My pre-60th birthday journey to improve my previous test results from Seasons of Farragut continues! This month I decided to focus on the first tenet in our Seasons wellness regimen – nutrition!
About two years ago I took the ALCAT test and was astonished at my lengthy list of reactive foods! The ALCAT is a fascinating food sensitivity test in which white blood cells are introduced to a variety of foods, chemicals, and herbs. The severity of the reaction determines if a substance is mild, moderate, severe, or normal within my body. Since knowledge is power, I decided to receive the news that gluten and dairy were on my “severe list” as a positive indicator rather than “buyers’ remorse” for having performed the test!
Lyn-Genet Recitas has written a book, The Plan, which explains how inflammation from food intolerance can cause symptoms such as joint pain, skin disorders, fatigue, weight issues, headaches, and digestive disorders. Whereas a food allergy can have almost an immediate effect, a food sensitivity may not show up for several hours to 3 days later. For weight gain, it’s not as much about the calories as the chemistry of the body. One person may benefit from last night’s salmon and broccoli but someone else may actually gain 2 pounds. Inflammation from food intolerance causes damage to the lining of the gut. As the lining becomes “leaky” with gaps present, foods begin to slip through not completely digested. This causes the body to attack undigested foods.
As we age, inflammation can increase which causes our systems to slow down. Many of us have much less stomach acid and digestive enzymes to break down food. This can ultimately alter our weight and our health. Reactive foods cause our bodies to produce more histamine which causes water retention via dilated capillaries. The brain responds by increasing the production of Cortisol. As more Cortisol is produced, fewer sex hormones are produced since both sets of hormones depend on the same building blocks. Increased Cortisol causes an increase in glucose which causes an increase in blood sugar! This domino effect alters the good bacteria in the gut and can increase yeast production. The altered gut flora leads to a weakened immune response since about 70% of our immune system is in the gut.
The thyroid gland can also be affected by food intolerances. White blood cells that attack undigested foods may migrate to the thyroid gland and begin to attack it. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid gland. This is determined by a blood test that measures the number of specific antibodies against the thyroid gland. As I began to avoid gluten, my own antibody level began to decrease. I was able to decrease my thyroid replacement dosage. This month, I repeated my ALCAT test and found that many of my food intolerances had improved. Not only had I attempted to avoid specific foods, but I also worked intentionally on healing my GI tract. I take a powerful probiotic daily as well as a digestive enzyme with my dinner. For one month of each season, I take a protein shake that is loaded with L-Glutamine. This amazing amino acid helps to heal the leaky gut. It is packed with anti-inflammatories and herbs to help my liver and GI tract detox.
Two years ago, I had about a dozen foods on my severe list. This year, I only have one – apples! So, I’m going to give them up for the next 6 months. My moderate reactive list contains 18 foods which I will have to have great discipline to avoid. These are healthy foods but for me, can cause hidden inflammation. Gluten now causes moderate reactions in my body. I have noticed that when I indulge in gluten, the next morning, my joints ache and my stomach hurts. I doubt if I will ever reintroduce gluten. Dairy is moderate also. Fortunately there are lots of great choices for me and I look forward to continual healing of my GI tract. Our Nutritional Consultant, Carolyn will keep me focused on this life-long journey of wellness. Be sure to check out her amazing recipes on our website!
Long term benefits with this specialized nutritional therapy will keep inflammation down and hopefully help me avoid chronic disease as well as weight gain. If you would like more information regarding the ALCAT test, call Seasons today. Let’s age intentionally with nutrition being our number one “medicine!”
Even though my 60th birthday is a little over 6 months away, I am planning now for better health, mental acuity, energy, and sense of well-being! My goal is to improve all of the test results that I have previously had at Seasons. You may remember that I did a Telomere test several months ago – a fascinating test revealing how rapidly one ages relative to a normal population. Those results showed that I was above average for my age range; however, there was definitely room for improvement!
For my birthday countdown, I have chosen to begin with a detailed cardiac evaluation measuring specific markers in my blood. My total cholesterol has always been slightly elevated; however, over 50 percent of patients hospitalized with acute myocardial infarctions had normal lipid levels as defined by the traditional blood tests. Functional medicine has identified over 400 risk factors, but they are all exacerbated with inflammation, oxidative stress, and immune dysfunction (chronic infections).
Cholesterol is not the villain portrayed in the statin commercials! It is a biological necessity for creating vitamin D, our steroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, as well as other tasks. High levels are not a sure sign of cardiac disease, nor are low levels a promise of heart health. Our bodies manufacture most of our cholesterol with a smaller amount coming from the food we eat.
Since cholesterol has to travel through the blood which is watery, the body packages it in various “containers” called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins vary according to the amount of protein, fat, and cholesterol they contain. Those with more protein and less fat/cholesterol are called high density lipoproteins or HDL. Those with less protein and more fat/cholesterol are called low density lipoproteins or LDL. A third type carries even more cholesterol and fat with less protein and it is called very low density lipoprotein or VLDL.
The LPP test measures not only the type but also the number and size of all these particles. LDL has at least five types and sizes. The smallest size is the most dangerous while the largest size is least harmful. Obviously the number of these particles is also a risk factor. Lipoprotein (a) or Lp(a) is a type that increases risk of heart disease. Apolipoprotein B (Apo-B) deposits cholesterol in the artery wall which can be a marker for atherosclerosis. HDL is similar in that the larger size is the most protective.
So what did my test reveal and how can I get healthier?
First of all, my inflammatory markers – C (reactive protein, insulin, and homocysteine) were all in the normal ranges; however, the latter was borderline for being too high. My total number of LDL particles was elevated but the sizes were in the normal range. However, my Apo-B was borderline which meant I have a risk for atherosclerosis. My VLDL and my Lp(a) were normal. Whew!
With these results and several inflammatory markers from a recent ION Panel – my plan includes the following:
- Reduce inflammation with Omega 3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that this will also increase my levels of HDL, increase LDL particle size, and decrease LDL particle number.
- Drink more green tea which will decrease oxidation of LDL, decrease Apo-B secretion, and increase HDL
- Increase consumption of Vitamin E (which I get in a customized vitamin mix) to reduce Apo-B and lower LDL and increase HDL.
- Add Niacin (B vitamin) to lower LDL particle number and Apo-B as well as increase HDL.
- Stop smoking (just wanted to see who is still reading this!) I don’t smoke, but I can always improve my diet with less refined carbohydrates.
- Have an occasional glass of red wine which will increase the powerful antioxidant, resveratrol. This has been proven to reduce LDL oxidation, decrease inflammation, and improve the lining of cardiac vessels. Another way to obtain this is with red grapes and purple grape juice (but be careful on the sugar content).
- Exercise during the cold months. I love to be outside. But now that the weather is getting colder, I have made a commitment to go to the gym after work. I’m fine once I get there, but I’ll need some accountability to be consistent. Feel free to ask me!
- Continue with other cardiac tests. Seasons will be getting a Heart Rate Variability Test which every patient will have access to.
- Find joy every day and keep stress levels in balance. Studies have shown that heart disease is linked to depression.
- Retest my cardiac markers in May, 2013!
Helen Keller said “life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” May we live this one life with hearts full of gratitude and wonder for the countless blessings our Creator has lavished on us!
The outside thermostats are definitely rising this summer. But the heat outside shouldn’t mean sudden bursts of “personal” heat, otherwise known as hot flashes!
Oddly enough, I have personally experienced fewer hot flashes when I am at the beach! Is that a strange but true fact? Indeed it is. But there is a great explanation. It’s not the outdoor temperature which contributes to those hot flashes, it’s actually Cortisol fluctuations that wreak havoc on our internal thermostat.
Many women are surprised to discover that their saliva tests indicate significant imbalance with their adrenal glands. These tiny glands located right above each kidney secrete a number of hormones to help the body deal with stress. Cortisol is commonly called the “stress hormone” due to its involvement in your response to stressful situations.
Adrenal fatigue from chronic stressors such as blood sugar imbalance, inflammation, insomnia, as well as emotional issues can manifest itself through intense hot flashes and/or night sweats. Unless Cortisol levels are measured, it’s difficult to treat because both high and low levels can have the same symptoms. Healthy adrenal glands significantly improve a sense of well-being!
Insulin resistance also contributes to those personal internal fireworks. Because insulin, like cortisol, is a major hormone, it is very difficult to establish hormone balance between estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone until your insulin metabolism is balanced. In other words, those relentless surges of heat will continue to bombard your body if too much insulin is allowed to build up.
Excess blood sugar from simple carbohydrate intake causes our body to release more insulin. This initially allows our cells to receive glucose and keep blood levels normalized. After a while, our cells become resistant to insulin, and so levels increase. Prolonged elevations of glucose and insulin eventually disrupt cellular metabolism and spread inflammation. The good news is that we can evaluate both hormones at Seasons and implement healthy changes.
Most people believe that low Estrogen can be the major culprit for hot flashes. While this can certainly be a factor, the opposite is also true! Many health care providers prescribe transdermal hormones and then remeasure with a blood (serum) test in a few months. When levels have not improved, doses are increased. Symptoms may become exacerbated with new ones such as breast tenderness, weight gain, depression, acne, and hair loss noted.
Transdermal hormones quickly enter the bloodstream but then are transported to hormone receptors in tissues all over the body. Serum (blood) tests will not measure these levels.Saliva testing will reveal more accurate levels as well as identify how your body metabolizes each hormone. At Seasons, we will design a customized wellness plan to balance your hormones using such strategies as removing excess hormones through detoxification or safely providing accurate doses for symptom relief and optimum health.
If you have noted record highs with your internal thermostat, give us a call. We would love to help you adjust the temperature with our restorative health plans. There are many variables causing similar symptoms, not just the summer weather!
In the meantime, identify stressors and change your routines. Don’t forget to play and have fun this summer, eat your veggies, stay hydrated, and get plenty of sleep! And if you have had record highs but were able to quench them, share your comments with us. Hot flashes don’t have to be inevitable during the summer months…or anytime, for that matter.
Nan Sprouse, FNP-BC, received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at University of Tennessee, Knoxville and her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Carson Newman College. Nan is currently completing a fellowship in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. Nan is a member of the Tennessee Nurses Association.
Nan has been married to Randy Sprouse for over 30 years. Their family consists of 4 sons of whom three are married to incredible young ladies! She has one granddaughter and another one soon to be born.
Nan’s desire is to help people have abundant life through all stages of life. Many health issues ranging from weight gain, depression, sleep issues; sex drive, energy, and self esteem have strong correlations to hormone balance. Using innovative testing through saliva and blood work, accurate measurements can be obtained and then corrected.
The needle stick was inconsequential to me since I routinely get serum lab tests and also nutritional IV therapies. Just as I counsel and plan with all of my patients regarding everything from thyroid to toxic metals, I also devise my own therapies to correct, tweak, and improve my health markers. I have had my own major challenges, so I know personally that initial gut reaction to lab results!
However, Telomere testing kicks it up a notch regarding true aging. Telomeres are sections of DNA at the end of every chromosome that serve as a cap to your genetic material. Think of them as the small plastic strands on the end of a shoe lace.
Each time one of your 100 trillion cells divide and replicate, the new strand becomes shorter which causes the cell to age. By evaluating the Telomere length on white blood cells, we can assess biological age versus chronological age. The higher the score, the “younger” the cells are, and thus, the goal is to slow the loss of Telomere lengths.
Variables that can affect Telomere lengths include diet, exercise, oxidative stress, weight, insulin resistance, and toxic exposure. Studies have shown that Telomere test results are strongly associated with cardiovascular risks, chronic disease, and cancer.
For me, knowing this biomarker will help me strengthen my desire to live healthy with specific restorative plans. Each piece of my “puzzle” gives me a glimpse of my own personal risk factors. My goal is not to live forever, but to live with the best possible quality of life.
As one of my patients stated, “I want to live hard and die fast!” We can’t predict our destiny. But the more knowledge we have about our bodies, the better choices we can make.
I should have my results in a few weeks. Perhaps I’ll share them and we can figure out how to improve my health. In the meantime, I’ll be more intentional with my personal time. Spring is a great season for gardening, cooking organic vegetables, biking Cades Cove, and loving on grandchildren, family, and friends. Quiet times of prayer and a thankful heart are great for de-stressing. Nurturing our body, soul, and spirit is the best way to seize every day…and a great way to lengthen those Telomeres!
Last weekend, I needed to find some specific items in my garage. I soon became overwhelmed with all the stuff I had to pick through before I found what I was looking for!
Spring cleaning was more intense than I had anticipated. However, after organizing and “detoxing” this vital area, I began to appreciate the many functions of my garage! As I threw away the last bag of debris, I realized that our bodies also need a thorough review and cleansing. Many times, vague symptoms such as fatigue, apathy, muscle pain, insomnia, and irritable bowel issues need more than a quick fix. Antidepressants and laxatives may initially soothe our symptoms, but they don’t heal our bodies.
A better approach is to assess the situation by getting to the root cause. A unique test at Seasons measures energy production, metabolism, B vitamins, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, ability to detoxify, and markers for emotional and behavioral problems.
The Organic Acid test is like an emission test performed on your car. The exhaust is measured to see how well the engine is burning fuel. In the same way, amino acids excreted in your urine reveal how well your body is running!
When specific nutrients such as vitamins are not being absorbed, important reactions cannot take place in your body. For example, B vitamins are critical for digestion, muscle and nerve function, and energy production. A deficiency can cause a multitude of problems with various symptoms exhibited. Organic acid levels help us determine the bad stuff (toxins) that have accumulated as well as reveal any insufficiencies that need to be replenished. From your unique results, we can custom design a plan to help restore health and a sense of well-being.
So, as you begin the process of Spring cleaning, make it a point this year to do as much for your body! It will function better, you won’t need to replace parts, and your shelf life will be exponentially increased.
“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” -Let It Snow lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Wintertime in Tennessee is a great excuse to download or buy a new book and then get lost between its covers. My favorite for 2012 is “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. This is a fascinating and fun read describing how the amber waves of grain of our grandparents are barely recognizable as today’s genetically modified dwarf grain. This leads to potential digestive disorders, increased inflammation, and ultimately malabsorption of nutrients.
Did you know that wheat products elevate blood sugar more than Snickers candy bars or ice cream? As blood sugar (glucose) rises, more insulin is released from the pancreas. This allows entry of glucose into the cells of the body, converting glucose to fat. The higher the blood glucose after eating, the greater the insulin level leading to more fat being deposited, especially in the abdomen. The bigger your wheat belly, the poorer your response is to insulin, in turn leading to insulin resistance which can trigger diabetes.
Other effects of wheat include behavioral changes as well as documented tendencies to addiction! Digestion of wheat produces morphine-like compounds that bind to the brain’s opiate receptors. This can induce euphoria as well as unpleasant withdrawal effects. Dr. Davis states that wheat is one of the few foods that can alter behavior and generate a withdrawal syndrome upon removal. He describes it as a “powerful appetite stimulant” and cites cases of people continuing to snack from dinner to bedtime after wheat consumption.
Avoiding wheat can diminish food cravings and hunger, decrease calorie intake, and improve moods, not to mention decreasing weight and shrinking wheat bellies!
The book continues with such chapters as wheat and heart disease; cataracts, wrinkles, and elevated aging; and wheat’s destructive effect on the skin. Dr. Davis ends with wonderful resources and recipes that are wheat-free. So, when you are done with your daily exercise and are ready to nestle down with a book, check out Wheat Belly!
And the next time you are at Seasons, ask about our tests for wheat sensitivities such as ALCAT and our GI Panel.
The beginning of 2012 is a great time to get healthy. Lose the wheat. Lose the weight!
Mammograms continue to be the mantra we hear every October during the annual Breast Cancer Awareness month. This screening tool may help identify cancer but it certainly doesn’t prevent breast cancer. At Seasons, every month is breast cancer awareness month as we are always looking at risk factors and working towards strengthening the body.
Cancer cells have three basic characteristics. They multiply more rapidly than normal cells; they are less differentiated (immature); and they don’t die (apoptosis) when they are supposed to. Many factors either contribute to or help prevent this horrific chain of events. Our goal at Seasons, is to uncover these factors before the mammogram reveals cancer.
Dr. John Lee describes in his book, “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Breast Cancer,” risk factors that are not commonly discussed. We are vigilant to uncover all of these and more. Through testing, we can identify such risk factors as estrogen dominance, insulin resistance, elevated cortisol levels, and how your body metabolizes estrogen.
Furthermore, as a breast cancer survivor myself, I am dedicated to helping women avoid this diagnosis.
On Thursday, December 8, we will be offering thermogram screening. To schedule an appointment for the screening or for more information regarding true breast cancer prevention, call our office at (865) 675-9355.
The fall season conjures up images of pumpkin pies, hot biscuits, and steaming lattes. Sweet aromas from county fairs to Dollywood tempt even the staunchest convert from sugar! For those who struggle with a sugar addiction, this can be the start of another vicious cycle of weight gain, depression, muscle aches, indigestion, and fatigue.
One of the underlying complications that usually go undetected is the invasive spread of yeast in the body. Yeast is one of the billions of microorganisms normally found in the mucous membranes of the mouth, throat, digestive tract, and genitals. Its growth is controlled by healthy bacteria, but an imbalance can wreak havoc on all the body’s systems.
One of the many culprits is an excessive sugar intake. Yeast feeds on sugar which sets off an intense craving for sugar. As a result, yeast can multiply and take over the body. A vicious cycle develops as yeast causes one to eat more carbs, the carbs fuel the growth and multiplication of yeast, and the growing colonies of yeast demand more sugar leading to increased stores of fat.
Many symptoms from sinusitis to psoriasis can be attributed to yeast overgrowth. In Dr. Pam Smith’s book, “Why You Can’t Lose Weight,” she lists over 90 problems associated with yeast overgrowth. Some of the more common symptoms we have seen at Seasons include nasal congestion, inability to concentrate, anxiety, joint pain, adrenal dysfunction, bladder infections, PMS, and weight gain.
The good news is that when we address this issue, many of the chronic health problems finally resolve. Depending on the severity of symptoms and the extent of yeast overgrowth, we will custom design a plan just for you. Healthy eating choices, specific probiotics and herbs as well as other supplements will help restore your body. Many times we may also prescribe a round of medications to help eradicate stubborn yeast.
Sugar addiction is real, but we can help you overcome it. Set up an appointment to assess yeast overgrowth before the consequences overwhelm you. The fall season is the beginning of wonderful holidays and memories, but it doesn’t have to be a cycle of despair. Everyone who struggles from this can be restored to vibrant health…well, maybe not the dough boy!
“I feel stupid, fat, and tired,” is a recurring theme with many of our new patients at Seasons. Many factors play a role in this syndrome.
One common but overlooked contributor is environmental toxins. A new study by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) found over 48 toxic chemicals in women’s blood and urine. Besides toxic metals, chemicals such as pesticides, BPA, phthalates, etc. were discovered in large amounts.
Some of the many consequences of this exposure include hormonal disregulation, miscarriages, diabetes, slower metabolism, and increased cancer rates.
At Seasons, we can identify the toxins and help your body become well again. Give your body some extra TLC this summer by detoxing – it’s much better than fad diets and medications for symptoms!
“Maybe I just have the winter blues,” she said. This statement leads the list of commonly heard complaints from patients who come to me seeking answers for their symptoms.
“Sarah” came to our office frustrated that all of her lab work showed normal levels of everything. “My thyroid levels weren’t even low,” she exclaimed hoping that low thyroid would explain her symptom list including fatigue, sleep disturbance, mild anxiety and depression, as well as brain fog. She even had a prescription for an antidepressant but was reluctant to fill it. “I hate the person I have become! Even my family has noticed a change in me. Can you help me?”
Fortunately for Sarah, we are in the business of wellness. Instead of accepting a diagnosis of depression, we sought to identify specific markers showing mitochondrial insufficiency, my suspected cause for her symptoms. Don’t be scared by the term mitochondrial insufficiency. It’s just a fancy name for inefficient cellular energy production!
Without cellular energy, symptoms such as fatigue, exercise intolerance, mood disorders, insomnia, and brain fog can wreak havoc in our bodies. Other symptoms such as generalized muscle aches, skin disorders, and blood sugar imbalance can be affected by specific deficiencies.
Using advanced metabolic testing, we were able to measure “Sarah’s” organic acids, fatty acids, amino acids, as well as vitamin levels and toxins. Her results confirmed that her body wasn’t making the energy she needed.
Sarah is now equipped with her own custom-designed wellness plan to give her body optimal health. Along with specific vitamins, amino acids, and other supplements, she is detoxing her body by using an Infrared Sauna twice a week. Not only has her quality of life been enhanced, but her overall health has improved as well.
And by the way…she never had to fill the antidepressant prescription. And that’s a check in the win column of Sarah’s life! Cheers to wellness!