Energy & Performance

Leaky Gut


Leaky gut is a condition where the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract has been
compromised or damaged. In medical terminology this is described as increased intestinal permeability. This decreased barrier function has been linked to a number of autoimmune conditions such as MS, Celiac and Hashimoto’s, as well as asthma, eczema, allergies and the autism spectrum disorders. Leaky gut can be traced back to the use of immunizations, antibiotics and the
ever-changing environment of our resident gut bacteria – growing increasingly deficient in beneficial flora.

Common Causes of Leaky Gut

✓ born Caesarian
✓ born vaginally to mother with low beneficial vaginal bacteria
✓ immunizations prior to the repopulation of bacteria
✓ frequent antibiotics
✓ poor diet
✓ excessive grain consumption
✓ gluten consumption
✓ NSAIDs(aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen)
✓ birth control pills
✓ steroid drugs
✓ chemotherapeutic drugs
✓ antacids
✓ excessive stress or trauma
✓ genetics

 

Note: autoimmune conditions do not cause leaky gut; it is likely the other way
around; with leaky gut being a trigger for the expression of autoimmunity.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut

✓ ADD / ADHD
✓ arthritis
✓ asthma
✓ autism-spectrum disorders
✓ autoimmune conditions
✓ chronic fatigue syndrome
✓ eczema
✓ failure to thrive
✓ food allergies and intolerances
✓ inflammatory bowel diseases
✓ irritable bowel syndrome
✓ joint and collagen problems
✓ faulty liver function
✓ malnutrition
✓ multiple chemical sensitivities
✓ skin disorders, including acne
✓ mental health challenges including depression and anxiety

Note: All health begins in the gut!

 

 

Lifestyle Treatment for Leaky Gut:

✓ chew food well
✓ try to avoid eating when anxious or rushed; eat in relaxing or pleasant environment
✓ avoid antacids of all sorts
✓ avoid antibiotics whenever possible (explore options carefully and remember to weigh the cost/risk benefits)
✓ stress management/reduction techniques


Food Treatment for Leaky Gut:

✓ avoid high inflammatory foods – sugar, gluten, dairy
✓ remove food sensitivities particular to that individual (IgG testing or elimination diet)
✓ incorporate fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, coconutyogurt and kefir
✓ incorporate fresh ground flax
✓ add bone broth, collagen or gelatin

Supplemental Treatment to Consider for Leaky Gut:

✓ probiotics
✓ aloe vera juice (2-4oz) or aloe vera extract
L-glutamine
digestive enzymes
✓ work to identify and replace micronutrient deficiencies
✓ vitamins A and D or FCLO (fermented cod liver oil)
✓ glutathione (can be taken in the form of organic non-denatured grass-fed whey, if tolerated)
berberine
✓ ginger

Functional Testing when Leaky Gut is Suspected:

✓ If allergies are suspected, have a full IgE panel run to rule those foods and environmental substances out
✓ IgG food sensitivity testing
✓ Comprehensive Stool Test including Secretory IgA level
✓ Organic Acids Test for yeast, metabolic and overgrowth concerns
✓ Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) hydrogen breath test

*NOTE: There is a direct test for Leaky Gut through Cyrex labs called Array 2 Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen. Though this test is pretty cool we rarely recommend it because it is assumed in most cases listed above.

If you suspect that leaky gut is behind some of your health issues, highly consider getting a 2-part consultation with our Functional Nutritionist. 

Functional Medicine for Optimal Athletic Performance- Alternative Holistic Medicine Keller TX

Functional Medicine has shown huge promise in our world of chronic disease and numerous inflammatory disease processes.  Most people think of anything with the name "medicine" in it is for "sick" people. However, Functional Medicine is best incorporated into a life well before any symptoms are present by addressing any underlying abnormalities that will prevent the body from functioning optimally. Anything that makes the body stronger and less prone to disease and inflammation will give athletes an advantage in injury prevention and recovery time. How I wish I would have stumbled onto a Functional Medicine provider when I was a young athlete before I slowly destroyed my body without even knowing it! 

What Causes A Body To Break Down?

After an intense workout the body is fighting to build and recover. The goal in training is to get stronger, faster, bigger or more skilled. Therefore being able to practice long hours and recover and do it better the next time is critical to any athlete. There is a delicate balance of catabolic (breaking down) and anabolic (building up) processes that should be occurring in all bodies during and after workouts. These processes are dependent on healthy hormones and healthy nutrient levels inside the body. If the balance of the body is too catabolic then muscle breakdown will not fully recover and sarcopenia (muscle loss) will start to set in. Sarcopenia is part of the normal aging process as we get older but this should not be thought of as normal for any young and active human being. Muscle loss should only be occurring in those who are sedentary or malnourished or have some sort of wasting disease.

Of course, this blog is not intended to address poor form or poor workout routines as the cause of anatomical issues but that is an important topic as well.  When it comes to troubleshooting form, I highly recommend visiting www.mobilitywod.com and search for someone in your area who can work with you on a deeper level. 

Common Causes of Athletic Decline

The most common causes of athletic decline are malnutrition, toxic burden, and hormonal imbalances. The potential root cause of each of these is numerous. The downstream health of your mitochondria will be affected and mitochondria fuel almost every anabolic process in the body. Chronic stress is also a common driver in these processes and will be discussed in further detail.

Malnutrition

Malnutrition is not typically from under-eating in the athlete but more of a lack of nutrient density. Even in the professional baseball world our diet was horrendous. Genetics, hard work and raw talent can only take someone so far. A diet full of nutrient-robbing processed foods is a sure way to lead the body down a path of catabolic breakdown.  Another cause of malnutrition is digestive disturbance. In other words, the intake of nutrients may be fine but the body's ability to breakdown and assimilate them into the blood stream and use them for repair and building purposes has been hindered. This can come in the form of stress induced low stomach acid that lead to poor digestive enzyme production and therefore poor breakdown of foods. Another cause could be a digestive pathogen. Bacterial infections such as H.Pylori are very common. Parasitic infections like Blastocystis Hominis are also very common and will rob the body of nutrients. Candida (yeast) overgrowth  or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) are a couple other causes of malnutrition in the athlete. 

The scary part about digestive pathogens is that they are often times asymptomatic. Actually up to 50% of people with a bug invading their gastrointestinal tract have ZERO digestive symptoms to alert them of a problem. You don't have to travel to Mexico to get a parasite. These can be caught right in the comforts of the United States of America and start wreaking havoc on your body without you even knowing it. Find a Functional Medicine provider who will do a comprehensive stool test that will identify problematic pathogens or other compromised areas of your digestive tract and have them run an Organic Acid test to see if you have developed any significant nutrient deficiencies. The hub of your immune system lives in your GI tract. Don't think that just because you don't have any pain or diarrhea that everything is 100%. 

Toxic Burden

Here is a topic that is only growing by the day. We live in a different world than even our parents and grandparents did. This is sometimes good and sometimes bad. We can get expert advice with a few clicks of the mouse but from that same screen we can disrupt our circadian rhythms with the blue light emitted from our screens that leads to a cascade of hormonal imbalances. This is just an example. Wifi on the other hand does have some significant concerns being raised as we live in its crosshairs all day everyday unless we intentionally remove ourselves from it. Time will tell how harmful this continuous exposure will be to our bodies. Do yourself a favor and considering shutting down the wifi in the house at night or at least turning all cell phones to airplane mode or keeping them away from your head. 

Do you know that the toxin exposure kids are growing up in grows by the day? For decades the CDC's stance was that low level exposures were no big deal because the body could get rid of them. Science has caught up with this presumed false notion and proven that low chronic exposures can be even more harmful than large acute exposures! These toxins can disrupt almost any normal functioning pathway in the body and many of them are proven neuro-toxins slowly poisoning our brain!  They can trigger autoimmune diseases and lead to cancer by promoting oxidative stress and free radicals that the body can't keep up with. An Organic Acid test from Genova diagnostics is one of the most helpful tests available to see how well your body is handling everything it is being exposed to. 

Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal imbalances are not only occurring in middle aged men and women. When the body is under too much stress and not getting enough recovery/rest hormones will suffer.  This is the all too common case of a young gymnast who is pushing her body too hard and does not start having menstrual cycles at the normal age.  The physical and possibly emotional stress is disrupting a delicate feedback mechanism in the body and brain that tells the rest of the endocrine organs how much hormone to produce. In women it often leads to an underproduction of sex hormones and a relative estrogen dominance leading to symptoms related to abnormal cycles such as fatigue, monthly migraines, PMS, and mood swings. Men typically will start to have lower levels of testosterone and get irritable and crabby. It will also put men and women at risk for estrogen driven cancers due to the relative estrogen dominance because of how the progesterone tends to get depleted faster than the estrogen does. 

Though physical stress is a common cause of the mechanism, it can also occur solely from mental and emotional stress. A gut check for parents here. Are you putting unnecessary pressure on your kids to succeed in their sports? From a biblical worldview, do your kids know that sports and athletics are a gift from God and they are meant to be enjoyed and used to honor and glorify Him? I won't belabor this point but even for those without kids, keeping your priorities and mindset about your sport in a good place is critical for your hormonal and neurological health. Motivation and drive is a good thing but motivate yourself or your kids with the correct perspective. We need to foster a healthy relationship with sports/athletics to provide good long term health. 

Chronic stress (in whatever form) will also drive the body to be more catabolic. Catabolic = breaking down. It can create a cascade of inflammation in the body and brain followed by a release of neurotransmitters to help calm the inflammation. The neurotransmitters can then get depleted and cause depression, anxiety, trouble focusing, ADD/ADHD, and sleep disturbances. The Organic Acid test mentioned above will also look for this process starting to occur and it is all too common in the athletic world.  And the Adrenal Stress Profile can help identify this process occurring as well by showing a poor catabolic stress response. 

Are Your Energy-Producers Sick?

When it comes to energy production in the body, the health of your mitochondria is among the most important thing. But how do you know if your mitochondria are healthy? What is a mitochondria anyway? And what would cause it not to be healthy? If it is unhealthy, how do I help it become healthy again? These would be great foundational questions in response to a blog about Mitochondrial Dysfunction but there are bigger things at stake than energy production alone. Mitochondrial dysfunction is a key player in almost every potential disease process. If its not the cause it is at the very least an area in which gives a great place to support healing while continuing to look for the root cause.

What is a Mitochondria?

Mitochondria is actually the plural word for mitochondrion. A mitochondrion is an organelle that is found in nearly every cell in the human body and is responsible for ATP production. ATP = Adenosine Triphosphate = the energy source that fuels almost everything that pertains to life inside our bodies. They have been described as the "powerhouse of the cell" and the "mighty mitochondria" as some of you may remember from elementary school drawing pictures of cells with muscles. They are actually pretty cool looking organelles if you do a few google searches. Mitochondria are highly condensed in certain parts of the body that have high demand for energy production like the brain, lungs, heart, muscle, liver, nerves and retina to name a few.

How Do They Make Energy?

Mitochondria produce energy in a very productive and efficient manner in what is called the Krebs or Citric Acid Cycle. It is an amazing process that is dependent on many nutrients and cofactors to function optimally.  When it is functioning like it was created to, it is a beautiful thing but when the mitochondria get sick, bad things happen.

What Could Cause Sick Mitochondria?

An obvious cause from the picture above is a lack of essential nutrients for the cycle to run optimally. In other words, poor gut function (dysbiosis, intestinal permeability, SIBO, parasites, bacteria, viruses, yeast overgrowth, pancreatic exocrine insufficiency) or poor dietary intake. So we could be starving our mitochondria by just not eating enough nutrient dense foods. Heavy metals are another cause and I've seen elevation in heavy metals in the blood more frequently than not. This goes back to allostatic load and the false medical notion that small amounts of toxins are no worries even if they are chronic like mercury amalgams (i.e. silver fillings), aluminum from vaccines, or even lead from pipes and old paint. If our detox pathways are already hindered from whatever reason, then our allostatic load easily overflows leading to poisoned mitochondria and poor ATP (energy) production.  Certain medications have been designated as "MitoToxic!"  Check out this partial list of common prescription medications that can poison your mitochondria.

  • antidepressants
  • anxiety medications
  • cholesterol medications
  • anti-inflammatories (aspirin, NSAIDS, tylenol...)
  • Certain antibiotic classes
  • amiodarone
  • steroids
  • cancer medications ( doxorubicine, cis-platinum, tamoxifen)
  • beta blockers (blood pressure medication)
  • metformin

What Happens When Mitochondria Get Sick?

Energy production obviously goes down so fatigue can be an early indicator of poor mitochondrial function. However the snowball effect from sick mitochondia is significant. All of your body systems and processes that occur every second are dependent on ATP. If there is a decrease in production our immune system takes a dive as does the health of our cardiovascular and nervous system. There really isn't a place this doesn't affect your body. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in some pretty significant disease processes like multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, heart disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington, ALS, blindness, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren's, Lupus, Diabetes and Autism. Again, this is a partial list. Focusing on mitochondrial restoration is even at the heart of some of the newest cutting edge cancer therapies focusing on ketogenic diets and intermittent fasting and nutraceutical support.

How Do I Know if My Mitochondria Are Sick?

Testing is a great way. If you are experiencing any of the disease processes above or just struggling with energy, focus, or any weird neurological issues, get tested. The test we use in clinical practice is a Comprehensive Organic Acids profile by Genova. Other labs do this test too but Genova has been consistently accurate and reliable. It shows much more than mitochondrial health but it is a great place to start to see if this may be an underlying issue for you. Most functional medicine providers will be pretty well versed in how to interpret these tests and what to do with the results. Here is an example of mitochondrial dysfunction proven in a young patient with early breast cancer.

Several significant markers for Mitochondrial "Energy Production" issues

Several significant markers for Mitochondrial "Energy Production" issues

How to Support Mitochondrial Health and ATP Production

If you have found this on a test you will want to work hand in hand with your functional medicine practitioner to discover all of the ways to bring your mitochondrial health back up to par. It may be removing toxins, killing pathogens, supporting HPA health, dietary changes, sleep habits or all of the above.  In every mitochondrial support process it is wise to have a heavy hitting mitochondrial cocktail of nutrients that support the entire Kreb's cycle. One of the best products I have found is made by Orthomolecular Products called MitoCore. The clinical trial behind MitoCore's formulation is pretty phenomenal and showed that high doses of some key nutrients could improve CD4 counts in immune-suppressed HIV patients in as few as 6 weeks. Please email me if you'd like a link to that information. Very interesting.  A potent supplement like MitoCore is a great addition to any mitochondrial dysfunction.

Can You Supplement Without Labs Showing Mitochondrial Issues?

Most of the time, yes. A few caveats are that these supplements combined have never been studied in pregnant or nursing mothers or kids as expected.  Therefore they should be avoided in those cases. Otherwise, a month trial of a mitochondrial support product like MitoCore is a low risk option to see if energy is improved. It may point to a deeper cause and you really should get with a trusted functional medicine practitioner and get some testing done alongside your General Practitioner screenings. We carry MitoCore on our online store if you are interested in trying it out. Shipping should be free. Use the registration code SLW817-01 and give MitoCore a couple months to see how your body responds. Start with the recommended dose. Some people with significant mitochondrial dysfunction do end up taking twice the recommended dose. Email me with any questions about dosing.

Links: 

  1. SLW Online Store (registration code SLW817-01
  2. Video Series on Dr Kaiser's clinical trial with HIV patients

 

 

Why our culture desperately needs Functional Medicine?

 

I guess before this blog can really be written, an initial question must be asked and answered: What is Functional Medicine? Here is a quote from the Institute for Functional Medicine who is one of the leading organizations training practitioners in this model of medicine:

“Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century.”

The keywords in these short two sentences are “underlying cause” and “systems-oriented approach.” It is a model built on the idea that the body is designed to function together in systems and if one system loses it integrity then a cascade of systems can suffer thereafter. This is why functional medicine practitioners like the one I train under, Dr Kalish, says that symptoms are distractions at best.  By the time a symptom surfaces it could be 2 or 3 body systems down the line from the original body system that was compromised. Hence the need for high quality and reliable lab testing. See image below for a snapshot at how complicated finding a root cause may be.

 

To summarize - functional medicine uses functional lab testing to seek out the root causes of health issues. Now we can move on to the title of the blog: Why our Culture Desperately needs Functional Medicine?

Treating symptoms is not in and of itself a bad thing. A cough is keeping you up all night compromising your immune system even further. A cough medication may be beneficial short term to help get some sleep and get your immune system back up. However other times, treating a symptom can have significant health consequences down the road. An easy example of this is the conventional approach to heartburn. Even though studies have shown that 8-9 out of 10 people who experience heartburn are actually lacking in stomach acid, we are taught to give all 10 people a medication that will further deplete their stomach acid. This may very well help the symptoms but in no way does it hardly ever treat the cause. And the majority of the time the person goes on thinking everything is ok but now they can’t properly break down proteins or absorb vital nutrients like B12, iron and minerals without adequate stomach acid.  Therefore getting to the root cause and eradicating or correcting it often leads to better function and lasting health.

Our conventional approach to headaches is similar. We’ve just been conditioned to pop a Tylenol or Advil with a headache and minimize the symptoms. This may not be a big issue is you only get a headache once a year but for those that get headaches frequently, this is covering a much deeper problem. Frequent headaches are NEVER normal even if you have a family history of migraines and you have been told you inherited them. Allergies and autoimmune diseases fall into a similar category. An imbalanced immune system can over-react to the environment or even self.  Of course again there is often a genetic component but again this is never normal and never should be just medicated to cover up the symptoms. The immune system needs support and balance. And often there needs to be deeper investigation into what may have triggered the immune system imbalance. Is there an underlying leaky gut caused by adrenal dysfunction that has led to immune compromise that needs to be healed? If so, then healing this underlying cause may very well take care of the symptoms instead of just covering them up.

Our culture is growing more busy and less rested every year. New technology. More ways to be connected. We work more and sleep less. We buy things we can’t afford and then have to work more to pay for them. Our relationships grow shallower with the delusion that we have more friends thanks to social media explosion and notifications interrupting almost every conversation.  Kids are developing sleep disturbances due to phones living in their beds with them. And if that’s not bad enough, we eat convenience fast food that has nearly zero nutritional value because we don’t have time to prepare real food. Therefore our bodies are starving for the essential nutrients they need to function properly. And then we wonder why we feel terrible, have no energy, can’t lose weight and have digestive issues. We are almost all chronically inflamed on the inside. And remember that Americans die of diseases like heart disease, cancers, strokes, diabetes that have their root in inflammation!

This is no surprise to anyone with their eyes open but still worth pondering and wondering what in the world can fix something this broken.  Do we need more medications to be developed? Maybe but is that going to really fix anything? Are we deficient in anti-depressants or TUMs? Of course not but again we’ve trained ourselves to want a quick fix but often the quick fix really doesn’t fix things well or for very long. Hence the deep seeded need for Functional Medicine in our culture. Things have to change at the root. Families have to learn the importance of communal eating - joining around the dinner table again (without twitter and facebook) and enjoying a real food nutrient dense meal. We have to re-learn how to simplify life, get good sleep and have fun. And often we need a practitioner who can help us identify these things and then test and correct the imbalances our life choices have developed over years of abuse. Sometimes these types of practitioners can be hard to find but can be found if you know where to look. The Institute for Functional Medicine has a directory of any practitioners being trained under this model. The Kalish Institute (where I am being trained) also has a directory. And sometimes old-fashioned asking around may be all you need to find someone who thinks this way.

 

A final caveat is that functional medicine does not replace the need for a strong conventional family doctor, specialists or the possible need for surgical interventions.  It just means that the conventional medical model is not based on looking for root causes, it's based on diagnosing and then treating (usually with a pharmaceutical product). Lifestyle nor nutrition is emphasized in the medical training that the majority of medical doctors or mid-level providers receive. If you have a doctor/provider who talks to you about removing gluten,sugar and processed foods from your diet, you’ve stumbled onto a rare jewel! Don’t let them go. Use functional medicine as a tool to dig deeper if you still don’t feel great despite your labs and check-ups saying you should. There is likely an underlying cause that just hasn’t been uncovered yet.