Have You Tried “Everything” For Your Autoimmune Disease and Still No Results. Then Read This!

Autoimmune Disease and Your Immune System:

This is Important to Know if You Have an AI Condition

Why You Should Know About T Helper Cells if You Have an Autoimmune Condition

T helper cells are part of your immune system.  These cells are lymphocytes and lymphocytes are part of your white blood cells.  Their job is to recognize foreign invaders or as in the case of an autoimmune condition they mistakenly see self as the invader.  They respond to this invader by producing cytokines which are hormonal proteins that are responsible for the biological effects of the immune system.  Think of cytokines as chemical messengers that “make things happen”. 

You have two groups of T helper cells but both groups should work together in harmony.  It is normal for one side to become more active to eliminate a threat, but then should return to a balanced state once the threat is gone. This issue arises when one side remains more active than the other. 

In the case of an autoimmune condition, there is always a genetic component. However, just because you have the gene for a specific autoimmune condition, does not mean you will get it. The gene needs to be “turned on” by something, whether it is a food sensitivity, stress or other dietary factors, for example.

There are varying opinions as to if you can turn the gene off once it is turned on.  My own opinion is that I think in some cases the gene can be turned back off but in most cases, it is critical to support the immune system, restore balance and reduce inflammation so that you can put the AI disease into “remission”. 

Th 1 Pathway

This is your immediate response pathway. This is your body’s firsts line of defense against a pathogen.

If you are Th 1 dominant, this means that you are producing too many natural killer cells and cytotoxic T cells.  The cytotoxic T cells are also called killer T cells and can kill body cells that are infected with a virus or other agent. 

Typically, Th 1 cells are more active when there is a virus, bacteria or other microbe that is the invader.  Your Th1 cells should be more active during an acute illness and when there is acute inflammation.  However, when Th1 cells are in excess, they can give way to AI conditions and can create low Th2 levels. 

Some AI conditions that are associated with an overactive TH1 pathway include Type 1 diabetes, MS, Hashimotos, Grave’s Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Psoriasis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Celiac Disease, Lichen Panus and RA. Please note that while an overactive TH1 pathway is more common in these conditions, it is not always the case and may not be for you! 

Th 2 Pathway

If you are producing too many B cells, the ones in charge of tagging the intruder so that it can be identified, then you are Th 2 dominant. 

Typically, you will see Th2 cells produced in excess in conditions such as asthma, eczema, rhinitis, allergies and in chronic inflammation.  Other conditions that are most often associated with an overactive Th 2 pathway include Lupus, Scleroderma, IBD, cancer, Ulcerative Colitis, and multiple chemical sensitivity.

When you have one pathway dominant, it means that the immune system is out of balance and this can lead to an AI condition if it has not done so already.  In the case of thyroid disease, Th1 and Th2 cytokines can affect thyroid function and not just the AI portion of the disease.  They can block the thyroid receptor sites and this will prevent the hormone from getting into the cells where you need it to start feeling better. 

It can be tricky to deduce which helper cells you have an issue with as both can be overactive or you can have both underactive as well. 

What Can Cause Your Immune System to Become Unbalanced

  • A diet of excessive refined carbs and sugar
  • An unknown food sensitivity
  • Excessive, ongoing stress (too much cortisol production suppressed the immune system)
  • Having a digestive disorder
  • Alcoholism
  • Exposed to heavy toxic metals (these suppress antibody production)
  • Pesticides and other toxic chemical ongoing exposure
  • Over use of NSAIDS
  • Too much exercise
  • Gut imbalances (poor microbiome health)
  • Too much fish oil supplementation-best to stay at 5 grams or below (depending on the health condition some people may need 2 grams to 4 grams per day)
  • Chronic Antibiotics
  • Cancer

 

Balancing Your T Helper Cells

The first step, according to Dr. Kharrazian in “Why do I still have thyroid symptoms when my lab tests are normal” is to support the T regulatory cells.  It is believed that the T regulatory cells may help to keep the other T cells under control, but it is not very clear how they do this.  T regulatory cells are thought to monitor the situation but can start behaving erratically and when this happens they may command the production of too many T helper cells and this process can ultimately destroy body tissue. 

The goal is to bring balance back to the T regulatory cells since their function is to maintain homeostasis of the immune system. 

Support Your T Regulatory Cells

Start here before moving on to addressing either pathway 1 or 2!

  • Vitamin D: work with a health professional to determine the best dose for your AI condition and based on your blood work D levels. (My favorite brand is Bio Tech.
  • DHA/EPA: Higher than average doses may be warranted but not above 5 grams total. (for instance, high doses have been shown to be needed to optimize thyroid function within the cells) (My favorite brands are Nordic Naturals and Xymogen).
  • Glutathione: this is considered your “master antioxidant”
  • SOD (Superoxide Dismutase) which is an antioxidant

There are nutrients that can stimulate each pathway. It is best to get tested to know which pathway you have an issue with, but I know some people are willing to use trial and error. Be aware that if you end up over stimulating the wrong pathway, your symptoms of your health issue may flair up and this is an indication that you need to discontinue use of these nutrients. 

Dr. Kharrazian states, that while not always the most accurate tool, you can use coffee as a guide.  If drinking coffee or caffeine causes a flair up of your health condition, then you may be Th 2 dominant since coffee stimulates the Th 2 pathway, thus you need to support Th 1.  If coffee/caffeine makes you feel better and lessens your symptoms then you may be TH1 dominant and will need to support your Th 2 pathway. 

Below is a list of what to use to support your pathways. Always work with your health professional when adding these in and work with them to find the rights amounts for you. 

Try only one supplement at a time to know what is and isn’t working for you. 

Support Th 1 Pathway

(You want to stimulate this side if Th 2 is dominant)

  • Astragalus
  • Echinacea
  • Beta-glucan mushrooms
  • Maitake mushrooms
  • Glycyrrhiza from licorice (Avoid if you have high BP)
  • Lemon Balm
  • Ginseng

 

Support Th 2 Pathway

 (You want to stimulate this side if Th 1 is dominant)

  • Caffeine
  • Green Tea extract
  • Grape Seed extract
  • Pine Bark Extract
  • White Willow Bark
  • Lycopene
  • Resveratrol
  • Pycnogenol
  • Curcumin

Th1 and Th2 Modulating Compounds

These can be used if you are not sure which pathway needs to be addressed and like mentioned above, both pathways can be dominant or under active.  Use these to help balance Th1 and Th2. 

  • Probiotics (my favorite is Mega Spore)
  • Vitamin A (get from foods such as butter and eggs-pasture raised)
  • Vitamin E (look for mixed tocopherols or get from egg yolks, avocado, nuts and seeds)
  • Colostrum (this the mother’s first milk). It can be difficult to find a good quality brand for Colostrum but I like synertekcolustrum.com

Testing

If you have been working with your health professional and have not gotten results for your AI and are still suffering from symptoms then you may want to ask for the TH1 and TH2 Cytokine Test.  The other option is you can order this yourself (although pricey at $499) from truehealthlabs.com. 

 

This is a blood draw and results may take up to 6-8 weeks.  But it may be worth it if you have not achieved resolution for your autoimmune condition. 

Bottom Line

If you have changed your diet, know what foods you are sensitive to, have addressed various organ dysfunction such as the liver and the gut (organ’s targeted is based on individual assessment) and are still not seeing results or only minimal results, then it is time to start looking deeper.  It can get really confusion, such as which products are best to use, how often to take and how much-work with someone who can guide you so you don’t have to continue to suffer.  Most people can put their AI disorder into remission. 

Sources

Bauman, E & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition. CA: Bauman College

Kharrazian, D.  (2010) Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My lab Tests Are Normal.  CA:

   Elephant Press.

Sompayrae, L. Immunology: How the Immune System Works.  2nd Edition. CO: Blackwell Publishing.

http://hypothyroidmom.com/autoimmune-patients-have-you-heard-of-th1-and-th2-dominance/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19415997

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15952931

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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5 Ways to Achieve Weight Loss

5 Reasons Why You Are Not Losing the Weight

overweight-people

While I do not specialize in weight loss, I find that weight loss is still one of my client’s top goals.  I’m all about root causes. There is no one right diet for everyone and no one right diet for your entire life time.  I see people that are eating healthy, or eating very little yet they are still struggling to drop weight. Here are some things that could be hindering your weight loss from a root cause perspective

Undiagnosed Subclinical Hypothyroidism or Using Synthetic Thyroid Medication

You can be struggling with thyroid issues for years before your doctor finally diagnosis it.  And that is if she will do the correct thyroid testing.  The thyroid controls metabolism and hence when the thyroid function slows down so does the number of calories you burn up. 

Once you know that your thyroid is not functioning properly, and this includes the autoimmune condition, Hashimotos, work with someone to address your root causes so that you can support proper thyroid functioning and autoimmunity too if need be. While medications may help you, they do not help everyone and some need extra nutritional support.  In addition to that, while medication may be needed, it still does not address the root cause for your hypothyroidism.

Many also don’t get the results they hope for by using synthetic medication since it is made up of T4 which needs to convert into the active form, T3, for your thyroid to function optimally.  Seek out a health professional who supports using natural desiccated thyroid which has some T3, the active hormone in it.  (you may need to call around until you find an MD who has a more holistic view or opt for seeing a naturopath for your thyroid medication). One way to find the right doctor is to call the compounding pharmacy in your area and ask if they will give you the names of local doctors that prescribe natural desiccated thyroid hormone replacement.

Systemic Inflammation

Obesity has inflammation as a root cause.  What can trigger inflammation in the body includes your diet, toxins and food sensitivities to name several.  But let’s focus on how your diet can cause inflammation. 

A diet high in refined and processed foods such as sugar, flour, oxidized oils, and heavy on the starches such as from a diet of pasta and bread can all cause inflammation and lead to weight gain.  Ever see someone with a “puffy” face?  That is usually a sign of inflammation. 

Many people think that because they are “paleo” or “vegan” or “vegetarian” that they must be eating a healthy diet.  This is not always the case.  A paleo diet too high in meats (and not grass fed or organic), a vegan diet high in grains and a vegetarian diet high in dairy can all cause inflammation. 

Any diet, whether you are vegetarian, vegan or a meat eater, should be plant based.  Think 70-80% of your meals should be leafy greens, herbs, spices and crunchy vegetables.  Then you can add in your beans or your grass- fed meat along with healthy fats from avocado, EVOO or coconut.  If you want to reduce inflammation and lose weight, these changes need to be made. 

Avoid oils such as canola, soy bean and vegetable oil.  These are high in omega 6’s. While we need some omega 6’s in our diet, we are getting too much, and this leads to inflammation.  On top of that, by the time you use these oils, they are rancid, which contributes to free radical damage in the body (and again leads to inflammation).  Choose healthier options such as coconut, avocado or “real” extra virgin olive oil (avoid the fakes which are blends of olive oil mixed with cheaper oils such as canola). 

Hormone Imbalances

Having too much estrogen is more common today than people realize and if there is an imbalance of estrogen with your other sex hormones, this can cause weight issues.  This is not only an issue in women but is occurring in men with more frequency (i.e.: “man boobs”).

 

 Too much estrogen can be caused by our diet and lifestyle.  Too much sugar and excess alcohol

can lead to estrogen dominance.  Xenoestrogens, which come from plastics, are also hormone disruptors, and can create unbalance.  Foods sprayed with chemicals (GMO crops) are also a contributing factor.  If your weight gain is caused by excess estrogen, you will typically have the weight gain in the hips, thighs and upper arms.

 

A low- fat diet, which I think more people are now realizing, is not the healthiest diet, can reduce your cholesterol levels into the “too low range”. While western medicine may tell you that the lower your cholesterol, the better for you, studies indicate this is not true and in fact, cholesterol at 160 and below is linked to mental health issues and an increase in suicidal ideation.  We need cholesterol. In addition to this, having cholesterol that is too low can contribute to low testosterone.  Men and women both need testosterone (just in different amounts).  For women, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), which is associated with insulin resistance and elevated testosterone, can also lead to weight gain.  This weight is typically around your middle as belly fat. 

 

Constipation can also lead to hormone imbalances. My mantra is “you are what you do not eliminate”.  This is so important, because excess estrogen gets eliminated via the bowels. If you do not eliminate, it recirculates and makes its way to fatty areas of the body. 

 

Balance your hormones if you want to lose weight. Get rid of the plastics (and do not microwave plastic containers), eat plenty of fiber rich foods such as fruit and vegetables and reduce the alcohol and refined foods in your diet.  Avoid foods that contain added hormones such as beef and dairy that is injected with growth hormones (chose grass fed). Avoid GMO’s and sprayed foods as much as possible and include healthy fats in the diet. 

Poor Gut Health

asparagus

 

Studies have shown that those with specific strains of good bacteria in their gut are able to maintain a healthy weight. They also found that those who are missing these healthy strains and have more “bad” bacteria in the gut, tend to be overweight.  Thus, having good bacteria can aid in weight loss and having more bad bacteria and less diversity in the gut can lead to weight gain.  Some bacteria can cause inflammation while others can reduce inflammation. 

Think of your microbiome as a garden. Does your garden have a lot of plants, or just one type or is it filled with weeds?  You want diversity and more plants and fewer weeds!  Add in probiotic rich foods such as kefir, kimchee, kombucha and fermented vegetable. Add in prebiotic rich foods too. Think of this as the rich soil to help your plants grown.  Prebiotics are the food for your probiotics. These foods include asparagus (raw), onion, garlic (raw) and not too ripe bananas. 

In addition to this, food sensitivities that are undiagnosed, can lead to intestinal permeability and this can lead to weight gain.  You can do a trial elimination diet or you can get tested. 

Too Much Stress!

person holding binders stressed

Yes, just by being stressed, you can hinder weight loss.  When you are stressed, the adrenals increase cortisol production to help you manage the extra stress. This is a good thing, in the short term. The problem is that you may have chronic stress.  This leads to constant cortisol production. 

Think about it.  Synthetic cortisol such as prednisone is known for causing weight gain and diabetes.  This is an example of what high cortisol production caused by chronic stress can do to our bodies. 

While we all have stress in our lives, knowing how to control it can help reduce belly fat and elevated cortisol levels and other health conditions associated with stress such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. 

To help manage stress you can add in meditation, yoga, deep breathing, emotional freedom technique (also called tapping), or just setting aside some time for yourself daily. 

Support your body when under stress with nutritionally dense foods (stress uses up nutrients such as your vitamin B’s, magnesium and vitamin C) and Adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogenic herbs help us to adapt to the stress in our lives.  My favorites are Ashwagandha and Rhodiola. 

 

Bottom Line: If you feel like you have tried every diet out there and still cannot keep the weight off and don’t want to spend more money on another diet book, diet plan and another exercise program, then work with someone who can address your root causes to weight loss and help you with an individualized plan to help you succeed.

Sources

Hoffman, R. 10 Reasons Why It’s Not Your Fault You’re Fat. Health E Times, Issue 2, 2017.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3313629/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22364157

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25538312

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Zinc Deficiency Signs and Symptoms and What to Take

Zinc deficiency and its Role in Mental Health

steak-1445122_640-1

By now you are familiar with a deficiency in B12 here, Vitamin D here  or  low magnesium and how it can have an impact on mood and behavior such as its role in depression, anxiety and ADHD.  But you may not realize that over 2 people billion worldwide are deficient in zinc and this mineral deficiency also plays a role in your mental health. 

It has been shown that a zinc deficiency leads to changes in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex of the brain.  A zinc deficiency also leads to excessive amounts of glutamate activity in the brain.  This leads to brain inflammation and excessive free radicals and oxidative stress. 

View the symptoms below to see if this sounds like you. With a zinc deficiency, you may not only exhibit anxiety or depression but there are other tell-tale signs such as lack of taste or a skin issue.  

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms

woman-with-acne

I did not go into detail on each of the symptoms but I did address some of the mental health issues associated with a zinc deficiency in more detail. 

  • Weak immune system: When you first come down with a cold, take zinc acetate lozenges to reduce the duration of the illness. I like and use Enhanced Zinc lozenges by Life Extension.
  • Acne/adult acne: Zinc has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Research has shown that those with acne have lower zinc levels. 
  • Eczema, psoriasis: Rats and mice deficient in zinc develop a skin condition that is similar to psoriasis.
  • Hypothyroidism: Zinc is a cofactor mineral needed for thyroid hormone function. With decreased zinc levels, the thyroid can become underactive.  It also plays a role in converting T4 to T3 and is needed to bind active thyroid hormone to DNA cells. 
  • Depression: While it is known that B vitamins can make an impact for those with depression, it is not as well known that a zinc deficiency can also affect one’s mental health. A study found that rats fed a zinc restricted diet had depression, poor motivation and withdrew from social behavior. Zinc is also involved in the pathway for the body’s production of neurotransmitters.  Zinc is also necessary for B6 to be converted into its active form which in turn plays a role in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.   
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of taste/impaired sense of taste: This along with the decrease in appetite can often be the first clue that brain inflammation related to a zinc deficiency is present.
  • ADHD: Zinc assists with the production and regulation of melatonin. Melatonin is an important factor in the pathophysiology of ADHD due to its modulation of dopamine. There have been numerous studies looking at zinc levels and the relationship to ADHD.  These studies have shown that those with ADHD have significantly lower zinc levels.  Four studies have shown positive results for zinc in the treatment of ADHD. 
  • Aggression issues
  • Brittle nails, white spots on nails
  • Body odor
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Slow wound healing
  • Sensitive to strong smells/strong odors
  • Anxiety: too much copper and too little zinc
  • Adrenal fatigue: uses up a lot of zinc
  • Psychiatric disorders in the elderly (65 and older) such as dementia, psychotic disorders, bipolar. One study found a high prevalence of zinc deficiency in the patient group versus the Control group.

Who is at Risk

  • Vegans/vegetarians: These diets tend to be high in copper and low in zinc.
  • Elderly
  • Athletes who sweat a lot
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with chronic digestive disorders (i.e.: low HCL, Acid reflux, GERD, IBD, IBS)
  • Chronic stress
  • During trauma, surgery, burns (to aid in healing)
  • Those with cataracts, macular degeneration
  • Those with celiac disease
  • Those who consume a lot of grains (the Phytates content blocks zinc absorption)
  • Those who eat the SAD and don’t get enough of zinc rich foods.

What Causes you to Lose Zinc

person smoking

  • Those who sweat a lot/athlete
  • Sugar/SAD
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Too much copper in the diet
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Infection
  • Puberty
  • Nutrient deficient diet/vegetarian or vegan diet

Foods that Contain Zinc

eggs

Many of your vegetarian sources of zinc are only as nutrient rich as the soil that it is grown in.  Our soil is depleted which means your food has less nutrients.  Plants sources due to the phytic acid may also not be bioavailable as zinc sourced from non -vegetarian sources such as seafood and beef. 

  • Beef/red meats
  • Eggs
  • Seafood (crab, shrimp)
  • Legumes
  • Spinach
  • Oysters
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cooked split peas
  • Sesame butter
  • Lima beans
  • Pecans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts

*Phytates in legumes and nuts may inhibit absorption. For this reason, soaking is always a good idea!

What to look for in a Supplement

Vegetarians may want to consider zinc supplementation due to the difficulty absorbing zinc from non- meat sources such as from plants, legumes, nuts and seeds.  According to the Institute of Medicine’s report, vegetarians require 50% greater intake of zinc given that the major source in the diet is grains and legumes which contain high amounts of phytic acid. 

It is best to choose a high- quality supplement that says zinc glycinate, zinc picolinate or amino acid chelated zinc.  For general health, take 15-20 mg of zinc per day and take it with food as otherwise it will cause an upset stomach.  Therapeutic doses are higher and depending on the need, range from 30-75 mg. per day.  This range is typically safe for several months or longer but use therapeutic dosing under the guidance of a professional. 

If you are using zinc for general health, it is best to take it within your multivitamin/mineral supplement since minerals are interconnected and balance amongst them is important.  If you are taking zinc for therapeutic reasons, be sure to look at how much is in your multi (and what form it is in) and then add in a supplement to get into the therapeutic range.

Zinc must be in balance with copper due to competition for receptor sites.  The ratio should be 15:1 of zinc to copper. The foods that contain more zinc in a bioavailable form and less copper are oysters, beef, lamb, crab, shrimp, sesame seeds and macadamia nuts.  Copper is much easier to get from the diet than zinc and you can find some supplements that are copper free. 

Many Americans are too high in copper and too low in zinc.  For instance, this unbalanced ratio has been linked to schizophrenia, anxiety, learning disabilities and autism.  Copper can come from copper IUD, copper pots, copper pipes, dental amalgams, pesticides and medications such as oral contraceptives. 

Copper is also stored in the liver so it is also beneficial to provide liver support such as with dark bitter greens, beets and lemon water. 

Bottom Line: If you are struggling with a mental health issue, hypothyroidism or a skin concern, look at your diet to see how much zinc you are getting from your foods. If you have digestive issues, take into consideration that this impacts the assimilation of your nutrients, including zinc.  In the end, zinc may help you but most likely your issue is multifaceted and zinc is playing a role but is not the only component of your health issue.  For instance, if you are a vegetarian, zinc may not be the only nutrient that you are deficient in. 

Sources

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Hoffer, A, Walker, M. (1978) Orthomolecular Nutrition. Keats Publishing. 156-7.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25290638

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25940914

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0082793

https://www.ncbi.mlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3796297

http://www.mdpi.com/2227-9067/1/3/261/htm

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/15569527.2013.808656

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Fluoride’s Impact On Your Health

Fluoride and It’s Impact on Your Health

glass of water

 

Myth: Fluoride is Safe

 

On January 25, 1945, Grand Rapids Michigan became the first community in the US to fluoridate the drinking water to prevent tooth decay.  What was not realized by citizens at the time is that fluoride is now considered a neurotoxin and can have many negative health effects from ingesting it. 

Fluoride is found in water, processed beverages, toothpaste and some medications.  Many of us are led to believe not only that fluoride is harmless but that we also need to consume it.  Fluoride is found naturally occurring in some areas and can lead to naturally high fluoride levels in some water supplies. However, just because fluoride may be there naturally, does not mean it is safe. Fluoride is for the most part added to the water supply and is not a naturally occurring ingredient.

Most countries do not add fluoride to their water, including 97% of western Europe.  In the US, more than 70% of the water is fluoridated.

Findings

toddler boy

Research is showing that children being exposed to fluoride can have various health effects.  Fluoride is now being associated with ADHD and other mental disorders.  A study looked at 4-17-year old’s and data was collected in 2003, 2007 and 2011.  They found that water fluoridation in 1992 significantly positively predicted the prevalence of ADHD in 2003, 2007 and 2011. The states that have heavily fluoridated water also have high ADHD levels. 

Not only may it be causing ADHD in your child.  But it is impacting our health in many other ways as well. 

There is evidence that fluoride impacts the thyroid gland.  It has been found that there are higher rates of hypothyroidism in areas of fluoridated water.  Fluoride has been shown to block the uptake of iodine which is necessary for adequate thyroid function.

Fluoride has been shown to have lack of effectiveness in preventing tooth decay. The CDC claimed that dental caries declined in the second half of the 20th century but they did not mention that this happened in all western nations, regardless of whether they had fluoridated water or not.  Most of these countries they looked at did not have fluoridated water. Dr. Mercola, in his article “You’re still told fluoridation prevents tooth decay, but science proves otherwise” sites various examples of countries that have eliminated fluoridation yet rates of cavities continues to decline. 

What Fluoride Can Do to Your Health

 

  • Linked to the lowering of IQ in children
  • It accumulates in the body over time so even though you may ingest small amounts, this builds up over years and can contribute to health issues. (think of that small amount of toothpaste that gets swallowed, not just one time…)
  • Kidney disease
  • Cause calcification of the pineal gland (pineal gland is responsible for melatonin production) hint: sleep issues?
  • Arthritis
  • Bone disease
  • Ulcers
  • Infertility
  • Discoloration of teeth
  • Hypothyroidism (can block iodine uptake)
  • Disrupts the immune system
  • Uterine cancer
  • Cause ADHD symptoms

Where Fluoride is Found

toothpaste-

  • Toothpaste
  • Fluoride mouth rinse
  • Fluoride treatment from dentist office, applied topically to teeth (this may be the only benefit to using fluoride)
  • In your water
  • Medications such as Cipro (antibiotic), Flecainide (used to treat arrhythmia), Niflumic Acid (used for joint and muscle pain), Voriconazole (for fungal infections). These meds contain organofluoride which metabolizes into fluoride.
  • Processed drinks (that use fluoridated water to make their products) such as sodas, juice, sport drinks and some beers
  • Some dry infant cereals (more info at www.fluoridealert.org)
  • Teflon pans
  • Canned soups

Ways to Minimize Fluoride Exposure

cooking pot

  1. Switch to different cooking pots and pans such as cast iron, ceramic, glass, stoneware and stainless- steel cookware.
  2. Look for a toothpaste that does not contain fluoride. Just because it is a “natural” brand, does not mean it does not contain fluoride. The two that I like (no affiliation) are Revitin www.revitin.com  and Earth Paste www.earthpaste.com
  3. Use a fluoride filter system. I like the Berkey as it is cost effective and easy to use. (you will need to purchase the fluoride filter). (again, no affiliation) www.berkeyfilters.com
  4. Cut down on the processed drinks. You don’t need these drinks in your diet for many other reasons but this is one more good reason to avoid juices, sodas, plastic bottled waters and sport drinks. As for the beer, I will leave that one up to you. 

How to Flush out Fluoride

sushi roll

Dr. Mark Sircus states that chelation will not work to remove fluoride from the body and that the only method is to load the body with iodine as this will displace fluoride from cell receptors and will flush the fluoride out in the urine.  You can get iodine from seaweeds such as nori, wakame, kelp or dulse. Seafood such as salmon, lobster, scallops, cod and shrimp are also good sources of iodine. Foods that contain iodine, but in lower amounts, include cranberries, potatoes, strawberries and navy beans. 

If you decide to detox from fluoride, you should work under the care of a holistic professional as the detox may trigger some symptoms such as headaches, agitation and heart palpitations as the fluoride is being released.  In addition to that, most during the detox will also need additional liver support and nutritional support. 

If you are not sure if your water is fluoridated, request a water report from http://www.ofmpub.epa.gov

 

Bottom Line: You do not need to consume fluoride and in fact should avoid it as much as you can. If you have ADHD or hypothyroidism (or any of the above-mentioned health issues for that matter), consider the fluoride in your diet as a contributing factor. Minimize your exposure and detox safely under the guidance of a professional. 

 

Sources

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/articles/PIIS1474-4422(13)70278-3/fulltext

https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-015-003-1

http://www.newsweek.com/water-fluoridation-linked-higher-adhd-rates-312748  

www.fluoridealert.com

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/01/20/fluoride-denialism.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3890436

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2014/293019/

http://drsircus.com/medicine/iodine/iodine-protects-fluoride-toxicity#_edn3

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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How to Know if You Have Hypothyroidism

Your Thyroid: Did your Test Results Come Back Normal?

(But you still feel like crap)stressed person

 

 

An underactive thyroid is not always the easiest thing to pinpoint when you have so many symptoms that seem random to you.  And only more recently are doctors starting to recognize that an unbalanced thyroid can have an impact not only on your physical health but your mental health as well.  The symptoms of hypothyroidism can also look like symptoms of other health issues, thus getting the proper diagnosis can take a long time.  If you see your doctor and share your symptoms of stress, fatigue, anxiety or depression, she may place you on antidepressants.

This may occur even after the blood work with the TSH test done. 

Stress, depression, anxiety, tiredness, and other emotional and mental states can mask a thyroid imbalance.  Depression is now the number one mental illness (it used to be anxiety) but are we not looking deep enough to find out what may be causing the high rate of these mental health issues?  Not to say that hypothyroidism is at the root of all mental health issues but it should be looked at thoroughly and from a functional range standpoint before  it can be ruled out.

 If you had your thyroid tested you ideally want your TSH levels to be in the range from 1.8-2.8 mIU/L.  (others state that most feel better when their TSH is in the range of .8-2.5) 

Normal TSH lab results are considered in the range of .50-5.00. Some labs have updated this and set the upper limit to 3.0 mIU/L.  What if your levels fall into this range yet you have many of the low thyroid symptoms?  Hopefully your doctor did a complete panel to look also at your T4 and T3 ranges.  It is possible to have signs of hypothyroidism when your TSH  levels are within what is considered the “normal range”. 

The issue most often arises when your doctor only tests TSH and this is in the “normal” range. The worst part is when you hear the doctor say “Your blood work is great.  You are fine”.  Yet, you don’t feel fine.  Instead they tell you it is in your head and prescribe an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.

Reference ranges on lab work may differ from one lab to the next and from one geographic location to the next. Experts recommend testing 120-200 patient samples for establishment of a statistically significant reference interval.  What I don’t like about these ranges provided on standard blood work is that it is there to diagnose disease for the most part, not to prevent disease. The other issue I have is that these ranges are based on the patient samples. Look at the average American nowadays. Does the image of health come to your mind or one of an unhealthy overweight person?

Functional ranges look at a smaller range so that health issues can be addressed before it turns into a full -blown disease.  

Make sure all parts of the thyroid get tested. You can have normal TSH and still have low thyroid.  Your T4 converts into T3 which is the active form of thyroid hormone and this conversion happens in the liver and needs an enzyme group  and selenium to make this conversion. Some doctors test TSH and T4 and still all looks good. You want to see the T3 test results too!  Essentially you want all the pieces to the puzzle not just a few. 

 

Functions of the Thyroid

  • Supports hair and skin health
  • Supports bone density
  • Controls respiration rate
  • Supports conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A
  • Maintains body temperature and tolerance to extreme heat or cold
  • Helps maintain muscle tautness
  • Controls metabolism-it controls the speed of every chemical reaction in all cells
  • Controls the rate at which cells burn fuel for energy
  • Supports mental acuity and memory
  • Supports serotonin synthesis
  • Sets heart rate tempo
  • Regulates cholesterol

 

  What Causes Hypothyroidism?

millet stalks

  • Most common cause is auto-antibodies such as in Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune condition)

o   Hashimoto’s is 7x more common in women, age of onset is usually 40-60 but 1-2% of school age children can be affected.

  • Genetics can play a role in autoimmune hypothyroid
  • Those with Hashimoto’s also have a prevalence for celiac disease
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Medications such as lithium, excess estrogen (i.e.: birth control pills), estrogen dominance
  • Cofactor deficiencies such as iodine, zinc, c, selenium, iron, vitamins A and B complex (can be caused from excessive dieting, anorexia)
  • Stress/elevated cortisol
  • Excess halogens (i.e.: chlorine/chloride, bromide, fluoride)
  • Leaky gut syndrome
  • Food sensitivity
  • Candida

The Difference Between Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that effects the thyroid gland. The antibodies react against the proteins in your thyroid gland causing gradual destruction of the gland itself.  This makes it unable to produce the thyroid hormones your body needs.  It is essentially attacking self and seeing self wrongly as an invader. If your thyroid issue turns out to be Hashimotos than you have an autoimmune disease (AI).  All AI diseases need immune and gut support from a holistic perspective. 

With Hashimotos disease, you can have periods where your thyroid is functioning properly or even over active and you may have temporary hyperthyroid symptoms and then you return to hypothyroidism symptoms.  This cycling back and forth is common with Hashimotos. For instance, you may feel for a period, anxious, can’t sleep, have diarrhea, and weight loss and then followed by a period of depression, fatigue, constipation and weight gain.  Eventually, as the attack continues, the gland will over time have less ability to function.

Hypothyroidism is not a disease but is a condition.  It is a state of a sluggish thyroid.  With hypothyroidism, you have a problem with your gland. With Hashimotos you have a problem with your immune function. 

How Do I Know if I Have Low Thyroid/Hypothyroidism?

person sleeping

Symptoms Include:

  • Loss out outer 1/3 of eyebrow
  • Yellow bumps on eyelid
  • Chronic constipation
  • Depression, moodiness
  • Fatigue/chronic
  • Excess hair loss/thinning hair
  • Weight gain/slow metabolism
  • Cold hands and feet
  • PMS
  • Cry easily
  • Dry flaky skin
  • Nervousness
  • Slow heart rate and/or heart palpitations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Feel better post exercise
  • Can’t breathe deeply enough
  • Poor memory/brain fog
  • Low body temperature
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Trouble getting up in the morning
  • Increased number of infections
  • Dizziness/vertigo
  • Lack of sweating when exercising
  • High cholesterol
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Digestive issues (GERD, acid reflux, upset stomach, bloat, gas )

If you suspect low thyroid, see you doctor and ask for a hormone panel that looks at not just your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) but your T4 and Free T3 and an antibody test as well to look for autoimmune hypothyroid. If your doctor does not want to do a complete thyroid panel you can get the test done yourself from  www.directlabs.com. Here you can order the free T’s, TSH and antibody panel for $159.  Most holistic nutritionists and ND’s can interpret and explain the results to you.  (note: testing is available in most states but not all)

                                             

Thyroid Dysfunction Causes

glass of water

Insulin imbalance: This can happen when you are eating a diet filled with processed, refined carbs and sugar along with weight gain.  This poor blood sugar control can also contribute to dysbiosis which is when the gut microbiome is out of balance.  This impaired gut health can lead to poor immune function, can stress the adrenals, slows your body’s natural detox process and can lead to hormonal imbalances.  These health issues can also contribute to poor thyroid function.

Stress: Not just one stressful event, but the daily chronic stress can place a burden on the adrenal glands and can alter the brains communication with the thyroid.  Stress can slow the conversion of T4 to the active form, T3, can slow the detox process of the liver, and can contribute to leaky gut syndrome.  This can lead to immune dysfunction which contributes to an increased risk of Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid condition. 

If you have adrenal fatigue, your thyroid gland can eventually wear out and lead to sluggish thyroid function. 

Gut infection: It is possible that correcting a gut infection such as H pylori can have a positive impact on the thyroid, especially for those with Hashimotos.  There is not a lot of research in this area but a study of ten patients did show this to be effective.  In order to heal a gut infection one must support gut health first with diet and nutrition and then address the gut infection.  If you address the infection first without supporting your body it is possible that it will be difficult to rid the body of the infection. 

Toxins: Research is showing that toxins may be responsible for changes in thyroid function.  This research focused on flame retardant chemicals.  Living in a home with a high amount of flame retardant chemicals has been shown to be linked to an increased rate of thyroid cancer.

Fluoride: A British study found a strong correlation between the areas where fluoride content was highest with a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism.  It was found that areas that had fluoride levels above .3 milligrams per liter (mg/L), the risk rose by 30%.  In the US the minimum standards for drinking water fluoridation are set at .7 mg/L. This means that if you live in the US your risk of hypothyroidism may be even greater.  If you want to know if fluoride has been added to your water, get a water report at http://www.ofmpub.epa.gov

Support Your Thyroid with Nutrition

balanced meal

  • Go gluten free: based on surveys many have found that a gluten free diet is one of most helpful interventions when dealing with hypothyroidism. Check your thyroid medications to make sure they are gluten free as most are but some are not! Visit glutenfreedrugs.com to check your medications.
  • Go Casein Free: Some people also find they do better without dairy in the diet as well. Dairy sensitivity testing is an option or remove dairy for several weeks and note how you feel.  Check packaging for hidden dairy.  Go to enterolab.com for stool testing 
  • Check your gut health: gut disorders such as celiac and h-pylori can interfere with the absorption of thyroid medications. If you want to know more about the gut and thyroid connection read “Hashimoto’s- the root cause” by Dr. Wentz.
  • Balance your blood sugar: Include protein and fat with every meal, eat every two to three hours at first and then as blood sugar balances you can go longer without eating; avoid fruit juice and processed foods; eat within one hour of wakening; don’t fast and if you eat carbs add some protein and fat to them.
  • Get your adrenals checked for adrenal fatigue: Questionnaires are available online, read Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. Wilson or take an adrenal salivary index test from direct labs. (Most doctors will mention this saliva at home test) Support your adrenals by reducing caffeine, add in relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, include Adaptogenic herbs, get plenty of rest and balance blood sugar!
  • Include iodine rich foods for thyroid support such as sea vegetables and sea food, shellfish, iodized salt (switch out table salt for Himalayan or Celtic sea salt). Iodine’s main function is the synthesis of thyroid hormones. (note: test first, if you have Hashimoto’s you may not need iodine and may want to avoid iodine supplementation)
  • Water Filtration System: Fluoride in the water can block the uptake of iodine. Purchase one that also removes chlorine. The one that I use is the Berkey (www.berkeyfilters.com)
  • Tyrosine which can be found in cottage cheese, beef top sirloin, turkey and eggs
  • B complex: to get more of your B’s in the diet include nutritional yeast, organ meats, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts seeds, mushrooms and avocado and leafy greens (animal products are the only natural source of B12)
  • Selenium: low selenium correlates with low thyroid. Add in brazil nuts, crimini mushrooms, garlic, beef, fish, seafood, turkey and chicken (celiac malabsorption can cause selenium deficiency)
  • Zinc: pumpkin seeds, seafood, meat, eggs, lamb, peas,
  • Essential Fatty Acids: salmon, sardines, mackerel, canned white tuna, chia seeds, walnuts, pastured eggs, flax oil,
  • Ashwagandha: This Adaptogenic herb is known to help you adapt to stress and can help to balance hormones, including the thyroid. It can be useful to balance cortisol, promote insulin sensitivity, and stabilize your mood.
  • Guggul: This herb may enhance the conversion of T4 to T3.  
  • Vitamin A: butter, egg yolk, whole milk, shrimp
  • Vitamin D3: cod liver oil, seafood, eggs, liver, shiitake mushrooms, oysters, salmon, sardines, herring,
  • Vitamin C: yellow bell peppers, strawberries, oranges, limes, broccoli, kale, snow peas, watermelon, cabbage and white potato
  • Iron: iron supplementation is not recommended for postmenopausal women or adult males as too much iron can be toxic. Iron is a competitive nutrient competing with 10 other vitamins and minerals and thus iron should be taken away from your multivitamin/mineral.  Iron rich foods include liver, oysters, mussels, beef, fish, poultry, kidney beans, lentils, potato with the skin on, cashew nuts and tofu.
  • Thyroid Supplementation: use natural whole thyroid products as you need all parts of the thyroid, not just T4 and/or T3. If you have Hashimoto’s then start with a T3/T4 medication and then while supporting the body,  switch to a natural whole thyroid supplement-the reason being that for some the whole thyroid product may initially cause more antibody production. 
  • Eat balanced meals throughout the day, add color, variety to your plate, eat whole living foods!
  • AVOID: Bromine. This is found in pesticides, plastics, commercial baked goods, soft drinks and fire retardants. Bromine may play a role in poor iodine uptake and may lead to iodine insufficiency.
  • AVOID: processed soy products. Avoid sulfa drugs or antihistamines unless necessary. 

A Word of Caution: Please note that a holistic nutritionist will address hypothyroidism and Hashimotos differently. For instance, you may need to reduce goitrogenic foods in the raw state for hypothyroidism but not for Hashimoto’s. For AI, you will need to support the immune system.  Work with a professional who can help you feel better.  If your test results do determine low thyroid, it is still very important to rule out an AI thyroid condition! 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Sources:

Arem, R. (1999) The Thyroid Solution. NY: Ballantine Books

Balch, P.  (2012) Prescription for Herbal Healing. NY: Penguin Group

Bauman, E., & Friedlander, J. Therapeutic Nutrition. Part 1.  Pengrove, CA: Bauman    

   College. 

Gaby, A. (2006) The Natural Pharmacy. NY: Three Rivers Press

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. The Science and Practie of Herbal Medicine. VT: Healing Arts Press

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine. CA: Basic Health Publications

Marz, F. (1999) Medical Nutrition. OR: Omni Press

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/05/31/screening-thryoid-drugs-often-fail-to-relieve-symptoms.aspx?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23378454

http://fluoridealalert.org/issues/health/thyroid/

https://news.kent.ac.uk/app/uploads/2015/02/Flouride-research.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics.htm

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