Any autoimmune disease is NOT a disease of the tissues that are being attacked. For example hashimotos is NOT a disease of the thyroid. It is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. They same goes with any other tissue of the body.
Sometimes autoimmunity, a disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys body tissues, can attack the heart and cause heart disease. People with autoimmune heart disease may not have typical markers of cardiovascular risk, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.
Autoimmunity is one of the most common diseases today and a leading cause of disability and death. It can affect any tissue or compound in the body, including the heart. The more commonly known autoimmune diseases are Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis (nervous system), type 1 diabetes(pancreas), celiac disease(gut), rheumatoid arthritis (joints), and psoriasis(skin).
In all these diseases, the disorder doesn’t lie in the tissue being attacked, but instead in an imbalanced and hyper zealous or over active immune system attacking the tissue it was meant to protect. It has gone haywire.
Autoimmunity in the heart
You can screen for an autoimmune reaction in the heart with a blood serum antibody panel that checks for antibodies to myocardial peptide or alpha-myosin. If they come back positive, it’s an indication the immune system is attacking heart tissue. If the condition is more advanced, you may be given a diagnosis of myocarditis (heart inflammation) or cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart).
If the autoimmunity is in its early stages, there may be no signs or symptoms. Which can be a little difficult to know if there is a possible problem unless you test.
Symptoms to watch out for include shortness of breath, chest pain, decreased ability to exercise, fluid retention, tiring easily, and an irregular heartbeat.
Other autoimmune diseases that affect the heart
An unmanaged autoimmune disease raises the risk of heart disease significantly. People with lupus are up to eight times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in patients with lupus and the disease most commonly inflames the pericardium, the sac that surrounds the heart.
Additionally, Sjögren’s syndrome and psoriasis have been shown to more than double heart attack risk.
Other cardiovascular risk factors of unmanaged autoimmunity include chronic inflammation and steroid use (which are commonly used to treat the symptoms of autoimmune diseases). Talk about stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Failing to manage an autoimmune reaction to the heart can cause inflammation, scarring, and, in rare cases, sudden death. It may also affect the lungs, liver, and other organs in the body.
Typically, doctors in the standard health care model do not screen for autoimmunity until the end stages of disease when symptoms are severe. However, you can identify an autoimmune reaction before it’s too late with a blood serum antibody panel.
This panel screens for autoimmunity against heart tissue by checking for myocardial (a protein the heart releases in response to stress) or alpha-myosin (cardiac tissue) antibodies. If these come back positive it’s an indication the immune system is attacking heart tissue. If the condition is more advanced, you may be given a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, or disease of the heart muscle.
If you have an autoimmune condition, you can use functional medicine to potentially slow or halt its progression through proven diet, lifestyle, and nutritional therapy strategies. You should also regularly monitor your heart health.
Gluten also linked with heart autoimmunity
Sometimes a gluten intolerance and celiac disease are associated with cardiomyopathy(which we have talked about repeatedly on my blogs) Many people have seen a gluten-free diet improve the condition, sometimes profoundly. People with heart symptoms should screen for gluten sensitivity with advanced testing.
Ask about my office about functional medicine strategies to manage heart autoimmunity.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
Autoimmunity, a disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue, is one of the most prevalent diseases today, affecting predominantly women. In fact, about 75% of all autoimmune disease occur in women.
Traditionally, autoimmune disease was thought to be primarily a genetic disease, but research increasingly shows that while genetics play a role, intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, is also an important factor. This means your diet can determine whether you develop autoimmunity.
A great saying in the the “functional medicine” world is
“genetics load the gun, environment pulls the trigger.”
Examples of common autoimmune diseases include:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Celiac disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Leaky gut triggers autoimmunity
Leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of the intestines become damaged and overly porous, allowing bacteria, yeast, undigested foods, and other pathogens into the bloodstream where they trigger inflammation and an over reaction of the immune system.
Leaky gut keeps the immune system in a hyper zealous state. This eventually makes the immune system more likely to start attacking the body tissue it was designed to protect, causing an autoimmune condition. Think of it kind of like the incredible hulk. Once he turns into that raging green beast he is not selective in who and/or what he destroys. He will attack pretty much whatever is in the way.
People can develop leaky gut for a variety of reasons, but the most common is linked to inflammatory foods in the diet. These can include too much sugar, processed foods, junk foods, and fast foods. Also, many people have undiagnosed food sensitivities, such as to gluten, dairy, egg, or other foods. These can damage the gut lining if you have an inflammatory reaction to them.
Gluten, in particular, is notorious for its ability to cause leaky gut and trigger autoimmunity. In people who have a gluten intolerance, gluten triggers inflammation in the gut and elsewhere in the body every time they eat it. In gluten sensitive individuals, gluten also acts on messenger compounds in the intestinal wall to make it more permeable. This allows more inflammatory factors into the bloodstream, including more gluten, in a self-perpetuating vicious cycle.
For some people, simply going gluten-free can repair a leaky gut and dampen autoimmunity.
Other causes of leaky gut that trigger autoimmunity
Knowing why you have leaky gut is an important strategy in not only in repairing it, but also in dampening autoimmunity. Below are some known causes of leaky gut that can, in turn, trigger autoimmunity:
- Gluten sensitivity
- Inflammatory foods (sugars, junk foods, fast foods, etc.)
- Medications (corticosteroids, antibiotics, antacids, some arthritis medications)
- Infections (poor gut bacteria balance, H. pylori, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, yeast, parasites, and viruses)
- Chronic stress
- Hormone imbalances
- Processed foods, artificial food additives, thickening gums
- Environmental toxins
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Autoimmunity (although leaky gut triggers autoimmunity, autoimmunity can also cause leaky gut, especially if the immune attack is against tissues of the gut)
If you have an autoimmune disease, you have leaky gut. If you have leaky gut, you have or will get an autoimmune disease. It’s just a matter of time.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
Being a woman with and autoimmune disease and a mother at the same time isn’t all bad news!
Because women make up about 75 percent of autoimmune disease diagnoses, this means many sufferers of chronic illness are also raising children.
It’s common for women to feel disappointed or inferior because they are not the kind of mom they had envisioned. But the perfect mom is an unattainable myth, and it’s possible your illness is even cultivating good qualities in your children. Food for though.
When people are working to manage an autoimmune or pretty much any chronic condition, they typically focus on an anti-inflammatory diet and protocol. However, while this is a great thing to do and CAN get a long way towards better health, one often overlooked dealbreaker to getting better is anemia.
Anemia as is a deal breaker. Period. For any and all health conditions, if you have anemia and are trying to heal, NOT GONNA HAPPEN!
Do you have mysterious health symptoms — such as fatigue, pain, brain fog, or unexplained weight gain?
These issues can often rob you of your quality of life. Are traditional lab tests and doctors saying nothing is wrong with you? Or maybe doctors tell you your chronic symptoms are depression and you need an antidepressant. Maybe you’ve even been accused of complaining too much.
It’s very sad, but I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a patient tell me that a doctor told them…”it’s all in your head.” Are you kidding me?!!! That is terrible!
Most people know when something is wrong with them, even if lab tests come back normal and doctors say you’re fine. They just might not know whats wrong with them.
This is because the standard health care model does not screen for autoimmunity — a disorder than occurs when your immune system attacks and destroys your own tissue. You can suffer from symptoms of undiagnosed autoimmunity for years or even decades before it is severe enough to be diagnosed and treated in the conventional medical model.
You have probably heard me say this before, but I will say it again. I have patients that are told by doctors all the time to wait until their symptoms get bad enough and then they will do something about it. This is when patients lab tests results are in what we call the “suboptimal” or “subclinical” range.
An easy example is with anemia. A common % transferrin saturation range is from 15 - 50. So if a women gets her iron levels tested and it comes back at a 16 or 17 they say you are normal. But what if you were normally at a 25, 35 or 45 and now you are at a 17? You could be labeled “normal” at 17 but possibly be at literally 1/2 of what you used to be. This is what we mean by subclinical/suboptimal.
Fortunately, in functional medicine we can screen for autoimmunity against multiple tissues in the body at once. Knowing an autoimmune reaction is causing your symptoms can remove the mystery and bring significant peace of mind. It is confirmation your health symptoms are real and proof you are not a whiner or hypochondriac.
We identify autoimmunity by testing for antibodies in the blood against a particular tissue. For instance, we can screen for Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease that causes hypothyroidism, by testing for immune antibodies against thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and thyroglobulin (TGB). Positive results mean autoimmunity is causing your hypothyroid symptoms of weight gain, depression, fatigue, constipation, cold hands and feet, and hair loss.
What is my favorite and really the only test you should use to screen for autoimmunity you ask. It is a lab test by Cyrex labs. They really are the only ones that do this type of testing, at least one that is any good.
Cyrex Labs tests for 24 different types of autoimmunity at once. The specific panel is called Array 5 Multiple Autoimmune Reactivity Screen. It is more cost effective than testing for each autoimmunity individually, and Cyrex Labs tests are highly sensitive.
To do the test, simply ask us for the kit, take it to an approved blood draw center, and vioala, we will find out if you are having an autoimmune reaction.
If your test results are “positive” or “equivocal,” it means your immune system is attacking that tissue. You may not even have symptoms yet. This is a best-case scenario because managing your health with functional medicine can prevent the autoimmunity from progressing.
The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
is very true in the case of autoimmune.
Array 5 screens for the following autoimmunities:
- Parietal cell and ATPase instrinsic factor: Stomach autoimmunity
- ASCA, ANCA, and tropomyosin: Intestinal autoimmunity
- Thyroglobulin and thyroid peroxidase: Thyroid autoimmunity
- 21 hydroxylase (adrenal cortex): Adrenal autoimmunity
- Myocardial peptide, alpha-myosin: Cardiac autoimmunity
- Phospholipid platelet glycoprotein: Phospholipid autoimmunity
- Ovary/Testes: Reproductive organ autoimmunity
- Fibulin, collagen complex, arthritic peptide: Joint autoimmunity
- Osteocyte: Bone autoimmunity
- Cytochrome P450 (hepatocyte): Liver autoimmunity
- Insulin, islet cell, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD): Pancreatic autoimmunity
- GAD, myelin basic protein, asialoganglioside, alpha and beta tubulin, cerebellar, synapsin: Neurological autoimmunity
If you have no symptoms but a positive result, then you may be able to prevent the autoimmunity from expressing itself completely. If you have symptoms that correspond with a positive test result, other testing may help you track your condition. For instance, if you test positive for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, follow up with thyroid testing will track the severity.
Knowing you have an autoimmune reaction means you can halt its progression and prevent it from worsening. This can mean preventing or even reversing devastating and debilitating symptoms.
Remember…”an ounce of prevention…” you finish the sentence!
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy.
A recent study confirmed what functional medicine practitioners, like myself, have long since known — the autoimmune paleo (AIP) diet is HIGHLY successful for
managing chronic health disorders.
The first-of-its-kind study showed the majority of participants quickly achieved and maintained remission of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis on the AIP diet. A number of participants were even able to discontinue drug therapies. That’s pretty powerful and big news!
I also happens to be news some people don’t want to hear.
Many people follow the AIP diet to manage not just Crohn’s but also chronic pain, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, IBD (irritable bowel syndrome), skin rashes such as eczema or psoriasis, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, brain-based disorders such as Alzheimer and Parkinsons, diabetes, autoimmune diseases in general, and other chronic health problems.
So this type of diet is proving to be a very powerful health tool.
People are surprised to find that not only do their symptoms fade but also they enjoy more energy, better sleep, weight loss, increased libido (woohoo!), less stress, and a general overall improvement of their well being.
Just goes to show you that a little sacrifice and work
with something as simple as your diet can go a loooooong way.
So YES! FOOD IS MEDICINE!
A primary reason the diet is so effective is because it helps repair leaky gut, a condition in which the lining of the gut becomes inflamed and porous, allowing inflammatory compounds, toxins and proteins into the bloodstream that normally shouldn’t be there. This creates inflammation throughout the body and brain and leads to a wide variety of chronic gut, metabolic, and autoimmune disorders.
Check out my gut health webinar series I have recorded on my youtube channel.
It’s also posted on my website under the videos section.
Anti-inflammatory is the key to the AIP diet
An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on whole foods and is free of inflammatory foods, additives, fillers, and artificial colors. It includes an accompanying protocol of appropriate sleep, physical activity, rest, and positive socialization and self-treatment. Certain nutritional compounds that gently cleanse and detoxify the body will boost the success of the diet, and are often necessary to fully heal and restore a leaky gut. Again, Check out my webinar series on healing the gut.
There are tons of articles and website on the AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) diet, but here are basics:
- Eliminate all processed foods, fast foods, desserts, coffee drinks, sodas, etc. Your anti-inflammatory diet should consist of whole foods found in the produce and meat sections of the grocery store, with an emphasis on plenty of vegetables, not just fruits. Also eliminate processed vegetable oils and hydrogenated oils and stick with natural oils.
- Eliminate common inflammatory foods, the most common culprit being gluten. Many ï people’s symptoms resolve simply on a gluten-free diet. However, dairy, eggs, soy, nuts, grain, and nightshades are commonly immune reactive as well, but it all depends on each individual person. So it’s not always necessary to eliminate all of them. Try eliminating these foods for about six weeks to see whether you react upon reintroducing them one at a time. Again, this isn’t the end all, be all to see if you are reacting to a certain food. Sometimes a food sensitivity test is required.
- Eliminate sweets. On the anti-inflammatory diet you should avoid ALL sweeteners. This helps curb cravings, stabilize blood sugar, lower inflammation, and lose excess fat. Enjoy low-sugar fruits instead, such as berries.
- Eat lots of vegetables. Not only do plenty of veggies load you up with vital nutrients and fiber, new research shows they create a healthy gut microbiome (no surprise there) – the bacteria in your gut that profoundly influence your immune and brain health. A diet based around veggies creates an abundant and diverse gut microbiome and thus better health.
- Get enough sleep and exercise. Sufficient sleep is a major inflammation-buster, as is regular physical activity. Overtraining, however, can cause inflammation so watch out for that.
Boost success with gut repair and detoxification
Adding in specific nutritional compounds can help repair a damaged gut, lower inflammation, support the liver, and detoxify the system. Ask my office for more information about a detoxification and gut-repair program using the AIP diet.
I have included some links to help with some of the above mentioned issues.
Repair damaged gut - Only take this if you have done the necessary steps before.
Detoxification - Glutathione
TIP: Use this code Practitioner Amazon Code: DFH28841 to get an extra 10%
off Designs for health products through Amazon.
Or, order direct through https://premiereifm.ehealthpro.com/
and use code FIRST25 to get 25% off your first order.
So go eat your way to better health.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be health, be happy
This is a special edition extra content vlog post. Specially directed at those “subclinical” hypothyroid hashimotos sufferers.
Today we are talking about some really cool research that has come out from the “European review for medical and pharmacological sciences. 2017; 21 (2 supplements);51-59.
So here is the big news……
They found that myo-inositol and selenium supplementation can help restore thyroid function.
Did you get that? Should I repeat it?
They found that myo-inositol and selenium supplementation can help restore thyroid function.
Inositol is used for a variety of different uses. Among them it is often used for diabetic nerve pain, panic disorder, anxiety, high cholesterol, insomnia, cancer, depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or ADD. Some people also use it for autism, promoting hair growth, psoriasis, and treating side effects of medical treatment with lithium.
That seems like some pretty good reasons to consider taking inositol. Now you make ask, but Dr. Craig, the study was done with “myo-inositol”.
Your right. While there are different types of inositol available (or what they call isomers), myo-inositol is the most common one. So if you buy a quality inositol supplement you are pretty safe in assuming that you are getting them myo-inositol version. This also happens to be the most researched version of inositol as well.
And for anyone struggling with thyroid issues or has done any research on the issue they already know that selenium is a very important supplement for thyroid function.
So here are the results of the study.
There was 168 patients in the study aged from 22 to 62 years old. The patients TSH numbers ranged from 3-6 mlU/L. They also demonstrated elevated TPO and/or thyroglobulin antibodies but they had normal FT4 and T3 levels. So they were considered subclinical.
These patients were separated into 2 groups. Group one got 83 mag of selenium, and group 2 got 600mg of inositol and 83 mag of selenium for 6 months.
Both groups noted a significant reduction in TSH levels and an increase in thyroid hormones such as FT4 and T3 (a good thing) . In addition, both groups also showed a decrease in TPO antibodies but only the group that was taking the inositol showed a decrease in thyroglobulin antibodies. Thyroglobulin antibodies are antibodies against your storage form of thyroid.
Increasing thyroid hormones and improving function can have a wide effect on your body. Some of the indirect positive effects this can have on your body include improving cardiovascular function, whether its a lower blood pressure, heart rate or more elastic blood vessels. It can also help improve digestion and increase your metabolism helping with weight loss and energy levels.
There are a lot of other factors that should be looked at when dealing with autoimmune issues. Functional medicine practitioners (or at least some) are specially trained to help you improve health by improving function.
So there you have it, a pretty exciting yet simple study that was done using supplementation to improve health without the use of drugs or medications.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy.
Although managing an autoimmune condition requires extra care with diet, stress levels, sleep, and exertion, that doesn’t mean making travel off limits.
Many people with autoimmunity have learned how to travel “flare-free”, even though it may take some extra prep time before hand. Be mindful to go into a travel experience with the mentality for a slow and steady marathon and not an all-out sprint.
Although travel can be busy and distracting, self-care must always be a priority. Taking command of some travel basics will allow you to relax and better enjoy your trip so you can come home rejuvenated instead of needing a vacation to recover from your vacation.
Here are some tips to manage your autoimmune condition while traveling.
Know what to expect food-wise and plan ahead
The autoimmune diet, or some version of it that works for you, will prevent you from flaring and crashing. Do some research and planning to make sure you can stick to it on your journey.
For instance, is there food you can safely eat where you’re going? Find out if there are health food stores in your area, or gluten-free friendly restaurants that serve other safe foods.
If you’re staying in a hotel room, make sure it will include a mini fridge or ask them to have one in your room. Some people even bring their own mini crockpot or hot plate to heat up frozen meals — stews, curries, stir fries — they cooked ahead of time.
Bring safe snack foods for when you’re stuck on a plane or on the road so hunger doesn’t tempt you to stray into dietary danger zones. Ideas include coconut chips, beef jerky, celery, sardines, olives, nuts and nut butter packets (if you’re ok with nuts), and other filling snacks.
Bring glutathione support. Travel includes many stressors, such as lack of sleep, jet lag, different time zones, long days, unfamiliar environments, crowds, and so on. Stress is hard on the body, but glutathione is a great defense system that works well for many people.
Glutathione is the body’s main antioxidant and
it helps keep inflammation and flare-ups under control.
It basically protects cells from damage caused by stress and toxins.Glutathione is not absorbable orally on its own but glutathione precursors are N-acetyl-cysteine, alpha-lipoic acid, cordyceps, and milk thistle. You can also take s-acetyl-glutathione, or liquid liposomal glutathione. A topical glutathione cream may help too.
Is your hotel room overly toxic? Call your hotel and ask whether scents are used in the rooms. Some hotels offer room options for extra sensitive people, such as allergy-free bedding, air purifiers, and windows that open.
Carry a mask. Sometimes you just can’t avoid toxic exposure, whether it’s from pollution, exhaust, perfumes, or the person next to you on the plane sneezing and coughing. It’s becoming more common to see people wearing a face mask when flying or in polluted cities, and it’s a good idea to always have one with you.
A good face mask is comfortable and is easy to breathe through reducing the load of toxins and other pathogens in the air. This can help prevent flare-ups and glutathione depletion. Some companies even make face masks for children and babies.
Better late than never!
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
Just think, you too could be developing an autoimmune disease all on your own. And for a lot of people you probably don’t even have to try. You probably aren’t even aware of it. This is because autoimmune diseases sometimes start off as “silent” autoimmunity, or what some like to call “smoldering” autoimmunity. This means your immune system is attacking tissue in your body but the damage isn’t bad enough to cause symptoms yet.
Think of it like a fire that is just smoldering waiting for a chance to flame up.
And this is often how traditional medical treatment approaches autoimmunity. You may have some indications or symptoms of autoimmunity but if its not a “full blown” case you are told to just wait. Wait for what?
Basically you will be told to wait until your symptoms are bad enough to do something about it.
Autoimmune disease is more common than cancer and heart disease combined, and that’s just the diagnosed cases. Many, if not most, cases of autoimmunity are happening without a diagnosis.
This is because medicine does not screen for autoimmunity until symptoms are advanced and severe enough for a diagnosis and treatment with steroids, chemotherapy drugs, or surgery.
Autoimmunity: The disease for the modern era (everybody is doing it)
Autoimmunity can affect any tissue in the body or brain. It occurs when the immune system attacks and damages tissue as if it were a foreign invader.
Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and psoriasis. More than 80 different autoimmune diseases have been identified so far. And there is always room for more.
Autoimmune disease affects 1 in 5 people, the majority of them women. It is believed women are more commonly affected because of their hormonal complexity (see my blog post on “why women are flocking to Functional Medicine Doctors”). Although autoimmune disease is very common, the statistics do not tell the whole story.
Autoimmunity can happen long before diagnosis
Autoimmunity can begin long before damage is bad enough for a disease to be diagnosed. Many people can go years, decades, or even an entire lifetime with symptoms but never have damage bad enough to be labeled disease. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have symptoms or affect your health.
As an example, autoimmunity against the pancreas can cause blood sugar issues long before the development of type 1 diabetes. Additionally, about 10 percent of people with type 2 diabetes, which is caused by diet and lifestyle, also have pancreatic autoimmunity. This is called type 1.5 diabetes, which we will cover in another vlog post. And don’t forget to check out my post on type 3 Diabetes (also known as Alzheimers)
One of the most common autoimmune diseases is Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Patients may need to gradually increase their thyroid hormone because although they were diagnosed with low thyroid, the autoimmunity was overlooked and left unmanaged leaving it to get worse and worse.
Or a patient may have an autoimmune reaction that has not been recognized as a disease. For instance, autoimmunity to nerve cells may produce symptoms similar to multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an autoimmune reaction to nerve sheathes. However, because the autoimmunity is not attacking nerve sheathes specifically, the patient cannot be diagnosed despite MS-like symptoms.
Autoimmunity can attack anything in the body, it will often attack the weakest links first and then spread to other areas.
People can also have symptoms that suggest many types of autoimmunity. Although symptoms vary depending on which tissue is being attacked, many autoimmune sufferers experience chronic fatigue, chronic pain, declining brain function, gastrointestinal issues, hair loss, weight gain or weight loss, brain fog, and more.
Fortunately, functional medicine offers lab testing that can screen for autoimmunity against a number of different tissues. We also use strategies such as an anti-inflammatory diet, blood sugar stabilizing, gut healing, addressing toxins, and habits that minimize stress and inflammation.
Ask my office if autoimmunity may be causing your strange and chronic symptoms.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
There are many diets available for lots of different conditions, people, and goals. One of those diets is called the autoimmune paleo diet, or more commonly known as the A.I.P. diet.
Although the autoimmune diet is a well known foundation for managing chronic health issues, some people are dismayed to find embarking on it makes them feel worse. What gives? The sudden change in diet can temporarily upset your chemistry and reveal hidden health problems.
If you have been accustomed to eating gluten, dairy, grains, sugars, and processed foods, going cold turkey off those foods is a radical shift and sometimes the body doesn’t like those changes even when they are good for you. Think of an addict going off of whatever their vise is.
Likewise, adding in lots of vegetables can also shock a digestive system unaccustomed to ample plant fiber. Your body can go through withdrawals and sometimes experience what is known as a herxheimer reaction. Not very pleasant but usually fairly short lived. More on this below.
Most people feel significantly better on the autoimmune diet. If you’re not one of them, however, don’t give up on the diet. Instead, look for the underlying reason why. Here are some common reasons you should be looking at:
#1 Low blood sugar.
Symptoms of low blood sugar and adrenal fatigue can worsen on this diet. This is usually caused by not eating enough or frequently enough. The general recommendation is to eat every two to three hours, however, some people may initially need a bite or two every hour until blood sugar stabilizes and they can go longer without eating. Avoid sugary fruits and investigate what else may be taxing your adrenal function, such as brain-based issues, autoimmunity, or chronic infection. Adrenal function is a huge factor in how our hormones are functioning so be careful.
#2 New food sensitivities.
When gut damage is bad and inflammation high, it’s possible to develop food sensitivities to new foods on the autoimmune diet. This is many times due to what many people know as leaky gut. This is very frustrating for people as the diet is already so limited. This can be a complex situation that requires concerted effort to tame inflammation and repair the gut. In this situation I really recommend getting tested to see what your sensitivities are and come up with a food rotation diet in order to reduce the amount of food sensitivities you may get.
#3 Opioid withdrawal reactions.
Opioids are morphine-like chemicals made by the body that reduce pain and create a feeling of euphoria and well-being. Some people become dependent on foods that release opioids in the brain, namely gluten and dairy. They can initially experience depression, anger, lethargy, and agitation on the autoimmune diet. For those with serious opioid addictions to gluten and dairy, withdrawal can be intense. This is fun for neither the “addict” or the family and friends in the near vicinity.
#4 Brain chemical imbalance.
A diet high in processed carbohydrates affects brain chemicals that influence our mood, particularly serotonin and dopamine. Depending on which neurotransmitter we are talking about 60-90% of neurotransmitters are produced in the gut. Suddenly switching to a lower carbohydrate diet can disrupt the balance of brain chemicals and cause temporary changes in mood, behavior, and personality. You may need to gradually lower carbohydrate consumption if so. I always have patients go low and go slow. Better safe than sorry.
#5 Insomnia and anxiety.
Some people report irresolvable insomnia and anxiety if carbohydrate consumption is too low. If these symptoms persist long after an adjustment period, you may simply need to use trial and error to find the carbohydrate “sweet spot” that lets you sleep but also keeps blood sugar in check. The body, or more importantly the brain does need some carbohydrates to function. If your system is not quite balanced you may need to keep some carbs in the diet for a little while longer. But only a little.
#6 Difficulty digesting fiber.
The autoimmune diet is heavy on vegetables. For those with compromised digestive function, this can overwhelm the gut. Concerted gut repair nutritional therapy can ease you into a higher fiber diet. This is often linked to the health of your gut. Click here for more info on gut health.
#7 Histamine intolerance.
This is a reaction to aged or fermented foods that causes myriad symptoms, including rashes, runny nose, or headaches. Avoiding these foods for a while can help the gut heal so you can eat them later. There are certain foods that tend to be higher in natural histamine levels. If you have allergies it might be a good idea to look these up and test the waters with these particular foods just to make sure they don’t make things worse.
#8 Yeast and bacteria die-off reactions.
Going cold turkey off processed carbs, gluten, and dairy can cause a sudden and uncomfortable die off of harmful yeast and bacteria in your gut. Remember the herxheimer reaction? This is especially true in the case of poor liver detoxification and constipation. Supporting the body’s pathways of elimination can help. Check out my page on detoxification. Also, I would like to point out that the last step of detoxification is elimination (pooping). If your digestion isn’t functioning properly then you cannot detoxify properly.
These are a few of the issues that can arise when you switch to the autoimmune diet. Don't forget to consider the grief and anger you may feel about missing your favorite foods. However, if you weather the transition and ferret out sources of discomfort, your newfound health will more than make up for the rough legs of the journey.
Be healthy, be happy,
Dr. Craig Mortensen
Glyphosate is in so many foods the the average American eats its scary. It’s hard to avoid and it does so much damage. Glyphosate is used in 160 countries around the world. Since the introduction of the chemical its’ use has increased 15 times. Its’ common name is round up, and with 1.5 BILLION pounds used every year, it no wonder its’ causing so much damage.
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that is characterized by itchy, scaly skin plaques. The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown; however, more and more evidence suggests that the immune system can be a culprit when it is chronically stimulated, causing an overproduction of cytokines, which maintains an inflammatory environment.
Taking vitamin D may be one of the best and easiest things
you can do to help prevent and treat Multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis is the most common neurological disease in young adults. The incidence has increased greatly over the last 1 -2 decades. Some say due to better diagnosis, some say due to increased rates. I think its a combination of both, maybe slightly more due to increased rates. . MS affects hundreds of thousand of people worldwide.
Learning what you can do to help yourself can make a huge difference in the outcome of the disease.