Tag Archives: autoimmune disease

Glutathione: A power tool in autoimmune management

Woman Eating Healthy Meal Sitting On SofaOur bodies have to work hard to deal with hundreds of toxic chemicals in our daily environment, in our food, and our water. Even if you eat a clean, organic diet and use non-toxic products, it’s impossible to completely avoid them. Thankfully, certain natural compounds can boost levels of our most powerful antioxidant, glutathione, in our bodies.

Glutathione is a powerful defense against toxins and inflammation. It protects the body’s cells from damage, it helps detoxify the body, and supports optimal immune function.

When glutathione levels drop too low, this makes you more susceptible to autoimmune disease, multiple food sensitivities, chemical and heavy metal sensitivities, chronic inflammatory disorders, leaky gut, and other immune-related issues.

By ensuring your glutathione levels stay at robust levels, you provide your body with an army of soldiers ready to “take a bullet” and shield your cells from the destructive forces of toxins and inflammation.

Things that deplete glutathione

In an ideal world, we have plenty of glutathione. Our bodies make sufficient amounts and the glutathione system is not overly taxed. Sadly, the modern world is far from ideal. Chronic stress, environmental toxins, diets low in nutrients but high in inflammatory triggers, sleep deprivation, smoking, sugar, excess alcohol, and other stressors slowly deplete glutathione levels. Glutathione levels also decrease naturally as a result of aging.

A straight glutathione supplement is not effective taken orally. Instead, people can take glutathione through a liposomal cream, nebulizer, suppository, IV drip, or injections. S-acetyl-glutathione, reduced glutathione, and oral liposomal glutathione are forms that can be absorbed when taken orally. These supplements will help raise glutathione levels and your general antioxidant status, which can reduce inflammation and improve health.

Another method that raises glutathione levels uses precursors to boost and recycle glutathione within cells.

Glutathione recycling helps guard against autoimmunity

Recycling glutathione entails taking existing glutathione the body has already used in self-defense and rebuilding it so it can work for us again.

Research shows a link between poor glutathione recycling and autoimmune disease. In other words, if you’re not recycling glutathione well you’re at more risk of developing autoimmune disease. Healthy glutathione recycling is a vital tool in managing autoimmune disease.

Glutathione recycling helps repair leaky gut

Glutathione recycling also helps repair leaky gut and protect it from permeability. Leaky gut can lead to or exacerbate autoimmunity, multiple food sensitivities, and chronic inflammation. When glutathione recycling is insufficient, a person is more prone to developing leaky gut and all that maladies that accompany it. Glutathione recycling is vital to good gut health.

How to boost glutathione recycling

The most important first step to boost glutathione recycling is to remove the stressors depleting glutathione levels to the best of your ability. Look at your life around sleep deprivation, smoking, foods that cause inflammation, sugars and processed foods, excess alcohol, and other factors.

In addition to addressing lifestyle factors, you can take a variety of nutritional and botanical compounds that have been shown to support glutathione recycling. They include:

• N-acetyl-cysteine
• Alpha-lipoic acid
• L-glutamine
• Selenium
• Cordyceps
• Gotu kola
• Milk thistle

Boosting your glutathione levels with an absorbable form and then supporting glutathione recycling can significantly help you manage autoimmune disease, inflammatory disorders, chemical sensitivities, food sensitivities, and more.

A hidden trigger of autoimmunity: Too much salt

SaltThose with high blood pressure and heart disease know to avoid salt, but researchers have learned salt comes with another risk — too much alters immune cells in a way that promotes autoimmune disease.

Examples of autoimmune disease include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes. Autoimmune disease rates have skyrocketed in recent years, affecting more people than heart disease and cancer combined.

Although salt is not in itself harmful, Americans are guilty of eating way too much salt, more than the human body was ever designed to process. Fast foods, junk foods, and snack foods are all heavily salted to increase palatability and mask their inherent poor quality.

Sadly, our extreme consumption of salt raises the risk of the body’s immune system attacking itself and destroying viable tissue; this is what autoimmune disease is. For instance, in Hashimoto’s, the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. In type 1 diabetes, it is the pancreas that falls under attack. This gradual tissue destruction, along with the inflammation generated from the autoimmune attacks, causes a wide array of chronic and seemingly irresolvable symptoms.

The cells in the immune system responsible for this auto-destruction are called TH-17 cells. Researchers discovered that immune cells exposed to salt turned into TH-17 cells. Further experimentation showed mice fed a high-salt diet were more likely to develop a disease similar to multiple sclerosis.

A later study on human subjects showed just seven days on a high-salt diet put the immune system into inflammation overdrive, just as if it were encountering an infection or in the throes of an autoimmune attack. An interesting side note: The high-salt diet used in the study represented salt intake for the average American.
Increased TH-17 means increased inflammation in general. This not only raises the risk of autoimmune disease, but other inflammation-based diseases all too common today: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and disorders of the gut, skin, and respiratory system.

Should you stop eating salt?

Although researchers are quick to say removing salt is not going to cure an autoimmune disease, it’s important to pay attention to your salt intake if you are working to manage an autoimmune disease or other chronic inflammatory condition.

Researchers found lowering salt intake in human subjects produced beneficial, anti-inflammatory changes in the immune system.

The USDA daily recommended intake of sodium is 2300 mg, which is the equivalent of only one teaspoon of salt. Some argue we need even less than that and get plenty from produce and meats. Either way, the average American consumes twice the recommended amount, which research has shown causes inflammatory changes in the immune system.

Those who have low blood pressure may have been told to consume extra salt in order to raise blood pressure. Low blood pressure means tissues in the body and brain are not getting sufficient blood flow. In this case, trial and error may be necessary to see what works. Glycyrrhiza, a compound in licorice root, may also be effective in raising blood pressure.

Think being gluten-free is a fad? Think again

You’d have to live under a rock to not recognize the popularity of gluten-free diets by now. But if you think going gluten-free is just another fad, think again. Although it may be a passing fad for some, a gluten-free diet is powerful medicine for most.

The benefits, which attain almost miraculous heights for some people, vary depending on the person.

A gluten sensitivity is not a one-size-fits-all disorder with requisite symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, it does not simply cause digestive complaints (although it does cause severe digestive distress for many).

Neurological symptoms common with gluten

gluten free not a fad

In fact, one of the most common consequences of a gluten intolerance are symptoms that express themselves neurologically, and even these can vary.

The part of the brain most commonly affected by a gluten intolerance is the cerebellum, the area at the back of the brain that controls motor movements and balance. This can cause issues with balance, vertigo, nausea, car sickness and sea sickness, and getting dizzy or nauseous looking at fast-moving images or objects.

Also commonly affected are the protective coating of nerves called myelin. As damage to myelin progresses one can develop multiple-sclerosis type symptoms such as numbness, tingling or muscle weakness.

Other neurological symptoms associated with gluten include obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, anxiety, memory loss, brain fog, autism symptoms, and even more serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.

How a person with a neurological response to gluten reacts depends on that person’s genetic makeup.

Other common symptoms caused by gluten

For others the reactions to gluten manifest elsewhere in the body. Some common symptoms include skin disorders (i.e., eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dermatitis herpetiformis), joint pain, digestive problems, and poor thyroid function (Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism).

Why does gluten cause such diverse symptoms?

The symptoms of a gluten intolerance vary from person to person because of its effects on the immune system and brain.

Gluten is inflammatory and damaging to the gut in many people, causing leaky gut. The gut is the seat of the immune system, and also communicates intimately with the brain.

When the gut is constantly inflamed and becomes leaky (even though one might not have digestive symptoms), this increases overall inflammation in the body and the brain.

Increased inflammation not only gives rise to myriad disorders on its own, it also increases the risk of developing an autoimmune disorder. This is a disorder in which an imbalanced immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys tissue in the body, such as the brain, the thyroid, the pancreas, joint cartilage, and more.

Gluten and autoimmune disease

When it comes to autoimmune disease, no tissue in the body or brain is safe from an overzealous immune system deranged by constant inflammation. The rates of autoimmune diseases have exploded in recent years, and most are yet undiagnosed — meaning years of chronic and “mysterious” symptoms.

If you suffer from troubling and chronic symptoms, it is definitely worth considering an intolerance to gluten and other common trigger foods, such as dairy, eggs, soy, and different grains. Although giving up a favorite food is rarely easy, getting back your health is always wonderful.

Schedule a visit with me for more advice on how to manage your chronic health disorder and how to adjust your diet to support your health.

Five little-known things that make autoimmunity worse

5 little known autoimmune triggers copy

If you are managing your autoimmune disease through diet and lifestyle, then you probably know about the autoimmune diet  supplements, non-toxic home and body products, and getting enough rest.

But are you aware of hidden sources of stress that may be triggering autoimmune flares?

Common autoimmune diseases today include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and pernicious anemia. However, there are many more.

Research increasingly shows the connection between autoimmune disease and food sensitivities (such as to gluten) and environmental toxins. Indeed, many people have successfully sent their autoimmunity into remission by following an autoimmune diet and “going green” with the products they use.

We also know stress is inflammatory and can trigger autoimmunity. But what many people may miss is the hidden sources of this inflammation-triggering stress.

Little known triggers of autoimmune disease

Following are little known sources of stress that could be triggering autoimmune disease flare-ups:

Stressful TV shows: Turning on the flat screen to relax could backfire if you’re watching people always on the run from zombies. Research shows watching others stress out can raise our own stress hormones.  On top of that, many people feel like failures after they watch TV, which is stressful. Try a productively calming hobby, like practicing an instrument or working with your hands while listening to music to calm your nerves … and your immune system.

Social media: Research shows social media users are more stressed out than non-users. Facebook and Twitter can make us feel like we always have to put on a happy face and that we’re not as successful as our friends. The addictive nature of social media is also stressful. As with all good things, practice moderation. And go see your friends in real life — socialization is a well-known stress buster and health booster that can help you better manage your autoimmune disease.

A bad relationship: We get so used to some relationships we don’t even realize they’re unhealthy. For instance, researchers have shown bad marriages are linked with more stress and inflammation. Bad bosses have also been shown to be hard on your health. Although it’s not so easy to just pop out of a bad relationship, being aware that it can trigger your autoimmune symptoms can help you start moving in a healthier direction.

A difficult childhood: Research shows links between a history of childhood adversities (neglect, disruption, trauma, abuse) and autoimmune disease. Chronic stress while the brain and central nervous system are still developing can create ongoing inflammation and set the stage for autoimmune disease to more easily trigger later in life.

Lack of self-love: How well you love and respect yourself influences your choice in relationships, your career, and how you handle problems. Do you talk to and treat yourself with the same kindness you would an adored child? Do you care for your needs the same way you do a pampered pet? If you bully yourself, you’re unwittingly triggering your autoimmunity. After all, autoimmune disease is the body attacking itself. Don’t foster that with self-attacking thoughts and behaviors. Commit to practicing small acts of self-love throughout your days.

When you look at issues like a bad childhood, a toxic relationship, or lack of self-love, it makes changing your diet and switching to natural body products look easy.

But that’s not the whole picture. Autoimmune disease is a flag from the body that certain aspects of your life may need evaluating and evolving.

Combine resveratrol and curcumin for maximum inflammation-quenching

423 resvero curcumin

When it comes to battling inflammation and autoimmunity, research shows resveratrol and curcumin work better when taken together than separately.

Supplemental resveratrol is derived from Japanese knotweed and the compound is also found in the skin of red grapes. Curcumin is derived from the curry spice turmeric. Both are well known for their antioxidant, inflammation-quenching qualities when taken in therapeutic doses — simply eating curry or drinking wine are not going to impart much beneficial effect. Studies of the compounds look at large doses that can only come from supplementation.

Although each is a powerful anti-inflammatory alone, research shows that taking resveratrol and curcumin together creates a synergistic effect, making them potent tools for quenching the inflammation and damage associated with autoimmune flare-ups and chronic inflammation.

Resveratrol and curcumin combined battle autoimmune, inflammatory disorders

Examples of these disorders include autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, arthritis, brain fog, gut pain and inflammation, multiple food and chemical sensitivities, fibromyalgia, asthma, eczema and psoriasis, and other conditions related to inflammation or autoimmune disease.

Studies have increasingly spotlighted an important immune pathway in autoimmunity and inflammation called TH-17. While TH-17 helps defend us from viruses and bacteria, over activation of TH-17 triggers autoimmune flare-ups and chronic inflammation. When it comes to quenching these flare-ups, TH-17 is the target.

This is where resveratrol and curcumin come in, working together to dampen the activation of TH-17, thus protecting tissue from inflammation and damage.

Resveratrol and curcumin combat inflammation from excess body fat

One of the more unhealthy aspects of excess body fat is that it causes chronic inflammation that feeds autoimmune or inflammatory disorders. This is a double whammy for the person struggling with weight gain due to Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Research shows that resveratrol and curcumin in combination significantly reduce the inflammation caused by excess fat.

These two compounds have also been shown to help manage hair losspsoriasisjoint disease, and other inflammatory disorders.

Immune regulation

Resveratrol and curcumin also support “regulatory T cells,” cells that regulate the immune system. When regulatory T cells don’t work efficiently, the immune system can become overzealous and promote inflammation and autoimmunity.

Other compounds that support regulatory T cells include vitamin D3, vitamin A, fish oil or krill oil, specific probiotic strains, nutrients that boost activity of glutathione our master antioxidant, and nutrients that act on nitric oxide pathways.

Resveratrol curcumin combo is inflammation-quenching breakthrough

The research on TH-17 gives functional medicine practitioners new tools with which to better manage autoimmunity and chronic inflammation. Ask me for advice on highly absorbable forms of curcumin and resveratrol in therapeutic amounts.

Why getting high on life is good for your immune system

407 endorphins and immunity

We all like things that make us high on life — that feel-good rush after exercising, a good belly laugh, playful activities with friends, meditation, a good massage, or a loved one’s touch. These are examples of things that release endorphins, the body’s chemicals that give us a natural high. But endorphins do more that make us feel good; endorphins are necessary for proper immune function. In fact, some studies suggest people with chronic illness suffer from low endorphins. If you have an autoimmune disease, chronic pain, or chronic illness, boosting your endorphins could help you better manage your health.

We are an endorphin-deprived society, what with our emphasis on being busy. Not only does this result in less happiness, but it also predisposes the immune system to malfunction so that one is more apt to develop chronic pain or illness.

Most immune cells have receptors for endorphins and need endorphins to function properly. Studies suggest low endorphins play a role in autoimmunity, when the immune system erroneously attacks and destroys tissue in the body, such as the thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism), the pancreas (Type 1 diabetes), or the nervous system (multiple sclerosis).

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Valentine’s gift ideas for a loved one with a chronic illness

valentines day gifts chronic illness

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, have you thought about how to express your affection for someone you love who lives with a chronic illness? Chronic illness is at an all-time high in the United States, with 75 percent of our health care dollars going to treat such chronic illnesses as heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune conditions. Because chronic illness is invisible to others, living with the symptoms of pain, fatigue, depression, and inflammation can be very stressful.

Chocolates not a good idea for chronically ill

The traditional gift of chocolate may not be the best idea; many chocolates are made in factories where they become cross-contaminated with gluten and other food allergens, and the sugar and caffeine in chocolate can exacerbate chronic health symptoms.

Be wary of Valentine’s Day dinner out for chronically ill

In fact, it’s best to avoid gifts that involve food; many people with chronic illness have sensitivities to a variety of foods. You don’t want that special dinner out to make your sweetheart sick. Also, chronic illness can cause constant exhaustion and your loved one may be more worn out more than she or he lets on. Play it safe and give something that is nurturing and relaxing. The best gift you can give may be one that offers a chance to slow down, be pampered or have time to do absolutely nothing.

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When heart disease is autoimmune

324 heart autoimmunity

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, affecting about 11 percent of the population. For the majority of people, heart disease is driven by diet and lifestyle factors, however research shows an increasing number of heart disease cases can also have an autoimmune component. This means the immune system is mistakenly attacking and destroying heart tissue, causing symptoms and weakening the heart.

Typically heart disease is linked with a diet high in processed foods, sugars and refined carbohydrates, lack of activity, and obesity. The good news is that means people who make the effort can ameliorate or reverse their condition through a whole foods diet and exercise.

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Could your chronic pain, chronic fatigue, or other symptoms be autoimmune?

do you have autoimmunityDo you have chronic pain, chronic fatigue, or other mysterious symptoms that make you miserable? But does your doctor say your lab tests are fine and you’re perfectly healthy? It could be you have an autoimmune reaction and don’t know it.

People can develop an autoimmune reaction to virtually any tissue, enzyme, or protein in their body. Autoimmunity means the immune system has failed to distinguish between foreign invaders, which it was designed to attack, and body tissue, which it was designed to protect. As a result, the immune system attacks and destroys specific parts of the body.

Symptoms of autoimmunity vary depending on which part of the body is being attacked, but they often include chronic pain, chronic fatigue, brain fog, poor neurological function, chronic inflammation, digestive problems, or poor mood.

A primary characteristic of undiagnosed autoimmunity is chronic pain, chronic fatigue, or other symptoms that seem irresolvable, despite “normal” lab tests and scans. Perhaps you even have been told your health symptoms are due to depression and you need to take antidepressants—this is not uncommon.

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Mother’s inflammation raises risk of child’s autism, asthma, and allergies

image7While practitioners of functional medicine have long understood the link between the health of a mother’s immune system and the risk of giving birth to a child with autism, asthma, allergies, and other disorders, it is validating to see this information in the New York Times: An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism.

In this article, the author reports one-third of autism cases are the result of an inflammatory disease that began in the womb, thanks to the mother’s imbalanced immune system. Looking back through 20 years of data, researchers discovered that infections during pregnancy increase the risk of autism. Hospitalization for a viral infection (i.e., the flu) during the first trimester tripled the odds for autism, while a bacterial infection (including urinary tract infections) during the second trimester increased the risk by 40 percent.

Maternal autoimmunity increases risk of autism in children

While viral and bacterial infections have declined over the last 60 years, autoimmune and chronic inflammatory disorders are steadily climbing. Autoimmune disease dwarfs cancer and heart disease combined, now affecting about 50 million people, or 20 percent of the population.
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