Coffee is good for you--unless it's not!

November 2016

Featured article by: Chris Kessler

            When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you think about? Feeding the dogs? Getting the kids ready? Or is it… coffee? If you (perhaps guiltily) answered yes to the latter of these questions, you aren’t alone—and this article is for you.

            We live in a coffee-crazed nation, where our daily cup of joe is so deeply engrained in our subconscious that we often feel we can’t function without it. In fact, in America alone, 400 million cups of coffee are consumed per day, costing a grand total of 30 billion U.S. dollars.  So the question presents itself, is this espresso epidemic helping or harming our overall health? In his article, “Coffee is good for you—unless it’s not”, Chris Kessler explores the often contradicting theories concerning the health effects of caffeine consumption.

            Before you kick your Keurig to the curb, it’s important to note that there are proven health benefits of coffee. Coffee consumption has been linked to decreased risk of health issues such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, drinking 4-5 cups of coffee per day also has the potential to lower depression rates in women. Although there is not much research proving why coffee has these positive effects, they are certainly still worth noting.

            But before you run to your nearest Starbucks, it’s important to note that coffee has also been linked to negative health effects—but these effects are only experienced by some people. So why aren’t effects identical across the board? To explain, caffeine is broken down by an enzyme in the liver. This enzyme is encoded for by a gene called CYP1A2. As it turns out, 50% of the population have a variation in this gene which causes slow processing of caffeine. For these people, drinking coffee can lead to higher risk of heart disease and hypertension as well as impaired fasting glucose. However, despite these negative effects, most large studies observe the overall effect of coffee to be positive.

            Confused? Allow me to clarify: in sum, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet. This holds true in all areas of nutrition, not just concerning the effects of caffeine. You don’t have the same genes, gut microbiome, or even activity level as your neighbor—so it should be expected that your bodies will respond to different foods in different ways. For example, caffeine consumed later in the day disrupts sleep in some people but not others. This is because our bodies process food based on various factors and characteristics unique to the individual.

            So now you’re probably wondering, how do I know if coffee is good for me? The following three steps will assist you in determining how your body reacts to caffeine:

1.     Firstly, I would suggest listening to the podcast “Is Drinking Coffee Good For You?” to understand the non-genetic factors that play a role in caffeine reactions.

2.     Next, try slowly removing caffeine from your diet and remain caffeine-free for 30 days. Then, re-introduce it to your diet and pay close attention to if/how your body responds.

3.     Lastly, you can utilize websites like 23andme to find out if you are a “fast” or “slow” metabolizer. After creating an account, search for the gene “CYP1A2”. Once you’ve found it, locate the rs762551 SNP under the search results. Find the variants of that SNP (on the same page) and look for AA (this means you’re a fast metabolizer), AC or CC (slow metabolizer).

            In total, it is critical to understand the individualized nature of nutrition. There exists no “one-size-fits-all” method when it comes to your body’s unique needs. In terms of caffeine, effects and reactions depend on both genetic makeup and individual factors including gut microbiome, lifestyle, and stress levels. If you consider coffee as a staple in your every day routine, it may be a good idea to utilize the afore-mentioned steps to find out if you are a “fast” or “slow” metabolizer of caffeine. Taking these precautions will allow you to understand the long-term implications of your latte love affair.

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.

 

Toxins in Modern Day Farming: What Your Food Labels Aren’t Telling You

The next time you go the grocery store and fill up your cart with fruits, vegetables, bread, and snacks, chances are that most of them will contain traces of a chemical called glyphosate. Glyphosate is the most widely produced herbicide in the world. In the US, it’s referred to as “Roundup.” You could say that Roundup is ubiquitous in our environment. People everywhere, every single day, are being exposed to over 700 different products treated with it (from agriculture and forestry to home use). That’s why I want to take this newsletter to call your attention to something that has almost certainly had an effect on your health.

Certain individuals and organizations have taken great pains to make sure that the safety of glyphosate remains foggy. Proponents claim that it’s organic and breaks down, but that is highly debatable. In reality, new data is suggesting that glyphosate is NOT harmless; rather, it may pose serious health risks to anyone who ingests it.

The World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer just published a study this past March classifying glyphosate as a probable carcinogen in humans, citing correlations to cancers of the thyroid, liver, bladder, pancreas, and kidney. In addition, glyphosate exposure may be a cause of many chronic health problems. Autism in particular tends to be strongly correlated to glyphosate usage (see chart). Stroke, diabetes, obesity, metabolism disorders, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and inflammatory bowel disease are other conditions that become more common with increased glyphosate exposure. In one instance, a 54-year old man accidentally sprayed himself with glyphosate. A month later, he developed parkinsonian syndrome. 

Scientists think glyphosate might even be disruptive to the community of bacteria living in our intestines—otherwise known as the microbiome—by causing the population of bad bacteria to overtake the gut. Studies show that good bacteria tend to be more susceptible to glyphosate than bad. The good bacteria often can’t survive at all when exposed. Scientists are still assessing the importance of the microbiome to overall human health, but it is speculated that the disruption of the microbiome could be tied to diseases such as metabolic disorder, diabetes, depression, autism, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disease. Other conditions glyphosate has been tied to include allergies, infertility, depression, and Crohn’s disease. 

Remember, correlations are not causations; but they do give us good reason to be concerned over the use of a chemical that seeps into each and every one of our lives. Glyphosate enters the body by being either 1) absorbed through the skin or 2) directly ingested with food and water containing glyphosate. Soy, corn, and sugar beets tend to be heavily treated with glyphosate. These crops have been genetically modified to be resistant to glyphosate; so when farmers treat their fields with roundup, the weeds die but the crops live—only saturated with glyphosate. These crops are referred to as “Roundup Ready Crops.” Roundup Ready crops are staple ingredients in most processed foods. Soy especially is often used in livestock feed; meaning animals are also ingesting large amounts of glyphosate. We then ingest that glyphosate when we eat meat. 

Avoiding glyphosate isn’t easy and unfortunately, no one alive today will have led a glyphosate-free life. The question is, just how much has it affected your health? If you want to know more about the effects glyphosate has had on you personally, Ann Arbor Holistic Health can perform a comprehensive test for you measuring glyphosate exposure. For more information please contact Gary Merel at garymerel@annarborholistichealth.com or 734-222-8210. 

As far as how to avoid glyphosate: try to eat non-genetically modified foods and drink reverse osmosis water. Always buy organic when you can and always buy grass-fed meat. Avoid products made with corn, soy, and other roundup ready crops which, like I said, tend to be in most processed products. Ideally, you would wean yourself off processed foods altogether. Drinking extra water might also be helpful. Since glyphosate is water soluble, drinking more can help flush your system. 

Again, if you want to know more about the effects glyphosate has had on you, consider getting tested. When a toxin is ubiquitous in our environment, it becomes almost impossible to escape the consequences; but the first step to better health is to be informed on the state of your own body.

A Death that was Completely Preventable

One of my patients, Kathy Mitchell, died from heart disease this past December. Her death left me feeling deeply saddened and somewhat shaken. Kathy passed away at the age of 47 from Cardio Vascular Disease. This was the result of complications caused by Type II Diabetes. She was African American. African Americans are already 20% more at risk then the population as a whole from death caused by a stroke and cardio vascular disease. Kathy first came to see me about 4 months ago. She was on dialysis. Her kidney function was greatly diminished as a result of diabetes. Despite the insulin she was taking for the diabetes and the beta-blocker to lower her blood pressure, she was still in trouble.

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Unfortunately, Kathy’s case is not unique. Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD) and complications from Type II Diabetes are the second cause of death in the US. There are an estimated 8 million people in this country with undiagnosed Type II Diabetes. But what upset me the most is that, the majority of the time, these conditions are completely preventable; Kathy’s death was completely preventable.

The key to lessening your risk for such common illnesses as Diabetes and heart disease is to catch them as early as possible; then make the necessary life-style changes, which can be as simple as changing your diet. Kathy’s life, for example, could have been drastically different with something as simple as restricting intake of processed food and simple carbs at the very onset of her Diabetes. But before I talk about that, let’s look at ways to catch the progression of Diabetes and CVD, before they become irreversible.

Before Kathy ever had Diabetes or CVD, she had Metabolic Syndrome—the root of these more serious illnesses. Metabolic Syndrome refers to a series of conditions that occur simultaneously and drastically increase a person’s risk of developing diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. These conditions include obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar, abnormal blood cholesterol, and high blood triglycerides. When a person has three or more of these disorders, that person is said to have Metabolic Syndrome, or, equivalently, Insulin Resistance. Insulin resistance occurs just in case a body can produce insulin normally, but is unable to use it effectively. It is the precursor of Type 2 Diabetes. Other risk factors of Metabolic Syndrome include obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet, age, sleep apnea, and hormonal imbalance—all of which are also precursors of Diabetes.

According to the Journal of Diabetes36.1% of adult men and 32.4% of women had metabolic syndrome in the US in 2010; this puts an alarmingly large portion of the population at risk of developing a life-threatening condition. But thankfully, Metabolic Syndrome alone is completely reversible. But time is of the essence; once you actually develop Diabetes, contract heart disease, or have a stroke, it becomes almost impossible to reverse the damage. If you have one or more of the five symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome, but don’t see an immediate need for a life-style change, you should know that many people develop Diabetes unknowingly—that is, until the first complications show up (blurred vision, heart problems, etc.). But by that time, treatment is already less promising. In fact, it takes merely a single night of sleep deprivation for a body to start developing insulin resistance, even in completely healthy people.

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The most important takeaway here is that Metabolic Syndrome is reversible—but, when left unaddressed, leads to much more serious illnesses, and can even result in death. Diabetes, in particular, can cause tragedies like heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, blindness, and even amputations. The number one thing you can do to prevent (or rid yourself of) Metabolic Syndrome and, consequently, Diabetes or Heart Disease, is to maintain a healthy life style at every age, which, as I stated earlier, can be as simple as eating healthy.

This brings me to a second important takeaway: being healthy is not equated with eating fewer calories. It matters where those calories come from; i.e., a calorie is not just a calorie. There is a HUGE difference between eating 2,000 calories of carbs a day versus eating 2,000 calories of fat and protein. Due to growing research in the way carbs and gluten affect our bodies, scientists are starting to see a very negative relationship between brain health and carbohydrates. Dr. David Perlmutter calls this phenomen “Grain Brain” in his New York Times bestseller, also titled Grain Brain. He references studies that specifically link higher levels of blood glucose (a result of eating a lot of carbohydrates) to shrinkage of a critical part of the brain. Several acclaimed journals have come out with reports linking even slight increases in blood glucose to significantly increased risk for developing Dementia. The results of one study in particular showed that people who ate high amounts of Carbohydrates (as compared to those who ate more fat and protein) were 89% more at risk of developing dementia.

It was only recently in the timeline of the human race that we started eating large amounts of carbohydrates. Our bodies evolved in a completely different environment, producing a genome that thrived most when nourished with healthy fats and protein. As a result, we are now seeing many harmful side effects of eating large amounts of refined carbs, including but not limited to, depression, cognitive dysfunction, obesity, and, subsequently, Diabetes. But just as the causes of these conditions can be traced back to diet, so too their cures. One study comparing Diabetes patients on a standard, low-fat “diabetes” diet versus those on the Paleo diet showed that patients on the Paleo diet had greater improvements in weight, blood sugar, triglycerides, blood pressure and waist circumference.

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With this in mind, I would suggest a diet low in simple carbohydrates and grains when it comes to tackling Metabolic syndrome (or any of the other conditions it causes). The Paleo diet is a practice I embrace clinically and personally. I also suggest the Mediterranean diet, which includes olive oil as the main source of fat, plenty of vegetables and fruits, legumes, a moderate-to-high amount of fish and seafood, small quantities of red meat and dairy products, and moderate amounts of wine. The most general advice I can give is to always avoid processed foods, especially any industrial seed oils, like Canola oil or Vegetable oil, which are tremendously processed and often contain harmful chemicals.

Diet change should also be supplemented by moderate exercise for 30-60 minutes a day for the best results. This can be as simple as taking a walk. But if you can’t fit a walk in everyday, try standing at your desk as opposed to sitting; you’ll burn 75% more calories that way.

If Kathy’s doctors had advised her to make any of these changes, she might still be here today. Instead of addressing her Metabolic Syndrome before it progressed, she was given medical attention only after she had already developed diabetes. By that stage, most doctors treat their patients merely by giving them insulin. Because insulin feeds off of glucose, patients then tend to crave even more carbs—the very thing that caused their condition in the first place! Kathy motivated me to write this newsletter precisely because her death was no unnecessary. No one should have to die from a disease that is entirely preventable. Kathy’s life may have been spared if only more doctors were looking for Metabolic Syndrome in its early stages and advocating low-carb diets and exercise, as opposed to prescribing useless pills after it is already too late.

Ultimately, our diets are one of the best tools we have for living a long and healthy life, even when it seems like more and more practitioners are relying on pills and medication. Eating healthy is never something that one does unnecessarily, gratuitously, or overcautiously. It can, however, be something that you do too late.

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.

How Low of a Low Carb Diet is Correct for You?

As most of you know, I am a strong proponent of the Paleo lifestyle. My practice is very Paleo focused. Paleo eating leans heavily on vegies, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs and grass fed protein. It strongly suggests a very limited consumption of grains, simple carbs and little dairy. Having said that, there is an important place for carbohydrates in your diet. They play are critical roles in many aspects of our health and metabolism. So the real questions is “What is the correct about of carbs you should be consuming?” This is the first of two news letters that will examine living a truly healthy life in relationship to the role carbs play in our diet.

Chances are, you have, at least once, been solicited to buy into some sort of miracle diet touting low-carb high protein intake as a fast and painless way of losing weight, such as Atkins or Southbeach. Many of you may even have entertained trying out this kind of extreme diet for yourself.  What most people don’t realize is that carb-intake can affect everything from your gut to your brain. Have your been feeling sluggish, anxious, or depressed? Having problems with digestion? These issues and more can all be influenced by carb-intake. When you choose to go low-carb, you are actually inviting a host of risks upon yourself. Let’s explore how to clarify the low-carb myth:

Let’s begin with the basics. For the sake of simplicity, carbohydrates are sugars, fibers, and starches. They can be found in a huge variety of foods including bread, potatoes, beans, milk, vegetables, pasta, and fruits, with the unhealthiest carbs being found in highly processed, refined foods like white bread, pastries and soda. When you eat any carb-containing food your body is provided with glucose, which is converted to energy. Our bodies need this energy to support daily bodily functions and physical activity. However, choosing unhealthy and too easily digested carbs (like white bread and soda) is a proven cause of weight gain, diabetes, and even heart disease (Harvard). In light of this new-age plague of obesity and heart disease that has stricken the country, it is no surprise that low-carb diets have been thrown into the spotlight in the past decade or so.

Low-carb diets are, obviously, based on limiting carbohydrate intake, while also encouraging consumption of foods high in protein and fat, like meat, eggs, and cheese. Most diets will give you a certain percentage of your daily calorie intake that should come from carbs. A diet low in carbohydrates would typically require somewhere around 10-20% of your daily calories to come from carbs (whereas the typical American will consume 45%-65% of calories a day from carbs) (Mayoclinic). These diets can be quite tricky, as avoiding carbs is surprisingly hard to do for most people. Imagine going to the grocery store and having to walk past all the grains, beans, nuts, fruits, pastas and starchy vegetables!

However, ad campaigns and the media will have you believe that managing to attain the sort of excessive discipline a low-carb diet requires can have great pay-offs. Carbs, particularly refined ones, can cause a quick rise in blood sugar and subsequently an increase in insulin, which can then lead to an increase in hunger and naturally, weight gain (UMM). Therefore avoiding carbs supposedly forces the body to burn stored fat for energy due to lower insulin levels, which in turn encourages weight loss (Mayoclinic). Some people have reported shedding up to 15 pounds in two weeks on the Atkins diet. However, it would be a fallacy to judge diets based on only the first few weeks of trials, for a lot can change—and reverse—when held to the test of time (US News). That being said, if a low-carb diet sounds a little too good to be true to you, you’re absolutely right! The following is a carefully researched list of what really takes place when you make the choice to go low-carb:

-As I hinted at before, low-carb diets seem a bit less promising when evaluated over long periods of time. In the short term, much of what’s shed on low-carb diets is actually just water-weight (US news). Most studies find that, after 12-24 months, low-carb diets don’t produce significantly more weight-loss when compared to diets based on mere increases in protein-intake unaccompanied by a carb decrease (Mayoclinic).

-A sudden and drastic decrease in carb-intake can inspire some pretty bad side effects including weakness, fatigue, bad breath, and headache. Severely restricted carb-intake has also been shown to result in vitamin or mineral deficiencies and/or bone loss over time (Mayoclinic). Further, carbohydrates contain valuable probiotics that help keep our guts healthy, so avoiding them could lead to an alteration of gut-flora, which often manifests as diarrhea or constipation. (Kresser).

-If you engage in moderate exercise several times a week, restricting your carb-intake can lead to severely damaging conditions, including but not limited to: decreased thyroid output, decreased testosterone, impaired cognitive function, suppressed immune function, and slowed metabolism. In other words, depriving your body of one of its main sources of energy is likely to make you feel sick and sluggish, and inspire more than just your average bad mood.

-Women are particularly prone to experiencing the negative side effects of carb deficiencies. Unbeknownst to many, low-carb diets can disrupt hormone production, leading to a stopped or irregular menstrual cycle, more body fat, and, more gravely, lowered fertility, hypoglycemia, anxiety, and depression (Precision Nutrition). 

-And finally, while low-carb diets almost always promise you heart-healthy benefits, a report from the American Heart Association concluded that there is not enough evidence to say whether or not diets low in carbohydrates are, in fact, good for the heart (Mayoclinic).

Given the evidence, it is safe to say that low-carb diets are not a good choice for most people, despite all that jazz you may hear about the Paleo diet and carb-free diets being “man’s original way of eating.” 

I would like to stress that, regardless of whether you need to diet or not, every one of you should be aware of the amount of carbs you are in fact ingesting. Many people who experience physical and mental ailments may not consider the possibility that the culprit is their diet; even worse, many are blissfully unaware of how skewed their diet is from the national recommendation, and how profound an effect these small divergences can have on the body. So if you find yourself suffering from any of the aforementioned symptoms (lethargy, indigestion, anxiety, etc.) please stay tuned for part two of this newsletter, which will be out in December and contain a guide on how to find your optimal carb–intake, without having to go to any extremes.

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.

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.

 

The Dangers of Gluten

Modern medicine is preoccupied with cleaning up messes.

Once we have cancer, how can we cure it? Once we have high blood pressure, how can we reduce it? Doctors and medical scientists spend lifetimes isolating specific genes, mixing new molecular cocktails. The solution for the problem seems so...complicated. Einstein once said that “the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.” This simplicity exists in all sectors of science, including the biochemical processes critical to human health. Instead of cleaning up messes, we can stop making them in the first place. Health can be more than just disease management. Sometimes it just takes a change in the conversation to learn to live truly well.
 
One of the biggest food allergy culprits is a protein found in most all baked goods - gluten. Gluten is what makes baked goods doughy and delicious, but our bodies have not evolved to eat as much gluten as we do today. The New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 “diseases” that can be caused by eating gluten, among them osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Gluten was also linked to many psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, epilepsy and autism.

Do you have a gluten allergy

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.

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.

Food Allergies Tear Families Apart

“It's amazing my husband and I are still together,” says Laura. Laura's son, Brian, attempted suicide a few years ago with a leather belt. Brian had a long history of violence at school and at home. The class bully by day, he would sob in his room at night, pleading his mother to help him. Laura knew there must be something contributing to Brian's behavior because he would say to her “I don't want to be like this.”

The enormous stress of Brian's behavior spread from the classroom to their family life. A particularly violent episode forced Brian's family to move to a new city. After exhausting all other avenues, Laura called Dr. Rapp, Pediatric Allergist, to undergo some simple food allergy testing. Brian was diagnosed with severe and violent reactions to peanuts, ethyl alcohol, phenol, wheat, soy and milk. When the offending substances were removed from his diet, Brian morphed into a different child. He is no longer violent and is well-liked at school. His behavior is that of a normal boy.

Dr. Rapp's interview on the Phil Donahue show in 1989 catapulted food allergies and environmental toxins to the forefront of health debates in the Unite States. So many children, as in this video, were and are branded as “difficult,” “manipulative,” and “emotionally impaired.” Because of Dr. Rapp and the brave children willing to be interviewed on the show, families were able to find solutions.

We need to change the conversation when it comes to our families’ health. It's time to move from harsh and uninformed labels to educated, scientific diagnosis of what truly ails our children.

“I'm glad my Mom knows about allergies because other Mom's would just get angry at me and think I was bad,” says Darryl, another child interviewed in the video clip. We owe it to our children to discover the truth. 

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.

 

Cheeseburger Child Blues: How Diet Affects Mood in Children

During the early 1990s in the USA and Canada, children were prescribed an ever-growing barrage of antidepressants without sufficient evidence of results or safety. In 2003 paroxetine (Paxil) and venlafaxine (Serotax) were put to the test. In three different trials, two groups of children took either pharmaceuticals or placebos. The results indicated no benefit in taking the pharmaceuticals. In fact, according to unfavorable tests hidden by Paxil's maker, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts actually increased among children who took these drugs. When these trials surfaced, the U.S. public was outraged. How could a treatment for depression actually worsen this disease, and why would the maker of this treatment lie about its negative side effects?

Unfortunately, antidepressants are often mindlessly tossed at an already complicated problem. These psychotropic drugs are swirled into an already dysfunctional chemical stew. Food allergies, food additives, airborne neurotoxins and other environmental factors are rarely addressed. It seems these antidepressants perplex the problem at best, and exacerbate it at worst.

GlaxoSmithKline PLC was sued in 2004 for allegedly concealing negative side effects of Paxil on children. While they have followed through on their subsequent promise to post all trial results online,  GlaxoSmithKline PLC is one of many pharmaceutical corporations peddling antidepressants for children. Not all follow these guidelines, nor is it certain that all trials are honestly represented. If these corporations were willing to hide the truth and risk the health of our nation's children once, what is stopping them from doing it again?

If your child suffers from depression, the best course of action is to remove the cause. By assessing food allergies, food additives, airborne neurotoxins and environmental factors, optimal health can be attained without the use of potentially dangerous drugs. 

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