Monsters Inside Me!

Have you ever watched the show Monsters Inside Me? I absolutely love that show! When I was teaching microbiology one of my students had told me about it and I always wanted to be able to incorporate one of their episodes into my lectures, but I was never able to obtain copies of any of the episodes to do so. In my teaching days, my favorite portion of the semester was always when we got to the part where we talked about parasites. People would cringe and make crazy faces, but I would be smiling big! To be quite honest with you I love parasites. They are always so fascinating to me and it’s the one portion of microbiology that you can turn on a microscope and really see something amazing. Of course looking at parasites and diagnosing them in patients is one thing, having one of these little life suckers is another!

First off, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. Parasites are absolutely necessary for life! ┬áAs a Christian I believe that everything serves a purpose. Just because we don’t understand that purpose doesn’t mean that we should automatically think that something is bad. I have heard one practitioner state that if you give a person with Celiac’s a hookworm they will no longer have reactions to gluten. I have not read the study that substantiated this statement, but I have read other studies where parasitic worms were given to people with autoimmune diseases and those people no longer had symptoms of their autoimmune disease. When you look at cultures who live in areas that haven’t been touched by indistrialization you will find people with microbes and parasites in thier gut that would kill the modern American. Dont be mistaken, these indiginous people are actually super healthy. It’s because of thier microbial diveristy that they are able to maintain health and have these parasites and pathogens present without causing disease. Thier immune systems are functioning appropriately and thier commensal (good bacteria that live in your gut and help you) microbes are in high numbers, keeping the pathogens in check. Let’s be real we are not in the Amazon and we do not have that type of microbial diversity. Therefore, in my opinion, it is not good for us to have parasites in our systems.

Okay so here is the real deal, we all have parasites! Yes you heard me right we all have parasites. There’s not a single person who can be excluded from this. There are innocuous parasites called skin mites that feed on your dead skin on your face and your eyelashes. Then there are the scary parasites such as a intestinal worms. The ones we should really be concerned about are going to be protozoan infections as well as a few of the worms. Now there are too many different types of protozoa as well as too many different types of helminths for me to talk about in one blog post. So I will just focus on the most common one.

The number one parasitic infection that you can get in the United States is going to be Giardia. Most people don’t even have symptoms when they get Giardia. If you do have symptoms some of the main ones are profuse watery diarrhea followed by bouts of constipation, rotten sulfur burps as well as extremely foul flatulence, greasy stools, extreme bloating, there may or may not be vomiting, and rarely a low-grade fever. I have read a scientific study showing that Giardia causes leaky gut and overtime you can have malabsorptive issues, chronic inflammation, and chronic fatigue. I have also read a study talking about food allergies and intolerances associated with Gairdiasis as well as other parasitic infections. This parasite is insidious and can be very difficult to diagnose. You can test for them by doing a specific test called an O & P (ova and parasite). In order for this test to be effective you need to collect a minimum of three separate samples from separate days, but I have read that up to 8 to 10 samples was necessary. Another test that can be done is a Giardia stool antigen test. This is a little more of a sensitive test than the O&P. However, if there are only small numbers of Giardia in the body then the test will be negative. You need at least two of these tests on seperate stools or aspirates to be negative. There is also a blood test that you can have done that is an antibody test that is extremely accurate. The only problem with this test is that once you have a positive you will always be positive. So it can initially diagnose,however, you cannot use this test for follow-up to see if you have cleared the infection. The best method of testing for follow up would be PCR. In this test they multiply DNA or RNA of a sample and match genes to a database of known organisms, in this case Giardia. There are many ways you can aquire this infection. The most common are daycares, public pools, hottubs, contaminated food, and drinking from streams or rivers. I have read one statistic that estimated up to 3% of ready-made salads have Giardia cysts. If I remember correctly you only need 7 cysts to establish infection. This is the parasite that I battled and has caused me many problems. It was also a battle for me to get diagnosed, but luckily because of my background and experience I was able to advocate for myself and demand the appropriate tests. I was asymptomatic until I ate a costco sized bag of dried figs and had every textbook symptom. Although I will never know exactly when I aquired this parasite the Dr and I both believe it has contributed to both of my childrens’ FPIES. One thing for certain is that after elliminating this infection I was able to heal my leaky gut, then my current nursling’s leaky gut, and now my little one is passing foods left and right ­čśÇ.

There are some common signs and symptoms if you have parasites .  Some the common symptoms you might have are bloating, fat malabsorbtion, fatigue, digestive disturbances, brain fog, anxiety or depression, and/or eczema. The best way to diagnose for parasites when you arent certain would be to get a comprehensive stool panel. You can order one on your own through Great Plains Laboratories if you cant get your Dr. to order testing. Please keep in mind if you go to a conventional Dr the most they will probably do is a series of O&Ps which are not sensitive tests and are limited to the quality of the lab scientist performing the test as well as the quality of the sample. It is very important for you to diagnose and treat these infections because over time they can tax your immune system as well as your adrenals. Some of these parasites are even able to reside in the gallbladder causing your gallbladder to back up or not function properly. Your liver also takes a toll from parasites and eventually you will not be able to detox properly. Over time all of these things can have detrimental results to your body. If you have parasites and you would like to treat them naturally there are several herbal remedies that are very successful at curing parasites. Berberine containing substances are excellent anti-parasitics, oil of oregano, extract of garlic, and olive leaf extract. All of these require specific dosing and most are contrindicative to breastfeeding and pregnancy so it is very important to work with a really good functional practitioner for best results and safety.

If you are on a TED it is important to know if you have a parasitic infection because this could be the source of your leaky gut. While breastfeeding, treatment for infections is difficult because your options are limited. Some natural antiparasitic herbs you can take safely are tumeric, cinnamon, clove, ginger, food grade diatomaceous earth, and raw garlic. Please do not take any of these in essential oil forms and consult with your practitioner for advice and dosing. I personally took all of these herbs along with a tincture of olive leaf extract and a round of metronidazole (which failed). The tincture of olive leaf was the most effective for me, but it is not recommended while breastfeeding according to some resources.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a physician and cannot diagnose or treat patients. The information provided comes from scientific articles, my education from WSU, functional practitioners,and my own personal research and experience. Any advice taken will be at your own discretion.

 

 

 

Total Elimination Diet Failing Please Help!

If you’re the mama of a sensitive child then you can understand the title of this post. So your breastfeeding and you notice that your baby is starting to have mucousy stools, maybe your baby has blood in their stool, or they’re super super fussy, or maybe your pediatrician suggested cutting out dairy and/or soy. So you decide you want to try out an Ellimination Diet. You get on Google and you type in Elimination Diet for breastfeeding and one of the first things that comes up is Dr. Sears Elimination Diet. Now you’ve been on the diet for over a month and your baby is still not improving. You know that Dairy takes about a month to get out of your system and baby’s system and you know that soy takes about a week. What now? You thought you were doing everything right and now here you are stuck in the same boat that you’ve been in! This is a very frustrating place to be I’ve actually been here twice. The only difference is I didn’t do a Dr. Sears Elimination Diet my second time around; I decided to do a modified version of gaps.

So let’s talk about why dr. Sears Elimination Diet does not work. If your baby is having reactions to the foods that you eat then it’s very clear that you have leaky gut syndrome. Now you’ll hear mainstream Medical Professionals say that leaky gut does not exist, but I assure you it does. If you go to PubMed and search leaky gut syndrome or go to any database system where you can look at scientific articles you will find thousands upon thousands of studied articles on leaky gut syndrome. You really can’t argue with the science, but it’s very hard to get conventional Medical professionals on board with this because it would eliminate the need for prescription drugs. I won’t even go into the whole controversy of how big Pharma controls our entire medical system. If you have leaky gut and you’re leaking proteins out to your baby then your baby is going to eventually develop allergies and intolerances to various Foods. Babies by nature have a leaky gut and then when their system is bombarded with proteins and a disrupted gut microbial Flora, then they will continue to have leaky gut and reactions to various food proteins. If you look at the protocol for allergic ┬áproctocolitis in the breastfed infant you will see that the best solution to this problem is to remove the offending proteins in the mother’s diet. However, this is not a solution because it does not solve the mother’s leaky gut and begin to heal the baby’s leaky gut. What needs to happen is a diet that will heal the mothers leaky gut and reestablish the gut microflora in a healthy balance and then, in turn, the baby’s gut will heal. Okay so now on to the specifics of why the dr. Sears diet doesn’t work. First of all you eat rice. It is true that rice is probably the safest or most gentle grain out of all the grains you can eat, but the problem is when you have leaky gut and your gut is already irritated eating any kind of grain, even pseudo grains, can be detrimental to the repair of your small intestine. Next, the dr. Sears diet recommends eating gentle fruit such as pear. The problem with eating fruits and veggies like pears, apples, oranges, squashes, ect… is that these foods are often waxed with a vegetable wax that’s either soy or corn. This wax cannot be cooked or washed off and you will most likely get some type of contamination even if you try to be very careful and are peeling. It is because of the above reasons that I choose a gaps style diet.

Now I have heard people speak about Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. This is a really great protocol to do. The only problem with Autoimmune Paleo protocol is that if you have sibo or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth then this diet, when not done a certain way, will more than likely contribute to your issues and you will continue to have leaky gut. Overall gaps and Autoimmune Paleo do parallel in many aspects. What I like best about gaps is that it outlines exactly how one should be eating to heal thier gut. Really I believe either protocol is great when applied properly.

So let me tell you a little bit about my experience. Whenever I did gaps with my first fpies baby he was about 7 months old and I had been struggling on a dr. Sears diet since he was about 3 months old. I had been unsuccessful on the dr. Sears diet and continue to have problems with my baby. When I did gaps the first time I followed the protocol exactly with the exception of doing fermented fish. In the beginning I felt like the┬ádiet really wasn’t going very well because I couldn’t do the egg yolks in soups and I couldn’t even do whey that had been separated from the milk proteins or ghee. Unfortunately, I think that both my baby and my leaky gut were just so bad at that point that we were having multiple reactions to different foods. After I went through all of the phases I moved on to full gaps even though I still couldn’t have dairy or eggs. I did this healing diet for about 6 months and then when my son was about 13 months old he was able to eat everything. The second time I did gaps I was a little bit wiser. I modified the diet and started in the first couple of weeks just doing meaty soups. During that time I discovered that I had an intestinal parasite causing my leaky gut. Once I was able to heal from that intestinal parasite I was able to keep moving through my version of gaps protocol. Currently, I am drinking cultured whey and eating a full gaps diet along with rice and oats. My baby is reaction free and he is able to eat so many more foods than my first son was able to eat. This is pretty amazing because my second fpies baby seems to have been even more sensitive than my first. I believe that my gut infection is what was causing all of these problems in my babies.

If you are struggling and you think you want to try the gaps diet I do have a few recommendations for the nursing mom. I would start gaps by eating lots of soups made with lots of veggies and grass-fed meats for the first few weeks. Then I would move on to making bone broth from grass-fed bones and taking that bone broth with every meal. After about one to two months on this protocol I would bring on fermented foods as well as probiotics. Do all of this very slowly to deter from creating bacterial overgrowth or furthering leaky gut. Be sure to avoid anything that comes in a box, bottle, or package. The only things that I would use are things that you verify and know 100% are free of various allergens. Once you’ve done this for about 3 to 4 months then I would go ahead and try taking it fermented whey from milk kefir. Whey is loaded with vitamins and probiotic bacteria and it should only contain very very minimal amounts of milk protein. If the baby tolerates this very well in your diet after about a month of doing this you can try dipping your finger in the whey and putting it in the baby’s mouth and start the baby on it slowly. Then comes the scary part of trailing dairy amd some of the other big players. Please do this under the supervision of a practitioner. Every child is different and has different reactions. Therefore, every child’s case should be evaluated individually. Consider cutting out all foods that are waxed or possibly waxed. Look at everything from the products you put on your body two the salt and pepper that you use to season your food. If you use olive oil please make sure to only use California Olive Ranch or Kirkland organic. Pretty much all of the olive oils in the United States are cut with soy oil or other inferior oils. You have to look at every single thing in your environment as a possible contamination. There are many other things that I do and I will try to blog about each thing to help you in your journey. It’s a very difficult protocol and a very difficult lifestyle, but if you stick it out you’ll be amazed at the results!

If you are needing some one-on-one help, or have some questions that you’re just not sure of the answer to, and would like a consultation I am offering one-on-one consultations for a nominal fee. In the past I would do these consultations for free, but as a mom of 3 boys I am very busy these days and I find it difficult to spread myself so thin. I am not a Dr, but I have 2.5 years of experience in TEDs and I was able to heal my first FPIES son and my second is doing extremely well. Please check out my profile to read my background and if you would prefer to not have a consultation, but you are still looking for answers to one or two questions feel free to contact me because I love to share with others my knowledge!

 

Oil Pulling Facts and Fiction

I remember when I first heard about oil pulling. I was sitting with a neighbor talking and she had brought up that she uses coconut oil to oil pull. At the time I was very interested, but I didn’t feel that the concept was very plausible. Honestly, it seemed like a bit of a scam or a placebo effect. So I ended up putting it in the back of my mind and didn’t go back to the thought until several months later I came across an article about oil pulling. During this time I was on a total Elimination Diet for my second son who was still not diagnosed, and I could not use the toothpaste that I had been using because it seemed that my child was having reactions to it. So I decided to give oil pulling a shot after learning how to make my own toothpaste. The results were amazing! I was really surprised that my teeth became so white and they felt so clean. In the mornings I would wake up and I wouldn’t have bad breath, I wouldn’t have a white tongue, and I stopped having a film feeling on my teeth. After this I decided to make oil pulling a practice in my dental routine.

Now all of that is well and good, but we all know that the proof is in the pudding. So after a while I decided that I should probably look into the scientific evidence that backs this up. After looking into the scientific evidence I realized that the mechanical action of the oil pulling through your teeth actually causes the microbes to attach to the oil molecules and then when you spit out the oil it takes the microbes with it. So overall oil pulling will actually reduce the bacterial load in your mouth which in turn increases your oral health. Now there are some people out there who believe oil pulling detoxifies the body, but I have yet to find any evidence to substantiate this claim. Although I couldn’t substantiate this claim I do believe that it’s somewhat true in a roundabout way. If you’re able to reduce the toxic load of pathogenic bacteria in your mouth and able to maintain optimal oral health then you’re giving your body the opportunity to function in an optimal way which in turn causes you to be able to detoxify more efficiently and imcrease your overall health. Most people underestimate the absorptive ability of the mouth and they forget that oral health is imperative to overall health. I remember in one of my microbiology classes learning about how oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause heart infection. The mouth is a gateway to everything internally. It’s where the outside begins to meet the inside. There are prescription medications that you can simply place under your tongue, allow them to dissolve, and they immediately enter your bloodstream and begin to take effect. It’s very interesting to me that modern medicine is capable of making such medications yet there are recommendations made about using toothpastes that have toxic ingredients and stating that because you’re spitting them out and not ingesting them you will not absorb these toxins. This fallacy is apparent just in the fact that if you can absorb medications through your mouth then there’s no reason why you can’t absorb some of the toxic ingredients in the toothpaste such as fluoride.

What’s really wonderful about oil pulling with a raw coconut oil is that coconut oil has a high amount lauric acid. This lauric acid is antimicrobial in nature and therefore you get a double effect of killing microbes along with pulling them out of your mouth.

Below are a few links and a reference to scientific articles that substantiate this post:

<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4382606/&gt;

<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21911944&gt;

Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health: Singh, Abhinav; Purohit, Bharathi. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine; Hyderabad2.2(Apr 2011): 64-68.

http://www.scielosp.org/scielo.php?pid=S0042-96862005000900004&script=sci_arttext&tlng=pt

<http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/00220345960750090301&gt;

<http://cmr.asm.org/content/13/4/547.full&gt;

 

Now let’s talk about how you actually oil pull. You can use sesame oil or you can use coconut oil. I prefer to use coconut oil that is unrefined for maximum benefits. The reason why I use unrefined coconut oil is because I don’t want the lauric acid to have been destroyed by processing methods. I personally like the brand Nutiva, but there are many good unrefined coconut Brands out there. So take about a teaspoon of coconut oil, place it in your mouth, and swish it around for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Start out at 5 minutes and see if you can build up to 20 minutes at a time. I like to do this after I brush my teeth before bed. One key note: you may want to make sure that you spit the coconut oil out into a trash can or bottle rather than down the drain. Coconut oil solidifies at a temperature below 75 degrees therefore it will clog your drains if you decide to split it down the sink. That’s all there is to it so happy pulling!

Homemade Tooth Powder

If you are anything like me, a health and wellness nut ­čśť, then you have probably come across a number of toothpaste and tooth powder recipes. When you go on Weston Price Foundation website you can read about how your blood sugar levels determine your susceptability to cavities. He then maps out how a diet rich in healthy fats from pasture raised (grassfed) raw milk and butter, codliver oil, and also low in fruit and abscent of processed sugar can help in preventing or reversing and healing cavities. Also, bone broth is a great addition for amino acids, minerals, and other components that are super players in maintaining optimal health. While diet plays a key role in oral health you also need a good toothpaste and brushing method to maintain clean chops. On other health and wellness blogs writers give thier recipes for homemade concoctions for teeth. I have used and loved these recipes in the past, but over the years as I have learned new information I started to modify to create my own recipe. Most homemade toothpastes use bentonite clay in the recipe. I choose not to use this type of clay because depending on where it is sourced from it can be high in lead. I have actually heard a functional practitioner speak about a family he was treating and they tested positive for lead poisening. After going through the family history he uncovered that the source of the lead was from the bentonite clay they were taking in for detox. I have heard to look in certain places for bentonite clay that is low or does not contain lead, but personally im not willing to take the chance since I have no way of testing the clay myself. So for my recipe I like to used food grade diatomaceaous earth in the place of clay and different amounts of various ingredients. I like to use peppermint and lemon essential oils for thier antiseptic properties and for taste. Of course its important to use oils that are reputable and for the sake of brevity I wont go down that rabbithole for now! My neighbor who is getting her advanced degree in aromatherapy only uses Aromatics International and Plant Therapy. She also uses Rocky Mountain Oils but her oils are from before they bought out the company Native American Nutritionals, along with a few others. We have met and compared my peppermint oil and determined that they have most likely changed the distillation technique leading to an inferior product. However, I still use and love RMO and do trust the company so far. I have been gifted Young Living oils and heard and smelled doTerra but I do not recommend these oils to anyone do to thier adulterations and inferior products. With that being said I should mention I have dear friends and family who sell and use these oils and I respect difference of opinion. I strongly suggest that each person do thier own research and be your own advocate! I personally don’t take most people’s word for something (unless they are in the field that they are speaking in reference to or they can tell me how they got to thier conclusion) and look for evidence to back up claims. My own opinion has come from intense research and utilizing research done by other bloggers that I have come to trust. I also use ceylon cinnamon which is known for stabilizing blood sugar and also has antiseptic properties, clove which also has antiseptic properties, and tumeric which is anti-inflammatory as well as whitening. Lastly, I use birch zylitol (regular comes from gmo corn) for a sweetner and also to kill S. mutans (a cavity causing bacteria), trace minerals by concentrace, and a calcium magnesium powder by Kal. The minerals are important for making the teeth strong and healthy. SO now let’s get to the recipe I concocted…

Aasta’s toothpowder:

1/2 a cup of birch zylitol

1/2 a cup of food grade DE

1Tbsp of Concentrace minerals

1Tbsp Kal powder

1Tbsp each of spicely organic clove, tumeric, and ceylon cinnamon

30 drops of peppermint oil

15 drops of lemon oil

I blend everything in my nut jar for my blendtech then store in tupperware. This amount of toothpowder will last my family for almost a year! I also recommend oil pulling with raw coconut oil or pure sesame oil and using a high quality tooth brush like a bass brush for manual bruahing or a sonicare for electric brushing. I will be writing all about oil pulling next post!

 

The Microbiome and why you should care about it

You may have heard this term before and maybe you haven’t. I recently attended a continuing education from The Scientist on the microbiome and it was absolutely mind blowing and exciting, but to be fair it would probably have put most people to sleep.

Lets first define what the microbiome is. The microbiome is a collection of microorganisms that live in a community in or on a certain area of the body. We have several different types of microbiomes and a few examples are on the skin, GI tract (AKA Gut), mouth, nose, and more recently discovered the blood. You may be wondering what types of microbes we are talking about here. Well All kinds of microbes from viruses and bacteria to even bacteriophages and parasites! Bacteriophage sounds crazy right (in case you are wondering this is a virus that infects bacteria)?!? Not Only are they beneficial, we absolutely have to have them to survive.

Now you may be wondering where they came from? You were actually born with some of them, some you’re exposed to in utero, while others you get during the birth process, and the microbiome is mainly shaped in the first few years of life(these first years are critical for setting the tone of a person’s health). In the webinar I attended the scientists were studying how the microbiome was shaped in the first few years of life. They showed what happened when kids were exposed to antibiotics when they were ill, also children who were born by C-section, and those that were born vaginally. It was really fascinating to see (graphically) the changes that happen over the first few years of life. There were dips of microbiota whenever antibiotics were administered and also there were major differences between microbiota of vaginal birth versus C-section babies.

Ok so now that you know you have trillions of organisms inhabiting your body lets talk about why they matter so much. Stay with me its not as gross or as bad as you think! Because the microbiome is such a Hot Topic right now there are many many scientists out in the world studying different parts of the microbiome. What is being discovered is that the microbiome basically controls every process that happens in the body in some way, shape, or form. I know I know this sounds so crazy, but really I promise you it’s true. One study that I read showed how different beneficial microbes interact with different interleukins and different cytokines. Interleukins and cytokines are substances in your body that control and communicate with your immune system (this is a very simplified definition). A more recent study that I read reveals that some microbes actually even produce neurotransmitters like Gaba. Wow so they actually control your brain and how you think! I know this sounds like a stretch, but after reading the studies I am a believer. When patients are given fecal transplants, in other words they were given microbiota from another person or healthy donor, what happened was fascinating. People began to take on the characteristics of the other person. If the other person was obese then they would become obese. It’s really fascinating and most people don’t even realize how important these microbes are. They basically control everything in our body or they are least related to the control of everything in our body. Without them we would be lost; they train our immune system to not react to benign things, they keep our inflammation down, they process our food, they produce vitamins and co-factors for absorbing vitamins, they produce hormones and chemicals as well as communication factors that our body needs. Have you ever heard the term you are what you eat? The saying should actually be you are what your microbes are!

So lets talk about some main things you can do to maintain a healthy microbiome:

1. Only take antibiotics if absolutely necessary. My definition of necessary is it is a life or death situation or you know you wont be able to heal without them. Otherwise in our house we use natural methods of healing and we tough it out!

2. Feed your gut bugs with prebiotics. These are foods like artichoke, leek, onions, garlic, asparagus, jicama, green bananas and plantains, and several others.

3. Eat fermented foods. Fermented foods are an excellent way to nourish and diversify your microbiome. Studies have shown that lots of diversity= amazing health. We do kombucha, jun, kimchi, sourkraut, yogurt, water kefir, milk kefir, and anything else we can get our hands on!

4. Dont stress! Stress and anger trigger physiological changes that hurt the environment for your microbes.

5. Stay away from artificial sugars they are toxic for your microbiome.

6. Skip the NSAIDs, they create an acidic environment in your large intestine preventing many beneficial microbes from being able to grow and thrive.

7. Try to be as chemical free as possible. All of the additives and chemicals in our food, as well as antibiotics from animal farming, are detrimental to our gut flora. We try to eat as clean as possible. The chemicals and antibiotics are unavoidable in todays age, but you can at least reduce your overall toxicity by going organic and not eating anything that comes in a package or a box.

Well I could just go on and on, but I think that is enough information for one post. Ill be posting more specific information on specific microbes and what they do in the future.

Remember you are what your microbes are, so be good to your bugs!

Dont believe what you read? Go to pubmed or medscape and search the term microbiome. You will find thousands of articles of research regarding the things in this post­čśü happy hunting!