This update is a long time coming. I meant to follow up with my gut test many months ago but life got crazy and I got side tracked. Turns out I’m not the best client….
If you want to read my detailed article about what was going on with me and my health back in March 2016, read this post.
To give you a quick summary, I had been struggling on and off with my digestive health for pretty much my whole life. In the past I had run numerous stool tests on myself. My first ones did indicate a parasite and bacterial infection but I was able to easily remove those with the use of herbs and botanicals.
Despite getting rid of those infections, I still wasn’t feeling my best. I wasn’t having any significant digestive symptoms but things definitely felt off.
The stool culture tests I was running weren’t bringing up anything. Early last year, the Functional Nutrition organization I work for started carrying a new type of pathogen test. Rather that searching for pathogens through a microscope, this new test uses a FDA approved technology called Polymerase Chain Reaction. This involves a technique that identifies DNA in stool. It can highlight DNA of any critter that might be living inside you. It is significantly more sensitive than a regular stool culture test.
I decided to run this panel on myself and what I found was shocking. See my results below.
As it turned out my results indicated some very serious infections. The most serious was Entamoeba Histolytica. This parasite is pretty much the worst you can get. You typically get it from travelling in Central American, South American and Asia (I have been to all these places). The reason this parasite is so dangerous is because in some cases it can be fatal. It doesn’t like to stay in the gastrointestinal tract. It can migrate to the liver, the brain and the lungs. In the liver it can cause an absess and this is what can be fatal.
The second scary infection I had was Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff). This is nasty strain of bacteria that is resistant to many types of antibiotics. It produces significant toxins and is responsible for thousands of deaths per year, mostly in the senior population.
I also had Giardia (a water born parasite), Klebsiella (a opportunistic bacterial infection that can trigger autoimmunity) and Proteus (another autoimmune triggering bacteria).
The test was a total mess. Since then I have run close to fifty of these tests on clients and my results are still the worst I have seen to date.
I first did 3 weeks on an antibiotic called Iodoquinol. That was the most intense part of the protocol. I was really upset to be taking antibiotics but unfortunately the E.Histolytica does not respond well to herbal treatment. The antibiotic also was indicated for the Giardia infection.
I then spent 2 months taking Saccromyces Boulliardi, a beneficial strain of yeast that crowds out the C.diff.
Once I was done this, I spent the next two months on three products from Bio-Botanical Research; Biocidin, Biotonic and Olivirex. Together these three products are a force. They kill infections, disrupt biofilm, boost detoxification and stimulate the immune system.
I felt significantly better over the summer. My energy improved, as did my stamina. My skin started to glow and I felt like I was heading in the right direction.
Unfortunately in September I went to a potluck and accidentally ate a dip that I thought was gluten free (it wasn’t). I didn’t figure this out until months later but I spent 8 weeks with intense stomach pain, skin breakouts and wondering what the hell was going on.
This is what kicked my butt into gear and made me realize I needed to make re-testing a priority. Normally, I have clients re-test within 3-6 months depending on the protocol. It’s very important to re-test and confirm that infections are gone and another round of treatment is not needed.
Below are the results of my re-test.
As you can see things are significantly improved. I was very happy to see these results. All the infections are gone except the Klebsiella. This bacteria is very opportunistic and produces a significant amount of biofilm (a sticky substance that bacteria can “hide” under). Clearly this infection has been resistant to my efforts and I am going to have to make a new plan.
A little bit of Candida also showed up on this test which was not on my previous test. This is not unusual. It is not uncommon for new things to pop up on a re-test. Once you get rid of certain infections, they make room for other things to move in.
I am not overly concerned with low amounts of Candida. It should respond well to some anti-fungal herbs and a low sugar diet.
The next biggest issue with my re-test is my elevated Anti-Gliadin SigA. Gliadin is the component in gluten that people react to. This elevated marker confirms my gluten exposure at that potluck in September. After exposure antibodies stay elevated for up to 6 months and can cause significant inflammation. I really need to be more careful at potlucks and inquire about ingredients.
Everything else is looking a lot better. My friendly flora levels have improved. My Bifidobacterium has gone up. This is important as low levels of Bifido. are related to C.diff infections. My enterococcus and lactobacillus bacteria could be a little higher so probiotics will be on the menu.
These results are very encouraging to me. They give me hope and motivation to continue on this path.
In the coming weeks I will also be posting results of my DUTCH urine hormone panel and Organic Acids Tests. Stay tuned!
If you are interested in running this test with me, there are a couple of ways to work with me. If you are interested in running a GI-MAP only, I suggest joining my group program where you can purchase the GI-MAP or any other Functional Lab Test kit. If you are interested in 1:1 coaching and a more comprehensive program, I encourage you to apply to be one of my private clients. Apply here.
Today is the 1st day of December and I couldn’t be happier. Unlike a lot of people out there, I love winter. Skiing is one of my favorite sports and my winter is spent maneuvering my work schedule around my play schedule.
It has been an incredibly rainy fall. I can count every moment on one hand when I felt the sun on my face in the last couple of month. And all three of those times I was literally blinded by it’s intensity.
As much as I love winter, I struggle, like many people, with the lack of day light. I am an early riser so waking up at 6am isn’t easy when it’s pitch black out and it feels like the middle of the night.
These days my energy levels have been pretty low. I always struggle to feel as energetic in winter as I do in the summer. Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about you and your energy levels!
I feel that we could also use a little bit more energy. Low energy is one of the most common complaints I get from clients, and well, just about anyone else. With busy lives, questionable diets and poor sleep habits, most of us struggle to feel energized all day long.
That’s why I put together this list of 6 ways to improve energy levels.
I doubt I am the first person to tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s true. Breakfast sets the stage for your energy levels and blood sugar balance for the rest of the day.
Many people eat a breakfast that is too high in sugar or carbohydrates and too low in protein. Things like granola, cereal, toast and pastries do you no energy favors. Opt for a breakie higher in protein like eggs, non-starchy vegetables and meat.
Protein is fantastic for stabilizing your blood sugar and helps keep you energized all morning long. My favorite breakfast? Poached eggs on roasted yams with sauerkraut and avocado.
B vitamins are incredibly important for your energy levels. They power important chemical reactions involved in cellular metabolism. They are water soluble and not easily stored in the body. They are also easily depleted by stress.
You can think of B vitamins as catalytic sparks plugs for the body. They function as co-enzymes to catalyze many reactions including ones that convert carbohydrates into glucose.
Make sure you eat a diet rich in B vitamins. Highest food sources are animals products, nutritional yeast and organ meats.
If you are under a lot of stress, it may also be useful to supplement with B vitamins. My favorite product is Stress B Complex from Thorne Research.
If low energy is your issue, the first thing to consider is your sleep habits. If you don’t get enough sleep, or go to bed too late, you will be tired the next day.
Shift your bed time to sometime before 11pm. Also make sure you are getting 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
If you struggle to get to sleep at night, examine your sleep hygiene. Make sure to avoid looking at screens an hour before bed time. Sleep in a dark, cool room and turn off your wifi.
If you need to more tips on how to get a better night’s sleep, click here.
Who knew? Water is healthy! While many of us don’t drink enough water, some of us drink way too much water. The media and beverage companies have led you to believe that you need to be drinking water and sports drinks all day long.
When was the last time you saw a deer walking around with a Nalgene bottle? Hopefully never.
How much water a person needs to drink depends on each person, their activity levels and their diet. If you exercise more, you need more water. If you eat lots of veggies, you need less water than your friend on the meat and cheese diet.
The best way to stay hydrated is to monitor your urine color. If it’s clear, you are over hydrated, probably depleting your electrolytes and taxing your kidneys. If it’s brown, you need to increase your fluid intake. You urine should be a pale yellow. Make pale yellow your goal.
Additionally, make sure to consume electrolytes with every glass of water. I am not talking about the electrolyte packets that are full of sugar and chemicals. Try sea salt. It’s cheap and you only need a pinch.
I know, gluten-free is trendy. There are more and more people these days on a gluten-free diet. Hold the bread please!
I don’t necessarily believe that everyone in the world needs to be gluten free. But what I can say is that removing gluten from the diet seems to be the single quickest way to giving a person more energy.
Give it a try. Cut gluten out for 30 days and see if your energy levels improve.
I went on a bit of an Amazon shopping spree last night. I feel my recent low energy levels have a lot to do with the lack of light in my life.
Normally, I get up and go for a walk or run first thing in the morning. The point is to expose myself to light and get my circadian rhythm firing for the day. Now that winter is nearing, my morning walk/run is in darkness. And when the sun finally does come up, it’s generally cloudy and dark out.
So I bought myself a light box. Apparently using one of these light boxes (which mimics the wavelengths of a sunny day) for 20-30 minutes a day can improve energy levels, mood and sleep.
It was inexpensive and I am willing to give it a try. I will keep you posted.
If energy is a struggle the first thing to examine is your diet and lifestyle Get the basics in place before spending money on supplements. Make sure you eat a healthy, whole foods diet, get enough sleep and exercise and reduce stress. If you are doing all these things and you still feel exhausted, it may be hormonal or digestive. Consider lab testing.
This week I am still sticking with the theme of Endometriosis. If you aren’t sure what this is, please check out my recent article on this topic. If you have Endometriosis and are wondering where to start, read last week’s article where I discussed 5 important food strategies to help with this condition.
This week is all about supplements. Remember, if you don’t have the basics in place (ie. diet & lifestyle) then supplements are going to do little to help. They offer support and can help stimulate certain pathways in the body but if you eat junk, don’t sleep or exercise and are overwhelmed by stress, then don’t waste your money on supplements.
Start with the basics and come back to this article when those things are in place.
In the previous article I discussed cruciferous vegetable and how they contain a compound that is extremely effective at detoxing estrogen out of the body. DIM is the compound I was referring to.
I have found DIM to be one of the most powerful supplements for reducing excess estrogen. It is extremely effective, so this should only be used if you have been tested and know your estrogen levels are too high.
Not only does DIM lower estrogen overall but it also shifts estrogen metabolism to healthy pathways that protect you from estrogen dominant cancers.
Some people will recommend using Indol-3-Carbinol (I3C) instead of DIM. I3C is the precursor for DIM and in theory can be metabolized to DIM to have a similar effect. In my experience I3C is not nearly as effective as DIM and I don’t recommend it unless you cannot tolerate DIM.
My favorite products are Designs for Health DIM-Avail and Pure Encapsulations DIM Detox
Curcumin comes from Turmeric. It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Taking curcumin can help with some of the inflammation and painful side effects of endometriosis.
Curcumin has been found effective at reducing prostaglandins which promote inflammation.
In this study, researchers found that curcumin inhibited the growth of endometrial cells by lowering the production of Estradiol (the body’s most potent estrogen). This study was done in vitro so the results may be limited.
Curcumin is also powerful at detoxifying the liver. This is important as the liver is responsible for clearing excess hormones from the blood. Too much estrogen can be a result of poor liver clearance, resulting in excess estrogen floating around the blood.
N-Acetyl-Cysteine is a precursor for glutathione. Glutathione is your body’s most powerful anti-oxidant and detoxifier. It is needed to keep the liver free of toxins and reduce damage from free radical production.
Taken directly, glutathione is poorly absorbed but we can work with glutathione precursors to boost glutathione levels. NAC is a fantastic for boosting liver health and detoxification. Since estrogen dominance is tied to poor liver function, NAC is a good place to start.
This is a very powerful supplement for any women with Endometriosis or estrogen dominance. As discussed in my previous article, harmful gut bacteria can produce a lot of the enzyme Beta-Glucuronidase which can break the bond between excreted estrogen and glucuronic acid (the way in which estrogen in moved out of the body), thereby re-activating the excreted hormone and sending it back into circulation.
Calcium D-Glucarate helps keep estrogen bound to glucuronic acid so that it can be easily excreted from the body.
After the liver detoxifies hormones, it dumps them into the bile so they can be excreted from the body. If a woman has bile insufficiency then detoxification is impaired and estrogen is left to recirculate around the body.
A sign that you may have a bile deficiency is the inability to digest fat. If eating a fat meal makes you feel bloated or nauseous than you can benefit from taking a digestive enzyme with ox bile.
If you have had your gallbladder removed, you are likely struggling with bile production as well. My favorite product is Thorne Research Bio-Gest.
If you would like to be hooked up with an account to order any of the supplements I discussed in this article, please sent me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week I discussed endometriosis in detail. This condition should be taken seriously as it can lead to infertility and permanent damage of the Fallopian tubes and ovaries. It can also lead to cyst formation which puts you at risk for a ruptured cyst. If you want to learn more about Endometriosis and your risk, please read the article here.
If you have been struggling with Endometriosis, there’s a good chance you have been given little direction beyond surgery, birth control pills and pain killers.
I understand your frustration if you feel that these options are not right for you. Practitioners rarely discuss diet and lifestyle changes when it comes to this condition.
Thankfully, from a Functional Medicine prospective, there is a lot you can do to manage or even reverse your endometriosis. The first step to relief involves eating the right foods.
As you know, I generally recommend the Paleo diet as nutrition template for many hormone conditions. This recommendation mostly has to do with the fact that Paleo is a great tool for balancing blood sugar levels.
You can learn more about the Paleo diet and how it can help balance your hormones in this article.
Paleo isn’t your only option. Some women do better on different variations of Paleo (ie. less meat and more carbohydrates) or some women thrive with some gluten-free grains or beans and legumes in their diet. It really depends on your unique biochemistry, activity levels and carbohydrate tolerance.
The most important thing is that you eat real food. Your choices should be free-range, organic and local whenever possible. You food should not come from a box, bag or package. It should be chosen as you shop the perimeter of the grocery store, avoiding the nastiness of the isles in between.
Once you got the real food diet mastered, you can start being strategic with your food choices to optimize your body’s ability to prevent endometriosis from continuing to occur.
Cruciferous vegetables are a top choice when it comes to reversing endometriosis. The endometrial lining grows due to the effects of Estrogen (a potent growth hormone). Elevated estrogen is often at the root of Endometriosis.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radish, cabbage, Brussel sprout, collard greens and bok choy contain Diindolylmethane (DIM). DIM is a powerful tool in lowering estrogen levels.
When estrogen is broken down, it can head down the 2-OH, 4-OH or 16-OH pathways. The 2-OH pathway is thought to be a protective pathway. 4-OH is thought to be a damaging pathway, causing DNA damage and a possible cause of estrogen dominant cancers. The 16-OH is not damaging like the 4-OH but can lead to symptoms of estrogen dominance (ie. endometriosis).
DIM consumption actually shifts these pathways and helps you break your estrogen down that protective 2-OH pathway and away from the 4-OH and 16-OH. It also has the effect of reducing estrogen levels overall.
I find DIM to be one of the most powerful tools when it comes to dealing with estrogen dominance and endometriosis.
I have heard that fermented cruciferous vegetables are even more powerful in these effects. So eat your sauerkraut!
One way that estrogen can become elevated is due to poor liver clearance. It is the liver’s responsibility to clear excess hormones from the blood. The liver is one of the areas where the estrogen metabolism mentioned above occurs. In fact, 50% of estrogen metabolism occurs in the liver.
This means if liver function is not optimal, you might have excess estrogen floating around your blood, leading to nasty symptoms.
Liver friendly foods include:
Approximately 50% estrogen metabolites that enter the liver, are then excreted in the bile, sent to the intestine and then hydrolyzed by intestinal microflora. Following this process, hydrolyzed estrogen is either excreted via poop or are entered back into portal circulation.
From here it goes back to the liver for further metabolization. They are either sent back to the bile or pushed back into circulation.
Enter the Estrobolome. The estrobolome is a set of gut microflora that produce beta- glucuronidase, an enzyme that influences this metabolization. Claudia Plottel, MD, a Clinical Associate Professor at N.Y.U., and her team looked at how intestinal flora affects estrogen circulation
Plottel believes your microbiota species can create beta-glucuronidase that increase estrogen– allowing it to re-enter circulation in the body.
This makes your intestinal flora crucial to healthy estrogen levels. Some unfavorable microflora carry this enzyme and thus creating not only a dysbiosis in the gut but elevates estrogen levels.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt (if tolerated), pickles, kombucha and other fermented veggies contain a full spectrum of bacterial communities. Eating these foods on a regular basis can help repopulate your gut and increase the beneficial flora in your gut.
Another way your estrogen can become too high is due to something called aromatization. Aromatase is the enzyme which causes the conversion of testosterone into estrogen.
Inflammation can increase the presence of aromatase in the body leading to elevated estrogen levels. If you were to run a hormone panel and you had aromatization, you would see average DHEA with low testosterone and elevated estrogen.
Additionally, inflammation can negatively affect your adrenal glands leading to imbalanced hormones. It can also stress the immune system which is usually a reason excess endometrial tissue cannot be cleared from the body.
Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods:
If the immune system is strong and healthy, the body should be able to fight off the overgrowth of endometrial tissue. This is at least the thoughts of many of the practitioners I have spoken with.
It appears that many women with endometriosis also have reduced immunity. Most of the research suggests that low immunity is a result of endometriosis rather than a cause. Both ways, boosting immunity can likely help improve this condition.
Top Immune System Boosting Foods:
Have you been struggling with extremely painful periods, chronic pelvis pain or pain during sex? There are a number of reasons why periods can cause painful cramping, but endometriosis is a common culprit.
During the first half of the menstrual cycle, estrogen is the dominant hormone.Estrogen is a growth hormone and stimulates the growth of the uterine lining. Once an egg is released and not fertilized, estrogen starts to decline and progesterone becomes the dominant hormone in the second half of the menstrual cycle.
As the egg breaks down and becomes the corpus luteum, progesterone is given off. Both estrogen and progesterone reach their lowest levels just before the beginning of menstruation. This is what signals the start of bleeding where the lining of the uterus is shed for the next 3-7 days.
Endometriosis is a condition which tissue that normally grows inside the uterus instead grows outside it. The most common places in the body this tissue can grow is the abdominal cavity where it can land on the peritoneum, the thin layer that covers the inside of the abdomen, the ovaries, and fallopian tubes. This tissue has also been found in the knee and the nose, strangely enough. The body in it’s ultimate wisdom attempts to contain the growth by forming a cyst around the tissue. Then every time a woman has a period, this tissue proliferates and may lead to a ruptured cyst.
Like the lining of the uterus, the misplaced endometrial tissue is triggered by the same hormonal shift that begins the menstrual cycle (ie. low estrogen and progesterone). This tissue will then also shed and bleed. The blood, which is trapped in the abdomen, is irritating to the nerves in the abdomen, causing much of the pain associated with endometriosis. Some women experience chronic pelvic pain while others only experience pain during their periods. In certain cases, women experience no pain at all. The latter case can delay diagnosis and likely accounts for many undiagnosed cases. Statistics say 10% of women suffer from endometriosis but this is likely lower than the reality.
Over time the abnormal shedding can cause chronic inflammation and lead to scar tissue development. This abnormal cell growth will also instigate an immune response that can perpetuate the problem.
There is no concrete answer but there are many theories. In my experience, this condition is largely related to excess estrogen production. Since estrogen is involved in the growth of endometrial tissue, when it occurs in excess it can stimulate the over growth of the tissue.
Other factors that are likely involved in endometriosis are:
Dr, Stacey Roberts, natural fertility expert, mentioned that endometriosis may actually be an autoimmune process. According to this study, among 59 women who had a laparoscopy indicating endometriosis, 28.8% tested positive for antinuclear antibodies (a marker for autoimmunity).
The autoimmune connection is explored in detail in this scientific review. The authors conclude that endometriosis fits most of the criteria for autoimmune disease including blood markers of inflammatory cytokines and tissue specific autoantibodies. It seems endometriosis occurs with other autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Typically it is diagnosed through an ultrasound but this technique can often miss tissue growth that is hidden and lying deeper in the body. Some experienced physicians can find it using a physical examination, where they can pinpoint the adhesions and lesions in the abdomen. Laparoscopy, a surgical procedure, can also be used to identify lesions.
Unfortunately, endometriosis can lead to infertility issues. It can lead to scarring and damage of the filopian tubes which can make it incredibly difficult for a woman to become pregnant naturally.
If the fallopian tubes are damaged or altered in their function then this can set the stage for an atopic pregnancy. Up to 30-50% of women who have endometriosis may experience infertility, according to American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
In extreme situations it can perorate the bowel and lead to complications with digestion. This only occurs in very severe cases.
1. Surgerical Excision – This involves going in and removing overgrown tissue. This can be extremely helpful in removing adhesions and lesions but does little to address the root cause. If this is the only treatment used, adhesions may develop again. Surgery works best if it is used with natural therapies to prevent future tissue proliferation.
2. Progesterone Cream – Progesterone opposes estrogen and inhibits the growth of endometrial tissue growth. Lesions can be resistant to progesterone so typically high doses are needed. This treatment does not generally work on its own.
3. Hormonal Birth Control – This is the standard treatment as it suppresses ovulation and prevents the growth of the uterine lining. Again, this treatment fails to address the root cause and can mask other hormonal conditions. A woman cannot be on the pill indefinitely, so once she comes off it, she is likely to experience other hormone disorders that have been left untreated over the years.
4. NSAIDS OR Naproxen – This can help reduce pain associated with endometriosis but does nothing to deal with the problem. These drugs can cause many issues when used long term. They are known to stress the liver and thin the lining of the gut, even when only used once a month.
The good news is that there is a lot you can do to prevent endometriosis from continuing to occur. One of the most important starting points is to have your hormones tested via saliva or urine. I am not a huge fan of blood testing as it gives you a very limited piece of the overall picture.
In next few week’s blog posts, I will discuss some of the most effective diet, lifestyle and supplements therapies for dealing with endometriosis and preventing it from messing with your fertility. If you would like to learn more about the hormone testing I do and how it can help optimize your menstrual cycle and fertility, please book a free 20 minute consultation to speak with me directly. You can do that here.
Listen to me discuss this article in the video below!
Pho is pretty much my favorite thing ever. Ever! Ever! Ever! Apparently I say that a lot. My boyfriend is always pointing out that everything I come across is the “best thing ever,” or “my favorite thing ever,” or the “best thing I have ever seen.” I think it drives him crazy. Honestly, I don’t really care. Cause everything is awesome and every day is the best day ever in the world. Take that!
But seriously, when it comes to Pho, I just can’t get enough. So warm and full of nutrition, I find myself craving it the most at this time of year. The great thing about this recipe is that it is Paleo. I found these wonderful sweet potato noodles that are just fantastic. I have been eating pho for 2 weeks straight and I just keep wanting more.
I use my own homemade broth to make this and I think that’s why it tastes so damn good. Broth is one of the most amazing things you can do for your digestion. Imagine the nutrients and minerals it would take to make bone. When you simmer your broth, you pull all those minerals and nutrients out of the bone and put it into a tasty delicious liquid that you can just consum consume consume!
Is broth good for my hormones you might ask? I would say “yes, yes it is.” All those minerals and nutrients help your hormone system function better. How? Let me tell you.
Bone broth heals your gut. Gut health is inextricably linked to your hormonal health. If you got something nasty going on like leaky gut your body is not able to absorb enough minerals or nutrients to even produce hormones. Leaky gut leads to toxins and other gross things leaking into your bloodstream. This in itself can cause a fight-or-flight response which pushed cortisol up and throws your other hormones all over the place. If you have gas, bloating or any other gut symptoms then I guarantee your hormones are a wee bit messy. What am I trying to tell you? Make this Pho recipe and eat it up!
Bone Broth is packed full of electrolytes. We need a good balance of electrolytes for the adrenal glands to function properly. In fact, when we are stressed, electrolytes are easily depleted from the body. Sodium and potassium are especially important for the adrenal glands. The ratio between sodium and potassium will determine fluid and electrolyte dynamics, blood pressure activity, nervous system output and energy production. If either of these is depleted your adrenal health will suffer. Do drink it up. The bone broth, I mean.
Bone broth is full of beneficial amino acids like proline and glycine. Amino acids are key plays in the development of your hormones and also the detoxification process. Your liver is responsible for clearing excess hormones from the blood. So if your liver doesn’t detoxify well then extra hormones are running amuck around your body doing all kinds of weird things. Poor detoxification is implicated in things like estrogen dominance and PCOS.
No discussion about hormones can leave out a discussion about gut health and digestion. The two are romantically involved and you just can’t break them up. So what I am trying to say is make my Pho recipe. Make it for your digestion, make it for your hormones and make it because it just taste so damn good!