Want to take a LEAP?

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Have you ever tried to cut foods out of your diet to feel better only to not feel any different? Or, only a little better? Or worse? A lot of people I talk to cut out gluten thinking that’s what’s causing the problems. And, they feel a little better. Or, they cut out dairy and get the same results.

Using an untargeted elimination diet is like using a shotgun to hit something tiny, say, a fly. You scatter your attempts over a large area and you might find the food or foods that are causing your symptoms. Or, probably not. If you were trying to shoot something small, like a fly, wouldn’t it be better to use something that you could aim at that small target? Like a laser?

Although there isn’t a gold standard for food sensitivity testing, I’ve started using Mediator Release Testing (MRT) in my practice. MRT looks at the mediators, or chemical messengers, your immune cells give off when exposed to food and chemicals. The test looks at 120 foods and 30 chemicals. These mediators then cause you not to feel good – headaches, migraines, fatigue, brain fog, or digestive issues just to name a few of the issues they can cause.

One of the reasons I like MRT is that the test quantifies the response of your immune cells to foods and chemicals. We can then develop an elimination diet based on how your immune system responds to the tested foods and chemicals. We start with the foods that have the smallest reaction. You eat those foods for a couple of weeks, until you start to feel better. Most people begin to feel better within a few days to a couple of weeks.

After you feel better, we add foods back in to your diet and start adding in untested foods. Before you know it, you feel better, know what foods to eat to keep you feeling that way, and know what foods cause you to feel worse.

So, what would you rather use – a shotgun or a laser – to shoot something small? I’d rather use a laser. And, with MRT I have a laser in my toolbox to help you feel better. If you want to know more, just click here to contact me.

Got aches? Pains? Migraines? Have you asked, “Could it be food?”

Tired woman

Are you tired of hearing, “You’re not as young as you used to be. You’ve got to expect to not feel as good as you did when you were younger.” Maybe you’ve got some aches and pains you haven’t been able to figure out. Maybe you’ve developed migraines. Maybe your having stomach issues. Have you ever wondered if these things could be connected to the food you eat?

Your body is a mass of chemical reactions going on all the time. All of the systems – cardiovascular, muscular, digestive, etc. – are all related. No one system functions without affecting the others. And, the food we eat comes into play in a lot of ways.

You may have heard that somewhere between 70-80% of your immune system resides in your digestive tract. When I first heard this, I thought it couldn’t be true. As I started learning more, I found out it is true. And, it actually makes sense.

Like our skin, our digestive tract is constantly in contact with the outside world. We are putting things from the environment (things that are not of our body, if you will) inside our body to get nutrition from it. As the food, drink and supplements pass through our digestive tract, your body has to be sure that things that you don’t need, or may harm you, don’t get into your body. Your digestive tract does this by having a highly acidic environment in your stomach (unless you are taking medications to reduce your stomach acid) and by having a lot of immune cells in your small intestine.

These immune cells in your small intestine act like bouncers by keeping your body from absorbing things that it shouldn’t and fighting off things that could harm you. Sometimes when your immune cells encounter things they need to fight off, they release mediators. These mediators can then cause the symptoms you feel – aches, pains, migraines, etc. And, tracking down the underlying cause of these symptoms can be difficult because most doctors and internet searches won’t look at food. But, maybe it is the food. . . .

Next week, I’ll cover how to figure out if it is the food.

If you want to talk about if what you’re feeling could be related to food, just click here and get in touch. I’d be happy to talk it through with you.

Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 1

If you have a mosquito biting you, you remove it. Right? If you have an ant biting you, you remove it. Right? OK. You kill the mosquito or the ant.

What about if you have a food that you react to? If that food revs up your immune system? Causes you to have headaches? Or, just not feel good? Wouldn’t you remove it?

When talking about food allergies and intolerances it’s important to distinguish the difference. A true food allergy causes an anaphylactic response. Anaphylactic responses are life threatening and usually involve swelling, hives, lowered blood pressure and dilated blood vessels. Someone having an anaphylactic response may have their throat close or tongue swell. They may get itchy. These are life-threatening situations.

Food intolerances, on the other hand, can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. They can also cause vague symptoms such as headaches, brain fog, fatigue, aches, and allergies. And, food intolerances can take up to 3 days to show up where as a food allergy usually happens within minutes.

Most people know if they have a food allergy. They’ve eaten something and ended up in the emergency room. Not everyone knows that they have a food intolerance.

If you’re trying to optimize how your digestive system works or restore gut function, removing foods that your body reacts negatively is critical. That’s why it’s one piece of the first of the “5 R’s of Gut Restoration”.

How do you know if you have a food intolerance? Since the symptoms can be vague, it can be hard to figure out.

If you think you have a food intolerance, a common way to start figuring it out is with an elimination diet. There are quite a few out there. A popular one for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is FODMAPS. FODMAPS are Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-Saccharides, And Polyols. These are foods that contain sugars (oligo-, di- and mono-saccharides) and sugar alcohols (polyols) that are fermented by the bacteria in your large intestine – your microbiome. The FODMAP diet was developed by a research group in Australia and has been proven through research to work well for treating those with IBS. However, there could bother foods that aren’t FODMAPS that you still react to. What then?

There are several ways to test for food intolerances. However, there is no “gold standard” for food intolerance testing. Some allergists use skin prick testing. And, there are several blood testing methods including ALCAT and LEAP. Each of these test different numbers of foods and additives and some even test medications. These can give you a starting point for what foods you react to and which foods are “safe”.

Another way to figure out if there are foods you are reacting to is to go on an elimination diet and log your food and symptoms. I recommend logging everything – food, drinks, supplements, medications as well as emotions and symptoms.  Then, playing detective with the log and figuring out what items may be suspect.

Next week, I’ll continue talking more about Removing What’s Bugging You. Because, there are quite a few things to think about Removing if you want to restore your gut or have a gut that functions optimally.

If you want to get the food log I use with my clients, you can do so here. If you want to learn more about food sensitivity testing, you use the “Contact” area on my website.

The Food Demolition Crew

Stomach Ache

Last week, I talked about how hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach helps break down your food. This week, I’m going to talk about digestive enzymes – the Food Demolition Crew.

Digestive enzymes break your food down into carbohydrates, proteins and fats so that you can then absorb them. Digestive enzymes start their job in your mouth and continue all the way through your small intestine.

Some people don’t produce enough digestive enzymes which means they don’t get the benefit of the food their eating. They body isn’t breaking down the food into the carbohydrate, protein, and fat molecules it can absorb. So, those things from the food don’t get absorbed and end up in the toilet.

Why might you not produce enough digestive enzymes? Here are some reasons:

  • Aging – As we get less young (remember I don’t like “old” or “older) our bodies may produce less digestive enzymes.
  • Problems with the pancreas or liver may reduce the amount of digestive enzymes that are produced.
  • Issues in the small intestine like Celiac disease can also reduce the amount of digestive enzyme production.
  • Inflammation in the digestive tract – often caused from food intolerances.
  • Bacteria living in the digestive tract where they aren’t supposed to be.
  • Stress may also play a role in digestive enzyme production.

How do you know if you aren’t producing enough digestive enzymes? The symptoms are similar to hypochlorhydira – not producing enough HCl in your stomach. Symptoms include:

  • Gas and bloating after meals
  • Stools that float
  • Feeling like you’ve got sand in your stomach
  • Feeling full after only a few bites of food

What do you do if you think you aren’t producing enough digestive enzymes? The best way is through stool testing. However, if that isn’t possible, you can add in some high quality digestive enzymes and see if you notice a difference in how you feel. I have some specific recommendations. If you’d like to find out more, just send me a quick note.

Logging your food can also help you figure out if low digestive enzymes could be the problem and, if so, which foods may be the culprit. Then, you can target the right digestive enzyme rather than taking a broad one.

If you want to track your food and symptoms, I’ve created a Symptom Log for Digestive Wellness based on my years with IBS and working with clients with digestive issues. I also created a series of videos to go along with the log to help you learn how to use it, figure out what may be triggering your symptoms, and other resources to get a happy and healthy gut. If you want the Symptom Log and other goodies, you can sign up to get it here.

It’s a Washing Machine for Your Food

Washing Machine

Now that you’ve had a tour of your digestive tract let’s talk about what can go wrong in different parts, and some ideas how to fix it. (If you missed the tour of your digestive tract, you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

We’re going to start with the stomach. I call the stomach the “washing machine for your food”. Your stomach acts like a front load washing machine mixing up the food with hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzymes. This washing machine action gets the food broken into smaller and smaller pieces so there is more area for the HCl and digestive enzymes to attack. You want your food to get broken down into tiny pieces so that the basic nutrients – carbs, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals – can be absorbed into your body.

Two of the main things that can go wrong in your stomach are: 1) not having enough HCl, and 2) not having enough digestive enzymes. In this post, I’ll talk about hypochlorhydria – or low stomach acid. Next week, I’ll talk about low digestive enzymes.

You need HCl in your stomach for several reasons. HCl helps you digest – break down – proteins, and it helps you absorb iron, calcium, zinc, copper and all of the B vitamins.

Why might you be low in HCl? As we get less young (I don’t like to say “old” or “older”), our bodies may produce less HCl than when we were younger. Proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) -prescription drugs that treat acid reflux – reduce the production of HCl. An H. pylori infection -which may cause stomach ulcers – may also reduce the production of HCl.

How do you know if you have hypochlorhydria? Symptoms that may indicate that you have low stomach HCl include: indigestion; heartburn; poor quality finger nails; hair that is brittle or won’t grow; feeling full after only eating a small amount especially if it contains protein; feeling like your stomach heavy or is “filled with sand” after eating; experiencing bloating, gas, and/or belching after eating; morning diarrhea or diarrhea after eating; or constipation. That’s quite a list! And, a lot of those symptoms can be caused by other things. How do you know low HCl is the cause of your symptoms?

You can do a medical test where you swallow a device that measures the levels of stomach acid. Or, you can add in some HCl supplements and see what happens. You should NOT take HCl if you are on any PPI (more on this below).  When working with clients, I have specific protocols I use to add in HCl and determine the dose. Logging your food and symptoms can also help you figure out which foods are causing problems. I’ve got a log that can help. The information on how to get it is below.

If you are on PPIs, there are protocols to follow that can help you wean off of them. You do NOT want to stop PPIs abruptly. Since PPIs reduce your body’s production of HCl, taking HCl and PPIs together can spell trouble.

One of the best ways to get a happy gut is to track your food and symptoms. I’ve created a Symptom Log for Digestive Wellness based on my years with IBS and working with clients with digestive issues. I also created a series of videos to go along with the log to help you learn how to use it, figure out what may be triggering your symptoms, and other resources to get a happy and healthy gut. If you want the Symptom Log and other goodies, you can sign up to get it here.