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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.

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. 

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.

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.

The Link Between Mental Health and Antibiotics

“The best wealth is health,” said the Roman poet Virgil. You may also have heard, “You can have all of the money in the world, but if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.” 

Our most recent health crisis has surely made these quotes true. Mental Health of America has shared some alarming statistics that include:

  • Nearly 50M or 19.68 % of American adults experienced mental illness in 2019.
  • 4.58% of adults report having serious thoughts of suicide. This has increased every year since 2011-2021.
  • 10.6% or over 2.5 million youth in the U.S. have severe major depression. 
  • 11.1% of Americans with a mental health issue are uninsured.
  • 8.1% of children had private health insurance that did not cover mental health services totaling almost 1 million children.

What are Anxiety and Depression?

They are two different conditions, but they commonly occur together. Having the blues occasionally is normal, and everyone experiences anxious feelings at times. These are a common response to a stressful situation. It’s when those feelings become severe or ongoing that you may want to get to the root cause of the trigger. If you or a loved one shows early signs of depression, seek out a practitioner who can help. 

1 in 4 people are affected by mental health illness at some point in their life. What and why are these staggering numbers increasing each year? 

Research suggests that the microbiome (a community of microorganisms including viruses and bacteria) in your intestines may be related to brain functioning. By this definition, if your gut bugs are out of balance, and/or your intestinal lining permeability is enough to “leak” toxins into your bloodstream—guess where that gunk goes? It travels via your veins, your organs, and straight to your brain. Think of an ice cream headache. News travels fast!

How are the Gut and Brain Connected?

Sometimes referred to as your second brain, the gut communicates with your brain both physically and chemically.

The graphic below shows how your gut health can affect your mental health, or visa versa.

Antibiotics ~Not~ to the Rescue

What happens when you have an infection of any kind and you go to your general practitioner? You have an ear infection from too many summer hours spent in the pool, you get chronic sinus or respiratory infections, strep throat, urinary tract infections, acne, and the list goes on. What do all of these infections have in common besides a weakened immune response? They all are prescribed a 10-day round of antibiotics. Exposure to broad-spectrum antibiotics prescribed for the treatment of infectious diseases is one of the most common environmental factors which can affect the microbiome (Mayer et al., 2014). 

It’s public knowledge that antibiotic resistance is a real thing. Compounded years of taking these flora destroying medications, along with other environmental factors can contribute to the leaky holes in our gut. In fact, more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the US each year. 

A study including 5,244 subjects, none with diagnosed or reported anxiety or depression suggests that particularly male children who received antibiotic treatment for an infectious disease, may be at increased risk for future anxiety or depression. The mechanisms behind this outcome due to the disruption of the microbial balance in the gut. More research is needed to determine which, if not both the chicken (the infection) or the egg (the antibiotics) came in first place as the trigger for anxiety and depression.

Inflammation and Depression

70% of our immune system is located in the gut. Maintaining the proper balance of diversity is important so we can fight off infections, possible chronic disease, and psychosocial stressors. Research shows us that those residing in urban areas exposure to inflammatory responses are greater than those who are hunter-gatherers (think Paleo) or have a diverse agricultural-based lifestyle. “You are what you eat” has never been truer.

Go with Your Gut

Probiotics are live bacteria that are similar to the ones that are already in our gut. You can find them in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. They’re also in supplements. Along with testing, probiotic treatments may provide potential support and preventative measures for depressive and anxiety disorders. Researchers think that probiotics might work by affecting the way the brain and the gut communicate. Not all pre and probiotics are made equal. Talk with Dr. Ian or your practitioner to see which one may be right for you.

If you suffer with anxiety or depression and have a history of antibiotic use, give us a call to schedule a new patient exam at Dr. Autoimmune. We now have remote care options, so wherever you are, you can still receive great care and achieve results.

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!

There is nothing “Sweet” about Artificial Sweeteners and Leaky Gut

Your habits influence your attitude, sleep, food cravings…and autoimmunity. Many of you that suspect you may have an autoimmune condition, or have been diagnosed with one, may in fact have two or more lurking within. 

Have you noticed that when you eat pleasure-seeking foods such as sweets, alcohol, or caffeine (and for some, Chinese food), you want more of it shortly after you consume them? In an age of sugar-free, Keto, and every diet under the sun, where does real sugar stop and artificial sweeteners start?

Every restaurant table and coffee bar have these colorful, single-serving sized packets screaming at your taste buds, “Hey Sweet Tooth, I’m down here.” A laboratory accident turned popular over 130 years ago and the first super villain, saccharin, made its way into our food chain as a cheap and calorie-free alternative to cane sugar. Originally it was believed to be harmless, but over time, its question of safety rode a rollercoaster between science and industrial priorities.

Celebrities in the the cooking world have nothing good to say about these fake sweeteners. Colleague, close friend, and cookbook editor to Julia Child, Avis DeVoto wrote:

“Desserts, of which there is a fat section, are incredible—sweetened with saccharin [sic] and topped with imitation whipped cream! Fantastic! And I do believe a lot of people in this country eat just like that, stuffing themselves with faked materials in the fond belief that by substituting a chemical for God’s good food they can keep themselves slim while still eating hot breads and desserts and GUNK.” 

To say the least, she was not a fan of this fake food and considered saccharin an empty pleasure. 

When sugar became scarce during World War II, this diabetic substitute’s production ramped up. Between 1963 and 1967 artificially sweetened soft drinks nearly tripled their market share. By 1979, 44 million Americans used this sickly sweet, zero calorie alternative daily. As you can see by this chart, the rise has not slowed down, and is contributing to the obesity epidemic in America. 

Chemical named by brand:

  • Acesulfame Potassium – Sunnett, Sweet One
  • Aspartame – Nutrasweet, Equal
  • Neotame – N/A
  • Saccharin – Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin, Sugar Twin.
  • Sucralose – Splenda

Nutrition is among one of the contributing leaders to leaky gut syndrome. When foods are laden with pesticides, chemicals, artificial sweeteners and colors, combined with our nutrient deficient foods, our gut is constantly under attack and is no match for these “gut busting” toxins. If our food sources can not naturally support and feed the good bacteria, the bad bacteria begin to take over. Along with a nutrient dense diet, pharmaceutical grade supplementation has become paramount in therapeutic doses in order to restore our gut balance to tackle our autoimmune risk and conditions.

The sweet taste receptor (T1R3) is activated by artificial sweeteners. At high concentrations, many of the aforementioned chemical compounds were found to increase leaky gut and degrade cell regulation. This can lead to a myriad of issues including insulin resistance and diabetes. Primarily and first most, leaky gut leads to inflammation>symptoms>autoimmunity. 

What about the reportedly safe “new age” sweeteners?

  • Chicory
  • Coconut sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Monk Fruit
  • Stevia

Although a monumental improvement in the form of nature vs lab, sugar in any form can spike your blood sugar and cause imbalances if consumed frequently (have you heard about devices which monitor your blood sugar?). 

Grandma always said, “everything in moderation”. Unlike natural sugars including honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar, stevia may be the lead in this cast of best choices for a sweet alternative, touting that it remains neutral in your bloodstream, and has a reduced calorie intake and low risk of cavities. 

It has been reported that stevia could interfere with good bacteria in the gut, a strain on your kidneys or other organs, and/or possibly lower blood pressure, which could interfere with those on high blood pressure medications. There are always two sides to every story, and there isn’t enough research to conclude its downfalls. Just another reason to see an integrative or functional practitioner to get to the root cause of your tummy troubles.

The bottom line is: eat as close to the farm and whole food as possible. Teach your children at a young age how to read an ingredient label at the grocery store. It’s a fun and educational game that supports awareness around what is actually food, and what are lab experiments. Remember, you are what you eat. Bon Appetit!

Can You Brush and Floss Your Way to Relieved RA?

It may be hard to believe, but brushing your teeth can help your joints. All dentists will tell you that your dental health is tied to your physical health, but how seriously do we really take that? Your mouth has its own microbiome, which is the mini ecosystem made up of bacteria and other small life forms, just like your gut and your skin. When any of your microbiomes are out of balance, there will be consequences. 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, which is a type of disease where someone’s body attacks itself. In the case of RA, the body is attacking the joints, causing painful inflammation that limits range of motion and affects daily activities. Many people with RA find themselves unable to run, walk, lift things, or even use their hands without severe pain.

How Does RA Start?

In functional medicine, our goal is to discover the root cause of disease. What we’ve learned is that all autoimmune diseases require three things in order to develop:

  1. Genes: Without the genes for an autoimmune condition, the disease cannot manifest. Genes are not a life sentence, though. We have some control over whether our genes are actually expressed or “stay asleep”. Just because you have the genes, doesn’t mean you’ll have the condition!
  2. Leaky gut: The cells that make up our intestine lining are held together by tight junctions, which are important for keeping our partially-digested food from seeping out. Many factors, including gluten and NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen, cause these tight junctions to loosen and allow material to leak out, which causes inflammation in the body. Read more about the gut’s connection to RA here.
  3. Last but not least, a trigger: Many things can trigger an autoimmune response, including viral or bacterial infections.

One specific type of bacterial infection has been tied to RA as a trigger. The bacteria is called Porphyromonas gingivalis and is also a common culprit behind periodontal disease, a common gum disease. In periodontal disease, an infection causes inflammation in the gums and can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Swollen, red, and tender gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • In more serious cases, tooth loss (periodontitis)

Gum Disease and RA

Have you ever wondered what plaque on your teeth actually is? Bacteria such as P. gingivalis produce a sticky film that can build up- and that becomes plaque! The bacteria in plaque create acids, which slowly break down tooth enamel. Not only does the yellowish film not look pretty, but it can lead to gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis. P. gingivalis causes nasty inflammation in the gums, as you can see in the picture above, so just imagine the inflammation it can cause in your joints!

It has become clear that periodontal disease and periodontitis are linked to RA, but recent research has been able to narrow down the link to P. gingivalis bacteria specifically.

In this study, mice that were infected with P. gingivalis bacteria either developed arthritis, or their already existing arthritis got worse. Another study found that the correlation between the antibody to P. gingivalis and RA was even stronger- in fact, two times stronger-  than the correlation between smoking and RA. Smoking has been a known major risk factor for RA for many years, but now we know that periodontal disease caused by P. gingivalis bacteria is more than twice as likely to lead to RA. Do you believe the dentists now?

Your RA Might Have a “Friend”

For the most part, good dental hygiene can keep bad bacteria from running rampant. Brushing and flossing twice a day as well as regular visits to a dentist are important steps to take. One way that P. gingivalis can grow is if your mouth is too dry. Unfortunately, another autoimmune condition, Sjögren’s syndrome, specifically attacks the salivary glands and leaves the mouth very dry. Sjögren’s is therefore a risk factor for plaque buildup and periodontal disease. Given what we just learned about the connection between periodontal disease and RA, it should be no surprise that 21% of Sjögren’s patients have also been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

This is a common theme in our office: Many people who have been diagnosed with one autoimmune disease also develop another one or more. In fact, at the time someone is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, there is a 50% chance that another one already exists. If the genes are there and the environment allows one disease to develop, then it is very likely that other autoimmune genes will be triggered.

At Dr. Autoimmune, we use a functional medicine approach to get to the root cause of complex conditions. Our structured program removes the guesswork and uses science-backed lab testing, diet change, and supplementation to get your body back on track. Using this method, we have an 85% success rate. If you’re interested in finding real solutions for your conditions, fill out the form below to get started!

Meet the Master Manipulator: Your Thyroid

Your thyroid is a gland located behind your Adam’s apple. Its job is to produce thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) which are the hormones that control your metabolism. This process of transforming the food you eat into energy can result in (T)erminator-like symptoms where you begin to feel inhuman. 

Think of the story of the tortoise and the hare. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is under-producing these hormones and can lead to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hyperthyroidism occurs when too many hormones are being produced and can lead to Graves’ disease. Balance is the key to keeping your body running well.

If you are a woman, you know how much our hormones can take over and drive us either straight and narrow, or straight into a truck depending on stress, menstruation, food or environmental triggers. Men are not immune from thyroid disorders. Women tend to have higher instances with thyroid disorders, generally after menopause. Regardless of gender, autoimmune-related thyroid conditions are on the rise. 

10 most common symptoms that your thyroid is under attack or needs support:

  1. Weight gain or loss

An early sign of thyroid irregularity is weight gain or loss. Since your thyroid can control your energy, it’s no wonder your weight can be affected. Rapid weight gain can be an indicator of low thyroid hormone function, while weight loss can be triggered by an overactive thyroid gland. 

  1. Fatigue

Just like weight gain, fatigue or excessive tiredness can be a sign of hypothyroidism or low thyroid function.

  1. Brain fog

Thyroid hormones are directly related to the health of your brain neurons. There are only two things that every single cell in the body has a receptor for: thyroid hormones and vitamin D. It’s no wonder that vitamin D status influences thyroid function and your immune system.

  1. Intolerance to heat or cold

Your circulation is affected if your thyroid is not functioning properly. This could present as feeling chilled or cold. If you notice that your hands and feet are particularly cold, this could be a symptom or sign of hypothyroidism. Alternatively, you might always run warm or experience hot flashes.

  1. Poor quality hair skin nail

A slow thyroid can cause dry skin, hair loss,and  brittle or ridged nails caused by follicle cycling. Sometimes slow and steady does not always win the race.

  1. Digestive problems

Leaky gut and gastrointestinal discomfort are most often connected to thyroid dysfunction. Constipation is caused by a sluggish metabolism (lower thyroid hormone), while loose stools could be a symptom or a hyperactive thyroid.

  1. Insomnia

When your hormones are out of whack, everything seems to follow suit. Whether your thyroid is over- or under-producing, you can have disrupted sleep from nervousness, be up with frequent urination, or experience night sweats.

  1. Anxiety/depression

Hormones are the major players in mood regulation. They influence the neurotransmitters which cause imbalances in serotonin and dopamine. Thyroid imbalances cause inflammation, and when the hormone production is interrupted, it can affect proper blood flow to the brain.

  1. Changes in your voice

An underactive thyroid can cause thickening of the vocal cords or swelling from the inflammatory changes.

  1. Hormonal fluctuations

Your thyroid can directly affect your sexual function. From irregular periods to difficulty with sexual performance or enjoyment, your thyroid dysfunction may be a contributor.

The Thyroid-Autoimmune Connection

Are you aware that more than 90% of thyroid conditions are autoimmune? Unfortunately, most conventional doctors do not have the education or information about this connection. This can be incredibly frustrating!  

What if you are taking thyroid medication but still experiencing these symptoms? Commonly, providers are not taught how to look at chemistry and physiology, but do prescribe medication for your symptoms. We at Dr. Autoimmune addresses the systems that run the symptoms, diagnose your particular imbalances with comprehensive blood chemistry, and create a customized care plan for you! 

If you suspect your thyroid is the culprit of any of these symptoms, Dr. Autoimmune can help. We test specifically for all 8 thyroid markers. We have worked with close to 3,000 thyroid clients and have an 85% success rate! Call us at 303-882-8447 or fill out the form below today to see if your thyroid needs support.