Kerry Fleckenstein, Therapeutic Lifestyle Recovery Coach
1:37 pm

Essentials for everyone!

One of the most common questions I’m asked is “should I be taking daily supplements and if so, which ones?” In a perfect world, your diet would be perfect and your gut would be in perfect shape to digest and absorb all the micro and macro nutrients you need to stay healthy.

Our Western diet is filled with nutrient-poor and calorie-dense processed foods We are constantly exposed to toxins in our food, water, air, and even personal care and cleaning products. Our stress levels have skyrocketed and many people are dealing with gut issues. This combination of a decrease in nutrients in our food and an increase in stress, toxins, and gut issues like leaky gut is why we can no longer get all of the vitamins and minerals we need from food alone. Supplementation helps you maintain healthy levels of nutrients. You don’t however need to take too many. We are all unique individuals and unique physically, so not everyone needs to supplement the same way, however, there are some essential supplements that I recommend for everyone to take.

1. Omega 3

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are widely publicized. They reduce inflammation and may help lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. And, because they are highly-concentrated in the brain, omega-3 fatty acids are also important for memory, cognition, and behavior.

For auto-immunity they are super powers. Of all the fatty acids, the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have the greatest effect on the immune system and the inflammatory response. This is important for autoimmune disease sufferers. Studies examining the use of omega-3 supplements (usually taken as fish oil) have demonstrated benefits for people with chronic diseases, including autoimmune conditions such as lupus, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease. These benefits include reduced pain and inflammation, with a consequent decreased need for medications designed to combat inflammation, which can have their own negative side effects.

2. Probiotics

The future of medicine is turning toward your microbiome, the ecosystem of bacteria and other microbes that live in your gut, to prevent and reverse many diseases. We now know that nearly 80% of your immune system is located in your gut, and up to 95% of your serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood) is produced in your gut.

This means that if the balance of bacteria in your gut is thrown off, it can lead to a whole host of problems, including autoimmunity, depression, anxiety, and leaky gut, to name a few. Taking a probiotic every day can help keep your microbiome in balance, which promotes a healthy GI tract, relieves digestive discomfort, promotes a normal bowel pattern, and supports overall wellness.

3. Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is unique in a couple of important ways. First, your body can make its own vitamin D3 when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Second, vitamin D3 is converted into a hormone in your body. Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers, they travel through your blood to your tissues and organs activating chemical reactions that control everything from metabolism to growth and development to mood. Over 50,000 of the chemical reactions in your body require the presence of adequate amounts of vitamin D3 in your blood. The vitamin contributes to bone strength, heart health, and cancer prevention. Vitamin D3 also plays an important role in your immune system, and can be a determining factor in whether or not you develop an autoimmune disease.


Interesting Facts About Mushrooms

If you read the nutritional information on a package of mushrooms, you’ll notice that some contain vitamin D and some don’t. When exposed to sunlight, mushrooms produce an active form of vitamin D. Most commercially grown mushrooms are raised indoors, in the dark, and lack the nutrient. Some growers expose their mushrooms to artificial ultraviolet light to induce vitamin D synthesis.

Mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D. Meat is the only other food source of vitamin D.
Mushrooms contain the same form of vitamin B-12 as meat.
Mushrooms have umami—a meaty, savory flavor and one of the five basic tastes. If you have a craving for meat and salt, try a mushroom dish. It might satisfy those cravings.
Mushrooms are a terrific source of copper, potassium, folate, and niacin (B3).
Foraging for mushrooms in the wilderness, also known as mushroom hunting, is fun but it’s important to exercise caution. Many poisonous mushrooms are nearly identical to safe varieties.

Kerry Fleckenstein, Therapeutic Lifestyle Recovery Coach
6:12 am

Why should you give up gluten?


Do you have autoimmune disease? If so, I can say that gluten may be what sparked the start of your disease, and continuing to eat it is simply adding fuel to the fire.

Gluten, a protein naturally found in certain grains, is now found nearly everywhere in our modern world. It’s in flour-based foods such as pasta and bread, but it is also used as a filler in medications and supplements, it’s the glue that holds meat substitutes together, it’s in body products such as shampoo and toothpaste, and, thanks to cross-contamination, it’s even in grains that are marked gluten-free.

Modern-day gluten is not the same gluten that came from grains when our grandparents were eating them. Today there are new hybrid strains of wheat that contain entirely new forms of gluten not found in any of the original plants, and this is what makes our muffins and bagels bigger and fluffier. Scientists were also able to re-formulate gluten which allows it to be dissolved into liquids and other products that didn’t previously contain gluten, like lunch meat and shampoo. These two factors mean that we are not only eating a different kind of gluten than our ancestors ate, we are eating and being exposed to much more of it.

This causes problems with both your gut health and your immune system, creating a perfect storm for the development and progression of inflammatory and autoimmune disease

1. Gluten Causes Leaky Gut

When you eat gluten, whether via a piece of bread, the filler in your lunch meats, or one of many hidden sources, it travels through your stomach and arrives in your small intestine, where we know that it triggers the release of zonulin. Zonulin is a chemical that signals the tight junctions of your intestinal wall to open up, creating intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut.

You can think of your gut lining kind of like a drawbridge. Teeny tiny boats (micronutrients in food) that are meant to travel back and forth are able to go under the bridge without a problem. But, when gluten releases zonulin, it causes the drawbridge to go up, allowing bigger boats (large proteins like gluten) to cross over that aren’t meant to travel through. In the case of your gut, it’s microbes, toxins, proteins, and partially digested food particles that are passing under the drawbridge and escaping into your bloodstream.

Since all of the toxins, microbes, and food particles such as gluten now flooding your bloodstream aren’t supposed to be there, your immune system marks them as dangerous invaders and creates inflammation to get rid of them.

2. Gluten Causes Inflammation

If you have an autoimmune disease, then that means that somewhere along the way, your immune system went haywire and began attacking your body’s own tissues. This change from healthy to autoimmune isn’t instantaneous, it happens over years.

Inflammation is your immune system’s natural response to anything it perceives as dangerous, whether that’s a cut, a virus, or the gluten that you ate in a piece of birthday cake that slipped through your leaky gut. It’s estimated that one percent of the population has Celiac disease and one in 30 people have a gluten sensitivity–and eating gluten causes inflammation every time they eat it. What’s more, an estimated 99 percent of people with gluten sensitivity are undiagnosed, so they are fanning the flames of their inflammation without even knowing it.

The only way to give your immune system the break it needs to regain its precision so that it can stop mistakenly attacking you, is to remove gluten entirely.

3. Gluten Looks Like Your own Tissues

Beyond creating a leaky gut, gluten poses a serious risk for those of us with autoimmunity because of a phenomenon called molecular mimicry, which is a dangerous case of mistaken identity.

Every time your body is exposed to an invader (in this case gluten), your immune system memorizes its structure so that it can develop the perfect defense to that pathogen and recognize it in the future. Unfortunately, the immune system’s recognition system isn’t perfect; as long as a molecule’s structure is similar enough, the immune system registers it as an invader and attacks. Gluten, which is a particularly large protein, happens to be structurally similar to a number of your body’s tissues, particularly your thyroid. Remember, if you have an autoimmune disease, you have a leaky gut and when your ‘drawbridge is open’ large proteins like gluten get into your bloodstream where your immune system detects and attacks them.

In those with autoimmune thyroid disease, every time they eat gluten the immune system sends out antibodies to detect and destroy the gluten, but since the gluten and thyroid gland looks so similar some of those immune cells end up attacking the thyroid by mistake.

How to Heal the Damage Caused by Gluten

If you have an autoimmune disease or are anywhere on the autoimmune spectrum, the single best thing you can do for your health is to ditch the gluten 100% as soon as possible. If you don’t, the gluten will keep your tight junctions open and your gut leaky, your body may mistake your own tissues for gluten by way of molecular memory, and your body will remain in a chronic state of inflammation.

Kerry Fleckenstein, Therapeutic Lifestyle Recovery Coach
7:24 am

Sluggish, tired, overweight? What is going on?

Otherwise known as auto-immune thyroiditis.  You or someone you know probably have some form of thyroid disorder.  At the moment, thyroid disease has reached epidemic proportions and it’s only getting worse. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common thyroid disease. It’s characterized by chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland, hindering it’s ability to function normally.  Reduced thyroid function is called hypothyroidism and is often associated with weight gain, lethargy, and inadequate growth in children.  Yes, children.  This used to be a disease that mostly affected aging women.  So, what happened.

What Causes Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s occurs when the immune system deviates from its normal function and begins to attack healthy cells in the thyroid as if they were foreign invaders. The immune system attacks the thyroid by producing antibodies, slowly deteriorating the gland’s ability to produce thyroid hormones. The aggregation of white blood cells, or lymphocytes, propels the process behind Hashimoto’s disease.

Compared with men, women are 7-9 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder. It is estimated that 20 million people have been diagnosed.  It seems that estrogen dominance in women reduces iodine absorption in the thyroid, possibly contributing to the increased risk in the female population.   Genetic predispositions are a key factor in Hashimoto’s disease.  Then the gene can be activated through too many toxins entering the body, food sensitivities, parasites in the gut, and most importantly and common, chronic stress.

Signs and Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease

As the disease progresses, the thyroid gland may enlarge, giving the appearance of a swollen neck. Known as goiter, it’s commonly associated with hypothyroidism, a symptom related to Hashimoto’s disease. An underactive thyroid associated with Hashimoto’s disease usually results in:

  • Fatigue
  • Listlessness
  • Weight gain
  • Sluggish metabolism
  • Lethargy
  • Cold intolerance
  • Paleness and puffiness in the face
  • Joint and muscular aches
  • Constipation
  • Dry, brittle, thinning hair
  • Irregular periods
  • Depression
  • Shallow/slowed heart rate
  • Difficulty conceiving

With many of these symptoms, it isn’t uncommon that some patients are diagnosed with depression before they are diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. For some individuals, Hashimoto’s disease may present little to no symptoms, making it harder for doctors to diagnose or treat crucial thyroid issues.

There is hope though.  Through the right nutrition, diet and lifestyle changes, this can be put into full remission without the use of medications.  Health comes from not only what you put into your body, but from within as well.  Look inward to nourish your soul, your emotions, your life.

Affirmation:  Now is the time to envision your life the way you want it to be and to take action in that direction. —Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine

Have you ever experienced these symptoms or had problems with your thyroid? What were some of the things you did to contribute toward your health? Where are you emotionally? Leave a comment and share your experience!

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