Diabetes – An Intolerance to Carbohydrate

Diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to efficiently handle carbohydrate (sugar). This happens because of problems with the production of, or response to insulin (the hormone secreted by the pancreas that controls blood sugar levels). Diabetes can either be type 1 or 2 .

Type 1 diabetes (T1D), also called juvenile diabetes, is where the pancreas fails to make insulin and type 2 diabetes (T2D) is where the body does not respond appropriately to the insulin that is being produced and usually follows on from a period of ‘insulin resistance’. Both types cause too much sugar to be present in the blood. Inappropriately high levels of blood sugar can cause a myriad of health issues including but not limited to cardiovascular disease, nerve/kidney/eye/foot damage, skin conditions, Alzheimer’s and depression. T1D is an autoimmune condition (where the body’s immune system attacks the cells that make insulin in the pancreas) and T2D is considered to be primarily a lifestyle condition, although there is now also evidence that T2D also has an autoimmune component.

According to Diabetes UK, almost 3.7 million people in the UK have a diabetes diagnosis (with an estimated extra 1 million who don’t even realise that they are diabetic). It is estimated that 12.3 million people are at an increased risk of developing T2D in the UK i.e pre-diabetic. Diabetes has been described as being the ‘fastest growing health crisis of our time’, costing the country £1.5 million an hour or £14 billion per year (if you also include the cost of treating health complications). This is a real crisis, which is not being resolved by the current nutritional guidelines.

Diabetes is essentially an intolerance to carbohydrate. To quote a critical review titled ‘Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management’ published in Nutrition in 2015 – ‘the benefits of carbohydrate restriction in diabetes are immediate and well documented’. It goes onto say ‘dietary carbohydrate restriction reliably reduces high blood glucose, does not require weight loss and leads to the reduction or elimination of medication’.

It is however critical that any diabetic that reduces carbohydrate intake, regularly measures their blood sugar levels and works very closely with their doctor so that their diabetic medications can be adjusted accordingly. Failure to do this could lead to the development of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), which can be life threatening.

Autoimmune Reset with Medicinal Mushrooms with Hifas Da Terra

I have been asked to speak at this seminar, which is being run from 10am on the 25th October 2018 at the Penny Brohn Centre in Bristol and is being hosted by Hifas da Terra – www.hifasdaterra.co.uk. More information and tickets can be bought by clicking  here

This event 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 not only explore some of the key interventions that have been developed and are being successfully employed to help people presenting with these devastating conditions to take back control of their health; we will also present the science behind use of medicinal mushrooms in auto-immunity in clinical practice.

Medicinal mushroom have been used as a powerful tool in natural health for centuries. As adaptogens they have the potential to balance and regulate our immune response, an important step in auto-immune reset and recovery. We will explain the role of key medicinal mushrooms in auto-immune protocols, and take you through the mechanisms of individual active compounds and their role in human health and wellbeing.

What makes you, you, is unique to you…

Studies show that a quarter of the population in the UK are presenting with a chronic (long term) condition. These are non-communicable diseases. A quarter of adults are taking 3 or more medications, to manage their symptoms. This is the key point; the medications are designed to manage symptoms, not to get to the root cause of the problem.

Now, there is nothing wrong with treating symptoms. Most of us have taken a pain killer at some point in our lives to deal with acute pain and been extremely thankful for the result. However, when it comes to chronic health conditions please consider this analogy; if you have a nail in your shoe, you can either take a pain killer to reduce the pain, or remove the nail from the shoe. This is of course a slightly flippant example of the main principle behind the functional model of health, but it succinctly explains the difference between treating symptoms as opposed to the root cause.

The functional model of health is based on the fact that the body is composed of several highly interconnected sophisticated ‘functional’ systems, that when working efficiently, promote optimal health and well-being. These functional systems are intricately connected together and nothing exists in isolation.

We are all biochemically individual. What makes you, you, is unique to you. The functional model recognises that it is the summation of your environmental inputs ent that , lifestyle) uts across your life that e to you. hat family historyyence and repair,rs that are likely to h (toxins, bacterial/viral load, stress, diet & lifestyle) over your life that are likely to have contributed to your current health concerns and that most chronic illnesses are typically preceded by a lengthy period of decline in one or more of the body’s functional systems. Family history and genetics can play a significant role in the development of health problems; however appropriate diet and lifestyle choices can do a great deal to lessen their expression (epigenetics).

It is through the taking of a detailed life history that the functional model aims to identify systems that may have been excessively challenged over your lifetime. When these systems are over stretched, it can lead to many symptoms, which often seem unrelated and hard to pin down. Once identified, these challenged systems can be supported through appropriate dietary and lifestyle interventions. As the body moves back towards a state of balance and optimal health, symptoms and health problems are more likely to resolve or lessen in their expression.

Coeliac Disease is not the only significant Gluten Related Disorder

Gluten related disorders (GRDs) include coeliac disease (CD) and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). The evidence base shows that GRDs (not just CD) are a serious threat to long-term health and well-being.

GRDs are fundamentally caused by the inability of the body to properly digest gluten (the storage protein in grains), typically driven by imbalances in the bacterial species of the gut in combination with genetic predisposition. Anyone with a GRD should completely eliminate gluten from the diet permanently in order to repair the damage that has been done and regain health and wellbeing.

CD is the autoimmune variant of GRDs where the immune system attacks and destroys the small intestine reducing the ability of the body to absorb nutrients and is connected with over 300 different conditions. CD can be diagnosed using a combination of blood, genetic and physical assessments.

NCGS on the other hand is not an autoimmune disease and is therefore generally viewed as being a much less serious condition. This is simply not true. There is also a ‘new kid on the block’ called Non Coeliac Wheat Sensitivity (NCWS) where gluten is not necessarily the trigger, but instead significant immune system reactions and damage to the intestine are being triggered by other components of wheat.

CD is therefore not the only GRD that should be taken seriously. The results of a large study that reviewed 351,000 intestinal biopsies clearly showed that there was not only just as much inflammation detected with NCGS as with CD, but also that the increased risk of early mortality was 72% with NCGS compared to 39% with CD! If you then also consider that recent studies are now showing that blood markers for the detection of systemic autoimmunity are nearly double with NCWS (NCGS is a sub section of this category) compared to CD, you can start to appreciate that both gluten and wheat can have serious implications for those individuals that do not have CD but instead NCGS/NCWS. Further research needs to be conducted in this area, but these findings are very revealing.

So, if you are presenting with any chronic condition that cannot be explained, then please seriously consider getting professional assistance evaluating the potential for the existence of a GRD. Remember that eliminating wheat/gluten before you have had a professional assessment is not advised.

Leaky Gut?

We will consume between 3 and 7 tonnes of food and drink in our lifetimes, all of which has to be broken down and then the appropriate nutrients absorbed across the gut barrier, before it can be utilised by the body. The gut barrier of the small intestine, is the size of a tennis court and is made up of a single layer of cells that not only regulate the flow of nutrients and water into the body, but also play a central role in how our immune system responds to the significant amount of dietary proteins and microbes that are ingested on a daily basis.

Nothing put into the digestive system is technically speaking inside the body until it has been absorbed across the gut barrier. It is the gut barrier that decides what to both let in and keep out of systemic circulation.

Research shows that the integrity of the gut barrier is fundamental to health and well-being. If the gut barrier is compromised, by ‘leaking’ between and/or through the cells (para and/or trans cellular hyperpermeability), unwanted substances might permeate through the gut barrier and provoke unwanted immune responses – fuelling chronic inflammation. As we have discussed many times before, chronic inflammation is the route cause of all chronic disease and is a recognised key factor in the development of autoimmunity.

Some of the conditions directly associated with ‘leaky gut’ include: coeliac disease, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, spondylitis, Parkinson’s disease, endometriosis, eczema, Crohn’s disease, colitis, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

Leakiness between the cells of the gut barrier is controlled dynamically by a protein called zonulin. The higher the levels of zonulin, the greater the leakiness between the cells. The zonulin pathway is initiated by either the presence of pathogenic bacteria and/or gluten in the gut (which gives you a clue as to how the body treats gluten!).

Dysbiosis (imbalances in the micro ecology of the gut) and leaky gut will typically co exist. The presence of either or both of these conditions will drive a state of chronic inflammation. Fortunately you can repair ‘leaky gut’ and rebalance the micro ecology of the gut, regaining control of health and well-being.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth?

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)?

The digestive system is about 30ft in length from entrance to exit and consists of the following major sections in order from top down: The mouth, throat, stomach, small intestine (duodenum) and large intestine (colon). As I have mentioned many times previously, the digestive tract is home to a complex community of bacteria (approximately 100 trillion), which should not only in balance for health and well being, but also should have the largest number of bacteria residing in the colon.

Sometimes, the small intestine gets overgrown with bacteria due to conditions such as low stomach acid, pancreatitis, diabetes, diverticulitis and coeliac disease, along with the use of certain medications (including immunosuppressants and proton pump inhibitors). This is called ‘Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth’ or SIBO. These bacterial overgrowths produce either hydrogen and/or methane gas. SIBO can therefore be tested for using a breath test that measures levels of these gases.

The small intestine has the surface area of a tennis court and is crucial to the efficient absorption of nutrients from the diet. SIBO disrupts the ability of the small intestine to efficiently absorb nutrients (the bacteria end up competing for the nutrients that the body is trying to absorb) often resulting in a broad range of micronutrient deficiencies (including iron, calcium, and vitamins B12, A, D, E and K) and symptoms including nausea, bloating, vomiting, diarrhoea, malnutrition, weight loss, joint pain, fatigue, acne, eczema, asthma, depression and rosacea. The malabsorption of nutrients is likely to eventually impact every major system in the body, if left unchecked.

SIBO is typically treated with antibiotics, but reoccurrence rates are high and beneficial bacteria essential for digestive function will also be damaged. Research suggests however that certain herbal and lifestyle interventions are just as effective at treating SIBO.

In clinic, as I have mentioned many times before, it is always a multifactorial approach that delivers the best results. So this typically involves a combination of changing how much and how often you eat, what you are eating, adding in certain strains of probiotics, targeted supplementation, the use of herbs and essential oils and managing stress levels using techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing and autogenics.

Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia and Energy Production

I regularly see clients presenting with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This is where the client has fatigue that is so debilitating that they are virtually unable to function or undertake normal every day tasks. Often CFS presents as fibromyalgia, which is chronic fatigue with the added burden of widespread pain and stiffness throughout the body.

It is believed that the pain associated with fibromyalgia is caused when the mitochondria (the energy production plants in our cells) desperate to supply appropriate levels of energy to the body, switch from efficient aerobic (using oxygen) to inefficient anaerobic (not using oxygen) metabolism. This anaerobic form of energy production creates large amounts of lactic acid. Lactic acid, as anyone who pushes themselves hard when exercising knows, causes immediate muscle pain, which dissipates after a few minutes of rest. This pain however does not dissipate with fibromyalgia, as the body is unable to break the lactic acid down, due to mitochondrial dysfunction (not working properly). The excess lactic acid can also cause damage to the muscle tissue, presenting as very sensitive areas on the body. This process can feed on itself as the damage to the muscles releases a large number of free radicals (destructive molecules), which can cause additional damage if antioxidant status (the ability to neutralise free radical damage) is low.

Mitochondrial dysfunction is therefore one of the key areas to focus on when it comes to helping move the body back into balance with CFS and fibromyalgia. So what are the key ingredients required for healthy mitochondria? They require a raft of key nutrients for optimal performance, including but not limited to magnesium, B vitamins, essential fats, CoQ10, carnitine and alpha lipoic acid and must not be bathed in toxins.

Whilst clearly mitochondrial dysfunction is one of the key areas to focus on with these conditions, it should be noted that there are often multiple systemic imbalances going on, including but not limited to digestive dysfunction, poor antioxidant status, immune system dysregulation, chronic inflammation, viral infections, food and/or environmental sensitivities/allergies, thyroid and adrenal dysfunction and micronutrient deficiencies. Everything in the body is connected and nothing exists in isolation.

Once again looking at the body from a functional and holistic perspective is key to any potential solution to these devastating conditions.

Alzheimer’s a multi-factoral approach

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most prevalent form of dementia and it is estimated that 160 million people globally by 2050 will have this disease.

So far the search for a single ‘silver bullet’ pharmaceutical approach to treating AD has not delivered anything other than a temporary slight improvement in symptoms with no long term impact on disease progression. Recent biochemical research however would suggest that AD is both triggered and perpetuated by a complex interaction of different factors and that a multi-factoral approach to treating this devastating condition may provide better outcomes.

Pioneering work is being undertaken in this area by Dr Bredesen, who describes dementia as being primarily a ‘metabolic problem’. In a small but ground breaking study published in Aging in 2014, a 90% success rate in both arresting and reversing early stage AD was reported. Dr Bredesen uses a combination of personalised dietary and lifestyle interactions (includes supporting digestive function, identifying imbalances in the gut, correcting identified nutrient deficiencies, optimising vitamin D levels, eating food over a particular window of time in the day, assessing metal toxicity, optimising sleep, increasing exercise and movement, reducing inflammation, identifying food sensitivities, supporting mitochondrial function and stimulating the brain) with the client to achieve substantial results over a 3 to 12 month period. Larger clinical trials are currently underway in the UK and USA.

These results on the face of it look to good to be true, but in reality simply reflect the obvious which is that chronic disease is rooted in the mismatch between our genetics and the modern world that we have created for us to live in. Your environment (diet, toxic load, stress/trauma, and infections) is fundamental to your long-term health and well-being and should be one of the first areas to seriously evaluate when confronted with any chronic condition. What makes you, you is unique to you and this is the premise behind the ‘functional model’ of health. Working with a functionally trained health practitioner on any chronic condition, along with the required work and commitment that these types of interventions require, can provide significant health benefits.

27th April 2017 Event at Arlington Arts (Newbury) – Sensitivities, Chronic Inflammation and Autoimmunity

Sensitivities, Chronic Inflammation and Autoimmunity
How food and environmental choices can impact your long-term health

Thank you to everyone that attended this event. We had 157 people turn up………..

You can view Part 1 of this seminar here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFOV00Phs7Y

Research shows that unidentified sensitivities (to both food and the environment) are often implicated in the development of and/or perpetuation of a number of chronic health conditions including but not limited to eczema, joint pain, IBS, indigestion, depression, anxiety, headaches, fatigue, weight gain, congestion and heart palpitations.

This seminar provides you with an easy to understand overview of the following key topics:
1) What is the difference between an allergy, sensitivity and intolerance?
2) What impact might unidentified food and environmental sensitivities behaving on your health?
3) Coeliac disease and non coeliac gluten sensitivity – the differences
4) Why simply cutting gluten out of the diet is not enough if you are a diagnosed coeliac
5) Sensitivities and autoimmunity
6) Items to carefully consider when choosing a sensitivity test
7) Personalised dietary and lifestyle interventions and the road to health

 

 

Histamine Intolerance – Are You Reacting to ‘Healthy’ foods?

Occasionally I see clients not reacting as you might expect to a clean healthy nutritional protocol (containing fermented foods, meat/fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts/seeds) and sometimes their original symptoms might even be exacerbated. When this happens I always suspect ‘histamine intolerance’.

Histamine intolerance (too much histamine) can manifest itself as any number of symptoms including but not limited to skin problems, insomnia, light headedness, palpitations, low blood pressure/fainting, muscle pain/cramps, joint pain, tinnitus, depression, unexplained bruising and rosacea.

Histamine is a chemical that is secreted by specialist immune cells as a response to help protect the body against infection. A histamine response is involved in the typical symptoms that are associated with mild allergic reactions (e.g hay fever & hives) and this is why antihistamines are often used to help manage such reactions.

Histamine intolerance occurs when the body has too much histamine. This happens when the supply of histamine exceeds the ability of the body to break it down. The effect of histamine on the body is cumulative – visualise a barrel with holes in the bottom being filled up with water. The water represents histamine and the holes the enzymes that break histamine down. If the amount of water entering the barrel exceeds the amount escaping, then the barrel will eventually overflow (this is the point at which the body has too much histamine).

The irony of histamine intolerance is that the foods that you are often told to consume on a healthy plan are the very foods that contribute the greatest histamine load! These include raspberries, avocados, spinach, meat stocks, citrus fruits and fermented foods (including certain strains of probiotics). The key to balancing histamine (stopping the barrel overflowing) is to both reduce intake and support the optimal degradation of histamine. It turns out that some of us are less able to produce the enzymes required to break down histamine. An imbalanced microflora is also significant contributor to elevated histamine levels. Enzyme and histamine levels can be tested for and then an appropriate strategy implemented to help regain control of key symptoms before revisiting the careful reintroduction of healthy higher histamine foods.