Friday, August 30, 2013

Gluten Intolerance and the Benefits of Breast Milk – Good and Bad?

I have always been a big proponent of breast feeding. Children who are breastfed are found to have higher IQs and a better overall health status. The benefits that Mother Nature packs into mother’s milk has not been successfully mimicked by any man-made product. Far from it in fact –the formulas on the market are quite atrocious when it comes to nutritional standards for health.

Does breast feeding reduce your child’s chances of developing celiac disease?

It turns out that the risk of developing celiac disease was shown to decrease by a whopping 63% for children breast fed for more than two months compared to those children breast fed for less than two months. I will admit that I would have lost that bet – I would have assumed that two months wasn’t long enough to make that large a difference. But apparently a little goes a long way when it comes to the value of breast milk.

Another study looked at children fed breast milk for three months or more and found an even better result. These children were five times less likely to develop celiac disease as compared to those babies who fell within the less than three month mark.

We used to think that celiac disease was a yes or no proposition, with no gray areas. In other words it was believed that you were born with the disease or you were not. That is incorrect and recent research has proven that celiac disease can develop in those who have the genetic predisposition at any time during their life. In fact the incidence of celiac disease in the general population is known to increase from 1% to 4% (or 5%, depending on the research you look at) with age.

This tells us that the presence of genes for celiac disease and the ingestion of gluten in the diet, are not sufficient to cause the disease to manifest itself. What’s the third factor? The health of the GI tract is the final link. A healthy GI tract will have adequate healthy probiotics to keep the celiac disease genes turned off, thereby preventing the disease from expressing itself. The unhealthy GI tract no longer has robust good bacteria and their weakening numbers makes them incapable of keeping bad genes turned off. The result is the ‘turning on’ of the celiac genes.

Getting back to breastfeeding, it is known that breast milk is a wonderful colonizer of healthy probiotic organisms within the gut. The colostrum mothers produce helps their baby’s immune system mature, thereby preventing disease, especially digestive infections that could create a leaky gut and increased predisposition to gluten intolerance as well as other food reactions.

What about the timing of introducing gluten to children?

Two major studies confirm that timing may be quite critical. In one it was found that infants who were receiving breast milk at the time of gluten introduction had a 52% reduced risk of developing celiac disease as compared with those babies who were not receiving breast milk when gluten was introduced into their diet.

The second study was a landmark study conducted in Sweden, unbeknownst to anyone at the time it occurred. In other words, only retrospectively, was it understood what happened. Here’s the story: In the 1980s a change of guidelines occurred as regards when gluten should be introduced into the diet of an infant. Prior it had been maintained that gluten should be introduced while a child was receiving breast milk. In the 1980s the new guideline recommended that gluten be introduced after weaning had occurred.
The result was a dramatic spike in the incidence of celiac disease in the country of Sweden. After much research, the guideline was reversed and the incidence of celiac disease was restored to its prior level.

Can Gluten in Mom’s Diet by found in Breast Milk?

I was very happy to find this study passed along by the Gluten Intolerance Group that confirmed something I’ve seen clinically for years, but heretofore had not seen any research support.

When babies would come in with colic or constipation or vomiting or rashes or a host of other ailments, the first thing we would do with a breastfeeding mom is change HER diet. We saw, that when Mom was no longer ingesting gluten or dairy (or whatever the offending food was found to be) baby’s symptoms resolved. Obviously that points to the fact that these foods traveled in to the breast milk in a form that could bother baby.

Yet many researchers have stated that the gluten protein was not found in breast milk and there was no indication that a mother consuming gluten could affect her child’s health through her breast milk. When research does not agree with my clinical evidence working with patients, I have learned that clinical experience usually wins out. And so it was in this case. The study cited by GIG referenced that indeed gliadin (the protein found in gluten) was found in high levels in the milk samples of 54 out of 80 healthy mothers on a normal, unrestricted diet. While the presence of gliadin would be fine with a child having no tendency toward intolerance, it obviously is a big problem for those little ones that are already expressing a reaction.

In summary, breastfeeding is very important and healthy for baby. The only caveat is perhaps needing to alter what Mom is eating to prevent certain sensitive foods from entering into the milk. This is not difficult however and a happy baby is well worth the effort.

I hope you found this informative and please pass it along to the mothers and future mothers whom you know.

If you would like any assistance in improving your health, I invite you to take advantage of a free health analysis - call 408-733-0400. Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally, you don't need to live local to us to receive care. We're here to help!

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gluten Intolerance & Overweight - Why They Go Together

Gluten intolerance used to be synonymous with celiac disease, and celiac disease was synonymous with being underweight. Times have changed and being ‘locked in’ to the notion that unless someone is very underweight their chance of being gluten intolerant is next to nil, is obsolete.

Unfortunately, patients continue to be refused testing from ill informed doctors who simply observe their patients physique and from that decide that gluten sensitivity or celiac disease isn’t a likely diagnosis.While I must admit that I truly am tired of hearing stories of doctors refusing to test individuals because they don’t fit the classic celiac profile of extreme diarrhea, abdominal pain and underweight, today I wanted to address an association that isn’t typically looked at - gluten intolerance and overweight

Those with the classic type of celiac disease tend to be underweight because they have been suffering with a small intestine that has been incapable of absorbing much in the way of nutrition. We now know that the ‘classic’ celiac disease is not the most common and therefore we see celiac and gluten sensitive patients who have weight to lose.

The human body is very intelligent. If it perceives that it’s under physiological stress, it will tend towards ‘holding on’ to everything it can. Much in the way squirrels store nuts for the cold winter, the human body will burn very few calories when under stress. While it’s ‘smart’ for the body to conserve, it also can  result in weight gain.

Identifying the major stressor for the gluten intolerant patient, gluten, goes a long way towards resolving that stress, and often patients begin to see weight loss occur as a result of initiating a gluten-free diet.

For others the secondary effects of gluten intolerance must be addressed as well. These are such things as:
1.       Hidden infections in the intestine
2.    Nutritional deficiencies
3.       Cross reactive foods
4.       Hormonal imbalance
5.       Enzyme deficiency
6.       Probiotic imbalance
7.       Toxins such as heavy metals

Lifestyle factors can also contribute to overweight in the gluten intolerant patient. Removing gluten from the diet is not an easy task, no argument there.  But ‘being gluten-free’ is not the only important factor when adopting a healthy diet. A daily checklist of good, highly nutrition food consumption would include:

1.       8-10 glasses of purified water, depending on your weight (1/2 your weight in ounces of water is the formula)
2.       7 – 9 servings (or more) of fruits and vegetables, depending on your sex - men need 9
3.       Whole non-gluten grains if they suit you – some people suffer cross reactive problems
4.       Beans and legumes
5.       A small amount of good oils such as olive, coconut oil and fresh nuts
6.       A small amount of hormone-free animal protein, unless you’re vegetarian/vegan
7.       No dairy products
8.       Little to no sugar and no high fructose corn sweeteners
9.       Little to no processed, pre-packaged foods
          10.   Little to no caffeine 
          11.   No fast food 
          12.   No artificial sweeteners – they actually cause you to gain weight and are toxic 
          13.   No soda

Does that sound like a lot of ‘don’ts’? I’m sorry, but I wanted to be thorough. You can concentrate more on the ‘dos’ to stay on the positive side of the equation, but at least look over the things you should avoid, so you are aware of what they are.

Some patients think they are eating a healthy diet but ‘live on’ artificial sweeteners and caffeine, as an example, because they don’t consider it a problem due to their low calorie count.

I am glad that there are so many gluten-free options available to us in our grocery stores. But the truth of the matter is that unless it’s naturally gluten-free, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc then it often falls into the category of a highly refined, pre-packaged food that you should only consume rarely.  The gluten-free breads, cakes, cookies and the like are great for birthdays and holidays, but they should definitely not be part of your daily diet.

Please don’t let this advice overwhelm you. Take it in baby steps and make small changes to start. See how you feel and let me know of any questions you have. 

Finally, I must advise you that some of gluten's secondary effects such as hidden infections, nutritional deficiencies and cross-reactive foods, to name a few, do require the help of a doctor to diagnose and treat. If you feel that you may be suffering from any of these issues or just don't feel good and don't know why, consider taking us up on the offer of a free health analysis. Just call us at 408-733-0400. Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally. You don't need to live local to us to receive assistance.

We're here to help!

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Decreasing Your Risk of Breast Cancer, Not Just for Those with Celiac Disease

Do You Get Regular Mammograms? Read This!

Those with celiac disease, who are untreated or who haven’t fully healed their intestinal lining, are at increased risk for developing cancer. If you are a woman, you don’t want to compound that risk by annually subjecting your breasts to radiation.

Is this just my opinion? No. There is research to support a concern I’ve had about mammograms for many, many years. As a doctor, I typically caution my patients against mammograms, and instead advise them to look into ultrasound and thermography.
The facts are that radiation causes cancer. Repeated radiation increases your risk of cancer and delicate breast tissue is known to be particularly susceptible. Does it then make sense to perform such radiation annually and NOT think it’s going to increase your risk of developing breast cancer?

Mammograms Are Not the Great Diagnostic Tool We've Been Lead to Believe

But isn’t it a ‘fact’ that mammograms protect us from cancer? Aren’t they the ‘answer’ to early detection?  It turns out they are not.

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study out of Sweden that found mammograms to have little or no effect in reducing the number of women who died of breast cancer. Here’s a direct quote: “mortality statistics in Sweden are consistent with studies that have reported limited or no impact of screening on mortality from breast cancer among women aged 40-69."

The lead researcher Dr. Autier from the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, France, had this to say: “Information to women on mammography screening should better reflect uncertainty on the effectiveness of that test, and underline the risk of overdiagnosis and overtreatment.”

Mammograms Are NOT Saving Lives

A different study from 2010 also found that reduction in mortality was all but nonexistent from mammograms. Their findings were that only 2.4 deaths per 100,000 women could be saved as a result of screening. Certainly we are not trying to make light of saving 2.4 lives, but unfortunately the downside far outweighs that meager benefit.

Some downsides were elucidated by the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen. After reviewing available research they distributed a leaflet explaining the benefits and potential downsides of mammograms - the summation being that it was not reasonable for women to receive breast cancer screenings though mammography. 

Here’s the quote: “If 2,000 women are screened regularly for 10 years, one [woman] will benefit from screening.” They further went on to say: “Therefore screening results in treatment of many women for a cancer disease they do not have, and that they will not get.”

Unnecessary Treatment is Expensive and Dangerous

Let’s look at that closer. They found that screening caused many women to be treated for a cancer they did not have. Why? Because over the course of those 10 years during which time 2,000 women are screened regularly, they estimated that 200 women will receive false positives. Of those 200, 10 will be treated unnecessarily with drastic techniques including having part of their breast or their entire breast removed, while receiving radiotherapy [radiation], and sometimes chemotherapy. Treatment of these healthy women increased their risk of dying. E.g. from heart disease and cancer.”

Do you like the ratio of 10: 1? Ten women harmed with dangerous, cancer-causing treatment for every 1 who is saved? I know that I don’t.

The More Mammograms You Have, the More Likely You'll Get Cancer

Another study from The Lancet Oncology (2011) evaluated a screening program of 650,000 women in Sweden. They found that those who received the most screenings had a higher incidence of invasive breast cancer than those who received much fewer screenings. In fact, they felt that over the natural course of time, many of the screening detected invasive breast cancers spontaneously regressed if left alone!
It is also well known that women with fibrocystic breasts, or dense breasts, are not good candidates for mammograms. I experienced this personally with my mother who received many repeated mammograms for a ‘suspicious’ area, only to end up with an ultrasound (a noninvasive procedure that utilizes no radiation) that proclaimed her to be fine.

Find Out if You Have Fibrocystic Breasts

Some states such as New York, Connecticut, Texas and Virginia have passed laws requiring that women with dense breasts be informed about alternative screening tools. Can we urge our Congressmen to have California (and the rest of the country) be next? What about federal legislation?

Do you have dense breasts? If so you are not alone. Half of all women are estimated to have them and that number increases to 75% when women are in their 40s. This means that half to three quarters of all the women receiving mammograms are really not candidates for the procedure. The radiation they receive increases their risk of developing cancer while the test is ineffective at detecting breast cancer.

Does it make sense to you to continue this procedure?

Here are Some Cancer Prevention Steps You Can Take Right Now

     1. Limit sugar in your diet. We continue to discover the importance of diet as it relates to cancer prevention. Sugar and particularly high fructose corn sweeteners are increasing cancer risk. 

2   2.  Move. Exercise that burns fat and maintains a healthy body weight is another factor in reducing cancer risk. If you have a ‘spare tire’ around your mid-section you are going to need to get rid of it.
     3. Eat plants. Consuming 7 to 9 servings of organic fruits and veggies each day along with supplementing powerful cancer-fighting antioxidants, including vitamins D and C, is another step you can take.

     4.  Stay away from the man-made ‘Franken foods’. Avoid artificial sweeteners, preservatives and limit exposure to hormones, pesticides and environmental toxins as much as possible. This will help you to avoid dangerous inflammation that is the initiator of degenerative disease in general and cancer in specific.

     5.  Get an oil change. Remember to ingest good oils such as fish oil that are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, along with flax seeds, walnuts, wild rice and enriched eggs. Omaga -3s are anti-inflammatory and therefore protective against cancer as well as other degenerative diseases.

     6. Check your levels. You’ll need to find a doctor who works with evaluating the pros and cons of your immune system. On the plus side you want a strong level of vitamin D (somewhere between 50 and 70 ng/ml is a good level to shoot for) and robust probiotic levels that will keep your immune defending you against cancer. On the con side, you want to ensure that you don’t have an overabundance of toxins that are overwhelming your system or the presence of any infectious organisms. Both will severely compromise your immune system making it less able to defend itself against cancer. Such testing can be done here at HealthNOW Medical Center.

I hope you have found this informative. I urge you to share this post with every woman you know. The concept of mandatory mammograms needs to change, in my opinion. I’ve said for a long time that in the future we will look at the idea of radiating women’s breasts as barbaric and ill advised. I hope that day comes quickly so that fewer cancers are created with this dangerous procedure.

I’d love to hear from you and am happy to answer your questions.

At HealthNOW we are committed to discovering the underlying root cause of your health problems. Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally, so you do not need to live locally to receive help. For a free health analysis call 408-733-0400. We are here to help you and those you care about!


To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of "The Gluten Effect"
Awarded Gluten-Free Doctor of the Year