Caring Hands Chiropractic

IMMUNITY AND THE IMPACT OF VITAMIN D AND CHIROPRACTIC CARE ON OUR BODIES


Chiropractic


Research has shown us that our immune system relies on our brain and central nervous system to choose the best way to respond to potential health threats.1 These 2 super-systems, the central nervous system and immune system, are linked and work together to notice and respond properly to anything that may harm you.1,2

We now know that when your spine is not moving properly, this obstruction changes the way your brain can sense what is happening and how it controls your body.3 Research has also shown, if your chiropractor adjusts your spine and improves the way it’s moving, it can help your brain to more accurately respond.4,5

This means that when you get adjusted by your chiropractor, it may help you to respond and adapt to your environment easier and allow your nervous system and your immune system to talk to each other better, to keep you balanced and strong. But we need to do more research to really find out if chiropractic care really does help improve the function of your immune system in a way that’s important for your health.


Vitamin D

Vitamin D is widely known for its role in calcium balance, bone health maintenance and increasingly known to be vital to many areas of chronic disease prevention.

But did you know – Activated vitamin D functions more as a hormone than a vitamin?

It has roles in immune function, insulin and thyroid hormone secretion, cell cycle regulation, cardiovascular function and the control of inflammation. Due to its wide range of actions, and the high incidence of vitamin D3 deficiency, supplementing with a stable form of vitamin D3 has the potential to benefit so many people.6

Image Source: Metagenics7 A supplementation example.

Please check with your healthcare provider to see if supplementation is right for you.


Sources of Vitamin D

For most people, the Sun’s UVB radiation is the main natural source of Vitamin D3. Sunscreens and high skin pigmentation can reduce the UVB-mediated production of D3 – for example, SPF15 factor sunscreen can reduce D3 production by 99%.

Dietary sources are limited, including animal products such as oily fish and egg yolks. Vitamin D3 is metabolised by the liver which is then converted in the kidney to the active form.


Speak to your health professional about what is best for your health.

References:

[1] Kawli T, He F & Tan M-W. Disease models & mechanisms 2010;3(11-12):721-31.

[2] Kipnis J. A Sense of Discovery: How the Immune System Works with the Brain. Scientific American 2018;319(2):28-35.

[3] Haavik H & Murphy B. The role of spinal manipulation in addressing disordered sensorimotor integration and altered motor control. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2012;22(5):768-76.

[4] Haavik H, et al. Effects of 12 Weeks of Chiropractic Care on Central Integration of Dual Somatosensory Input in Chronic Pain Patients: A Preliminary Study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. Mar-Apr 2017;40(3):127-138.

[5] Taylor HH & Murphy B. Altered sensorimotor integration with cervical spine manipulation. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2008;31(2):115-26.

[6] https://metagenicsinstitute.com.au/tech-data/vitamin-d3 (Accessed 31.5.2021)

[7] https://www.metagenics.com.au/Products/Product/VITD270. (Accessed 2.6.2021)

ALMOST MAGICAL MUSHROOMS

Gotcha! You thought I was going to write about magic mushrooms……well we may not be talking Psilocybin but some of the traditional Chinese and Japanese medicinal mushrooms are pretty magical.


The Chinese and Japanese have been using mushrooms as medicine for thousands of years.

I had my first experience using these a few years ago. I became very ill with pneumonia and pleurisy and although I took a course of antibiotics it wasn’t shifting. I thought before trying more antibiotics I would try some Turkey Tail mushroom. I felt like it was a miracle at the time, as after 24hrs I was feeling significantly better.

Since then, I use mushrooms everyday to help improve my overall health. I used Reishi throughout my pregnancy to help with my immunity (I was pregnant through the worst of COVID and still working with the public) and the Chinese believe that Reishi babies are calm babies….not sure if it’s coincidence or not but my son is super chill. Post birth I’ve still been using Reishi and have added in some cordyceps which is said to help rebuild the blood, and I do find that I notice if I forget.


Please talk to a health professional before starting any new supplements – especially while pregnant or breastfeeding. Results will vary from person to person.


Now I’ve spoken about my experience, let’s dive into the individual mushrooms and what they can be used for.

Reishi

· Increases immune function and a potent antioxidant1

· Modulate the microbiota of the intestinal tract, and have been heralded as effective prebiotics2

· Anti-inflammatory3

· Antibacterial and Antiviral5

· Powerful adaptogen and considered the ‘mushroom of immortality’

· Traditionally considered good to support the immune system, relieve stress, strengthen the spirit, calm the mind and promote peaceful sleep. (SuperFeast)

Cordyceps

· Enhance immune function4

· Antibacterial5

· Considered a life-enhancing herb in the Taoist herbal tradition

· Traditionally used to increase blood oxygenation and cultivate Jing – the primordial energy living in the kidneys. With increased Jing, we experience improved core energy, cellular performance, endurance and reduced recovery time (SuperFeast)

Turkey Tail (Coriolus)

· Increases immune function and a potent antioxidant1

· Modulate the microbiota of the intestinal tract, and have been heralded as effective prebiotics2

· Anti-inflammatory3

· Used by Taoists to cultivate a robust immune system that is able to combat pathogens, turkey tail is also beneficial for boosting Qi (Chi), supporting bone health, toning the liver, and improving gut health. (SuperFeast)

Shiitake

· Immune stimulating6

· Antiviral5

· Could be helpful in inhibiting the influenza virus7

· Considered the ‘elixir of life’ by Japanese elders

· Traditionally considered good for the cardiovascular system, blood vessels, respiratory system and liver (SuperFeast)


I use Metagenics super mushroom, SuperFeast or Host Defence (which you can get from iHerb). Caring Hands Chiropractic stocks Metagenics and a small range of SuperFeast products.


And as always, please consult a healthcare professional before starting a new supplement. Results will vary from person to person.

References:

[1] Zjalic S, Reverberi M, Ricelli A, et al. Trametes versicolor: a possible tool for aflatoxin control. International Journal of Food Microbiology. 2006;107:243-9.

[2] Pallav K, Dowd SE, Villafuerte J, et al. Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers: a randomized clinical trial. Gut Microbes. 2014 Jul 1;5(4):458-67.

[3] He YX, Du M, Shi HL, et al. Astragalosides from Radix Astragali benefits experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in C57BL /6 mice at multiple levels. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Aug 24;14:313.

[4] Belwal T, Bhatt ID, Indra D, Dharambir K, Sak S, Tuli HS, et al. Nonvitamin and nonmineral nutritional supplements. USA: Academic Press; 2019. P. 527-37.

[5] Reis FS, Martins A, Vasconcelos MH, Morales P, Ferreira IC. Functional foods based on extracts or compounds derived from mushrooms. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2017 May 19;66:48-62. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2017.05.010.

[6] Zhang M, Cui SW, Cheung PCK, Wang Q. Antitumor polysaccharides from mushrooms: a review on their isolation process, structural characteristics and antitumor activity. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2007 Jan;18(1):4-19 doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2006.07.013.

[7] Kuroki T, Lee S, Hirohama M, Taku T, Kumakura M, Haruyama T. Inhibition of influenza virus Infection by Lentinus edodes mycelia extract through its direct action and immunopotentiating activity. Front Microbiol. 2018 May 29;9:1164. doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.01164.

PREBIOTICS, PROBIOTICS AND IMMUNE HEALTH

Most of us have heard of antibiotics, and their role in the medical world in treating the ‘bad bacteria’ which may cause infections and serious health complications.

But if ‘bad bacteria’ exist, do ‘good bacteria’ exist?

The answer is YES!


Our body has thousands2 of different types of good and bad bacteria (and other microflora) which is known as our microbiome.1

Probiotics are the ‘good bacteria’ in our bodies, and help to maintain a healthy balance in our microbiome.

Prebiotics are the building blocks which help keep our levels of ‘good bacteria’ stable.

Maintaining the health of our microbiome is crucial to the function of numerous aspects of our body’s daily activities; including nutrient metabolism and energy production, facilitating optimal neuroendocrine function (the body’s communication system), maintaining cardiovascular health, and a developing and maintaining a strong immune system.2


Signs of poor gut microbiome health may include:

– Altered immune system functions | Allergies, sensitivities, intolerances, hay fever, sinusitis, frequent/recurrent colds

– Irritable bowel | Constipation, diarrhoea or fluctuating between the two

– Pain and/or bloating with eating, a ‘gassy’ system (frequent burping or farting)

– Fatigue | Poor concentration, low motivation

You can help maintain the general health of your microbiome by ensuring you eat a wide variety of fresh foods.

Probiotics are found in fermented foods (like yoghurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi)

Prebiotics are found in high fibre foods like fruit and veggies, and can also be found in onions, garlic, soybeans, and whole grains.1, 3

Sometimes a wide variety of natural foods isn’t enough to maintain or restore a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria; such as when you are feeling stressed, run down, or overworked; or after taking antibiotics. For this reason Caring Hands Chiropractic stocks many of the Metagenics practitioner only Probiotics Range, which are clinically proven2 to help manage gut issues (like constipation, bloating and pain), and to establish, maintain and/or improve your immune system health.

Figure 1: the Metagenics Probiotic Range

Press HERE to read our Healthy Living Blog post “Can healing the gut play a part in managing allergies?”

Press HERE to read our Healthy Living Blog post “Can allergens and irritants impact the health of the body?”


Have a chat with the team at Caring Hands Chiropractic about what lifestyle and dietary modifications may benefit you and your family.

References:

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/prebiotics-probiotics-and-your-health/art-20390058
[2] https://www.metagenicsinstitute.com.au/trade-presenters/probiotics
[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/probiotics/faq-20058065

Feature Image credit: Antoine Doré

THE LIVER AND ITS USEFULNESS

Most of us have probably heard of the liver and how it helps breakdown any alcohol we ingest. And whilst this is true it has so many more functions to perform.


Without a functioning liver a person cannot survive. This essential organ is involved in over 500 vital functions. Some of its many functions include:

Converting carbohydrates to glucose (for instant energy) and converts glucose to glycogen (stored glucose).

Amino acids are sent to the liver for the production of hormones.

Filters blood – All the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver, which removes toxins, by products, and other harmful substances.

Regulates blood clotting – Blood clotting coagulants are created using vitamin K, which can only be absorbed with the help of bile, a fluid the liver produces.

Resists infections – As part of the filtering process, the liver also removes bacteria from the bloodstream. 

Stores vitamins and minerals – The liver stores significant amounts of vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12, as well as iron and copper.


This organ is vital to the body’s metabolic functions and immune system.


Here are some key things you can do to help it function optimally:

  • Avoid recreational drugs.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Practise safe sex.
  • Drink at least 2 litres of filtered tap water daily.
  • Minimise your exposure to man-made chemicals and toxic compounds by choosing organic produce where possible and switching to cleaning products based on natural ingredients.
  • Do a detox or liver cleanse once a year.

Press HERE to read our Healthy Living Blog post “How environmental toxins affect women’s hormones.” Press HERE to read our Healthy Living Blog post “Detox your home.


Talk to your health practitioner today for a personalised detox program.

HOW ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS AFFECT WOMEN’S HORMONES

I recently read that we’re unknowingly exposed to hundreds of hormone disrupting chemicals or endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) each day.


Since we know of nearly 800 chemicals that are suspected to be hormone disruptors, I think it’s safe to say that EDCs are becoming a global health crisis. Your daily touchpoints might include:

  • Air bags.
  • Cigarette smoke.
  • Cosmetics.
  • Food.
  • Detergents.
  • Packaging.
  • Plastic cups and plates.
  • Toys.1
  • Water-resistant clothing
  • Coatings in saucepans and frying pans.2

Our endocrine system includes different glands such as the thyroid or pituitary gland, that produce hormones. These hormones help regulate body functions. Toxins are artificial chemicals that interfere with the proper functioning of our hormones.1

Exposure to EDCs has been linked to reproductive disorders, endometriosis, adrenal imbalances, thyroid issues, insulin resistance and diabetes, obesity, and various cancers. Even some cases of mood disorders and autism may relate to endocrine disruptors.1

Through laboratory cell cultures, toxins can directly affect the production of steroid hormones. Steroid hormones, for example estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol, are necessary for reproduction, normal development and normal bodily functions in humans and animals. Toxins are widespread in the environment and can affect the body’s hormone systems in a more complex way than previously supposed.2


When choosing products, look for labels that say:

  • Paraben-free.
  • Phthalate-free.
  • BPA-free.

Other potentially beneficial steps:

  • Drink tap water rather than bottled water (tests show bottled water often contains harmful chemicals and bacteria).
  • Avoid pesticides by choosing organic foods when possible.
  • Choose natural cleaning products for your home.1

Our liver is a detox organ that may help us process out toxins. The herb milk thistle may help maintain healthy liver function. Milk thistle contains Silymarin, which has illustrated hepatoprotective properties in an in vivo study; demonstrating increases in the redox state and total glutathione content of the liver.

Milk thistle has also been used to assist bile production and detoxification.3

Talk to your health practitioner today to see if this product is right for you.


References:

[1] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-environmental-toxins-can-impact-your-health/
[2] Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. (2010, July 6). Environmental toxins affect the body’s hormone systems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 27, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100701081857.htm
[3] https://www.metagenics.com.au/Products/Product/SILM

MEN’S MENOPAUSE

Andropause is a syndrome associated with “a decrease in sexual satisfaction or a decline in a feeling of general well-being associated with low levels of testosterone in older men.”1


Symptoms to look out for are similar to Menopause; including loss of muscle mass and strength, increased body fat deposition, depressed moods, loss of bone density (Osteoporosis)2, changes in sexual habits – loss of libido, onset of morning erections, and/or erectile dysfunction.1

Menopause is a decrease of the ‘female hormones’ (ie Estrogen and Progesterone) in women.

Andropause is a decrease the ‘male hormone’ (Testosterone). These levels can decline at a rate of approximately 1% per year.4

So how can the team at Caring Hands Chiropractic help?

We are experienced with the holistic management of several conditions (including inflammatory arthritis, obesity, and metabolic syndrome). These conditions have been identified as potential risk factors for Andropause.3

Inflammatory arthritis are types of arthritis which involve the immune system (e.g. Rheumatoid Arthritis)

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal body fat, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Joint pain, inflammation, and dysfunction can lead to decreased levels of physical activity, and subsequently increased levels of obesity, altered metabolic processes, and changes in cholesterol, triglyceride and blood sugar levels – all risk factors for Andropause.


Chiropractic care focuses on improving the function of the joints, nerves, and muscles and minimising pain, dysfunction and immobility. Treatment and results will vary from person to person with the emphasis being on promoting a healthy lifestyle. This in turn may moderate some of the risk factors associated with Andropause.

Likewise appropriate supplementation may help to support the healthy functioning of various processes in the body, from pain and inflammation control; to improving hormone function and stress management pathways.


For more information individualised to your specific case, just ask the friendly team at Caring Hands Chiropractic at your next appointment.

References:

[1] Singh, P., 2013. Andropause: Current concepts. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 17(9), p.621.
[2] Rate and circumstances of clinical vertebral fractures in older men.Freitas SS, Barrett-Connor E, Ensrud KE, Fink HA, Bauer DC, Cawthon PM, Lambert LC, Orwoll ES, Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) Research Group. Osteoporos Int. 2008 May; 19(5):615-23.
[3] Review: Late-onset hypogonadism. Bassil N. Med Clin North Am. 2011 May; 95(3):507-23, x.
[4] The relative contributions of aging, health, and lifestyle factors to serum testosterone decline in men. Travison TG, Araujo AB, Kupelian V, O’Donnell AB, McKinlay JB. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Feb; 92(2):549-55.

GROWING YOUR OWN SPROUTS

Sprouts are an absolute favourite of mine. My favourite sandwich as a child was wholemeal bread with butter, tomato, black pepper and alfalfa sprouts.


As well as tasting delicious, sprouts have many health benefits including:

  • High in vitamins and minerals. They generally contain high levels of folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin K. In fact, they have higher amounts of these nutrients than fully-grown versions of the same plants.1
  • Can help hormonal balance. Brassica sprouts (broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts) in particular can help to have a balancing effect on hormones by improving the way the liver processes our hormones by promoting phase II detoxification.2
  • Help our liver to stay happy by promoting phase II detox. 2
  • Extra veggies. A diet rich in vegetables is shown to result in lower blood pressure, a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, reduced risk of digestive problems and some cancers. You’ll even experience an improved blood glucose response that can help keep appetite in check.

You can easily grow all kinds of different sprouts at home in your kitchen. All you need is a jar, seeds, some cheese cloth/sprouting mesh and an elastic band.

Instructions:

  1. Get a clean jar and add 2 tablespoons of your chosen seeds. Rinse well, then cover seeds with about an inch (about 2.5 cm) of water. Cover with cheese cloth secured by elastic band or sprout mesh and leave to sit overnight.
  2. In the morning tip off the water through the cheese cloth.
  3. Rinse the seeds and tip off excess water. Place the jar upside down on a 50-70 degree angle.
  4. Repeat 2 x per day
  5. Do this for 3-4 days and then enjoy!

Store in the fridge and add to soups, smoothies, salads and tomato sandwiches!

You can source seeds online or from your local nursery or Bunnings. Sprouting mesh lids can be sourced on eBay.


Keep an eye out for the video..

References:

[1] webMD
[2]  Kensler TW, Chen JG, Egner PA, Fahey JW, Jacobson LP, Stephenson KK, et al. Effects of glucosinolate-rich broccoli sprouts on urinary levels of aflatoxin-DNA adducts and phenanthrene tetraols in a randomised clinical trial in He Zuo township, Qidong, People’s Republic of China. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Nov:14(11 Pt 1):2605-13. PubMed PMID: 16284385.
[3] https://www.drlibby.com/health-wellbeing/why-the-brassica-family-of-vegetables-are-the-superstars-of-the-vegetable-world/
Feature Image: NoDerog / Getty Images

THE PITFALLS OF A HOLIDAY

I recently went on a wonderful holiday to an island.


The island had three restaurants to choose from for all meals. One, a Japanese option, the other two best described as Australian fast food. The Japanese was lovely and healthy; unfortunately was only open four of the days. The other two were open all the time. Salad options were sold out by 11.30am leaving only fried foods (chips, sweet potato chips, calamari etc) as our limited option.

It made me realise how much fruit and vegetables I consume regularly. I thought I was ‘normal’ in this aspect. Upon reflection of my holiday, it seems I may not be!


In our line of work as a chiropractor we are here to help people achieve optimal health and wellness. Diet is a key factor to how well we function. Ideally, we need to aim for 5-7 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Both fruit and vegetables are a great source of water and fibre and therefore extremely beneficial for our digestive tract. Some examples of fruits and vegetables high in water and fibre content include; blueberry, apple, orange, peach, pineapple, broccoli, cabbage, celery, cucumber and lettuce. 1

Many studies show the benefits of regular intake of fruit and vegetable in our diet. One study of men who ate 110 grams of apple a day (an averaged sized apple) had half the risk of a heart attack compared to those who ate less than 18 grams per day.2

Another study resulted in a reduction by 20% risk of developing colorectal cancer by the addition of one daily serving of vegetables.3 Another reason to increase your intake of leafy greens is it is significantly associated with a reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes.4

A high intake of fruit and vegetables have been associated with a reduced incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease.5


Hopefully these studies will spur us all onto increasing our fruit and vegetable intake. Aside from the poor food choices I did have a lovely holiday. I hope that this year we all get a nice break away and relax somewhere.

References:

[1] Cooperative extension service, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, ENRI-129, December 1997.
[2] Ness, AR, Powles, JW. Does eating fruit and vegetables protect against heart attack and stroke? Chemistry and Industry, Oct, 21, 1996; 792-4
[3] Franceschi, S. et al. Food groups and risk of colorectal cancer in Italy. Int. J. Cancer 1997 72:56-61
[4] Carter, PC, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2010; 341: C4229
[5] Pomerleau J, Lock K, McKee M. The burden of cardiovascular disease and cancer attributable to low fruit and vegetable intake in the European Union: difference between old and new member states. Public Health Nutr 2006; 9: 575-83

CAN HEALING THE GUT PLAY A PART IN MANAGING ALLERGIES?

Allergies are one of the most common chronic health conditions in the world. 


Symptoms can range from mild to a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Common types are hay fever, eczema, hives, asthma, and food allergy (1). Eggs, milk, and peanuts are the most common food allergies in children (2). Allergens can be inhaled, ingested, or enter through the skin. (1).

What happens during an allergic reaction?

Allergic reactions begin in your immune system. When dust, mould, or pollen is encountered by a person who is allergic to that substance, the immune system may overreact by producing antibodies that “attack” the allergen. They can cause wheezing, itching, runny nose, watery, itchy eyes, or abdominal changes.

A function of the immune system is to defend and keep microorganisms, such as certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi, out of the body, and to destroy any infectious microorganisms that invade.


A study with mice with a peanut-allergy, showed a genetic glitch that damages a receptor in immune cells and recognizes microbes. The peanut-allergy mice may have lacked the normal cross talk that takes place between gut microbes and immune cells.

Peanuts provoked anaphylaxis only in mice with a mutated receptor, not in genetically related strains with a normal receptor. The difference disappeared when the scientists wiped out populations of gut bacteria with antibiotics. Then, even normal mice became susceptible to food allergies, implying that bacteria are at the heart of the protection.

There’s a potential explanation: Mice colonized with Clostridia bacteria had more cells that dampens immune responses. The Clostridia mice also produced more of a molecule that strengthens the intestinal lining. A new theory began to emerge: If protective microbes are missing, the gut barrier weakens, allowing food proteins to seep into the bloodstream and potentially trigger allergic responses (3).

If we consider historical trends, as societies modernized, people moved to urban areas, had more babies by caesarean section, took more antibiotics and ate more processed, low-fibre food – all of which shake up microbiomes. The timing of these lifestyle shifts parallels the observed increase in food and other types of allergies, whose steep rise over a generation points to some environmental cause.

Source: Scientific American

Probiotics have been shown to rebuild a disrupted microbiome (4). Ultra Flora Intensive Care in particular may support your gut and therefore immune health.

Speak to your health care provider to see if this product is right for you.

Source: Metagenics

References:

[1] Johns Hopkins Medicine, Allergies and the Immune System, accessed 17/4/2021. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/allergies-and-the-immune-system
[2] Johns Hopkins Medicine, Food Allergies, accessed 17/4/2021.
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/food-allergies
[3] Scientific American, Gut Microbes May Be Key To Solving Food Allergies, accessed 17/4/2021. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-microbes-may-be-key-to-solving-food-allergies/#
[4] Metagenics probiotic product, accessed 17/4/2021. https://www.metagenics.com.au/Products/Product/UFIC60

CAN ALLERGENS AND IRRITANTS IMPACT THE HEALTH OF THE BODY?

Last week our Healthy Living Blog post by Sarah, “Allergy or Intolerance” introduced the difference between an allergy and an intolerance, and linked both to gut health.

An allergy refers to the body’s reaction to the proteins within the eaten food (immune system). This food is harmless to most people.1

An intolerance or sensitivity is considered a ‘chemical’ reaction (digestive system) to a substance, commonly food, and does not show up on a traditional allergy test.


Why should I care? I can cope with the symptoms of my intolerance!

It’s not as simple as a tummy ache, bowel changes, or even a mild rash. Regularly exposing your body to allergens or irritants can have significant impacts on the health of the body.

Exposure to an allergen creates an inflammatory response in the digestive system, creating an increase in intestinal permeability (aka Leaky Gut Syndrome). This increase in gut permeability creates a change in the way our metabolic and neuroendocrine systems function.

The metabolic system is responsible for life sustaining chemical reactions, which ultimately fuel the body’s energy and chemical needs.

The neuroendocrine system involves the interaction between the brain and the body’s hormonal regulation and helps to regulate and balance our body’s daily functions. 


Changes in these two systems result in a pro-inflammatory state, which can contribute to immune system dysfunction and the development of a wide range of chronic conditions3.

The intestinal microbiome has been identified as a triggering/mediating factor in autoimmune conditions4 (including Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, and psoriasis); some rheumatoid conditions5 (rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthropathies), and potentially some types of cancers6.


It’s not all bad news. By choosing healthy lifestyle factors we may better promote a healthy gut microbiome2.

Where possible, avoid processed foods. The additives and preservatives often contained in processed foods are designed to slow the growth of microflora and bacteria. They are designed to prolong the shelf life of a product, however once ingested, can also wreak havoc on the balance and growth of the bacteria integral to a healthy gut microbiome. By consuming a wide variety of foods, you may increase the diversity of nutrients and microflora your gut is exposed to; thus helping to maintain a balance of the 2100+ organisms7 that make up our gut microbiome.

Illustration: Mitch Blunt

There are a range of supplements and programs that can be followed to improve gut health and potentially reduce not only the symptoms of your intolerance but also help to address the root cause.

Speak to you practitioner to find out what approach would be best in your situation.

References:

[1] Metagenics Allergy and Reactivity Reduction Program: Clinical Guide
[2] Shanahan F, van Sinderen D, O’Toole PW, Stanton C. Feeding the microbiota: transducer of nutrient signals for the host. Gut. 2017;66(9):1709-1717.
[3] Fitzgerald, F. and Hodges, R., 2021. The Role of the Microbiome in Immune-Related Diseases | IFM. [online] The Institute for Functional Medicine. Available at: https://www.ifm.org/news-insights/gut-role-microbiome-immune-diseases/ 
[4] Opazo MC, Ortega-Rocha EM, Coronado-Arrázola I, et al. Intestinal Microbiota Influences Non-intestinal Related Autoimmune Diseases. Front Microbiol. 2018;9:432
[5] Yeoh N, Burton JP, Suppiah P, Reid G, Stebbings S (Mar 2013). “The role of the microbiome in rheumatic diseases”. Current Rheumatology Reports(Review). 15 (3): 314
[6] Fasano A (Jan 2011). “Zonulin and its regulation of intestinal barrier function: the biological door to inflammation, autoimmunity, and cancer”. Physiological Reviews (Review). 91 (1): 151–75 
[7] Thursby, E., & Juge, N. (2017). Introduction to the human gut microbiota. The Biochemical journal474(11), 1823–1836. https://doi.org/10.1042/BCJ20160510