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 Gut and Its Role in Human Health

What might joint pain, asthma, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, skin problems, heart disease, depression, IBS and autoimmunity all have in common? Answer: The digestive system.

The health of the digestive system is fundamental to overall well-being. Hippocrates stated nearly 2,500 years ago that ‘death sits in the bowels’ and ‘bad digestion is the root of all evil’. Scientists are now just beginning to realise the truth associated with these statements. Study after study links imbalances in the digestive system to the development of long-term disease. So why might this be the case?

The 25 feet of tubing that runs from the mouth to the anus, is populated with a huge number of bacteria. It is estimated that we have on average 100 trillion bacteria in our digestive system (that’s equivalent to the number of footsteps required to walk from Earth to Pluto and back again over 7 times!), effectively making us more ‘bacteria’ than ‘human’. These bacteria weigh in total around 2kg and consist of an estimated 35,000 different bacterial species, typically being referred to as the microflora or microbiota.

The microflora is made up of both good and bad bacteria. In a healthy gut, good bacteria dominate and keep control of the bad ones (using them for important tasks). Some of the key roles undertaken by a balanced microflora include: weight management, energy production, genetic expression, balancing mood, efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients, manufacture of certain vitamins and maintaining both a strong and tolerant immune system.

Problems can start to occur when the bad bacteria become too dominant (dysbiosis), contributing to inflammation of and damage to the gut lining. This can lead to the manifestation of any number of disparate and seemingly disconnected symptoms. The science now recognizes multiple ‘gut–organ axes’. What happens in the gut does not stay in the gut and we ignore the impact that the microflora has on our health at our own peril.

What causes dysbiosis? Modern life! Specifically: caesarian birth, poor dietary choices, food sensitivities, low stomach acid, antibiotics, medications, chronic stress, toxins/pollution, infectious diseases and alcohol/drug abuse.

Thankfully the body is regenerative and it is possible, working with a skilled practitioner, to both identify and rectify imbalances in the microflora, using specific functional diagnostic testing in combination with targeted nutritional and lifestyle protocols. Remember, ‘you’re in control’ far more than you might at first ever believe.

Gluten Grains and Mental Health

There has been a considerable amount of discussion recently about mental health and what more we can do as a society to help those with mental health issues. What never ceases to surprise me is the complete lack of discussion on the impact that what you eat can have on mental health. Depression is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the UK.

There are certain scientific facts that I would like you to be aware of. Gluten (found in Barley, Rye, Oats and Wheat) does cause our digestive tracts to ‘leak’. This happens in every human being for a few hours after digesting gluten. That is a fact. If you are someone that already has an imbalance in your gut bacteria (due to caesarian birth, not being breastfed, alcohol abuse, poor food choices, antibiotic use, chronic stress and regular medications) certain toxic by products and semi digested food particles can be ‘leaked’ through into the body. In certain genetically predisposed individuals these toxins and foreign food particles can cause a significant immune system response (potentially causing the body to attack itself, if the protein structure of the semi digested food is similar to that of the body e.g. the brain), as well as putting considerable stress on the already over-stretched detoxification systems. Secondly, some of the breakdown products of gluten during digestion are opioid (morphine) like. Opioids are addictive and if they make it to the brain, are capable of disrupting neurotransmitter balance. Either way there is strong scientific evidence to connect eating gluten with brain chemistry/structural disruption in certain individuals.

Repeated studies show that gluten does cause a significant immune system response in both schizophrenic and autistic individuals compared to the normal population. So, if you or a loved one are not feeling as good as you might like, you might want to try eliminating gluten from your diet. Maybe it is also time for psychologists and psychiatrists to seriously consider the impact that a gluten free diet might have on their clients?

Let’s Talk Skin Event – Understanding Acne

Optimal nutrition and digestion play a significant role in overall skin health. As part of an event called ‘Let’s Talk Skin Event – Understanding Acne’ being run and hosted by Andresa Skin Health Clinic (www.andresa.co.uk) near Aldermaston in Berkshire at 7:30 pm on April 14th, I will be giving a presentation on the impact that optimal diet and gut health can have on the condition of  your skin.

Andresa Skin Health Clinic are specialists in skin health, using the very latest science and technology from around the world to correct and rebalance the health of the skin. There will be a demonstration of Andresa’s exclusive ClearSkin Acne treatment.

Refreshments will be served, and there will be a prize draw raffle on the night where you can win a relaxing, bespoke facial. The raffle is being held to raise money and awareness for Andresa’s charity of the year, Debra. To register for this free-of-charge event, please contact the clinic on 01635 800183 or use the booking form at www.andresa.co.uk

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….

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.

You think you’re Human?

Science continues to discover extraordinary facts about the microbes (bacteria, viruses and protozoa) that live in our gut (the tube that runs from the mouth to the exit). These microbes weigh in total anywhere between 1 and 2.5 kilos in the average adult, outnumber our human cells by a factor of about 3 to 1 and consist of thousands of different species with 100 times more genetic material than the entire human genome.

In broad terms there are three different classifications of microbe, namely ‘beneficial’, ‘opportunistic’ and ‘transitional’. We now know that optimal health requires a delicate balance to be maintained between these different types (eubiosis). The beneficial microbes should be dominant, keeping the opportunistic and transitional microbes under tight control. In fact the science in this particular area of research is moving at a rapid pace with the recognition of distinct ‘gut-organ’ interactions and dependencies such as the ‘gut-brain’ and ‘gut-skin’ axes.

Some of the identified key roles of a balanced micro flora include: balanced mood (the gut is the largest hormone and neurotransmitter producing organ in the body, for example producing over 90% of serotonin (serotonin is also required for properly motility of the gut)), digestion of proteins and carbohydrates (helping us get more nutrients from our food), manufacture of vitamins and essential fatty acids, increase in the number of immune system cells, immune system tolerance, break down of bacterial toxins and detoxification and the conversion of specific plant compounds into anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory factors, as well as assisting with efficient weight management and energy production.

Birth type/time of weaning/length of breastfeeding, chronic antibiotic use, parasitic and/or yeast/fungal infections, food poisoning, poor food choices, recreational drug use, unidentified food sensitivities, lack of nutrient density and diversity, chronic stress, chronic use of medications and NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen), oral contraception, regular alcohol intake and a high toxic load are all known contributors to dysbiosis (imbalance of the gut micro flora). Recent research also specifically connects gluten related disorders (the umbrella term for coeliac disease, non-coeliac gluten/wheat sensitivity and wheat allergy) to the initiation of dysbiosis, neuroinflammation and the disruption of the gut/brain axis and the manifestation of anxiety and depression.

So what does this all mean? Look after your microbes and they will look after you. How can I do that? Lifestyle and diet are your key tools.