Posts Tagged ‘auto-immune’

  1. Health Dynamo or Demon: Coffee Myth Busting

    February 27, 2017 by Heather

    fee Myth Busting

    Today I want to do some myth busting on coffee!!  I know so many of you love it and wonder if it’s good for you!

    So much of the health media promotes extreme viewpoints that leave you thoroughly confused. Depending on where you get your data, vegetarianism is either touted as the best or the worst dietary solution for obesity. Soy either directly causes breast cancer or definitively prevents it. Oatmeal reduces risk of heart disease or directly contributes to it. Of course, sensationalism sells. And many sources (especially on-line) are just based on opinion and personal experience. But especially when these headlines are touting sound biochemistry (and perhaps clinical study results as well) to back up their claims, it makes you wonder how and why scientific inquiry comes up so often with opposed findings.

    The truth is that the correct answer to the question often asked of me, “Is this healthy or not?” is almost always “Well, it depends.” Unfortunately we like generalizations; we want to have a short list of healthy choices that everyone can follow without further inquiry. The truth is that nothing is healthy for everyone all the time. Some people thrive as vegetarians; others become exhausted and anemic. Oatmeal helps some to lose weight; others become insulin resistant and gain more belly fat. Yogurt for some can help to heal an irritable gut; for others, it directly causes inflammation. We are all different. In my practice, the focus in our client work is on customizing solutions for each unique person given their goals and the full set of dynamics happening in their body. So yes: coffee is indeed a health dynamo for some and a demon for others.

    Here are some truths. Coffee is a beverage brewed from the roasted, ground seeds of the coffea plant. Coffee is loaded with a rich variety of phytonutrients, including a particularly high level of polyphenols, the same class of antioxidants for which we trumpet the cardiovascular health benefits of red wine and olive oil. Much of the world’s population gets well over half of their daily intake of polyphenols from coffee or tea (another study write-up). There are however, hundreds of specific nutrients in coffee (not just polyphenols and caffeine), and people may have a varying response to them.

    Plenty of major institutions have published comprehensive research summaries (e.g. this one from Harvard’s School of Public Health, which is quite well-written) to demonstrate that “generally”, “overall”, or “for the majority of the population”, coffee consumption up to a few cups daily is safe and perhaps even protective against a number of chronic, inflammatory diseases.

    A situation in which I am likely to actually recommend coffee is for those with cognitive impairment, including dementia and early signs of Alzheimers.

    Genes can play a large role in determining how coffee might affect you. Coffee contains caffeine, and the stimulatory effects of coffee can vary dramatically depending on whether one is genetically a fast or slow metabolizer of caffeine. For example, research shows an increased risk of heart attack if slow metabolizers consume two or more cups of coffee daily, while fast caffeine metabolizers will reduce their risk of heart attack if they consume at least one cup daily. Similar studies have come to the same conclusion regarding coffee consumption and the risk of hypertension; genetic variation in caffeine metabolism is a key differentiator in whether intake is potentially harmful or harmless. That’s not conflicting science; it’s the devil in the detail. Increasingly, interested consumers are able to learn a bit more about their genetic make-up via at-home test kits such as that offered by 23-and-me.

    But there can be devil in the detail – and thus confusion about the best personal health choices – on many other fronts. Here are some specific circumstances in which I definitely don’t recommend regular intake of coffee (or black tea):

    Ulcers and gastritis or acid reflux (GERD). Coffee is very acidic and can exacerbate existing erosions in the protective mucosal lining of the stomach. It’s important to make dramatic dietary changes when gastritis is first detected, in order to prevent eventual ulceration. I recommend a very specific supplement for my clients in order to heal the stomach lining. Coffee is also a known trigger for acid reflux and should be avoided by anyone with ongoing GERD challenges, so that the true root causes can be identified. We have also seen several clients eliminate 80%+ of their GERD simply by giving up coffee! So definitely worth the exploration.

    Adrenal fatigue. Cortisol is a vital stress hormone in the body which protects us from the damaging effects of stress. Chronic levels of mental/emotional stress or physiological stress (e.g. unaddressed allergies or food sensitivities) can cause sustained, elevated cortisol which eventually wears out adrenal function and drops levels of cortisol output to unhealthy lows. Low cortisol can also cause immune system imbalance and increase allergy, asthma, and autoimmune activation. While these individuals may be attracted to caffeine as an “energy boost”, in truth coffee just accelerates the metabolism of cortisol and worsens the root cause of the problem. We also need adequate cortisol in order to allow thryoid hormone to be active within our cells (as an aside, low cortisol is one of the major reasons why one’s thyroid hormone levels can be mid-normal or better and one can still struggle with hypothyroid symptoms).

    Type 2 diabetics. Similar to the above situation, T2Ds may be drawn to coffee for an energy boost because insulin resistance prevents their body from receiving the appropriate fuel source within their cells. Plus there is evidence that coffee or caffeinated beverages exacerbate blood sugar after meals, especially for those with poorly-controlled diabetes. Until the insulin resistance can be addressed at its root, these clients usually get much better relief by adding more medium chain fatty acids (MCFA – likely coconut oil) to their diet. MCFAs are readily metabolized in the cells, unlike other fats, when there is insulin resistance.

    Insomnia – even mild. Despite myths otherwise, the stimulating effects of caffeine can be quite long-lasting. The half-life of caffeine in the body is up to 6 hours, which means it takes up to 24 hours for it to be fully excreted from your body. This means that your late morning cup of coffee can be a major reason why you struggle to go to bed early enough or why you don’t sleep as deeply as you wish. Many of my clients over the years have been surprised to learn that even their single, early-morning cup of coffee was actually a major contributor to poor sleep.

    Anxiety. This one is probably obvious, but many people who struggle with anxiety still choose to consume caffeine to counter the fatigue coming from anxiety-driven insomnia. This is of course a vicious, never-ending cycle, and in our experience the only way out – to real wellness – is withdrawing from the caffeine.

    Indeed the devil and the dynamos for wellness are often hidden in the details for each of us as unique individuals! As you look for new ways to increase your vitality and well-being (feeling fantastic most days!), if you are used to drinking coffee daily, consider stopping coffee for a full month and seeing how you feel post-withdrawal. Many are afraid of withdrawal, but in my practice, with adequate hydration and additional magnesium support, withdrawal usually only lasts 3-5 days.

    I’d love to hear about your coffee experience!  Feel free to comment below or reach out to me to chat personally or to set up a consult!


  2. Going Gluten Free!

    September 12, 2016 by Heather

    going

    Have you just found out you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity or celiac disease and you have no clue where to start?  The majority of my clients are those with auto-immune dynamics for which I recommend a gluten free diet, 100% cold-turkey, no excuses.  You see, those with an auto-immune disease have intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut), which, in most cases was one of the exacerbating causes of that dynamic.  Gluten, along with being inflammatory for most, will exacerbate intestinal permeability in those with auto-immune diseases.  How you ask?

    Gluten is implicated in intestinal permeability especially in those with auto-immune because it triggers a protein called zonulin.  Zonulin as a substance is natural in the human body. It promotes an opening up of spaces in the villi in the intestines and is triggered on purpose. Zonulin is one of the bodies heavy duty immune response activities which should be limited to cases of virulent infection.  It is the bodies strategy to create more intestinal permeability so the bodies immune soldiers can come to the scene of the infection and help to wipe it out.  When zonulin is triggered when say someone eats wheat bread, then the process becomes inappropriate. 

    Ok so your eyes might be glazing over about now, right?!  No worries!  Just know that gluten is no good for you and you should remove it!  😉 Of course, there are many other things I do with my clients to help get to the root causes of why they got the auto-immune dynamic in the first place, heal their intestinal permeability, get them feeling their best etc.  Did you know that if you don’t get to the root causes of why you got the first auto-immune disease you are 6x more likely to get a second and third auto-immune disease?! But I digress…..  The point of this blog post is to give you some ideas on how to eat gluten free.  Here goes!!!

    Gluten-free foods:

    • Potatoes
    • Buckwheat
    • Oats (*must be labeled gluten-free to avoid cross-contamination)
    • Corn/ maize (some people with gluten issues have a cross-reactivity to corn-always buy non-GMO)
    • Rice
    • Quinoa
    • Amaranth
    • Teff
    • Millet
    • Beans
    • Nuts and nut butters
    • Eggs
    • Fresh fruit
    • Fresh vegetables
    • Herbs and spices
    • Meats and fish purchased without sauce or seasonings
    • Home-made soups (avoid bouillon cubes, barley malt, and all types of pasta)
    • Juice (all-natural, 100% fruit juice)

    Foods to avoid:

    • Wheat
    • Kamut
    • Spelt
    • Rye
    • Barley
    • Oats are generally avoided because they are almost always processed in mills that process grains containing gluten
    • Modified food starch
    • Barley enzymes (found in majority of breakfast cereals), soy sauce, and distilled vinegar (malt vinegar)

    Tips for avoiding contamination:

    • Clean out cutlery drawers; they are great crumb collectors
    • Replace old wooden spoons and cutting boards
    • Wash dish rags/sponges frequently
    • Use a new toaster for gluten-free foods only or buy toaster bags (do not use a toaster that’s already been used to toast regular bread)
    • Use squirt bottles for condiments like mayonnaise, mustard, jelly, etc. to avoid contamination
    • Mark containers with “GF” on the lid of gluten-free items.
    • Clean food prep areas
    • Dedicate shelves and cabinets in your kitchen and refrigerator to “gluten-free food only”

    Recipes:

    Gluten-Free Flour Mix (All-Purpose)

    (Makes 12 cups)

    8 cups rice flour (preferably brown)
    2 2/3 cups potato starch
    1 1/3 cups tapioca flour

    Gluten-Free Flour Mix (Light)

    (Makes 12 cups)

    4 cups rice flour
    4 cups tapioca flour
    4 cups cornstarch
    4 tablespoons potato flour

    There is an awesome recipe on this site for gluten free bread that doesn’t taste like cardboard!!  Just type gluten free bread in the search bar and it should come up. 

    If you’d like help on getting to the bottom of why you are suffering, I would love to be a part of your journey.  I help those with Fibro, CFS, auto-immune, diabetes etc. get to the root causes of why they became ill and wipe them out.  If you are interested in feeling your best, set up a consult with me today!  It is your destiny to live your best self!!!

    If you have any great gluten free recipes you’d love to share feel free to post them in the comments or email them to me!

    Peace & Love,

    Heather