Surviving The Holidays: My Top 10 Party Tricks

  • COMMENTS2

Guest post by my good friend Allison Vernon of Our Naked Life. 

This time of year is tough! Every event we attend is packed with alcohol and holiday treats. It’s hard to resist all that sugar even though we know it doesn’t make us feel good.

Party Time

These are my practical, healthy holiday party tricks:

1. Sip like a Parisian. While I was in France I was amazed by the small wine glasses at all the bistros and cafés. By American standards these wine glasses were tiny. This got me thinking about how the French drink as a compliment to food and savor their small glasses along with a great meal. The enormous Bordeaux glasses that you often see here, are an American creation, and can contribute to over drinking. When possible, drink from a smaller glass while sipping wine.

Sip like a Parisian.

2. Fix yourself a small plate. Never, ever hover over the hor d’oeuvers table. It is important that you indulge in your favorite holiday treats. I can’t imagine this time of year without a little peppermint bark or gingerbread cookies. The trick is, grab a small plate or napkin, fill it up with all your fav holiday treats and enjoy.  Hovering over the hor d’oeuvers table just opens the opportunity for you to nibble for hours. Better to indulge, fully enjoy it, and feel satisfied than to nibble constantly.

3. Eat dinner before you go. We have all heard this before but it’s true that if you eat a healthy dinner before you go, you will eat less of those mini lobster mac and cheeses than you would if you were really hungry.

4. Sip champagne with strawberries or cranberries. Cocktails are very high in sugar. The combo of sugar and alcohol is not good for us and can leave us feeling less than stellar the next day. Try a festive glass of champagne with muddled cranberries instead.

Champagne is always festive!

5. Drink red wine rather than white. When enjoying a glass of wine, red wine is by far, the better choice. Red wine contains less sugar than white. Additionally, there are some nutrients and antioxidants in red wine that can be beneficial. The caveat is, after one glass the negatives of the alcohol outweigh the positives of the antioxidants.

6. Eliminate sugary cocktails. Replace cocktails with vodka soda,  or the Paleo Margarita recipe below.

7. Bring your own healthy dish to munch on. Even if the hostess doesn’t ask you to bring anything, consider bringing your own dish. I am gluten intolerant. Friends and Co-workers will often try to accommodate, but I have found it is always better to bring my own. I have brought a fun dish to parties making the excuse, “I was dying to try this new recipe and wanted to share it with everyone” Do this graciously as you don’t want to offend anyone.

Sip alcohol with your meal. Not on an empty stomach

8. Drink alcohol with a meal rather than while around snacky food like chips or dessert. For me, alcohol is like a gateway drug for eating everything in site. Drinking often leads to unhealthy snacking. Since alcohol can act as a poison in our system, our body may be triggering us to eat in order to help absorb the alcohol. Keep this in mind and don’t drink on an empty stomach.

9. Dance! Drink and dance rather than drink and stand around. It will help to burn off the alcohol and you will feel better the next day.

10. Don’t over commit. Say No. Even the most fun party can feel like a drag if you are exhausted. Choose just a handful of holiday events to attend. Graciously decline the rest. This one is tough because we often allow ourselves to feel guilty. Decide what will help to alleviate the guilt. For example, send a handwritten note, set a coffee date with the friend after the holiday rush, send them a holiday gift, etc. Make sure that you make time for the holiday activities you most want to do.

Saying no to a few activities may make the difference between a joyful holiday season and a hectic one.

 

Paleo Margarita Recipe

Ingredients:
1 shot tequila
handful of ice
seltzer
1/2 of a lime, fresh squeezed (add more lime juice to taste)
1/8 of an orange, fresh squeezed (Optional ingredient. The orange does add a little extra sugar. Use sparingly. Do not use orange juice from a carton.)

Instructions:
Shake all ingredients together. Garnish with a wedge of lime or orange. Salt is optional.

Allison Vernon Thompson is dedicated to exposing the naked truth about health and wellness. She is the creator of Our Naked Life, an online community dedicated to celebrating, motivating, and educating women on our path to vibrant energetic health. She works one-on-one with clients in Tribeca, New York. Allison holds a BFA in Dance Performance with an emphasis in Kinesiology. She is a board certified Health Coach, certified personal trainer, and Pilates mat instructor.

COMMENT

How to tell if your blood sugar is imbalanced - top warning signs

  • COMMENTS4

Blood Sugar Blues: Where Do You Fit In?

Before we hit a state of blood sugar pathology (diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood for example), we most likely spend some time, perhaps decades, in a state of functional blood sugar imbalance.

These functional imbalances probably begin due to diet and lifestyle, and the good news is that they can usually be corrected with diet, lifestyle, and natural supplementation, under the care of a trained functional medicine practitioner.

Two most common functional imbalances:

1. Functional reactive hypoglycemia

2. Insulin resistance.

Here’s how Dr. Datis Kharrazian, a leader in the functional medicine community, defined the two states of functional blood sugar imbalance.

“There is an overlap between the two conditions, but functional reactive hypoglycemia is generally a lower than ideal blood glucose physiological state with spikes of deficient glucose, whereas insulin resistance is generally a higher than ideal glucose physiological state with spikes of excessive glucose.”

When I first began to study functional medicine some years ago, I didn’t understand how not managing my own blood sugar was such a stress to my body.

Sure, eating a giant cookie or skipping a meal didn’t make me feel good, but why was it such a big deal?

I now understand how my amazing body works to keep an even stream of glucose to my cells, so they can covert it to energy. When I sabotage that balance with my poor choices, I risk short-term fatigue, anxiety and acne, and long-term diseases such as dementia and cancer.

How can you know if you are upsetting your own blood sugar? Here are some key points:

Your habits include:

A.

• Skipping breakfast or other meals

• Having coffee for breakfast

• Eating breakfast a few hours after waking

• Surviving on sugary snacks

• ‘Grazing’ (eating a bit throughout the day)

• Using caffeine or cigarettes to suppress appetite

• Engaging in lots of exercise without replenishing calories

Or

B.

• Overeating

• Surviving on carbs, sweets and processed foods

• Never exercising

• Ignoring your expanding waistline

You may be experiencing these symptoms:

A.

• Craving sweets

• Irritable if you can’t eat often

• Light-headed

• Anxious, nervous

• Forgetful, absent-minded

Or

B.

• Fatigued after meals

• Eating sweets does not relieve craving for sweets

• Difficulty losing weight

• Tired all the time

The ‘A’ lists correspond more to functional reactive hypoglycemia, and the ‘B’ lists correspond to insulin resistance. But as Dr. Kharrazian stated, there can be some overlap.

As I mentioned earlier, if you have not yet entered an irreversible pathologic state, there is still much hope for treating functional blood sugar disorders. You can resolve everyday symptoms like fatigue and sugar cravings, plus help balance your hormones in conditions of PCOS, infertility and more.

Blood sugar balance is one of the most important balancing acts in your body, and a trained functional medicine practitioner can spot these patterns both in your history and your lab results.

Please contact me at bridgitdanner.com if you are interested in receiving this kind of health screening, and please stay tuned to Nicole’s radio show, the Period Party, where I’ll soon be a guest to talk about lab testing for women’s health.

All the best in your health journey,

Bridgit Danner, LAc

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 8.15.15 PMBridgit Danner is a licensed acupuncturist and a functional medicine practitioner specializing in women’s health and fertility. She sees clients in Portland, Oregon and online worldwide.

http://www.bridgitdanner.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bridgit-Danner-LAc/174242932642572

https://twitter.com/BridgitDanner

COMMENT

Top supplements & herbals for stressed out women!

  • COMMENTS0

So, I posed this question in my client-only Facebook group the other day:

What do you find most challenging about getting your hormonal health back on track?

And these are some of the responses I heard back…

“STRESS! STRESS, STRESS, STRESS! For sure stress & emotional changes! Nutrition/supplements/exercise are all easy for me, but stress just kills me.”

“I find that stressing over diet, supplements, exercise and trying to find balance is the most challenging… and to not stress over it all!!”

“I stress over trying to do all the ‘right’ things but if I don’t see improvements that stresses me further!”

And finally,

Nicole Jardim if you’ve got the fix/solution for stress, sign me up! :)”

As far as I’m concerned, stress and it’s manifestations are the biggest crisis facing women in the 21st century. I just don’t think our bodies are designed to function optimally in our modern, fast-paced world.

Do you know that women are more susceptible to the effects of stress than men because of our hormonal makeup? I know, I hate even admitting it, but it’s true. When you factor in the sheer number of hormones and their monthly ebbs and flows, it’s no surprise that excess stress can wreak havoc on a woman’s reproductive health.

This doesn’t even factor in the added stress of the holiday season. A friend of mine said today that she and her husband are going to visit both their parents for Christmas but their parents live 2 hours away from each other so they’ll spend 2 nights with her folks, then two with his, then they’ll go back to her parents for another night and then back to his for their last night. And then take the train back to where they live. LIKE WHAT?!

But this is what we women do – we over-give, over-provide, over-worry and over-think! Right? We’re actually programmed that way. Unfortunately, all this over-doing is magnified x 1000 during this time of year and seriously, nothing wrecks your hormones faster than this kind of runaway stress.

That’s because the stress hormone cortisol surges when you experience acute stress – hello December! The challenge for many women is this acute stage of stress never actually turns off so we’re constantly flooded with cortisol. This leaves us feeling overwhelmed, anxious, tired but unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, groggy in the mornings, and needing lots of sugar or caffeine to just get through the day.

While I know I can’t change all this with an 1100 word blog post, I can give you a list of my top supplements and herbal remedies to help you bring it down a notch during this crazy-ass time of year!

1. Omega-3 Fish oil

Omega-3 fish oil has been proven to lower cortisol levels [1]. I recommend taking 2000mg of fish oil with a high-fat meal and in the evening, especially if you have a hard time winding down or falling/staying asleep. In addition to that, fish oil has been shown to prevent or help memory loss, depression, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s. My favorite fish oil products are, Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega, Carlson Elite Omega-3NutriGold Triple Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil and NutriGold Krill Oil Gold.

2. Phosphatidylserine

Yeah, how the heck do you even pronounce that one right? Good thing you don’t have to be a good speller to reap the benefits of this phospholipid. There is now quite a bit of evidence showing that phosphatidylserine significantly dampens the effect of external stress on the HPA axis (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis – which determines how you handle stress), and helps you manage stress-related disorders. I recommend about 400-800mg a day of PS but start at 400mg and work your way up if you don’t see improvement in 2 weeks. Try Now Foods Phosphatidylserine or Integrative Therapeutics Phosphatidylserine.

3. B Complex

I think every woman on the planet should be taking a B complex vitamin daily. The first reason I suggest this is because unending high levels of cortisol actually depletes vitamins B1, B5, B6 and B12 and secondly, because each B vitamin plays an important role in the body and almost all of them help us combat stress. For instance, B1 & B2 have recently been shown to help PMS, B5 appears to reduce over-production of cortisol, B6 reduces PMS-related anxiety and both B6 and B12 are involved with serotonin production which controls your mood, appetite and sleep patterns. I love Thorne Research Basic B Complex or Integrative Therapeutics Active B Capsules.

Plant-derived adaptogens are very useful in combating the physical and mental rigors of our modern lifestyle.  Adaptogens work by modulating the levels and activity of hormones and brain neurochemicals that affect almost everything that happens in your body. This in turn helps the body adapt to, and mitigate the potential negative effects of stress. The following two adaptogens have proven to be particularly effective stress relievers:

4. Rhodiola

Rhodiola is a plant that grows primarily in Asia and Eastern Europe. It has been used for fatigue, memory loss and to increase productivity and mitigate the general effects of stress for centuries [2]. What’s even cooler is that rhodiola has been shown to be effective for adrenal fatigue, lack of ovulation and irregular/infrequent periods [3]! I recommend 200mg 1-2 times a day and you might want to try Gaia Herbs Rhodiola Rosea. If you choose another brand, make sure you’re getting Rhodiola Rosea that is standardized to contain rosavins and salidrosides.

5. Ashwagandha

This is the most commonly used herb in Ayurvedic medicine and has been used for thousands of years as a sleep-inducer.  More recently it has been found to be an effective anti-anxiety remedy [4] and can treat a variety of other conditions like fatigue, sleep disorders and endurance[5]. Interestingly, I’ve had a couple of clients with amenorrhea use it and their periods came back within a couple of months. Worth a try right? Check out Seeking Health Ashwagandha or a brand with a similar dosage and take 300mg twice a day.

There’s a whole lot more where this came from by the way! If you want to get even more info on how to tailor your diet and supplement regimen to create healthy and happy hormones, then be one of the first to join my Fix Your Period 28 Day Kickstart Program. If any of these scenarios apply to you…

- You are a ‘newbie’ at this whole hormonal health thing.
- You’ve Googled a lot but you’re still not sure what to actually do.
- You have tried the doctor’s way but want to go au naturale.

Then this program is right up your alley! My easy step-by-step approach will show you how to pinpoint a hormonal imbalance and give you the tools to finally fix it!

Are there any supplements or herbal remedies you’ve used to bust through the negative effects of stress? Let me know what’s worked for you in the comments…

References:

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12909818

2. Lishmanov IuB, Trifonova ZhV, Tsibin AN, Maslova LV, Dement’eva LA. Plasma beta-endorphin and stress hormones in stress and adaptation. Biull Eksp Biol Med. 1987 Apr;103(4):422-4.

3. Brown R, Gerbarg P, Ramazanov Z. Rhodiola rosea: A Phytomedicinal Overview. Herbalgram. 2002;56:40-52.

4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/

5. http://www.realnatural.org/over-fifty-recent-studies-prove-ashwagandhas-potential-for-treating-a-myriad-of-conditions/

 

COMMENT

Are Birth Control Side Effects Ruining Your Life?

  • COMMENTS0

I have yet to meet a single woman who has taken birth control without experiencing any side effects at all. When I meet women who say they don’t experience any ill effects, I usually ask some specific questions. Things like:

  • How is your digestive health?
  • Do you experience restful nights of sleep on a consistent basis?
  • How is your sex drive?
  • Do you have regular periods? Or do you even have a period?
  • Do you have acne?

I can guarantee these ladies have health issues and likely have no idea they are being caused by their birth control “frienemy”. Now I know that there are women who would swear by their birth control and that’s totally cool (everyone has to make their own decision), but the reality is that not all women are created equal. While the pill might be a good experience for some, it can be equally awful for others because we all have different kinds of hormone receptors. Women with less sensitive hormone receptors tend to have a lot more birth control side effects.

What I do know for sure is that birth control does not allow our beautiful bodies to function optimally. In fact, one study found that 32 percent of 1,657 women who started taking oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) discontinued them within six months; 46 percent of the discontinuations were due to side effects. Yes, almost half! 

You should be concerned if you have experienced any of the following birth control side effects:

My Aching Head!

Some women experience migraines when they first begin taking birth control pills. Basically a drop in estrogen levels can trigger migraines, and if you’re on a low dose pill, your estrogen will likely be lower than what your body is accustomed to making naturally. What is frightening to me is that if you are experiencing migraines while on the pill the majority of doctors will start adjusting your hormone dosages to figure out a way to balance out your hormones chemically, which can only cause additional health issues down the road. If the source of the migraines is the synthetic hormones in birth control, then the only solution is to eliminate the culprit and figure out a healthier alternative to prevent pregnancy.

Spotting is for the Gym Ladies

As if bleeding during “that week” isn’t bad enough for many women, some forms of birth control actually cause spotting or breakthrough bleeding throughout the month. This is usually caused by an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. Progestin-only methods like the Mirena IUD, Depo-Provera shot, and Nexplanon implant are the most common offenders. Additionally, progestin-only pills need to be taken at the exact same time every day and even a little deviation can cause irregular bleeding.

Sore Breasts are for the Birds

Since most birth control methods are created to make your body feel “as if” it were pregnant it shouldn’t be a big surprise that your body will feel pregnancy-like symptoms. Anything from mild breast tenderness to don’t-touch-me sore boobs may occur as a side effect of birth control.

What’s up with all these stomach problems!

Do you know that the birth control pill actually messes with your gut bacteria? Yup, many women become estrogen dominant while taking hormonal birth control which can lead to an overgrowth of yeast. This overgrowth can cause constipation, diarrhea, gas/bloating – all of which are commonly diagnosed as IBS. I was plagued with horrible digestive problems for the four years I was on the pill and it took me ages to reverse the damage. And I see women on a daily basis whose gut problems all began while on the pill.

Ack, yeast infections too?

I was also plagued by chronic yeast infections when I was on the pill because of the imbalance in my gut bacteria. Unfortunately for women, that bacteria can easily travel from the anus to the vagina, especially if you’re wiping in the wrong direction. No fun! Quitting the BC usually puts an end to these bacterial infections and just FYI, these kinds of infections can mess with your ability to get pregnant.

Nutritional deficiencies…

What is not usually discussed is the fact that in order for the liver to metabolize birth control pills, it requires extra amounts of B-complex vitamins (especially B2, B6 and B12), vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. If you’re taking birth control for years on end, as are most women, you’re creating serious deficiencies of these crucial nutrients. Most women don’t realize this until after they have come off they pill and they’re contending with bouts of cystic acne, mood disorders, weight gain, sporadic periods and infertility.

Why Cant I Fit Into These Jeans?

Ever had a PMS-fueled late night munchies session? Yeah, I know, who hasn’t right? While studies show that hormonal birth control does not cause weight gain, I’ve seen enough women in my practice who say otherwise! I don’t think most women take the pill and suddenly put on 15lbs, but it definitely seems to have a more indirect effect on appetite and weight gain.

Women who use a combination of estrogen and progesterone show lower levels of ghrelin (“I’m hungry” hormone) and higher levels of leptin (“I’m full” hormone) than do women who use estrogen-only birth control. Which means that combination pills might mean less weight gain than estrogen-only pills or progestin-only birth control options. 

It appears the biggest offender of birth control-induced weight gain is the Depo-Provera shot with some women gaining 11 pounds and going up 2 dress sizes!

No Boom Boom in the Bedroom

In most cases you went on the pill to not get pregnant. Well, there’s no better way to not get pregnant than to not have sex. It is widely known that birth control pills can lower your libido but it can also have other unpleasant effects. First, birth control pills thicken and dry up your cervical fluid creating the dreaded “dry down there” issue. This eventually leads to painful sex…And we all know if it’s painful we ain’t gonna’ do it.

Testosterone is almost entirely responsible for our sex drive and vaginal lubrication. And guess what? The pill causes the liver to increase production of a protein called Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin which binds to testosterone and makes it inactive. This is a no-no for your libido my friends. The only solution is to get OFF the pill. And post haste for you and your relationship’s sake. You can read more about this issue here and sign up for my natural birth control webinar here.

My Mood is Swinging 

Nothing drives me more insane than hearing someone suggest that it must be “her time of the month.” Uggggh! I know from my own personal experience – and from my experience with countless clients – that depression and anxiety can be balanced out naturally with diet and lifestyle changes in conjunction with coming off hormonal birth control. This is because estrogen is intricately linked with serotonin (that feel-good brain transmitter) so when estrogen drops (on low dose BC pills for instance) it takes down serotonin and your mood with it.

By using natural birth control methods you will not only ease the dreaded mood swings but you can communicate with your body in a new and exciting way. And I guarantee you will be able to say that you’ve never been happier or more even-keeled.

Adult Acne, Are You Kidding Me?

Aren’t breakouts supposed to be for teenagers? It turns out that even as an adult the hormonal ups and downs over the course of your cycle can cause unwanted zits. Many women go on birth control to reduce acne but the only reason their acne goes away is because the BC has a testosterone-lowering effect. Once they come off, their testosterone and other androgenic hormones begin to rise again and the acne comes back. The best way to help over-production of androgens is through food and supplements. I highly recommend making food and lifestyle changes about 4-8 weeks before going off the pill the ease the transition. Remember, your body can go into a frenzy trying to balance things out so a little patience goes a long way.

My Period Has Gone Missing! (Amenorrhea)

Taking your birth control pills correctly, every day, at the exact time, doesn’t guarantee that everything will go perfectly. In fact, some women on birth control will not get their period at all.

While you might rejoice at the thought of experiencing no period, it is no laughing matter. Amenorrhea is caused by too little estrogen and progesterone and if a doctor just prescribes a different birth control, it will just mask the issue instead of fixing it. The only way to address birth control-related amenorrhea is to come off the birth control and begin beefing up your diet and supplement regimen.

If you want to learn more about how the pill and other hormonal birth control methods damage your amazing body, read this post. Or tune in to my radio show The Period Party for even more information on your hormones and how you can take back control of your health and your menstrual cycle. You can also join my Know Your Flow Facebook group community to get support from other women who are on this journey too!

If you want more more more, I’ve got two options for you! :-)

You can sign up for my next Menstruation Mavens Inner Circle Call where we’re covering natural birth control and how to start using it. It’s $10 and you can participate live or watch the recording at a later date. 

Want to fire up your hormones after being on birth control? Then grab my Fix Your Period Kickstart 28 Day Program and you’ll not only learn why your hormones are hurting but how to actually wake them up so you can feel great again. It’s like a search and rescue team for your period!

Sources:

Mayo Clinic “Headache and Hormones: What’s the Connection?” Nov 13 2012 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-daily-headaches/in-depth/headaches/art-20046729

http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0515/p2073.html#afp20020515p2073-b4

http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0515/p2073.html

https://www.womentowomen.com/healthy-weight/hunger-hormones/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2004/10/27/birth-control-part-two.aspx

 

 

COMMENT

Do I really have to stop eating gluten?

  • COMMENTS0

“Gluten is not bad for you, bad gluten is bad for you…”

…says Dr. Tom O’Bryan, the boss of everything gluten. I listened to an interview he did a couple months ago and was blown away by what he said about gluten and I think you will be too. Here’s the wisdom…

There is gluten in a number of other foods besides wheat - you’ll find it in rice, corn and even quinoa. The difference is, for the most part, humans can digest these gluten proteins. Some people are sensitive to corn but that’s mostly because of GMO’s.

Gluten in wheat, rye and barley are a separate family of glutens. It’s this family of gluten proteins that no human can fully digest. 

Yup, Dr. O’Bryan is saying that humans cannot properly digest gluten from wheat which means that gluten isn’t just a problem for celiacs or people with a gluten sensitivity – it’s a problem for everyone. Whoa.

We’re gonna go straight into autoimmune conditions…

The pioneering researcher and pediatric gastroenterologist, Dr. Alessio Fasano who started publishing ground-breaking papers in 2003 on gluten intolerance, states this:

There is a triad of things that happens in the development of most autoimmune diseases. Three things have to occur:

  1. A person has a genetic vulnerability to that particular condition
  2. There is an environmental trigger that sets it off, kind of like the straw that broke the camel’s back.
  3. Intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut).

Gluten causes this intestinal permeability in humans. Every time we eat gluten, it creates microscopic tears in our gut lining. Then our intestines heal and then we eat it again and around we go. Eventually these tears stop healing and this leads to pathogenic intestinal permeability.  This is a gateway that makes people vulnerable to developing an auto-immune condition which can eventually become an auto-immune disease.

Let’s break down those steps:

I want you to think of your gut lining as a dam. Over time the dam is exposed to the elements and must be monitored and repaired to prevent holes and leaks. Just one hole can allow massive amounts of water to escape which could ruin the whole purpose of the dam. Your gut is the same, just one tiny hole can cause big problems.

If you are exposed to unhealthy food, allergenic foods (gluten), environmental toxins, genetically modified foods and stress over a long period of time, this very thin lining actually starts to deteriorate. And when this lining breaks down, it will leak food and toxins into your blood stream.

When incompletely digested food and waste “leak” through the gut lining into the bloodstream, your immune system begins to attack these foreign substances. This then triggers an autoimmune reaction, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, acid reflux, even more food sensitivities and a general inflammatory response. This autoimmune reaction and inflammatory response can lead to joint pain, skin rashes or other skin conditions, chronic adult acne, pelvic pain, hormonal imbalances and autoimmune diseases.

The three most prevalent auto-immune conditions caused by gluten-sensitivity are:

  1. Celiac Disease
  2. Type 1 diabetes (that’s right!)
  3. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (49% of Hashimoto’s patients have elevated antibodies to gluten. It’s not everyone but it’s half!)

The reason gluten causes intestinal permeability is two-fold. It contains a sneaky little molecule called zonulin which has been shown in studies to increase gut permeability. Additionally, gluten-containing grains contain a protein called gliadin, which has been shown to increase zonulin production and thus directly contribute to leaky gut.

But wait there’s more…

According to Chris Kresser, several studies show a strong link between autoimmune thyroid disease (both Hashimoto’s and Graves’) and gluten intolerance. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) The link is so well established that researchers suggest all people with autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) be screened for gluten intolerance, and vice versa.

Here’s the connection between leaky gut and your thyroid function:

It’s a case of mistaken identity. The molecular structure of gliadin, the protein portion of gluten, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. When gliadin breaches the protective barrier of the gut, and enters the bloodstream, the immune system tags it for destruction. These antibodies to gliadin also cause the body to attack thyroid tissue because it looks the same as gliadin. This means if you have AITD and you eat foods containing gluten, your immune system will attack your thyroid.

Even worse, the immune response to gluten can last up to 6 months each time you eat it. This explains why it is critical to eliminate gluten completely from your diet if you have AITD. There’s no “80/20″ rule when it comes to gluten. Being “mostly” gluten-free isn’t going to cut it. If you’re gluten intolerant, you have to be 100% gluten-free to prevent immune destruction of your thyroid.

I’ve written about thyroid function and how it is closely linked to fertility here and here.

Luckily, current research indicates that you can arrest autoimmune disease by healing your gut. That’s why it’s so critically important to evaluate the intestines when you’re considering, “Do I have a thyroid problem or not?” because you don’t necessarily treat where the symptoms are (thyroid), you treat what’s triggering the symptoms (gut problems). <<I heart this man so much!>>

Dr. O’Bryan uses a good analogy here – he says, if you pull at a chain, it always breaks at the weakest link. Wherever your genetic weak link is, your brain, your liver, your thyroid etc, then this is usually where the dis-ease will typically manifest. For MANY of us, our genetic weak link is our thyroid and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is usually the end result. No bueno.

Please keep in mind that you could have weak thyroid function and your sister could have weak muscle function which could manifest as fibromyalgia, so it all depends on where the weakest link is in each person.

So, if I quit gluten can I ever have it again?

According to Dr. O’Bryan and the many gluten experts he’s consulted with, the answer is no, you can’t have even a little gluten. If someone has quit gluten and their symptoms are greatly reduced or gone, and they choose to have gluten again every day for a month, 75% of celiacs will have elevated antibodies again. The other 25% don’t immediately have elevated antibodies but eventually they go back up for everyone.

Based on the research, this is one food that you can’t just have a little of. The danger is not just stomach issues or brain fog, it’s that weak genetic link that I mentioned above. If you had elevated antibodies for your thyroid or your brain, they always come back and your immune system begins attacking your thyroid, your brain or whatever part of your body that is susceptible.

How much exposure does it take to turn back on a memory B cell (aka the gluten cell)?

1/1000th the initial dose of gluten. Basically, if someone serves you a salad with croutons on it, and you pick the croutons off there are still crumbs you can’t see and these invisible crumbs can reactivate gluten response in your body!

What foods and products have gluten?

This is a tough one! Especially for those on medication because many medications have gluten in them and their labels don’t indicate that. Most labels will say “starch” as a filler. Unfortunately, one of the starch sources is wheat. Even more unfortunate is the fact that most doctors and pharmacists are unaware of this so a lot of people have to do their own research.

Even more confusing is the fact that thyroid medications tend to have gluten in them! Jeez.

Luckily there are websites like: glutenfreedrugs.com and celiac.com which provide lists of medications and vitamins that do and don’t contain gluten. If your vitamins don’t say “gluten free” on the label, then you can assume there is gluten in them or ask and find out.

I eat bread in Europe and I feel fine!

Many people say that they go to Europe and eat bread but don’t experience the same symptoms they experience when in America.

Dr. O’Bryan says this, we must differentiate between how we feel when we eat something and what type of an autoimmune response we may have triggered. The breads in Europe have a lower FODMAP level – a lower level of the fermentable carbohydrates – than American breads have. This is because of the strains of wheat that are grown in the US. While they are not genetically modified (it is actually not legal to genetically modify wheat), they have been hybridized. They’ve gone through hundreds of hybridizations over the years to get the best strains of wheat that will produce more tonnage per acre and less vulnerability to pests. As a result, American wheat is very different to European wheat in terms of the carbohydrates and the gluten content.

Anyways, what he’s saying is that your immediate reaction to European wheat is different but the underlying immune reaction is the same. Those memory B cells (gluten cells) don’t forget. The symptoms in the gut have very little to do with whether or not you trigger the autoimmune response in your body. You may not get bloated but you are still doing damage. Boo.

Even more motivation for you…

Dr. O’Bryan did a study in his office years ago on 316 patients. He tested them for antibodies to gluten and antibodies to their brains. Of the 316 patients that came back positive to gluten antibodies (yup, all of them) 26% of them also had elevated antibodies to their cerebellum. This is the part of the brain that controls your balance and how you walk. Know any 70 year olds who can walk up stairs easily? This is because their cerebellums have likely been under attack for many years.

Is it just gluten or all grains?

There is a group of gluten sensitive people who do much better when they go completely grain free. In Dr. O’Bryan’s practice, 20-35% of people don’t get better on just a gluten free diet, they need to remove all grains. He has people go wheat, rye and barley free for about 2-3 weeks and if they aren’t doing better then he will have them remove gluten-free oats. If in 2-3 weeks they’re still not doing better he’ll have them remove the oats. If there is no marked improvement after another 2-3 weeks he’ll have them remove all grains to see how they feel.

Proper testing to identify a gluten sensitivity…

Every lab in the US looks at something called Alpha Gliadin to determine a gluten sensitivity. If it comes back positive, you have a problem (celiac) but if it comes back negative you still have a problem because there are other parts of gluten that aren’t being tested. Additionally, these tests only show a positive if you’re full-on celiac because they aren’t mean’t to test for just sensitivity.

Another quick bombshell from Dr. O’Bryan: 14-28% of schizophrenia sufferers have gluten sensitivity and when gluten is taken out of their diet they do better. People come off their meds and are able to recover and function normally again. This is published in medical journals by the way.

Interestingly, the most common part of gluten that schizophrenics are sensitive to is different to the Alpha Gliadin, so if a doctor doesn’t check for it they won’t find it.

Cyrex Laboratories is the only lab in the US that tests for the top ten gluten peptides that can affect humans and this is the lab that Dr. O’Bryan recommends. Also, many people who have autoimmune disorders don’t have noticeable gut issues so it’s hard to tell if they’re being affected by gluten or other allergens – that’s why Cyrex offers a test that looks for antibodies that are destroying intestinal integrity.

Supplement recommended by Dr. O’Bryan:

Glutenza – this is a new product that helps to digest gluten if someone happens to eat it accidentally. It breaks down 99% of gluten within 30 minutes which means there won’t be chunks of undigested gluten protein going into the small intestine. He highly recommends it!

Here are my final thoughts on this gluten stuff…

A lot of people say to me “this gluten thing seems ridiculous” and “why has gluten become such a big deal?” My response is this: Every day our bodies are under constant assault. We are exposed to more stress, chemicals and processed foods in one week than our grandparents were exposed to in one year and I believe that our bodies simply can’t keep up. This has led to an epidemic of gut and digestive disorders that occur at younger and younger ages. While humans have been eating wheat for a very long time, it differed greatly to the wheat of today. Ultimately I think the combination of our messed up guts, stress, poor food choices, chemicals (in drugs and food) and hybridized wheat are to blame for the vast increase in gluten intolerance and celiac cases.

Hope this article was informative and helpful for you! :-)

Sources: 

1. http://www.eje-online.org/content/130/2/137.abstract

2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15244201

3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9872614

4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12919165

5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11768252

COMMENT
Page 1 of 212
Warning estrogen
What's my liver got to do with it?

Hormone Balance & Your Liver Function

I talk a lot about the liver in my daily life! A lot of women don’t realize that their livers play an integral role in their hormonal health. Let’s put it this way…if you’re hormones are all whacked out, then it’s most likely that your liver is not feeling so hot. Here’s why: Your liver […]

COMMENTS READ MORE
Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 3.18.27 PM

Is Your Shampoo messing with your hormones?

Most likely it is. Do you know that the average bottle of shampoo has 15 different chemicals in it? The image below pretty much sums it up – a woman’s typical morning routine exposes her to approximately 515 of these scary chemicals before she’s even left the house! Yikes!             […]

COMMENTS READ MORE
Picture courtesy of Want Toxic Free campaign

Why You Need to Green Your Beauty Routine

This week we’re talking about greening your beauty routine with the fabulous Rebecca Casciano. If you pay attention to anything I write about (hopefully you do!) you will know that I am a huge advocate of incorporating as many natural personal care products into your daily routine as possible. You can eat all the kale […]

COMMENTS READ MORE
Unsafe cosmetics

The grass is greener (without chemicals!)

As many of you know, I’m a bit of a green freak and have a strong dislike for chemicals, especially those in personal care and household products.  That’s why a particular study that came out last month caught my eye.  It suggested the chemicals in hair relaxers might be causing early on-set puberty and uterine […]

COMMENTS READ MORE

Liver Love!

This week Kerri and I are doing a liver cleanse with our fabulous Fix Your Period group.  Today is actually Day #2.  So far so good, no detox symptoms yet. Some of you might be wondering why we’re specifically cleansing the liver. Well my pretties, read on to find out! Your liver functions in your […]

COMMENTS READ MORE