Coeliac Disease?

Coeliac disease (CD) is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks and damages the villi (the finger like small protrusions in the small intestine) affecting 1% of the global population (circa 70 million people). Originally considered a rare childhood condition it is now recognised as primarily an adult disease. The autoimmune destruction of villi is triggered by eating gluten (found in Barley, Rye, Oats and Wheat) and since this process dramatically reduces the surface area of the small intestine, the body’s ability to absorb nutrients is compromised, potentially leading to a raft of disparate symptoms and disease presentations.

Screening studies show that CD is one of the most common life long disorders in North America and Europe and that currently only 1 in 8 coeliacs are diagnosed and that on average it takes 13 years and 5 doctors for a diagnosis. So why is this?

The classical symptoms of diarrhoea and abdominal cramping are just one clinical manifestation of CD, with research showing that less than 50% of coeliacs currently present with these classical symptoms. Non classical or ‘silent coeliac disease’ presentations can include: iron deficiency anaemia, osteoporosis, arthritis, neurological degradation (ataxia and epilepsy), depression, fertility issues, migraines, blood test abnormalities, chronic kidney disease, raised liver enzymes, mouth ulcers, dental enamel defects and a number of other autoimmune conditions including Hashimoto’s, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, Addison’s disease, cardiomyopathy and autoimmune hepatitis.

Interestingly the research base would suggest that more people with less severe symptoms (mild anaemia and/or reduction in bone density) are being diagnosed with CD and this often includes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), with up to 30% of coeliacs having had a previous diagnosis of IBS. It should also be noted that the first-degree relatives (parent/sibling/child) of coeliacs have a significantly elevated risk of developing the same condition and should be tested. Please note that the standard blood tests for CD often provide false negative results (due to the body not being able to produce sufficient amounts of the specific antibodies being measured, or reactions that may be present to other immune stimulating peptides of gluten that are not being measured).

So if your are presenting with an autoimmune and/or chronic condition you might want to seriously consider the impact that gluten might be having on your health.

Thyroid Dysfunction – the ‘Great Pretender’

What might the inability to lose weight, low body temperature (Raynaud’s & cold extremities), lack of energy, depression, chronic constipation, elevated cholesterol, hair loss (eye brow and body hair), sub optimal immune function, varicose veins, skin problems, haemorrhoids, infertility, blood sugar and sex hormone imbalances all have in common? The thyroid…..

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that is located just below the ‘Adam’s apple’ in the neck. Optimal function of this gland is central to well being with its primary role being that of controlling metabolic rate. All cells in the body are influenced by thyroid hormones. This is why thyroid dysfunction has been described as ‘the great pretender’ masquerading as almost any condition that you can imagine.

Low thyroid function is the most common form of dysfunction (10 times more common in women). 90% of low thyroid dysfunction is caused by Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland).

The production and balance of thyroid hormones is an intricate process that depends on a multitude of nutritional and environmental factors that need to be in balance. The simplistic version goes like this: The thyroid gland is stimulated to produce its main hormone T4 (thyroxine) by the action of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). T4 (the storage hormone) circulates round the body and has to be converted into T3, the ‘active’ hormone. Without T3 the cells would not respond. Here lies the problem. Efficient conversion of T4 to T3 is dependent on the presence of key nutrients and optimal gut health. Nutritional deficiencies (selenium, iodine, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, chromium, calcium, vitamins A, B, C, D and E) and the presence of toxic metals (mercury, cadmium, arsenic, aluminium), BPA and certain medications are known to impact thyroid performance. Stress, adrenal health and systemic inflammation also play a significant role. So optimal thyroid health is dependent on a raft of key variables that unsurprisingly include a balanced microflora/ecology in the gut, a low toxic load and a nutrient dense diet.

Dr Broda Barnes (an eminent endocrinologist who dedicated most of his professional career to thyroid dysfunction) noticed that average body temperature is significantly lower if you are presenting with low thyroid function (as metabolic rate (which controls temperature) is controlled by thyroid hormones). He devised a simple test that effectively measures the cellular response to thyroid hormones and not simply levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. The Barnes Basal Temperature test can be done in the comfort of your own home with the only requirement being the ownership of a mercury or modern day analogue thermometer (digital thermometers are not accurate enough). I often suggest this test with clients that I feel maybe presenting with thyroid dysfunction and use the results to support a request for further comprehensive evaluation (not just levels of TSH – but the full array of thyroid hormones and antibodies) via their GPs. If the GP does not oblige, then there are a number of comprehensive thyroid panels that can be run privately.

Unfortunately the modern medical general practice approach to thyroid dysfunction is too simplistic. Research suggests that measurement of TSH levels alone is not always sufficient to diagnose dysfunction (you can have normal TSH levels and still have thyroid dysfunction) and the prescription and monitoring of only T4 (for those taking prescribed medication to help manage low thyroid function) may well work for some, but as I see regularly in my clinic, it often does not work for others.

Thyroid Health – A Functional Perspective – Seminar – 22nd September 2016

Thyroid dysfunction has been described as ‘the great pretender’ masquerading as almost any condition that you can imagine. Common symptoms associated with thyroid dysfunction include: weight gain, low body temperature, lack of energy, chronic constipation, elevated cholesterol, hair loss, sub optimal immune function, infertility and sex hormone imbalances.

This seminar is being held at Natures Corner in Newbury on Thursday 22nd September 2016 starting at 19:00 (expected end time 20:30). During this seminar we will discuss how the thyroid works, signs and symptoms, the adrenal connection, the role of systemic inflammation, basic tests that you can do at home to evaluate your thyroid function and the impact that diet, lifestyle and supplementation can play in supporting overall thyroid health.

There will be a Questions and Answers session at the end.

Ticket cost £5 (redeemable against any in store purchases).

The Problem with Gluten

Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in Barley, Rye, Oats and Wheat.

You may be of the opinion that ‘gluten free’ is just another fad? After all, we have been eating gluten for thousands of years, so why the current fuss?

Modern day gluten is in no way similar to the gluten that our ancestors consumed. It has been hybridised to increase yield, reduce growing time and make it easier to harvest. That all sounds great…so what’s the problem with that? Well, the hybridisation has created a huge number of previously unknown proteins in gluten (chromosome content has gone from 14 to 42), which puts a significant extra burden on our digestive systems as we try to break these unknown proteins down. Essentially our digestive systems do not have the digestive toolkit to optimally break down this gluten into its component parts. This may or may not be a problem depending on your genetic profile and gut health.

Gluten related disorders, (the umbrella term for conditions such as wheat allergy, coeliac disease and non coeliac gluten sensitivity) are fundamentally caused by the inability of the body to breakdown the gluten proteins into their component parts. Combined with the dramatic rise in poor digestive capability, driven by factors such as stress, poor dietary choices, modern day lifestyles, toxic load and imbalances in our micro flora (the bacteria in our guts), you have the foundations for systemic inflammation and any number of potential health problems.

Coeliac disease (an autoimmune condition that destroys the gut lining) is the most common lifelong disorder in North America and Europe. Only 1 in 8 coeliacs are ever diagnosed and the typical length of time it takes for those that are diagnosed to be diagnosed is 13 years! The classical symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhoea are not the only symptoms to look out for. What goes on in the gut does not necessarily have to stay in the gut and can present as virtually any symptom/condition that you can imagine including (but not limited to): migraines, skin problems, depression, fatigue, joint pain, liver and cardio vascular disease, autoimmune conditions and neurological problems. In children you typically see ‘failure to thrive’. Time and time again, I see clients with chronic conditions presenting with undiagnosed coeliac disease or non coeliac gluten sensitivity.

If you have a chronic condition or symptom or are just really struggling with your health, why wouldn’t you want to find out if modern day gluten is making you sick? You can ask your GP to test you for coeliac disease (please note that the NHS test can produce up to 70% false negative results, if you are not presenting with full blown coeliac disease) or you can access privately, via practitioners such as myself, a test from Cyrex Laboratories which provides you with the most sensitive test (Array 3) currently available for gluten related disorders:http://entirewellbeing.com/…/11/Cyrex-Testing-Overview.….

You could also just eliminate gluten from your diet for 4 weeks (has to be zero tolerance by the way to be effective). Contrary to popular belief, removing gluten from your diet is not a dangerous thing to do. You may be surprised what happens….

Seminar at Natures Corner (Newbury) on Autoimmunity and the Impact of your Genes, Environment and Gut Health

I am running a seminar at Natures Corner in Newbury on 22nd October between 6 and 7.30 pm.  There is a small charge of £3 to cover drinks and nibbles.

This seminar is designed to take you on a journey through the latest research relating to the processes that are now believed to be central to the initiation and development of autoimmunity. We will explore some of the key interventions that have been developed and are being successfully employed to help people presenting with autoimmunity to potentially take back control of their health.

There are over 80 autoimmune diseases and they represent the largest disease group in the Western World.

Recent research, suggests that autoimmune disease develops via a complex interaction between your genes, the environment and gut health and hence there is an opportunity to potentially affect disease outcome.

Both myself and the team at Natures Corner would be delighted to see you there.

Natures Corner, 12 Bartholomew Street, Newbury, Berks, RG14 5LL

www.naturescorner.co.uk

 

 

Autoimmunity – Food for Thought…..

Autoimmunity – Food For Thought

Autoimmunity is loss of ‘self tolerance’ caused by the immune system attacking the body’s own tissues. There are over 80 autoimmune diseases. Common conditions that are classified as autoimmune include type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, colitis, Hashimoto’s (accounts for over 90% of low thyroid conditions) and Raynaud’s and their incidence across the World continues to explode. Why is this happening? It is now estimated that over 600 million people globally are presenting with an autoimmune disease and women are 2.7 times more likely to present with such a condition than men.

It is now over ten years since the concept that autoimmunity develops via a complex interaction between our genetic base and our environment was first postulated. The single largest point of interaction between our environment and our genetic base takes place in the gut – the small intestine has the surface area of a tennis court. It is interesting to note that digestive dysfunction is a very common symptom with individuals presenting with autoimmunity.

Our genes are set at conception, however the environment is to a large extent and depending on individual circumstances controllable, as is the health and permeability (leakiness) of the gut. Current thinking is that by modulation of both the environment and intestinal permeability (leakiness of the gut), it might be possible to not only arrest the development of autoimmunity, but also potentially even reverse it.

‘……..once the autoimmune process is activated, it is not self-perpetuating; rather, it can be modulated or even reversed…..’

Professors Fasano and Shea-Donohue – Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2005

So by modulating the health of our digestive tract (using dietary and lifestyle interventions) in conjunction with removing specific triggers from our environment (removing/reducing – toxins/stress/bacterial and viral infections), we might be able to alter the outcome of these devastating diseases…….now that’s quite a thought.