Years ago, a bread company boasted that its product “builds strong bodies 12 ways.” But if you’ve got a gluten problem, bread may actually be destroying your body, not building it. In particular, it may be weakening your bones. And unless you stop eating gluten-containing foods (made from wheat, barley and rye), the deconstruction of your bones may continue until you suffer debilitating osteoporosis.
Looking back on my own experience with celiac (an autoimmune reaction to gluten), I can remember several medical misfortunes that should have indicated to an alert healthcare practitioner that I was suffering a health problem that needed investigation. For example, in elementary school, while playing baseball, I broke a bone in my hand while fielding a relatively slow ground ball. Continue reading →
Hyperthyroidism happens when your thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. This results in an overactive metabolic rate, which can cause irritability, insomnia and fatigue, amongst other things. Although not as common as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism is still a threat to many. Without even knowing it, a malfunctioning thyroid can be the underlying cause of many recurring illnesses.
How can you make sure your thyroid produces the right amount of thyroid hormone? You need to make sure you boost your nutritional health with vitamin B12. At least this is the latest health news from a group of Polish researchers.
The scientists looked at the use of vitamin supplements in the Polish population and a possible link with thyroid disease. The researchers noted that although vitamin deficiencies are uncommon in Poland or other developed countries, many patients take vitamin supplements. But despite the widespread availability of vitamins and the universal belief that vitamins offer health benefits, few publications have addressed their role in the prevention and treatment of thyroid diseases. Continue reading →
One or the most remarkable facts about celiac — the autoimmune reaction to the gluten in wheat, barley and rye — is the stunningly wide range of problems it can cause. The list of difficulties linked to celiac includes not only digestive discomfort but things like nerve damage, dementia, thyroid disorders, and diabetes and nutrient deficiencies. Celiac is a many-headed health monster.
Traditionally, the medical community has considered celiac to be a digestive disease. Symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain and intestinal gas were believed to be the main signs that your body was experiencing physiological complications related to gluten. However, more recently, researchers have begun to recognize that gluten’s harmful effects are not always restricted to digestion. It is that fact that can make celiac such an insidious disease.
For example, if you began to unexpectedly suffer nerve damage and/or brain fog , chances are you wouldn’t initially suspect that the bread you eat every day might be the cause of your condition. Continue reading →
Can a piece of bread destroy your brain? Believe it or not, it’s possible if you have the condition called celiac. For some celiac sufferers, eating foods like bread that contain gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye) causes an autoimmune reaction that destroys nerve tissue and brain cells. The main defense against this destruction: eating a gluten-free diet.
In 2007, I was on the brink of full-blown dementia, suffering very serious (and seemingly inexplicable) cognitive and memory difficulties. After taking part in a conversation in the morning, I would have no memory of it by the afternoon. Driving became increasingly difficult. Writing and editing? Fuhgeddaboutit. And when my son interrupted me one evening to ask why I was telling him a story I had just told him two minutes before (and which I had no memory of doing), I knew I was in serious trouble.
I couldn’t understand why a brain fog had enveloped me so unrelentingly.
Now, about a year before, without paying it too much attention, I had read about a study at the Mayo Clinic that found that folks with celiac who were suffering cognitive decline improved on a gluten-free diet. Continue reading →
Life in a toxic world has grown complex: Our cosmetics, food, water and air are all filled with contaminants that inflame our immune systems and cause serious health issues. Limiting your exposure to these chemicals and cleansing them from your body is essential for better health.
Scientists have come up with various, complicated names for the distasteful pollutants that threaten our health. Xenobiotics are what they call one class of unnatural chemicals that enter the body through the skin, lungs and digestion and set off troublesome immune reactions. These substances include prescription medications, dioxins, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and many other synthetic molecules Continue reading →
Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. This results in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, and lungs.
Under normal function, the immune system makes proteins called antibodies in order to protect and fight against antigens such as viruses and bacteria. Lupus makes the immune system unable to differentiate between antigens and healthy tissue. This leads the immune system to direct antibodies against the healthy tissue – not just antigens – causing swelling, pain, and tissue damage.
(* An antigen is a substance capable of inducing a specific immune response.)
What are the different types of lupus?
Several different kinds of lupus have been identified, but the type that we refer to simply as lupus is known as systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. Other types include discoid (cutaneous), drug-induced, and neonatal.
Patients with discoid lupus have a version of the disease that is limited to the skin. It is characterized by a rash that appears on the face, neck, and scalp, and it does not affect internal organs. Less than 10% of patients with discoid lupus progress into the systemic form of the disease, but there is no way to predict or prevent the path of the disease.
SLE is more severe than discoid lupus because it can affect any of the body’s organs or organ systems. Some people may present inflammation or other problems with only skin and joints, while other SLE sufferers will see joints, lungs, kidneys, blood, and/or the heart affected. This type of lupus is also often characterized by periods of flare (when the disease is active) and periods of remission (when the disease is dormant).
Drug-induced lupus is caused by a reaction with certain prescription drugs and causes symptoms very similar to SLE. The drugs most commonly associated with this form of lupus are a hypertension medication called hydralazine and a heart arrhythmia medication called procainamide, but there are some 400 other drugs that can also cause the condition. Drug-induced lupus is known to subside after the patient stops taking the triggering medication.
A rare condition, neonatal lupus occurs when a mother passes autoantibodies to a fetus. The unborn and newborn child can have skin rashes and other complications with the heart and blood. Usually a rash appears but eventually fades within the first six months of the child’s life.
Who is affected by lupus?
According to the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), 1.5 to 2 million Americans have some form of lupus. The prevalence is about 40 cases per 100,000 persons among Northern Europeans and 200 per 100,000 persons among blacks. Although the disease affects both males and females, women are diagnosed 9 times more often than men, usually between the ages of 15 and 45. African-American women suffer from more severe symptoms and a higher mortality rate.
Other risk factors include exposure to sunlight, certain prescription medications, infection with Epstein-Barr virus, and exposure to certain chemicals.
What causes lupus?
Although doctors are do not know exactly what causes lupus and other autoimmune diseases, most believe that lupus results from both genetic and environmental stimuli.
Since lupus is known to occur within families, doctors believe that it is possible to inherit a genetic predisposition to lupus. There are no known genes, however, that directly cause the illness. It is probable that having an inherited predisposition for lupus makes the disease more likely only after coming into contact with some environmental trigger.
The higher number of lupus cases in females than in males may indicate that the disease can be triggered by certain hormones. Physicians believe that hormones such as estrogen regulate the progression of the disease because symptoms tend to flare before menstrual periods and/or during pregnancy.
Certain environmental factors have been known to cause lupus symptoms. These include:
* Extreme stress
* Exposure to ultraviolet light, usually from sunlight
* Some medications and antibiotics, especially those in the sulfa and penicillin groups
* Some infections, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), parvovirus (such as fifth disease), hepatitis C infections, and the Epstein-Barr virus (in children)
* Chemical exposure to compounds such as trichloroethylene in well water and dust
What are the symptoms of lupus?
Since no two cases of lupus are exactly alike, there is a wide range of symptoms that are known to affect many parts of the body. Sometimes symptoms develop slowly or appear suddenly; they can be mild, severe, temporary, or permanent. Most people with lupus experience symptoms in only a few organs, but more serious cases can lead to problems with kidneys, the heart, the lungs, blood, or the nervous system.
Lupus episodes, or flares, are usually noted by a worsening of some of the following symptoms:
* Achy joints (arthralgia), arthritis, and swollen joints, especially in wrists, small joints of the hands, elbows, knees, and ankles
* Swelling of the hands and feet due to kidney problems
* Fever of more than 100 degrees F (38 degrees C)
* Prolonged or extreme fatigue
* Skin lesions or rashes, especially on the arms, hands, face, neck, or back
* Butterfly-shaped rash (malar rash) across the cheeks and nose
* Anemia (oxygen carrying deficiency of red blood cells)
* Pain in the chest on deep breathing or shortness of breath
* Sun or light sensitivity (photosensitivity)
* Hair loss or alopecia
* Abnormal blood clotting problems
* Raynaud’s phenomenon: fingers turn white and/or blue or red in the cold
* Mouth or nose ulcers
* Weight loss or gain
* Dry eyes
* Easy bruising
* Anxiety, depression, headaches, and memory loss
Lupus can also lead to complications in several areas of the body. These include:
* Kidneys – serious kidney damage is a primary cause of death for lupus sufferers.
* Central nervous system – lupus can cause headaches, dizziness, memory problems, seizures, and behavioral changes.
* Blood and vessels – lupus causes an increased risk of anemia, bleeding, blood clotting, and vessel inflammation
* Lungs – noninfectious pneumonia and difficulty breathing due to inflammation of the chest cavity are more likely with lupus
* Heart – heart muscle and artery inflammation are more likely with the disease, and lupus increases the chances of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
* Infection – lupus treatments tend to depress the immune system making your body more vulnerable to infection.
* Cancer – lupus increases the risk of cancer, especially of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung cancer, and liver cancer
* Bone tissue death – a lower blood supply to bone tissue leads to tiny breaks and eventual death of bone. This is most common in the hip bone.
* Pregnancy – lupus increases the risk of miscarriage, hypertension during pregnancy, and preterm birth.