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Could Your PCOS Medications “B” the Problem?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common conditions in reproductive-aged women. It is estimated that 8-13% of all reproductive-aged women have this condition and up to 70% of those women are undiagnosed. People with PCOS have cysts on their ovaries that cause hormonal symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Infertility
  • Weight gain and weight loss resistance
  • Scalp hair loss/thinning
  • Oily skin/acne

Causes

Often we find that PCOS patients also have insulin resistance and/or type 2 diabetes. According to some studies, nearly 70% of women with PCOS also have insulin resistance. High levels of blood insulin increase androgen levels (male hormones such as testosterone). Excess androgens in females are mostly to blame for the undesirable effects of PCOS, including acne, weight gain, facial hair, and weight loss resistance. 

Inflammation increases the risk for PCOS. Insulin resistance is just one cause of systemic inflammation. Gut health, stress levels, and weight gain can all contribute to inflammation as well.

Current Treatments

Currently, health care providers recommend weight loss as a primary approach to PCOS relief. Fat cells cause inflammation, so this makes sense. However, as many people may already know, weight loss is not always as easy as it sounds! Insulin resistance can make losing weight through exercise feel impossible.

As far as medications, health care providers often prescribe combination birth control pills to adjust hormone levels, or metformin for insulin resistance. Neither of these approaches truly address the root cause of the insulin resistance and systemic inflammation.

The B Vitamin Cycle of Doom

Just like with most medications, the common prescriptions for PCOS have side effects. Both birth control pills and metformin are known to deplete B vitamins. Metformin specifically makes it more difficult for your body to absorb B12. Birth control pills, on the other hand, are known to cause nutritional deficiencies in folate, vitamins B2, B6, B12, vitamin C and E and the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc.

Why are B vitamin deficiencies so concerning? B12, also known as cobalamin, is a vitamin that is essential for brain health and nervous system function. It is needed for the creation of red blood cells, which help distribute oxygen to the rest of our bodies (including our brains). It is no wonder, then, that low B12 levels have been linked to dementia.

MTHFR Gene

In addition to taking medications that deplete them, many people with PCOS have a specific gene mutation that makes it even more difficult to create active B vitamins. MTHFR is a gene that helps our bodies convert folate to an activated version that we need in order to use B12 (5-MTHF). Birth control pills deplete folate, B6 and B12 levels, so if you also have the MTHFR mutation then your body will really struggle to activate and utilize B12.

Some studies have suggested that women with PCOS are more likely to have a mutation on the MTHFR gene. So, due to medication side effects and/or gene mutations, people with PCOS often suffer from B vitamin deficiency (hence their association with Major depression). 

What’s interesting is how much overlap there is between B vitamin deficiency symptoms and PCOS symptoms. It begs the question: Are PCOS symptoms made worse by B vitamin deficiency, caused by the very medications meant to bring the patient relief?

The Dr. Autoimmune Difference

Our office uses a functional medicine approach to identify and address the root cause of chronic conditions such as PCOS. Rather than using medications, we know how to help you provide your body with the tools it needs to correct imbalances naturally.

For example, our office uses continuous glucose monitoring technology to help our patients identify how certain foods affect their blood sugar. Our nutritionist works one on one with patients to develop plans that help their bodies regulate blood sugar levels more effectively. Once insulin resistance is under control, weight loss becomes much easier. Loss of excess fat= less inflammation= less PCOS symptoms.

The bottom line is that PCOS is not a life sentence- lifestyle changes such as exercise, supplementation, and diet change designed to address the root cause will provide relief. If you are ready to tackle your chronic condition and change your life naturally, click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page.

Maybe She’s Born With It, Maybe It’s Her Microbes

Have you heard of the “microbiome”? This is the word for a small ecosystem made up of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Everyone has ecosystems like these in their body, such as the gut microbiome, the skin microbiome, and pregnant people even have a placental microbiome inside their uterus. These tiny ecosystems are responsible for generating and absorbing essential nutrients, helping with digestion, and even providing a backbone for your immune system. In fact, 70-80% of your immune cells are in your gut!

We all know that the mother’s health affects the health of the baby. This is why pregnant women are advised against taking certain medications and drinking alcohol. Research shows that the microbiomes involved in birth- the placental and vaginal microbiomes- also have an important impact on the long-term health of the baby, including their risk of autoimmunity.

Importance of Infant Microbiome

The gut microbiome plays a key role in disease development, especially during early life. The foundation of a child’s gut microbiome is built during the first 3 years of life. This is a critical window because any disturbances to the microbiome during this time can have life-long consequences such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and neurological conditions. Studies have also shown that the microbiome in the first 3 years of life can influence a child’s chance of developing an autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes or celiac disease.

During infancy, the gut is dominated by a type of bacteria called “bifidobacteria”. Having higher levels of bifidobacteria have been associated with lower risk for obesity, allergies, and autoimmunity. These specific organisms also make nutrients that are vital to early development, such as sialic acid, which is essential for brain development!

So, we know that an infant’s gut microbiome is incredibly important to their future physical and mental health. We have to make sure to build a proper foundation. What are some factors that affect an infant’s microbiome?

The Maternal Gut Microbiome

Studies have proven that the microbes found in the placenta match those in the mother’s mouth. The first microbes that a fetus learns come directly from mom! This means that an expecting mother’s gut health directly affects their baby’s future gut health.

Gestational Age

Infants born before 33 weeks have less gut biodiversity than infants born full-term. Biodiversity= having many different types of microbes. Having more biodiversity in the baby’s gut helps their immune system develop properly.

Mode of Delivery

Infants born via C-section show overall lower biodiversity in their gut during the first 2 years of life. The low levels of healthy microbes in C-section babies allowed harmful bacteria to take over. Lower gut biodiversity in infants= higher risk of infection! The bacteria that the mother passes to the baby during vaginal births helps protect them against infection and immune system issues such as allergies. One study of 6,000 babies in New York found that those born via C-section were twice as likely to develop food allergies or asthma by age 3.

Mode of Feeding

Breast milk is the ideal food for infants. A mother’s milk is specific for the needs of their baby. The probiotics in the milk depend on the mode of delivery, gestational age, and environmental exposures. 

One interesting environmental factor that seems to be important for healthy breast milk microbiota is actually the stress involved with birth! Who knew that stress could ever be a good thing? But it’s true- mothers who had an emergency C-section or a vaginal delivery had healthier breast milk microbes than mothers who chose to have an elective C-section. The only difference between an elective C-section and an emergency C-section is the amount of stress that the mother experiences during the birth. (Sorry, moms!)

Check Out Your Gut!

Having a healthy gut is vital to having a healthy immune system, no matter your age. The root cause of autoimmune conditions almost always includes gut dysbiosis. Many of our clients get a “GI Map”, which is a very comprehensive stool test that detects bacterial overgrowths and undergrowths, viral and parasitic infections, bacterial pathogens, fungi, and more. We have found no other stool test that is more comprehensive.

Maybe you are an expecting mom, trying to get pregnant, or curious about your child’s gut health. In any case, if you are interested in finding the root cause of your condition or checking out the health of your or your child’s gut, click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page!

Junior Joint Pain

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), formerly known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is joint inflammation in children 16 years of age or younger, lasting for at least 6 weeks. Unlike adult rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that is chronic and can last a lifetime without proper diagnosis or intervention, children usually outgrow JIA. But do they really?

JIA is…drum roll please…an autoimmune disease. Children with predisposed genes, such as a part of a gene called HLA antigen DR4, could be at a higher risk for developing JIA. Even if the symptoms of JIA subside, the risk of developing an autoimmune condition later in life is probable. All autoimmune conditions can be connected to “leaky gut”, a problem where the gut barrier breaks down and inflammation begins to trigger an autoimmune response. Even if your child does not have gut-related symptoms, it is quite common that those with JIA have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, undergrowth, or other infectious bugs that must be brought under control with proper evaluation and support.

There is evidence that early exposure to antibiotics and compromised gut health could be contributing factors. Additional studies support the connection between JIA, type 1 diabetes, food allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS). Infants who were born vaginally vs. by c-section tend to have more Bifidobacterium in their gut, which is associated with a strong immune response. Nursed infants also have higher levels of this same beneficial bacteria in addition to Lactobacilli and Streptococci. Bottle-fed infants could be lacking these healthy bacteria, and may be at increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease.

There are several types of JIA:

  • Systemic onset JIA affects one or more joints, combined with high fever and a skin rash. It may also cause inflammation of internal organs, including the heart, liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. It is the least common type. It affects 1 in 10 to about 1 in 7 children with JIA.
  • Oligoarticular JIA affects 1 to 4 joints in the first 6 months of disease. If no more joints are affected after 6 months, this type is called persistent. If more joints are affected after 6 months, it is called extended.
  • Polyarticular JIA affects 5 or more joints in the first 6 months of disease. Blood tests for rheumatoid factor (RF) will show if this type is RF-positive or RF-negative.
  • Enthesitis-related JIA is arthritis and swelling of the tissue where bone meets a tendon or ligament. It often affects the hips, knees, and feet.
  • Psoriatic arthritis may have both arthritis and a red, scaly skin disease called psoriasis. 2 or more of the following symptoms may be present:
    • Inflammation of a finger or toe
    • Pits or ridges in fingernails
    • A first-degree relative with psoriasis
  • Undifferentiated arthritis is arthritis that has symptoms of 2 or more JIA types above. Or the symptoms might not match any type of JIA.

Symptoms of JIA may include:

  • Pain, swelling and tenderness in the joints. The joints may also feel warm.
  • Morning joint stiffness
  • Limping gait (younger children may not be able to perform motor activities that they recently learned)
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fatigue or irritability
  • Eye redness, eye pain, and blurred vision

Diagnosing JIA

How do you know if your child may have JIA? A physical exam may not be enough to determine a clear diagnosis. A MRI or X-ray could show the degree of inflammation, and a comprehensive blood panel may show the presence of the substance’s antinuclear antibody (ANA) and rheumatoid factor. These tests can help rule out other diseases. As well, the most significant and accurate marker for rheumatoid arthritis, cyclic citrullinated peptides (CCP) should be run.

Functional medicine excels at this aspect of determining the root cause and how to rehab the immune system. If you suspect your child may have juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Dr. Autoimmune can help. Click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page or call today to schedule a new patient evaluation with Dr. Ian Hollaman: 303-882-8447, press 0 to speak with Felice.

Diabetes and Dementia and B12 Deficiency, Oh My!

Diabetes affects 11.3% of people in the US, and 90-95% of those people have type 2 diabetes. What many people may not know, however, is that all forms of diabetes will increase your risk of dementia. Glucose (sugar) is an essential source of energy for your brain, so when your insulin is not metabolizing it in a way that makes it useful, your brain misses out on important fuel. A pre-diabetic state is marked by insulin resistance, which is when your insulin cells can’t use glucose effectively.

Some early signs of insulin resistance include:

The catch is, even if you try to get your diabetes under control with medications such as metformin, you will still be increasing your chances of getting dementia.

The Misfortune of Metformin 

Metformin may be prescribed as generic, or by brand names such as Fortamet or Glumetza. It is a commonly used drug for type 2 diabetes and has been prescribed to over 120 million people worldwide.

Numerous studies have shown a correlation between use of metformin and chronic vitamin B12 deficiency. Typically within one year of consistent usage of metformin, your ability to absorb B12 becomes compromised and you may experience symptoms of B12 deficiency including:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness especially coming from seated to standing
  • Feeling cold
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet
  • Loss of reflexes, which may progress to depression, confusion, and memory loss

B12, also known as cobalamin, is a vitamin that is essential for brain health and nervous system function. It is needed for the creation of red blood cells, which help distribute oxygen to the rest of our bodies (including our brains). It is no wonder, then, that low B12 levels have been linked to dementia. Researchers Norbert Goebels, M.D. and Michael Soyka, M.D wrote:

“Cobalamin deficiency has been shown to be the most frequent associated physical disease in patients with dementia.”

So, diabetes can lead to dementia, and the medication for diabetes can also lead to dementia. Not to mention the recent national recall for metformin based on a batch containing a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemical. Is there no way to win here? Well, our office has a different approach.

What Else Can Cause B12 Deficiency?

Age

Besides medications like metformin, there are other risk factors that can lead to a B12 deficiency. Age is one of these factors. Ten to thirty percent of people over the age of 50 produce too little stomach acid to release B12 from the foods they eat. A certain amount of stomach acid is required to break down the carrier foods and release the B12 vitamin. This could mean that even though you are eating foods that technically contain B12, you may not be breaking the food down enough to actually absorb the B12. The older you get, the less stomach acid you produce, so this risk only increases.

Genes

MTHFR is a gene that helps our bodies convert folate, A.K.A. vitamin B9, to an activated version that our bodies can use. All B vitamins need to be converted to their methylated forms in order for our bodies to use them. What does this have to do with B12?

Our bodies need activated (methylated) folate in order to use B12. So, when there is a mutation on our MTHFR gene, it affects our body’s ability to make activated folate, and therefore our ability to use B12. This creates an interesting dynamic where someone can have completely normal levels of B12 in their blood, but are actually deficient in the vitamin and have the corresponding symptoms.

At Dr. Autoimmune, we are able to order specialized blood tests to detect mutations on the MTHFR gene when Dr. Ian suspects this may be a concern.

Managing Diabetes Naturally

Instead of prescribing medications that increase your risk of dementia, our office seeks to address the underlying cause of your condition and develop a management plan using lifestyle changes and proper supplementation.

One tool we frequently use is a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to help our clients learn exactly how different foods affect their blood sugar. While we use this tool to manage and make decisions about diet changes, we also dive deeper.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, insulin resistance is a precursor to diabetes. Insulin resistance is caused by systemic inflammation in the body. This can be caused by gut dysbiosis, food sensitivities (particularly to gluten), toxin exposure (such as mold), stress, and hormone imbalances, just to name a few.

By identifying and addressing these root causes, rather than managing symptoms with a band-aid medication, our patients find that their bodies have exceptional healing abilities when given the right tools! If you are ready to change your life, click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page.

Dr. Ian recently went viral with a video about MTHFR and B12 deficiency related to metformin use. Make sure to subscribe to him on TikTok to get daily health tips and kernels of knowledge!

Achieve A Healthier Gut By Eating These Foods

Discover how eating these foods can get you a healthier gut!

We’ve all experienced these symptoms more than we can count! Bloating, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, and the general feeling of blah. 

That’s a common feeling after eating a large greasy meal. Or indulging in a rich dessert. Or grabbing a bunch of convenience food when you’re running late. 

It’s easy to brush off short-term discomforts from these foods, but daily consumption can lead to long-term gut health problems. 

So how can we achieve a healthier gut?

Well, what if I told you that food is the answer to achieving a healthier  gut! It’s true, but there’s good food and bad food for your gut! 

Healthy food is nature’s medicine as it can ease digestive symptoms and prevent certain conditions. 

By adding gut-healthy foods to your diet it’s a lot easier and delicious to achieve a healthier gut than you may realize!

Let’s face it – we sometimes feel too busy to go searching for healthy food on the go.  So we settle on what’s around us. 

The problem is, a lot of those ‘quick’ foods contain high sugar, fats, and cholesterol – with limited nutritional values. This leads to inflammation and unbalanced digestive enzymes. 

Good & Bad Bacteria

Your gut health depends on the functioning of trillions of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses that occupy your small and large intestines and the rest of your body. 

These organisms make up what’s called your microbiome. The microbiome is a delicate system that plays a crucial role in your digestive system, immune system, and production of serotonin. 

The microbiome can be aided or weakened by many factors. One of these factors is the food you eat.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll review foods that can restore healthy gut flora. But first, let’s go over why it’s so important that you make adjustments to your eating habits for a healthier gut.

Why we should change what we eat.

In a perfect world, we would eat whatever satisfied us. Our body would easily process the food as it passed through our gut, and then absorb the necessary nutrients while eliminating what we didn’t need through our bowel movements. 

However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and some foods can make us feel really lousy over time. Which is why many of us should adjust our diet in order to improve our gut health. 

The first step is to eliminate or reduce any processed foods, refined sugars and fats as they’re linked with a higher risk of chronic diseases that can shorten your lifespan.

Some of these chronic diseases include:

Other Issues that can be caused by poor gut health include:

 

Making a positive change in your diet not only benefits your gut health, it can also help lower your chances of getting any of the chronic diseases mentioned above. 

On top of that, eating with your gut in mind will also help lower your blood pressure, and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Now that we went over the “why” we should change our eating habits, let’s dig in and go over which foods will help you achieve a much happier and healthier gut! 

Sauerkraut

A food often associated with sausage and hearty meals, sauerkraut is actually healthier than one may think. 

Due to the fermentation process and the nutritionally dense values of cabbage, sauerkraut is an awesome food for a healthy gut!

In fact, regular consumption of fermented sauerkraut helps to balance good gut bacteria and is also a beneficial treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases and other conditions.

But be careful– not all sauerkraut is the same. Some sauerkraut found in traditional supermarkets can be loaded with sodium. So make sure to check the label when purchasing.

Leafy Greens

Spinach, kale, arugula, and chard are a few examples of leafy greens that are great to achieve a healthy gut lifestyle. The variety of their use is endless, too! 

Leafy greens can be added to smoothies, soups, salads, and side dishes to satisfy cravings and appetite.

They’re low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with vitamins and minerals – it’s no wonder leafy greens are the superstars of all healthy food! 

The benefits of adding leafy greens to your diet are endless too! 

Here are 6 reasons why they are amazing for gut health- 

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Loaded with fiber for a healthy microbiota
  • Maintains healthy blood sugar
  • Promotes a healthy immune system
  • Encourages healthy digestive enzymes
  • Eliminates bloating

Dairy Free Yogurt

Yogurt is great for gut health, but not just any ol’ yogurt! For optimal health benefits, plant-based, dairy-free yogurt is best. 

There are many tasty dairy-free yogurt options available that provide a ton of probiotic gut health benefits – without the lactose issues of dairy.

When choosing a dairy-free yogurt, make sure the label contains at least one of these options:

  • almond milk
  • cashew milk
  • soy milk
  • coconut milk

Plant-based yogurt provides delicious and nutritional options for a healthy gut. Be sure the yogurt you choose isn’t loaded with sugar. 

Don’t worry, you can always sweeten it up with some fruit!

How is Yogurt a Probiotic?

Yogurt is a fermented food that increases lactobacilli (good probiotic) and decreases Enterobacteriaceae (inflammation-causing bacteria). 

In fact, studies show those who consume yogurt regularly have a healthier gut microbiota (gut habitat) than those who do not eat yogurt. 

Further studies also suggest that regular consumption of yogurt is beneficial to those with IBS and other digestive disorders.

It’s easy to see how dairy-free yogurt promotes the gut-healthy lifestyle! So make sure to add some to your next grocery list. 

Garlic

A healthier gut isn’t only about probiotics – a healthy gut microbiome requires prebiotics, too.

While there are many prebiotic foods, the health benefits of garlic make it a star performer due to its high inulin (a type of dietary fiber) and non-digestive carbohydrate properties. 

These prebiotic properties promote the growth of good bacteria which helps to prevent intestinal diseases.

Garlic is also beneficial for a healthy gut microbiota (gut habitat) due to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and cancer prevention properties. 

Prebiotic foods, like garlic, also contain short-chain fatty acids, which promote gut-health and decrease inflammation in the colon.

You may now wonder, do I need to eat a bowl full of garlic? No, please don’t! All you need to do is add 1 – 2 cloves of raw garlic into a meal per day. In fact, many healthy recipes include garlic cloves already. 

It’s a matter of mindfulness.

Nuts

Packed with protein, fiber, and polyphenols, moderate consumption of nuts is fantastic for a healthy-gut life. 

Fiber is a key player here, and adding a quarter cup of nuts per day is all that’s needed.

This goes to show a gut-healthy diet includes tasty foods, even ones you’ll go “nuts” over!

Bananas

This is another one that you’ll go “bananas” for! And we mean literally, because bananas are very gut-healthy! 

The health benefits of eating bananas really stack up because they provide everything from fiber, to prebiotics, to pectin, to resistant starch- all of which promote a healthy gut! 

Not to mention there’s so many different ways to enjoy eating them! They can be used in smoothie recipes, desserts, salads and bread! Or just peel and eat it straight up! 

Bonus Tip: Add a banana to your dairy free yogurt for an extra dose of gut-healthiness!

Lentils

Lentils are a plant-based source of protein and fiber, and are an easy way to add prebiotics and antioxidants to your daily nutrition.

Lentils also have resistant starch which slows the digestion of carbohydrates and reduces the risk for gastrointestinal disorders. 

Meals that contain lentils are also filling which helps to reduce overeating and indigestion.

Gut Health is Important!

Roughly three million Americans today have been diagnosed with intestinal disorders, including Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis

While factors like family history and environment can play a part in health issues, one’s lifestyle and diet play a big role too!

The key takeaway is to eat healthy fermented foods, as well as foods containing fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics. 

Remember, healthy eating doesn’t have to be confusing, complicated, or disgusting. All it takes is some education and mindful planning.

Could your gut be affecting your current health problems?

If after reading this you feel like your gut may be playing a role in your current health problems, then it’s time to make an appointment with Dr. Ian Hollaman, aka Dr. Autoimmune! 

Dr. Hollaman treats a plethora of conditions including many that we mentioned above. He addresses the root causes of your autoimmune conditions using the most modern forms of healthcare including Functional Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, and Neurofeedback.

After working with Dr. Autoimmune and our team, you will walk away with the knowledge and tips to keep your health on track for years to come.

It’s time to start your journey to better health with the right tools, therapies, and diet changes.

Contact us today to get started! We’re happy to set up a complimentary 15-minute introductory consultation with Dr. Ian Hollaman himself. 

There Must Be Something in the Water

A fifth of the United States is drinking contaminated water. There are contaminants in municipal drinking water such as heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and other impurities that can affect your health. Some of these contaminants can lead to serious health problems including cancer, autoimmunity, and birth defects. In addition, many of these contaminants are not removed by standard filtration methods. As a result, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with drinking municipal water. There are a number of ways to reduce your exposure to these contaminants, including using a water filter or drinking bottled water. By taking simple steps to protect yourself, you can help reduce your risk of exposure to harmful contaminants.

Types of Contaminants

What could be in your water? The Safe Drinking Water Act defines “contaminant” as any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter in water.

Physical:

  • Sediment
  • Organic material

Chemical:

  • Nitrogen
  • Bleach
  • Salts
  • Pesticides
  • Metals
  • Toxins produced by bacteria
  • Drugs/pharmaceuticals

Biological:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Protozoan
  • Parasites

Radiological contaminants include chemicals that can emit radiation:

  • Cesium
  • Plutonium
  • Uranium

Are You Ingesting Prescribed Medications Unintentionally?

Pharmaceutical medications, including antibiotics, are prescribed by doctors to treat a variety of conditions and symptoms, but traces of these medications are actually detected in municipal water sources. This happens in a number of ways. One route these medications take is, of course, through people. Humans excrete the medications or flush them down the toilet, and wastewater treatments do not remove them before releasing the water back into the environment. From there, water taken from environmental sources is treated and converted to municipal drinking water.

This graphic made by EPA Research Biologist Mitch Kostich illustrates this cycle well, also including the impact this cycle of prescribed pharmaceuticals has on wildlife:

Pharmaceuticals also enter the water supply via discharge from pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities (PMFs). One US Geological Survey (USGS) study found that wastewater from treatment plants that receive discharge from PMFs had 10 to 1,000 times higher concentrations of pharmaceuticals than wastewater from other treatment plants. The treated water from the wastewater plants near the PMFs was released into streams and the pharmaceuticals were still detected 30 kilometers downstream of the plant.

A third and very impactful method that pharmaceuticals enter the water supply is through livestock. Animals are routinely prescribed antibiotics and other medications, which they excrete. The runoff from animal-feeding operations enters waterways directly. With almost 100 million cows in the US, you can imagine the scale of this impact!

These are the main reasons why more than 4000 pharmaceutical medications are detected in the environment.

The Lead in Your Glass is Absolutely UNSAFE

The EPA and CDC both agree that there is no level of lead that is safe for a child to ingest. This heavy metal imposes a significant health risk, yet it was used in pipes and fixtures in homes regularly prior to 1986. When these pipes and fixtures corrode, the lead enters wastewater.

As with all heavy metals, lead cannot be excreted. Therefore, even if you are exposed to it at low levels over a period of time, it will accumulate in your body. Lead is especially dangerous for children and fetuses, since it will affect development. A dose of lead that may not have a significant effect on an adult will be much more harmful to a child. Low levels of lead exposure have been linked to damage to the nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells in children. Heavy metal toxicity of any kind can trigger autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, and lupus.

In Boulder City’s 2022 Water Quality Consumer Confidence Report, the lead levels of municipal drinking water was measured at an average of 2 ppb, and the EPA “action level” (the level at which the city must take action) is 15 ppb. However, given the fact that there is no safe level of lead to ingest, the EPA’s goal is 0 ppb. You can check your city’s water quality by requesting or searching for their Water Quality Consumer Confidence Report, which they are required to submit by July 1st each year.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Family

The first step is to test your water. It is recommended that you test at least once per year, with more frequent testing if someone in your household is pregnant, if there are unexplained illnesses in the family, or if you notice a change in your water’s taste, odor, color, or clarity. Make sure you test with a state certified lab; we like National Testing Laboratories, which is certified in most US states.

These tests will identify contaminants such as heavy metals, inorganic and organic compounds, physical factors, and disinfectants. However, it is difficult to find commercial water tests for pharmaceuticals.

The safest drinking water option is spring water, because it will not include wastewater and is generally not close enough to animal feed operations to be contaminated by runoff. An alternative option is to get a water filtration system that removes most contaminants.

Beyond testing your water, if you are having unexplained symptoms or have reason to believe you have been exposed to such toxins, it is important to get your blood tested. At Dr. Autoimmune, we use a range of high quality testing methods to get to the bottom of unexplained symptoms or complex conditions. If you are ready to take the first step toward finding your optimal health, click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page.

You Aren’t Always What You Eat

Eating healthy isn’t always enough. We can eat a variety of organic vegetables, fruits, and meats and still be missing out on the macronutrients that these foods deliver. Poor soil health from overcropping leads to less nutrient-dense foods, and our internal gut health may be missing the “good stuff” that helps us absorb and digest these “healthy” food sources. 

Your digestive juices include hydrochloric acid (HCL), several enzymes, and a mucus coating that protects the lining of your stomach. Hydrochloric acid helps your body to break down, digest, and absorb nutrients such as protein. It also eliminates bacteria and viruses in the stomach, protecting your body from infection. 

Hypochlorhydria is the state of having low stomach acid. This condition can be caused by consuming poor quality, highly processed foods, alcohol or smoking. Normal aging can also be a contributor to decreased hydrochloric acid. For those with hypochlorhydria, supplementing may be the answer to finding the balance for your metabolic system. Taking medications that suppress the symptoms of acid reflux (a symptom of hypochlorhydria) have been shown to contribute to leaky gut. Chronic gastrointestinal complaints are often addressed with medications that often make the bark worse than the bite.  

How do you know if you are digesting and absorbing those organic foods that you so carefully cultivate or purchase?

Symptoms of hypochlorhydria could include:

  • bloating
  • burping
  • upset stomach
  • nausea when taking vitamins and supplements
  • heartburn
  • diarrhea
  • desire to eat when not hungry
  • indigestion/gas
  • hair loss
  • undigested food in stool
  • weak, brittle fingernails
  • fatigue
  • GI infections
  • iron deficiency anemia
  • deficiencies of other minerals, such as vitamin B-12, calcium, and magnesium
  • protein deficiency
  • neurological issues, such as numbness, tingling, and vision changes

Long term low levels of hydrochloric acid can contribute to chronic health conditions including:

The HCL Challenge

If you have many of the symptoms above, and suspect you may not be utilizing your nutrients effectively, try taking the HCL Challenge described in this link. The basic concept is to take one HCL pill with each meal on day one, 2 with each meal on day 2, 3 with each meal on day 3 and so on. When you reach heartburn within 5 minutes after taking the dose, that will be the point where you want to back off by one pill each meal until you can dismiss the heartburn. Remember that we are all bio-individual and may react differently, so please consult your practitioner if you have any questions or concerns. 

HCL-XYM to the Rescue

HCL-XYM is a blend of betaine hydrochloride (HCL) and the three most effective plant-based digestive enzymes: protease, amylase and lipase, in a base of trace minerals. All Dr. Autoimmune clients take HCL-XYM prior to every meal in order to:

  • help support the body’s natural ability to produce HCL
  • offer relief from occasional gas, bloating and indigestion
  • support digestion and absorption
  • create the proper pH in which protein digestion enzymes work
  • help to extract vitamin B12 from food
  • maintain healthy intestinal flora levels

If you suffer from many of these symptoms, HCL-XYM could help support your digestion. Call Dr. Autoimmune to discuss options on how we can get to the root cause of your symptoms at 303-882-8447.

For the month of July, we will be offering HCL-XYM at 15% off retail in office purchases only. Or, you can order online here, enter one-time access code USE777, and use code IAN10 at checkout for 10% off.

See what Dr. Autoimmune suggests eating to support your gut and immune health here.

A Ticking Lyme Bomb

Learn about the link between ticks, Lyme disease and autoimmune disease and how to protect yourself from this dangerous trio.

These itty bitty bugs climb out as cold weather fades. Particularly in woody, adventure-seeking communities like Colorado, people take to the outdoors (and so do the ticks!).

Ticks are No Treat

Ticks are tiny insects that attach themselves to the skin of animals and humans. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. The symptoms of Lyme disease can vary, but they often include”:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • A distinctive rash known as erythema migrans

If Lyme disease is not treated, it can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system. In some cases, Lyme disease can lead to an autoimmune condition. Autoimmunity occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. This can occur in people with Lyme disease if the bacteria spreads to the liver and triggers an autoimmune response. In severe cases, autoimmunity can cause organ damage and even death. Lyme disease is a serious condition that requires prompt treatment. Ticks can also carry other diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and babesiosis (Lyme co-infection), but Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne infection in North America.

There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases, and they affect people of all ages. Lyme disease is a serious health problem and can lead to autoimmunity, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself from ticks and other insects that carry the disease. You should wear long pants and sleeves when you are outdoors in areas where ticks live. You should also use natural insect repellent (made with essential oils) on your skin and clothing. Be sure to check yourself and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors, and remove any that are found promptly. 

How to Remove a Tick 

The CDC suggests:

It’s Better to Be Safe than Sorry

It’s often very difficult to diagnose a Lyme infection. Many people live with undiagnosed symptoms for years before getting to the root cause. Lyme disease is best detected by a blood test, which looks for antibodies to the Lyme bacteria. The test can be performed using either a whole blood sample or a serum sample. Antibodies to Lyme disease are typically produced within 3-6 weeks of infection, so it is best to wait at least 6 weeks after possible exposure before getting tested. It’s important to get proper testing as not all tests are created equal. Lyme disease can also be detected using a urine test, but this is not as accurate as the blood test. Lyme disease is a serious infection that can cause a wide range of symptoms, so it is important to get tested if you think you may have been exposed to the bacteria.

All Testing is Not Created Equal

It is important to use the proper type of testing for Lyme. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing can detect the DNA of the Lyme disease bacteria and if you have an active case of Lyme disease or if you had Lyme in the past. Use of IgM testing is recommended during the first 30 days of infection, after which only IgG tests should be used. Research shows that current western blot testing has shortcomings, and PCR testing is more valid in determining an active infection.

Supporting Lyme disease

Lyme disease is a serious illness that can have a significant impact on a person’s life. While there is no cure for Lyme disease, there are treatments available that can help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. By seeking out natural treatments and support, Lyme disease sufferers can take an active role in managing their illness and improving their wellbeing.

If you think you may have Lyme disease, it is important to see your practitioner as soon as possible. Call Dr. Autoimmune 303-882-8447 or click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page to find out more about how we can help.

ImmunoXym: The Best Way to Get the Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea has been used for centuries in Asia for its medicinal properties, and recent research has taught us that it may be an important tool for tackling autoimmunity. The extract from green tea has been shown to support T-regulatory cells, which help to suppress an overactive immune response and reduce inflammation. Sunphenon®, a decaffeinated and highly potent green tea extract, is a key ingredient in our proprietary supplement ImmunoXym that provides these benefits.

The Benefits

Green tea has been shown to have a number of health benefits thanks to its high polyphenol content. Polyphenols are antioxidants that help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation. Learn more about antioxidants, how they work, and another potent antioxidant in ImmunoXym here.

Green tea is also thermogenic, meaning it helps to boost metabolism and promote weight loss. In addition to all of this, green tea has been shown to protect against kidney damage, reduce risk of cancer, and control blood sugar levels. Simply put, green tea is a powerful tool for maintaining good health.

The Tea for T-Cells

According to research from Oregon State University, one of the beneficial compounds found in green tea has a powerful ability to increase the number of “regulatory T cells” that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease. Regulatory T cells (or “T-reg cells“) are a type of white blood cell that helps to keep the immune system in check, preventing it from overreacting and attacking healthy tissues. That’s why they are often referred to as the “police” of our immune system.

The major compound in green tea that they studied is a polyphenol called EGCG. In a study with mice, EGCG significantly increased the levels and activity of T-reg cells. The research was focused on potential treatments for lupus, but the findings have much broader implications for other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. As stated by Mitzi Nagarkatti, an OSU professor and vice president for research:

“This is one of the most potent ways we’ve seen to increase the numbers and function of T-reg cells. These results are very exciting and could have broad implications for treatment of autoimmune disease.”

Medical College of Georgia researchers also say that green tea may help protect against autoimmune disease. Researchers studied an animal model for type 1 diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome, which is an autoimmune condition that damages the glands that produce tears and saliva. The study found that green tea helped to reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are molecules that play a role in the development of autoimmune disease by causing inflammation.

The Caffeine Drawback 

Clearly green tea has a lot of benefits, but it also contains caffeine. Caffeine interferes with cortisol levels– the “stress hormone.” Cortisol is a hormone that helps us to deal with stress. When our cortisol levels are too high, we can feel anxious and stressed out. Caffeine can interfere with the normal production of cortisol, which can lead to feeling more stressed. It can also cause other problems such as insomnia, headaches, and gastrointestinal upset.

Sunphenon® is a decaffeinated, highly potent green tea extract that is used in our proprietary supplement for autoimmune patients, ImmunoXym. Sunphenon® is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage, and it has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of autoimmune diseases by promoting T-reg cells.

ImmunoXym is a unique formula that is designed to support the body’s natural ability to stimulate these critical T-reg cells. Our supplement contains a blend of ingredients that are known to be effective in supporting immunity, and Sunphenon® is an important part of our formula. For the month of June, ImmunoXym will be 15% off in-office and 10% off online using code IAN10.

If you are ready to get to the root cause of your health issues and begin your healing journey, click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page.

Hypertension and Autoimmune Disease: What You Need to Know

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the most common chronic disease in America.  People with hypertension are at risk for heart attack, stroke, and kidney damage. Did you know that there is a connection between hypertension and autoimmune disease?  Were you aware there are over 400 different causal factors in hypertension? 

Autoimmunity is when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. The immune system is supposed to protect the body from infection and disease, but sometimes it breaks down and targets our own tissues.

Studies have shown that people with autoimmune diseases are more likely to develop hypertension, and vice versa. One study found that people with the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common type of lupus, were twice as likely to have hypertension than the general population. In fact, hypertension may even be autoimmune in itself. In this blog post, we will discuss the link between these two conditions and how our functional medicine approach can address them.

T Cells

T cells are a type of immune cell that helps the body fight infection. There are different types of T cells, including helper T cells and killer T cells. Helper T cells give instructions to other immune cells, and killer T cells kill infected or cancerous cells. Some T cells, called regulatory T cells or T-reg cells, help to keep the immune system in check. They are known as the “police” of the immune system. 

Autoimmunity occurs when T-reg cells don’t work properly and other T cells become dysregulated. This can happen because of genetics, infections, exposure to certain chemicals or drugs, or hypertension. As a result, the immune system starts attacking healthy cells instead of fighting off infection. Autoimmunity can lead to a number of different diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

T Cells and Hypertension

T cells are a normal part of the immune system, but they can cause serious problems if they become overactive, as they do in autoimmune disease. T cells can cause high blood pressure, or hypertension. Hypertension is when the force of blood against the walls of blood vessels is too high. There is a bit of a vicious cycle because when hypertension damages the blood vessels, T cells are attracted to the area and cause inflammation. This can lead to further damage and make hypertension worse. 

Oxidative stress, which can be caused by T cells, is another factor that can contribute to hypertension. This happens when there are too many free radicals in the body. Free radicals are molecules that can damage cells, and they are naturally created by T cells but can be worsened by things like smoking, pollution, and UV radiation from the sun. When oxidative stress happens, it can damage the arteries and make hypertension worse. Read more about how dysregulated T cells cause oxidative stress here.

Hypertension Leads to Autoimmunity

For many years, hypertension was thought to be caused by lifestyle choices or genetics. However, recent research about how dysregulated T cells lead to high blood pressure has shown that in some cases, hypertension may be an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy blood vessels.

Essentially, since hypertension can lead to immune dysfunction, it can also lead to autoimmunity.

This research is still in its early stages, but it is hope for a better understanding of how to manage hypertension. This new information could lead to treatments that are more effective and have fewer side effects, as current blood pressure medications can lead to a variety of complications.

Other Triggers for Hypertension

DNA and Caffeine

Our risks for hypertension can be evaluated by looking at our DNA. An SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) is a variation in a single nucleotide – the building blocks of DNA – that occurs at a specific position in the genome. SNP information can be used to understand how different people respond to caffeine, a substance that can increase blood pressure and cause hypertension.

For example, people with certain SNP variants may metabolize caffeine more slowly, which could lead to higher levels of caffeine in the blood and increased risk of hypertension. On the other hand, people with other SNP variants may metabolize caffeine more quickly, which could lead to lower levels of caffeine in the blood and reduced risk of hypertension. Therefore, SNP information can be used to understand how different people respond to caffeine and help to predict risks for certain health conditions.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that can lead to high blood pressure. When you have sleep apnea, your breathing stops and starts repeatedly during the night. This means that your body isn’t getting enough oxygen, which can put strain on your heart and other organs. Over time, this can lead to high blood pressure.

The Functional Medicine Approach

Autoimmune diseases are caused by a combination of genetics, leaky gut, and environmental triggers. While there is no cure for these conditions, research has shown that functional medicine can be an effective way to manage them. Functional medicine is a holistic approach that focuses on identifying and treating the root cause of disease. This approach involves using natural methods, such as diet, supplementation, and lifestyle changes to promote healing. 

At Dr. Autoimmune, we focus on addressing the root cause of your condition and developing a custom plan with you to help you reach your health goals. If you are ready to be brave and take the Dr. Autoimmune challenge, click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page.