Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gluten and Your Brain

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturapth

Gluten sensitivity is most often thought of as a gut problem but for those that are gluten sensitive this is an even bigger brain and autonomic nervous system issue. As we learn more and more about gluten sensitivity it is becoming apparent that gluten destroys brain and nervous system tissue more than any other tissue in the body and this even includes the tissue in your gut. So if you feel as if your brain is not functioning at a high level recognize that a sensitivity to gluten can be causing an immune assault on your brain which will lead to brain inflammation and increase the risk for an autoimmune attack on your brain tissue.

So if any of these factors resonate with you as listed below, be sure to read through this entire article. I'll also add that approximately 86% of those with a gluten sensitivity are actually asymptomatic, so you may want to learn more about this regardless. Toward the end of this article I have also provided you with a link to a complimentary gluten assessment.
  • Does consuming grains make you tired
  • Does consuming grains make it difficult to focus and concentrate
  • Does consuming grains make you bloated
  • Do you feel better when you avoid bread and grains
  • Do you react to grain products

Before we go further let's take a quick look at gluten. Often clients will ask me, "what's the big deal with gluten all of a sudden?" While gluten has been a slight issue for thousands of years, the problem has grown tremendously in our more recent history. Recognize that gluten is not what it used to be. While gluten would not be considered "genetically modified" it has definitely been altered based on the fact that this is not hybridized and deamidated. When a food is genetically modified genes are either inserted or deleted but during hybridization an new protein is created by combining different strains of wheat. This can actually alter the protein sequence by as much as five percent which will create a  very different product than the original source The process of hybridization has created a "new wheat" which has been shown to trigger immune reactions which specifically affect the brain and nervous system.

Deamidation is the other issue to address. This practice is used extensively in the food processing industry and yet another way in which gluten has become a further immune reactive food source. Deamidation uses acids or enzymes to make gluten water soluble when it is normally only soluble in alcohol. The reasoning behind this process is to make gluten easier to mix with other foods. While this will of course make wheat easier to use this has also shown to create a severe immune response in people.

While some may look at hybridization and deamidation as progress, this is actually a significant digression for people and a definite challenge for brain function.

While this information has been know for some time, I would share that the average neurologist has no idea that gluten sensitivity can create a neurological disease state. Scary but true!

Let's look a bit further into why gluten is so harmful to the brain and nervous system. Studies have found that gluten sensitivity is associated with disorders in every major part of your nervous system including the brain, spinal cord and the nerves that extend into the arms and feet. Gluten sensitivity has been shown to be at the core these neurological disorders below.
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Movement disorders
  • Sensory ganglionapathy
  • Ataxia
  • Neuroolgical impairment
  • Neuromyelitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuropathy
  • Myoclonus
  • Apraxia
  • Myopathy
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Multiple systems atrophy
  • Cerebellar disease
  • Migraines
  • Hearing loss
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dementia
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Disorders in virtually every part of the nervous system
There are three main mechanisms that are creating these issue between gluten and your brain/nervous system.
  1. The first is tied into a cross reactivity where your immune system can mistaken one protein for another. The protein structure of gluten is similar to the protein structures of your nervous system so when your body is gluten sensitive and is producing antibodies to tag gluten for destruction, your body may "accidentally" produce antibodies to the nervous system tissue every time you eat gluten. If this is the case, you may be creating an autoimmune attack against your brain and nervous system.
  2. Another significant mechanism is the immune response against transglutaminase which are enzymes that help bind proteins together in the process of digesting wheat. Gluten can trigger reactivity to different forms of transglutaminase thus leading to autoimmune responses in the brain as well as other areas of the body.
  3. The other mechanism is tied into the fact that gluten can break down your blood/brain barrier. The this lining  protects the brain from exposure to pathogens and toxins in your body. Without this protection we increase the risk of autoimmune reactions in the brain and nervous system.
So please understand that there is no single dietary protein that poses a greater risk to your brain than wheat gluten and/or gluten in general. If you do have a gluten sensitivity or a full blown autoimmune reaction to gluten referred to as Celiac disease it is essential that gluten is eliminated for you diet completely. I know this may sound a bit harsh, but isn't your health and happiness worth it?

For those the question if gluten is an issue personally, feel free to visit this link to take a complimentary gluten sensitivity assessment. If you find yourself to be somewhat likely or very likely to be sensitive to gluten, I would suggest giving up this dangerous food source.

If you would rather test this to be sure, there is only one test that I would recommend which is an Array #3 from Cyrex Labs. This is the most comprehensive testing for gluten sensitivity available today. Do not trust saliva testing for gluten or even blood testing for Celiac disease because neither of these look at the whole picture and one of the worst scenarios is to receive a false negative for gluten sensitivity. As an example I had one client use the Array #3 and while 23 of the 24 different components of gluten actually tested out negative, the 1 out of 24 actually showed an extreme reaction. This reaction was so strong that this had already shown to create brain autoimmunity. This definitely is not something that you want to miss.

If you have any questions or comments in regard to this article, please post this below for us to respond to personally. If you would like to complete the Array #3 to test for gluten sensitivity, feel free to call Depke Wellness at (949)954-6226.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Who has a brain disorder?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

Brain disorders are definitely on the rise. It is now recognized that 1 in 8 senior citizens will develop Alzheimer's but this is not just and aging issue because 1 in 8 children are also diagnosed with brain development disorders such as autism, ADD and ADHD. Estimates share that people living with incidents of dementia have been estimated to be as high as 24 million people with the number predicted to double every 20 years until at least 2040.

Add to this that anxiety disorders, obsessive/compulsive disorders, learning disabilities and depression are extremely common these days. On top of this, sleep disorders, poor mental clarity mild depression and moodiness are actually very common.

With all this said, it is no surprise the antidepressants are the most prescribed drugs in the United States. Brain disorders have now become what we would consider commonplace.

Since I witnessed both my mother and grandmother deteriorate with severe dementia before their deaths, I can share that you want to do everything you can to prevent this and other brain disorders.

Over the next few newsletters, we are going to discuss some of the common factors leading to brain disorders. Pay close attention to those areas where you think, "that sounds like me."

Did you know that the extreme mood swings associated with premenstrual syndrome, perimenopause and menopause are most often hormone driven brain imbalances and brain inflammation? Unfortunately in our culture most women are taught that this is actually normal, when it is anything but normal.

OK guys, before you start thinking "whew, I don't have to worry about that" your not out of the woods. This is the same for men as they drop into andropause, also referred to as male menopause. When a man's hormone function is in disarray this can lead a lack of motivation, weight gain, the typically "grumpy old man" syndrome or what has been come to be known as the "mid-life crisis."

Both menopause and andropause create and environment for early brain degeneration that is most often preceeded by a poor functioning brain. And round and round we go...

Another hormonal area to understand in regard to brain function is the thyroid. Did you know that an estimated 27 million Americans are living with thyroid dysfunction and that this can profoundly impact brain health? This combination can lead to brain fog, depression, anxiety and other brain based challenges. This can often accelerate brain degeneration and even coexist with brain autoimmunity.

With this understanding of hormone driven brain chemistry imbalances, it is always important to get to the bottom of the hormone imbalances. Most hormone imbalances originate as adrenal insufficiency.

Over my career we have reviewed approximately 4,500 adrenal test kits and have only seen 5 come back normal. Yes, ONLY 5!

In fairness, at Depke Wellness, we work with health challenged individuals but this tells us that if you have a health issue, there is only about 1/10 of one percent chance that you have healthy adrenal function. Based on what we have discussed earlier in this article in regard to brain function, menopause, andropause and thyroid dysfunction, take a guess at what affects all of these areas.

If you guessed adrenal function, you are right on!

While your adrenal function plays a role in so many areas of your body, this will directly affect thyroid function, ovary function, inflammatory states and neural connectivity. So when we are looking hormone drive brain based disorders, it is essential to understand your personal adrenal function.

Based on years of this focus here at Depke Wellness we always recommend adrenal saliva testing so you can understand adrenal function throughout the day. We would look at cortisol production at four times during the day, a total cortisol and a DHEA average but that's not all. We also look at estradiol, estriol, progesterone, testosterone and melatonin. This provides us the necessary information to make recommendations to assist your body in balancing adrenal function. With proper adrenal function, you can begin to enjoy further balance with the thyroid, ovaries, inflammatory states and brain function.

While adrenal function may not be the "end all" for your brain disorder, it is the most significant starting point for hormone related brain disorders. So call our office today at (949)954-6226 and request a #205 adrenal saliva test kit and move forward with your goals of health and happiness. 

If you have any comments or questions, please post these below for us to address personally.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Why are your hormones crazy?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

As you are most likely already aware of, hormone balance is a significant focus of Depke Wellness. We have reviewed over 4,500 adrenal test kits in our history and out of these 4,500 health challenged individuals, we have seen only 5 tests return with normal adrenal function. Yes I said ONLY 5! Recognize that this is about 1/10 of 1%. So in essence, if you have a health issue, you most likely have an adrenal issue.

Now while we have assisted thousands in regaining their adrenal balance and reset their HPA axis there can at times be some "hiccups" with a small percentage of clients. Understand that about 90 to 95% of our client base responds very well to the adrenal protocols that are recommended at Depke Wellness, there is still about 5 to 10% that will have some challenges.

Some clients simply feel as if their hormones are truly going crazy.

So why is it that so many will progress with relative ease and others seem to struggle regardless of fact that they addressed their triggers for adrenal insufficiency, they follow their protocols to a tee and the even look at other chronic factors such as their gut health and chronic inflammation?

The reason for this is very often tied into liver function.

Understand that the liver is the body's primary detoxifier and keeping it healthy is critical to your overall health, which includes proper metabolism and function of your hormones.

If you are wondering if your liver function is up to par, ask yourself the following questions:
  •     Are you overweight?
  •     Are you having problems with your hormones?
  •     Do you engage in heavy alcohol or tobacco use?
  •     Do you have high exposure to chemicals such as herbicides or pesticides?
  •     Have you been diagnosed with gallstones?
  •     Have you been diagnosed with a liver disease?
 Overall the function of the liver is key to the:
  • Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion 
  • Production of certain proteins for blood plasma 
  • Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body
  • Store and release glucose as needed
  • Processing of hemoglobin for use of its iron content (the liver stores iron)
  • Conversion of harmful ammonia to urea (urea is one of the end products of protein metabolism that is excreted in the urine)
  • Clearing the blood of drugs and other harmful substances
  • Regulating blood clotting
  • Resisting infections by producing immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream
  • Clearance of bilirubin (if there is a buildup of bilirubin, the skin and eyes turn yellow)
  • Manufacturing testosterone and the estrogen hormones
  • Regulating sex hormone levels and eliminating excess hormones
While all of these functions are of utmost importance, I want to put our focus on the two at the bottom that are in italics and bold.

The liver plays a major role in the body's use of hormones. This is for both the hormones that are produced naturally in our bodies as well as those hormones that are utilized in  hormone protocols. The liver can be viewed as a hormone processor because it will manufacture and/or regulating some hormone levels. In the end this will be directing various hormones to perform their proper function in other parts of the body. But when the liver is not converting hormones properly due to liver congestion, a fatty liver or more, this would likely cause a hormone imbalance.

A major focus for most women is the liver's role in regulating estrogen hormones. This is a consideration for women undergoing their adrenal protocols. Of course if the liver is functioning normally this is not an issue, but if your hormones are going crazy, this needs to be assessed.

Today there is new insight into how estrogens are metabolized and the effects of that metabolism. They found that estrogens break down into estrogen metabolites that have varying levels of estrogenic activity, and that the stronger the estrogenic effect, the greater the risk of developing estrogen related cancer.

The liver metabolizes hormones and other substances using two primary phases known as the Phase I and Phase II pathways.

During Phase I, some hormones or substances are metabolized directly, but often they are converted into intermediate forms, which are then further metabolized in Phase II.

Cumulatively, these two phases of biological transformation are how the liver provides the body with nutrients and supports the excretion of excess or toxic substances in the urine, liver bile, perspiration and exhaled air.

The pathways depend on a large number of nutrients, including enzymes and amino acids, and their availability (or lack thereof) seems to have a significant influence on the
metabolic outcome. For example, the Phase I pathway is the main metabolic pathway for the estrogen hormones. In premenopausal women, the ovaries produce approximately 1/3  of the estrogen while the adrenal glands will produce most of the remaining 1/3. The primary estrogen hormone produced is estradiol, most of which the body converts to estrone, and eventually estriol. The liver then metabolizes the remaining estradiol and the converted estrone, breaking it down further, and excreting the excess from the body. This excretion occurs in via the colon based on proper bowel movements.

Most now believe that the liver's ability to metabolize estrone is the key factor in estrogen related cancer risk. During Phase I metabolism estrone is converted into various metabolites including 2-hydroxyestrone, a very weak estrogen, and 16-alphahydroxyestrone, a very potent estrogen. If the conversion process favors the stronger form(s) rather than the weaker form(s), then tissue that has an abundance of estrogen receptors, such as the breasts and uterus, may be more vulnerable to excessive estrogen activity, potentially leading to the formation of fibroids or the stimulation of estrogen-sensitive cancers.

Phase I processing can be affected by many factors, including extreme overload, the effects of alcohol or drugs, a lack of nutrients, or interference from other substances. For example, grapefruit juice can slow down the enzymes in Phase I, potentially altering hormone balance. Many prescription drugs are metabolized in Phase I, which can also interfere with the liver's ability to handle the estrogen hormones. On the other hand, Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a phytonutrient derived from cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts), stimulates enzymes that promote the metabolism of estrogens into milder forms, potentially reducing the risk of estrogen-dependent cancers.

Each reaction in the Phase I pathway produces an intermediate form called a free radical. As you have probably heard, free radicals can be very damaging to body tissues if they are not quickly neutralized by antioxidants. Nutrients such as vitamins C and E, minerals such as selenium, and other substances such as lipoic acid and glutathione are antioxidants that help protect against free radicals. The intermediate forms produced in Phase I are in a highly reactive state until they are fully converted in Phase II.

During Phase II, a process known as conjugation begins, in which nutrients such as amino acids are combined with hormones and other substances, to convert them to water-soluble compounds that can be excreted efficiently in the urine or stool. This is one of the reasons you hear me talk about healthy bowel movements so much. If you are not enjoying two healthy bowel movements per day, you are likely reintroducing the excess hormones back into the blood thus creating an additional hormone imbalance.

Of the various types of conjugation that may occur in Phase II, the following are most relevant to hormone metabolism:

  • Methylation, also known as methyl metabolism, is the process in which small parts of molecules, called methyl groups, are passed from one molecule to another. Once estrogens are methylated, they can be easily excreted. In order for the liver to have an adequate supply of methyl groups available, an adequate intake of vitamins B6 (e.g., whole grains and legumes) and B12 (primarily from animal products), and folic acid (such as from green leafy vegetables) are necessary. An over-the-counter dietary supplement known as SAMe (s-adenylmethionine) is also a rich source of methyl groups and sulfur. For more information on methylation visit our recent article on this subject on this link.
  • Sulfation is the process in which sulfur groups are added to estrogen or other molecules to prepare them for easy excretion. Adequate amounts of foods containing sulfur should be in the diet, including egg yolks, garlic, onions and brussels sprouts. Animal protein is another important source of sulfur. At Depke Wellness we will at times recommend a liquid ionized form of sulfur that is very easily assimilated by the body.
  • Glucuronidation is another process by which estrogens can be conjugated. This type of conjugation may be affected by the condition of the intestines. If the intestines have an abundance of abnormal bacteria, an enzyme produced by these bacteria may cut off the conjugated part from the estrogen. The estrogen that would have been excreted is then reabsorbed back into the body, allowing even estrogens produced by the body to build up to excessive levels. The supplement calcium D glucarate (also found in fruits and vegetables) can render the enzyme inactive and prevent this buildup.
  • Gluthathione conjugation is the process in which glutathione, another sulfur-containing molecule, is added to estrogen for easy excretion. Foods such as avocado, walnuts and asparagus are rich in glutathione, and vitamin C stimulates the body to produce more of it. Glutathione depletion can be due to a lack of the essential nutrients and amino acids (found in fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meats) that are needed to synthesize it.

Glutathione deserves special mention as a crucial detoxifier because it also behaves as an antioxidant in Phase I. Glutathione neutralizes the free radicals produced in the Phase I reactions, and combines with them to produce water-soluble compounds that can be excreted.

Glutathione is also needed for the detoxification of alcohol. Studies have shown that even a small amount of alcohol intake can increase estrogen levels in the blood because alcohol competes for the available glutathione, preventing estrogen excretion.

Smoking is also known to deplete glutathione levels, as do chronically stressful conditions such as infections or inflammatory disorders.

As we assist our clients at Depke Wellness, we will often recommend either a herbal tincture of Hepatica to assist in drainage of the liver, gall bladder and colon and/or A/C Glutathione to assist with detoxification along with a powerful antioxidant activity. For those with deeper liver detoxification factors we would most often recommend deeper liver detoxification and drainage therapies for a minimum of 30 days.

For further information on this subject I would suggest an article from Connections be visiting this link. This was a helpful source for research on today's article.

Also watch your Depke Wellness newsletter for an upcoming webinar presented by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath for Hawthorn University on Tuesday October 7,2014.

If you have any comments or questions in regard to this article, please leave a post below for us to address personally.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Nothing taste as good as...

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath feeling good feels!

Just in case you missed me putting together the title of this article with the first line, let me repeat.

Nothing taste as good as feeling good feels!

While you may have heard this in the past and though, yeah right, I have a recent story to share with you that will help you understand this comment.

For those that have been following Depke Wellness for some time, you already know that I am not shy at all about sharing when I have a health issue personally. You may remember when I first tested for gluten cross reactive sensitivity in February of 2013.

To refresh your memory, a cross reaction test will assess your potential sensitivity to proteins that are similar to the proteins in gluten. This  potential sensitivity is to the food choices listed below.

  • Rye, Barley, Spelt, Polish Wheat
  • Cow's Milk
  • Casein
  • Casomorphin
  • Milk Butyrophilin
  • Whey Protein
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Oats
  • Yeast
  • Coffee
  • Sesame
  • Buckwheat
  • Sorghum
  • Millet
  • Hemp
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Tapioca
  • Teff
  • Soy
  • Egg
  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Potato
Well, out of this list I was personally sensitive to the foods listed below.
  • Casomorphin
  • Milk Butyrophilin
  • Whey Protein
  • Yeast
  • Coffee
  • Sorghum
  • Millet
  • Hemp
  • Amaranth
  • Tapioca
  • Teff
  • Soy
  • Egg
  • Corn
  • Rice
If it seems as though I was repeating the list, that is because out of a possible 24 different cross reactive foods, I was personally sensitive to 15 of these.

As I discuss with all of my clients, once you have a recognized gluten cross reactive food sensitivity, you should eliminate this for anywhere from 12 to 18 months prior to reintroducing. I say this because it takes this time period for you gut to reestablish itself on a cellular level. Yes that's right, in about 1 year to 1 1/2 years, you will have a brand new gut. 

So what's next?

At this point, you can go on a rotation type of diet to add in the foods that you have originally eliminated while watching for symptoms and preparing for a retest. Well, here I am 18 months out and a have been rotating these foods in over the past 3 weeks. I have to say, I originally was very excited about this! After all, it has been more than 1 1/2 years since I have had cheese, butter, corn tortillas, eggs and rice, all of which I had missed on some level.

I started by adding back eggs and rice both of which did not seem to create any issues for me, but I did recognize that I had put on about 2-3 pounds at this time. I figured this could have been due to some other life event and didn't think much about it. 

Well than dairy came up next. Yikes! I had dairy along with my favorite birthday treat, which is a gluten free chocolate cake with a homemade whipped cream frosting. First of all, I was shocked by how much this simply tasted like cow. I know this may sound funny but that is the only way I can explain it. That was not the scary part though, since what happened after was the "yikes." After eating this I put on about 3 inches of girth around my waist and I felt like this ripped me up. All from the butter in the cake and the whipped cream frosting.

That was nothing though compared to the corn added in this past weekend. I originally was very excited about this because I have always enjoyed corn and have missed some corn products over the past 1 1/2. The though of having a taco on a corn tortilla sounded amazing and I always enjoyed an occasion treat of some corn chips with salsa and guacamole. This past weekend's trip to Mexico was the perfect place to add some corn in and "holy cow." Not only did I gain almost 10 pounds over the weekend but the amount of pain and discomfort I felt from this was truly not worth it. My whole body felt inflamed. I could not comfortably fit into my cloths, my gut was extremely bloated and I felt aches and pains in both my knees and ankles. Heck, somebody even asked me what I did to my ankle since it looked so inflamed. I laughed and told him that I ate corn and dairy.

So even though I was very excited about adding back in these foods again, it truly was not worth it. While off these foods my health has hit new heights, my weight reached levels that I have not seen in almost two decades and aches and pains that I have had for some years have almost completely diminished. But within three weeks I put on a bunch of weight, gain many inches in my gut and have reestablished some levels of pain and discomfort.

So do you get what I am saying when I shared, "nothing taste as good as feeling good feels!"

Thankfully my reintroduction period is over and I will retest to see what I am still sensitive to. Obviously I already know that both corn and dairy are still out and to be honest with you, if I do not get any of these foods back into my diet this would not be a concern at all, I simply love feeling health and happy. That's what is most important!

Please use my experience to look deeper at your food choices and how this can be affecting you. Most do not understand that eating foods that you are sensitive to will most often lead to:
  • Inflammation
  • Weight gain
  • Inches gained
  • Aches and pains
  • Detoxification issues
  • Immune system dysregulation
  • Leaky gut
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • And more....
There are three ways that we assist our clients at Depke Wellness in understanding food sensitivity. We either recommend a Cyrex Labs (array #4) gluten cross reactive blood test or an Immunolab Bloodprint154 blood test. For those that do not have the available finances to complete these blood tests, I always recommend a book "The Plan" by Lyn-Genet Recitas. This is one of the most comprehensive books I have seen to walk you through the process of discovering food sensitivity.

Remember, nothing taste as good as feeling good feels!

If you have any comments or questions in regard to this email, feel free to post below for us to respond to personally.