Yesterday I attended a presentation by a local Ph.D in Biochemistry regarding balancing women’s hormones and mood, and while she has great success treating her clients with blood analysis only, she states that saliva testing is never appropriate. Unfortunately, this blanket-type statement may not be fully correct, as there is documented validity of salivary testing in certain circumstances, and this discrepancy in understanding further illustrates the misunderstandings of functional vs. traditional allopathic medicine.
While blood (serum) testing has long been the “gold standard” for traditionally accepted medical testing and medical disease, recent developments, technology and understanding have brought other testing methods to the playing field. These include urinary metabolites and salivary testing. This testing is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for serum (blood) testing, but rather that it allows for the assessment of different functionality, for different criteria.
Tuesday January 7th at 1:30pm and 5:30pm at The Athletic Club at the Westin in Avon, Colorado
Informational presentation by Dr. Jacqui Slavin D.C.
Cardiologist Bill Davis MD author of Wheat Belly, and Neurologist David Perlmutter MD author of Grain Brain, reawakened the discussion of how wheat and gluten affect our health by specifically addressing the link to heart disease and brain degeneration. Many people are still confused about Celiac Disease, gluten sensitivity, and grains and whether it is just a fad or an important dietary concern.
This presentation aims to dispel some of the confusion by reviewing the physiology of high cholesterol and brain degeneration presented by the authors, as well as a explaining in greater detail why gluten and wheat seem to be of increased concern in the past few years.
Dr. Jacqui Slavin D.C. is a local functional medicine and nutrition expert who has lived in the valley for 17 years and understands the goals of both locals and destination guests, and the requirements for our active lifestyle.
By focussing on the underlying cause versus just reducing the symptoms, Dr. Slavin is passionate about helping people to optimize their health by combining both natural and traditional medicine, as well as focusing on preventative therapeutic lifestyle medicine.
Specialization in common health concerns includes high cholesterol, thyroid imbalance, weight-loss, digestive dysfunction (gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea), food sensitivities, and hormone imbalance (PMS, menopause, infertility).
Dr. Slavin participates in community education classes on gluten, thyroid, brain health, weight-loss and other topics, and has presented for the Eagle County Parkinson’s Support Group; Eagle, Edwards and Vail Rotary Clubs; Walking Mountains; Fresh Approach – bringing healthy foods to Eagle County Schools, and other local organizations, and as an adjunct faculty member at Colorado Mountain College teaching Anatomy and Physiology and healthy cooking classes.
While the subject is not new, there still remains great confusion surrounding the topics of wheat, gluten, Celiac disease, gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity. While many still consider wheat and gluten to be one and the same, it is important to identify that they are extremely different and should be treated as such. Considering the differences helps to understand the relation to other diseases and conditions that have recently come to light.
In the past several years two physicians have published books focusing on the association between wheat and gluten to even more health conditions and diseases than simply accepted digestive disorders.
Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist and author of “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health,” found that when wheat was eliminated from a patient’s diet, weight loss and optimal health was attainable. Focused specifically on wheat and its relation to heart health, Dr. Davis found that low-fat dietary plans, which often substituted larger amounts of carbohydrates for fats, were causing increased levels of cholesterol. Furthermore, Dr. Davis discovered that it is in fact high blood sugar levels, caused by carbohydrate-rich meals – primarily whole wheat, that caused elevations in both triglycerides and small low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles (the more dangerous type of LDL Cholesterol).
Current guidelines for a heart-healthy diet include whole grains, a recommendation since the 1960s, but recent studies like Dr. Davis’ have shown no positive effect and even harmful results when diets included wheat and gluten. After carbohydrate-rich meals, small LDL cholesterol is elevated for seven days – the longer these particles spend in circulation, the more opportunity they have to be oxidized. Oxidation can damage tissues of the body, and pose a threat to overall heart health.
Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and author of “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers,” compiles research findings on carbohydrates and their link to chronic diseases like dementia, depression and Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Perlmutter describes a similar series of chemical reactions whereby the consumption of high carbohydrate meals leads to elevated blood sugar and insulin levels, inflammation and which can cause oxidation and subsequently, tissue damage.
As described by Dr. Perlmutter, dementia and cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s Disease are conditions of inflammation and aging in the brain. Alzheimer’s Disease has also been called Diabetes Type III, due to the correlation between elevated blood sugar and insulin dysfunction in the brain. Additionally, those with Diabetes are at twice the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
So what does a heart- and brain-healthy diet look like? To start, an ideal diet would eliminate unhealthy fats such as hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats, as well as the removal of processed grains and refined sugars. Meals consisting of only grains and easy-to-digest carbohydrates elevate blood sugar, as highlighted by Dr. Perlmutter and Dr. Davis. Consuming a balanced diet high in micronutrients (fruits, vegetables, nuts) can help you maintain your energy, reduce fatigue, eliminate cravings and keep your heart healthy. If you are concerned about your overall well-being, consider contacting a health professional for a complete health assessment and therapeutic lifestyle program to help you achieve your health goals for the New Year.
Multivitamins are back in the news – this time with significantly positive findings.
The results from a study involving postmenopausal women suggest that women who develop invasive breast cancer may benefit from taking supplements containing both multivitamins and minerals. The research, published today in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, found that the risk of dying from invasive breast cancer was 30 percent lower among multivitamin/mineral users compared with nonusers.
“Our study offers tentative but intriguing evidence that multivitamin/mineral supplements may help older women who develop invasive breast cancer survive their disease,” said Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., lead author of the study and distinguished university professor emerita of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.
Everyday new information and correlations are discovered about our genetic code, the interaction of the environment on our genes (epigenetics) and how our genes can affect our health and experience of life. The MTHFR (methyltetrahydrofolate reductase) gene has recently received a lot of attention due to it’s central role in the methylation pathway (see chart to left), and the risk for developing chronic disease.
These various genetic variations (mutations) affect different people differently, depending on how many mutations you possess and combined with your previous lifestyle and medical history. As we get older and have been exposed to more stressors or pollutants, symptoms and discomforts that may not seem related begin to occur.
Common manifestations of these genetic mutations can vary greatly from depression, anxiety and insomnia; to increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure; gout and arthritis; to infertility and hormone imbalances; to an increased risk for cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and many others.
Children with MTHFR (and other gene mutations) have an increased prevalence of ADD, ADHD and Autistic Spectrum disorders.
Improving quality of life and reducing the symptoms due to these inefficient processes by supporting these mutations is not as simple as some practitioners believe. Especially in sensitive individuals, great care should be taken to understand each individual’s situation and nutritional status in order to not create a healing crisis and possibly make the person feel worse (even if it’s temporary).
Dr. Slavin has been working with MTHFR mutations for several years and will be attending Dr. Ben Lynch’s comprehensive conference to learn more about recent developments and recommendations for supporting the pathways and physiology appropriately.
If you, or any of your family members experience any of the symptoms or discomforts mentioned above, you do not have to suffer thinking there is no solution for these issues. Contact Functional Wellness to start feeling better today.