T-Cells and The Immune Response

When thinking about the immune system and all its workings, T-cells probably don’t come to mind. However, these cells are hugely important in the realm of building up your immune system to outside invaders! They don’t attack just any foreign cells within the body though; they travel throughout the body until they reach the foreign substances they are assigned to.

There isn’t just one specific type of T-cell; within the human body, you will find three different ones. This includes helpers, regulatory, and cytotoxic T-cells. Each have their own foreign substance that they are assigned to, and this in turn helps to boost the immune system and ensure that it runs smoothly. T-cells are initially made within the bone marrow within the body, but then from there are developed within the thymus, which is located behind your chest bone, between the lungs.

The thymus aids in the development of these white blood cells all by the time one hits puberty, then the new T-cells are redirected to lymph nodes in the body to help fight off infectious diseases. Although these cells are mainly discussed in relation to infectious disease, they also play a part in how your body responds to allergens, as well as autoimmune diseases. Roles of T-cells also change as we age, from building up immunity to foreign substances to helping maintain equilibrium within the body in order to have systems function properly. Lastly, as we get older, T-cells can begin to break down and become unable to perform appropriately, which can lead to a decrease in just how well the immune system works.

So how do T-cells correlate with probiotics and the immune system? Probiotics are essentially living organisms, a type of good bacteria that helps your body to function appropriately. Probiotics are especially helpful when our bodies have too much bad bacteria, and help to balance out the microbiome within the body. All of the microbes that live within us (both good and bad) balance out each other in order to keep the body running as it should, and these microbes – which include different viruses, bacteria, and even fungi – help to keep you as healthy as possible. However, sometimes the microbiome of the gut can be thrown off (think about how many rounds of antibiotics you have done?)….and that’s where a good probiotic can come into play.

We obviously need to keep the body in a delicate balance in order to maintain health and wellness; and when we’re feeling off (and when there is an overabundance of bad bacteria), probiotics and their good bacteria can get the body back on track and in balance again. With close to 100 trillion different kinds of bacteria within the gut, it is imperative to maintain the delicate balance between the good and bad bacteria in order to keep your system running smoothly. Probiotic usage, especially specific strains, can help promote T-cell growth and development within the body, and can aid in decreasing inflammation within the body as well.

The two most prominent types of probiotics include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria (both of which you can see on the label of most probiotic items). These strains aid in boosting the health of the immune system – and the T-cells – as well as maintaining control of the bad bacteria within the body. Probiotics come in many forms, but the most popular food items include fermented veggies like sauerkraut, fermented cheese like Swiss, and yogurt, just to name a few.

Studies have shown, even in vitro, that the addition of probiotics can aid in stimulating the activity of T-cells within the body. Another study showed that the addition of probiotics increased the immune response; after a combination of different strains of probiotics were delivered, cells were stimulated, then in turn promoted the creation of T-cells….which can be huge when trying to help regulate inflammation from disease!

All in all, probiotics can certainly aid in improving the health of the immune system, as well as decreasing inflammation, reducing the risk of cancer, and even helping to prevent allergic reactions. The more that T-cells within the body are stimulated and generated by certain strains of probiotics, the more health benefits can hopefully be seen.

If you want more information on how probiotic usage can improve the function of T-cells within the body, speak with your local functional medicine doctor in Boulder to learn more!

PS what strains are in Immunozym and why?

Bifidobacterium Lactis Bl-04

Lactobacillus Rhamnosus CNCM L-4036

Bifidobacterium Breve L-4035

These 3 strains have been shown to all increase a critical cytokine (messenger molecule) called Interleukin 10 (IL-10).  What dose IL-10 do?  Basically this chemical keeps our T-regulatory cells in line!  It helps to keep stimulation towards regulation, not disorganization.  So, what that means to us is when we take that pill it literally keeps our T-regulatory cells happy and plugging away telling our immune system what is us, Vs the bad guys; critical in the process of developing and healing auto-immune disease!  On top of that US enzymes paired with Masters supplements and we are using their patented sodium alginate encapsulation to ensure >90% delivery of bugs!  Most research indicates <10% actually survive digestive enzymes and bile to react with our immune system.  Keep your eyes peeled as we will go into Astrazyme and sodium alginate to help you understand why this product is using the latest technology for absorption and delivery.

Yours truly in health,
Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP

Covid-19 and Mental Health

Even before the coronavirus spread throughout the nations, mental health and corresponding providers were necessary components of the health system for many people all around the globe. But according to the World Health Organization, approximately two-thirds of people around the world with a mental health issue don’t use the professional treatments available, and mental illness affects nearly one out of every four people.

With that being said, there were a significant amount of people afflicted by some type of mental health illness even before all of the craziness of the pandemic arrived – and now that we’re in a time of mental health professionals being even more in need, there is now a shortage, as well as a higher cost of utilization.

We are essentially hard-wired to interact with others; we crave connection, seeing family and friends, engaging in conversation, and just being around one another in general! Even though social distancing has its benefits – one being a possible stop (this theory is in serious question from a recent published medical article) in the spread of the virus – it definitely comes with drawbacks, both mentally and socially.

With the mandates of social distancing and isolation that have been brought about by the coronavirus, the mental health of the population is now even more at risk, and even by groups that typically wouldn’t show as much of an increase in mental problems. This includes a younger adult population, those workers that are delegated as essential, ethnic groups, and even those who care for older adults that are not getting paid throughout the pandemic.

Signs and symptoms such as an increase in drugs and alcohol, increases in stress and anxiety, and an increase in suicide rates have prevailed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the beginning of the summer, over 40% of people surveyed said that they were dealing with a mental health issue – and correspondingly are using different substances in order to deal with these issues in relation to the pandemic.

Oddly enough, this mandated isolation isn’t affecting just adults…. studies are finding that children are also impacted by the lack of social interaction with their peers. A survey done in China noted that one out of every five children have experienced some sort of depression, which is a much higher statistic than it was pre-pandemic.

Aside from those that are quarantined at home – both adults and children alike – there are those workers that are considered “essential”, or front-line workers. Granted, these people are still at work and interacting with others, but there has been an increase in their level of stress, anxiety, and depression as well…. especially if they are in direct contact with those that have the coronavirus. Between longer working hours, shorter staff, all the personal protection equipment rules and regulations, and the thought of possibly bringing home the virus to their family, many of these essential workers are also suffering severe mental health issues as well.

When we are social distancing from one another for a long period of time (just like we are for the coronavirus), certain health problems can also become present. Dementia and heart disease are just two of the many issues that can arise from continuous isolation, and a meta-analysis from 2015 shows us that the risk of death goes up by nearly 29% with long-term isolation. A good reason for this is due to stress, and our interactions with others. Stress will always be a present factor in our lives…. however, the body’s response to stress when someone else is present is vastly different than if one is dealing with it alone. This is especially true for the older populations, who are very much at risk during the pandemic, especially in regards to mental and social health. This can be even more compounded if they live alone, or don’t have much interaction with friends and family.

In a book called “blue zones”, researchers have studied populations throughout the world and noted why certain societies have high populations of “centenarians”, those that reach 100 years or older and typically have robust health even at such ages.  One of the most critical aspects to this amazing feat is social-connection.  Why? Well there are many reasons but we provide value through connection, our nervous systems are soothed through community and physical touch and we can share our concerns, challenges and troubles with others that have experience and ability to help us navigate those challenges.  The larger question should really be, “what is worse”? Social distancing as a strategy for prevention of the spread of disease?  Or, poor health from lack of society gathering?  Unfortunately I do not have the answer to this but as a doctor I struggle with the question constantly.

Even with all of these factors affecting different age groups, there is hope. For one, technology can play a large part in keeping people connected. Granted, it’s not a substitute for actual interaction with someone, but it can keep friends and family members in touch with one another until the social distance mandates are removed. Secondly, services that are open in order to help with chronic mental health issues can remain open and functioning until well after the pandemic has passed, so that options for help will be available to anyone who needs it even after COVID-19 is gone.

If you know someone who is struggling during the pandemic, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact them to help them feel connected. And if you yourself want to discuss more about mental health and the current pandemic, speak with your local functional medicine doctor in Boulder!

Yours truly in these difficult times,
Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP

Diabetes & Diet

At Dr. Autoimmune, we specialize in Metabolic syndrome and other metabolic disorders which may be expressed in the form of increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, weight gain around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride blood levels. Each of these symptoms increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

If you have a recent diabetes diagnosis or if you have been playing the weight loss game with no lasting results, keep reading. We have countless success stories from patients who have finally lost weight and kept it off, while reducing A1c levels and blood glucose levels to normal ranges. The impact for these patients is manifested in the freedom from worrying about their health, their weight, and their energy levels. Read more to find out the exact diabetes plan that our patients use.

What is Diabetes Type 1?

Diabetes Type 1 is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects mostly children. However, adult onset diabetes type 1 is more common, as the incidence at which people are developing type 1 diabetes increases 1.
Type 1 differs from type 2 in that it is an autoimmune disease that causes your body to create antibodies that attack your pancreatic cells, which control insulin creation. Insulin is a hormone that is necessary for regulating blood sugar. If you have type 1 diabetes, your body is unable to create insulin, which results in emergent glucose levels in the body. This can cause symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue, and blurred vision. But what causes this type of autoimmune disease? Interestingly enough, all autoimmune diseases have a root cause of intestinal permeability, also known as ‘leaky gut’ 2.

What is Diabetes Type 2?

Diabetes Type 2 is a chronic metabolic disease that mostly affects adults, however there are more incidents of child onset diabetes type 2 due to increased obesity rates among all age groups. Type 2 diabetes impairs sugar metabolism through impaired insulin sensitivity, also known as insulin resistance or hyperinsulinemia. This is when insulin can’t properly move glucose out of the blood and into the cell.

This leads to hyperglycemia and the same symptoms as type 1 including excessive thirst and urination, increased hunger, fatigue, weight loss, blurry vision, and slower healing 3.

Factors that contribute most to diabetes type 2 are being overweight and obese, but also leaky gut. “Recent studies investigating the underlying mechanisms involved in disease development in diabetes [type 1 and type2] point to the role of the dysregulation of the intestinal barrier [leaky gut] 4. This is due to increased cytokine production from constant immune activation from bacteria, viruses, and food entering the bloodstream through a leaky gut, which leads to insulin resistance.

Can Diet Reverse Diabetes Type 2?

Research is now showing that reversal can be achieved through lifestyle and dietary changes. Successful studies indicate that a low carbohydrate diet is an effective intervention for glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Along with glucose control, this diet also improved triglycerides and HDL cholesterol concentrations 5, 6, 7. Benefits of a low carbohydrate diet include increased energy expenditure as a result of your metabolism increasing instead of the opposite slower metabolism that occurs when there is a calorie deficit 8. In fact, the effects of  low-calorie diets resulted in a reduction in basal metabolic rate 9.

The low carbohydrate diet works well with both type 2 and type 1 diabetes because it reduces the demand for insulin production which is impaired in these diseases. The hormone insulin is released every time protein or carbohydrates are eaten. By increasing dietary intake of fat and moderate protein, blood insulin levels reduce, weight loss occurs, and sensitivity to insulin and other hormones improves. Improved insulin sensitivity reduces the hyperglycemic state and patients can get off of medications, especially exogenous insulin medications which contribute to weight gain 10. Wouldn’t you like to reduce your medications?

Nutritional Diet for Diabetes Type 2

A nutrient dense diet supports the reversal or management of type 2 diabetes through balancing blood glucose levels. By avoiding sugar, refined flours and grains, and toxic oils, glucose levels will spike less and lower insulin levels easily.

Diabetes Diet Plan Type 2

Foods to Eat

  • Healthy Fats: fatty fish, grass fed organic animal fats, olives, avocado, coconut, nuts and seeds, grass fed butter/ghee (if tolerated)
  • Protein: wild caught fish, grass fed and pastured organic meats, nuts and seeds
  • Gut Healing Foods: bone broth, sauerkraut, probiotic foods, prebiotic foods
  • Non-starchy Vegetables: all
  • Moderate Amount of Starchy Vegetables: sweet potatoes, winter squash, lentils, etc.
  • Low Glycemic Fruits: berries, apples, cherries, pears, peaches, apricots, kiwi, pomegranate, grapes
  • Increased Whole Salts: himalayan salt or celtic sea salt

Foods to Avoid

  • Toxic Oils: corn, canola, cottonseed, soy, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, and ricebran
  • Most or All Grains/Legumes: wheat, corn, rice, gluten free grains, beans, breads, pastas, crackers
  • Sugar and Alcohol: cane, high fructose corn, maltodextrin, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, beet sugar, honey, maple syrup

Diabetes Diet Plan Type 1

You can lower the demand for insulin medication for type 1 diabetes on a low glycemic diet. This will help reduce weight gain, the risk for cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Foods to Eat

  • Healthy Fats: fatty fish, grass fed organic animal fats, olives, avocado, coconut, nuts and seeds, grass fed butter/ghee (if tolerated)
  • Protein: wild caught fish, grass fed and pastured organic meats, nuts and seeds
  • Gut healing foods: bone broth, sauerkraut, probiotic foods, prebiotic foods
  • Non-starchy vegetables: all
  • Moderate amount of starchy vegetables: sweet potatoes, winter squash, lentils, etc.
  • Low Glycemic fruits: berries, apples, cherries, pears, peaches, apricots, kiwi, pomegranate, grapes
  • Increased Whole Salts: himalayan salt or celtic sea salt

Foods to Avoid

  • Toxic Oils: corn, canola, cottonseed, soy, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, and ricebran
  • Most or All Grains/Legumes: wheat, corn, rice, gluten free grains, beans, breads, pastas, crackers
  • Sugar: cane, high fructose corn, maltodextrin, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, beet sugar, honey, maple syrup

Diabetes Treatment Plan

  • Low Carbohydrate Diet: Limit carbohydrate intake to 45-60 each meal, this is easily achieved if avoiding grains, legumes, and sugar.
  • Leaky Gut Support: Nutrients such as l-glutamine, l-arginine, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A and D are shown to prevent and heal intestinal permeability.
  • Exercise: Increased muscle mass helps burn stored fat and increases your metabolism. Only 2 days a week of 15 minute slow strength training with weights will help you gain lean muscle mass fast.
  • Fasting: “In animal models, intermittent feeding improves insulin sensitivity, prevents obesity caused by a high-fat diet, and ameliorates diabetic retinopathy 11.” Intermittent fasting is the single most important factor in reducing insulin blood levels fast because when you fast your body will burn stored fat and allow insulin levels to lower.

Blood Sugar MonitoringDario Blood Glucose Monitoring Device and App help our patients track their blood sugar levels with accuracy and convenience. Each person has a bio-individual glucose response to different foods. What makes one person’s blood sugar spike might not make another person’s blood sugar spike.

Hashimoto’s and H. Pylori

If you’re one of the 14 million+ people in America who are suffering from Hashimoto’s disease, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help improve symptoms and get some relief. Hashimoto’s is a disease where the body produces antibodies to the thyroid gland, and can wreak havoc on the hormones that are crucially needed by the body in order to function properly. Research has shown us that Hashimoto’s is more prominent in women, and is more likely to arise if you already have a pre-existing condition such as lupus, diabetes, Celiac or rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few.

Hashimoto’s can lead to illnesses like hypothyroidism (yes, 90% of hypothyroidism starts as an autoimmune disorder), and can start at any point during one’s life for a number of different reasons aside from pre-existing conditions, like environmental factors, genetics, and even changes in dietary habits. Research shows us that Hashimoto’s can lead to life threatening health problems like heart disease, dementia and osteoporosis to name a few. The risks of Hashimoto’s should motivate you to seek the root cause of your autoimmune disease. And in fact, research indicates there is a high association between a bacterial infection called H. pylori to autoimmune thyroid diseases like Grave’s and Hashimoto’s. This is because of the increased inflammatory status and something called molecular mimicry.

What is H.Pylori?

Another study found this connection between H.pylori and Hashimoto’s disease. Helicobacter pylori, or H. Pylori, is a bacteria that grows within the gastrointestinal tract. An estimated 60% of people all over the world carry this infectious bacteria, which causes symptoms like ulcers to appear in the GI tract (and can be completely normal).

Heliobacter bacteria look like spirals, and can live in your gastrointestinal tract from a young age. These bacteria are resistant to the powerful acids that live in your stomach, and bury themselves into the lining of the stomach where your immune system has a hard time reaching them – and therefore leading to stomach issues for years to come.

Although symptoms of infection from this type of bacteria don’t show in everyone affected, there are some signs to look out for (especially if stomach ulcers are present). Factors like stomach pain, upset stomach, fevers, and bloat are all symptoms that correlate with H. pylori bacteria, and can cause multitudes of gut issues. This bacterium can also cause an unwanted response to the immune system, create ulcers, and make the acid in the stomach too low, leading to food not being broken down appropriately.

The issue with H. pylori, in regards to an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s, is that the body makes antibodies once this bacterium is recognized within the body – and these antibodies can then react with systems in the body, including those that operate the thyroid. This is called molecular mimicry.  Essentially the bacteria looks very similar in its structural appearance. Thankfully, there is more research coming out to determine just how much H. pylori affects gut health and thyroid functions; one study in particular treated half of the patients that presented with both H. pylori and Hashimoto’s with medicine, and left the other participants untreated. In the end, the patients that were treated for the bacterial infection not only had a decrease in their symptoms, but reduced antibodies by over 50%. 

Spoiler alert – if you treat this infection with the standard of care, three antibiotics, you are also more susceptible to developing Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, a root cause condition for autoimmune disease!
If you’re suffering from Hashimoto’s and notice that you’re also dealing with gastrointestinal issues, there might be a correlation between the two! Breath and blood tests are two of the ways that H. pylori bacteria is detected, as well as a stool antigen test (we prefer the GI Map which is stool based). Thankfully there are natural ways to heal your gut and improve overall thyroid function if the test(s) come back positive.

Granted, most of the mainstream ways to aid in reducing H. pylori in the gut are related to antibiotics; however, alternatives such as aloe, mastic gum, and black seed oil can all be helpful as well. In fact, one study done in 2014 tested the aloe plant as a means of reducing H. pylori within the gut. Out of fifteen different types of H. pylori, the aloe was able to stop the growth of half of the fifteen strains! This is due to the aloe having antibacterial properties that fight against certain types of H. pylori (without killing the good guys).

Stress and H. Pylori

Aside from the natural remedies available to help aid in decreasing the symptoms of H. pylori and Hashimoto’s, there is another area that needs to be evaluated as well – and that’s one’s overall stress levels. To be clear, stress in and of itself does not lead to issues with the thyroid…. but, if you have a pre-existing condition (such as H. Pylori), it can exacerbate the process. When you are experiencing high amounts of stress, this affects the thyroid by decreasing just how fast your body’s metabolism is working, which can lead to blood sugar issues and a reduction in important hormone production.

Stress and Hashimoto’s

Stress inadvertently affects the endocrine system and impacts the immune system to kickstart inflammation, both of which are associated with Hashimoto’s disease. One study in particular followed 60 women over the course of 8 weeks, all who presented with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis; over the course of two months the group that integrated stress-relieving techniques and a healthier daily routine (i.e. exercise and good eating habits) reduced their overall stress and anxiety levels, which in turn aided in reducing Hashimoto symptoms that correlate with thyroid autoantibodies.

How to Manage your Stress

Chronic stress can build up over time, and you might not even notice a negative change in your health and wellness…that is, until it’s too late! There are many ways that you can effectively beat stress naturally, but here are 3 simple reminders:

  1. For one, get enough sleep! Rest is huge in regards to maintaining a healthy thyroid, so setting good bedtime habits and routines will definitely be helpful in improving overall sleep quality.
  2. Second, ensure that you’re consuming a whole, nutrient-dense diet. Getting the right amount of whole food vitamins and minerals in your diet can certainly aid in supporting your thyroid, and improving overall health as well.
  3. Lastly, exercise! For some, this stress buster can be in the form of running, weight lifting, or team sports, while others it may look like yoga, meditation, tai chi, and going for walks. Whatever your method of exercise, just make sure that you’re doing it safely and efficiently!

If you need more help on how you can reduce stress (and in turn, manage symptoms of Hashimoto’s at the same time), please speak with your local functional medicine doctor in the Denver metro, Boulder area!

Let your Health (and tummy) soar,
Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP