The truth about food sensitivity and allergies

You’ve heard that one person’s medicine is another person’s poison, but did you know that one person’s health food is another person’s junk food?
Millions of Americans suffer from at least one food intolerance/sensitivity. You can be intolerant to any food: apples, lettuce, chicken, and even olive oil. Besides making it impossible to lose weight, food and food chemical intolerance has been found to play a role in many chronic health conditions including:

  • Celiac Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Headaches & migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Weight imbalances
  • Cravings
  • Skin conditions such as eczema
  • Heartburn/GERD
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Constipation

Food intolerance is also considered a major stressor to the adrenal glands. Unhealthy adrenals can wreak havoc on gut health, immune system, detoxification capabilities, hormones, fertility and muscle and fat gain and loss.

What is food intolerance?

Food intolerance is a negative reaction to food that happens when your body is hypersensitive to a food and launches an attack OR because your body lacks the ability to break down a food (as in lactose intolerance when the person doesn’t make enough enzyme to break down the lactose sugar in dairy). 

When your body launches an attack on food, it does so with something called mediators. These are chemicals from your immune system such as eosinophils, basophils, neutrophils macrophages, T-cells and NK cells. Think of them as different departments within your immune system. Sometimes one mediator “department” will attack while others will not. This is one reason why it is hard to pick up on food intolerance: a small amount of the trigger food may not always cause an obvious symptom even though every time the trigger food is consumed, your mediators are attacking it (sometimes it will cause a big war with lots of symptoms and other times, it’s smaller).

When we eat foods we are intolerant/sensitive to, it causes systemic disruption and can cause chronic inflammation in the body resulting in a variety of symptoms (see above).

The difference between food intolerance and allergies

Food intolerance is different than food allergies in a couple of ways. One is the way that the body responds and the other is the speed in which the body responds.
With an allergy, your body’s immune system (mast cells) reacts to the offending food very soon after exposure. Food allergies occur in 2-4% of the population. The body releases histamine, prostaglandins and other pro-inflammatory mediators. If you have a strong enough allergic reaction, exposure to the allergic food can result in life-threatening anaphylaxis. Because the reaction occurs so quickly after exposure to the allergic food, most people who have food allergies are well aware of what they are allergic to.

Food intolerance or sensitivity can be much trickier since the reaction is delayed. You can also have a food intolerance that doesn’t give you clear symptoms unless you have a lot of it or eat it a few days in a row (as I mentioned). This is why it can be so challenging to figure out!

The other thing that is important to mention is that food intolerance/sensitivity happens when we lose something called “oral tolerance”. Oral tolerance is when your immune system can tell the difference and not attack food proteins, but instead attacks disease-causing bacteria and other pathogens or chemicals that are harmful. In other words, your immune system works well and attacks what shouldn’t be there and it isn’t triggered by many of the foods you are eating. When you lose oral tolerance, it’s because your immune system (your gut is your largest immune organ!) is NOT functioning properly and it is attacking proteins from your food. It’s seeing everything as an enemy and wants to attack!

Your gut is home to your immune cells that are responsible for oral tolerance. A disturbance in your gut leads to loss of oral tolerance and the result is that you have symptoms and an ever decreasing set of food options.

Food intolerance pathways

This next part gets a bit geeky so feel free to skip to the next section it if that’s not your thing.

There are many, many ways that the body can react to an intolerance because there are multiple hypersensitivity pathways. The four main categories of hypersensitivity are: Type I, II, III and IV. Types III and IV are much more common in people than Type I reactions; 15-25% of population compared to 2-4%.

  • Type I hypersensitivity categorizes true food allergies as given in the above example. It is also called an IgE reaction.
  • Type II hypersensitivity has not been found to be linked to adverse reactions to food.
  • Type III hypersensitivity includes IgG reactions (commonly tested for by most food intolerance tests). Type III reactions usually take place 3-8 hours after exposure.
  • Type IV hypersensitivity is the most common pathway for adverse food reactions and yet many tests do not test for Type IV reactions. In Type IV reactions, the T-cells react with offensive foods and symptoms occur anywhere from 4-72 hours after exposure. Herein lies the challenge with identifying delayed food intolerances. How many people are going to make the connection between not feeling well with what they ate 72 hours earlier?

Finding out if you have a food intolerance

There are several ways to detect what you are intolerant to. You may already know that there are certain things that make you feel crummy when you eat them.
There are also blood tests such as serum IgG and Type IV test. These offer the broadest spectrum of pinning down food intolerance trigger foods. Oxford Labs offers a test called the MRT (Mediator Release Test), which is currently considered one of the best, most accurate food intolerance tests (also tests for food chemicals). This test is offered through licensed nutritionists such as myself with special certification in Functional Diagnostic Nutrition™ and Metabolic Typing™.

Recovering from food intolerance

To heal your body and keep oral tolerance, you’ll need to get a good plan for replacing your trigger foods with gut healing, anti-inflammatory foods. Getting those stressful foods out of your diet for awhile AND repairing the damage to your gut may allow you to eat them later without it causing inflammation and all those other symptoms we talked about. The goal is to eat a diverse amount of foods.

Here’s an overview:

  1. Eat a variety of foods, especially fresh produce. You may get tempted to opt for easy-to-cook processed foods on a daily basis, but you have to be intentional in choosing higher quality foods that are right for YOUR body.
  2. Get to the root of what’s damaging your gut. High sugar, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, lack of sleep, unmanaged stress, environmental and food chemicals, and infections all disrupt your gut microbiome. You can learn more here about leaky gut and how to fix it.
  3. Have a healthy and active lifestyle. Make sure you are doing enough exercise regularly, getting ample sleep, and managing your stress appropriately.
  4. Tailor a healing protocol. Your diet can be customized according to your needs. You can eliminate foods that you’re sensitive to for a time and introduce them gradually back to your diet one at a time once you have repaired your gut, restored proper immune function, and your digestion is working well again.

 Your body is designed to be healthy. Sometimes it needs a bit of extra help so you can look and feel your best. As you now know, food intolerance is a major obstacle that may be getting in your way and causing you symptoms. You don’t need to keep wasting your time and energy struggling and guessing. 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. Part of helping you do that is to help you have the healthiest gut possible.
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. (subject to availability).
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

Thyroid Health & You, Part 1

Did you know that more than 12% of the US population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime? An estimated 20 million Americans are living with some form of thyroid problem, and unfortunately, up to 60% of them are unaware of their condition. When patients are not diagnosed, they are at risk for certain serious conditions including cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and infertility.

It’s high time that we raise awareness about the importance of the thyroid gland and what we can do to support it. 

And guess what? Your gut and thyroid work closely together. When one isn’t working well, neither can the other one. Many gut symptoms in fact, like low stomach acid, food intolerance, and bacterial imbalance, can be caused by a thyroid imbalance.

Let’s dig into this together.

What is the thyroid & what’s it do?

The thyroid gland is a 2-inch long butterfly-shaped gland located in the middle of the lower neck. Despite its small size, it produces hormones that affect every cell, tissue, and organ of the body. These hormones control metabolism–the chemical processes in your body that break down what you eat to make energy.

I will give you a simple explanation of how thyroid hormones affect your metabolism. Your thyroid gland actually produces three hormones: Thyroxine (T4), Triiodothyronine (T3), and Calcitonin. We will not be focusing on Calcitonin, but this hormone is responsible for the formation of bones. T4 and T3, on the other hand, are what most people call the “thyroid hormones,” which are manufactured by the thyroid gland using the building blocks iodine (a trace mineral) and tyrosine (an amino acid).

T4 and T3 cannot be released to the bloodstream unless there is a stimulus from the brain, particularly from the pituitary gland–that pea-sized body connected to the base of the brain, the major endocrine gland responsible for your body’s growth and development as well as the functioning of other glands such as the thyroid. So this pituitary gland will release a so-called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which tells the thyroid gland to release thyroid hormones into your circulation. Once they’re out, they act on every cell in your body to increase cellular activity, converting food into energy–this is metabolism. These hormones can affect how fast your heart beats, how deep your breath goes, and whether you gain or lose weight.

Thyroid Dysfunction

Here’s the more challenging part. Your thyroid gland can be overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism).

Hyperthyroidism symptoms include nervousness, tremors, irritability, heat intolerance, racing heartbeat or palpitation, an increase in appetite, frequent bowel movement, etc. Hypothyroidism manifests as fatigue, weakness, cold intolerance, depression, muscle cramps, weight gain, loss of appetite, constipation, etc.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have an underlying condition that needs to be checked out by your doctor. For example, growths, either malignant or benign, can form on the thyroid gland and can affect its normal function. Your immune system can start attacking your thyroid tissue (autoimmune condition: Hashimoto’s or Grave’s) resulting in loss of function. There are a variety of diet and lifestyle factors that influence proper thyroid function (like stress, diet, sleep habits, and more) so diet and lifestyle is almost always part of the solution to balancing out thyroid function as well. We’ll dig into that next week as well as what foods to eat and what to avoid to promote thyroid health. Stay tuned!

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!


Why Potassium is Essential to Gut Health

Do you often experience bloating or constipation?

Today we are going to dig into the connection between electrolytes, particularly potassium and your gut.
Your gut health is the core of your overall health.
Your gut is where you take everything that you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to function. From making energy, being able to think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily, your gut is at the ROOT of your overall function. It’s also where 80% or more of your immune system lives.
It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
Let’s dig into how potassium and electrolytes play into this.

What Do Electrolytes Do?

 Electrolytes are minerals found in the body that conduct electricity in body fluids. Because of the very nature of electrolytes, they are an important part of the transmission of electrical messages from your brain and along your nerves. When in water, electrolytes dissolve in positive and negative ions. Aside from their important role in sending nerve signals, they help in the regulation of your body fluids and muscle contractions. Examples of electrolytes are sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are responsible for the normal tone of the muscles in your limbs, heart, arteries, and intestines. So, imbalance in the electrolyte levels of your body can affect any or all of your vital functions.
Interestingly, potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the body. Around 98% of it is found in your cells, 80% of which stays in your muscle cells and 20% in your bones, liver, and red blood cells. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, potassium is essential for muscle contraction and they recommend that adults have about 4,700 milligrams daily from dietary sources.

Potassium and Digestion

 Remember, digestion occurs through rhythmic intestinal contractions (known as peristalsis). The smooth muscle inside your digestive tract is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, the part of your nervous system that works automatically without your conscious effort and control. Peristalsis occurs through the alternating contraction and relaxation of the smooth muscle tissue in your intestinal wall, creating a wave-like effect that pushes the contents forward along your digestive tract. It is clear, then, that in order for digestion, absorption, and waste elimination to occur–processes that take place in the digestive system–there should be enough minerals and electrolytes to support peristalsis.
Potassium, being an electrolyte, is partly responsible for muscles contraction. So when there is a low level of potassium in your body, peristalsis slows down, and this leads to compromised digestion. If you find yourself frustrated waiting on the “throne” for longer periods of time (aka constipation), you may have an underlying electrolyte imbalance, particularly hypokalemia or potassium deficiency.

Sources of Potassium

 As cliche as it is, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this case, it’s better to get sufficient potassium in your diet or via supplementation than to suffer the consequences of not having enough electrolytes in your body. Don’t worry, potassium sources are not hard to find. Foods high in potassium include avocados, spinach and leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, russet potatoes, beet greens, pistachios, Swiss chard, pomegranates, watermelon, and coconut water to name a few. If you are following a low-carb or keto eating plan, here are some additional sources. If you are following a moderate to high carb eating plan, here are some additional foods to consider.

If you don’t eat foods that are providing enough potassium, or if you sweat a lot, or if you exercise a lot and suspect you need more potassium, you may want to consider Seeking Health’s Optimal Potassium Powder (1 scoop provides 500 mg of potassium and it’s pretty tasty!) or one of my favorites is their Optimal Electrolyte Powderbecause it has potassium, magnesium and other electrolytes versus potassium alone. Those taking medications such as diuretics and antibiotics also lose potassium easily and are at high risk for potassium deficiency. As is advised with any supplements, it is best to consult your health care provider before starting it (especially if you are taking medications).
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!


Poo Matters: Things You Can Do to Support Constipation

In last week’s newsletter, I told you about some main causes of constipation. By now, you may have already made a few lifestyle changes that are having a positive impact on your bowel movements. So this week, let me give you more ideas on how to support constipation. These fixes are easily doable and can support you to have more healthy BM’s and take your gut health up a level.

Why is gut health so important?

Your gut is where you take all the good stuff you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to make energy, think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily so you can thrive. It’s also where 80% or more of your immune system lives.

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

So let’s get into how to support constipation.

 Learn to analyze your poo

Your stool tells you a lot about what’s going on inside your body. What’s yours saying about you? Check out this free infographic to learn why the color, consistency, and shape of your poo matters and what it say about your health.

For example, stool color varies from green to brown.  This depends on your diet and the amount of bile on your poo. Bile is the yellow-green pigment produced by your liver and stored and concentrated in your gall bladder. After eating, the stored bile is discharged to the duodenum (the first section of the small intestine) to digest fats. As the digestive contents travel along the bowel, enzymes alter bile, changing the pigments from green to brown. So the normal poo color is usually brown and alterations are indicative of changes inside your gut or digestive capacity. In her infographic, 50 Shades of Poo, Dr. Marisol elaborates on poo color and has a simple test you can do at home to assess your stomach acid output. You can check it out here.

Use castor oil packs

Castor oil has long been used dating back to ancient civilization in Egypt to treat various health conditions. The oil comes from the seeds of castor, Ricinus communis plant, known as castor beans.

If you don’t want to go through all the mess in making your own castor oil pack, you can actually use this kit. I’ve been doing castor oil packs for years for overall health benefits and this kit makes it SO much easier and less messy!

One of the best-known use of castor oil is as a natural laxative. It is classified as a stimulant laxative, which means it increases the movement of the muscles of the digestive tract to push through intestinal content and clear the bowels. In addition, castor oil helps relieve inflammation, balance your hormones, promote relaxation, and improve liver detoxification, which are all important to have a healthy poo (and healthy YOU!).

Making a castor oil pack involves soaking a piece of flannel in castor oil. After soaking, you have to cover the flannel with plastic and place a heating pad or hot water bottle on top of it. Place the flannel on the skin of your abdomen to relieve constipation or other digestive disorders like gas and bloating. When you are done, wipe clean with a paper towel or cloth (it does stain so don’t use a cloth that you don’t mind getting stained).

*If you’re pregnant or taking medications, don’t use castor oil packs and check with your doctor for advice.

Promote pressure and lubrication

Last time, I told you that pressure and lubrication are required to expel poo. So we have to meet these criteria adequately to ensure that we have a healthy and regular bowel movements.

Fiber from your diet, muscle tone, physical activity, adequate hydration, and a healthy nervous system create the pressure your gut needs to propel stool forward in your digestive tract. Lubrication, on the other hand, is achieved by drinking enough water and hydrating fluids (coffee doesn’t count as it is a diuretic) and eating healthy fats (like olive oil, flax, ghee, avocado, coconut, etc). 

I know that these 3 things plus your desire to lead a healthy lifestyle will help you overcome constipation and boost your overall gut health.

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!