The Adrenal Glands: The Body’s Alarm System

The Adrenal Glands: The Body’s Alarm System

Adrenal Fatigue: What is it?

With more and more stress at home and at work, it is unsurprising that adrenal fatigue is on the rise. The pressures of life put many in a constant state of “fight or flight,” leaving our adrenal glands working overtime until they can no longer keep up. Adrenal fatigue is a direct result of this overworked, stressed, and rushed lifestyle, and can result in some serious health consequences in both the short and long term. Unfortunately, some medical doctors only treat patients for adrenal fatigue when these patients exhibit symptoms of Addison’s disease (extremely little adrenal function) or Cushing’s disease (hyperactive adrenal function). Addison’s and Cushing’s disease are on opposite ends of the spectrum, and only affect 2% of the population. However, some experts believe that over 80% of the population suffers from some level of adrenal malfunction. In the following article we will describe what the adrenals are, their role in the body, and some simple methods for determining how effectively your adrenals are working for you.

What are the adrenal glands?

The adrenals glands are walnut-sized glands located above the kidneys. Each gland is composed of two separate functional entities. The outer zone, also known as the adrenal cortex, is comprised of roughly 80-90% of the glands size and secretes adrenal steroids (Cortisol, DHEA(S), estrogen, testosterone, and Aldosterone). The inner zone, or medulla, accounts for roughly 10-20% of the gland, and is responsible for secreting adrenaline. Cortisol, DHEA and adrenaline are the three main adrenal stress hormones.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol helps us meet the big challenges of the day. It converts proteins into energy and counteracts inflammation. In short bursts, it is very useful. In urgent situations, cortisol can increase heart rate, blood pressure, release energy stores for immediate use, slow digestion and non-emergency functions, and sharpen senses. Our bodies are not meant to maintain these states for very long, nor enter into them very often.

It can be very detrimental when cortisol release is sustained at high levels for long periods of time. Over-production of cortisol means the underproduction of other necessary hormones. We remain stuck in a state of overdrive while our energy levels, bone health, muscle production, mood, joints, sex drive and immunity all suffer.

The Adrenal Rhythm

The human adrenal gland releases cortisol in a cycle with the highest value released in the morning, the lowest value released in the evening. This 24-hour cycle is known as the circadian rhythm. These hormones help supply us with the necessary energy we need throughout the day.

How modern life contributes to adrenal malfunction

Unlike our ancestors, we live in a state of constant stress. Instead of sporadic, immediate demands followed by rest, we live in a world of constant communication, fast food, environmental toxins, and worry. It’s no wonder that many adults suffer from adrenal malfunction. That’s why it’s important to keep on the watch for these 7 common signs and symptoms of abnormal adrenal function.

9 Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Abnormal Adrenal Function

1.      Low energy. Abnormal adrenal function can alter the cells ability to produce the correct amount of energy for the day’s activities. People who struggle to wake up and keep themselves going through the day often have abnormal adrenal rhythms and poor blood sugar regulation. Additionally, cortisol levels control thyroid hormone production. Fatigue and low body temperature, symptoms of hypothyroidism, can be attributed to adrenal malfunction.

2.      Behavior, mood, and memory problems. Cortisol regulates the electrical activity of neurons in the brain, greatly influencing behavior, mood, and memory. Symptoms include depression, decreased tolerance, clarity of thought, memory, and memory retrieval.

3.      Muscle and joint pain. Abnormal adrenal function can compromise tissue healing, often leading to breakdowns and chronic pain.

4.      Weak bones. The adrenal rhythm determines bone health. If our cortisol levels are too high, our bones will not rebuild well and will become more susceptible to osteoporosis.

5.      Poor Immune System Health. The immune system’s white blood cells follows the cortisol cycle. If the cycle is disrupted, the immune system cells will not receive the conditioning, nourishment, and instructions necessary to protect the body. These immune system failures can be seen in the lungs, throat, urinary and intestinal tract, leading to increasing susceptibility to infection and allergy onset.

6.      Asthma, bronchitis, or chronic cough. The lungs react poorly to stress. Asthma is often considered an emotional disorder because stress can trigger attacks.

7.      Un-restful Sleep. When cortisol values are high at night, REM sleep cycles are more difficult to achieve. Chronic lack of restful sleep reduces mental vitality, bodily strength, and can induce depression.

8.      Skin problems. Human skin regenerates when we rest at night. High cortisol values during the evening reduce skin regeneration.

9.      Food allergies, specifically to gluten. Genetic intolerances to grain can inflame the gut and spur an adrenal stress response. Since almost ¼ people living in the U.S. suffer from gluten intolerances, this is a common cause of adrenal malfunction.

If you or a loved one suffers from any of the above symptoms, it is crucial to visit a health practitioner. Some medical doctors prescribe pharmaceutical hormones for issues related to adrenal malfunction. Due to the pharmaceutical hormones' side effects many medical practitioners, such as those at Digestive Health Ann Arbor, are now instead turning to changes in lifestyle and diet, as well as bio-identical hormones. It is crucial that you find a health practitioner who understands how to incorporate a variety of treatments that work for your needs.

Please call 734-726-0153 to schedule a free consultation and evaluation. At Digestive Health Ann Arbor we are known for providing professional and compassionate care. We strive to guide people towards a comprehensive and holistic healing strategy. Restoring your body to health will restore the quality of your life.

 

A Cure for the Allergy Epidemic

Allergies are often seen as an accident. Your immune system misinterprets a harmless protein like dust or peanuts as a threat, and when you encounter it, you pay the price with sneezing, wheezing, and in the worst cases, death.

What prompts some immune systems to err like this, while others never do? Some of the vulnerability is surely genetic. But comparative studies highlight the importance of environment, beginning, it seems, in the womb. Microbes are one intriguing protective factor. Certain ones seem to stimulate a mother’s immune system during pregnancy, preventing allergic disease in children.

By emulating this naturally occurring phenomenon, scientists may one day devise a way to prevent allergies.

This task, though still in its infancy, has some urgency. Depending on the study and population, the prevalence of allergic disease and asthma increased between two- and threefold in the late 20th century, a mysterious trend often called the “allergy epidemic.”

These days, one in five American children have a respiratory allergy like hay fever, and nearly one in 10 have asthma.

Nine people die daily from asthma attacks. While the increase in respiratory allergies shows some signs of leveling off, the prevalence of food and skin allergies continues to rise. Five percent of children are allergic to peanuts, milk and other foods, half again as many as 15 years ago. And each new generation seems to have more severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reactions than the last.

Some time ago, I visited a place where seemingly protective microbes occurred spontaneously. It wasn’t a spotless laboratory in some university somewhere. It was a manure-spattered cowshed in Indiana’s Amish country.

My guide was Mark Holbreich, an allergist in Indianapolis. He’d recently discovered that the Amish people who lived in the northern part of the state were remarkably free of allergies and asthma.

About half of Americans have evidence of allergic sensitization, which increases the risk of allergic disease. But judging from skin-prick tests, just 7.2 percent of the 138 Amish children who Dr. Holbreich tested were sensitized to tree pollens and other allergens. That yawning difference positions the Indiana Amish among the least allergic populations ever described in the developed world.

This invulnerability isn’t likely to be genetic. The Amish originally came to the United States from the German-speaking part of Switzerland, and these days Swiss children, a genetically similar population, are about as allergic as Americans.

Ninety-two percent of the Amish children Dr. Holbreich tested either lived on farms or visited one frequently. Farming, Dr. Holbreich thinks, is the Amish secret. This idea has some history. Since the late 1990s, European scientists have investigated what they call the “farm effect.”

The working hypothesis is that innocuous cowshed microbes, plant material and raw milk protect farming children by favorably stimulating their immune systems throughout life, particularly early on. That spring morning, Dr. Holbreich gave me a tour of the bonanza of immune stimuli under consideration.

We found our hosts, Andrew Mast and his wife, Laura, hard at work milking cows in the predawn chill.

Dr. Holbreich, slight and bespectacled, peppered them with questions. At what age did Mr. Mast begin working in the cowshed? “My first memory is of milking,” he said, at about the age of 5. What about his children, two straw-haired girls, then ages 2 and 3; did they spend time in the cowshed? The elder girl came to the barn at 3 months of age, he said. “People learn to walk in here.” Do expectant mothers work in the barn? “Yes,” Laura said. “We work.”

Dr. Holbreich had made his point: whatever forces were acting here, they were chronic, and they began before birth. As the sun rose, Dr. Holbreich and I sniffed the damp, fermented feed (slightly malty); shoveled fresh cow manure (“Liquid gold,” Dr. Holbreich said only half-jokingly, “the best medicine you could think of”); and marveled at the detritus floating in the air. Extrapolating from previous research, with each breath we were inhaling perhaps 1,000 times more microbes than usual. By breakfast time, grime had collected under our nails, hay clung to our clothes, and muck to our boots. “There’s got to be bacteria, mold and plant material,” Dr. Holbreich said. “You do this every day for 30 years, 365 days a year, you can see there are so many exposures.”

The challenge of identifying the important exposures — and getting them into a bottle — is a pressing one. In parts of the developing world, where allergic disease was once considered rare, scientists have noted an uptick, especially in urban areas. China offers a dramatic case in point. A 2009 study found a more than threefold difference in allergic sensitization (as judged by skin-prick tests) between schoolchildren in rural areas around Beijing and children in the city proper. Doctor-diagnosed asthma differed sixfold. Maybe not coincidentally, 40 percent of the rural children had lived on farms their whole lives.

Immigrants from the developing world to the developed tend to be less allergic than average. But the longer they reside in their adopted countries, the more allergic they become. And their native-born children seem to gain the vulnerability to asthma, sometimes surpassing it. All of which highlights a longstanding question in the allergy field. As Dr. Holbreich puts it, “What is it about westernization that makes people allergic?”

When hay fever first emerged as a common complaint among the upper classes of Britain in the 19th century — and became a badge of refinement — farmers, who were exposed to more pollen than probably anyone else, seemed relatively invulnerable to the new affliction. In the 1990s, European scientists rediscovered the phenomenon in the small alpine farms of Switzerland. A bevy of studies followed, comprising thousands of subjects across Switzerland, Germany, Austria and elsewhere. Critically, by comparing children living in the same rural areas, scientists could discount urban pollution. Everyone was breathing the same country air.

And earlier this year, some of Dr. Holbreich’s collaborators, from the University of Basel in Switzerland, made a strong case that physical activity couldn’t explain the disparity either. They had rural children wear devices that measured movement for a week. There was little difference in physical activity between farming and nonfarming children. 

What matters then? Erika von Mutius, a doctor and epidemiologist at Munich University in Germany who has led much of this research, suspects diversity is important. Farms with the greatest array of microbes, including fungi, appear to be the most protective against asthma. At the Mast farm, the cowshed wasn’t more than 60 feet from the house. In Europe, scientists found that microbes waft from cowsheds into homes.

In one study, they showed that an infant’s risk of eczema was inverse to the microbial load in her mother’s mattress.

Timing seems to matter tremendously. The earlier exposure begins, it seems, the greater the protection — and that includes during pregnancy. Children born to mothers who work with livestock while pregnant, and who lug their newborns along during chores, seem the most invulnerable to allergic disease later.

Here, the farm effect dovetails with the burgeoning science on the prenatal origins of disease generally. What happens to your mother during the nine months before your birth may affect your vulnerability to many diseases decades later, from heart disease and obesity to schizophrenia.

Allergies and asthma seem to follow the rule as well.

Susan Prescott, a doctor and researcher at the University of Western Australia in Perth, has noted differences in the placentas of children who later develop allergies. A critical subset of white blood cells — called regulatory T-cells — seems relatively scarce at birth. Rather than enabling aggression, these cells help the immune system restrain itself when facing substances that are not true threats. A healthy population of these and other “suppressor” cells is important, scientists now suspect, in preventing allergies and asthma. So it seems significant that European farming children are born with a comparative surfeit of these cells. Bianca Schaub, a doctor and researcher at Munich University, has found that farming newborns have more regulatory T-cells in cord blood than babies of nonfarmers. In test tubes, these cells more effectively quash allergic-type reactions. And that suppressive ability increases with the number of different types of animals the mother tended while pregnant. The more cows, pigs and chickens a mother encounters, essentially, the more easily her offspring may tolerate dust mites and tree pollens.

Animal studies demonstrate how this might work. Some years back, scientists at Philipps University of Marburg in Germany sprayed pregnant mice with microbes originally isolated from Bavarian cowsheds. The exposure induced favorable changes in gene expression at the placenta. The pups born to these mice were protected against asthma.

This research suggests that farming mothers might benefit from a naturally occurring immunotherapy, one that preprograms the developing fetus against allergic disease. Yet how to apply that therapy deliberately remains unclear. Is “microbial pressure” what matters — a stiff microbial wind in our sails? Or do certain cowshed microbes actually colonize farmers, and favorably calibrate their immune function?

There’s evidence to support both explanations, which aren’t mutually exclusive anyway.

Before you rush to the nearest farm, however, a word of caution. Some studies indicate that if you grow up in an urban environment, occasional visits to the farm may exacerbate allergic propensities. If you haven’t matured with abundant microbial stimulation, the thinking goes, encountering it intermittently may push you into overdrive, prompting the misery you seek to avoid.

And yet, a prospective study from Denmark published this month suggests that it’s never too late. Young adults who began farming (with livestock) were less likely to develop new allergic sensitivities than rural peers who chose other professions. Existing allergies didn’t disappear. Rather, the farming environment seemed to prevent new sensitizations.

Which brings us to farm milk. In Europe, the consumption of unpasteurized milk has repeatedly correlated with protection against allergic disease. In America, 80 percent of the Amish studied by Dr. Holbreich consume raw milk. In a study published earlier this year, Dr. Schaub’s group showed that European children who consumed farm milk had more of those regulatory T-cells, irrespective of whether they lived on farms. The higher the quantity of those cells, the less likely these children were to be given diagnoses of asthma. Here, finally, is something concrete to take off the farm.

None of these scientists recommend that people consume raw milk; it can carry deadly pathogens. Rather, they hope to identify what’s protective in the milk and either extract it or preserve the ingredients during processing. Microbes may not be the key ingredient in this case. Instead, farm milk may act as a prebiotic — selectively feeding good microbes within. Another possibility is that as with human breast milk, antibodies and immune-signaling proteins in cow’s milk influence the human immune system, steering it toward tolerance.

As a whole, this research reframes the question of what prompted the late 20th-century allergy epidemic. Is the problem one of exposure to allergens, many of which aren’t exactly new to human experience? Or is the problem one of increasing sensitivity to whatever allergens are present?

The science suggests the latter. The Mast cowshed, with its rich array of microbial stimuli, probably resembles the world in which the human immune system evolved more than, say, an apartment high above Manhattan. The Amish in Indiana, who for reasons of religious faith have maintained a 19th-century-like lifestyle, may not be less allergic. Rather, during the dramatic reordering of human existence that began with the Industrial Revolution, everyone else may have become more allergic. Immunologically speaking, the farming Amish and farmers generally may more closely resemble an evolutionary norm for our species.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/opinion/sunday/a-cure-for-the-allergy-epidemic.html?emc=eta1

Digestive Health Ann Arbor now offers a complete Metabolic Health Assessment.  It is extremely comprehensive and provides considerably more information about the current state of your health then most doctors will provide.  If you are interested in a very detailed assessment of your health, please click here for more information. (This assessment is covered by your health insurance).

Please call 734-726-0153 to schedule a free consultation and evaluation. At Digestive Health Ann Arbor we are known for providing professional and compassionate care. We strive to guide people towards a comprehensive and holistic healing strategy. Restoring your body to health will restore the quality of your life.

Chemical-Soaked Industrial Food: Tough Questions, Real Answers

Why are chemicals so pervasive in industrial foods?

The increased usage of chemicals in food production means more money for agribusinesses. With each new protein or hormone, the agribusiness is able to patent and gain exclusive sales rights. There is more money to be made off of engineered foods than foods that grow and reproduce naturally. 

Don't these chemicals protect the crop from pests and create a more stable food system?

Though this is certainly a selling point from agribusinesses, the usage of pesticides, herbicides, and genetically engineered crops has not created a more stable food system. The long-term effects of these chemicals on humans have not been adequately studied. Additionally, the increasing crop homogenization and decrease in species diversification leaves us vulnerable to a pest, virus or bacteria that could wipe out an entire crop. Though the chemicals do prevent pests in the short-term, the long-term public health effects are much more detrimental.

How does chemical exposure in food consumption effect our children's bodies?

Since 70% of our immune system is located in our digestive tracts, the foods we eat along with the chemicals they contain significantly impact our health. As these foods travel down the intestines, they can corrode the “pipes” much in the same way that chemical toxins corrode plumbing. The damage inflicted can leave a child vulnerable to a long list of autoimmune disorders such as food allergies, asthma, and ADD/ADHD, among many others.

What can I do to help protect my family? 5 Steps Towards A More Secure Diet:

  1. Educate yourself and others about industrial food.
  2. Eat a healthy, unprocessed diet.
  3. Buy local, organic fruits and vegetables.
  4. Avoid meat and dairy products that have been treated with hormones or antibiotics.
  5. Get a food allergy test for family members that display signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Detecting Food Allergies: What Every Parent Needs to Know

12 Signs and Symptoms of a Food Allergy

  1. hives
  2. itching
  3. rash (eczema)
  4. behavioral/temper changes
  5. swelling of the face, lips, tongue and/or eyes
  6. diarrhea
  7. vomiting
  8. cramps
  9. itching and tightness of throat
  10. difficulty breathing (asthma)
  11. wheezing
  12. in extreme cases, anaphylactic shock.

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an immune reaction to a protein usually found in food that the body perceives as a foreign invader.

Can Children Outgrow Food Allergies?

Some children may outgrow their food allergy, though evidence increasingly suggests that autoimmune disorders such as asthma, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis, among others, may result.

What Can I do to Keep My Family Safe?

  1. Cut “frankenfoods”

Manufactured by agribusinesses with suspect synthetic proteins, preservatives and dyes, these processed foods are built with foreign additives that our bodies often reject, resulting in allergic reactions and many other health issues.

  1. Eat real food

Local, organic fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products are usually the cleanest and safest nutrient sources. Support these alternatives by shopping at farmer's markets.

  1. Food Allergy Blood Test

Simple, reliable, and cost-effective, these food allergy tests can quickly detect up to 96 possible food allergens particular to any one person. If a loved one is displaying the signs and symptoms of a potential food allergy, this is the quickest and easiest detection method.

Support Children: Discover the Truth Behind our Nation's Agribusinesses

Wealthy Nation, Sick Citizens

Though the United States is one of the wealthiest countries, our citizens are not exempt from chronic health issues. How can a country with such an impressive list of accomplishments still struggle to maintain it's health? Most alarming for parents are mounting public health epidemics among children, such as Type II diabetes, obesity, and asthma. Our nation is increasingly burdened by healthcare costs and children suffering from chronic illness. The security of our families and our nation depends on building our strengths, not managing our weaknesses. We must demand our health back.

Frankenfoods: What Agribusiness Isn't Telling Us

Robyn O'Brien, a new champion of food reform, learned how powerful and insidious the industrial food complex truly is when her youngest daughter suffered an acute reaction to a food allergen. Desperate to help her child in any way she could, she armed herself with as much information as possible in order to uncover what could be causing such devastating health changes in her infant daughter. O'Brien was horrified to learn that our food system provides subsidies for genetically modified (GM) crops, or foods that have synthetic proteins genetically hardwired into their DNA. No clinical human trials have ever been published. Our children are ther test subjects, and our very own home is the laboratory.

Milk: It Doesn't Do Your Body Good

According to CNN and the Wall Street Journal, milk is the most common of all food allergens. This seems unsurprising when examined alongside the chemical make-over the dairy industry received 15 years ago. In 1994, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new synthetic growth hormone (alternately called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) or recombinant bovine somatropine (rBST)) to help cows produce more milk. Unfortunately, it also made the cows sick. Besides growing at a monstrous rate and falling under the weight of their own udders, dairy cows also developed ovarian cysts, skin disorders, and udder infections. To get a few more years out of a chronically ill cow's life, industrial dairy farmers feed the cows a steady diet of antibiotics, too.

Monsanto Bullies the FDA, dairies in Maine, and Fox News Investigative Reporters

With all these horrendous side effects, how did the FDA ever allow it to pass inspection? Apparently the effects of rBGH were never properly studied. The FDA relied solely on one study administered by Monsanto, the very company that produced the growth hormone in the first place. The study was never published. Instead of pushing for more analysis, the FDA accepted the results, stating that they showed no significant problems.

Cancer and dairy allergies are increasingly linked to rBGH, and the consumer public now demands answers. Monsanto, however, did and does not want to relinquish their grip on the dairy industry. Investigative journalists from a Fox News station in Tampa, Florida were fired for producing an unflattering story about the hormones after ensuing pressure from Monsanto.

Oakhurt Dairy, one of the largest dairy operations in Maine, was forced to change it's labels from “rGBH-free” to adding the statement “FDA States: No significant difference in milk from cows treated with artificial growth hormone.” It has even been proven that there is a so-called revolving door between Monsanto and the FDA. Many former Monsanto employees now work for the FDA, and vice versa. Who is working for the American public?

“How Many Cereal Bowls Have I Filled With This Milk?!”

Governments around the world no longer except meat or dairy products from the United States. They say these new proteins and hormones have yet to be proven safe. Our government, on the other hand, says they have yet to be proven dangerous. Robyn O'Brien, and many others, disagree with them.

Take A Stand for Your Family

Agriculture is greatly influenced by enormous corporations bent on squeezing every last cent out of the consuming public, even if it means putting families at risk. It is up to us to educate each other and take a stand against large corporations. The strength of our nation's children depends on it.

Dramatic Rise in Hospitalizations: Children with Food Allergies Dramatic Rise in Hospitalizations: Children with Food Allergies Dramatic Rise in Hospitalizations: Children with Food Allergies

A 265% Increase in the Past 10 Years

Since 1998, there has been a 265% increase in hospitalizations related to food allergies among children under 18, according to a 2008 CDC report. In ten short years, the number of children in grave danger due to consumption of a food allergen has nearly tripled. What is causing this unprecedented increase, and what is being done to prevent the unimaginable from happening to our nations' children?

A “Typical” Breakfast Sends a Child to the Emergency Room

Unfortunately, not much can be done. Robyn O'Brien, a former food analyst and mother of four, found this out the hard way. One morning over breakfast, her life changed forever. Her youngest daughter suffered an acute allergic reaction to her standard breakfast of Eggo waffles and was rushed to the hospital. Fortunately, O'Brien's daughter survived, but the mother's confidence in the nation's food system did not.

Over 3 Million Child Sufferers

To O'Brien's astonishment, she learned that an unbelievable 3 million children now suffer from food allergies. Unfortunately, these trends are not merely related to a general population increase. It is the very food we feed our families that is turning their immune systems against them.

3 Shocking Discoveries

In her search for answers, O'Brien made three surprising discoveries:

  1. Many food allergies are caused by synthetic proteins manufactured and inserted into our crops – proteins which were never tested for possible side effects.
  2. An allergic reaction to food is not only related to possible genetic predisposition, but an industry that willingly experiments on it's unsuspecting consumers.
  3. Our government's response to the food industry's frankenfoods is “safe until proven dangerous.”

How Many Children Sacrificed?

How many more children will be sent to the hospital before we realize the food is not safe? As more and more money is spent on disease management instead of economic growth, our international competitiveness dwindles.

Defending Our Nation's Children

Though never a foodie herself, Robyn O'Brien has become what many call “Erin Brokovich” of the healthy food movement. She recognizes that this is an issue that bridges the gap between progressive and conservative. Democrats, Republicans and independents alike all have children that they love and for whom they want the best. As an economist, she reminds us that we must ensure the future of our nation is in strong, healthy hands. 

8 Common Causes of a Leaky Gut

Now that we known some of the symptoms, let's take a look at some of the most common causes.

1. Chronic inflammation

Whether it be stress, IBS, or a food allergy, chronic inflammation is one of the biggest causes of a leaky gut.

2. Food Sensitivities/allergies

Food sensitivities can cause inflammation and worsen a leaky gut. Food sensitivities are also symptoms of a leaky gut because once our digestive tract becomes permeable, additional food sensitivities may develop.

3. Damage from taking large amounts of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)

Certain pain relief medications can be detrimental to our bodies, especially when taken frequently. Consult your medical practitioner for a less caustic pain reliever.

4. Cytotoxic drugs

Used to treat symptoms of arthritis, these medications can wear on our intestines.

5. Radiation

Used to treat cancer, radiation can weaken our systems.

6. Antibiotics

7. Excessive alcohol consumption

8. Compromised immunity

This can be a result of small intestine bacteria overgrowth, chronic stress, or intestinal infections. It is important to take even small infections seriously. If not addressed immediately, they can grow.

5 Easy Steps: Mend that Leaky Gut

A leaky gut sounds menacing, but they can heal with time and effort. Here are three easy steps to get you on your way.

1. Get a Food Allergy Test

Your leaky gut can only heal once you know what foods are harmful to you. Food allergy tests are simple, straightforward, and inexpensive. Removing trigger foods is a great start.

2. Easy on the Pill-Popping

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen often contribute to gut irritation. Ask your medical practitioner for a pain reliever that is more gentle on your digestive system.

3. Twenty-Chew Challenge

Chewing each bite twenty times until it becomes a liquid means less work for your stomach and digestive system. Eating your food slowly also has been proven to help people enjoy food more and eat less.

4. Get a Little Help from your Supplement Friends

A leaky gut generally indicates an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the small and large intestine. There are plenty of supplements out there to help replenish good bacteria. Ask your medical practitioner for a recommendation that's right for you.

5. Don't Make a Mountain out of a Mole Hill...

...and by that we mean treat minor infections, such as candida, immediately and completely. Letting these infections fester forces the immune system to be constantly alert. This is physically exhausting and increases inflammation throughout the body, including the gut.

The 7 Most Common Systemic Symptoms of a Leaky Gut

How do we know if we have a “leaky gut”? Since 70% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract, poor digestion and absorption becomes a systemic problem. Our whole body feels the effects. This is why discovering and treating a leaky gut is so important.

While the following is not an exhaustive list of symptoms or systems affected by a leaky gut, here are some of the most common:

1. Digestive System

-        abdominal pain

-        indigestion

-        diarrhea

-        constipation

-        bloating

-        gas

2. Respiratory System

-        asthma

-        shortness of breath

3. Muscular System

-        chronic joint pain

-        chronic muscle pain

4. Integumentary System (skin, hair, nails)

-        skin rashes

-        acne

-        eczema

-        psoriasis

5. Nervous System

-        confusion

-        fuzzy or foggy thinking

-        mood swings

-        nervousness

-        poor memory

-        aggressive behavior

-        anxiety

-        fatigue

-        feeling toxic

6. Immune System

-        poor immunity

-        recurrent vaginal infections

7. Urinary System

-        recurrent bladder infections

-        bed-wetting

If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, the best course of action is to speak to a health practitioner that is familiar with leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky What? Gut Basics Explained

This month's blogs will focus on Leaky Gut Syndrome. We will cover gut basics, symptoms, causes, and easy steps to take to improve intestinal health.

 

The concept of a leaky gut is confusing and odd-sounding. It evokes an image of a tin pail riddled with holes, or a faucet with a constant drip. How can our guts be leaky?

Snapshot #1: Healthy Gut

Let's start with normal digestion. Our intestines are not solid barriers, as tin pails and faucets tend to be, but are permeable, like filters. Your digestive tract serves as a filter system, much like the ones people use in their homes to purify water. The digestive tract is essentially providing the same service for our bodies. The gut absorbs healthy bits and pieces of the food we eat and allows them to pass through to the blood stream. Larger molecules-  such as partially digested food, bacteria and toxins- that are too big to properly filter through are shuttled to the large intestine where they are expelled.

Snapshot #2: Leaky Gut

Have you ever gone camping and tried to purify water that was filled with sludge and particulate matter? Even if you haven't, try to imagine filtering drain pipe run-off in your Brita. It probably wouldn't be something to serve to friends. Those with leaky gut syndrome have malfunctioning intestinal filters. Often, however, these intestinal filters are malfunctioning because of what they have been forced to filter. Over time leaky guts develop gaping holes that allow toxins and undigested food to enter into the blood stream. This triggers an immune response complete with attacking white blood cells and flaring inflammation. What may have initially been only one food allergy or sensitivity could turn into many. You could even develop an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.

“Gutting” it Right

Yikes, that last snapshot was a little gross. No worries. Keeping your gut healthy is relatively easy with a bit of awareness. In this month's blogs we will give you some great tips on keeping those filtering systems sludge-free.

Two Zero-Cost Tips: Potential Food Allergies Revealed

Dr. Doris Rapp, Pediatric Allergist and Mother of Environmental Medicine, mentions some simple ways to check for potential food allergies at home. The first question we must ask ourselves is: “My child was fine until they ate, touched or smelled what?” The sooner we think critically about our environments, the sooner we can help our children.

Food Allergy Test #1: Infants

• Food allergies tend to appear in infants when they switch to solid foods.

• If you notice food allergy symptoms, remove any common food allergens from the infant’s diet.

• Then add each food separately in a 4-day interval.

• Note any changes in your child's behavior.

• Infants that arch their bodies and toss their heads back are often displaying signs of an allergic reaction.

 

Food Allergy Test #2: Children

• Have your child write or draw before they eat.

• If your child suffers from asthma, have them blow into a peak flow meter.

• Wait twenty minutes after food is eaten.

• Have your child write, draw or blow into the peak flow meter again.

• Notice any changes.

• Observe their behavior.

• Repeat test with different foods and locations.

• If significant behavioral or physical changes are noted, your child should have an official food allergy test.

Shocking Symptoms: What Every Parent Should Know

This month’s blogs will center around an eye-opening and informative interview of pediatric allergist Dr. Doris Rapp on the Phil Donahue show. The 45-minute long show can be viewed at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRDpcWZUEiU

Dr. Doris Rapp is considered the Mother of Environmental Medicine. She has received numerous awards for her work on the affects of environmental toxins and food allergies on the human body. More about her work can be found at her website.

A Word from Dr. Doris Rapp, Pediatric Allergist:

“We have managed to pollute our air, our water, our foods, our clothing, our homes, our schools and our work areas and the youngsters you are seeing today. Many of them can't go to school anymore because of all the chemicals. They can't go shopping. They can't go to a movie. There are many things they can't do. Everyone knows about allergies affecting the nose, and the eyes, and the lungs, but allergies and environmental factors can affect the way we think.”

 

Dr. Rapp, Pediatric Allergist and the Mother of Environmental Medicine hasmany tips if you suspect your infant has food allergies. Here is a comprehensive list:
Symptoms of Food Allergies in Infants
1. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or constipation, bloody stools
2. Hives, eczema, asthma
3. Prolonged colic, crying, inability to sleep at night
4. Poor growth, failure to thrive, inability to properly absorb nutrients
5. Acid reflux
6. Congestion of nose or chest, excessive spitting
7. Head banging, crib rocking
• Symptoms of Food Allergies in Children 
1. Red earlobes, cheeks
2. Dark eye circles
3. Bags or wrinkles under the eyes
4. “Spaced out” look
5. Wiggly, restless legs
6. Dislike of being touched or cuddled
7. Bedwetting after the age of five
8. Asthma, hay fever
9. Diagnosed with ADHD, inability to focus
10. Headaches
11. Depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings
12. Violent behavior, temper tantrums, aggression
13. “Allergic Salute”- particular way of wiping nose as shown at 17:15 in Phil Donahue interview from 1989: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRDpcWZUEiU.

 

Asthma, Food Allergies and Children: What Every Parent Must Know

• The number of asthma-related deaths in developed nations is increasing at alarming rates.

• There is mounting evidence that implicates food allergies as a leading cause of asthma.

What should parents do? Educate themselves and find out the truth. Most doctors do not test for food allergies. Parents of asthma sufferers must be proactive and find appropriate care.

As we mentioned in last month's blogs, there are 3 basic treatment choices:

  1. Remove the cause
  2. Treat the symptoms
  3. Alter the host to be more tolerant of the cause

Unfortunately, despite advances in pharmaceutical therapy, asthma sufferers still have a high mortality rate. If your child suffers from asthma, don't wait. Removing a single food from your child's diet could alleviate all symptoms and save your child's life.

Asthma and Allergies: Not Just Peanuts and Bee Stings

To kick off June's blog entries, let's start with some food allergy basics:

• Allergies aren't just immediate reactions to things like peanuts and bee stings.

• There are two main food allergy distinctions- IgE, and non IgE (IgA and IgG).

• The most common food allergies are IgA and IgG.

• Food allergies are generally acquired due to exposure, not genetics.

The table below is extremely helpful in understanding food allergy basics: 

IgE

Non-IgE (IgA and IgG)

Fast response (few minutes)

Slower response (2 hours-72 hours), sometimes take years for symptoms to manifest

Strong response

Weaker response

Similar physiological response in most people

Varied physiological response in most people

“fixed”- do not change during our lifetime

Can evolve at any age

Analogous to immune system “blow-torch”: instant, acute, powerful

Analogous to immune system “sand paper”: delayed, slowly damaging

Immune system response to a protein found in digestive system that is perceived as foreign object

Immune system response to a protein found in digestive system that is perceived as foreign object

Asthma attacks can be terrifying: hives, rash, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea followed by coughing and wheezing. If not caught quickly, the throat may swell and cut off the airway (anaphylaxis). We often associate these acute reactions with instant triggers such as peanuts or bee stings. However, there are two different kinds of asthma: 1) immediate asthma and 2) delayed, or chronic, asthma. Immediate asthma is often associated with IgE allergic reactions, and chronic asthma is associated with non-IgE allergies. It can be relatively simple to deduce a trigger for an immediate and acute asthmatic reaction. But what should we do about chronic asthma?

3 Ways to Deal with Chronic Asthma:

  1. Remove the cause: The best choice for eradicating chronic asthma completely. The comprehensive ELISA (Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay) panel is a blood test which examines our bodies’ reaction to 96 of the most common food allergens. Once we remove the offending substance from our diets, improvement is swift and drastic.
  2. Treat the symptoms: Anti-inflammatory medications, bronchodilators, inhalers and nebulizers are all helpful in combating asthma symptoms. While these pharmaceuticals ameliorate discomfort, they do not treat the cause. They can also cause many detrimental side effects such as facial swelling, blistered or peeling skin, severe headaches, insomnia, and vomiting.
  3. Alter the host: Many medical doctors recommend allergy shots (immunotherapy). Repeated exposure of small doses of the allergen trains the immune system to not react. Many people report success with this method. However, there are potential side effects when we drastically alter our own immune system.

Rattling Coughs and Cheddar Cheese: Phil's Story of Respiratory Distress and Food Allergies

The cough began with a rumble in his gut then rattled up the back of his throat and mouth, then echoed through the air in explosive bursts. After suffering nearly half of his 63 years with the cough, Phil was almost more familiar with its sound than the tone of his own voice. Phil began searching for relief 20 years ago, but even his helpful and knowledgeable pulmonologist could only numb the growing discomfort. Finally, when Phil was hospitalized with bronchitis and pneumonia, he began look into other influencing factors. He was amazed to read about the intersection of food allergies and respiratory ailments for a possible answer. ! Phil scheduled an appointment at Digestive Health Ann Arbor the next day. Their expert 96-allergen food panel test (called ELISA) and advanced RAST test quickly showed that Phil was allergic to eggs, dairy and gluten. After avoiding these foods for a month, Phil's cough completely disappeared. Comprehending his body's relationship to food was the key to unlocking true wellness. By changing the conversation about his cough and finding the root cause, Phil transformed his health and his life.

Dialing a New Number: Changing the Dialogue about Health

This blog is about challenging conventional medical wisdom. At Digestive Health Ann Arbor, our goal is to transform the conversation when it comes to your health. We would like to change the way people speak about their symptoms, conditions and diagnosis while exploring where these issues truly originate. There are over 1400 peer reviewed articles in PubMed implicating food allergies and digestive disorders in many illnesses, including Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Asthma and Psoriasis just to name a few. Despite this astounding number of articles, the medical community has remained surprisingly silent. These conditions are all about inflammation, yet no one asks about the origin of the inflammation itself. Medications reduce the level of inflammation and help manage pain, but they will not resolve the underlying cause.

In future blog entries, we will explore the effect of gluten intolerances, food allergies, inflammation, and other digestive issues on our general health and wellness, and provide resources for healing. Welcome to our first blog entry.