Many of your questions are answered here!
The views and nutritional advice expressed on this website are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. No information, product or service offered by Aine-Marie Landis, Aine-Marie.com, or Advesta Health through our websites or store should be interpreted as a diagnosis of any disease, nor an attempt to treat or prevent or cure any disease or condition. All information on this website is for educational purposes only and Aine-Marie Landis and Advesta Health encourages its clients and members to continue to work in a partnership with qualified medical professional as they engage with our health and wellness community, products and counseling services. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider or seek medical assistance. Purchasing a product, wellness program or health coaching does not establish a doctor-patient relationship with Aine-Marie Landis or any Advesta Health employee or consultant including any of our licensed health practitioners, coaches, dieticians or nutritionists. The FDA has not evaluated information and statements regarding products and/or services made available by Aine-Marie Landis or Advesta Health.
Who is Advesta Health?
We are a personalized health care practice consisting of licensed and certified health practitioners and health coaches offering a variety of wellness programs, counseling, and educational services exclusively to our membership. Our private community is called HealthyLiving and members enjoy the best integrative and holistic healing services, our premium nutritional products, bio-individual nutrition and personalized diets and lifestyle programs tailored specifically to their needs. Our specialties include Functional Autoimmunity and Gluten-Related Disorders such as Celiac Disease, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and Intestinal Permeability (also known as "Leaky Gut"). We are proud to have Aine-Marie Landis, CGP; NTP on staff as our Director of Clinical Services.
What is Your Practice Focus?
After years of working with clients and health challenges, we have streamlined our practice to focus on what we feel are some of the key health issues faced today primarily: Autoimmune-related conditions, Digestion, Food Sensitivities and Gut-Related Illnesses like Celiac Disease, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and Leaky-Gut Syndrome, Detox and Whole Body Rejuvenation.
What Kinds of Clients do You Work With?
We work with clients from all around the world and from all walks of life. Many of our clients have struggled with one or more health challenges or unfortunately have been misdiagnosed over the years under the standard healthcare model. They are frustrated and really want some information that makes sense for their their lives. They want what we all want: vitality, good energy, upbeat moods, restful sleep, less stress, and to just feel good in their body. What it really comes down to is they want some one who will listen to their story and THAT is exactly why we are so successful with our clients. Our wellness programs offer education, guidance and 100% support so that you are empowered to take back your health!
How Do You Work With Clients?
We know many of you lead busy and full lives and that is why our health and wellness services appeal to more mobile and online oriented individuals, but we do love people to drop by our office if they are in the neighborhood. Our clients and members enjoy many benefits that our online membership program HealthyLiving affords them: freedom, privacy, convenience, tools, knowledgeable resources and an online support community of like-minded individuals passionate about their health. We are never more than a phone call or click away from our clients.
What Kinds of Wellness Programs Do you Offer?
We offer a variety of wellness programs to fit the many needs of our clients. All of our programs consist of 3 important elements: 1:1 consultation with an Advesta Health practitioner, functional assessment and evaluation, and the creation of a personalized health action plan. We offer several comprehensive wellness programs to specifically address your health challenges such as digestion issues, food sensitivities and autoimmune symptoms. For some of our members who have taken one or more of our wellness programs, we offer a discounted hourly consultation package, which allows them more time to do followup and mentoring with their practitioner or coach.
How Much Do Your Programs Cost?
We try to cater to a diverse range of financial profiles. Having said that, some of our wellness programs offer easy and cost-effective payment plans for your convenience. Most importantly, our HealthyLiving membership offers discounts and special deals on products and services and when you do the math, all the savings you'll get basically covers the membership fees and then puts money back in your wallet! We do offer an hourly consultation service fee for non-members, but we really encourage you to become a member and enjoy a wide-variety of savings and benefits that our exclusive HealthyLiving membership offers.
What Methods of Payments Do You Take?
We currently accept most credit cards. Payment for Aine-Marie's and Advesta Health's programs, products and services can be made easily right on our website. Payment for any wellness programs is due upon time of purchase and depending on the particular wellness program, the cost may be all-inclusive e.g. consultation services, assessments and supplements or per individual service. If you are ordering assessments or tests directly from one of our preferred partners, please see the payment options listed on their websites as these may be different from what is noted in our payment policy. Please see our Cancellation Policy for more details.
Do You Take Insurance?
At this time we currently do not accept any form of insurance or Medicare-related health insurance plans. There is no CPT code explicitly for functional nutrition or health coaching but to the extent all our wellness programs are focused on promoting health and preventing illness or injury, the most appropriate CPT code is a preventive medicine, individual counseling code (99401-99404). Some tests may also be reimbursed by insurance. We can assist you in finding the appropriate codes and documenting them for review by your insurance company. We recommend that each client and member check with their insurance provider prior to engaging in services with us to see what reimbursements are available. Advesta Health is not liable for insurance reimbursement fees to clients and members.
Do You Recommend Supplements and Nutritionals?
Our recommended nutritional products are intended to support the underlying cause of illness or "dis-ease" in the body rather than symptoms alone. Nutritional products including botanicals and herbs, homeopathic remedies, gentle cleansing and restorative and supportive supplements, are selected based on careful review of an individual’s health history, current symptoms, body imbalances, assessment results and overall desired wellness goals. Our nutrition and supplement products are highly effective, made of the highest quality nutrients and botanicals and created in superior manufacturing facilities that are rigorously tested beyond the food grade manufacturing found in health or grocery stores. We take pride in knowing that we can offer our clients and members quality products at prices that are affordable.
Do You Have an Online Store?
For your ease and convenience, we sell all our recommended nutritionals, herbal supplements, homeopathic remedies, vitamins, and much more on our online store. We have even bundled our best-selling items that are part of our popular wellness programs. This makes your life easier - so that when you purchase a wellness program, you get the supplementation to go along with it. No more buying everything you need from many different stores. With Advesta Health, it is one-stop, easy shopping for our clients and members. Please note that we only offer our discounted nutritional products, herbals, vitamins and supplements to our HealthyLiving members. This is another good reason to sign-up, get access to the best supplementation, and start saving now!
Do You Have New Client Paperwork & How Do We Send That To The Office?
We ask all our new clients to complete initial paperwork so that we can start a comprehensive health profile. This will include: brief client contact details, health history, release form, disclaimer notice and HIPPA form. If you have recent lab tests then we ask that these also get sent over to the office. We also have each new client complete a brief Functional Assessment Form that covers questions on important health areas such as past conditions, risk factors, diet, stress, metabolism, cognition, exercise, lifestyle, and attitude. You can find all necessary paperwork on our secure and private HealthyLiving membership portal. Please know that because of HIPPA regulations, we cannot accept any photographs of your health documentation that is taken with a smart phones or other mobile device and we prefer you use on secure online portal for all communications that involve your personal health information.
Do You Offer Any Discounts for Special Circumstances or Families?
There are no discounts available at this time. We really encourage you to become part of our wellness community and enjoy a wide-variety of savings and benefits that our exclusive HealthyLiving membership offers. Please know that because of HIPPA regulations, we cannot allow more than one client to attend a consultation session. You are certainly free to share your experiences and what you learn from your sessions with our community members, family and friends.
What is Functional Nutrition?
Functional Nutrition is a patient-centered model of applying the science of nutrition to each individual. This personalized nutrition model treats the individual, not just isolated diseases or symptoms. This model of care looks at nutrition, the body, and various illness differently from what most of us have now come to know as "conventional medicine" or the "standard model of care".
What is the Difference Between Functional Nutrition and Standard Care With or Without Nutrition?
In the standard care model, a typical physician has been trained to diagnose a disease and match that disease with a drug therapy. This type of health care works well if we have an infection, break a leg, have a heart attack, or need surgery, but falls short of being able to work on chronic disease and preventative health. Many traditional doctors do not receive an education in nutrition, food science, health coaching or counseling and lack the tools and experience to work with patients on diet, lifestyle and behavior changes.
Also the standard model of care unfortunately does not get at the root cause of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, autoimmune, IBS and others, that plague millions of Americans every year. Functional medicine and in particular the nutritional component of this discipline, takes the opposite approach -- instead of simply prescribing a medication based on symptoms or a disease label, it asks “Why does a person have a problem in the first place?” and “What is out of balance in the body?” and “How can we bring vitality back to the body?".
What are Common Ways Functional Nutrition is Practiced?
In Functional Nutrition, you may see different practice models and methodologies used across practitioners. But no matter what the system or tools used in any given practice, first and foremost, we seek to understand the entire health picture of a person i.e., health history (including family and genetics), diet, and environmental and lifestyle factors, all of which play key roles in long-term care of health issues. At the core of any Functional Nutrition is the understanding of the relationships between all the functioning parts of the body and how dysfunction and imbalance manifests accordingly, eventually leading to more serious chronic illness. This is the main reason why this model of wellness care over the standard care model is able to facilitate and support deep healing and transformation.
How is Functional Nutrition Practiced By Aine-Marie and Advesta Health?
We seek to find and maintain optimal health by understanding a person's unique needs for achieving balance and harmony. Our comprehensive natural health plans address each individual as a whole person and seek to align with specific health goals such as increased vitality, better digestion, improved sleep, hormonal balance, weight management, and more. Our simple and effective process involves 3 steps: wellness and nutritional assessment, functional testing, and comprehensive health action plan. The first step is doing a thorough discovery of each individual so that we are intimately aligned with who they are and where they want to take their health. In this crucial first step, we do a great deal of listening, which is key in eliciting client confidence and building a trusting relationship. In step 2, we always follow up with comprehensive functional testing in order to give clues to various imbalances in the body so that we can determine the best nutritional wellness program. We don't barrage our clients with dozens of tests but we do have a set of preliminary tests that we encourage all our clients to take; this ensures we get enough information with which to form a health action plan that is uniquely personal. Finally we bring together all our findings, apply our years of healing knowledge and map your unique health profile to our functional system, which we call "The 5 Elements of Healing": stress management, diet/detox, sleep, movement, and attitude. When we've created a unique wellness map, we begin to work together to co-create a healthy blueprint for optimal healing.
What is a Health Coach?
A Health Coach is a certified practitioner that educates, supports and mentors individuals to cultivate positive health choices. They are often highly educated guides in the fields of nutrition, wellness, fitness, and bio-individuality. Most of the time they walk clients through individualized wellness programs that include diet, lifestyle and behavior adjustments so that they can achieve optimal results. Some things a Health Coach is NOT: a doctor that diagnoses conditions or prescribes medications, a personal trainer or fitness instructor (although they may be) that is certified to recommend exercise programs, and finally they are not going to do the work for you or make you feel guilty if you take a few steps backward in the program. Think of a Health Coach as your running buddy in a marathon -- they will be there through all the grueling miles and celebrate with you each and every mile of the race until you cross the finish line.
What are the Benefits of a Health Coach?
Health Coaches often offer services and fill gaps that doctors, nutritionists and dietitians don’t have the time or resources to fill. It is their mission to empower individuals to create and sustain a wellness vision, set reasonable healthy goals and achieve them, brainstorm on ways to be successful, and make positive and health-promoting behavioral changes. Unlike most primary and specialty care physicians, Health Coaches make it their job to take the time to work with clients to implement small step-by-step changes at a pace that’s comfortable and, that ultimately leads to success.
Is Health Coaching Used by Aine-Marie and Advesta Health?
Health Coaching is a key component in our practice. Our health coaches take the time to listen to your concerns, help you discover where and why you are struggling, and help you navigate the world of some times contradictory health and wellness advice to figure out exactly what works for your body. Using our strategic and practical wellness approach, our Health Coaches support you to:
- Realistically assess where you are in your life (body, mind, and spirit)
- Look at the whole picture and not just one part
- Set realistic goals in weeks/months not days – lasting change takes time
- See where you want to go …. and get there, step by step
Why is Testing Helpful?
After assisting and counseling clients for some years, we found there were patterns to health issues that we really couldn't ignore. So this is why we decided to do just the right amount (no more, no less) of the most revealing and predictive functional assessments in order to better serve each and every one of our clients and members. It just makes the most sense to us.
If you are interested in staying healthy, then advanced and targeted testing can identify risk factors and help you and your health practitioner make important diet, behavioral and lifestyle changes. Testing can also help you identify conditions before they get too serious. More importantly, your tests can help establish a "baseline" for future monitoring and to give you general information about your overall health profile. We find these baseline tests are very important especially when we monitor progress with one of our wellness programs. For instance, if you have made lifestyle changes to improve your health such as going on a gluten-free diet, then you want to compare test results over time to know if your efforts have been successful.
Why is Testing a Core Component of Your Practice?
In the standard care model, most often doctors and patients wait until an illness becomes serious and then they find themselves needing to prescribe a rigorous drug therapy or even surgery. Our goal is to be as proactive and preventative as we can when it comes to illness. In Functional Nutrition, we want to catch "dis-ease" and disharmony in the body well before it manifests into serious chronic conditions that tend to be harder to halt or reverse. In some conditions once a breakdown of tissue or loss of functionality is far enough along, there is no full recovery or repair.
In the Functional Nutrition model, the "heavy lifting" e.g., testing, cost, preventative measures, are all done upfront as compared to the standard care model most of us are used to. In that system, you pay a great deal of money much later on after conditions become chronic. We feel it is better to deal with symptoms and conditions in the body when they first appear instead of paying for very expensive drugs and invasive treatments much later down the line. You might say, "well my insurance pays for it", but in reality we are all a part of the system so the cost is shared by all.
What Kinds of Assessments and Testing Do You Do?
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to speak to your doctor or go on the internet and sort through all the information about functional assessments. You'll find there are both pros and cons by proponents and others alike. Our first priority is always to our clients and members and we seek to make the testing process as simple and easy-to-understand as possible. For ease and convenience, we've bundled many of core functional tests into our consultation programs, then on top of that we try to offer a good discount and payment plan (where possible).
Do You use Specific Labs for Your Testing?
We use a combination of nationwide testing providers and specialty labs for all our testing. Over the years, we've done a great deal of assessments and testing and received feedback both from our clients, members and our Functional Health colleagues. The labs we recommend use have high testing standards and provide the most consistent and accurate results. It is really important for us to recommend to our clients the best resources when we are gathering information on something as important as their health, which in the end helps us to better educate and mentor them throughout their healing journey.
Do I come to Your Office to do Assessments and Testing?
Our office does not offer Phlebotomy services. If you want to do a test that requires a blood draw, you can work with our lab partners to conveniently schedule an appointment online in your local area. If the lab test requires saliva, urine or stool sample, you can do this from the convenience and privacy of your own home; our office will send you the appropriate testing kits along with easy-to-follow instructions. Your practitioner or health coach can explain the details of lab testing during your 1:1 consultation session or you can read our quick Lab Testing Guide & FAQ.
How Much Does Functional Assessments and Testing Cost?
Because of the nature of the profiling and analysis that is done by their technicians, some specialty labs are expensive. Where we can, we offer a discount rate from our partners to make the cost affordable. You can expect to pay anywhere from $50-$599 for functional assessments and tests depending on the type. Most standard tests for gluten-related diseases and gut health range from between $200-$399. When you think about it, you are getting key functional tests that ultimately do make the difference in understanding possible root-causes and creating your unique health action plan.
How Long Does it Take To Get My Test Results?
Please allow anywhere between 2 to 4 weeks after taking your blood draw tests or mailing in your saliva or urine test specimens to the lab. In some cases our office may be notified when your results are completed and we'll reach out to you. In most cases, you will receive a copy of the results directly. It is important that your consultation appointment occur at least 48 hours after our office has received any lab test results that you would like reviewed. Please make sure you allow for this time prior to booking your first appointment. See our Cancellation Policy for more details.
Can I Order My Own Tests?
We have made it convenient to order a limited number of appropriate tests when you purchase one of our wellness programs so that you receive the best discount, payment plan options and ease-of-convenience. Please address any questions or concerns you have to our concierge staff via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage all clients and members to work with their primary care provider or insurance provider when ordering desired assessments or tests.
Will My Insurance Cover My Functional Tests?
What we find is that some but not all functional assessments and tests are covered by insurance and it differs from individual to individual and plan to plan. Most often, for general wellness tests covering basic bodily functions including glucose, lipids, blood count, metabolism, and mineral and bone e.g., what is routinely ordered as a part of an annual exam, most often is covered. Unfortunately for many of the more advanced functional tests, most clients have to pay out-of-pocket. Some labs we work with do provide a discount and we pass this savings along to our clients and members.
If you are going to see if your insurance will cover your tests, we can help you document the CPT codes (available for some but not all tests), which you can submit to your insurance company to see if they will cover the entire cost or reimburse you. We strongly encourage all our new clients to check with their insurance company first before ordering any tests. Important Note: Aine-Marie Landis and Advesta Health is not responsible for any reimbursement of lab testing services or fees.
What If I have had Recent Testing Done?
Many biological and chemical elements in the body can change quickly i.e., TSH can change daily, blood sugar can certainly change on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and lipids can really fluctuate. Other blood and gut markers are somewhat more stable over a longer period of time (months as opposed to daily/weekly). We can certainly review and take into consideration any previous tests that you've done, but honestly in order to be able to do our best for our clients and members so that they stay on top of their health issues, more recent functional assessments and testing (within the past 6 months) is necessary. If you have any questions about recent assessments and testing, please contact our concierge staff via email at email@example.com.
What is the Difference Between Celiac Disease, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) and a Wheat Allergy?
We understand that all the different terminology can get confusing for people. Even the professional medical community uses different terms such as: wheat/gluten allergy, gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity. So without getting too scientific, we'll briefly provide definitions for the terms we use:
- Celiac Disease - is a inflammatory condition of the intestine that is provoked or suppressed by the presence of dietary gluten. It is clear that additional inherited and environmental factors are involved in contraction of Celiac Disease, not solely the presence of the HLA-DQ haplotype (group of genes). The gold standard for diagnosis of the disease requires the presence of small intestinal mucosal villous atrophy (flattened villi in the small intestine) and crypt hyperplasia (Marsh III), which is verified via a biopsy.
- Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) - is an immune reaction found to the protein gluten (specifically prolamines) found commonly in wheat, rye, barley, but also in other grains such as oats, corn, millet, rice, couscous, etc. Having a sensitivity to gluten is really the tip of the iceberg and it is now linked to over 200 other diseases, including a risk factor for Celiac Disease. The best way to diagnose whether you are sensitive to gluten and if it is affecting other body tissues is through blood and HLA-DQ testing.
- Food Allergy/Wheat Allergy - is also an immune reaction to a particular food and with a wheat allergy, it is the protein in wheat i.e., gluten. If you have an acute allergic reaction, the body responds fairly quickly (usually within 30 minutes of eating the food). The symptoms can range from mild conditions like hives, skin rash, asthma, sneezing, diarrhea and itching to anaphylaxis (difficulty breathing), that may require a visit to the emergency room. You can also have a delayed allergic reaction, which can produce more complex immune responses and antibodies. Food allergies are estimated to affect 4 to 6 percent of children and 4 percent of adults, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention. Nine foods cause 90% of food allergic reactions, including cow's milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, sesame, soy, fish, shellfish and wheat. The best way to diagnose whether you have a food allergy is either through a skin prick test or through blood testing.
For more information on this topic see What is the Difference Between Celiac Disease and Gluten-Sensitivity? video by Dr. Tom O'Bryan.
What is Gluten Anyway?
Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in all grains. In particular there are a family of specific grains that can be toxic to some individuals namely: wheat, rye, barley, oats and any derivatives of these like corn, millet, rice, polish wheat, couscous, and spelt to name a few. You can find a list of typical gluten containing foods here. For more information on this topic see What is Gluten? video by Dr. Tom O'Bryan.
How is Celiac Disease or NCGS Diagnosed?
You cannot diagnose Celiac Disease by genetics alone. The medical community at-large still consider that the gold standard for diagnosing Celiac Disease is through verification of the presence of small intestinal mucosal villous atrophy (flattened villi in the small intestine) and crypt hyperplasia (Marsh III), verified via a biopsy of the small intestine. However, a more recent consensus among some experts in the field is that the best strategy for Celiac Disease serological (blood) screening is the detection of IgA tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTGA). These antibodies are the most sensitive test for Celiac Disease (up to 97%). You can also use IgA Endomysium antibodies to further confirm tTGA positive cases due to their higher specificity (about 100% versus 91% of tTGA) (see Cellular & Molecular Immunology (2011),8,96–102). However, we want to note that 97% accuracy tTGA test is when there is total villous atrophy, or when the small intestinal lining has been worn all the way down (the intestinal wall is very much damaged). This means that you could still have Celiac Disease but with only partial villous atrophy (villi are not too worn down yet) and the test would not be as accurate (accuracy plummets to 32%). You may want to continue with a gluten-free diet and see if any improvements occur and possibly still follow up with a genetic test or biopsy if symptoms persist.
The best way to diagnose whether you are sensitive to gluten and if it is affecting your gut and possibly other body tissues is through blood and antibody testing. Most standard gluten-related disorder tests available today only check for a response to one gluten peptide, alpha-gliadin, which is problematic because there are hundreds of different peptides of gluten, and each individual's immune system responds in a unique way to these. This means in order to rule out "false negatives", you want to screen for more than just alpha-gliadin. We use Cyrex Labs and Array 3 because it is the most thorough test on the market -- looking at the immune response to 10 different peptides of gluten. Certainly we want all the testing we do for our clients and members to be the most accurate so that our wellness programs can be tailored to meet specific health needs.
What Are the Typical Symptoms of Gluten-Related Disorders?
If a person has a sensitivity to gluten and they do not remove it out of their diet, it can be disruptive to body tissues throughout the body, not just in the gut. Long-term exposure to gluten (if you are sensitive) including Celiac Disease, can destroy the lining of the small intestine causing a host of health issues such as: leaky gut, malobsorption/malnutrition, numerous inflammatory conditions, endocrine dysfunction, IBS and so forth. This basically means that a person having chronic symptoms that don't go away, autoimmune issues, cognitive dysfunction, and a host of other health challenges, mayhave sensitivity to gluten as a root cause and should therefore consider testing. If you think you may have a sensitivity to gluten, take our quick "You May Have a Gluten Disorder IF..." questionnaire.
What Diseases are Caused by Gluten-Related Disorders?
It would be silly to say that “all” conditions are associated with gluten and we don't want to create a new health villain like we have with cholesterol and fat. But because of growing research showing gluten's link now to many health conditions, it’s rational to say that any condition may have a sensitivity to gluten as an underlying factor and should be investigated further. Research studies are being published linking gluten-related disorders to autoimmune, liver, skin, cognitive, neurological, heart, endocrine and musculoskeletal conditions. A common thought today among experts is that, "the majority of individuals have what is termed silent celiac disease, which may remain undiagnosed because the condition has no (GI) symptoms", meaning dysfunction may be occurring in other body tissues and systems (BMJ Vol.310 24 July 1999,236-239). Because of we want to get at the root cause of our client's and members health challenges and not leave anything to speculation or chance, we feel it is important to test everyone for sensitivity to gluten (warrant, there are minor exceptions). For more information on diseases associated with gluten-related disorders, go to PubMed and search for specific disease conditions AND gluten.
Is Celiac Disease or NCGS Inherited Through Genes?
If you have the HLA-DQ haplotype (notably DQ2 and/or DQ8 gene), you are at a higher risk of developing a gluten-related disorder; this could be Celiac Disease or NCGS. But here in lies the rub, just having the specific genes does not mean you will get a gluten-related condition. Statistics are showing that 1/3 of the U.S. population has these specific genes, but only a small percentage (around 1%) actually have a health issue with gluten, specifically Celiac Disease. In Europe the numbers are a bit higher with Celiac Disease being found in about 2-5% of the population. The key educational tidbit you should take to heart is that: your environment, lifestyle, health history along with genetics, are all factors in the presence, or lack thereof, of a gluten-related disorder, including Celiac Disease.
Here are a few more health notes:
"Genetic factors alone, do not explain the development of coeliac disease, and it has been noted that the disease is concordant in only 60% to 70% of identical twins ... It has been speculated that in appropriate circumstances it occurred, after the intervention of some unknown environmental factors". (BMJ.1999 Jul 24; 319(7204):236–239).
“The single most important risk factor for celiac disease is having a first-degree relative [parent, child, sibling] with already-defined celiac disease, particularly a sibling. A rate up to 20% or more has been noted. Risk is even greater if a specific family has 2 siblings affected, particularly if a male carries the human leukocyte antigen-DQ2”. (Risk factors in familial forms of celiac disease, World Journal of Gastroenterology).
How Serious are Gluten-Related Disorders?
Celiac Disease is one of the most common lifelong disorders in both Europe and the US. We call gluten-related disorders "the silent epidemics" because often times symptoms are masked under other health issues, misdiagnosed for years or not diagnosed at all, or occur after years of tissue breakdown and body dysfunction. It is now accepted that non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a systemic illness that can manifest in a range of organ systems (see Ann Neurol 2008;64:332-343). More research is also showing a rise in reported cases of gluten-related disorders in both children and adults. For children, these disorders can be more problematic and often times lead to a risk of long-term mortality (Ann Neurol 2008;64:332-343). We are concerned that the numbers of affected individuals is under reported due to the very fact that still today, many of the Celiac Disease and NCGS cases go undiagnosed. We don't claim that gluten is at the heart of all disease, but we certainly consider it a risk factor for many chronic disease conditions. Needless to say, we take gluten-related disorders very seriously and that is why it is a core part of our preventative practice model.
Why Is Gluten an Issue Now?
There are many reasons we see some much about gluten in the media and in health news. But some factors may have more influence on why it seems to be a health issue for some individuals:
- The 50/50 Rule - there is a 50% increase in gluten content in food from 50 years ago.
- Modern Wheat Varieties - are wildly different than more traditional varieties. In short, modern wheat is simply not the same plant it used to be.
- More Processed Food - many wheat and grain products contain dough conditioners (bread products), preservatives, flour mixtures (including soy flour), processing by-products like acrylamide and hydrogenated oils.
- Reduced Oral Tolerance - our immune systems may not be as efficient in determining what is a good food and what is a bad food.
- Overuse of Pesticides - seeds and grain are sprayed and stored in bins that contain harmful pesticides.
- More GMO Food - processed food products and baked goods include high amounts of soy. Soy is the largest GMO crop in the U.S., about 94% and there has not been enough research done on the long-term effects of GMOs in the diet. As of 2015, no GM wheat is grown commercially, although many field tests are being conducted.
- Existing Gut Issues & Compromised Microbiome - many of us living in the U.S. or industrialized countries may have a variety of systemic gut issues and gluten is just another weak link in the chain. Conditions like dysbiosis (damaged gut flora) from overuse of antibiotics, low-nutrient diets and loss of diversity of our microbiota, are prime examples.
What is Intestinal Permeability or Leaky Gut?
Intestinal permeability is a health issue not widely accepted in the medical profession, but if you pay attention to root cause analysis especially where gut-related disease is concerned, you see a great deal of validity in its existence. In a nutshell, intestinal permeability is a condition where the thin mucosal lining of the small intestine can't do its job anymore, which is to allow certain macronutrients, proteins, fats, etc., to pass through into the blood stream while preventing others like proteins like gluten, toxins, undigested food and bacteria, which will pass into the large intestine and ideally out the body.
Think of your small intestine, which by the way is where most of food digestion and absorption takes place in the body, as a long tube with walls that are made of little connecting gates. These gates open and close and monitor the traffic that comes and goes. But if the gates begin to malfunction and start letting the wrong things pass into the blood stream, the immune system takes action to get rid of the foreign invader. Over time you start to develop systemic inflammation in the gut, which then cascades to other body tissue. The gut is our biggest immune system organ and if it is not in tip-top shape or "on fire" all the time, you are at risk for developing an autoimmune condition, allergies, asthma food intolerance and other diseases.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
The are certain conditions, allergens like gluten, food by-products, bacteria, and medications that can damage the tight junctions or "gatekeepers" in the lining of the small intestine potentially leading to leaky gut syndrome. Whether the trigger is gluten, stress, toxins, or something else, you have to identify the culprit and eliminate it so that you can reduce the inflammation that is causing intestinal permeability.
Here are some things we usually look for as root causes of leaky gut:
- Certain proteins found in foods like lectin (grains, nightshades, legumes, some yeast), A1 casein (dairy products), and gluten (grains)
- Excess sugar that can lead to an overgrowth of yeast, candida and harmful bacteria
- Nutrient-low diet lacking in fiber, omega-3, medium chain fatty acids (a good source is coconut products), probiotics and organic acids
- Long-term stress that can weaken your immune system and cause chronic inflammation
- Toxin overload especially antibiotics, pesticides, and NSAIDS
- Drug therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation and complicated surgery
- Diseases such as IBS, intestinal infections, type 1 diabetes, kidney disease
What Should I Do if I Think I May Have a Gluten-Related Disorder?
If you have been struggling with a health condition for a long time, seen a variety of doctors, and just feel like you are not getting to the heart of the challenge you are facing AND you have not considered gluten or diet as a potential root cause, then you are in the right place. Any beginning always starts with inquiry and an open mind.
Here are some steps we recommend:
Take our "You May Have Leaky Gut IF ..." questionnaire.
Sign up for one of our wellness programs offered by Aine-Marie Landis. CLICK HERE or get in touch with our office to discuss your health goals and current challenges you are experiencing.
Do a gluten-elimination diet for 30 days and see how you feel, noting mood, body function, sleep, etc. At the end of the diet, add a little gluten back in and again take note of how you feel. For some this can be a self-empowering and eye-opening experience.
Seek professional care from your personal health care physical or other specialist.
Do I Need to get Tested for Celiac Disease or NCGS?
What we like about testing, especially predictive antibody and advanced molecular testing, is that they are another tool we use to help us get to the root cause of a person's health challenges. In the case of Celiac Disease and NCGS, we highly recommend testing especially if you have be plagued with symptoms for while and gluten and/or dietary factors are suspected. Also, we just feel it is practical given our fast-paced Western culture, environmental factors such as stress and toxins, the evolution of the food industry and current food production practices and the state of most individual diets. Some experts in the field are also suggesting testing because of gluten's link to gut-disorders, autoimmune disease and a host of other chronic illness (see Am J Gastroenterol 2009 Dec (104);12:3058-3067). Also it is a good idea if you have or there is a family history of Celiac Disease or NCGS to be rested every so often; we suggest every 3 years, just to see if the condition is being managed properly through your diet, lifestyle and other healthy behaviors.
Is There a Cure for Gluten-Related Disorders?
If you have Celiac Disease or NCGS, you will always have a problem with gluten and possibly similar types of proteins in other non-wheat foods. If you have a wheat allergy, you may grow out of this condition over time. If you have a gluten-related disorder, you can significantly reduce and manage the symptoms, and once and for all stop the fire in the gut (inflammation), by entirely removing gluten and other possible problematic foods from your diet. This means for most people with a gluten-disorder, especially Celiac Disease, you can't just have a little gluten every once in a while. You have to be very strict about your diet if you want to maintain long-term health and vitality.
How Long Does it Take to Feel Better on a Gluten-Free Diet?
It varies from person to person depending on severity of symptoms, systemic damage in the body, strict adherence to a gluten-free diet protocol, and so forth. Some people see relief of symptoms immediately (within weeks), while for others, it may be a more gradual healing process (months or even years). One study noted that, "A GFD leads to normalization of serum transaminases in 75% to 95% of patients with CD, usually within a year of a good adherence to the diet" (see Hepatology, Vol. 46,No.5,2007). What we have found in our practice is that if you have been suffering for a while and gluten was at the root of your condition, you can expect some near-term relief and benefits being on a gluten-free diet.
We always recommend you allow time for any dietary changes you make, including a gluten-free diet, especially if you have been suffering from chronic symptoms for an extended period of time. We feel 12 months on a gluten-free diet is a realistic milestone for setting a new healthy course and then possibly allowing for another 12-24 months (and in some instances longer) for real "gut repair" to happen i.e., complete mucosal recovery (see Journal ListBMJv.319(7204); 1999 Jul 24). Not only do you need to put out the fire in gut by finding and eliminating the root causes, but you then need to slowly repair damage that may have already occurred. Disclaimer: Individual symptoms and conditions may vary across clients and members and Advesta Health does not claim to predict or provide any specific diagnosis, treatments, cures or benefits from its nutritional or dietary recommendations.
I Have Been on a Gluten-Free Diet But My Lab Tests Come Back Positive?
If you are sensitive to gluten i.e., your immune system reacts to gluten exposure, and symptoms persist even on a gluten-free diet for 6-12 months, the reason for a positive result could include:
- There is some hidden gluten in your diet that you are not aware of (sometimes gluten can be in small amounts in products you would never consider like toothpaste and vitamins).
- You are consuming food(s) that are cross-reactive including rice, corn, quinoa, chocolate, cow’s milk, and more, that mimic gluten.
- You have a cross-reactive virus or bacteria in the gut.
- You have some more complex or systemic gut condition going on (consider testing for leaky gut)
- An unknown cause that should be investigated further with the help of your personal health care physician or other specialist.
Another thing to be aware of is that if you have a sensitivity to gluten and you go on a gluten-free diet, the immune system doesn't just automatically shutoff; it may take a few weeks or more for the immune system to stop producing antibodies. Think of antibodies as an emergency team that gets sent overseas to help in a crisis -- it could take time for the situation to get under control and the team to come back home to resume normal daily lives. If a gluten-sensitive person accidentally gets exposed, the antibodies will live for months in the body, so realistically, if the hidden gluten is not removed from the diet, there could be elevated antibodies for 3-6 months after each exposure. This is why we see that 6 in 10 people who have been on a gluten-free diet for a year or more and then get tested again, come back with elevated antibodies to peptides of gluten. In these cases, we strongly feel that what is going on most of the time, is that somehow gluten is still getting into the diet or there is a cross-reaction to some other food(s) taking place. We suggest that if you are still having challenges on a gluten-free diet, consider all the possibilities we noted above, as well as that there still could be some digestive dysfunction, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, dysbiosis, enzyme deficiency and or other disorder going on that warrants further investigation.
Regarding the lab testing results, one of our preferred labs (Cyrex), has every blood sample analyzed twice and if there is more than a 3% discrepancy between the two analysis, they throw out the sample and do the analysis again. We therefore feel confident (and so should you) that any tests you do through any of our wellness programs, are accurate. We also encourage everyone to test the vitality and responsiveness of the immune system first to ensure that test results can be interpreted correctly.
A cautionary note: If you know you are sensitive to gluten and you've been on gluten-free diet for over 6 months and you do happen to get a positive test back, we never suggest you do a gluten challenge i.e., eat some gluten, in order for the result to demonstrate sensitivity to gluten. See this article by Dr. Tom O'Bryan on the subject Gluten Sensitivity Testing
What Kind of Testing Do You Do For Celiac Disease or NCGS and Why?
We use Vibrant Wellness and Cyrex Labs for a our predictive antibody testing including diagnostics for Celiac Disease, NCGS, Leaky Gut, and Food Sensitivities.
These labs test for the gliadin-transglutaminase complex (outside of research laboratories). This is the best test (gliadin-transglutaminase antibodies IgA or IgA) that defines whether a person is "somewhere" on the spectrum in the development of Celiac Disease (with or without the DQ2 or DQ8 genes). We find the test extremely valuable as a predictive marker of a gluten-related disorder, like a "You Are Here" pointer. We still don't know how far along damage is in the small intestine, but we do know that gluten is a problem and it will cause tissue and possibly other damage if not removed from the diet.
Do I need to Get a Genetic Test For Celiac Disease or Other Gluten-Related Disorders?
Genetic testing alone (presence of DQ2 or DQ8 genes) is not enough for a diagnosis of Celiac Disease or other gluten-related disorders, but it means a higher susceptibility. There is expert evidence showing that in order to develop Celiac Disease, a person must have one or both of two genotypes known as HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8. More than 95% of patients with Celiac Disease have at least one of the two genes. In most reported cases of Celiac Disease, more than 90% carry the DQ2 gene. If you have tested positive to gluten antibodies and you know you have a sensitivity to gluten (NCGS), this is enough to warrant immediate action. You should start and remain on a gluten-free diet, whether or not you decide to do further genetic testing specifically for Celiac Disease.
If you tested negative for either of the genes, your risk is very low of developing Celiac Disease. If you tested positive for either of the genes, it is just a matter of time before loss of oral tolerance opens the gateway to the development of a gluten-related disorder, and therefore if no symptoms are present, we recommend that you be tested periodically (every 3 years ) for elevated antibodies to multiple peptides of gluten. The periodic testing is a preventative measure to monitor if you are starting to see any tissue damage and/or the immune system is developing various antibodies. If a family member has been tested for Celiac Disease and they do have the DQ2 or DQ8 gene, then the whole family should conduct both the one-time genetic test and periodic gluten antibody tests as long as no symptoms are showing up.
Is There Anything I Can Do on My Own If I Can't See a Health Practitioner Right Away AND I Think I May Have a Gluten-Disorder?
If you think you may have a gluten-disorder or plain just have an issue with gluten and other related foods, we recommend you do an "elimination diet" i.e., remove gluten (and dairy since this also seems to be problematic for some gluten sensitive people) from your diet for 30 days. Make sure before you do the diet, you read up on gluten containing foods, including those foods you'd least expect, like salad dressing and toothpaste. Also look at ingredients in your cosmetics, bath products, and vitamin supplements. Keep a food journal during the 30 days, paying attention to how your body feels and monitors your symptoms. Have your symptoms improved or disappeared? Do you feel better in general (more energy, better mood, sleeping better)? Then after 30 days, reintroduce gluten to your diet and see if your body feels better or worse. If you feel better on a gluten-free diet, then your body is providing you a clue; you should remain on the diet and see if you keep improving and feeling healthier. If nothing changes when you add gluten back into your diet, then maybe some other food sensitivity or gut issue is going on and for now, you can rule gluten out as a suspect.
What are Good Resources for Information on Celiac Disease, NCGS and Leaky Gut?
You can find information on all these topics on our website in the Healthy Dialogues section. For detailed scientific papers and articles on these topics and related diseases, go to PubMed, a search engine dedicated to life sciences and biomedical topics from the National Library of Medicine. In the search bar you can type in “gluten” or “celiac” and the name of the condition or symptoms you would like to investigate.
What is Autoimmune Disease?
The alarming fact is that one in five Americans has an autoimmune related disease and collectively they are the number one disease condition in the U.S. In particular The National Institutes of Health (NIH) considers autoimmune disease as a major women’s health issue, affecting more women than heart disease and breast cancer combined (see NIH website). According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), about 75% of autoimmune diseases occur in women and autoimmune disease is a leading cause of death among young and middle-aged women (see AARDA website & Autoimmune Disease in Women).
The common underlying issue and the real challenge with all autoimmune disease is the body’s immune system becomes confused and attacks the very organs and tissues it was designed to protect. Your immune system is a highly intelligent body system whose job it is to keep the body safe from potential harmful "unknowns". If your immune system identifies suspect substances, it will produce antibodies and go on the defensive. What happens with autoimmune conditions is the immune system is unable to distinguish between a potential harmful substance and the "good" parts of the body. Over time, organ and other tissue begins to break down and you begin to lose functionality, which can lead to serious chronic disease.
Surprisingly, autoimmune disease isn’t just one condition. There are more than 80 serious chronic illnesses within the hundreds of diseases that makeup the community of autoimmune disease. The most common of these affecting women are: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Lupus, Type-1 Diabetes, Graves disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Liver disease (biliary cirrhosis, hepatitis). Taken individually, these diseases can be serious, but as a group, the disorders make up the fourth-largest cause of disability among American women (see AARDA website). Although women are at higher risk for an autoimmune disease, millions of American men suffer from these diseases too. Some of these diseases that men are more likely to develop are: Type 1 Diabetes, Psoriasis, Wegener's granulomatosis and Ankylosing spondylitis.
What Causes Autoimmune Disease?
The is a growing consensus that cases of autoimmune disease are increasing at a high rate; some even reported up to a 3-fold increase over the past few decades. Scientists and doctors are still figuring out exactly what causes the body to attack itself and how it occurs, but it is believed that there are three factors that lead to early development of autoimmune disease: 1) genetic vulnerability, 2) environmental triggers (foods you eat especially gluten, toxins, stress, poor sleep, etc.), and 3) intestinal permeability (also known as leaky gut syndrome). Scientists do know that you can’t catch an autoimmune disease like you can the common cold or flu. Research shows that there tends to be more reported cases of autoimmune diseases within families, meaning there is a high genetic tendency (see Journal of Autoimmunity, 38, 2-3). One important factor about autoimmune diseases that is surprising is that they tend to remain inactive in the body until some “trigger” activates them. These triggers include: infections, traumas, bacteria overgrowth (Candida), medications, toxins (from heavy metals and molds), unusually high levels of stress, over exercise, poor sleep, blood sugar imbalances and hormonal changes.
How is Autoimmune Disease Diagnosed?
One of the best ways we know to help determine if you have an autoimmune condition and potentially where on the “spectrum” you are, is through antibody testing of specific body tissues and systems. The presence of an autoantibody by itself does not confirm a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease. Rather, a positive blood test accompanied by appropriate signs and symptoms points to an autoimmune-related condition. We use antibody tests for a few reasons: they help document the existence of foreign agent in tissue, to understand an individual's immune status, to help create a personalized health action plan and to assist with future monitoring of autoimmune conditions.
Despite alarming statistics and the availability of new research data, autoimmune diseases still remain among the most misunderstood by the current health care system. The standard care model does not see these as diseases inherently of the immune system. Because autoimmune diseases are seen as issues of particular organs systems in the body e.g., pancreas, thyroid, gut, blood, brain etc., there isn’t a standardized treatment covering root causes.
Another alarming concern we have, is that often women who suffer from autoimmune diseases are not taken seriously when they first begin to have symptoms and consult their doctors. Unfortunately women are usually shuttled between specialists and forced to take a battery of inconclusive tests before a diagnosis is made. Even if a diagnosis is made, the data is showing that many women are likely to have been misdiagnosed, which means -- their symptoms never go away. All too often, they are prescribed medications that do more harm more often than good, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, or immunosuppressants. While these drugs used selectively can sometimes help people feel better and get their lives back, they are by no means a healthy long-term solution. We think of these drug therapies as a temporary bridge to begin to dampen the fire of inflammation, meanwhile, we are focusing on the more important issue:where the inflammation is coming from.
Is Gluten Related to Autoimmune Disease?
Not surprisingly, non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) or having a reactivity to gluten can be a trigger in over 200 autoimmune disorders. There is a burgeoning amount of new research coming out that is showing that there is a connection between food sensitivities and autoimmune conditions, including studies linking gluten sensitivity to the autoimmune spectrum of diseases. A prominent study noted that, "gluten sensitivity was found to be present in people with multiple types of autoimmune conditions", (see J Clin Gastroenterol, 2010 Jan 15). All of the research is putting a spotlight on the fact that our diet can impact a greater number of health issues where a problem with the immune system is seen as root cause (see Gastroenterology 1999;117:297–303 ). This is why a gluten-free and anti-inflammatory diet is an integral part of all our wellness programs.
What are Typical Autoimmune Diseases?
We don't think there is much very typical about autoimmune disease since the term refers to such a varied group of illnesses that involve almost every part of the body. Autoimmune disease includes gut, nervous, brain, cardiac and endocrine systems, as well as skin and other body tissues such as the eyes, blood vessels and lymph. For more information on this, refer to a list of autoimmune diseases published by the AARDA.
How Do I Know if I Have an Autoimmune Disease?
You can start by taking our You May Have an Autoimmune Disease IF... quiz. This will clue you in to some of the most common symptoms. You can also discuss your current health concerns by signing up for our Wellness Foundations Programs targets for new clients and non-members.
What is the Autoimmune "Spectrum"?
The “spectrum” most often refers to the the range of progression of an autoimmune disease from no symptoms to identifiable pronounced tissue destruction. We see 3 important stages of autoimmune disease development:
- Silent – testing shows that antibodies are present in tissue, but someone doesn’t have any real symptoms.
- Reactivity – a person is starting to notice symptoms, but they’re not severe or clear enough to give a concise diagnosis.
- Autoimmune Disease – the immune system has done enough damage to body tissue that it can now be clearly identified and diagnosed.
We focus on identifying autoimmune disease when we can first detect the presence of antibodies so that hopefully we can prevent future destruction of body tissue and lose of functionality.
Is There a Relationship between the Gut and Autoimmune Disease?
The gut is our largest immune organ therefore it would make perfect sense that a person suffering from autoimmune disease invariably has underlying gut issues. The more severe the autoimmune disease the more severe the gut issues, and vice versa. By calming inflammation in the gut, a person is better able to reduce inflammation throughout the entire body, including autoimmune flare-ups. Because of this, we advise a stricter diet, one that eliminates food sensitivities, processed foods, and known allergens (like gluten and dairy). We also believe it is beneficial for a person living with an immune-related disorder to pay close attention to blood sugar and foods that trigger symptoms or cause flair ups in their immune system. Our primary goals are to calm down the inflammation in gut and other parts of the body and halt the autoimmune cascade.
What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Is It an Autoimmune Disease?
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that causes up to 90% of the cases of hypothyroidism i.e., insufficient thyroid hormone (see Dr. Kharrazian on Hashitomoto's). We have to consider that there is much more of a correlation between low thyroid activity and immune-related issues, which presents the disease in a different light and changes the way we address the problem and the types of treatments best suited for the condition.
Today there are millions of Americans (mostly women) suffering from underactive thyroid symptoms that are misdiagnosed and poorly managed. Unfortunately this finding coincides with that of many autoimmune conditions. Women in particular who have Hashimoto’s are being told there’s nothing that can be done and are falling through the healthcare system gaps. Unfortunately, thyroid replacements that are prescribed like Synthroid, Armour, and Cytomel, may normalize TSH, but they do not manage the autoimmune disease symptoms. Using thyroid hormones to get TSH within normal ranges can be helpful, but it is not the "magic bullet" to successfully manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
What Should I Do if I Think I May Have an Autoimmune Disease?
If you have been suffering with symptoms and suspect you may have an autoimmune disease or are "somewhere on the autoimmune spectrum", the first step is to identify the root cause(s). This could be a food sensitivity like gluten, an infection, a toxin like mold, too much stress in your life, poor or not enough sleep, etc. Then you want to take the steps to eliminate the root cause(s) through dietary, nutritional and lifestyle changes.
Identifying which autoimmune disease is affecting you can be a difficult process. Because autoimmune disease can affect so many parts of the body and symptoms can often be vague, have a tendency to flare up and then go dormant, and sometimes be hard to accurately describe, we suggest working with a health practitioner that understands the inherent challenges. We do a thorough panel of tests and build out of a comprehensive health profile with each new client and member so that we can better understand how their symptoms relate to the root cause of a condition and ultimately, to ways of gaining back health and vitality.
What is Our Approach to Treating Autoimmune Disease?
Our approach to a new client or member who has a known or suspected autoimmune disease incorporates our standard "5 Elements of Healing" model with specific nutritional protocols and lifestyle modifications that help to address inflammatory root causes and chronic conditions. Our first job is always to address the fire of inflammation in the body. Once we do that, we begin to "peel away at the layers of the onion" (using a good analogy), and begin to work on deeper healing of damaged organs and tissues. We know that you don't go from healthy to an autoimmune disease overnight, therefore time and patience are two powerful healing ingredients necessary in reversing chronic health conditions like autoimmune disease.
Here's our typical process:
- Review current health concerns and history
- Take preliminary tests that include: inflammatory markers, organic acids and metabolism, gluten sensitivity, blood workup, infection, endocrine health, glucose and vitamins and minerals
- Identify and eliminate root cause(s)
- Introduce a gluten-free and anti-inflammatory diet and step-by-step transition plan
- Balance blood sugar
- Recommend appropriate supplements and nutritional therapies
- Put in place a plan of action for lifestyle modifications such as: reducing stress, adding daily movement, ensuring at least 8 hours of sleep each night, and cultivating the right healthy attitude
After a minimum of 90 days, we evaluate your symptoms and how your body feels. If your symptoms have partially or not improved at all, we go a deeper into "hidden" areas like cross-reactive foods, systemic gut issues like leaky gut, toxins like mercury and mycotoxins, infections like yeast, viruses, bacteria, etc. We do more extensive antibody and metabolic testing to help us discover deeper underlying issues in the body.
We know from personal experience that having an autoimmune condition can be overwhelming, at times seem to be about juggling contradictory information and even lead to feelings of self-doubt, isolation and shame. We also know that we can provide options and solutions that the standard health care model doesn't even consider when working with autoimmune disease. Our mission is to help you begin to feeling better, gain more confidence in your own health journey and start to create and live the healthy and vibrant life you deserve.
What are Natural Ways to Support Autoimmune Disease?
Thankfully, there are natural approaches to reducing systemic inflammation and reversing the cascade of autoimmune disease. Some of our recommendations include:
- Maintaining a gluten-free and anti-inflammatory diet
- Balancing your blood sugar
- Reducing stress (probably #1 in our books)
- Including some kind of variable movement throughout the day
- Getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night (and up to 9 for serious symptoms of exhaustion)
- Instilling the right attitude of appreciation, self-respect and mindfulness
There are also supplements for nutritional support that are effective, especially in supporting the immune system and systemic inflammation:
- Vitamin D through sunshine or supplement and Vitamin C
- Fish oil
- Cannabanoids (new research is coming out on this topic)
- Curcumin (PubMed "Curcumin")
- Resveratrol (PubMed "Resveratrol")
We always recommend you consult with a health practitioner before starting on any supplementation regimen.
What is The Human Genome?
The human genome is our complete set of DNA, including all of its genes and other materials. It holds all of the information needed to build and maintain the human body and contains more than 3 billion DNA base pairs. We think of the human genome as the ocean of all the DNA and proteins that is in constant contact with and being reshaped by our environment.
Factors that influence the genome:
- Diet & Nutrition
- Toxins and Drugs
- Stress (mental & emotional)
What Is Epigenetics?
Epigenetics is really the science of change i.e., how our genes function and how their behavior can be modified by the environment. In any change process, you have the "agent of change" i.e., that which causes the change, and the outcome i.e., the transformation. Where our genes are concerned, some usual change agents are: nutrients, toxins like heavy metals, pesticides and pollutants, hormones, viruses, bacteria, and some medical procedures like radiation. The current thought among experts is that there are a wide variety of illnesses, behaviors, and other health indicators linked with epigenetic transformations (or mechanisms), including: cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive and neural dysfunction, autoimmune and reproductive conditions.
In our analogy where the genome is an ocean of all our DNA, epigenetics is the pebble that gets thrown in and the ripples that ensue. For the most part, we live in a self-created environment intricately linked with our genes, that can proactively create molecular change and impact the way DNA is expressed i.e., basically affecting each cell of the body and overall biological functions.
How are Genes and Epigeneics Connected to Health and Disease?
"Once thought to be the domain of genes, the control of health and behavior is now dynamically linked to the environment, and more importantly, our perception of the environment." (Deepak Chopra & Rudy Tanzi authors of Super Genes).
Previous scientific thinking was that your genes were static and they set in stone your future health and wellness. With the advent of new genetics research, our thinking has changed on this subject. You are still born with a genome inherited from your parents, but instead of defining who you are biologically for the rest of your life, your genes are dynamic and constantly interacting with everything you do in your life. Genes are now seen as one of life's biggest change-agents, playing a big role in disease management, immune function, diet and nutrition, mental health and the aging process.
There is also good news concerning health risks due to the presence of disease-related genes. We now know that the odds are in our favor when it comes to our genes and acquiring a serious disease. Only 5% of disease-related gene mutations determine if we'll manifest the disease, while the rest of the 95% can be influenced by diet, lifestyle and the environment. This frees up our energies to focus on real healing and personal transformation instead of on risk factors, pathology, worry and fear. The real important questions still being answered are: how significant are gene mutations and are future generations more susceptible than ever to what happens now i.e., what we do, think, feel, the stress we have, how polluted our environment is, etc.?
What is Your Approach to Genetics?
We strongly believe that it is within our own power to create healthy and vital lives. We are all "conscious" agents of change that can attract health and wellness into our lives and we place a tremendous amount of value on the fact that it's our perception of life that matters. While we are strong proponents of genetic testing to "fill in the blanks" on understanding a person's health condition, all our wellness programs are built upon a foundation of changes in diet, lifestyle and environment that correlates directly to positive feedback to our genes. Genetics testing is a very powerful tool and just one of many we have in our healthy toolkit. As much as possible, we want to be on the “front-end” (prevention) of chronic disease – not the "back-end" (diagnosis). We want to focus on the fact that we now have the genetic blueprints for understanding many diseases (thanks to the Human Genome Project) and to help our clients and members realize new opportunities for prevention, managing disease and living empowered healthy lives.
What Type of Genetic Testing Do You Do?
We are not in the habit (something we educate our clients and members on) of expecting that understanding disease is as easy as getting some test results back and matching that to the perfect protocol solely based on that information. With genetic testing, we want to try to identify the function of particular genes and what impacts things like diet, lifestyle, stress and many aspects within our control, have on them.
Here are some situations where we find genetic testing to be helpful:
- In cases of Celiac Disease or NCGS where one family member has tested positive. We strongly recommend the genetic testing to further confirm the condition. The testing is also important for other family members in determining preventative diet and lifestyle measures.
- When typical diet and lifestyle protocols in our wellness programs do not reduce symptoms or create more ease in a person's condition. This we suspect could be do to more systemic and complex underlying conditions. There are some organs that warrant more attention when it comes to genetic mutation (methylation) e.g., the liver (85% of our methylation reactions occur here). So we may look at GMAT and PEMT (speech impediment in children and muscle tone; cell membrane health). Also the MTHFR gene mutation is discussed as being linked to cancer, autism, addictions, fibromyalgia, miscarriages, schizophrenia, and severe depression (see over 4000 research articles on MTHFR mutations).
We do recommend 23andMe as resource for easily accessible saliva DNA genetic testing for understanding your ancestral details and genome. You can also get a simple MTHFR test for under $200 from SpectraCell. There are several options for running the raw data you get back from 23andMe and getting a summary report. Remember, you are likely receiving a lengthy report with hundreds of genes and it can be a daunting and confusing task to understand everything that is going on. We are in agreement with some experts in this field that there are a small handful of genes that are really clinically significant across a broad sample of personal health conditions being faced today.