Why Coconut Oil is a Superfood

A few months ago, I wrote a newsletter about the amazing benefits of organic Apple Cider Vinegar, one of my top 5 super foods. This month, I want to share with you the second of my top 5 super foods: coconut oil. Truly a “super food,” coconut oil has the power to encourage weight loss, improve brain function, boost the immune system, and much more I will expand upon later in this newsletter.

But first, I realize that many of you may be under the impression that coconut oil is unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content (a whopping 90% of the fatty acids in it are saturated). You’ve probably been told that saturated fats are horrible things that will do nothing but clog up your arteries. But this is a myth! At least when it comes to coconut oil. There are entire populations that rely on coconut oil for cooking and nutrition that show no evidence of heart disease. The Tokelauans, for example, in the South Pacific, consume 60% of their calories from saturated fat and are a very healthy people. This is because the fats found in coconut oil are different than the fats found in, say, cheese or steak. As it turns out, the saturated fats found in coconut oil are actually good for our hearts! That’s because they are in the form of Medium Chain Triglycerides (or MCTs), while most other unhealthy fats are Long Chain (LCTs).

MCTs are metabolized differently than LCTs. Once ingested, they are absorbed quickly between the stomach and intestine rather than mixing into the bloodstream (like LCTs would). This allows the MCTs to go straight to the liver to be converted into energy. Because they are so rapidly absorbed, the calories in the MCTs are NOT stored as fat. Instead, they are converted into fuel and used very efficiently by the body, giving you a boost of energy and helping to preserve your waistline!

Let’s dive a little deeper into the many ways coconut oil can improve your mind and body:

1.     Coconut oil can help you loose weight! It’s especially great at reducing that stubborn abdominal fat (the most dangerous, heart-unhealthy fat of all) because it removes stress on the pancreas, thereby increasing the body’s metabolic rate. Studies show that coconut oil can increase energy expenditure in a 24-hour period by as much as 5%, which is about 120 calories a day! coconut oil may also have an appetite-reducing effect, making you eat less. Taken together, these properties can help lead to significant weight loss.

2.     Coconut oil can boost your immune system and function as a natural antimicrobial because it contains Lauric acid (which then turns into Monolaurin in the body). Monolaurin helps kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It’s even been shown to combat ailments like yeast infections, herpes, the flu, Staphylococcus Aureus, measles, hepatitis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, pneumonia, gonorrhea, and ulcers. You can also apply coconut oil topically to cuts and bruises to speed up healing.

3.     Coconut oil can improve blood cholesterol levels and may lower your risk of heart disease. The MCTs in coconut oil raise good cholesterol levels and may even improve blood coagulation factors and antioxidant status. Some scientific evidence also suggests that coconut oil supports healthy thyroid function and insulin levels, lowering your risk for diabetes.

4.     Coconut oil can reduce IBS by treating many digestion-related problems. The aforementioned antimicrobial properties can kill off various bacteria, fungi, and parasites—the culprits behind many digestive woes. It also helps you absorb the nutrients in your food better.

5.     When applied topically, coconut oil can protect hair against damage, moisturize skin, and even function as a light sunscreen—it blocks out about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The oil will also improve the moisture and lipid content of your skin. You can even use it as a mouthwash to kill any harmful bacteria in our mouth and improve overall dental health. Other topical applications include: healing stretch marks during pregnancy, lightening age spots, soothing eczema or psoriasis, and stimulating hair growth. Numerous other personal care uses for coconut oil are all over the Internet.

6.     The fatty acids in coconut oil can be therapeutic to a number of mental disorders. Upon ingestion, these fats are turned into substances called “Ketones.” Ketones have been shown to reduce the rate of seizures in epileptic children and may even boost brain function in Alzheimer’s patients by providing extra energy to the malfunctioning brain cells. Ongoing studies are assessing the use of MCTs as an intensive treatment against Alzheimer’s.

7.     Coconut oil improves kidney health by helping to prevent kidney infection and dissolving kidney stones.

Who knew something so delicious could be so good for you? My hope is that many of you will think about adding coconut oil into your daily routine. There are several easy and convenient ways to do so. You can use it for baking or as a dairy-free replacement for butter. It’s also delicious in stir-frys and can replace vegetable oil in any recipe. Some people even use it as a coffee creamer. I personally love to use it when I make sweet potato fries. Again, you can find different uses all over the Internet.

Finally, if you want to experience all that coconut oil has to offer, please by organic, virgin coconut oil. Here are some of my preferred online shopping resources: Coconut Oil Online (www.coconutoil-online.com), Nutiva (www.nutiva.com), and Aloha Nu Coconut Oil (www.simplycoconut.com). 

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.

Medications, Placebo, the Right Word: What works best?

placebo doctor.jpg

Have you ever considered the value of your doctor’s words and demeanor when it comes to healing disease? Have you ever entertained the possibility that they could even have as great an effect on pain-management as an actual drug? In light of new research, the way a doctor conducts himself in the presence of a patient might have a greater impact on health then anyone ever thought possible. The credit for this discovery goes out to a branch of science that was only recently legitimized: Placebo studies. 

According to WebMD, a placebo is something that appears to be a medical treatment, but actually does not contain any active ingredient meant to affect health. The placebo effect, then, is the response a person can sometimes have to a placebo, e.g. symptom improvement, or even negative side effects.

Ted Kaptchuk, the current leading researcher in Placebo studies, has seen both kinds of effects. His first clinical drug trial involved comparing acupuncture and pain pills as treatments for tendinitis and elbow pain. Some patients called in reporting negative side effects from both treatments: debilitating lethargy from the pills and painful swelling and rashes from the needles. However, many patients also reported feeling a lot better after treatment, with patients who received acupuncture experiencing the greatest relief. The catch is that none of the patients actually took real pain-reducers or had real needles stuck in them. The pills were made of cornstarch and the needles had retractable tips that were unable to pierce skin (Knox).

This is only one of several studies done by Kaptchuk that shows patients having a real physical response in the absence of active medical ingredients. In another study, Kaptchuk gathered 66 volunteer migraine patients and tracked seven migraine attacks in each (495 attacks in total). He compared four different “treatments” in his patients: Maxalt (a common migraine medicine), labeled as such; a placebo, labeled as Maxalt; and a mystery pill, labeled as being either Maxalt or a placebo, and; simply taking no pills at all. Subjects were asked to rate their pain level after each attack and accompanying treatment (Feinberg).

Subjects who took no pills reported a 15% increase in migraine pain.

Subjects who took a placebo labeled as such reported experiencing 26% less pain.

Subjects who took a Maxalt pill labeled as such reported a 40% decrease in pain.

And finally, when subjects took the “mystery pill” that could have been either Maxalt or a placebo, they also reported a 40% decrease in pain (Feinberg).

Two important conclusions we can draw from this study is that 1) even when patients know they are taking a placebo, they still produce a physical response, and 2) that a placebo has the power to reduce a migraine patient’s pain as much as a scientifically proven drug!

Mind you, this is not to say that Maxalt is a completely impotent drug. While patients taking Maxalt and Placebos both reported a 40% decrease in pain in the short term, it turns out that 2.5 hours after taking the pills, the patients taking Maxalt were four times likelier to report being pain-free than those who had taken placebos (Feinberg). 

Still, Kaptchuk’s groundbreaking work has allowed researches to conclude that a whopping half of a drug’s effect comes merely from our expectations of it! (Feinberg).

This is because, as it turns out, Placebos have the power to influence a patient’s brain using the exact same biochemical pathways as a drug. Studies have proven that placebos increase dopamine (the chemical associated with feelings of pleasure) in the brains of those suffering from both Parkinson’s and depression. In fact, besides Parkinson’s and depression, patients afflicted with sleep disorders, IBS, migraines and other pains, and menopause are all in the running to enjoy these same benefits from mere placebos ("What Is the Placebo Effect?").

But sham medicine in itself is not the only way a health care professional can manipulate a patient’s response.  

Kaptchuk is actually an acupuncturist by training, and a very successful one. While he never questioned the beneficial effects of acupuncture, he couldn’t help but notice that many of his patients started showing improvement before being touched by a single needle. He began to hypothesize that the nature of his interactions with his patients, essentially the act of caring itself, was the explanation behind their sudden improvement (Knox).

He put his hypothesis to the test in the early 2000s. In collaboration with gastroenterologists studying Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Kaptchuk was able to measure the effect of a doctor’s words and behavior on 262 adults with IBS. The patients were split into three groups. Group 1 received no treatment, group 2 received sham acupuncture from a detached and somewhat absent practitioner, and group 3 received sham acupuncture from a practitioner who offered copious amounts of attention and sympathy to the patients. Care lasted at least twenty minutes and included a form of physical comfort, like hand-holding. Kaptchuk was not surprised to see that the patients who experienced the most care fared the best (Knox).

Yet another significant study done by Kaptchuk, researchers learned that the Placebo effect actually consists of many components, including the way in which the doctor delivers the placebo. This was also the first study to show a dose-dependent response for a placebo, the placebo being, in this case, the level of care and nurture given by the practitioner during treatment (Knox). 

However, it should be pointed out that the patient’s own subjective measure of symptom improvement does not necessarily reflect a real change in health. In another of Kaptchuk’s experiments, patients suffering from Asthma were given placebo medication and then examined to see if their airways had in fact opened. Unfortunately, the placebo didn’t yield effective results. But, fascinatingly, the patients still reported symptom improvement. This serves as an important reminder that while mentality can indeed have a large affect on physical health, it is not necessarily always a reliable healing tool (Feinberg).

Given the evidence, in the end the patients who will fare the best will probably receive a harmonious balance of drug and non-drug treatment including, but not limited to, proper nurturing and words of hope from a doctor. If nothing else, Kaptchuk’s studies will hopefully encourage more and more doctors to treat their patients with care and respect. If a doctor’s attitude toward his patients can elevate the effects of sham medicine, then just imagine the potential benefits for a patient who receives a genuine treatment and exceptional care from his/her doctor!

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.

Dining with IBS: An Uncomfortable Date Indeed

For those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), eating out can be a jungle expedition, fraught with danger, unexpected twists, and improvised back up strategies. The sufferer calls ahead to ensure there are suitable food options, ingests caustic medications with potential side effects that range from extreme constipation to heart attack, and drives a separate car that can serve as a getaway vehicle. At the restaurant they must nonchalantly nudge the dining party towards a table near a bathroom, and pounce on the seat with easiest entry and exit path. During the meal they must be vigilantly self-aware, constantly assessing their evolving physical state as the food digests. Only when the meal is over and the bill is paid can an IBS sufferer breathe a sigh of relief. A leisurely dining experience is never so simple for a person with IBS.

IBS is not restricted to digestive discomfort- it affects the way we live. The stress of IBS can lead to physical and emotional debilitation. However, we do not have to passively accept IBS or merely numb the symptoms. It is possible to combat IBS at its root and completely eradicate it from our lives. This month’s blogs will offer a simple 3-step solution for dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

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.

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.

3 Shocking Barriers to Resolving Celiac Disease

Evidence is mounting of the prevalence of Celiac Disease and it's implication in the development of other autoimmune disorders. But where is the response from the medical community? It seems there are more than a few barriers preventing traditional medical practitioners from grasping the gravity of the situation.

Here are a few:

1. Physicians believe that Celiac Disease is rare. Since only 1 out of 4,700 people are diagnosed in the United States, it seems that few cases exist. However, according to a study completed by Dr. Alessio Fassano, Director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, at least 1 in 133 people in the United States suffers from Celiac Disease. That means 97% of sufferers remain undiagnosed.

2. Denial of nutrition's role in autoimmune disorders. This is true both for the general public and medical practitioners. If we “are what we eat,” why do many gastroenterologists throw medication at a problem when simply changing our diet could resolve the issue entirely?

3. Insurance and Pharmaceutical Companies lose money. Insurance companies denied payment for an intestinal biopsy (to confirm a diagnosis of celiac disease) for 21% of patients with a positive blood test in a study published on February 10, 2003 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Insurance companies deny these tests so they don't lose money. Pharmaceutical companies also profit from selling medications that mitigate Celiac Disease symptoms, without resolving the core illness. Currently, medications such as AT-1001 and CCX-281 are being developed which allow Celiac Disease sufferers to continue to eat gluten. These drug sales could reach $8 billion by 2019.

Don't let insurance companies, pharmaceutical businesses, or misinformed medical practitioners stand in the way of your health. If you or a loved one suffers from symptoms of gluten intolerance, get tested as soon as possible.

U.S. Lags Behind Europe in Celiac Disease Knowledge

Did you know that 1 in 133 people in the U.S has celiac disease? (Archives of Internal Medicine, published 10 February 2003)

Unfortunately, only about 1 out of every 4,700 Americans has been diagnosed, which means 97% of cases go undetected in our country. Why is this? Dr. Alessio Fassano, the Director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, points to lack of research by medical professionals in the United States.

"Equal recognition of celiac disease has been frustratingly slow to reach the U.S," says a colleague of Dr. Fassano, Dr. Guandalini, who trained in Italy. "In Europe, it typically takes a few weeks to go from the first symptoms to a diagnosis. In the U.S., the average lag time between onset and diagnosis is 11 years." If ever.

In the mid-1970s, European scientists spearheaded a task force to determine celiac disease prevalence and presentation. These efforts allowed for both a greater understanding and management of the disease. In the United States, very few medical doctors attempt to understand the disease or its wide-spread implications. Unless your endocrinologist or pathologist knows about celiac disease, the diagnosis could remain a mystery for years.

5 Big Changes: A Hospital's Nutritional Make-Over

Soggy lettuce. Mealy potatoes. Rubberized flank steak. The mere idea of hospital food can trigger one's gag reflex.

At St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, the hospital food's image has just undergone a complete makeover. St. Joseph is backed by the Michigan Health and Hospital Association's Healthy Food Hospitals program, which supports locally grown foods and nutritional choices for patients and staff. These initiatives set the foundation for the new hospital cafeteria.

A quick look at the new changes:

1. Portion-size reduction

2. Lower fat and sodium content

3. Fresh ingredients from on-site farm

4. Fewer processed foods, more home-made products

5. Color-coded system which allows cafeteria-goers to select the healthiest option for their diet

St. Joseph Mercy certainly raised the bar, but why did it take so long? If what we eat directly correlates to our health, why aren't all hospitals creating similar cafeterias? We cannot wait for hospital's to catch up to our needs. It is important that we take our health into our own hands. If you or a loved one is experiencing pain or discomfort, don't let a medical system stand in your path.

To find out more, click on this link:

http://www.annarbor.com/news/st-joseph-ann-arbor-opens-new-health-conscious-cafeteria-wednesday/

IBS Eradication Step #2: Critical Analysis of Current Medical “Cures”

What Do Some Medical Doctors Say about the Cause and Cures of IBS? While some medical doctors concede that IBS is affected by diet, most do not test for food allergies. They allege that the true cause is unknown, and the best course of action is to numb symptoms with prescribed medication.

Is there a Second Opinion? Yes. Thankfully, some doctors realize the direct correlation between diet and IBS. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, says that “more than 50% of IBS patients were found sensitized to some food or inhalant.”

Why is there a discrepancy in opinion about IBS causes and cures? Michael Pollan, investigative journalist and author of the new book Food Rules explains that “there's a lot of money in the Western diet...The healthcare industry makes more money treating chronic diseases (which account for three quarters of the $2 trillion plus we spend each year on heath care in this country) than preventing them.” (Pollan, 2009, p. xiv) It is more profitable to prescribe medications to patients than to remove the cause of their illness.

It is important to think critically about our health. Once we see the sociopolitical factors that surround our healthcare system we can understand how to advocate for our own well-being. Stay tuned for IBS Eradication Step #3: Find Solutions that Work for You.

IBS: Food Allergies and Digestion Basics

In previous articles we have defined food allergies, discussed how they develop, and given a general overview of symptoms. In this article we will cover the process of digestion in greater depth, and talk more specifically about IBS symptoms.
 
Digestion Basics: What Everyone Should Know
Our digestive tract is a 30 foot long muscular tube that begins at our mouth and ends at our anus. Its 3 main functions are:
 
1. Transform food into absorbable nourishment.
2. Fend off invading organisms and toxins.
3. Expel waste products.
 
Ingested food travels down the digestive tract through a process called peristalsis, a wave-like muscle contraction. During peristalsis different enzymes, bacteria and acids critical to digestion are secreted in a highly specialized and coordinated process. Only when the food is completely broken down should it pass through the digestive tract's tissue wall to be absorbed by our bodies’ cells.
 
The Immune System in our Digestive Tract
Around 70% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract. Its primary role is to decide whether to “ok” or attack a food we ingest. When our immune system doesn't like something in our tube, it fights with inflammation and excess mucus. If the immune system is constantly on the offensive, these reactions can damage our digestive tract. Inflammation deteriorates the intestinal lining, resulting in something called “Leaky Gut syndrome.”  
 
IBS Symptoms: A Closer Look

Constipation
: Indicates a traffic back-up in your small intestine and colon. When bowel movements are difficult to pass, extremely firm, pellet-like, include bloating, distension, abdominal pain or a sense of incomplete evacuation, you may be constipated. There are three major side effects of constipation:
1. Malabsorption of nutrients, leading to many health problems.
2. Delayed waste removal, which sometimes causes the reabsorption of waste products.
3. Painful passing because of drier and harder stools.
 
Diarrhea: Indicates that too much water is being retained, and not absorbed, in the digestive tract.
There are three potential causes:
1. Food may be moving through the tube too quickly for the formation of solid stools. This happens when the peristalsis speeds up in order to expel a perceived threat. Either the food goes up (vomit) or comes down (diarrhea)
2. An immune response which causes irritation or inflammation of the intestines.
3. Toxins in the digestive tract can force the water flow into the tube rather than being absorbed.
Regardless of the cause, a loss of water that should be absorbed leads to dehydration and poor absorption of nutrients.
 
Gas & Bloating: A natural and normal by-product of food processing, excessive or odorous gas indicates faulty digestion. This is most likely because of a food allergy or a bacterial imbalance in your digestive tract.
 
Why Medication Fails
If you suffer from IBS or IBD, you have probably been introduced to a long and ever-growing list of medications. Unfortunately, drugs treat individual symptoms and not the cause. Additionally, many of the drugs have detrimental side effects.
 
6 types of drugs to treat IBS symptoms:
1. Bowel movement speed modifiers (Zelnorm, Lotronex, Calmactin)
2. Laxatives for constipation (MiraLax, Perdiem, Ex-Lax, Milk of Magnesia)
3. Antidiarrheal (Imodium, Lomotil)
4. Abdominal cramp pain relievers (Donnatal, Levsin, Levbid, NuLev, Bentyl, Pro-Banthine)
5. Antidepressants (Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, Paxil, Elavil)
6. Narcotic analgesics (Vicodin, Demerol, Xanax)
 
As you can see, none of these is an IBS “cure” because no such medical cure exists. You may feel relief temporarily, but this is because of a forced biochemical modification, not a permanent resolution. Once you stop using the medications, the symptoms will return. With over 20 million Americans diagnosed with IBS currently, it is time to address this disease with honesty and transparency. Many doctors and scientists agree- we must assess food allergies and digestion in order to transform our health once and for all.
 
What can we do if we suspect we have an allergy?
There is good news. We can successfully eliminate the symptoms by discovering what foods serve as our triggers. By excluding the trigger food from our diet, the intestinal inflammation quickly recedes and the symptoms disappear. 
           
1. ELISA
The Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay panel (ELISA) is a blood test that examines 96 of the most common foods.  The food categories tested include: animal products, dairy, meat and fowl, grains, nuts, vegetable, seafood and fruits By undergoing the ELISA test, patients are able to measure both IgE, IgA and IgG immune responses.  Ann Arbor Holistic Health provides a simple means that combines both tests.
2. Supplements and Vitamins
Vitamin D, essential fatty acids, and probiotics are recommended supplements that help speed up our recovery process. Supplements such as quercetin and curcumin are plant-based herbs that lessen inflammation and ease our symptoms. Once we know what food is causing us problems, we can jump start our healing with some of these natural remedies.
3. RAST
Most doctors offer a IgE blood test called RAST (short for radioallergosorbent test). Though this method is extremely accurate in determining IgE based food allergies, it does not address the issue of non-IgE allergies at all. The ELISA food allergy food allergy test offered at Ann Arbor Holistic Health also tests for IgE food allergies.
4. Elimination Diets
Though elimination diets are accurate and cost-effective, they involve a long and arduous process. Most food intolerances are caused by the following foods: Dairy, wheat, egg, soy, peanuts, shellfish, and tree nuts. Removing one of the above from your diet can theoretically indicate the allergen, but as we have seen with Leaky Gut Syndrome, we often have more than one allergen due to years and years of damaging inflammation. Testing for multiple-allergens is very difficult to do with this method.
5. Stool Samples
Stool samples are excellent barometers of human health. Since the majority of the body's immune cells are present in the intestinal tract, a stool sample is the best place to search for evidence of food allergies. However, stool samples are messy and unpleasant.
6. Skin Prick Tests
Skin prick tests, one of the most common methods for IgE immune responses, can be painful and do not detect non-IgE food allergies. They can also be inaccurate with a high level of false positives.
           
Conclusion
“You are what you eat. Or, even more accurately, you are what you absorb,” says Dr. John Wycoff, an osteopath based out of East Lansing who believes hormonal balance, allergies and diet are integral to health. As reactionary medicine and over-usage of prescribed chemicals fail to alleviate our pain and discomfort, more and more physicians are embracing holistic approaches to healing. Through a deeper understanding of what our bodies do and do not absorb, and how these physiological responses affect us, we can take charge of our wellness and move towards a brighter, more fulfilling future. If you are experiencing any of the listed symptoms, please give us a call today.

Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Disease: Different Name, Same Game

Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity sound like two totally different entities. Celiac disease sounds severe while gluten sensitivity seems pretty harmless. Unfortunately, both are very serious digestive conditions and are actually much more similar than their names would indicate.

Both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are forms of gluten intolerance. Gluten and gliadin are proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye that give flour its elasticity. Gluten and gliadin can be found in cookies, breads, pastas, anything that uses flour and certain kinds of alcohol. An allergy to gluten can lead to both gluten sensitivity and eventually celiac disease.

Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease should be thought of as progressing points on the same continuum. Both are caused by gluten intolerances, and gluten sensitivity can quickly evolve into the more severe celiac disease.

Celiac disease sufferers are defined as those who have unhealthy, deteriorated villi. When gliadin and gluten trigger an allergic reaction, it inflames the small intestine. This inflammation flattens and destroys the lining (villi) of the small intestine, impeding nutrient absorption. Celiac disease is diagnosed through a biopsy of the small intestine which shows the villous atrophy.

Below is an image of healthy villi on the left, and villi worn down due to gluten consumption on the right. The villi are responsible for capturing and transmitting nutrients to the rest of the body. Flattened and deteriorated villi are much less functional.

Though it is well-known in the medical community that gluten sensitivity is a precursor to Celiac disease, it is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Why? Because most doctors test only for Celiac disease. Though the villi biopsy cannot measure gluten sensitivity, it is the most common test among medical professionals. Unfortunately, many people who have Gluten Sensitivity continue to suffer for years, leading to unnecessary villi damage and pain. It's time to demand preventative measures when it comes to your health.

Love Your Bacteria: Yeast Infections and IBS

Over 100 trillion bacteria are crawling inside your body right now, the majority of which reside in your digestive system. Gross? Yes. Necessary? Yes. Without it, food could not be digested, our immune system would be underdeveloped, and all of us would have IBS. It's time to start loving our bodies’ healthy bacteria.

When our healthy bacteria is wiped out by antibiotics or overridden by an excess in yeast, IBS symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain can arise. Yeast invades and irritates tissue, flourishing rapidly and stamping out the growth of beneficial bacteria. Since yeast feeds on sugars, diets rich in starch, refined carbohydrates, sweets and alcohol encourage its growth. Though eliminating these foods from your diet can help, the best offense is a good defense. Make sure you prevent yeast infections by using a probiotic to replenish friendly bacteria after using antibiotics, and avoid foods that feed yeast. Get tested for potential food allergies with an ELISA blood test, and make sure to avoid using antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. It's time to tell the whole story when it comes to healthy bacteria, yeast infections and IBS.

Why Medication Fails: A Closer Look at IBS Drugs

If you suffer from IBS or IBD, you have probably been introduced to a long and ever-growing list of medications. Unfortunately, drugs treat individual symptoms and not the cause. Additionally, many of the drugs have detrimental side effects.

6 types of drugs to treat IBS symptoms:

1. Bowel movement speed modifiers (Zelnorm, Lotronex, Calmactin)

2. Laxatives for constipation (MiraLax, Perdiem, Ex-Lax, Milk of Magnesia)

3. Antidiarrheal (Imodium, Lomotil)

4. Abdominal cramp pain relievers (Donnatal, Levsin, Levbid, NuLev, Bentyl, Pro-Banthine)

5. Antidepressants (Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, Paxil, Elavil)

6. Narcotic analgesics (Vicodin, Demerol, Xanax)

As you can see, none of these are an IBS “cure” because no such medical cure exists. You may feel relief temporarily, but this is because of a forced biochemical modification, not a permanent resolution. Once you stop using the medications, the symptoms will return. With over 20 million Americans diagnosed with IBS currently, it is time to address this disease with honesty and transparency. Many doctors and scientists agree - we must assess food allergies and digestion in order to transform our health once and for all.

The 30-foot miracle: Discovering our Digestive Tract

Our digestive tract is a 30-foot-long muscular tube that begins at our mouth and ends at our anus. Its 3 main functions:

1. Transform food into absorbable nourishment.

2. Fend off invading organisms and toxins.

3. Expel waste products.

Ingested food travels down the digestive tract through a process called peristalsis, a wave-like muscle contraction. During peristalsis, different enzymes, bacteria and acids critical to digestion are secreted in a highly specialized and coordinated process. When food is completely broken down it passes through the digestive tract's tissue wall and is absorbed by the body’s cells.

Around 70% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract. Its primary role is to “ok” or “attack” a food we ingest. When our immune system doesn't like something in our tube, it uses inflammation and excess mucus as ammunition. If the immune system is constantly on the offensive, these reactions can damage our digestive tract. Inflammation deteriorates the intestinal lining, resulting in something called “Leaky Gut syndrome.”

Why do some medical professionals refuse to talk about the connection between poor health and poor digestion? Clearly our bodies have evolved a highly complex digestive immune system for a reason. Denying the fact that food plays a crucial role in our overall well-being seems misguided and potentially dangerous. It is critical that we start addressing digestion as a key element in human health.

IBD/IBS Relief: What you Need to Know about Feeling Better

“IBS symptoms in one quarter of patients may be caused or exacerbated by one or more dietary components.” This is a direct quote from a journal article in PubMed published by the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Do you suffer from IBD or IBS? Do you feel sick or suffer from chronic discomforts that no one has been able to diagnose? You may have an undetected food allergy.

What is an allergy?

An allergy is the immune systems response to a protein usually found in a food, such as peanuts, eggs, wheat or milk that your system perceives as a foreign body. Most food allergies are acquired, not inherited but some people develop sensitivities due to repeated exposure. Some people react when the irritant is in large quantities, while others react to pesticides and herbicides combining with the natural chemicals in food. Whatever the cause, the result is the same - a compromised immune system and general discomfort.

Though many medical professionals speak about slight diet alterations to relieve IBS symptoms, we need to investigate whether a specific food group is a direct cause. We need to ask not only how to relieve discomfort, but how to remove it entirely.

A 3-Step Solution for Digestive Health: Testing Methods for Food Allergies

Digestive Health Ann Arbor’s 3-step method offers relief from food allergy symptoms and digestive disorders. 
1. Discover what foods  are triggers. 
2. Exclude the trigger food completely from our diet. 
3. Nourish stressed systems with supplements and enzymes.
But how do we know what foods cause us trouble? If we suspect a food allergy contributes to our poor health, must we complete a tedious elimination diet for a month? Fortunately, technology has paved the way for rapid and accurate techniques. 
RAST Blood Test
Most doctors perform RAST examinations (short for radioallergosorbent test). RAST results show only acute immune reactions to food. At Ann Arbor Holistic Health we complete this test along side the ELISA blood test for more complete results.
ELISA Blood Test 
The most comprehensive digestive diagnostic tool is the ELISA blood test, which examines your body’s reaction to 96 different food allergens including gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and peanuts, and more. This simple test also allows health professionals to efficiently check for the severity of allergies, ranging from IgE (most severe), IgA (moderate) and IgG (least severe). Sound too easy? Since 70% of the immune system is located in our digestive tract, removing trigger foods can lead to radical improvements in our well-being. It is time to transform our search for solutions and it is time for solutions that will transform us.

13 Warning Signs: Detecting Food Allergies, What Everyone Must Know

As we have seen, there is a surprising amount of evidence implicating food allergies and intolerances in digestive disorders. However, 60% of people with food allergies display symptoms that are seemingly unrelated to their digestive system.

Check out these 13 Warning Signs of possible food allergies:

1. Tiredness, drowsiness, no energy.

2. Frequent headache or migraines.

3. Stomach bloating, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence (IBD/IBS).

4. Mouth Ulcers.

5. Chronic cough, bronchitis, asthma, colds and 'flu'.

6. Eczema, psoriasis, and chronic skin problems.

7. Aching joints, backache.

8. Gradual weight change.

9. Tinea or Yeast (Candida) infections.

10. Clumsiness, lack of coordination.

11. Miscarriage, infertility.

12. Hemorrhoids and Ear pain.

13. Cravings, addictions.

Read the journal article yourself, and many others: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19559137

Is the Jury Still Out?: Reaching a Verdict about Food Allergies Contribution to Digestive Disorders

Many health care professionals say that food plays no role in digestive diseases:
• The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation states that: 
“Crohn's and Colitis are painful and chronic digestive diseases for which there currently is no cure...Although some people do have allergic reactions to certain foods, neither Crohn's disease nor ulcerative colitis are related to food allergies.” 
• The University of Michigan Health System says: 
“Nothing you ate caused your disease, nor will diet cure your disease.” 
However, not all agree with this perspective:
• This article published in PubMed by The University of Auckland concedes that
“Diet is known to play a major role in the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn's disease.”
There are over 1400 published scientific studies directly linking food allergies to Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. It is time to seriously address what many doctors and scientists agree is one of the greatest contributors to our discomfort – the food we eat. Let's transform the conversation when it comes to your health.
Useful Reference Articles in PubMed: 
Triggs CM, Munday K, Hu R, Fraser AG, Gearry RB, Barclay ML, Furguson LR (August 7, 2010), Does evidence exist to include dietary therapy in the treatment of Crohn's disease? Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20144628.
Brown AC, Roy M (April 2010), Does evidence exist to include dietary therapy in the treatment of Crohn's disease? Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20350266.