Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Terra's Health: The Big Picture

Wow!  This post has been a long time coming... literally, almost 21 years or so coming.  I've probably left some of you really confused now.  Let me explain.

A few months ago, I posted that I thought many of my health issues stemmed from something known as histamine intolerance.  With the help of a local functional medicine doctor, I've confirmed my hypothesis as well as learned a few other big things affecting my overall health.  How has this been 21 years in the making?  Well, many of my symptoms began around puberty, although I'm just now connecting the dots.  I'm sure my family members will recall that I was very prone to regular headaches, scent sensitivities, anxiety and very painful cycles.  It appears I was just in the beginning stages of some of these problems at that point.  As time went on and the integrity of my gut was further jeopardized, my symptoms became more intense and diverse.  So what exactly is going on with me?

First, I have a few genetic mutations that feed into the histamine issue in the first place.  I am heterozygous in all of my DAO genes.  That basically means that genetically, I don't break down histamine as efficiently as I should and excess histamine causes a world of symptoms.  DAO helps to break it down and I don't produce enough.  There are DAO supplements (that are not cheap) that help with this but do not totally "solve" the problem, they just address the symptoms.  My other gut issues are likely a bigger factor in causing my histamine intolerance as I'll explain further in this post.

For the nerds out there, other (notable) genetic issues include being highly estrogen dominant with a homozygous CYP1B1 as well as other blood markers and symptoms.  My PEMT was heterozygous which means I don't process choline well.  There were also issues with my COMT (rs4680(A)), VDR and FUT2.  I have mild mitochondrial defects. My BHMT is off so I'm also currently testing my sulfur metabolism to see if it needs to be addressed.

Now on to easier to understand things.  We primarily eat a "real food," often organic, local, low grain diet.  My B vitamins and magnesium were acceptable but several were on the low end.  My amino acids were phenomenal (yay!) and most of my other vitamins, antioxidants and such were excellent. I do have an elevated copper/low zinc ratio.

My cholesterol and heart stuff all looked very good over all - praise the Lord!  I had slightly elevated levels of Lp-PLA2 and Myeloperoxidase but combined with other blood work, I was told they were not of concern.

My food testing is consistent with intestinal permeability and showed high sensitivities to egg white, gluten, milk/casein and various other lower sensitivities.  As a result of these, I will be cutting all of these foods from my diet for a minimum of 2 (to 6 months).  We've already been gluten-free since around last November.   I've also been dairy-free since shortly after Abigail was born because I'm nursing and I learned very quickly she had troubles with dairy.  After several months, I will be allowed to try and add some of these foods back to my diet to see how I respond.  Gluten is gone for good because my numbers were still incredibly high being on a gluten-free diet already.  The question is "how high were my scores before cutting it?"  I was told I have non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (and for those who question the validity of that, read this).  My Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio was not superb but not terrible (probably thanks to my regular fish oil supplementation).

Fortunately I had zero bacterial overgrowths, SIBO, yeasts or parasites (yay!) but did have poor bacterial diversity in which we'll hit with particular probiotics and other methods.  Right now, because of the histamine intolerance, I do not currently tolerate fermented foods (as well as a long list of other foods) in any great quantity.  The catch-22 is that fermented foods can tremendously benefit gut healing and add to the diversity of the bacteria in there.  Ditto for bone broth.  I'm working to add these things in small quantities while upping my intake of antihistamine, anti-inflammatory foods to counteract the negative effects.  The doctor is going to add some prebiotics to the mix in hopes of helping my digestion in these areas over time as well.  Lastly, gut related, I'm not breaking down and properly absorbing fats and I have very low stomach acid (after years of thinking I had too much!).  The doctor is recommending some pancreatic enzymes instead of just the HCL/Betaine I already take to help while we work on gut healing.

My standard blood tests were pretty good overall.  To my surprise, my thyroid is totally functioning well and it seems most of my symptoms are caused by the high estrogen and low testosterone issues.  Adrenals were in a normal range from a basic view.  We may do further testing there later if symptoms persist.  My insulin was actually extremely low.  He told me that I should try not to lose any more weight (127 lbs at 5'6") and that I should actually increase my carb/fat consumption to address the insulin, estrogen and testosterone issues.  And we're talking high veggie carbs, not grains here.  I know some of my Paleo buddies are already freaking out a bit but this is coming from a Paleo-encouraging doc with similar opinions as this M.D who I trust as well.  My blood work showed a high presence of ketones which would be great IF I was trying to lose weight or follow a ketogenic diet long term.

Another random tidbit.  My family has a genetic issue known as Lynch Syndrome.  My father died of brain cancer at 39 years of age, two of my sisters have tested positive for the gene and multiple aunts have it as well.  It basically increases the odds of getting colon and other types of aggressive cancers.  I have a 50/50 chance of having this gene but I have not yet been tested (it's a totally separate and expensive process).  As a result, the doctor does want me to have a routine colonoscopy in the upcoming months as a preventative measure.  Otherwise, I'm addressing the Lynch Syndrome preventatively with diet and lifestyle measures.

After ALL that... what's the overall big picture?  I'm going to adjust my dietary intake as mentioned above for the next six months to see if it addresses some of these issues, continuing a mostly paleo/real food protocol.  We're adding supplements to cover the nutrient deficiencies and genetic defects that can be addressed.  We're also adding a prebiotic and probiotic rotation, Omega 3, and continued Vitamin D3 regularly.  There will be the addition of pancreatic enzymes to help my digestion/absorption.  When I'm done nursing and/or when my cycle begins again, I'll add a small amount of lyposomal progesterone for a few days a months as instructed.  Some of these markers will be retested in six months.  I'm continuing to add more antihistamine, anti-inflammatory foods to my diet to combat the histamine issues specifically.  I may not be able to remove all of my issues in that realm since I have some genetic issues at play but there are good odds that I can seriously minimize them.  I was also told to continue my current exercise routine (a combination of light cardio and yoga) and to add some additional resistance training.  I'm supposed to keep working on getting adequate sleep (which I honestly think I do pretty decent at to have 5 small children) and keep the stress levels down as much as possible (now THAT'S the challenge!).

In the end, that good Lord has numbered my days in spite of it all.  I'll do what I can to live a healthy life with the information I have and go from there. ;)

Until next time...

Take care,

Friday, September 11, 2015

Daniel's Health: The Big Picture

Daniel being silly
For those of you that follow me on Facebook or interact often with us in real life, you know that for about one and a half years now, we've had an extremely difficult time with our fourth child Daniel.  Somewhere around his first birthday, he started getting sick a great deal (mostly colds and ear infections) which led to a few rounds of antibiotics.  As time went on, I (Terra) noticed more and more things that seemed out of place with him.  He was struggling with severe bouts of anger, head-banging, being overwhelmed very easily by certain noises/situations, having a very difficult time falling asleep, was behind in his speech, cried a great portion of the day and was not interacting well with his siblings.  I describe him as a two year old times ten.  On the more obvious health front, I learned when he was around six months old (thanks to a rash that refused to go away), he was not tolerating dairy products and we promptly removed those from his diet.  To this day, he's never had a solid stool.  Because of his digestive issues, we also preventatively took him off gluten as both James and I, as well as the three oldest kids have known gluten-sensitivity.  He recently began occupational therapy to particularly deal with symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder.  In addition, we sought out the help of a local functional medicine practitioner for more answers.  And that is what this post will address.

The first and most obvious things that stood out to me in his lab work were regarding his stool test.
Not cool.
There were two markers of inflammation and then a note that he is not properly digesting fats.  The good news is that there are no infections, parasites, overgrowths of bacteria, etc.  He also has very low diversity of gut bacteria (the higher the better).  His IgA numbers on this test and two others show that he is definitely fighting some sort of allergic reaction.  We've already delved into many different allergen testings (including IgA, IgG and minimal IgE) but we're going to have one more (the traditional skin prick/scratch test) to add environmental allergens to the list.  His food sensitivity test showed that he has developed a reaction to eggs now and considering he had those 3-4 days per week, removing those from he diet may help some as well.  So he's currently avoiding gluten, dairy and eggs.

The second glaring problem was with his nutrient profile.  Let me start by saying that we eat a pretty clean, good quality, real food diet the majority of the time.  Daniel tends to eat fairly well and we do supplement with specific nutrients.  We had to stop supplementation for one week prior to these tests.  He was severely deficient in many vitamins/antioxidants/etc (see images for some of those details).  His tests show a lot of oxidative stress.  Apparently he also has a need for pancreatic enzymes, at least temporarily.  He's not detoxing well so that doesn't help.  On the positive side, we've found that some minor supplementing with melatonin has really helped him to be able to fall asleep in the evenings.
Look at all that terrible red and quite a bit of yellow too!


As far as genetics are concerned, he inherited his dad's MTHFR C677T which affects the way his body processes certain vitamins and such (especially those B vitamins you saw above).  That may be a piece of this puzzle.  He has many heterozygous methylation SNPs.  There are a few SNPs that affect the type of B12 he can process as well as a lessened ability to keep healthy gut bacteria thanks to mutations within FUT2.  He also has mild histamine findings (like my own struggles) that we may need to monitor over time.  He may have issues with sulfur but we're following through with some urine testing to decide if he's actually expressing those genetics yet or not.

Fortunately most of his other tests were perfectly normal (things like thyroid and such).  There were no excess heavy metals or lead issues.  The is a little bit of an elevated copper to zinc ratio and a mild anemia.  The good news is that the doctor thinks that many of these things can certainly addressed and hopefully corrected.  He said that the glaring nutrient deficiencies can definitely cause neurotransmitter imbalances.  He made recommendations for very specific supplementation to help with the big deficiencies and genetic details.  He's hopeful that adding the digestive enzymes will help him better break down the fats and absorb what he needs to as well.  We're continuing to work on the probiotic supplementation, adding prebiotics, and getting good fermented foods in him as we're able.  Once our new insurance kicks in for James' job change, he'll have the additional allergen testing and see where we're at there.  The doctor feels confident that addressing these issues will get us on the path to healing.  He says it could take as long as six months to see bigger results.  With a combination of these things and help from our awesome Occupational Therapist - Lord, I pray we see results!

Until next time...

Take care,

P.S.  My health updates are coming soon as well. ;)