Autoimmunity Is Rising- Have You Been Tested?

What are Antinuclear Antibodies?

Antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) are antibodies (proteins that our body creates to fight infections) that are made to attack our own body, or “autoantibodies”. The prefix ‘auto-’ means ‘self’. So, autoantibodies are antibodies against the self, and an autoimmune disease occurs when someone’s immune system is attacking their body using autoantibodies. Examples of autoimmune diseases include multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus, and many more. Antinuclear antibodies attack the nucleus of our cells, hence their name.

A positive ANA usually suggests a vascular condition, or a condition that affects blood flow. Some autoimmune vasculitis conditions include systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma, mixed connective tissue disease, and Wegener’s granulomatosis.


The presence of ANAs in your blood could mean that you might develop an autoimmune disease in the future, if you don’t already have one. Note that typical autoimmune disorders take 5-9 years to develop and symptoms may or may not be present.

In other words, testing for ANAs may provide a chance to stop a disease before it really starts. This is why it is included in our initial and every follow-up blood panel!

The prevalence of autoimmune disease and ANAs has been rising over the last few decades. While the western medical model deems the presence of ANAs a nonconcern without the presence of symptoms, we are now seeing that it can progress into an autoimmune condition over the course of a few years if left unchecked.

Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) studied the prevalence of positive ANA markers over a 25 year period. Here is what they found:

  • From 1988–1991, 11% (~22 million people) had a positive ANA
  • From 1999–2004, 11.5% (~27 million people) had a positive ANA
  • Here’s the kicker: From 2011–2012, 15.9% (~41 million people) had a positive ANA

From 22 to 41 million people in 25 years is a huge jump! Among the age subgroups, adolescents (ages 12-19) had the highest rate of change, with their prevalence nearly tripling over the time period from 5% to 13%.  Another way to grasp this is that from 88’-04’ ANA Abs jumped 23% and from 04’-12 ANA Abs exploded another 52%!!!

Understanding Test Results

So, you got a positive ANA result on your blood test. There are a couple of other pieces of information next to that result that may seem a bit confusing. Let us break it down for you.


Your titer is the measure of how many antibodies were found in your blood. You may have a titer of <1:40, 1:40, 1:80, 1:160, or 1:320. The ‘1’ before the colon represents a certain volume of blood, and the number after the colon represents the amount of ANA’s found in that amount of blood. 

A negative test would be a level, or ‘titer’, of less than (<) 1:40 (a.k.a. 40 antibodies per measure). A low titer is between 1:40 and 1:80 (40-80 antibodies per measure), while a high result would be 1:80 or above. It can be confusing because the number presents as a ratio, so one might think that 1:160 is smaller than 1:80, but the reality is a 1:160 titer is double that of a 1:80. 


If you have a positive ANA result on your labs, next to your titer there will be a pattern. This just describes how the ANAs look under a microscope. Here are the types of ANA patterns and their associated conditions:

  • Speckled (most common in females)
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
    • Sjogren’s syndrome
    • Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)
    • Polymyositis
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Homogenous (most common in males)
    • Can be seen in any autoimmune disease, higher levels associated with Lupus
  • Nucleolar
  • Mitochondrial
    • Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC)
    • Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)
  • Cytoplasmic
    • Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC)
    • Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)
    • Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH)
  • Speckled + Cytoplasmic
    • Antisynthetase syndrome
  • Centromere
    • Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)
    • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Homogenous + Nucleolar
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
    • Chronic autoimmune hepatitis
    • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

What Can We Do?

All autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, lupus, and Sjogren’s syndrome, require three things to develop:

  1. Genetic predisposition
  2. Intestinal permeability (a.k.a “leaky gut”)
  3. An environmental trigger (can be inflammation, toxin exposure, food sensitivities, infections, or even stress)

Two of these things can be controlled. With proper nutrition and supplementation, we can heal leaky gut, reduce inflammation, and remove food triggers. Interventions can be taken to remove other triggers also, such as testing your house for mold and treating infected sinuses.

When we see a positive ANA marker, we want to get those antibody levels down to slow down or stop disease progress. One of the first things to do is remove gluten from the diet because gluten is a common food trigger that causes inflammation and worsens leaky gut.

What may be most important to realize is that this one marker is a wake up call.  You need to become very serious about your health if this is positive, and your level of dedication to daily habits and lifestyles that promote inflammation need to change!  That may be hard to swallow, but your body is infinitely wise and it is trying to tell you that what you are doing is not working and we need to change direction to get back into harmony!  Our program has shown an 85% success rate with autoimmune disorders, but it requires your participation – the pill to fix the ill is not our approach!

If you’re interested in getting a comprehensive blood test that includes the ANA marker, and then developing a plan for reaching optimal wellness, contact us below!

Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP

12 Habits to Make Your New Year a Healing One

1. Eat a brain boosting breakfast

Oatmeal, waffles, toast, grits are all loaded with carbohydrates. While not inherently bad, carbs are not a good way to start your day! Once converted to glucose in your body, these foods cause blood sugar spikes, giving you a short burst of energy followed by a “crash”. Repeatedly spiking your blood sugar can also lead to insulin resistance, which can make it hard to manage weight, affect other hormone levels, increase your risk of dementia, and cause more sugar cravings. Unchecked, insulin resistance can develop into type 2 diabetes.

One of the best things you can do to improve your energy levels throughout the day is to eat a breakfast high in protein and fat. Eggs, sausage, and avocados are fantastic breakfast foods that help regulate your blood sugar, provide sustained energy, and keep you full until lunch!

2. Try grounding

Research shows that having direct skin contact with the Earth’s surface can have a positive impact on inflammation, immune responses, wound healing, sleep, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Our modern lifestyles keep us from having frequent contact with the Earth’s abundant energy, so we need to go out of our way to connect in this healing way. Try walking barefoot in your yard or kick your shoes off during your hike a few times a week.

3. Daily 10 minute stretching routine

One very simple way to improve your energy in the morning is by improving your blood flow! Stretching for just 10 minutes can alleviate tension from sleeping the night before, increase focus for the day ahead, reduce stress, improve your posture, and improve brain function. Try doing this routine once a day:

  • Standing quad stretch
  • Downward dog
  • Forward fold (try to touch your toes)
  • Runners lunge
  • Cat-cow
  • Child’s pose
  • Lying torso twist
  • Butterfly stretch

4. Take 3 deep breaths before you react

Many of us have underlying anger or other unchecked emotions, and often when a situation arises that gives us an excuse to unleash those feelings we jump on it. Next time you feel the urge to react, challenge yourself to take 3 deep breaths to center yourself and make sure you are responding appropriately to the situation at hand.

5. Release your anger in a healthy way

Related to #4, while taking our anger out on others is not a helpful strategy, releasing those emotions in other ways is important. Here are some tools that you may find useful for channeling anger and other big emotions:

  • Mindful exercise
  • Slowly tense and relax each muscle group one at a time
  • Write it out- just dump all of your thoughts on a page
  • Expressive art. Clay or torn-up collage are good physical forms

6. Practice forgiveness

This year, try being more mindful about the grudges and expectations you hold. We can all do well to practice forgiveness for ourselves and others. No one is perfect, and this world needs more bridges, not chasms. A bit of understanding can help soften the sharp edges all around us and make life a bit better for everyone.

7. We know it’s cheesy- but try looking for the silver lining!

Believe it or not, something great has happened to you today; you just have to look for it! If we focus on the negatives, we just increase our stress and cortisol levels, which can increase inflammation in the body. The glass really is half full if you choose to see it that way. Read more about how cortisol affects the body here.

8. Schedule time for your favorite hobby- or start a new one!

Do you have a creative outlet? Do you like to hike, or take classes at the gym? And do you actually make time to do these things, or do they tend to get put on the back burner in favor of chores?

Making time for your hobbies is important for avoiding burnout, reducing stress, and promoting your overall mental health. This year, make sure you schedule time for yourself! Having a creative outlet- even those adult coloring books- reduces anxiety, slows your heart rate, boosts your mood, and can even help you process trauma. Creative activities are even a common therapy for dementia patients, as it helps them reconnect with their personality and reduces feelings of isolation.

9. Use a Neti Pot

If you haven’t heard of a Neti Pot, it is a small teapot-shaped device that you can use to easily flush out your sinuses. All you have to do is put the spout in one nostril and tilt your head. The saline solution flushes your nasal passages and comes back out the other nostril. It is very gentle and you can still breathe through your mouth easily during the rinsing.

Using a Neti Pot clears backed up mucus, limits congestion, improves breathing, and relieves sinus pressure. Research even shows that COVID patients who used a Neti Pot were 19 times less likely to be hospitalized.

10. Switch TV time for reading time once a week

Most of us have at least a few books around the house that we bought but still haven’t read. Try to set time aside each week to read. Reading keeps your vocabulary sharp and can give you a chance to learn something new.

We can’t possibly do everything in this life, but we can live vicariously through others and learn from their experiences. Try a biography! Our care coordinator Danielle recommends Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. He was born a mixed child during South African apartheid- literally born a crime. This book made me laugh out loud, and cry real tears.

11. Clean up your diet

Choose one of these things to remove from your diet for one month and see how you feel:

12. Get your vitamin D levels checked

Vitamin D is a powerhouse for supporting your immune system and is especially important for autoimmune patients. It is also important for bone joint health. Read all about vitamin D here. This year, make sure you add a vitamin D test to your blood work. Either way, a large portion of the US population does not receive adequate vitamin D so it’s a good idea to supplement!

Many times reading a list like this can feel overwhelming.  But, I bet you saw one or two ideas that seemed interesting?  Maybe leaving a few cues around the house for yourself to remind you about that idea could help you incorporate it into your lifestyle so it doesn’t become another lost resolution.  Personally, I think #7 & #12 could be life changing.  Luckily we have a whole year to practice some of these and to see what sticks – Are you ready for your glass to be half full in 2021?

Yours in health,

Dr. Ian

Say Yes to NAD — a Nootropic for the New Year

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a coenzyme central to metabolism. It contains both NAD+ and NADH. It is an important molecule that is found in our cells and its key functions are to keep our DNA healthy by converting food into energy and to regulate our sleep. It has been referred to as our natural fountain of youth. 

NAD is one of the most important and interesting molecules in the body. It is required for over 500 enzymatic reactions and plays a key role in the regulation of almost all major biological processes. Above all, it may allow us to lead healthier and longer lives.

We all know that our cup runneth over with today’s American diet, alcohol, and other temptations. Add aging to the mix and our natural NAD production slows down, our cells lose their ‘oomph’, and metabolic systems start to take a toll. Lower levels of NAD are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and overall accelerated aging. 

Benefits of NAD:

How to Boost NAD+ Levels Naturally

Fasting has gained popularity in the past few years, promising increased weight loss and brain sharpness. Fasting claims to boost your natural NAD+ levels and the proteins which have been found to slow aging. While fasting does not work for everybody, intermittent fasting or adopting a healthy diet may provide similar results.

Move your Body
Exercise is one of the simplest and most cost-effective methods to boost our NAD+ levels. Movement forces our muscles to produce more mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of cells. The increased production of mitochondria results in a natural boost in NAD+ levels in the body. Exercise does everybody good!

Too Much Sunlight May NOT be Good
Research has shown that too much direct sunlight exposure can deplete the body of NAD+ levels. NAD+ is used to repair cells that get damaged as a result of direct UV ray exposure. Wear sunblock and protective clothing to prolong your NAD+ production in exchange for prolonged sun damage.

Foods That Boost NAD+ Levels
Some foods that support or boost production of NAD+ include tuna, salmon and sardines, and crimini mushrooms and yeast. Green vegetables are always a good source of healthy nutrients and support NAD+. Don’t forget to limit your alcohol intake, so you can get the full effects of the brain health NAD+ can have.

Supplement with NAD+ and Feel the Rush

Maybe you are already the superhuman that makes all of these healthy life choices and you still feel the signs of aging and want to keep yourself in this superior state.

NAD should be injected preferably in your upper glute muscle to avoid soreness. Injecting 100 mg daily for 30 days is an ideal protocol that could reset your mitochondria and support your immune system. Along with a healthier diet, exercise, and supplementation, you can take your NAD+ levels to the next level and find your personal fountain of youth.

Many report an elevated heart rate and rush when injecting NAD+. Your cells are revved up and provide you with more immediate energy. With the injection, you receive the benefits from muscles into your bloodstream, and with proper dosage and frequency, this could deliver a more effective treatment outcome.