Education

A sugar-soaked gut = a sugar-soaked brain

Sugar-Soaked Gut, Sugar-Soaked Brain

Brain fog and fatigue are two tell-tale signs of a sugar-soaked brain. The sweets you eat impact your mental abilities. The story of how food affects cognition starts with a sugar-soaked gut.

A Sugar-Soaked Gut

You have a vast filter inside of you that allows nourishment in and keeps toxins out. It’s called the endothelial lining, or gut membrane. It’s like a wire strainer that separates pulp from orange juice. Figuratively speaking, a coffee filter sits on top of that strainer. That filter is your microbiome – your gut bugs. If that probiotic filter is “torn” or defective, some of the pulp is going to get through.

Sugar damages your microbiome. Your beneficial microbes need whole foods. They digest the insoluble plant fiber from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes that your body cannot process. In doing so, they create a short-chain fatty acid, called butyrate. This chemical fuels your microbiome and nourishes your colon. But, if you eat too much sugar and processed food, you starve these microbes. Therefore, you compromise your microbial layer.

Sugar has no fiber. So, it feeds other bacterial strains that destroy the harmonious balance of microbes in your gut. These other strains create inflammation. Between the inflammation and the reduced microbial diversity, you threaten your brain.

A Sugar-Soaked Gut Leads to a Sugar-Soaked Brain

Your gut and your brain are connected in several significant ways.

Vagus Nerve

To begin with, Your Vagus or “wandering” nerve joins your brain to all your vital organs. This major nerve links 100 billion neurons in your brain to 500 million neurons in your gut. Unfortunately, stress causes loss of vagal tone. Your body perceives sugar as a stress because is upsets blood sugar balance and creates inflammation. When the Vagus nerve loses tone, your sugar-soaked gut can freeze your brain in a state of “fight-or-flight” where you have a hard time resting, relaxing, and rejuvenating.

Neurotransmitters

Next, Neurotransmitters are chemicals used send messages from neuron to neuron, or from neuron to muscle tissue. Your body makes a large quantity of two notable neurotransmitters – serotonin and GABA – in your gut.  In fact, you depend on certain gut microbes to manufacture these neurotransmitters. Serotonin contributes to feelings of happiness. GABA calms feelings of fear and anxiety. So, a sugar-soaked gut impairs your ability to manufacture serotonin and GABA, and therefore worsens conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The Fatty Acid, Butyrate

Additionally, microbe-manufactured butyrate not only strengthens the gut-lining, it is critical for forming the blood-brain barrier, too! Your blood-brain barrier keeps pathogens out of your brain. A sugar-soaked gut means a more permeable gut AND a more permeable brain! Then, toxins (or “pulp”) slipping past the gut lining can get into the brain!

Inflammation

Also, Inflammation occurs when toxins squeeze through the gut lining into the blood stream. Your body has to call in white blood cells to fight these  that invaders don’t belong outside of the gut. Inflammation is the mechanism that allows white blood cells into infected tissues. Inflammation from a sugar-soaked gut can ignite in the brain when toxins cross the blood-brain barrier.

Mitochondria

Finally, Mitochondria are the tiny factories in each cell that take the food you eat and the oxygen you breathe and turn it into an energy currency, called ATP. You spend this currency every time you think, breathe, move, eat, feel, and simply live. Inflammation from a sugar-soaked gut damages the DNA of your mitochondria. Damaged mitochondria create more “exhaust” or oxidation than healthy ones. Subsequently, this exhaust damages them even more, initiate a self-sustaining process of destruction. A classic sign of mitochondrial damage is fatigue. Unfortunately, this process of destruction triggers an enzyme pathway that leads to the death of neurons, hurting your brain and your gut simultaneously.

Heal a Sugar-Soaked Gut

Many foods and lifestyle choices benefit your gut and therefore your brain. Here are five of the most important ones.

Omega 3 Fats

The best sources of these fats are oily fish, shell fish and sea vegetables. Studies show that omega 3 fats can increase good bacteria in the gut and can be beneficial to brain health. Additionally, Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory, plus they boost enzymes used in the mitochondria to produce ATP. To get adequate amounts of Omega 3’s, you should eat seafood at least 3-4 times per week.

Fermented Foods

These are foods that contain living microbes such as lactic acid bacteria. They include traditionally-cultured sauerkraut or kimchi, pickled beets, gingered carrots, and dilly beans. It turns out that the benefit of these foods is not solely from the probiotics – which actually die as they pass through your gut and out the other end. In reality, great benefit comes from the actual fermentation – the breakdown of the nutrients to create certain end-products. These end-products can be very healing for the gut and appear to bolster your microbiome. Eat a fermented product every day.

High Fiber Foods

Whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables all contain fibers that are good for your gut bacteria, as discussed above. Additionally, high fiber foods can reverse the effects of stress on the gut by restoring the microbial populations. Start with 25 grams per day and work up to 50 or more.

Polyphenols

Polyphenols are plant chemicals that your gut bacteria digest along with plant fibers. Brightly-colored, anti-oxidant foods are rich in polyphenols. Like fiber, polyphenols can increase healthy gut bacteria. Thereby, they reduce oxidative stress. Many fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and spices contain polyphenols. If you’re not having vegetables at every meal, start there, then increase until half your plate is vegetables.

Movement

Individuals with high cardio-respiratory fitness produce more butyrate, signalling that they have a healthier microbiome, according to a study published in Microbiome in 2016 . Additionally, these fit individuals had fewer pathways that were creating inflammatory toxins from harmful bacteria in their guts. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, get up and stretch every half hour. If you can fit in cardio workouts, engage for at least 30 minutes per day.

So, What’s the Bottom Line?

In conclusion, whole foods support a healthy microbiome. But a sugar-soaked gut can lead to brain dysfunction. So, eat your vegetables, get adequate fat and protein, and stay active!

 

high blood sugars can cause leaky gut

Blood Sugars and Leaky Gut

Are your blood sugars making you sick? New research suggests that high blood sugars may actually cause leaky gut, a condition linked to chronic disease and autoimmunity.

This research is fascinating because we already know that a leaky gut causes high blood sugars (via inflammation and insulin resistance). So, with science now showing that high blood sugars can trigger leaky gut, we see that dysfunction in one leads to degeneration in both.

What is Leaky Gut?

Technically called increased gut permeability, leaky gut is a condition where bacteria and toxins from your intestinal tract enter your blood stream. The resulting inflammation harms your digestive health. Leaky gut seems to trigger metabolic syndrome and may be prerequisite for autoimmunity. Increased gut permeability occurs when the “gatekeepers” that let nutrients into your bloodstream, called tight junctions, don’t work right. Infection, food allergies, or toxins from the environment, such as pesticides, can damage tight junctions.

Sugar in your diet may contribute to leaky gut by feeding certain microbes that open tight junctions. Of course, too sugar much in the diet means high blood sugars, too. So dietary sugar contributes to leaky gut in that way, too.

Protect Yourself

A stitch in time saves nine. Don’t wait until chronically high blood sugars compromise your gut and put you at risk for long-term illness. Choose to quit sugar now. Eating a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet can normalize your blood sugars as well as support your gut health.

Processed foods often have sugar added. So avoid canned and packaged products where possible. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables in season, unrefined nuts & seeds, whole grains and legumes, and animal products from pastured, free-range, or wild-caught sources.

 

Are you powerless to stop sugar cravings?

Stop Sugar Cravings

You crave sugar when you are undernourished or overstimulated. But by eating a nutrient-rich diet, you stop sugar cravings now and prevent them in the future. Why? Because you are providing deep nourishment and reducing the physiological stimuli that drive sugar cravings.

How Undernourishment Starts

By definition, undernourishment means your energy output is greater than your fuel input. You can develop this energy debt in a number of ways.

To begin with, perhaps you cut your night’s rest a bit short. Then, who wouldn’t want a doughnut in order to keep running on fumes? Sugar provides a quick source of fast-burning energy – like kindling on your metabolic fire. So, when the coals are almost dead, a sugary snack fans the flames.

But it doesn’t provide the essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and phytochemicals your body needs to be well. So that empty calorie food just increased your energy debt! Did you know that it takes more than a dozen molecules of magnesium to change one molecule of sugar into energy that your cells can use? Further, the processes that change that sugar into fuel require certain enzymes to get them started – the way a car engine requires a spark plug to ignite the gasoline. Your body makes enzymes from proteins. If you’re not eating enough proteins, your body has to “cannibalize” its own tissues to get the raw materials it needs.

Another way you become undernourished is through blood sugar imbalances. When your sweet snack burns out, you drop into a state of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Like a stalled car on the freeway, you can no longer stay in the fast lane. So, you reach for emergency rations – a candy bar for instant relief. Like a bad dream, the cycle starts all over again.

Eventually, these habits cripple your ability to use the sugar you are eating. The lack of vitamins and minerals arrest your body’s natural metabolism. Finally, insulin resistance sets in, blocking the limited nutrients you have from entering cells. You are in a permanent state of fatigue and even more dependent on empty calories to function from one moment to the next.

Stop Sugar Cravings Resulting From Undernourishment

The answer to this hopeless cycle is really very straightforward. You make sure you have enough gas in the tank at the outset of your journey. That means you make sure arise well-rested each morning, and eat a nutrient-rich breakfast. The most nutrient-dense foods on the planet include vegetables, seafood, and organ meats. But not coffee and pastries, or even Cheerios. So, why not make a skillet of Fisherman’s Eggs to start the day? (See the end of the article for the recipe.)

How Overstimulation Happens

First, like the lack of sleep, stress raises your demand for energy. But in this case, your body is stimulated by stress hormones to quicken your breath, send blood to the brain and muscles, and increase your heart rate. You need more energy now!

Second, in a nightmarish way, you become addicted to the surge of dopamine the stress created. Your body now wants constant stimulation, and it turns to sugar and other stimulants to keep the rush going. But none of these fixes gives you the deep nourishment you need for optimal health.

Then, down in your gut, the beneficial bacteria begin dying, starved of the fibers and Omega 3 fatty acids they need for vitality. Meanwhile, pathogenic strains of bacteria feed on your high-glycemic diet. When you don’t supply their sugary feast, they demand it by creating cravings.

Stop Sugar Cravings Resulting from Over-Stimulation

But the answer is always the same. Go back to your roots. Skip the commercial, man-made foods and nourish yourself with the foods of nature that have sustained mankind for millenia. Eat fresh vegetables and fruits. Take the time for unprocessed grains, nuts, and seeds. Make sure to get some wild-caught, pastured, or grass-fed protein. Then cook and dress your food in unrefined, natural fats. Check out these ideas on how to eat traditionally without spending endless hours in the kitchen!

If you’d like to delve deeper into how to stop sugar cravings, Dr. Jockers has an excellent article.

This is Sherry's story of beating inflammation

Beating Inflammation

Today we have a guest post from Sherry Worthington, a nurse, who didn’t realize the connection between sugar and inflammation until it was almost too late. Here is her story of beating inflammation:

My breath wouldn’t come. Numbness surged through my limbs. I heard nothing more after the doctor said, “I don’t feel comfortable treating you any more, due to your immune system.”

The tiny sparkle of hope that had been there a moment ago tumbled into oblivion. I was speechless. My dark world was mirrored by the night sky when I left his office.

The Darkness of Lost Hope

No more medication to treat the crippling rheumatoid arthritis that fettered my days and seared my nights? No more relief from the tiny hammers beating inside my body incessantly? How was I to sleep? Or dress? Or eat? I was going to deteriorate inch by inch into lifelessness!

My tears blurred with the days. But there was no other option. Accept it. Just accept it.

But how could I? How could I descend any lower? In addition to RA, I had hypertension, osteopenia, stasis dermatitis, degenerative disc disease, stenosis, reversal cervical lordosis, B-12 deficiency and sleep apnea. Shots in my neck and back for pain relief had been largely unsuccessful. My high-powered pharmaceuticals with devastating side effects had only been minimally effective in managing symptoms. And even these had been withdrawn when my weak and compromised immune system had descended into pneumonia, followed by sepsis. It was too dangerous to take them now, the doctor thought.But how was I to cope?

Just showering and dressing fatigued me so drastically that I fell asleep at work – or threw up. My fingers tingled constantly. Sometimes my pulse would suddenly spike to 110. Dizziness and nausea haunted me. At night, I would wake up every hour or two, trying to coax my body back into repose.

At some point, I found an RA support group on Facebook. Women from another country started talking to me about diet and holistic approaches. That spurred me into research, where I absorbed massive mounds of information. Confusion reigned initially as I sifted through the flood of suggestions.

The Beginning of Beating Inflammation

Unsuccessful at finding a local support group, and hoping for more personal conversations, I started my own. As I posted the information I was finding, it became clear:

I could do this! I could find relief if I just kept educating myself!

My self-treatments started with herbs: boswellia and turmeric. With some minor degree of success, I kept going. A breakthrough came when I purchased the Autoimmune Wellness Handbook by Angie Alt and Mickey Trescott. It urged an elimination diet. Would I need to do that? If certain foods really were not good for me, then why were they on the grocery store shelves? But I was desperate.

I took out refined sugars and felt a difference! Then I removed processed foods, and the improvement heightened. The dizziness and nausea were diminishing. I added vitamins, minerals, Omega 3’s and started massage therapy and essential oils. I was beating inflammation!

A year later, I have moved from the highest pain patch available to the lowest. My bad days are few and far between – and when they come, I can get relief within a few hours.

I cannot go back to the medications. There is another way: the way of hope! The way of beating inflammation with food and holistic approaches. If you don’t know where to start, contact a nutritionist, and eliminate sugars. And may my story inspire you to believe things can get better!

The Diet Brain Connection

The Diet Brain Connection

What you put in your stomach directly impacts how you think and how your learn. By enhancing your Diet Brain Connection, you can increase your concentration and memory. That’s because the foods you eat can increase or decrease brain fog, distractibility, depression and anxiety.

Too Many Refined Carbs Hurt the Brain

Your brain is an energy hog. It uses more energy than any other organ in the body. Taking up only 2% of your weight, it uses 20% of your fuel. So, if there’s a disruption in your fuel supply, the brain is going to feel it first, before other parts of your body. Sugary, low-fiber foods, and processed carbohydrates create a roller coaster effect on your blood sugars. First, they raise blood sugars well above normal. Then with an equal an opposite reaction, your blood sugars crash. As a result, you have a hard time thinking clearly. But there is an even more insidious problem than bouncing blood sugars.

Sweet & Processed Foods Inflame Your Gut

Crackers, chips, pasta, sandwiches, cookies, cakes, pastries, fruit snacks, fruit juice, soda and other convenience foods cause inflammation. But unfortunately, what happens in the gut does not stay in the gut.

Researcher Sarah Ballantyne explains that inflammatory cytokines (chemical messengers) produced in the gut in response to dietary stimuli travel through the bloodstream to every cell in the body. They cross the blood-brain barrier and activate brain cells that sustain inflammation. “An inflamed brain has fewer and slower nerve connections, which manifests as stress, depression, or anxiety,” she reports in her book, “The Paleo Approach.”

How Do I Enhance the Diet-Brain Connection?

To avoid learning difficulties and prevent memory hiccups, the first preventative strategy is to balance macro-nutrients. Americans typically get 60-80% of their food in the form of refined carbohydrates. So you can swap white carbs for colored ones and increase the ratio of natural fats and high quality proteins in your meals. A good rule of thumb is to make half your plate vegetables, not more than 1/4 of your plate starchy carbs (such as grains or potatoes), and at least 1/4 of your plate protein.  Dress liberally with natural fats.

balanced macro-nutrients feed a healthy diet-brain connection

You can also make sure you are eating anti-inflammatory foods. The least inflammatory foods also happen to be the ones that are most nutrient rich. They include:

  • Berries, lemons, limes and papaya
  • Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts
  • Garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, and chives
  • Wild games such as duck, quail, pheasant, elk, bison, and deer
  • Wild-caught seafood, including salmon, herring, halibut, sardines, oysters, and anchovies

Smart Snacking Keeps Your Thinking Sharp

Keep your diet-brain connection strong by avoiding empty calorie foods between meals. If you must snack, try a boosting combo that pairs a nutrient-rich carbohydrate with a natural fat. Here are a few ideas:

  • Bell peppers and olives
  • Dates and goat cheese
  • Fruits and nuts
  • Snap peas and tahini
  • Grape tomatoes and hard-boiled egg
  • Celery and sunflower seeds

For more ideas on taming brain inflammation, check out our free inflammation e-guide!

Onions & red cabbage or 2 beneficial winter vegetables

Winter Vegetables

Nature knows. When gray days and dark nights bring the sweet indulgences of New Years, Mother Nature provides some of her most powerful foods. Winter vegetables, primarily in the cruciferous family, restore your vitality in several ways.

Liver Tonic

The vegetables that thrive in cooler weather (not above 70 degrees) include leafy greens, plants in the onion family, and crucifers. For instance, spinach and chard (leafy greens), garlic and leeks (onion family), and cauliflower and cabbage (crucifers) are highly frost-resistant. In fact, they may even be sweeter when the temperature dips below freezing. While the crucifers have a reputation for smelling and tasting strong because of their sulphur compounds, it is these nutrients that benefit your liver. They help the liver detoxify your blood and they protect your liver from damage. Other crucifers are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, turnips, and bok choy.

In addition, onions, chives, shallots, leeks, and garlic have sulphur compounds. So, they are tonic to the liver as well.

More Benefits of Winter Vegetables

The cool season vegetables are high in fiber. Not only does this include the vegetables above, but also stalk vegetables, such as celery and fennel. Fiber normalizes bowel movements, regulates blood sugars, lowers cholesterol, and aids in weight management.

Winter vegetables – especially leafy greens and many of the crucifers – are high in chlorophyll. Therefore, they are blood-builders and detoxifiers. Also, cold-tolerant produce runs high in antioxidants and is cancer-protective.

How to Eat Winter Vegetables

Steaming or roasting, then dressing with butter and lemon are delicious and healthy ways to serve cold-hardy vegetables. Crucifers yield their sulphur compounds more readily when cooked. I enjoy splashing them with a bit of balsamic vinegar in place of the lemon. A mix of rosemary, thyme, oregano, and marjoram sprinkled on these winter offerings makes them even more appetizing.  You might enjoy this recipe for oven-roasted vegetables that includes turnips and broccoli or Brussels sprouts.

For an exotic Diner en Blanc, you can try cauliflower dressed with anchovy fillets and Pecorino Romano cheese. But if the thought of vegetable anything turns you off, perhaps you’ll like moist chocolate cake that uses cauliflower as a secret ingredient.

Below are the simplest ways to prepare several of the most common winter vegetables. A guide to winter vegetables and fruits

kale vs. candy

Kale vs. Candy

Can you be healthy simply by limiting calories? Or does the type of food you eat matter? In a kale vs. candy debate, Dr. Mark Hyman, founder and director of the UltraWellness Center, discusses how calories from refined carbohydrates react differently in your body that calories from nutrient dense food. Here is his view.

Not All Calories Are Created Equal

If managing weight were as simple as calories in and calories out, we’d all be at our ideal weight.

But it’s clear that’s not the case, since nearly 40% of our population is obese, and  2 out of 3 adults in the US is either overweight or obese. That’s because food is more than just calories. Food is information that our cells need to function. You metabolism uses that information to either run efficiently or sluggishly trudge along.

One of the biggest food lies of all time is that all calories are created equal. Even a child could tell you that the calories you get from kale are going to have a completely different impact on your body than calories from candy.

Let’s look at what those calories from candy actually do to your body:

How Candy Impacts Your Body

When you eat candy, processed and refined carbs (such as bread or cereal) or even fruit juices, your gut quickly absorbs the fiber-free sugars, fructose, and glucose. These spike your blood sugar. Now, your body starts a cascade of hormonal responses that kick bad biochemistry into gear. The first hormone to go askew is insulin, which rockets in response to high blood sugar. Did you know that high insulin increases storage of belly fat, increases inflammation, and raises triglycerides. Not only that, it also lowers HDL, raises blood pressure, lowers testosterone in men, and contributes to infertility in women.

Insulin increases your appetite because it changes your brain chemistry. It blocks your appetite-control hormone leptin. So, the brain never gets the “I’m full” signal. Instead, it thinks you are starving. Since sugar triggers your pleasure-based reward center,  you consume even more sugar, fueling your sugar addiction.

There’s another issue when we examine kale vs. candy. Today, many processed foods are might not only with sugar, but also with high fructose corn syrup. Fructose just makes matters worse. It goes right to your liver, where it starts manufacturing fat. These fat stores in the liver make it insulin resistant, triggering even higher blood insulin levels. Then, chronically high insulin drives your body to store everything you eat as even more belly fat. You also get a fatty liver, which generates more inflammation. Chronic inflammation causes still more weight gain and diabetes/obesity.

Another problem with fructose is that it doesn’t send feedback to the brain to signal that a load of calories just hit the body. Nor does it reduce ghrelin, the appetite hormone that is usually reduced when you eat real food, like kale.

How Kale Works In Your Body

Kale is rich in fiber and low in carbohydrates and sugar. You have to eat a buckets of leafy greens to reach the same amount of calories that just one small bag of candy provides. Thanks to kale’s fiber, you get full long before that ever happens.

When you eat a nice hearty helping of kale, there is no blood sugar spike, and no insulin rush. That means there is no fatty liver, and no hormonal chaos. The fiber causes your stomach to distend, sending signals to your brain that you are full. Kale does not trigger the addiction reward center in the brain. It helps optimize metabolism, lowers cholesterol, reduces inflammation, and boosts detoxification from all the phytonutrients it offers.

Quality Matters in Kale vs. Candy

Remember that in the kale vs. candy debate, eating well isn’t just about calories. Quality matters, too. Real foods like colorful vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, healthy fats (like nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, etc.), gluten-free whole grains, legumes, and responsibly sourced animals proteins and seafood give your cells the information they need to function at their very best.

So choose kale vs. candy; focus on quality more than quantity. It will change your relationship to food. Your health will thank you.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Dr. Mark Hyman, MD

Pre-diabetes, like an iceberg, holds dangerous risk

Dangerous Risk

An iceberg is a dangerous risk because of what you don’t see. Likewise with pre-diabetes. Today, more than 84 million Americans have pre-diabetes, but most of them don’t know it.

Are You Pre-Diabetic?

You can take a one-minute quiz to find out if you have certain risk factors for pre-diabetes. But, the biggest factor – the one not in any assessment – is eating a Standard American Diet.

Setting risk aside, here are some actual symptoms of pre-diabetes:

  • a waist that bulges over your belt a little
  • difficulty losing weight
  • rising triglyceride levels
  • a high blood pressure reading
  • inability to free yourself from sugar or carb cravings
  • chronic tiredness, especially after meals
  • facial hair or gestational diabetes (female) or low testosterone (male)
  • irritability, especially if meals are delayed
  • memory issues

You only have to experience one of two of these symptoms to be pre-diabetic.

Why is Pre-Diabetes a Dangerous Risk?

Pre-Diabetes heightens your risk for heart disease and stroke. Unfortunately, that is not the biggest concern. “Pre-diabetes is not ‘pre’ anything,” says Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, author of The Blood Sugar Solution. “It is a deadly disease.” This disease causes organ damage every second it goes untreated, including injury to the eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

How to Escape This Dangerous Risk

You may hear this advice from a doctor or dietician: first, eat right; second, exercise; and third, lose weight. That sounds great! However, eating the highly-touted low-fat diet in many cases increases triglyceride levels even more. Further, you have difficulty losing weight and are too tired to exercise because you’re pre-diabetic (see symptoms above). Like the Titanic, you seem to be sinking hopelessly.

Luckily, Nutritional Therapy Practitioners work from the inside out. Our focus is to reverse, not just treat, the condition. We make sure you can absorb the nutrients from your food and that you have high quality nutrients available to you. This foundational work gives you energy to exercise. Our therapy also balances your body so that it sheds its excess pounds naturally, even effortlessly.

If you are ready to change your life, I am ready to work with you!

feeling foggy, fatigued and inflamed

Foggy, Fatigued, and Inflamed

Are you feeling foggy, fatigued, and inflamed? This cluster of symptoms is common in many conditions from blood sugar imbalance to infection. But, autoimmunity is perhaps the least recognized of these conditions. So, learn to reverse and prevent autoimmunity by knowing more about brain fog, chronic fatigue, and inflammation.

Do I Have Autoimmunity if I am Foggy, Fatigued, and Inflamed?

Having these 3 symptoms does not mean you have an autoimmunity. For example, you can experience brain fog when your blood sugars are too high or too low. Further, you can feel fatigued because of insomnia, stress, or nutrient deficiencies. Additionally, both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis cause inflammation, but only the latter is an autoimmune condition.

Although autoimmunity is difficult to diagnose, it usually causes other symptoms besides brain fog, fatigue, and inflammation. Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • anxiety
  • trouble sleeping
  • forgetfulness
  • racing or fluttering heart
  • depression
  • digestive issues

In addition, many who suffer from autoimmune conditions complain of:

  • swollen glands
  • chemical sensitivities
  • food allergies
  • headaches

Why Feeling Foggy, Fatigued, and Inflamed is Dangerous

First, you may be oxygen-deprived if you can’t think clearly and are excessively tired. Second, your fatigue may be a sign that your immune system is not keeping up with clearing toxins from the body. Third, when your inflammation causes water retention, puffiness and pain, it suggests that you might have  gut dysfunction.  Like the tip of the iceberg, fog, fatigue, and inflammation are not the problem themselves. Together, they are the indicator that you have a bigger, deeper issue.

Clearing Your Fog, Fatigue and Inflammation

Briefly, you have to remove your triggers AND strengthen your barriers. Triggers can be:

  • Things to avoid (food and airborne allergens or emotional stressors).
  • Substances to detoxify (heavy metals).
  • Nutrients that are deficient (essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals).

Because these are so tricky to identify, you may want to work with a health practitioner to identify them.

You strengthen your barriers when you heal your gut. Start by removing the most-damaging elements: sugar, stress and environmental toxins. Then, add these Super Six Gut Enhancers:

  1. Water: Staying hydrated helps you make gastric juices and purge waste and toxins. Water aids digestion of soluble fiber, which in turn feeds your healthy gut bacteria.
  2. Anti-Inflammatory Nutrients: Omega 3 Fish and Krill oils turn on anti-inflammatory processes. You might consider a high-quality fermented cod liver oil. Also, turmeric and enzymes such as bromelain and papain help turn off inflammation.
  3. Probiotics: You enhance your gut and immune system both with probiotic supplements and probiotic foods.
  4. Bone Broth: Glutamine, glycine, and cysteine are all amino acids that help rebuild your gut lining. Bone broth contains all these amino acids.
  5. Vitamin D: This essential immune-boosting vitamin has a positive effect on the good bacteria in your gut. It works best when you take it with magnesium, which may help relieve anxiety.
  6. Minerals: Zinc, selenium, manganese, and molybdenum assist the enzymes that help you digest, detoxify, build up the gut lining, and squelch inflammation. Putting trace minerals in your drinking water helps your body absorb what it needs.
Skin tags are a sign of insulin resistance.

Insulin Grows “Funny Things”

“First you grow up, then you grow out, then you grow funny things!” That’s what my sister said to me when I observed an odd bump on her skin below her chin. She pretended to be a toad, and we all laughed. Now, I am haunted. If only we had recognized the weight gain and the skin tags as signs of insulin resistance.

I wish we had known that what heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases have in common is insulin resistance. What hope it would have given us to understand that insulin resistance can be reversed. My sister might have taken a second look at her diet. She might have made changes before the doctor found leukemia. She might have lived past 65.

It’s easy to think that diet choices don’t make a big difference in our health. One Pepsi, or one more cookie don’t matter that much. So, one pop becomes a pattern and one cookie becomes a chronic splurge. The frog is swimming in the proverbial pot and the water is hot. He is getting cooked, but he doesn’t even know it.

You cannot eat modern foods and avoid modern disease!

The first step back to better health is awareness. Please wake up to the fact that insulin resistance is the most common disorder worldwide. Roughly half of the adults in the United States are insulin resistant! You are most likely insulin resistant if you have two or more of these symptoms:

  • a waist that bulges over your belt a little
  • difficulty losing weight
  • rising triglyceride levels
  • a high blood pressure reading
  • inability to free yourself from sugar cravings
  • chronic tiredness, especially after meals
  • facial hair or gestational diabetes (female) or low testosterone (male)

Why do these symptoms matter?

According to Dr. Ronald Rosedale, a forerunner in insulin research, insulin initiates the aging process. The higher your insulin, the more susceptible you are to diseases of aging. Your quality of life is at stake. You become a candidate for migraines, early Alzheimer’s, stroke, dementia, fatty liver disease, and even osteo arthritis. The symptoms of fatigue and weight gain are only markers for serious health issues.

How can you reverse insulin resistance?

To prevent or to reverse insulin resistance, you must avoid repeated spikes of insulin throughout the day. What triggers a rush of insulin? Rising blood sugars.

So, ask yourself what increases your blood sugars. If you answered food and stress, you’re right, but let’s qualify which foods cause blood sugars to rise.

Carbs get a bad rap, but not all carbohydrates are villains. If a carbohydrate converts to glucose more slowly, it will have less impact on blood glucose levels. Therefore, eat fibrous, nutrient dense options moderated with fat or protein – such as asparagus with butter. Avoid “quick” carbs, such as white flour and white sugar products. Certainly, don’t drink your calories. Beverages are one of the top causes of high insulin. Eat whole foods, as close to nature as possible. Real food rarely comes with a bar code.

Be proactive about managing your stress, too. Did you know that just one anxiety-causing incident can raise blood sugars 200-300 mg/dl? Gary Scheiner, author of Think Like a Pancreas, details how this happened to him not only with a flat tire on his way to work, but also with a thriller movie. So, take the time to decompress. I detail 50 ways you can do this in just a minute or two in my Stress Hacks course.

Be conscientious about sufficient sleep and regular exercise as well.  Weight training and interval training are both effective ways to improve insulin sensitivity.