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The Immune Power of Antioxidants

What Are Antioxidants?

“Antioxidant” is probably a term you have heard before. It is used commonly to refer to health beverage ingredients, so-called ‘superfoods’, and supplements as an anti-aging tool. But what is an antioxidant?

To understand how antioxidants work, you will need to understand what “free radicals” are. Free radicals are unstable atoms that are naturally made in the body. They are unstable because they do not have enough electrons, so they want to steal electrons from other atoms. When they steal electrons from our body’s atoms, it causes “oxidative stress” on our cells.

Oxidative stress, or free radicals stealing electrons from our bodies’ atoms, has been linked to a number of diseases such as:

In addition to all of these conditions, oxidative stress from free radicals also causes the effects of aging such as wrinkles, gray hair, vision decline, and hair loss. As we get older, our bodies produce more free radicals and have a harder time fighting them.

Now that you understand how free radicals cause oxidative stress, you will understand how antioxidants work. Free radicals need to steal electrons in order to become stable and stop causing damage. Antioxidants are special atoms that can donate their own electrons to the free radicals. Check out the image below to see how this works:

Some common antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), and our focus for this article: alpha lipoic acid (ALA).

How Antioxidants Help Autoimmunity

Oxidative stress from free radicals has been known to lead to autoimmunity because it messes with the immune system and causes inflammation. Here’s how:

Immune cells use free radicals to destroy bacteria, but when they start to produce too many, T-regulatory cells use them to suppress the immune cells. This is one way that T-reg cells ‘police’ the immune system. When immune cells are dysregulated (T-reg cells aren’t working right), they produce more free radicals, which increases inflammation. This is how oxidative stress dysregulates the immune system.

In fact, one study found that oxidative stress was a huge contributor to damage done by the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common type of lupus. Free radicals increased inflammation, organ damage, and the chance of developing a second disease.

Since we know that oxidative stress can cause autoimmunity, it makes sense that antioxidants may help with managing autoimmune diseases. Studies have actually shown that this theory is true.

ALA and Autoimmunity

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that our cells make naturally. We can also supplement with it and get great results, as some scientists have already tested.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects your body’s nervous system. The version of this disease that mice can get is called EAE. When mice with this disease were given high doses of ALA early on, the disease was completely suppressed. The ALA helped regulate the immune system in the mice and was able to completely stop it from attacking their central nervous systems. The implications for humans with MS are very exciting. Even in mice that already had very serious symptoms, the ALA slowed down their disease progression and reduced their symptoms.

Similar research shows us that ALA can be helpful for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, psoriasis, autoimmune small-vessel vasculitis, and more.

ALA in Immunoxym

Our very own Dr. Ian Hollaman (a.k.a Dr. Autoimmune) developed a supplement formula for his autoimmune patients. Immunoxym is specifically made to support your T-regulatory cells, which are the ‘police’ of your immune system. One of the most important ingredients is ALA.

For the month of June, you can purchase Immunoxym for 10% off online using code IAN10 at checkout, and 15% off if you purchase in the office.

With an 85% success rate for resolution of symptoms, we are confident that we can get to the root cause of your condition and develop a custom plan with you that will help you reach your health goals. If you are ready to be brave and take the Dr. Autoimmune challenge, click “Start Your Journey” at the bottom of this page!

Still Can’t Smell or Taste After COVID?

The virus that shook the world has a few symptoms we all know, such as loss of taste and smell. And by now, most of us have heard of the term “long-COVID”, referring to recovered COVID-19 patients who have symptoms long after they test negative for the virus. Long-COVID symptoms include continued absence of smell and taste, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and brain fog. If you have been struggling with this, there is hope!

According to an early study funded by the National Institutes of Health, about 70% of COVID-19-positive patients had lost their sense of taste and smell. A later study found that 61% of recovered COVID patients still had symptoms after 6 months. That is a long time to go without being able to smell anything!

So why are so many people not able to smell for months after they had the virus? Loss of smell (anosmia) is actually a sign that the brain is inflamed.

What Causes Brain Inflammation?

Diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance are risk factors for severe COVID-19. In fact, this whole-population study in England showed that one third of all the COVID-19-related deaths occurred in people with diabetes. That’s a huge percentage!

While it is known that these are risk factors for severe COVID, emerging evidence is also tying these to long-COVID, especially loss of smell and taste. As we mentioned before, the loss of smell and taste is actually related to brain inflammation. This can be caused by insulin resistance.

When you eat, your food is broken down into glucose (sugar) molecules. Your body then releases insulin, which is a hormone that allows glucose to enter a cell and be used for energy. When your cells become resistant to it, glucose can no longer enter and be used. This causes two things: your cells no longer have an energy source, and inflammation starts to accumulate.

Insulin is an important hormone for brain function. Insulin resistance causes your brain to not have enough energy to function properly and become inflamed. It has been tied to the loss of smell that is common in diabetes patients, so it is no wonder that it is also the culprit behind your long-COVID symptom. Insulin resistance is also one of the most common culprits behind autoimmune disorders and dementia.

Other symptoms of insulin resistance:

  • Sugar cravings after meals
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling “hangry” between meals
  • Weight loss resistance

Insulin Resistance and Alzheimer’s

Your inability to smell or taste anything months after you had COVID-19 is an important sign that you may have insulin resistance that is causing your brain to become inflamed. This is important for you to get on top of not only so that you can enjoy your essential oil diffuser again, but also so that you can protect your brain from long-term damage.

Insulin resistance and diabetes have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias for the same reasons they cause the loss of taste and smell. Over time, insulin resistance causes the brain to become more inflamed and receive less fuel for cell energy. Correcting insulin sensitivity levels can help you prevent, and sometimes even reverse, dementia.

Smell and Taste Again with Dr. Autoimmune

At Dr. Autoimmune, we have helped many patients resolve their long-COVID symptoms. We can get to the underlying cause of your extended suffering and find solutions that work for you. Insulin resistance can be brought under control with the right diet and supplementation regimens for your body. We frequently use continuous glucose monitoring to help patients understand exactly how different foods affect their blood sugar levels. Our extensive blood panel, including a fasting insulin marker, also helps us get a better picture of your metabolic health.

Do you miss being able to taste your favorite foods and smell your favorite natural candles? Fill out the form below to get started on your healing journey!

Diabetes and the progression to Alzheimer's

We used to think there were two types of diabetes –  the type young children contract (Type 1 – Autoimmune) and the type you get that is brought on by a combination of unhealthy lifestyle choices, called (Type 2), or adult-onset diabetes.
But there is that such a thing as Type 3 Diabetes, also called by another name, Alzheimer’s disease.


If you OR someone you know would interested in learning more about Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes OR Dr. Autoimmune’s Functional Medicine approach: I encourage you to come to our next Functional Medicine Seminar on January 11th at 6:00 PM. There is no cost nor obligation AND attendees will be invited to enjoy exclusive, new patient pricing!

What you learn will open your eyes and mind to a bright and healthy future. Limited seating, call to reserve your seat today 303.882.8447 OR register online through the form below!


Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, it’s not a coincidence that both are prevalent among the aging population.
The progression from type 2 diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia marked by memory deficits and a dramatic decline in cognitive function is where type 3 diabetes comes into play.

People with diabetes have a 60 percent increased risk of developing any type of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Gary Small, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute said, “these risk factors tend to add up: If you have diabetes, that doubles the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. If you have a first-degree relative—a parent or sibling, for example—with Alzheimer’s, that doubles your risk.” And if you have poorly controlled blood pressure, abdominal obesity, or sleep apnea, your risk of developing dementia is increased even more. Instead of just having insulin resistance in the muscle, liver, and fat cells, we can develop insulin resistance in the brain.

How does type 2 diabetes lead to type 3 diabetes and Alzheimer’s?

For starters, high blood sugar leads to inflammation throughout your body and brain. This is a problem because chronic inflammation has been linked with the formation of amyloid plaques and tau tangles, abnormalities in the brain that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Science now understands that it is the lack of insulin — or insulin resistance that not only impairs cognition but is implicated in the formation of those amyloid plaques.

Type 3 diabetes is a form of Neuro-Diabetes. Insulin resistance can impair blood flow to the brain causing damage to the blood vessels, which means brain cells aren’t getting sufficient oxygen and nutrients for them to function properly.  This, in turn, causes the neurons to die off a faster rate. Type 2 diabetes can cause toxic proteins to accumulate in the brain and it may impair the brain’s ability to clear out waste products compromising important brain functions such as the formation and maintenance of new connections between brain cells.

Just as insulin resistance plays out in the rest of the body when there’s impaired insulin signaling in the brain, brain cells can’t use glucose properly, and brain function suffers as a result. In case that isn’t worrisome enough, when circulation to the brain is compromised, you’re also more prone to developing strokes.

What you can do

Nutrition – anti-inflammatory diet can help add years to your life and life to your years. An anti-inflammatory diet (we recommend Paleo-Mediterranean) designed specifically for you including healthy food combinations that fight inflammation and address all your food allergies and triggers is key is combating diabetes.  

Manage your weight and exercise – Besides being a risk factor for the development of type 2 and type 3 diabetes, abdominal obesity increases your risk of heart disease and impairs brain health, increasing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Consider this added incentive to get your weight into a healthy range.

Keep your mind sharp –  What you do to help your brain also helps your body. Neurofeedback can help rehabilitate your neurological functioning.

Neurofeedback can retrain and repair areas of the brain that have been damaged by diabetes. Specific areas of the brain can be targeted to have the most impact. Thanks to the brain’s neuroplasticity, which is its ability to repair itself, with proper support from neurofeedback, the brain can regain strength and function in areas like working memory and executive functioning (a set of mental processes that involve planning, organizing, controlling attention, and flexible thinking).

It is also important to get plenty of good quality sleep and to manage stress, anxiety, and depression. Neurofeedback can help you overcome the symptoms that are holding you back from taking charge of your diabetes and your health!

Unfortunately, we see the daily struggle in our client’s mood, energy and mental clarity when they have elevated blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes.  Fortunately, we can get to the root cause of these challenges with functional medicine and start to link systems together that are creating these complicated challenges!  If you can address the underlying hormonal, gut, environmental and lifestyle factors driving the inflammation we may be able to reduce blood sugar levels, optimize blood pressure, reduce cardiovascular risk markers, improve weight management and even begin to lift the fog that robs the joy from your life!  

Dr. Autoimmune is Boulder’s and Denver’s premier functional medicine clinic focusing on metabolic conditions like type 2 and 3 diabetes.  With a customized plan you can have the organization necessary to take back your life!  If you have been suffering from this problem don’t wait!  There will always be an excuse like “I’ll start in January when everyone else will”, so if you know why you want to feel better then we will determine your unique how!

Contact the Dr. Autoimmune for a free 20-minute consultation or join us for a seminar on Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes January 11th, 2018! – 303-882-8447

Insulin Resistance – Diabetes & Pre-Diabetes

Insulin Resistance: Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes

By Dr. Ian Hollaman DC, MSc, IFMCP

Did you know that Insulin Resistance and Pre-Diabetes are precursors to Diabetes? That means that there are warning signs that your body gives before it develops the disease. The question is, did your doctor make you aware of the warning signs and were you given the appropriate tools to reverse the signs? Type 2 and Type 3 Diabetes are complex metabolic disorders – yes, metabolic, not genetic. That means they are diseases of lifestyle. Therefore, if your lifestyle changes, your health changes. How empowering is that!?! You don’t have to live in fear of losing a limb, going blind, developing neuropathy, or even Alzheimer’s disease as in Type 3 Diabetes.

While a sugar-free diet, drugs, and insulin are the common treatments for Diabetes, they can lead you down a path towards serious complications. What would it mean to you if you could address the underlying causes of Your Diabetes and avoid devastating complications? Functional medicine looks at your lifestyle, genetics, and environment and does the detective work to determine what inflammatory triggers put you down this path to Diabetes. It may be diet, hormones, toxins, or lack of activity. For every person, his/her unique combination must be determined in order to correct the path and reverse the condition. Ultimately, Type 2 and Type 3 Diabetes develops due to a history of insulin resistance and high blood glucose levels. But what causes your body not to be able to properly handle sugar?

Gut infections like helicobacter pylori or gram-negative bacteria increase inflammation, which can decrease how sensitive blood sugar is to insulin thus causing blood sugar levels to increase. Hormones like cortisol elevate in states of stress and make your insulin less responsive. This also will elevate blood glucose level. And exposure to mold, pesticides and common environmental toxins may also decrease your sensitivity to insulin and drive your blood sugar up. With continuous exposure to high blood glucose levels, your body is not able to adapt. Therefore, your pancreas becomes overworked leading to organ system degradation, amyloid beta proteins are deposited in your pancreas and research is now showing that similar amyloid beta proteins are deposited in your brain as with Alzheimer’s disease. This doesn’t have to be your future!

Isn’t it time that you take control of your health rather than letting Diabetes take control of you? If you are ready to regain your health, I encourage you to come to our next Functional Medicine Seminar. There is no cost nor obligation AND attendees will be invited to enjoy exclusive, new patient pricing (Consultation, Examination, and Report of Findings for only $175 – regularly priced at $475). What you learn will open your eyes and mind to a bright and healthy future. Limited seating, call to reserve your seat today 303.882.8447 OR register online through the form below!

We look forward to letting your health soar!