Big Mac, soup thickened with flour, soy sauce (it’s brewed with wheat) for lunch? Cookies, pretzels or a doughnut as a snack? A beer (brewed with wheat) after work? Pasta and some cake for dinner?
That’s gluten in every meal you ate!
Here’s a list of foods containing gluten. It’s a good start but by no means complete. Gluten can also be a hidden ingredient in some very unexpected places – your lipstick, cosmetics, hair products, toothpastes, marinades, sauces, pretty much all processed foods, textured vegetable protein, seitan, imitation crab stick, MSG, ketchup, candies, communion wafers, some pharmaceuticals and nutritional supplements, Play Doh … and many, many more.
CELIAC DISEASE (Fasano et al, 2003)
Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine triggered in genetically susceptible people by the ingestion of gluten. Specifically, CD is a reaction to the gliadin, a protein which is the soluble part of gluten, found in wheat and several other cereals in the grass genus Triticum.
See this University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center site for a list of the approximately 300 symptoms and conditions potentially due to celiac disease. You’ll see why trying to diagnose celiac disease from symptoms alone can be quite confusing.
The long term health effects of undiagnosed CD can be quite serious.
Biopsy of the mucosal lining of a healthy small intestine: long villi providing a large area for digestion and absorption of nutrients
Biopsy of a small intestine with celiac disease: blunted villi, crypt hyperplasia, and lymphocyte infiltration of crypts
Although common in Europe, until 2003, celiac disease was thought to be rare in the United States.
Research led by world-renowned expert on celiac disease, Alessio Fasano, MD, corrected that assumption. Dr Fasano is Chief, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and Professor of Pediatric Gastroenterology and the W. Allan Walker Chair of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
Fasano conducted the largest rigorous study ever performed to establish the prevalence of celiac disease in at-risk and not-at-risk groups in the US.
13,145 subjects from 32 states participated in this study: 3,236 symptomatic patients (with either GI symptoms or a disorder associated with CD), 4,508 1st degree and 1,275 2nd degree relatives of patients with biopsy-proven CD, and 4,126 not-at-risk individuals. The age distribution of the study’s subjects, infants to 65 and older, corresponded with the age distribution of the population as reported in the US Census of 2000.
Subjects defined as ‘at-risk’ were relatives of patients with CD or patients who presented with CD-associated symptoms (diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation) or with CD-associated disorders (type 1 diabetes mellitus, Down syndrome, anemia, arthritis, osteoporosis, infertility, and short stature).
The results suggested that celiac disease:
“… occurs frequently not only in patients with gastrointestinal symptoms, but also in first- and second-degree relatives and patients with numerous common disorders even in the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms. The prevalence of CD in symptomatic patients and not-at-risk subjects was similar to that reported in Europe. Celiac disease appears to be a more common but neglected disorder than has generally been recognized in the United States….
“The prevalence of CD was as high in first- and second-degree relatives without symptoms as in relatives with symptoms, highlighting the importance of genetic predisposition as a risk factor for CD….
” If CD is as common in the United States as our study suggests, one must question why it is not diagnosed more frequently. Foremost among the possible explanations is that if physicians believe that CD is rare, they are less likely to test for it. A failure by physicians to appreciate that many individuals with the disease initially present without gastrointestinal symptoms is another reason why CD testing may not be performed….
“The prevalence of CD in symptomatic patients and not-at-risk subjects was similar to that reported in Europe. Given the high morbidity and mortality related to untreated CD and the prolonged delay in diagnosis in the United States, serologic testing of at-risk patients (ie, case finding) is important to alleviate unnecessary suffering, prevent complications, and improve the quality of life of a multitude of individuals with CD.”
Prevalence of Celiac Disease Worldwide
The number of people clinically diagnosed with celiac disease has been rising dramatically around the world and is now considered a major public health issue. In 2010, diagnosed celiac was four times more common than it had been 60 years ago, affecting about one in 100 people. (Mayo Clinic, 2010)
The ratio of clinically diagnosed to undiagnosed cases of CD (people who have celiac reactions to gluten, often without the usual GI symptoms) is now believed to be 1:3 to 1:5. (Catassi et al, 2014)
GLUTEN SENSITIVITY (AKA GLUTEN INTOLERANCE) (Woodward, 2011)
In 2011, Alicia Woodward, the editor of Living Without, interviewed Dr Fasano about his research that showed gluten sensitivity is real and a medical condition distinct from celiac disease. When she asked him about the import of having demonstrated the existence of gluten sensitivity, Dr Fasano replied:
“In my humble opinion, it’s a big deal. First, we’ve moved gluten sensitivity, also called gluten intolerance, from a nebulous condition to a distinct entity—and one that’s very distinct from celiac disease. Gluten sensitivity affects 6 to 7 times more people than celiac disease so the impact is tremendous. Second, we now understand that reactions to gluten are on a spectrum. The immune system responds to gluten in different ways depending on who you are and your genetic disposition. Third, there’s a lot of confusion in terms of gluten reactions. Gluten and autism, gluten and schizophrenia—is there a link or not? These debates are on their way to being settled. And fourth and most important, for the first time we can advise those people who test negative for celiac disease but insist they’re having a bad reaction to gluten that there may be something there, that they’re not making it up, that they’re not hypochondriacs. Once it’s established that a patient has a bad reaction to gluten, it’s important to determine which part of the spectrum he or she is on before engaging in treatment, which is the gluten-free diet.”
Given that celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and gluten allergy share many clinical symptoms, Woodward wondered if people can move along the spectrum to a more serious version of difficulty with gluten:
“No, I don’t think so. The three main conditions—celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy—are based on very different mechanisms in the immune system. Given that fact, it’s hard to imagine the possibility that you could jump from one to the other.”
Fasano had this to say about why so many humans are having such negative reactions to gluten after generations of wheat consumption:
“Although we’ve been eating wheat for thousands of years, we are not engineered to digest gluten. We are able to completely digest every protein we put in our mouths with the exception of one—and that’s gluten. Gluten is a weird protein. We don’t have the enzymes to dismantle it completely, leaving undigested peptides that can be harmful. The immune system may perceive them as an enemy and mount an immune response.”
Fasano offered an explanation for why we’re now seeing such an explosion of gluten-related health problems:
“Two components are coming together to create this perfect storm. First, the grains we’re eating have changed dramatically. In our great-grandparents era, wheat contained very low amounts of gluten and it was harvested once a year. Now we’ve engineered our grains to substantially increase yields and contain characteristics, like more elasticity, that we like. We’re susceptible to the consequences of these extremely rich, gluten-containing grains. Second, and this applies to the prevalence of celiac disease that’s increased 4-fold in the last 40 years, is the upward trend we’re seeing in all autoimmune diseases. We’re changing our environment faster than our bodies can adapt to it.”
Woodward mentioned that she’d heard him say gluten sensitivity is where celiac disease was 30 years ago:
“It’s déjà vu. The patients, as usual, were visionary, telling us this stuff existed but healthcare professionals were skeptical. The confusion surrounding gluten sensitivity—testing, biomarkers—is exactly the same confusion we had around celiac disease 30 years ago. So we’re starting all over again now.”
Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity:
Most patients with gluten sensitivity reported 2 or more symptoms (Fasano et al, 2011)
See Q & A with Alessio Fasano, MD: The latest on gluten sensitivity and celiac disease for the entire interview.
See Divergence of gut permeability and mucosal immune gene expression in two gluten-associated conditions: celiac disease and gluten sensitivity to read about Fasano et al’s study comparing celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. It’s a long scientific article but you can skip down to the short Conclusions section if you wish.
The researchers concluded that CD and GS are “distinct clinical entities caused by different intestinal mucosal responses to gluten.” “CD results from a complex, and as yet undetermined, interplay of increased intestinal permeability, mucosal damage, environmental factors in addition to gluten, and genetic predisposition” while “GS is associated with prevalent activation of an innate immune response.” (Sapone et al, 2011)
GLUTEN AND WHEAT ALLERGY (Mayo Clinic, 2015) (UCLA, 2015)
A gluten allergy is a specific, reproducible immune response to ingesting foods containing wheat or other sources of gluten – or, in some cases, even from inhaling gluten-containing flour. Wheat (along with peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, egg, fish, and shellfish) is one of the most common of the eight major recognized food allergens, responsible for 90% of all IgE (immunoglobulin E) – mediated food allergies.
In people with an IgE-mediated allergy to the gliadin found in gluten, exposure causes the release of antibodies to try to neutralize the gliadin. More rarely, the immune response to gluten may result from other specialized immune pathways (non-IgE mediated).
A wheat allergy typically presents as a food allergy but can also be a contact allergy (say from occupational exposure to wheat). Like all allergies, wheat allergy involves IgE and mast cell response.
“Typically the allergy is limited to the seed storage proteins of wheat, some reactions are restricted to wheat proteins, while others can react across many varieties of seeds and other plant tissues. Wheat allergy may be a misnomer since there are many allergenic components in wheat, for example serine protease inhibitors, glutelins and prolamins and different responses are often attributed to different proteins. Twenty-seven potential wheat allergens have been successfully identified.” (Wikipedia, 2/18/2015)
How the body reacts to an allergen
Symptoms of a gluten allergy develop within a few hours, often a few minutes after exposure, and include:
- Swelling, itching or irritation of the mouth or throat
- Hives, itchy rash or swelling of the skin
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Cramps, nausea or vomiting
Some people allergic to gluten may also experience anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Swelling or tightness of the throat
- Chest pain or tightness
- Severe difficulty breathing
- Trouble swallowing
- Pale, blue skin color
- Dizziness or fainting
- Fast heartbeat
Comparison of Gluten-Related Disorders
TESTING FOR GLUTEN PROBLEMS
While researching this post, I encountered conflicting information on the best ways to test for celiac disease and gluten allergy – and, in the case of gluten sensitivity, whether there even IS a test (see Update below). If you’re interested in getting tested, you may find this article by Integrative Medicine pioneer J.E. Williams, OMD, helpful: Learn the best tests for celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Update: In 2013 Dr Fasano reported he was confident that a clinical trial being conducted by his Center for Celiac Research, in collaboration with Second University of Naples, would identify a biomarker for non-celiac gluten sensitivity and that the discovery of such a biomarker would lead to the development of diagnostic tests for the condition. Patients were being enrolled for the clinical trial in January 2013. (Anderson, 2014). As far as I can tell, the results haven’t been published yet.
Many thanks to Frank Lipman, MD, for pointing me to Alessio Fasano’s work on celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and gluten allergy.
Anderson, J. (2014). Dr. Fasano: Gluten Sensitivity Biomarker Likely Coming. See: http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/glutenintolerance/fl/Dr-Fasano-Gluten-Sensitivity-Biomarker-Likely-Coming-Soon.htm
Catassi, C. et al. (2014). The New Epidemiology of Celiac Disease. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition, 59, S7-9. See: http://journals.lww.com/jpgn/Fulltext/2014/07001/The_New_Epidemiology_of_Celiac_Disease.5.aspx
Fasano, A. et al. (2003). Prevalence of Celiac Disease in At-Risk and Not-At-Risk Groups in the United States: A Large Multicenter Study. Archives of Internal Medicine, 163:3, 286-292. See: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleID=215079
Guthrie, C. (2010). GLUTEN: THE WHOLE STORY. See: https://experiencelife.com/article/gluten-the-whole-story/
Mayo Clinic. (2010). CELIAC DISEASE: ON THE RISE. See: http://www.mayo.edu/research/discoverys-edge/celiac-disease-rise
Mayo Clinic. (2015). Wheat allergy. See: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wheat-allergy/basics/definition/con-20031834
Misty. (2009). List of Foods Containing Gluten. See: http://www.whatcontainsgluten.com/2009/04/list-of-foods-containing-gluten.html
Sapone, A. et al. (2011). Divergence of gut permeability and mucosal immune gene expression in two gluten-associated conditions: celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. BioMed Central Medicine, 9:23. See: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/9/23
UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases. (2015). Celiac vs Gluten-Sensitivity vs Wheat Allergies. See: http://gastro.ucla.edu/site.cfm?id=281
University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. (undated). Symptoms and conditions potentially due to celiac disease. See: http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/CDCFactSheets10_SymptomList.pdf
Wikipedia. (5/29/2015). Gluten. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten
Wikipedia. (2/18/2015). Wheat Allergy. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheat_allergy
Williams, J.E. (2015). LEARN THE BEST TESTS FOR CELIAC DISEASE AND NON-CELIAC GLUTEN SENSITIVITY. See: http://renegadehealth.com/blog/2015/04/24/learn-the-best-tests-for-celiac-disease-and-non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity
Woodward, Al. (2011). Q & A with Alessio Fasano, MD: The latest on gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. See: http://www.glutenfreeandmore.com/issues/4_15/qa_augsep11-2554-1.html
© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
Updated 5/24/2015. Last updated 5/25/2015.
Those of us living in developed countries where we have multiple food choices often focus on our calorie intake while neglecting the health of our gut microbiome – the vast numbers and variety of microorganisms inside our intestines. We’re talking about several pounds of tiny critters – 10’s of trillions of them, including about 1,000 different species of bacteria made up of over 3 million genes all living and working in our intestinal walls to digest our food and keep our bodies healthy.
Some of the important functions of those multitudinous microorganisms in our guts (Gut Microbiota WorldWatch, 2015):
- Helping digest foods that the stomach and small intestine have not been able to digest
- Helping produce some vitamins (B and K)
- Helping combat aggressions from other microorganisms
- Maintaining the integrity of the intestinal mucosa
- Playing an important role in the immune system, performing a barrier effect
If you’re not keeping those pounds of critters healthy and in balance, you’re likely to become ill – perhaps not in the short run but as you move along through your life. The kinds of illnesses and conditions we’re talking about include acne, allergies, asthma, autism, cancer, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, depression, diabetes, eczema, endocrine imbalances, endometriosis, Graves’ disease, some heart disease, infertility, juvenile arthritis, lupus, Lyme disease (chronic), MS, myesthenia gravis, peripheral neuropathy, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, rheumatic fever, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, vitiligo … and many more.
A HEALTHY VERSUS A DAMAGED GUT LINING
Isn’t the image below graceful and beautiful? It shows the villi, mucosal cells in the lining of a healthy small intestine. The mucosal layer is where our probiotic microorganisms live and work. It’s also home to the body’s largest population of immune cells.
Now compare that lovely image to the one below. This person’s intestinal villi have been seriously damaged by celiac disease:
Here’s another image of damaged intestinal villi. There are holes where there should be intact cells that allow only needed nutrients to get through the intestinal walls into the blood stream. These holes allow larger particles of undigested food and toxins through and the body attacks them as invading pathogens, producing an inflammatory response.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN AN UNHEALTHY GUT MICROBIOME, CHRONIC INFLAMMATION AND AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
As someone who’s now having to work hard to repair a very damaged gut lining and reverse several autoimmune conditions – the result of being given infant formula instead of breast milk, childhood exposure to heavy metals (fluoride in my formula and in my city’s water supply, mercury fillings), many courses of antibiotics in adulthood – I assure you it’s wise to nurture your gut microbiome so your gut lining resembles that first, beautiful slide above and is never allowed to turn into the second or third.
A diagram of how damage to the intestinal lining leads to increased gut permeability – also called Leaky Gut:
And another graphic depicting how damage to the gut’s mucosal lining allows undigested food particles and toxins to escape into the body, where they cause an inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation –> autoimmune responses –> disease.
See INCREASED GUT PERMEABILITY – CAUSES & CONSEQUENCES for more information on Leaky Gut and some great images of what the inside walls of our intestines look like.
POLYPHENOL PREBIOTICS HELP HEAL DAMAGED GUT LININGS
Now that we’ve covered the importance of the probiotic microorganisms living in your gut microbiome, I hope you’re ready for some really good news!
It’s about polyphenols and how they can help us repair our overall health by restoring the health of our gut linings. Polyphenols are a type of PREbiotic, the kind of nutrient that feeds your PRObiotics.
PREbiotics and PRObiotics
Polyphenols are anti-oxidant micro-nutrients derived from a variety of plants that increase the amount of good bacteria (probiotics) and inhibit the amount of bad bacteria in our guts. They also act as PREbiotics. (Marksteiner, 2014)
This table shows the 100 richest sources of dietary polyphenols. (Pérez-Jiménez, 2015)
Strong evidence is accumulating that polyphenols’ play an important role in preventing degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. (Manach et al, 2004)
Now a start up company in California, Greenteaspoon, has formulated a combination of nutrients called Preliva™ from plant extracts rich in polyphenols.
Prepare for a radical improvement in your digestion and your general health! Greenteaspoon’s Good Gut Daily is a tasty, liquid dietary supplement containing antioxidant, PREbiotic polyphenols for protecting or rebuilding a healthy gut.
Preliva™, the proprietary active formula in Good Gut Daily, is made from plant extracts rich in bio-available polyphenols. The results of a large double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical study, published in the peer-reviewed publication the World Journal of Gastroenterology (Noguera et al, 2014), strongly support the prebiotic potential of the polyphenol blend in Preliva™ to:
Strengthen the protective digestive lining
Nourish the body’s good microflora (the friendly digestive microbes living in our guts
Reduce digestive distress – diarrhea, stomach discomfort and bloating
Strengthen your immunity
Fight immune burnout
Combat symptoms of stress
Support your overall well being
Greenteaspoon makes three versions of Good Gut Daily in a variety of flavors and sizes:
GOOD GUT DAILY NATURAL IMMUNE HEALTH
Good Gut Daily Natural Immune Health is formulated to strengthen your immunity and support your overall well-being.
Good Gut Daily Natural Immune Health is designed for people with ongoing digestive problems, food sensitivities or ‘leaky gut’ symptoms – including acute digestive issues like gastroenteritis, travelers sickness, diarrhea, gas, bloating, or an upset stomach. Taken daily, it protects your digestive system and can decrease digestive distress.
What it does:
- Fights immune burnout
- Clinically proven to calm digestion
- Reinforces your digestive lining
- Combats symptoms of stress, diarrhea, stomach discomfort and bloating
Who it’s for:
Good Gut Daily Natural Immune Health is for people actively trying to improve and manage their ongoing immune health.
- Mango Passion Fruit
Available in three sizes:
- 2-oz quick-shots (sold in 12-packs)
- 12-oz bottles (12 servings)
- 32-oz (32 servings)
Safe for children over age 2 and for adults of all ages.
GOOD GUT DAILY NATURAL DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Good Gut Daily Natural Digestive Health is designed to help you manage your ongoing digestive issues. Taken daily, it protects your digestive system and can decrease digestive distress.
What it does:
- Calms Your Digestive System
- Clinically Shown to Alleviate Occasional:
- Upset stomach
- Gas and bloating
- Nourishes Your Body’s Good Microflora
Who it’s for:
Good Gut Natural Digestive Health is for people with ongoing digestive problems, food sensitivities or ‘leaky gut’ symptoms – including acute digestive issues like Gastroenteritis, travelers sickness, diarrhea, gas, bloating or an upset stomach.
- 2-oz quick-shots (sold in 12-packs)
- 12-oz (12 servings)
- 32-oz (32 servings)
Safe for children over age 2 and for adults of all ages.
GOOD GUT RESCUE
Double strength Good Gut Rescue rapidly soothes the symptoms of digestive distress, alleviating occasional diarrhea, upset stomach, gas and bloating. Good for rapid-onset upset stomach and handy for travel.
What it does:
- Clinically Shown to Alleviate:
- Upset Stomach
- Gas & Bloating
Who it’s for:
Good Gut Rescue is for children and adults ages 2 and up with acute digestive issues like gastroenteritis, travelers sickness, diarrhea, gas and bloating or upset stomach.
How it works:
- Strengthens the protective digestive lining
- Supports friendly digestive microbes
- Reduces digestive distress
- Reduces inflammation
- Soothing Mint
- Honey Ginger
- 2-oz quick-shots (sold in 12-packs)
Safe for children over age 2 and for adults of all ages.
Ingredients NOT in Good Gut Daily
All the versions of Good Gut Daily contain NO calories, sugar, gluten, soy, dairy, or GMOs – and come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
TO BUY GOOD GUT DAILY
Good Gut Daily isn’t available at stores yet. You can order it on the Greenteaspoon website to try it for yourself.
Remember: If your gut microbiome is balanced and healthy, the rest of your body will be a nice happy place to live too.
A Personal Note:
My experience with Good Gut Daily is that it greatly improved my GI health (which had become bad again a few months ago) in just a few days (4 to be exact) – alone, without taking any of my usual PRObiotics or other nutritional supplements.
I started with a single 1-oz dose of Good Gut Daily’s Natural Digestive Health (the Mango-Passion Fruit flavor) and then increased to 1 oz in the AM (on an empty stomach, 30 minutes before breakfast) + another 1 oz 30 minutes before dinner. This 1 oz twice a day dosing calmed down my over-active gut and gave me back my energy, which had been disturbingly low during the previous weeks of GI upset.
I’ve been taking Good Gut Daily for about seven weeks now. My gut and the rest of my body never want to be without it. Rob Wotring, Greenteaspoon’s Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, is currently engaged in clinically testing a pill version for travel. I’m hoping it’ll be available before I leave for a long vacation this fall.
Rob Wotring at Greenteaspoon told me: “We’re convinced polyphenol prebiotics will play a huge role in advancing our understanding of the importance of the gut mucus layer in health and wellness.” Many highly respected scientists, doctors, and other health care professionals agree.
Good Gut Daily. (2015). Website. See: http://goodgutdaily.com/
Gut Microbiota WorldWatch. (2015). Everything you always wanted to know about the gut microbiota… See: http://www.gutmicrobiotawatch.org/en/gut-microbiota-info/
Hardin, J.R. (2015). Increased Gut Permeability – Causes & Consequences. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2015/05/10/increased-gut-permeability-causes-consequences/
Manach, C. et al. (2004). Polyphenols: food sources and bioavailability. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79:5, 727-747. See: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/5/727.full
Marksteiner, K. (2014). Do Polyphenols Improve Your Gut Bacteria? See: http://chriskresser.com/do-polyphenols-improve-your-gut-bacteria/
Noguera, T. et al. (2014). Resolution of acute gastroenteritis symptoms in children and adults treated with a novel polyphenol-based prebiotic. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 29:34, 12301-12307. See: http://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/full/v20/i34/12301.htm
Pérez-Jiménez, J. et al. (2015). Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. See http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v64/n3s/fig_tab/ejcn2010221t1.html
© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
Contrary to the assertion that margarine is a healthy choice and butter is a major culprit causing the high rates of heart disease and cancer plaguing developed countries, the exact opposite is true: Eating margarine (made from polyunsaturated fat) is associated with a wide range of diseases, and butter (made of naturally saturated fats from animal sources) is a healthy food!
The non-profit Weston A. Price Foundation has been a respected source of reliable information about nutrition and a strong voice against imitation foods since 1999. The Foundation is dedicated to “restoring nutrient-dense foods to the American diet through education, research and activism.” (Nienheiser, 2000)
Sally Fallon (author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrat as well as Founding President of the Weston A. Price Foundation) and Mary Enig (author of Know Your Fats : The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol) wrote:
When the fabricated food folks and apologists for the corporate farm realized that they couldn’t block America’s growing interest in diet and nutrition, a movement that would ultimately put an end to America’s biggest and most monopolistic industries, they infiltrated the movement and put a few sinister twists on information going out to the public. Item number one in the disinformation campaign was the assertion that naturally saturated fats from animal sources are the root cause of the current heart disease and cancer plague. Butter bore the brunt of the attack, and was accused of terrible crimes. The Diet Dictocrats told us that it was better to switch to polyunsaturated margarine and most Americans did. Butter all but disappeared from our tables, shunned as a miscreant.
This would come as a surprise to many people around the globe who have valued butter for its life-sustaining properties for millennia. When Dr. Weston Price studied native diets in the 1930’s he found that butter was a staple in the diets of many supremely healthy peoples. Isolated Swiss villagers placed a bowl of butter on their church altars, set a wick in it, and let it burn throughout the year as a sign of divinity in the butter. Arab groups also put a high value on butter, especially deep yellow-orange butter from livestock feeding on green grass in the spring and fall. American folk wisdom recognized that children raised on butter were robust and sturdy; but that children given skim milk during their growing years were pale and thin, with “pinched” faces.
Does butter cause disease? On the contrary, butter protects us against many diseases. (Fallon & Enig, 2000)
Want more information on butter?
HOW BUTTER IS BETTER
BUTTER IS HIGH IN IMPORTANT FAT-SOLUBLE VITAMINS
Butter contains high levels of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, E, and K2:
The retinoids (biologically active compounds occurring naturally in both plant and animal tissues) together are referred to as VITAMIN A. Vitamin A is necessary for bone growth, as well as reproductive and immune system health. It assists the skin and mucous membranes in repelling bacteria and viruses. A is essential to healthy vision and may slow declining retinal function in people with retinitis pigmentosa. And it is needed for thyroid and adrenal health. Butter is our best and most easily absorbed source of A. (Fallon & Enig, 2000), (Gunnars, 2015), (Weil, 2015A)
VITAMIN E complex (consisting of eight compounds) is a powerful, fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect cell membranes against damage caused by free radicals and prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Vitamin E is needed for structural and functional maintenance of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscles. It also helps in the making of red blood cells and maintenance of the body’s stores of vitamins A and K, iron, and selenium. E boosts immune health and protects against the oxidative damage leading to heart disease and cancers. It helps relieve symptoms of Alzheimer’s and may also prevent diabetes-related damage to the eyes. (Fallon & Enig, 2000), (Gunnars, 2015), (Weil, 2015B)
VITAMIN K2 is an essential nutrient, regulating blood clotting and is necessary for calcium metabolism. Another important role for K2 is activating proteins that control cell grown, meaning K2 is very important in cancer protection. It’s estimated that 80% of Americans get insufficient amounts of K2 in our diets, creating vulnerability to osteoporosis, stroke, heart attack, other forms of heart disease, inappropriate calcification (eg, heel spurs and kidney stones), brain disease, and cancers. Sources of vitamin K2 are fairly rare in modern diets. Butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows is very high in this vitamin. (Fallon & Enig, 2000), (Gunnars, 2015), (Mercola, 2012)
BUTTER FOR GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Children born to mothers who are deficient in vitamin A tend to have narrow faces and skeletons, small palates, crowded teeth, heart abnormalities, and abnormalities of the larger blood vessels. Extreme deprivation leads to blindness and other birth defects. Vitamin A is also important in the development of sex characteristics. Cholesterol, found in butterfat, is important in the development of the brain and nervous system. Low fat diets have been linked to failure to thrive in children. (Fallon & Enig, 2000)
BUTTER IS RICH IN HEALTHY, SATURATED FATS
Butter and naturally saturated fats from animal sources in general have never actually been shown to cause harm. In fact, studies have demonstrated that saturated fats RAISE our good cholesterol (HDL) and convert bad cholesterol (LDL) from small and dense particles to large particles, which are benign. Studies have found NO ASSOCIATION at all between saturated fats and cardiovascular disease. And here’s some interesting and excellent news: Butter contains many short and medium chain fats, which lead to improved satiety and increased fat burning.(Fallon & Enig, 2000), (Gunnars, 2015)
BUTTER LOWERS HEART ATTACK RISK. MARGARINE INCREASES THIS RISK.
Margarine is a highly processed food invented as a substitute for butter. Its main ingredient is vegetable oil with added emulsifiers, colorants, and various artificial ingredients. Vegetable oil is a liquid at room temperature so margarine is often hydrogenated to give it a harder consistency and extend its shelf life. Hydrogenation turns some of the vegetable oils into unhealthy trans fats.
Butter, which has been eaten for centuries, is made by churning the fatty portion (cream) from mammals’ milk (usually cows but also sheep, goats, buffalo and yaks) until it becomes spreadable. (Gunnars, 2015)
The chart below compares butter and margarine. Butter is the clear winner in health advantages while margarine is deleterious to our health. The last on each list is of particular interest to me since it’s well known that chronic inflammation leads to many serious conditions and diseases: Butter is anti-inflammatory. Margarine causes inflammation.
Butter is rich in selenium, an important anti-oxidant, and the lecithin in butter aids in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents. Vitamins A and E, found in butter, are also anti-oxidants. And of course, butter is a good dietary source of cholesterol, which turns out to be a potent anti-oxidant. Surprised? A survey done by the Medical Research Council found that men who consume butter had half the risk of developing heart disease compared to those eating margarine. (Fallon & Enig, 2000)
BUTTER IS A GOOD SOURCE OF BUTYRATE, A HEALTHY FATTY ACID
Dietary fiber exposed to bacteria in the colon gets turned into the 4-carbon fatty acid butyrate. This process is likely the main reason fiber has so many health benefits for humans. Butter, which is 3-4% butyrate, is another good dietary source of butyrate (in fact, butyr-ate‘s name is derived from butter). Research shows that rats consuming an unhealthy diet who were supplemented with butyrate didn’t gain weight. Instead, the butyrate increased their energy expenditure, reduced their food intake, improved mitochondrial function, and lowered fasting triglycerides and insulin. Butyrate is anti-inflammatory and powerfully protects the digestive systems in humans. (Gunnars, 2015)
BUTTER CONTAINS LOTS OF CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID
Butter, especially from the milk of grass fed animals, is an excellent source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), another important fatty acid which has beneficial effects on metabolism (it can lower body fat percentages in humans) and is even available as a weight loss supplement.
Many of the natural saturated fats in butter possess strong anti-cancer properties, including short and medium chain fatty acid chains that provide strong anti-tumor effects. Actually many of the saturated fats in butter have strong anti-cancer properties. Butter is rich in short and medium chain fatty acid chains having strong anti-tumor effects. The CLA in butter also provides protection against cancer. (Fallon & Eng, 2000)
BUTTER IS ASSOCIATED WITH LOWER OBESITY RATES
For decades we’ve been urged by many nutrition authorities to eat low-fat dairy products as a way to get our calcium without all those “bad” fats and calories. But that advice turned out to be detrimental to our health: eating high-fat dairy products is NOT ASSOCIATED WITH OBESITY.
Three respected public health researchers undertook a systematic literature review of observational studies on the relationship between dairy fat and high-fat dairy foods, obesity, and cardio-metabolic disease. They then integrated these findings with data from controlled studies showing effects of several minor dairy fatty acids on adiposity and cardio-metabolic risk factors, and data on how bovine feeding practices influence the composition of dairy fat.
The resulting paper, published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2013, was titled “The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease”.
What the researchers found:
In 11 of 16 studies, high-fat dairy intake was inversely associated with measures of adiposity. Studies examining the relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and metabolic health reported either an inverse or no association. Studies investigating the connection between high-fat dairy intake and diabetes or cardiovascular disease incidence were inconsistent.
The observational evidence does not support the hypothesis that dairy fat or high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity or cardio-metabolic risk, and suggests that high-fat dairy consumption within typical dietary patterns is inversely associated with obesity risk. Although not conclusive, these findings may provide a rationale for future research into the bioactive properties of dairy fat and the impact of bovine feeding practices on the health effects of dairy fat. (Kratz, Baars & Guyenet, 2013)
The cardio-metabolic risks referred to are: high blood pressure, high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol level. This cluster of symptoms is often referred to as “metabolic syndrome”, thought to be associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
So the experts’ advice was simply wrong. Consuming naturally saturated dairy fat does NOT increase risk of cardio-metabolic disease and is actually associated with a REDUCED risk of obesity.
The box below sums up why it’s important to consume natural, saturated fats:
Sally Fallon and Mary Enig noted:
The notion that butter causes weight gain is a sad misconception. The short and medium chain fatty acids in butter are not stored in the adipose tissue, but are used for quick energy. Fat tissue in humans is composed mainly of longer chain fatty acids. These come from olive oil and polyunsaturated oils as well as from refined carbohydrates. Because butter is rich in nutrients, it confers a feeling of satisfaction when consumed. Can it be that consumption of margarine and other butter substitutes results in cravings and bingeing because these highly fabricated products don’t give the body what it needs?. (Fallon & Enig, 2000)
BUTTER IS GOOD FOR THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
The vitamin A found in butter is important for a healthy immune system. Butter’s short and medium chain fatty acids also have immune system strengthening properties. In contrast, the hydrogenated fats and an excess of long chain fatty acids found in polyunsaturated oils and many butter substitutes are harmful to the immune system. (Fallon & Enig, 2000)
RAW BUTTER AND ARTHRITIS
Dutch researcher Wulzen found that butter protects the body against degenerative arthritis (calcification of the joints) along with hardening of the arteries, cataracts and calcification of the pineal gland. This ‘anti-stiffness’ effect, called the Wulzen Factor, is unique to butter. Unfortunately, it’s destroyed by pasteurization. Calves fed pasteurized or skim milk develop joint stiffness and fail to thrive but their symptoms reverse when raw butterfat is added to their diet. (Fallon & Enig, 2000)
BUTTER AND GI HEALTH
Glycospingolipids, a special category of fatty acids in butter, protect against GI infection, especially in the very young and the elderly. Children given skim milk suffer from diarrhea at rates three to five times greater than children who drink whole milk. The cholesterol in butterfat promotes health of the intestinal wall, protecting against cancer of the colon. Short and medium chain fatty acids protect against pathogens in the gut and have strong anti-fungal effects, playing an important role in the treatment of candida overgrowth. (Fallon & Enig, 2000)
SOME ADDITIONAL BENEFITS OF BUTTER
OSTEOPOROSIS: The proper absorption of calcium for strong bones and teeth requires Vitamins A and D, both found in butter. Perhaps the plague of osteoporosis in milk-drinking developed countries is caused by our consuming skim over whole milk, low fat yogurts and other low fat dairy products in the erroneous belief that they’re good for us. (Fallon & Enig, 2000)
TOOTH DECAY: The anti-cariogenic effects of butter protect against tooth decay. (Fallon & Enig, 2000)
THYROID GLAND: Iodine in a highly absorbable form is found in butter and its vitamin A content is essential to the thyroid gland’s proper functioning. In mountainous and inland areas where seafood is unavailable, butter consumption prevents goiter quite effectively. (Fallon & Enig, 2000)
ASTHMA: The saturated fats in butter are essential to lung function and protect against asthma. (Enig, 2010)
THEN THERE’S THE FACT THAT BUTTER IS JUST PLAIN DELICIOUS!
And butter from pastured (organic, grass fed) cows is even more delicious and better for you – higher in vitamin content and not full of GMO’s or pesticides. It also has a more satisfying taste.
Also, it’s better to use unsalted butter – unless the salt used is sea salt. The heavily refined table salt added to most salted butter is detrimental to your health. See my piece on The Healing Properties of Unrefined Salts for more info. You can also sprinkle some sea salt on your unsalted butter if you prefer salty butter.
GOOD NEWS AT LAST
The powers that be are slowly recognizing that urging Americans to focus on eating low fat foods and carbohydrates while avoiding high fat meats, eggs and dairy was very bad advice.
From the June 23, 2014 article by Bryan Walsh, featured on the Time cover below:
For decades, it has been the most vilified nutrient in the American diet. But new science reveals fat isn’t what’s hurting our health.
The taste of my childhood was the taste of skim milk. We spread bright yellow margarine on dinner rolls, ate low-fat microwave oatmeal flavored with apples and cinnamon, put nonfat ranch on our salads. We were only doing what we were told. In 1977, the year before I was born, a Senate committee led by George McGovern published its landmark “Dietary Goals for the United States,” urging Americans to eat less high-fat red meat, eggs and dairy and replace them with more calories from fruits, vegetables and especially carbohydrates.By 1980 that wisdom was codified. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its first dietary guidelines, and one of the primary directives was to avoid cholesterol and fat of all … (Walsh, 2014)
Joan Dye Gussow – professor, author, food policy expert, environmentalist and gardener – has been called the matriarch of the eat locally, think globally movement. This is a nice quote from her on butter vs margarine:
Margarine instead of natural butter, processed table salt in place of unrefined sea salt, GMO foods, pesticides everywhere, low fat processed foods chock full of sugar and chemical additives … we’ve been seriously led astray and our health, along with the health of all the other creatures, the soil, waters, and air on our planet, are paying a heavy price.
Enig, M.G. (2010). Butter is Better! Pamphlet from the Weston A. Price Foundation for Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts.
Fallon, S. & Enig, M.G. (2000). Why Butter Is Better. The Weston A. Price Foundation. See: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/why-butter-is-better/
Gunnars, K. (2015). 7 Reasons Why Butter is Good For You. See: http://authoritynutrition.com/7-reasons-why-butter-is-good-for-you/
Hardin, J.R. (2014). The Healing Properties of Unrefined Salts. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/08/02/healing-properties-unrefined-salts/
Kratz, M., Baars, T., & Guyenet, S. (2013). The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease. European Journal of Nutrition, 52:1, 1-24. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22810464
Mercola, R. (2012). What You Need to Know About Vitamin K2, D and Calcium. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/16/vitamin-k2.aspx
Nienhiser, J.C. (2000). About the Foundation. The Weston A. Price Foundation. See: http://www.westonaprice.org/about-the-foundation/about-the-foundation/
Walsh, B. (6/23/2014). Eat Butter. Time Magazine. See: http://time.com/magazine/us/2863200/june-23rd-2014-vol-183-no-24-u-s/
Weil, A. (2015A). Facts About Vitamin A. See: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02759/facts-about-vitamin-a
Weil, A. (2015B). Facts About Vitamin E. See: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02813/facts-about-vitamin-e
© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
Celiac disease can be tricky. It often presents with a wide variety of disparate symptoms, many of them not seeming to be a gut problem at all. People with celiac frequently spend many years suffering before finding a proper diagnosis.
“Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose because it affects people differently. There are about 300 known symptoms which may occur in the digestive system or other parts of the body. Some people with celiac disease have no symptoms at all. However, all people with celiac disease are still at risk for long-term complications, whether or not they display any symptoms.”
– The Celiac Disease Foundation (2015-a)
The most common celiac symptoms found in children are digestive (Celiac Disease Foundation, 2015-a):
- abdominal bloating and pain
- chronic diarrhea
- pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
- weight loss
- irritability and behavioral issues
- dental enamel defects of the permanent teeth
- delayed growth and puberty
- short stature
- failure to thrive
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Celiac in adults is less likely to present as digestive problems – only a third have frequent bouts of diarrhea but may experience these symptoms instead (Celiac Disease Foundation, 2015-a):
unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
bone or joint pain
bone loss or osteoporosis
depression or anxiety
tingling numbness in the hands and feet
seizures or migraines
missed menstrual periods
infertility or recurrent miscarriage
canker sores inside the mouth
an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis
For the 300 possible symptoms associated with celiac disease, see this list from the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center.
CELIAC IS AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE
Celiac is one among the 100 or so recognized autoimmune diseases. This is important to note because we now know that the various autoimmune diseases can get expressed in people with a genetic predisposition for them – but expression can be prevented by building a robust immune system in the gut microbiome. (Hardin, 2014)
It’s also important to note that chronic autoimmune diseases in general are occurring in ever-increasingly numbers. At best, they are a nuisance (eg, acne and psoriasis). At worst they are life-threatening (eg, type I diabetes, lupus, MS, rheumatic Fever). (American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, 2015).
In celiac disease, ingesting gluten damages the small intestine, creating serious long-term health complications. Celiac is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide, many of them undiagnosed and/or misdiagnosed and undergoing incorrect treatments – even unneeded major surgeries.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and some other grains – and a common ingredient in most of the processed foods many people rely on as their diet. When gluten is consumed by a person with celiac disease, an autoimmune response begins that attacks the villi in the small intestine, damaging them with severe inflammation. The villi are finger-like projections lining the small intestine that promote nutrient absorption. Damage to them means nutrients aren’t properly absorbed into the body.
Damage to the villi allows gluten proteins to leak through the intestinal barrier, producing a condition called ‘leaky gut’ which is associated with autoimmune conditions/diseases in general.
The good news is that improving the health of your gut microbiome can keep a genetic predisposition for celiac disease (or any of the other autoimmune diseases) from expressing itself in your body. And, of course, avoid gluten.
It is estimated that approximately 2.5 million Americans have undiagnosed celiac disease and are at risk for serious life-long health complications. (Celiac Disease Foundation, 2015-b)
SCREENING TESTS FOR CELIAC DISEASE
There are several easy tests for celiac disease. the following information is from the Celiac Disease Foundation (2015-c):
A simple blood test is available to screen for celiac disease antibodies. People with celiac disease who eat gluten have higher than normal levels of these antibodies in their blood. You must be on a gluten-containing diet for antibody (blood) testing to be accurate.
The First Step: tTG-IgA Test
There are many screening blood tests for celiac disease but the most sensitive and commonly used, whether symptoms are present or not, is the tTG-IgA test.
Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTG-IgA)
TG-IgA test will be positive in about 98% of patients with celiac disease who are on a gluten-containing diet. This is called the test’s sensitivity. The same test will come back negative in about 95% of healthy people without celiac disease. This is called the test’s specificity. There is a risk of a false positive especially for people with associated autoimmune disorders like Type 1 diabetes, chronic liver disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriatic or rheumatoid arthritis and heart failure, who do not have celiac disease.
There are other antibody tests available to double-check for potential false positives or false negatives.
- IgA Endomysial antibody (EMA): The EMA test has a specificity of almost 100%, but is not as sensitive as the tTG-IgA test. About 5-10% of people with celiac disease do not have a positive EMA test. It is also very expensive in comparison to the tTG-IgA and requires the use of primate esophagus or human umbilical cord. It is usually reserved for difficult to diagnose patients.
- Total serum IgA: This test is used to check for IgA deficiency, a harmless condition associated with celiac disease that can cause a false negative tTG-IgA or EMA result. If you are IgA deficient, your doctor can order a DGP or tTG-IgG test.
- Deaminated gliadin peptide (DGP IgA and IgG): This test can be used to further screen for celiac disease in individuals with IgA deficiency or people who test negative for tTg or EMA antibodies.
While it is very rare, it is possible for someone with celiac disease to have negative antibody test results. If your tests were negative, but you continue to experience symptoms, consult your physician and undergo further medical evaluation.
CELIAC SCREENING & POLICIES IN OTHER COUNTRIES
Unlike the US, the countries listed below have official government policies protecting people with celiac disease and those who must eat a gluten-free diet. Some even have mandatory celiac screening programs. The US has none of these.
The information below is from the Celiac Disease Foundation (2015-d):
Argentina recently implemented its “National Program for the Detection and Control of Celiac Disease.” The program not only promotes awareness and knowledge regarding celiac disease, it also implemented an impressive array of labeling restrictions and created a national logo for all certified-GF packaged foods. For residents, Argentinian health care providers must cover the cost of alternative flours and gluten-free mixes.
Australia and New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand have the toughest labeling laws in the world; these have been set by the Australia New Zealand Food Standard’s Code and apply to all food sold or prepared for sale, including imported food. The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code require the following:
- Foods labeled as “gluten free” must not contain any detectable gluten; and no oats or their products; or cereals containing gluten that have used malt or their products.
- Ingredients derived from gluten containing grains must be declared on the food label, however small the amount.
- Foods labeled as “low gluten” must contain less than 200 parts per million of gluten. Australia does not have a very large range of low gluten foods and be aware low gluten foods are not recommended for a gluten free diet.
Canada has labeling restrictions on all packaged gluten-free foods. All foods considered certified gluten-free by Health Canada must contain under 20 parts per million of gluten. Any intentionally added gluten-containing ingredient must be listed on a product. In addition, Canadian residents receive tax deductions for the extra cost of gluten free foods versus their non-gluten free counterparts.
The European Union has adopted universal labeling laws for gluten free food. If the food contains less than 100 mg/kg, it may be labeled “very low gluten” while if it contains less than 20 mg/kg it may be labeled “gluten free.”
Irish citizens may claim tax deductions for the extra cost of gluten free foods versus their non-gluten free counterparts. Ireland used to have a program that entitled some celiacs to specific gluten-free foods free of charge. However, the program has been discontinued.
All Italians are tested for celiac disease at an early age (by 6). Each Italian citizen over the age of 10 with celiac disease receives a monthly stipend of 140 euros, which can be spent on specific gluten-free foods (regulated by the Ministry of Health). Italians with celiac disease also receive extra vacation time to shop/prepare GF food. The Italian Celiac Association and government have done an excellent job educating restaurants on how to deal with celiac disease. There are even gluten-free meals in schools, hospitals, and all other public eating establishments.
Over 90% of British celiac patients receive gluten-free food as part of their prescription for the gluten-free diet. Essentially these patients receive gluten free food and mixes at a heavily discounted price (the cost of the prescription).
DOCUMENTARY FILM: “THE CELIAC PROJECT”
Film maker Michael W. Frolichstein is working on a highly informative documentary film about celiac to raise awareness about the disease. The film showcases the extraordinary lives of people on their long journeys to diagnosis and the obstacles celiac sufferers face trying to live gluten free lives.
Here’s a trailer for “The Celiac Project” documentary.
Frolichstein was motivated to use his skills to create this first-of-its-kind documentary about life before and after the diagnosis of celiac disease after his own 20 year struggle with unexplained health problems before finally being diagnosed in 2009. Then, a few years after his diagnosis, a blood test and endoscopy on his 3 year old daughter showed that she too had celiac.
He started talking with others with celiac and “was blown away by the unbelievable stories that I heard–so many of them worse than mine. They were hospitalized, unable to keep food down, misdiagnosed with MS (and other serious conditions), had multiple miscarriages; the list goes on and on. When I learned that 83 percent of Celiacs in this country are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, I felt compelled as a filmmaker to unravel the mystery of this illness. We have talked with dozens of people who struggled to get diagnosed and also interviewed the top Celiac doctors in the world and are excited to share their stories in this compelling documentary.” (Frolichstein, 2015-a)
If you wish to contribute to the film’s funding campaign or add information about your own struggles with celiac disease, go to CeliacProject.com.
A closing thought:
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association. (2015). Autoimmune Statistics. See: http://www.aarda.org/autoimmune-information/autoimmune-statistics/
Celiac Disease Foundation. (2015-a). Celiac Disease Symptoms. See: http://celiac.org/celiac-disease/symptoms/
Celiac Disease Foundation. (2015-b). What Is Celiac Disease? See: http://celiac.org/celiac-disease/what-is-celiac-disease/
Celiac Disease Foundation. (2015-c). Screening. See: http://celiac.org/celiac-disease/diagnosing-celiac-disease/screening/
Celiac Disease Foundation. (2015-d). Celiac Policies Around the World. See: http://celiac.org/celiac-disease/resources/celiac-policies-around-the-world/
Frolichstein, M. W. (2015-a). Kickstarter – “The Celiac Project”. See: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1596989314/the-celiac-project
Frolichstein, M.W. (2015-b). “The Celiac Project”. See: http://www.celiacproject.com/
Hardin, J.R. (2014). AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES: How they develop and how to put them in remission. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/10/26/autoimmune-diseases-develop-put-remission/
University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center. (2015). Symptoms and conditions
potentially due to celiac disease. See: http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/CDCFactSheets10_SymptomList.pdf
© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
Illness is NOT an inevitable part of aging. Work on keeping the level of inflammation in your body low and greatly reduce your risk of developing any of the various autoimmune conditions we’ve come to associate with old age.
Some splendid examples:
Many thanks to Shielagh Shusta-Hochberg sending me these wonderful images.
© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
This list of 146 way sugar affects our health – all detrimental – was compiled by Nancy Appleton, PhD from medical journals and other scientific publications. Dr Appleton is a clinical nutritionist and researcher. She is the author of several books, including Lick The Sugar Habit, Stopping Inflammation: Relieving the Cause of Degenerative Diseases, and Suicide by Sugar: A Startling Look at Our #1 National Addiction. Her website is www.nancyappleton.com
1. Sugar can suppress the immune system.
2. Sugar upsets the mineral relationships in the body.
3. Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children.
4. Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
5. Sugar contributes to the reduction in defense against bacterial infection (infectious diseases).
6. Sugar causes a loss of tissue elasticity and function, the more sugar you eat the more elasticity and function you loose.
7. Sugar reduces high density lipoproteins.
8. Sugar leads to chromium deficiency.
9 Sugar leads to cancer of the ovaries.
10. Sugar can increase fasting levels of glucose.
11. Sugar causes copper deficiency.
12. Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
13. Sugar can weaken eyesight.
14. Sugar raises the level of a neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
15. Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
16. Sugar can produce an acidic digestive tract.
17. Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline levels in children.
18. Sugar malabsorption is frequent in patients with functional bowel disease.
19. Sugar can cause premature aging.
20. Sugar can lead to alcoholism.
21. Sugar can cause tooth decay.
22. Sugar contributes to obesity
23. High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
24. Sugar can cause changes frequently found in person with gastric or duodenal ulcers.
25. Sugar can cause arthritis.
26. Sugar can cause asthma.
27. Sugar greatly assists the uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infections).
28. Sugar can cause gallstones.
29. Sugar can cause heart disease.
30. Sugar can cause appendicitis.
31. Sugar can cause multiple sclerosis.
32. Sugar can cause hemorrhoids.
33. Sugar can cause varicose veins.
34. Sugar can elevate glucose and insulin responses in oral contraceptive users.
35. Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.
36. Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
37. Sugar contributes to saliva acidity.
38. Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
39. Sugar can lower the amount of Vitamin E (alpha-Tocopherol in the blood.
40. Sugar can decrease growth hormone.
41. Sugar can increase cholesterol.
42. Sugar can increase the systolic blood pressure.
43. Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.
44. High sugar intake increases advanced glycation end products (AGEs)(Sugar bound non-enzymatically to protein)
45. Sugar can interfere with the absorption of protein.
46. Sugar causes food allergies.
47. Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
48. Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
49. Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
50. Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
51. Sugar can impair the structure of DNA
52. Sugar can change the structure of protein.
53. Sugar can make our skin age by changing the structure of collagen.
54. Sugar can cause cataracts.
55. Sugar can cause emphysema.
56. Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.
57. Sugar can promote an elevation of low density lipoproteins (LDL).
58. High sugar intake can impair the physiological homeostasis of many systems in the body.
59. Sugar lowers the enzymes ability to function.
60. Sugar intake is higher in people with Parkinson’s disease.
61. Sugar can cause a permanent altering the way the proteins act in the body.
62. Sugar can increase the size of the liver by making the liver cells divide.
63. Sugar can increase the amount of liver fat.
64. Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.
65. Sugar can damage the pancreas.
66. Sugar can increase the body’s fluid retention.
67. Sugar is enemy #1 of the bowel movement.
68. Sugar can cause myopia (nearsightedness).
69. Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.
70. Sugar can make the tendons more brittle.
71. Sugar can cause headaches, including migraine.
72. Sugar plays a role in pancreatic cancer in women.
73. Sugar can adversely affect school children’s grades and cause learning disorders..
74. Sugar can cause an increase in delta, alpha, and theta brain waves.
75. Sugar can cause depression.
76. Sugar increases the risk of gastric cancer.
77. Sugar and cause dyspepsia (indigestion).
78. Sugar can increase your risk of getting gout.
79. Sugar can increase the levels of glucose in an oral glucose tolerance test over the ingestion of complex carbohydrates.
80. Sugar can increase the insulin responses in humans consuming high-sugar diets compared to low sugar diets.
81 High refined sugar diet reduces learning capacity.
82. Sugar can cause less effective functioning of two blood proteins, albumin, and lipoproteins, which may reduce the body’s ability to handle fat and cholesterol.
83. Sugar can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
84. Sugar can cause platelet adhesiveness.
85. Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance; some hormones become underactive and others become overactive.
86. Sugar can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
87. Sugar can lead to the hypothalamus to become highly sensitive to a large variety of stimuli.
88. Sugar can lead to dizziness.
89. Diets high in sugar can cause free radicals and oxidative stress.
90. High sucrose diets of subjects with peripheral vascular disease significantly increases platelet adhesion.
91. High sugar diet can lead to biliary tract cancer.
92. Sugar feeds cancer.
93. High sugar consumption of pregnant adolescents is associated with a twofold increased risk for delivering a small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infant.
94. High sugar consumption can lead to substantial decrease in gestation duration among adolescents.
95. Sugar slows food’s travel time through the gastrointestinal tract.
96. Sugar increases the concentration of bile acids in stools and bacterial enzymes in the colon. This can modify bile to produce cancer-causing compounds and colon cancer.
97. Sugar increases estradiol (the most potent form of naturally occurring estrogen) in men.
98. Sugar combines and destroys phosphatase, an enzyme, which makes the process of digestion more difficult.
99. Sugar can be a risk factor of gallbladder cancer.
100. Sugar is an addictive substance.
101. Sugar can be intoxicating, similar to alcohol.
102. Sugar can exacerbate PMS.
103. Sugar given to premature babies can affect the amount of carbon dioxide they produce.
104. Decrease in sugar intake can increase emotional stability.
105. The body changes sugar into 2 to 5 times more fat in the bloodstream than it does starch.
106. The rapid absorption of sugar promotes excessive food intake in obese subjects.
107. Sugar can worsen the symptoms of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
108. Sugar adversely affects urinary electrolyte composition.
109. Sugar can slow down the ability of the adrenal glands to function.
110. Sugar has the potential of inducing abnormal metabolic processes in a normal healthy individual and to promote chronic degenerative diseases.
111.. IVs (intravenous feedings) of sugar water can cut off oxygen to the brain.
112. High sucrose intake could be an important risk factor in lung cancer.
113. Sugar increases the risk of polio.
114. High sugar intake can cause epileptic seizures.
115. Sugar causes high blood pressure in obese people.
116. In Intensive Care Units, limiting sugar saves lives.
117. Sugar may induce cell death.
118. Sugar can increase the amount of food that you eat.
119. In juvenile rehabilitation camps, when children were put on a low sugar diet, there was a 44% drop in antisocial behavior.
120. Sugar can lead to prostate cancer.
121. Sugar dehydrates newborns.
122. Sugar increases the estradiol in young men.
123. Sugar can cause low birth weight babies.
124. Greater consumption of refined sugar is associated with a worse outcome of schizophrenia
125. Sugar can raise homocysteine levels in the blood stream.
126. Sweet food items increase the risk of breast cancer.
127. Sugar is a risk factor in cancer of the small intestine.
128. Sugar may cause laryngeal cancer.
129. Sugar induces salt and water retention.
130. Sugar may contribute to mild memory loss.
131. As sugar increases in the diet of 10 years olds, there is a linear decrease in the intake of many essential nutrients.
132. Sugar can increase the total amount of food consumed.
133. Exposing a newborn to sugar results in a heightened preference for sucrose relative to water at 6 months and 2 years of age.
134. Sugar causes constipation.
135. Sugar causes varicose veins.
136. Sugar can cause brain decay in prediabetic and diabetic women.
137. Sugar can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
138. Sugar can cause metabolic syndrome.
139. Sugar ingestion by pregnant women increases neural tube defects in embryos.
140. Sugar can be a factor in asthma.
141. The higher the sugar consumption the more chances of getting irritable bowel syndrome.
142. Sugar could affect central reward systems.
143. Sugar can cause cancer of the rectum.
144. Sugar can cause endometrial cancer.
145. Sugar can cause renal (kidney) cell carcinoma.
146. Sugar can cause liver tumors.
Many thanks to Dr Beth Forgosh, of Discover Chiropractic of Soho, for bringing Dr Appleton’s list to my attention.
Note added to this post on 12/29/2014:
Suzette Lawrence, MSN, commented that Dr Appleton’s list, above, describes the effects of REFINED sugars:
“This is not the case for natural fruits sugars that are attached to the fiber in the fruit, known as levulose … if absorbed it occurs low in the intestines and is converted to glycogen in the liver and stored there as an emergency energy source. I agree that the SAD (Standard American Diet) beginning in infancy sets the stage for every disease, and some new ones. Think, GMO beet sugar … ”
From a 2014 article by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America entitled Natural vs. refined sugars – What’s the difference?:
Sugar, in all forms, is a simple carbohydrate that the body converts into glucose and uses for energy. But the effect on the body and your overall health depends on the type of sugar you’re eating, either natural or refined.
We wanted to explore the difference between these sugar types as a follow-up to our post about whether sugar drives the growth of cancer, which has received several comments. We again turned to Julie Baker, Clinical Oncology Dietitian at our hospital outside Atlanta, for her expertise on the issue.
Natural sugars are found in fruit as fructose and in dairy products, such as milk and cheese, as lactose. Foods with natural sugar have an important role in the diet of cancer patients and anyone trying to prevent cancer because they provide essential nutrients that keep the body healthy and help prevent disease.
Refined sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets, which are processed to extract the sugar. It is typically found as sucrose, which is the combination of glucose and fructose. We use white and brown sugars to sweeten cakes and cookies, coffee, cereal and even fruit. Food manufacturers add chemically produced sugar, typically high-fructose corn syrup, to foods and beverages, including crackers, flavored yogurt, tomato sauce and salad dressing. Low-fat foods are the worst offenders, as manufacturers use sugar to add flavor.
Most of the processed foods we eat add calories and sugar with little nutritional value. In contrast, fruit and unsweetened milk have vitamins and minerals. Milk also has protein and fruit has fiber, both of which keep you feeling full longer.
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© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
This is important! 18 minutes that could change your life:
© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
GLUTEN: WHAT IS IT AND WHERE IS IT FOUND?
Gluten is a protein composite comprised of gliadin and glutelin, conjoined with starch, in the endosperm of various grass-related grains, such as wheat, barley and rye. Gluten is what makes bread dough elastic, helps it rise and keep it’s shape, and gives it a pleasantly chewy texture. Gluten is also used now in a large numbers foods as a thickener, binder, flavor enhancer and protein supplement.
Along with the obvious sources such as breads, cakes and pasta, you’ll encounter gluten hidden in many processed foods – salad dressings, soups, beer, some chocolates, some licorice, flavored coffees and teas, imitation bacon bits and seafood, sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, sauces, marinades, gravies, seasonings, soy sauce. See Hidden Sources of Gluten: How to recognize gluten that’s not obvious on the label for a fairly comprehensive list.
Gluten is also found in a variety of pharmaceuticals (National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, 2014).
THE ARTICLE THAT WAS THE IMPETUS FOR THIS POST ON GLUTEN
Michael Specter’s article about gluten in The New Yorker‘s food issue (11/3/2014) so irritated me I felt compelled to address the misinformation in it. The article is called Against the Grain: Should you go gluten-free? . (Specter, 11/3/2014)
Specter has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998. His writings focus on science and technology as well as global public health. He has also written for The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Looking him up after finishing the article, I was amazed to learn that he was also the author of a book published in 2009 entitled Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. Despite my hopeful reaction to the word ‘denialism’ in the title, I learned from its review on Amazon that the denial Specter was addressing in this book is Americans’ growing mistrust of science.
So now the focus of this New Yorker article makes sense – he’s a true believer in the gods of modern science, technology and ‘progress’. From the Amazon review of Denialism:
“In the United States a growing series of studies show that dietary supplements and ‘natural’ cures have almost no value, and often cause harm…. And pharmaceutical companies that just forty years ago were perhaps the most visible symbol of our remarkable advance against disease have increasingly been seen as callous corporations propelled solely by avarice and greed…. As Michael Specter sees it, this amounts to a war against progress.”
In the New Yorker article, Specter takes a belittling tone toward the many people who are finding their physicians unable or unwilling to help them track down the root cause of their various ill health symptoms so take over that search themselves.
But does it strike YOU as the least bit odd for people to look elsewhere when they realize they’re not getting adequate advice from their doctors, not being believed when they report noticing correlations between eating X and feeling Y afterwards, or – even worse – being given drugs for what ails them, only to develop other symptoms on top of the ones they already reported?
That was certainly my experience with the allergies I suffered with for 40 years. All my doctors ever offered me were various antihistamines and decongestants – and eventually surgery when my body had become so inflamed polyps were growing inside my sinuses making it difficult to breathe. I had horrible reactions to all the drugs and none of them stopped my allergies. After the second nasal polyp surgery, I told my ENT doc that I wasn’t willing to live like that anymore and was going to find a way to fix my allergies rather than just try to treat their symptoms. He was smart and a really good human being. His response was, “I believe you. Will you let me know when you’ve figured it out?” That conversation took place about 35 years ago and my journey to figure it out led to this website.
BTW, my other experiences over the years trying to get help with my own and my family’s autoimmune and other health problems were pretty much the same as the allergies tale above until I basically stopped seeing MDs and started working with so-called ‘alternative’ health care providers who knew about identifying and correcting underlying causes rather than treating symptoms.
So it makes sense to ME that many people have decided to eliminate gluten from their diets to see if that might help. We know something is wrong and we want help getting better and then staying healthy. If we were getting adequate guidance from our doctors, we wouldn’t be so inclined to look for it elsewhere.
Please note that I am NOT saying physicians are evil or stupid. What I AM saying is that too few of them understand much about nutrition or inflammatory processes in the gut and many of them practice exactly as they were trained, in a medical model focusing on identifying diseases after they’ve developed and then treating symptoms with drugs or surgery while ignoring what’s producing those symptoms – and this is not helping us get or stay well.
This Western Medical approach also costs a bundle of money and causes a lot of unnecessary suffering.
TESTS FOR GLUTEN SENSITIVITY AND ALLERGY
Specter writes, “At present, there are no blood tests, biopsies, genetic markers, or antibodies that can confirm a diagnosis of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.” This claim is incorrect.
An example: Cell Science Systems is a company offering a blood test for food sensitivity/intolerance and celiac disease risk factors.
From the Cell Science Systems website:
CSS has developed the only gut health profile (GHP) that evaluates the GI tract on a genetic, antibody and cellular level. Nowhere else can you test specific genetic predisposition to celiac disease as well as antibody testing and immune system activation to food sensitivities. Understand your genetic based risk of celiac disease
- Non celiac reactions to gluten, known as Test for Food Sensivity/intolerance
- Determines genetic based risk for celiac disease
- One simple blood draw
- Comprehensive genetic, antibody, and cellular analysis
Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune condition affecting children and adults. When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present. Celiac disease affects about 1 in 133 people, or close to 1% of the population. However, few people – some estimates are as few as 5% of the total – know they have the condition.
Test for Food Sensivity, also known as non-celiac Test for Food Sensivity or sometimes gluten intolerance, has been recently recognized as a stand-alone condition by the medical community. Many believe that Test for Food Sensitivity involves a different immune system reaction than celiac disease. A team of researchers, led by Dr. Alessio Fasano, hypothesizes that a person with Test for Food Sensitivity experiences a direct reaction to gluten – i.e., your body views the protein as an invader and fights it with inflammation both inside and outside your digestive tract.
Food sensitivity/intolerance is a non-IgE mediated reaction involving the innate immune system’s response to foods that are otherwise safe. The Alcat Test is considered the, “gold standard” laboratory method for identification of non-IgE mediated reactions to over 400 different foods, chemicals, and other categories of substances. It is a functional response test and captures the final common pathway of many of the pathogenic mechanisms, immunologic, toxic, and pharmacologic, that underlie non-IgE mediated reactions to foods and chemicals.
COMMON SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH GLUTEN INTOLERANCE AND SENSITIVITY (Camp, 2012) (EnteroLab, 2014)
GI: Digestive problems, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel
Physical and Neurological: Headaches, cognitive impairment, brain fog, mood swings, depression, ADHD-like behavior
Bones and Joints: Osteoporosis, fractures, bone and joint pain
Skin: Eczema, psoriasis, rashes, easy bruising
Reproductive: Hormone imbalances, menstrual irregularities, infertility
General: Chronic fatigue, weight loss or gain
This table from the Wall Street Journal differentiates between gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy and celiac disease.
GLUTEN FREE PROCESSED FOODS
Specter expends some energy attacking the gluten free foods industry. I have to agree with him here. Of course trying to replace gluten-containing foods with a bunch of seemingly familiar gluten-free substitutes isn’t going to improve anyone’s health. As he points out, processed foods loaded with sugar, fats, non-gluten-containing refined carbohydrates and salt are quite just plain unhealthy.
What’s needed is a return to eating real, unprocessed, nutrient-filled, non-GMO foods grown without a load of toxic pesticides.
WHAT COULD IT BE IN GLUTEN THAT’S CAUSING SO MANY PEOPLE TO REACT BADLY TO IT?
Specter poses the reasonable question, “How could gluten, present in a staple food that has sustained humanity for thousands of years, have suddenly become so threatening?” After going through some possible clues to answering his question, he ends up focusing on what he calls “gluten anxiety” and classifies it as a food fad.
He says, “Doctors rarely diagnose non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and many don’t believe that it exists.” He goes on to quote Joseph A. Murray, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and president of the North American Society for the Study of Celiac Disease: “Everyone is trying to figure out what is going on, but nobody in medicine, at least not in my field, thinks this adds up to anything like the number of people who say they feel better when they take gluten out of their diet. It’s hard to put a number on these things, but I would have to say that at least seventy percent of it is hype and desire. There is just nothing obviously related to gluten that is wrong with most of these people.”
Specter also interviewed Peter H. R. Green, MD, Director of The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University and Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University, and Attending Physician at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr Green is recognized as a prominent celiac doctor. Green told Specter, “In the absence of celiac disease, physicians don’t usually tell people they are sensitive to gluten. This is becoming one of the most difficult problems that I face in my daily practice.”
Dr Green then goes on to rail against chiropractors and psychiatrists who suggest giving up gluten to their patients to see if their symptoms reduce.
It seems both Specter and Dr Green are unaware that many chiropractors are highly trained in diagnosing and treating a wide variety of health problems – including digestive issues, allergies and food sensitivities, autoimmune conditions, chronic inflammation, migraines, sinus and respiratory problems, insomnia and other sleep problems, thyroid conditions, elevated cholesterol, fertility problems, PMS, PCOS, and symptoms that are unresolved after repeatedly seeking help from MDs.
Specter and Dr Green also seem oblivious to the existence of research on the connections between the probiotics in our intestinal microbiota and mental health. Here are a few examples, including one specifically about gluten and mental health:
Ji, S. (2013). 60 Years of Research Links Gluten Grains to Schizophrenia
Bested et al. (2013). Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health
In fact, it’s likely that the future of psychotropic medicine will be diet and microbes like probiotics, not pharmaceuticals. We’re learning that what we eat and the micro-organisms living inside our guts strongly influence both our mental and physical health.
Pharmaceuticals given for problems like depression and anxiety work this way:
Symptom suppression certainly doesn’t address the underlying causes of anything. Correcting imbalances in the gut microbiome does. And also, as anyone who’s ever taken pharmaceuticals knows, they’re sort of poisonous – producing “side effects”. Working to get your gut bacteria and the other micro critters in there to work well addresses your health problems directly and doesn’t involve introducing any poisons.
Stay tuned – there’s some exciting research underway now on the gut microbiome and all that it influences.
Kelly Brogan, MD, is a psychiatrist who has looked extensively at the literature on gluten’s effects on the brain. She points out that gluten produces considerable inflammation in the body. It is well known that chronic inflammation leads to all sorts of autoimmune diseases and other serious problems. Her excellent and informative article This Is Your Gut (and Brain) on Wheat lays out a clear explanation of what happens in the body when it consumes gluten. Specter and Green’s annoying comments about psychiatrists who talk about gluten with their ailing patients aside, I highly recommend taking a look at this short article. (Brogan, 2013)
So back to Specter’s question from the beginning of this section: What could have turned gluten into a widespread, serious health problem in the US in recent years.
Here’s a likely answer: the widespread use of the toxic chemical glyphosate.
Even though wheat is not a genetically modified crop, Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing weed killer, Roundup, is widely used on wheat fields before harvests to ‘dry down’ the wheat and even organic wheat fields are often contaminated with glyphosate from poor farming practices. (Shilhavy, 2014)
From Shilhavy’s article, ALERT: Certified Organic Food Grown in U.S. Found Contaminated with Glyphosate Herbicide:
In fact, beer brewers are having a problem with glyphosate. A few years ago, when one of my colleagues wanted to get more Abraxis test strips for testing materials for glyphosate residue, he was told that they had a 3 month backlog. He asked, what was causing this? He was told that every load of malt barley coming out of North Dakota has to be tested, because the glyphosate levels were so high that it kills the yeast in the brew mix.
The graph below plots celiac incidence against the use of glyphosate on wheat crops between 1990 and 2010. You can see the two rising in tandem. In fact, the connection between glyphosate and celiac disease correlates to a greater degree than glyphosate usage on either corn or soy, crops which are largely genetically modified to be able to tolerate heavy applications of Roundup.
Celiac Incidence/ Glyphosate Applied to Wheat 1990-2010
This graph appears in an article called Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance published in the journal Interdisciplinary Toxicology. (Samsel & Seneff, 2013)
From the article’s abstract:
Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is a multifactorial disease associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. Here, we propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup(®), is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria…. Deficiencies in tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine associated with celiac disease match glyphosate’s known depletion of these amino acids. Celiac disease patients have an increased risk to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has also been implicated in glyphosate exposure. Reproductive issues associated with celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate. Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest…. We conclude with a plea to governments to reconsider policies regarding the safety of glyphosate residues in foods.
I also recommend taking a look at this article: Why the Use of Glyphosate in Wheat Has Radically Increased Celiac Disease (Mercola, 2014)
AND BTW, THERE’S EVIDENCE THAT SIMPLY AVOIDING GLUTEN DOESN’T SUFFICE FOR HEALING CELIAC DISEASE (Reasoner, 2014)
Here’s a shocker that challenges current medical advice for celiacs –
The University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center, one of the US’s leading treatment and research center for Celiac Disease, reports:
“While healing may take up to 2 years for many older adults, new research shows that the small intestines of up to 60% of adults never completely heal, especially when adherence to the diet is less than optimal.”
If you’re struggling with celiac disease, you might want to read Jordan Reasoner’s interesting article The Gluten-Free Lie: Why Most Celiacs are Slowly Dying.
From Reasoner’s article:
Conventional medicine usually works like this…
I have a problem, the doctor figures out what the problem is, and gives me a conventional prescription generally supported by Doctors, researchers, and the FDA.
This prescription is supposed to be relatively safe and effective in accordance with the laws in the United States and most modern countries.
But what if the conventional prescription doesn’t work?
Like people with Celiac Disease that follow a strict gluten-free diet and don’t get better….
Only 8% of Adult Patients Healed on a Gluten-Free Diet…
A 2009 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics looked at 465 Celiac Disease patients and found only 8% of adult patients reached “histological normalization” after following a gluten-free diet for 16 months, meaning their gut tissue completely recovered to that of a healthy person. The authors stated:
“Complete normalization of duodenal lesions is exceptionally rare in adult coeliac patients despite adherence to GFD”
These people followed a strict gluten-free diet for 16 months and most didn’t heal their gut. The success rate of the conventional Celiac Disease prescription isn’t working… and the research is exploding the truth.
Another 2010 study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology looked at 381 adults with biopsy-proven Celiac Disease. The authors found small intestine mucosal recovery occurred in only 34% of participants following a gluten-free diet for 2 years. They concluded:
“Mucosal recovery was absent in a substantial portion of adults with CD after treatment with a GFD.”
65% of Gluten-Free Celiacs Still Have a Raging Fire in Their Gut
The same 2009 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics of 465 Celiac Disease patients 16 months gluten-free found that 65% still had “persistent intraepithelial lymphocytosis,” a.k.a. inflammation in the gut.
This is highly significant. It is well known that gut inflammation is associated with a huge variety of health issues, including all the autoimmune diseases and cancer. So if celiacs follow their doctors’ advice and only avoid gluten but are still at high risk for chronic gut inflammation, they are definitely not healed and will never achieve good health.
Again from Reasoner’s article:
56% Have Poor Vitamin Status After 10 Years Gluten-Free
A 2002 study in the of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics looked at the vitamin status of 30 adults with Celiac Disease showing “biopsy-proven remission,” after following a gluten-free diet for 8-12 years. They found that 56% had poor vitamin status, suggesting that proper nutrient uptake is not occurring. The authors concluded that:
“It is generally assumed that coeliac patients adhering to a strict gluten-free diet for years will consume a diet that is nutritionally adequate. This is supported by the demonstration of a normal bone mineral density up to 10 years of dietary treatment. Our results may indicate otherwise. We found signs indicative of a poor vitamin status in 56% of treated adult coeliac patients.”
Even after following the conventional Celiac prescription for 10 years, 56% still showed signs of poor nutrient uptake – meaning their digestive system still isn’t working like it’s designed to.
That means after 10 years of being gluten-free, HALF of all Celiacs are likely starving for the critical nutrients required for health and longevity. It’s no wonder we have a 77X increased risk for lymphoma.
The Gluten-Free Diet Doesn’t Fix Leaky Gut
Reasoner discusses the role of gliadin (gluten is comprised of gliadin and glutenin in equal parts) in initiating leaky gut* by increasing the zonulin** protein in celiacs. Zonulin levels do fall in celiacs following a strict gluten free diet – but a gluten free diet doesn’t eliminate leaky gut. Gluten free celiacs continue to have elevated levels of zonulin compared to non-celiacs.
* Leaky Gut Syndromes are clinical disorders associated with increased intestinal permeability. These disorders include inflammatory and infectious bowel diseases, chronic inflammatory arthrititis, cryptogenic skin conditions like acne, psoriasis and dermatitis herpetiformis, many diseases triggered by food allergy or specific food intolerance, including eczema, urticaria, and irritable bowel syndrome, AIDS, chronic fatigue syndromes, chronic hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis and pancreatic carcinoma. (Galland, undated)
** Zonulin is a protein that modulates the permeability of tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract. (Wikipedia, 8/21/14)
I highly recommend looking at Reasoner’s site for information on what, besides avoiding gluten, is necessary to fix Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Dr Galland’s piece on LEAKY GUT SYNDROMES: BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE is a bit technical and was apparently posted in the early 1990s but even if you skip over those parts, you’ll learn a great deal about how to protect or restore your health.
Bested, A.C. et al. (2013). Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health.Gut Pathogens, 5:3 See: http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/5/1/3
Brogan, K. (2013). This Is Your Body (and Brain) on Gluten. See: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/your-body-and-brain-gluten
Camp, M. (2012). The Difference Between Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease. See: https://drmorgancamp.wordpress.com/tag/gluten/
Cell Science Systems. (2014). Test for Food Sensivity/intolerance and celiac disease risk factors with one convenient laboratory test. See: https://www.alcat.com/landing/gluten-sensitivity-test.php
EnteroLab. (2014). Which Test to Order. EnteroLab: Specialized Laboratory Testing for Optimal Intestinal and Overall Health. See: https://www.enterolab.com/staticpages/testtoorder.aspx
Galland, L. (undated). LEAKY GUT SYNDROMES: BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE. See: http://www.mdheal.org/leakygut.htm
Hatfield, H. (2014). Hidden Sources of Gluten: How to recognize gluten that’s not obvious on the label. WebMD. See: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/hidden-sources-of-gluten
Mercola, R. (2014). Why the Use of Glyphosate in Wheat Has Radically Increased Celiac Disease. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/09/14/glyphosate-celiac-disease-connection.aspx?e_cid=20140914Z1_SNL_Art_1&utm_source=snl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20140914Z1&et_cid=DM55859&et_rid=658330142
National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. (2014). Gluten in Medications: NFCA and the Pharmaceutical Industry. See: http://www.celiaccentral.org/gluteninmeds/Pharmacy/321/
Reasoner, J. (2014). The Gluten-Free Lie: Why Most Celiacs are Slowly Dying. SCD Lifestyle. See: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/the-gluten-free-lie-why-most-celiacs-are-slowly-dying/
Samsel, A. & Seneff, S. (2013). Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdisciplinary Toxicology, 6(4):159-84. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24678255
Selhub, E.M. et al. (2014). Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry.Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 33:2. See: http://www.jphysiolanthropol.com/content/33/1/2
Shilhavy, B. (2014). ALERT: Certified Organic Food Grown in U.S. Found Contaminated with Glyphosate Herbicide. HealthImpactNews.com. See: http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/alert-certified-organic-food-grown-in-u-s-found-contaminated-with-glyphosate-herbicide/
Specter, M. (2009). Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. http://www.amazon.com/dp/1594202303/ref=cm_sw_su_dp
Specter, M. (11/3/2014). Against the Grain: Should you go gluten-free? The New Yorker. See: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/03/grain
Wikipedia. (8/21/2014). Zonulin. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zonulin
© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
I first wrote about AOBiome’s brilliant new approach to skin health and cleanliness in Living Bacterial Skin Tonic – Instead of Soap?! (June 7, 2014).
AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist is a liquid developed by a biotech start up company in Cambridge MA to spray on our bodies in lieu of – or as an adjunct to – taking showers. Showering with most soaps and shampoos kills all the healthy elements of our skin’s microbiome. AOBiome’s new living bacterial skin tonic, made of safe live-cultured Nitrosomonas bacteria, replenishes the biome of microscopic organisms that should live on our skin.
From the AO Biome website:
Skin has a Broad Systemic Impact
A healthy microbiome is necessary for skin to do its work optimally. The human skin microbiome requires Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB) to function well.
AOBs Are Everywhere in Nature
In the wild, humans had this on their skin – a mutually beneficial working relationship! AOB in the natural environment regulate our nitrogen metabolism. Unfortunately, AOB on our bodies have been impaired by culture and behavior.
Why Does This Matter?
Modern hygiene has selectively depleted the natural balance of the skin microbiome particularly affecting AOB. By restoring the appropriate AOB levels, we believe a range of human health conditions could be impacted. AOBiome is interested in exploring potential physiologic effects including:
Improving skin architecture
MY EXPERIENCE WITH AO+ SPRAY
After waiting a few months for the company to catch up to demand for their new bacterial spray, my first month’s supply arrived in early September 2014: Four spray bottles nestled inside an elegant box – one bottle for each week – with clear use instructions. Each bottle contains over 100 sprays to least a week at about 15 sprays/day. The bacteria in the spray will survive about a month at room temperature so the bottle I’m using sits on the bathroom counter. The other bottles are stored in the fridge, where they’ll last for at least six months.
I began using the spray on September 7th immediately after toweling off from a shower – only on my arms, neck and chest at first – instead of my usual Jurlique Lavender Body Care Lotion. I showered using Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Soap (bar version) on my feet, crotch, arm pits and lightly on my face. As I was doing before, I’ve continued using Jurlique’s Skin Balancing Face Oil on my face and Erbe’s Orange C Serum around my eyes where the skin is delicate and usually dry.
I’ve also continued washing my hair with Jurlique’s Lavender Conditioner about once weekly. (I’ve got fine, curly hair so shampoo isn’t good for it – too drying. Conditioner does a fine job of cleaning out the dirt and excess oils.)
BTW, all the products mentioned above contain only high quality ingredients and no parabens, estrogen disrupters, carcinogens or other harsh, dangerous chemicals.
I stopped using antiperspirants many years ago once I understood that the body needs to perspire but, not quite ready to retire my deodorant, I’ve continued using my favorite: Tom’s Long Lasting Deodorant (Unscented).
What I noticed right away after that first application was that the skin where I’d applied the AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist smelled like a baby’s skin – a ‘this makes me smile and feel good all over’ scent, not the shitty diaper smell. And after just one application, my skin felt and looked soft, smooth and well-nourished.
After a few days, I started using the bacterial spray on my legs and the tops of my feet too. This skin is usually pretty dry but has become nicely hydrated with the spray.
I tried the spray on my face but didn’t like the tight feeling it produced so returned to using face oil. Interestingly, I’ve never felt it at all on the rest of my body. This seemed to be unique to my face. Perhaps I’ll give it another try on my face.
That first bottle, with the daily use described above, lasted for 20 days – so clearly I wasn’t using 15 sprays/day.
Yesterday, with the second bottle, I started using the spray on my entire body – with the exception of my face, armpits, the parts of my back I can’t reach, and soles of my feet. That probably amounted to 12-15 sprays.
I’m thinking I’ll start using it on my hair too starting tomorrow.
One of the more interesting things that started happening after two weeks of using the spray on my arms is that some patches of seborrheic keratosis began to dry up. I expect they’ll eventually fall off! This is most welcome.
Seborrheic keratosis is a benign skin disorder characterized by rough, raised areas resulting from excessive growth of the top layer of skin cells. Mine are a light brown but they can range from light tan to black. They’re odd looking – like they’re just sitting on top of my skin. They’re sometimes referred to as “barnacles of old age.” How delightful. I’ll be glad to see them go.
BACTERIA ARE YOUR FRIENDS
The bottom line is that I’m quite happy to be an early user of AO Biome’s AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist and greatly look forward to its being widely available. My hope is that the existence of this product will help educate people to differentiate between USEFUL bacteria and HARMFUL ones instead of viewing all bacteria as dangerous and in need of being destroyed.
I quote Michael Pollan from his wonderful article Some of My Best Friends Are Germs (Pollan, 2013):
As a civilization, we’ve just spent the better part of a century doing our unwitting best to wreck the human-associated microbiota.
I highly recommend perusing AOBiome’s website, facebook and FAQ for more fascinating information on the needs of the skin microbiome and the science behind their product.
GUT/BRAIN/SKIN AXIS (Bowe & Logan, 2011) (Kresser, 2014)
I’ve been writing mostly on the gut microbiome on this site. Here’s information on how the skin flora microbiome fits in:
70 years ago, dermatologists John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury proposed a gastrointestinal mechanism for the observed overlap between depression, anxiety and skin conditions, such as acne.
They hypothesized that emotional states might alter intestinal microflora, increase intestinal permeability and contribute to systemic inflammation. Among the acne remedies they suggested were Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures. Imbalances in the gut microbiota and oral probiotics produce systemic inflammation and oxidative stress, upset glycemic control and tissue lipid content, influence mood and cause skin conditions such as acne.
EVIDENCE OF A CONNECTION BETWEEN GUT PROBLEMS AND SKIN DISORDERS
People with acne are also at higher risk for suffering from GI distress, such as constipation, halitosis and gastric reflux.
A recent study found that teens with acne and other seborrheic conditions were 37% more likely to have abdominal bloating.
People with acne rosacea have been found to be 10 times more likely than healthy controls to have small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a condition involving inappropriate growth of bacteria in the small intestine. Correcting their SIBO markedly improved their acne rosacea.
14% of patients with ulcerative colitis and 24% of patients with Crohn’s disease also have skin disorders.
Celiac disease sufferers are also apt to have cutaneous manifestations, such as dermatitis herpetiformis (occurs in 1/4 of people with celiac). Celiacs also have increased frequency of oral mucosal lesions, alopecia and vitiligo.
A recent study showed that a drug used to treat psoriasis is also effective for Crohn’s.
In another study, 56 patients with acne who consumed a Lactobacillus fermented dairy beverage for 12 weeks saw clinical improvement.
Pasteurized, unfermented dairy is associated with acne but fermented dairy is not.
Scientists are now validating the existence of a gut-brain-skin axis – and recommending oral probiotics to cure and prevent acne and other skin conditions.
Noted practitioner of functional and integrative medicine, licensed acupuncturist, and health blogger Chris Kresser puts it simply:If you want to heal your skin, you have to heal your gut.
And, as I’ve noted throughout this site, improving your gut flora will reduce chronic inflammation everywhere in the body and keep you from developing allergies, one or more of the many autoimmune conditions and possibly even cancers – or let your body heal if you already have one of these conditions – and also improve your mood.
In another brilliant move, AO Biome has renamed its skin-microbiome friendly spray mist, shampoo, and cleanser MOTHER DIRT.
AOBiome. (2013-2014). facebook. See: https://www.facebook.com/AOBiome
AOBiome. (2014). FAQ. See: https://www.aobiome.com/faq
AOBiome. (2014). Pioneering bacterial therapy for the skin. See: https://www.aobiome.com/company
Bowe, W.P. & Logan, A.C. (2011). Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future? Gut Pathogens, 3: 1. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3038963/
Hardin, J.R. (2014). Living Bacterial Skin Tonic – Instead of Soap?! Allergies And Your Gut. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/06/07/living-bacterial-skin-tonic-instead-bathing/
Kresser, C. (2014). The gut-skin connection: how altered gut function affects the skin. See: http://chriskresser.com/the-gut-skin-connection-how-altered-gut-function-affects-the-skin
Polan, M. (2013). Some of My Best Friends Are Germs. New York Times Magazine, May 15 2013. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
Need more evidence that what goes on in your gut greatly affects what happens in the rest of your body? Here’s information recently reported in the scientific journal Gastroenterology demonstrating that our gut bacteria play an important role in our emotional responses.
Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, Associate Professor at the Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, and a group of other researchers there investigated whether consumption of a fermented milk product containing probiotics (FMPP) would affect activity in brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation.
The researchers divided the 36 healthy female participants into three groups. One group received a placebo twice daily for four weeks. A second group received an unfermented milk product twice daily for four weeks. The third group received a fermented milk product containing various kinds of probiotics twice daily for four weeks.
The FMPP given to the third group contained Bifidobacterium animalis subsp Lactis, Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactococcus lactis subsp Lactis.
At the beginning of the study and again at its end, all participants underwent a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) study of their brains to measure both resting brain activity as well as how the brain responded to an emotional event, such as seeing pictures of angry or scared people.
Results showed that a four-week intake of a fermented milk product containing probiotics positively affected mid-brain activity in regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation. (Tillisch, 2013)
In other words, the brains of the women who consumed the fermented, probiotic-rich milk product became smarter and happier in just four weeks!
This important study is the first to show that changes in human gut bacteria can have a profound effect on how the brain interprets the environment.
As reported in Medscape Medical News, Dr. Cameron Meier, Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry at UCLA’s School of Medicine commented on the study, stating:
The knowledge that signals are sent from the gut microbiome to the brain and that they can be modulated by dietary changes will hopefully lead to more research aimed at finding new strategies to prevent or treat digestive, mental and neurological disorders.
Previous research has shown that the gut microorganisms of laboratory rats can be manipulated, causing the animals to become either timid or aggressive. This information has profound implications about our modern diet as well as our generally aggressive over usage of antibiotics which kill good bacteria along with the pathogenic ones living in our guts.
The Standard American Diet (SAD), consisting mostly of foods poor in probiotics, and decades of physician-prescribed over use of antibiotics along with the heavy load of antibiotics fed to animals we eat and the products made from them, contribute to the increased rates of depression, anxiety and attention deficit problems that are rampant in modern Western societies. (HealthFreedoms.org, 2014)
It’s time to concentrate on repairing our damaged guts with probiotics to restore our health.
Sour, fermented milk products such as yogurt, kefir, and labne (kefir cheese) have been consumed for centuries to improve vitality and health. Hippocrates, the Greek physician born in 460 BC and the father of modern medicine, used liquid whey to strengthen immune resistance.
Kefir, a fermented milk product derived from globules of bacteria and yeast known as “grains,” has a long history in Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. The word kefir is derived from the Turkish word meaning good feeling – a good description for what fermented milk does for the entire body.
More than a century ago, Nobel Prize winner Elie Metchnikoff, a Ukranian biologist, zoologist and protozoologist best known for his pioneering research into the immune system, suggested that yogurt contributed to the 87 year average lifespan of Bulgarians. He hypothesized that the consumption of live lactic acid bacteria in yogurt suppressed the multiplication of putrefactive bacteria in the large intestine.
His hypothesis has been borne out by modern research.
I strongly concur with adding kefir and yogurt to your diet for their useful microbes – gut friendly probiotics.
You’ll find kefir in the dairy section of many food stores. The plain version is healthier than the flavored kinds, which contain added sugars. And organic is preferable to non-organic (made from GMO milk).
If you’re buying yogurt, make sure it contains “live cultures” or you won’t get much probiotic benefit from it. The yellowish liquid on the top of the yogurt is the liquid whey. Again, plain is healthier than the flavored versions containing added sugars and organic is preferable to non-organic (GMO).
You can also easily make your own kefir and yogurt, preferably from organic milk.
Yogurt strains like Viili and Matsoni are cultured at room temperature, eliminating the need for a yogurt maker. Cultures for Health offers an abundance of yogurt starters.
Homemade kefir contains a wide variety of strains, including the four strains of probiotic used in the UCLA study: Bifidobacterium animalis, Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactococcus lactis. Once you have the starter grains, also available at Cultures for Health, you can culture your milk for years to come. (HandPickedNation.com, 2013)
WISDOM FROM HIPPOCRATES, GREEK PHYSICIAN WHO LIVED 460-377 BC – THE FATHER OF MODERN MEDICINE
FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE:
Cultures for Health. A online source for many food culture starters. See: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/
Handpickednation.com. (2013). Fermented Milk: For the Gut and the Brain. See: http://www.handpickednation.com/fermented-milk-for-the-gut-and-the-brain/
HealthFreedoms.org. (2014). New Study Shows How Gut Bacteria Affect How You See the World. See: http://www.healthfreedoms.org/new-study-shows-how-gut-bacteria-affect-how-you-see-the-world/
Metchnikoff, E. 1907. Essais optimistes. Paris. The prolongation of life. Optimistic studies. Translated and edited by P. C. Mitchell. London: Heinemann, 1907.
Tillisch, K. et al. (2013). Consumption of Fermented Milk Product With Probiotc Modulates Brain Activity. Gastroenterology, 144:7, 1394-1401. See: http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(13)00292-8/abstract
© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
Extreme weather events, from coastal flooding, intense heat, record amounts of rainfall in some areas and historic droughts in others, are becoming increasingly common as the Earth’s average temperature rises. The World Meteorological Organization has linked some of 2013’s most extreme weather events – think back to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines as well as flooding in central Europe and record high temperatures in Australia, Asia and Africa to human-induced climate change. “There’s been a general disruption of nature,” says Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s health and environmental program. In may, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (GCRP) released a comprehensive report on the impacts of climate change. It bluntly states: “Over the last 50 years, much of the United States has seen an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, and in some regions, more severe droughts.”
– Claire Cagne, Wild Weather & Our Allergies, Allergic Living, Summer 2014
This is very bad news for people with allergies and asthma – more moisture and higher temperatures mean increased levels of mold, pollen and air pollution.
Temperatures across the U.S. are projected to increase anywhere from 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century so the challenges we encounter from climate change are likely to get worse. (Gagne, 2014)
AIR-BORNE ALLERGENS ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE
According to the EPA’s report on climate change and air-borne allergens, A Review of the Impact of Climate Variability and Change on Aeroallergens and Their Associated Effects (EPA, 2011):
- Aeroallergens include pollens, which can be produced by weeds, grasses and trees, as well as molds, dust particles, ash and indoor allergens.
- Aeroallergens such as dust, ragweed, pollen and molds impact half of all Americans.
- Treatment for allergies in the US costs $21 billion annually.
- Three major allergic diseases have been associated with exposure to aeroallergens: hay fever, asthma and eczema. Collectively, these three allergic diseases rank sixth for annual expenditures among chronic health conditions in the United States.
- Beyond the direct cost of medical care are the indirect, but substantial, costs associated with lost time at work, school and play.
- Increases in temperature, carbon dioxide and precipitation will cause the proliferation of weedy plants that are known producers of allergenic pollen. Higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere act as a fertilizer for plant growth. Warmer temperatures and increased precipitation will cause some plants to grow faster, bloom earlier and produce more pollen.
- Climate-related temperature changes are expected to increase the potency of airborne allergens, increasing the concentration of pollen in the air, the length of the allergy season and the strength of airborne allergens.
- Climate change will allow allergen-producing plant species to move into new areas.
- Wind-blown dust, carrying pollens and molds from outside of the United States, could expose people to allergens they had not previously contacted. Exposure to more potent concentrations of pollen and mold may make current non-sufferers more likely to develop allergic symptoms.
HEAVIER, MORE FREQUENT RAINS PRODUCE MORE MOLD
Molds can cause serious health problems in susceptible individuals. Here’s information from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on the city’s health crisis following Hurricane Sandy (RebuildAdjustNY.org, 2013):
- Toxins produced by mold, known at myotoxins, can cause headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, inability to concentrate and memory loss.
- Chronic exposure to mold can lead to permanent lung disease
- According to the Institute of Medicine, “There (is) sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people.”
- According to a World Health Organization-cited study, building dampness/mold increases the occurrence of respiratory and asthma-related health incidents by 30-50%.
- A second study estimated that 21%of the cases of asthma in the United States could be attributable to dampness and mold in housing, for a total annual national cost of $3.5 billion.
- Sandy-impacted neighborhoods are especially vulnerable to health effects from mold.
- According to then Mayor Bloomberg, 70,000 – 80,000 homes suffered water damage due to Hurricane Sandy.
- About 180,000 – 210,000 New Yorkers could be currently exposed to Sandy-related mold.
- Mold is especially dangerous for 45,000+ children under the age of 5 and senior New Yorkers who are considered highly vulnerable to mod-related ailments.
- Mold is especially dangerous for individuals suffering from asthma and other respiratory ailments.
- Sandy-affected neighborhoods reported more than 30,000 asthma-related emergency room visits between 2008 and 2010.
- Children and seniors comprise about 25% of the population in Sandy-affected neighborhoods.
- Asthmatics comprise more than 25%of the Sandy-affected neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Mold damage is not always as easy to detect as in the photo above. It can be growing inside walls or behind wallpaper so not necessarily be visible.
And dead mold spore can still cause allergic reactions in some people so killing the mold may not be sufficient – it must also be removed. (EPA, 2012)
SO HOW CAN WE REDUCE OUR CHANCES OF INCREASED SUFFERING FROM ALLERGIES AND ASTHMA?
We know that 80-90% of our immune system resides in the mucosa of our guts. An unbalanced, impaired gut microbiome produces chronic inflammation in the body. Over time, this inflammation produces autoimmune conditions (such as allergies and asthma) – as well as gum disease, repeating UTIs, heart disease, nail fungus, some cancers, and much more.
Mast cells located in our skin, connective tissues, and the mucosal linings of our stomachs and intestines, are an essential part of our immune defenses. These unique cells are tasked with activating the immune system to defend us from harmful invaders.
In people with allergies, the immune system misidentifies innocuous substances as dangerous pathogens and sends out mast cells to combat them – as if Attila’s Huns were at the gate and needed to be attacked at all costs, even to the point of destroying the body in the process.
The real solution for both allergy and asthma sufferers isn’t just treating the symptoms but working to restore the health of the friendly bacteria living in the gut with the goal of normalizing the immune system. A healthy, balanced gut immune system will stop producing inflammation and allow a return to health.
As climate change exposes us to increasing numbers of molds and other allergens, we’re all going to need immune systems that are up to dealing with the challenge.
For more information on allergies, asthma, autoimmune conditions, the role of inflammation in these problems, and how to strengthen your immune system, see:
Cagne, C. (2014). Wild Weather & Our Allergies. Allergic Living, 4:2, 32-37.
EPA. (2012). A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home: Hidden Mold. See: http://www.epa.gov/mold/hiddenmold.html
RebuildAdjustNY.org. (2013). Mold: NYC’s Health Crisis Post-Sandy. See: http://www.rebuildajustny.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Resource-Post-mold-remediation-Sandy-Mold-Health-Fact-Sheet2.pdf
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2011). Allergies Getting Worse? See: http://www.epa.gov/research/gems/scinews_aeroallergens.htm
© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
I decided to return to the subject of the Standard American Diet after seeing this comedian’s skit “What a Chicken McNuggets commercial would look like if McDonald’s were being honest”.
This is the Standard American Diet – aptly abbreviated as SAD – shown as a pie chart:
Here’s another way of looking at the Standard American Diet – as percentages of calories derived from plant, animal and processed foods:
And the SAD as represented in another pie chart – this one showing the number of calories we get from various sources:
No matter how the Standard American Diet is represented, it’s clearly bad news for our health.
The Standard American Diet is how the vast majority of Americans eat. It is characterized by high intake of sweets, animal products, cooking oils, high-fat and processed foods. People living on SAD have a higher incidence of heart disease and cancers. (Fuhrman, 2011) (Hardin, 2013 -a)
It is well known that factory farmed and processed foods are more likely to cause illness than organically grown, unprocessed foods. Yet 90 percent of the American food budget is spent on processed and fast foods. (Schlosser, 2001)
The Standard American Diet is high in refined sugars and red meat, both of which severely acidify the body, producing inflammation – the gateway to many serious ailments. An overly acidic diet is at the core of many symptoms such as fatigue, digestive imbalances, emotional imbalances and anxiety. Adding foods to our daily diet that alkalinize the blood, urine and saliva can help restore balance and health again. (Hardin, 2014 -a)
We all know that adult and childhood obesity has become a serious health issue in the US and elsewhere. Beginning in the 1950′s, when calorie-dense/nutrient poor foods and beverages started becoming standard fare in this country, the number of people consuming the Standard American Diet has steadily risen – much to the detriment of both our microbiota and our overall health. (Hardin, 2013 -c)
THE NITTY GRITTY ON CHICKEN MCNUGGETS
Chicken McNuggets, introduced by McDonald’s in 1983, consist of small pieces of processed chicken meat that have been battered and deep fried.
As of October 9, 2010, the ingredients in McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets within the United States are as follows (Wikipedia, 2014):
Battered and breaded with bleached wheat flour, water, modified food starch, salt, spices, wheat gluten, paprika, dextrose (sugar), yeast, garlic powder, rosemary, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and cottonseed oil with mono- and diglycerides, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, ammonium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate), natural flavor (plant source) with extractives of paprika.
Chicken McNuggets’ ingredients can vary outside the US.
Nutritional value in 10 pieces of Chicken McNuggets – not including sauce (McDonalds, 2014):
|Nutritional value per 10 pieces (162 g) No sauce|
|Energy||440 kcal (1,800 kJ)|
|Carbohydrates||30 g (10%)|
|Dietary fiber||2 g|
|Fat||30 g (44%)|
|Saturated||5 g (25%)|
|Vitamin A equiv.||(0%)0 μg|
|Vitamin C||(2%)2 mg|
|Energy from fat||270 kcal (1,100 kJ)|
|Cholesterol||65 mg (22%)|
|May vary outside United States.|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
This list doesn’t even include the sauce! The second-most plentiful ingredient in the McDonald’s Sweet Chili Sauce shown below is sugar. The whole ingredients list for this sauce is:
Water, Sugar, Distilled Vinegar, Cayenne Peppers, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Garlic Puree, Dried Red Peppers, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative)
And … you can be sure the ingredients in Chicken McNuggets, their various sauces and the other items on the McDonald’s menu aren’t organic so you’re getting a good dose of genetically modified organisms with each serving.
In case you’re interested in looking at what’s in other McDonald’s dishes, here’s a list of ingredients published by McDonald’s: McDonald’s USA Ingredients Listing for Popular Menu Items.
See INFLAMMATION to read more about how the Standard American Diet adversely affects our health.
See GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS – OUR FOOD for more information on the problems with consuming genetically engineered foods.
Fuhrman, J. (2011). Super Immunity: The essential nutrition guide for boosting your body’s defenses to live longer, stronger, and disease free.
Hardin, J.R. (2013 -a). Intriguing Facts About the Gut and Brain. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/the-gut-brain-axis/intriguing-facts-about-the-gut-and-brain/
Hardin, J.R. (2013 -b). Inflammation. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/symbiosis-versus-dysbiosis/inflammation/
Hardin, J.R. (2013 -c). Weight and Food Intake Regulation. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/symbiosis-versus-dysbiosis/weight-and-food-intake-regulation/
Hardin, J.R. (2014 -a). Umeboshi Plums – Tasty and Alkalinizing. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/04/16/umeboshi-plum-vinegar-tasty-alkalinizing-food/ “Umeboshi Plums – Tasty and Alkalinizing
Hardin, J.R. (2014 -b). Genetically Modified Organisms – Our Food. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/?s=genetically
HealthFreedoms.org. (2014). WHAT A MCDONALD’S COMMERCIAL SHOULD LOOK LIKE. See: http://healthfreedoms.org/2014/07/08/what-a-mcdonalds-commercial-should-look-like/
McDonald’s. (2014). McDonald’s USA Ingredients Listing for Popular Menu Items. See: http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnutrition/ingredientslist.pdf
Schlosser, E. (2001). Fast Food Nation: The dark side of the all-American meal.
Wikipedia. (2014). Chicken McNuggets. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_McNuggetsChicken McNuggets
© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
Gluten intolerance is no longer considered to be a fringe medical concept. Researchers around the world are fully aware that methods of modern wheat cultivation pose a serious health problem to humans, other animals and the environment. (Batalion, 2013)
Rates of gluten sensitivity, including gluten allergy and celiac disease, are on the rise around the world. And more people are becoming aware of the adverse, inflammatory and addictive effects of consuming modern wheat and wheat products so are eliminating gluten from their diets to protect their health. The global market for gluten free foods is expected to reach $4.3 billion USD by 2015. (Brown, 2012)
Knowing how much wheat is part of the modern Japanese diet, I took a lot of care to stay healthy and avoid gluten while in Japan recently. It wasn’t easy and I got ‘glutened’ a few times in spite of my best efforts.
My gluten allergy symptoms include: A body temperature spike about 20 minutes after consuming even a tiny amount of gluten, followed by the feeling of having been hit over the head with a shovel that renders me feeling exhausted and dumb for an hour or more – in addition to the longer term inflammation gluten produces in my body. Gluten affects the whole body, including the brain, skin, endocrine system, stomach, liver, blood vessels, smooth muscles and cell nuclei. These effects are serious and have long term adverse health consequences. (Kresser, 2014)
Many of you probably are also reacting adversely to gluten and are being treated by your doctors to suppress the various symptom it causes instead of addressing its underlying inflammatory response that’s responsible for your skin conditions, allergies, autoimmune diseases, etc.
ORDER GLUTEN FREE MEALS FOR YOUR FLIGHTS
I was flying on United and was able to request gluten free meals for all four of my long flights. While the meals I received were indeed GF, they were also completely tasteless. While people around me were eating things that looked somewhat interesting, I got plates of dried up chicken with no seasoning or sauce of any kind and unseasoned steamed veggies. Apparently the United chefs equate GF with boring or nearly inedible. I had almonds and dried fruits with me on the long San Francisco-Osaka flight and also some GF mochi cakes and Japanese chocolates on the return flight but there’s a limit to how much of these a person can consume during a trans-Pacific flight and snacks aren’t entirely nutritious.
ALLERGY FOOD CARDS
Part of my preparation for this trip was to order some food allergy cards in kanji and English from Select Wisely, a website offering translation cards for a wide variety of food and drug allergies, special diets and medical needs.
On one side, my cards say in English and Japanese kanji characters:
I am allergic to wheat, rye, barley, oats, soy sauce, malt, flour and gluten including sauces, gravies, breads, cereals and foods made with these ingredients.
On the reverse side, they say in both languages:
Please prepare a meal for me that does not contain these foods. Thank you.
I had the cards laminated in plastic at a local copy center so they would look official and also increase the chances of their being returned to me. What happened the few times I was ordering a meal somewhere I couldn’t make myself understood in English was that the chefs themselves came out of the kitchen to speak with me. The waitress and chef examined the card and conferred between themselves in Japanese, I spoke English to them since my Japanese is limited to simple words like arigato, a delicious meal arrived with something else substituted for the miso soup or other gluten-containing dish and it all turned out quite well.
You can order cards for yourself at http://www.selectwisely.com/
Another useful site for allergic travelers is Gluten Free Passport. They offer resources for communicating your gluten free and other allergy free needs with restaurants around the world. See http://glutenfreepassport.com/allergy-gluten-free-travel/gf-translation-cards/
GLUTEN FREE ORGANIC TAMARI
I also took along many packets of gluten free organic tamari to use in lieu of soy sauce (soy sauce is traditionally brewed with wheat) for sushi and sashimi. Amazon sells it – 12 boxes of 20 individual packets each for around $40. Those 240 packets will last you a good long time. That the tamari contains no GMO anything in addition to being GF is a big plus. See http://www.amazon.com/Organic-Gluten-free-Non-GMO-Tamari-Packages/dp/B003FSX1X2
KANJI FOR GLUTEN-CONTAINING INGREDIENTS AND FOODS
It may also be helpful for you to be able to recognize the kanji characters for things you can’t eat if you’re avoiding gluten – translations thanks to an online English-to-Japanese translating site:
- Wheat: 小麦
- Wheat Flour: 麦粉
- Soy Sauce: 醤油 , 正油 , むらさ
- Rye: 黒麦
- Barley: 大麦
- Malt: 麦芽
- Oats: からす麦
- Miso: 味噌 (most probably contains gluten)
- Tempura: 天婦羅 (most probably made with wheat flour)
MAKING JAPANESE FOOD GLUTEN FREE
While there, I became aware that I could have eaten much more broadly in Japan if a few easy substitutions had been made.
After some days on my own in Kyoto (during their spectacular cherry blossom time), I met up with my small group for a 12-day tour part of my Geographic Expeditions group for a 12-day tour called Journey Through Ancient Japan with Don George. We spent some days in and around Kyoto then continued on to rural Shikoku Island to the south.
Don George is a seasoned travel writer and everything you’d want in a traveling companion and guide – knowledgeable, smart, funny, generous, open to people and experiences, and fluent in spoken Japanese.
Akihiro Kasagi, who’s from Kobe and is a Government Certified Tour Guide based in Kyoto, was our excellent local guide for the whole trip.
When I signed up for the trip, I asked GeoEx if gluten free eating in Japan would be possible. They checked, said yes and I was well taken care of by Hiro. When we stopped for snacks along the road, he read the labels of numerous packages of mochi sweets to tell me which were wheat flour-free so were safe for me to eat. Mochi is made from sweet, glutinous rice so I’d never even thought they might contain gluten. He also arranged for excellent and interesting GF substitutions at our various hotels, ryokans and restaurants, sometimes sending a small dish back to the kitchen to be exchanged for another dish I could eat. I learned much about Japanese food from him.
One of the most enjoyable places we stayed was an informal, family-oriented eco-resort called Kaiyu on the semi-tropical south west side of Shikoku Island. It’s near scenic Cape Ashizuri and has its own onsen (hot springs bath) overlooking Ooki Beach on a lovely section of the Pacific Ocean.
Kaiyu-Inn is run by a charming couple, Mitsuhiro and Tae Okada. Mitsu builds the hotel’s furniture and stokes the onsen’s furnace with recycled wood. Tae is an inventive, natural cook who turns local organic produce and fish into gorgeous food for her family and the hotel’s guests.
There were a number of delicious-looking dishes Tae served that contained soy sauce or dashi so I couldn’t try them. As our GeoEx group was leaving, she asked me what I can eat. At the time, I couldn’t think of a short answer that would be relevant to her so said something vague – and have been thinking of a better, fuller answer ever since.
Here it is, geared for Tae’s Japanese cooking:
Use gluten free tamari in place of soy sauce (it’s readily available in Japan) and tastes just like soy sauce).
Substitute rice flour for wheat flour in dishes like tempura.
Use a gluten free miso (ie, a miso made with rice (kome or genmai), buckwheat (sobamugi), or millet (kibi) instead of one made with gluten-containing barley (mugi ortsubu), wheat (tsubu) or rye (hadakamugi).
Check the ingredients lists for other ready made sauces and products to make sure they don’t contain wheat, barley or rye.
I don’t think these changes would sacrifice any of the inventiveness and yummy taste of Tae’s – or anyone’s – delicious cooking.
Read more about the delightful KAIYU-INN.
Read more about the long term dangers of eating GLUTEN.
Read more about INFLAMMATION.
Batalion, N. (2013). Wheat & GMOs Getting Us ALL Sick: Gluten Intolerance. Before It’s News. See http://beforeitsnews.com/health/2013/03/wheat-gmos-getting-us-all-sick-gluten-intolerance-2477592.html
Brown, A. (2012). Gluten Sensitivity: Problems of an Emerging Condition Separate from Celiac Disease. Expert Review of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 6:1, 43-55. See MedScape: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/757916_5
Gluten Free Passport: Communicate Around the World with Restaurant Translation Cards for Gluten & Allergy Free Diets. See http://glutenfreepassport.com/allergy-gluten-free-travel/gf-translation-cards/
Kresser, C. (2014). 50 Shades of Gluten (Intolerance). Huffington Post. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-kresser/gluten-intolerance_b_2964812.html
Select Wisely: Translation Cards for Food and Drug Allergies, Special Diets and Medical Needs. See http://www.selectwisely.com/
© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.