Grab the 2017 bull by the horns

Happy New Year! As our weekly readers will know, Healed by Bacon is dedicated to helping you overhaul your health and optimise how you feel – and January is the perfect time to start!

This week’s article is a repost of one we wrote at the start of last year – 5 health tests to start the new year. We’ve chosen to repost this article as we think it’s important to create a baseline for your health by providing you with the necessary health checks you need to do.

Health Tests for the New Year

Ok, put your hand up if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to improve your health or lose weight? And put your hand up if you know how you are going to do this?

Well done for taking the time to set a health goal, but let’s take a step back. Obviously you have made this resolution because you’re not happy with something, in particular, the way you feel. But how do we really measure how we ‘feel’? Is it by the number on the scales? Is it by the number of times we laughed today? Below are the top 5 health checks to help you create a baseline for your health.

  1. Tests for thyroid dysfunction

Are you struggling to lose weight? Feeling low or depressed? Struggling with everyday functions – like thinking clearly? If yes, then your thyroid might not be functioning efficiently.

If you have read our Initial Tests page, you will know that the most important thyroid function tests are:

  • TSH,
  • Free T4 and Free T3,
  • Reverse T3,
  • Thyroid Antibodies,
  • Iron,
  • Adrenal Cortisol Levels,
  • Sex Hormones and a number of other blood tests.

These blood tests will help you gain a full picture of your endocrine health. However it is important that the doctor who completes these tests for you has a deep understanding of the thyroid. If we had a dollar for every time a doctor said our bloods were ‘in the healthy range’….

Thryroid Brain Fog

  1. Tests for Adrenal Fatigue

Autoimmune diseases, like hypothyroidism, go hand in hand with Adrenal Fatigue (AF). AF is becoming increasingly common as a result of the stressful western lifestyle; we are constantly stressed from study, work, family, money and never take the time to de-stress, relax and heal our bodies. So if you are struggling to even get up in the morning, your adrenal health might be compromised.

In the early stages of AF the blood tests you should be having include:

  • Insulin,
  • Cortisol (although a Saliva test is much better than serum),
  • DHEA,
  • Sex hormones, and
  • Blood sugar levels.

In order to interpret your bloods and understand what stage of AF you are suffering from, read our 4 Stages of Adrenal Fatigue post.

adrenal-gland-chart

  1. Tests for sufficient stomach acid

Stomach acid – let’s face it, it’s not really something you give much thought to. Yet stomach acid is actually one of the most important aspects of our digestive system. Low levels of stomach acid means the body can’t protect itself against bad forms of bacteria which can cause inflammation in our stomach.

A quick and easy test you can do at home to test your stomach acid levels is the baking soda test.

  1. Gluten Sensitivity/Intolerance

Without sounding too extreme – wheat and other gluten containing grains really should be avoided at all costs for us suffering from autoimmune diseases. However if you have previously been able to tolerate them and only recently developed gluten sensitivity symptoms you can have a doctor run a number of blood tests, including:

  • IgA anti-gliadin antibodies,
  • IgG anti-gliadin antibodies,
  • IgA anti-endomysial antibodies,
  • Tissue transglutaminase antibody (IgA and IgG in questionable cases),
  • Total IgA antibodies, and
  • HLA DQ2 and DQ8 genotyping for celiac disease (used occasionally to detect genetic susceptibility).

Why you shouldn't eat gluten

  1. Triglyceride levels

We all know how the story goes – eating foods high in that horribly bad saturated fat leads to high cholesterol which leads to atherosclerotic plaques that causes a clot which then results in a heart attack or stroke. And that’s why most doctors like to test our LDL/HDL cholesterol levels to make sure they are sufficiently low.

BUT we really shouldn’t be worrying about our high cholesterol, instead, we should be focusing on lowering our triglyceride levels. High triglycerides are a good predictor of a very high risk for cardiovascular disease and the more processed, high-carb foods we eat, the higher our triglyceride levels go.

Therefore, in order to gain a good picture of your heart health, you should have your doctor test your triglyceride levels – a healthy range is below 1 according to your doctor, however below 0.6 is the goal.

Good luck on your path to optimising your health!!

Advertisements

Grains and Copper Toxicity

grains.jpg

You know we don’t recommend eating grains – especially gluten containing grains and especially, especially if you suffer from an autoimmune disease. But there is a connection between grains and copper toxicity that is particularly relevant to today’s diet.

The level of zinc in plant-based foods tends to be low. When grains are refined, their zinc-copper ratio is disturbed, pushing the ratio further out of whack and in favour of copper.

Whole grains contain high levels of phytates which interfere with our body’s ability to absorb zinc. Therefore, when we eat whole grains (a food already low in zinc), the phytates prevent us from absorbing the little amount of zinc in them. Copper absorption is less affected by phytates further pushing the copper-zinc ratio in favour of copper.

The increased copper-zinc imbalances in grains have more of an impact on us today than in older generations. Previous generations liberally ate animal products and saturated fats which helped to balance out the high copper ratio in the grain products they ate.

But when we were encouraged to consume less animal products and adopt a ‘healthy’ plant-based diet, we began to eat more grains and other foods containing phytate. Scarily, many people on these diets believe that these foods are excellent non-animal sources of zinc and protein (and don’t worry if that is/was you – we used to believe it too!). Unfortunately, this is resulting in malabsorption of nutrients, zinc deficiencies and copper toxicity.

 

5 health tests to start the New Year

Health Tests for the New Year

Happy New Year! Ok, put your hand up if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to improve your health or lose weight? And put your hand up if you know how you are going to do this?

If you don’t, you’ve come to the right place. As our weekly readers will know, Healed by Bacon is dedicated to helping you overhaul your health and optimise how you feel – and January is the perfect time to start!

Well done for taking the time to set a health goal, but let’s take a step back. Obviously you have made this resolution because you’re not happy with something, in particular, the way you feel. But how do we really measure how we ‘feel’? Is it by the number on the scales? Is it by the number of times we laughed today? This blog post will hopefully help you create a baseline for your health by providing you with the necessary health checks you need to do.

  1. Tests for thyroid dysfunction

Are you struggling to lose weight? Feeling low or depressed? Struggling with everyday functions – like thinking clearly? If yes, then your thyroid might not be functioning efficiently.

If you have read our Initial Tests page, you will know that the most important thyroid function tests are:

  • TSH,
  • Free T4 and Free T3,
  • Reverse T3,
  • Thyroid Antibodies,
  • Iron,
  • Adrenal Cortisol Levels,
  • Sex Hormones and a number of other blood tests.

These blood tests will help you gain a full picture of your endocrine health. However it is important that the doctor who completes these tests for you has a deep understanding of the thyroid. If we had a dollar for every time a doctor said our bloods were ‘in the healthy range’….

Thryroid Brain Fog

  1. Tests for Adrenal Fatigue

Autoimmune diseases, like hypothyroidism, go hand in hand with Adrenal Fatigue (AF). AF is becoming increasingly common as a result of the stressful western lifestyle; we are constantly stressed from study, work, family, money and never take the time to de-stress, relax and heal our bodies. So if you are struggling to even get up in the morning, your adrenal health might be compromised.

In the early stages of AF the blood tests you should be having include:

  • Insulin,
  • Cortisol (although a Saliva test is much better than serum),
  • DHEA,
  • Sex hormones, and
  • Blood sugar levels.

In order to interpret your bloods and understand what stage of AF you are suffering from, read our 4 Stages of Adrenal Fatigue post.

adrenal-gland-chart

  1. Tests for sufficient stomach acid

Stomach acid – let’s face it, it’s not really something you give much thought to. Yet stomach acid is actually one of the most important aspects of our digestive system. Low levels of stomach acid means the body can’t protect itself against bad forms of bacteria which can cause inflammation in our stomach.

A quick and easy test you can do at home to test your stomach acid levels is the baking soda test.

  1. Gluten Sensitivity/Intolerance

Without sounding too extreme – wheat and other gluten containing grains really should be avoided at all costs for us suffering from autoimmune diseases. However if you have previously been able to tolerate them and only recently developed gluten sensitivity symptoms you can have a doctor run a number of blood tests, including:

  • IgA anti-gliadin antibodies,
  • IgG anti-gliadin antibodies,
  • IgA anti-endomysial antibodies,
  • Tissue transglutaminase antibody (IgA and IgG in questionable cases),
  • Total IgA antibodies, and
  • HLA DQ2 and DQ8 genotyping for celiac disease (used occasionally to detect genetic susceptibility).

Why you shouldn't eat gluten

  1. Triglyceride levels

We all know how the story goes – eating foods high in that horribly bad saturated fat leads to high cholesterol which leads to atherosclerotic plaques that causes a clot which then results in a heart attack or stroke. And that’s why most doctors like to test our LDL/HDL cholesterol levels to make sure they are sufficiently low.

BUT we really shouldn’t be worrying about our high cholesterol, instead, we should be focusing on lowering our triglyceride levels. High triglycerides are a good predictor of a very high risk for cardiovascular disease and the more processed, high-carb foods we eat, the higher our triglyceride levels go.

Therefore, in order to gain a good picture of your heart health, you should have your doctor test your triglyceride levels – a healthy range is below 1 according to your doctor, however below 0.6 is the goal.

 

Good luck on your path to optimising your health!!

Foods – and other surprising everyday items – containing gluten

So you have read our post about why we shouldn’t be eating gluten and you have eliminated all breads, pasta’s, baked goods, crackers etc. from your diet, but you’re still feeling…average. Well you might still be consuming gluten without knowing. Here is our list of everyday foods and products that surprisingly contain gluten.

  1. Medication

Medication, it’s meant to heal your health problem, but it might be making it less effective…or your condition worse. It might be difficult to avoid this is you are on specific medication – but some actually contain traces of gluten. Though it is mostly generic medication, gluten is used as a binding agent in them. If you suspect your medication contains gluten, it might be worth speaking to your doctor about what alternative medications are available.

  1. Make-up Suprising items containing gluten

Our skin is our largest organ, so even though you’re not actually eating your make-up, even a small amount of gluten in a lip balm or foundation could cause a problem. Just think about how often you bite or lick your lip, or touch your face and then touch your food. Gluten-containing make-up, lotions and moisturizers might trigger a response in the skin of a person with celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity or autoimmune disease.

  1. Shampoo/Conditioner/Shower Gel

The same goes for your shower products. We realised that it was our gluten-containing shampoo and conditioner causing an irritation to our scalp.

  1. Chocolate (Nooooooooo!)

Ok it’s not all bad, some chocolate is safe…you just have to be careful. A lot of the stuff on supermarket contains gluten in the form of emulsifiers.

  1. Vitamin Supplements

Like medication, vitamin supplements can contain hidden gluten as a binding agent.

  1. Wheat-free Products

Gluten doesn’t only come from wheat – so products made with barley, spelt and rye still contain gluten. Just because a product is labelled wheat-free, doesn’t mean it is gluten free!

  1. Stocks/Soup

Don’t have time to make your own stock? Using a stock cube seems like a quick, convenient way to add punches of flavour, but be careful as many stock cubes are a land mine of gluten sources. While some of the spice mixes used in the stock cube may contain gluten, the serious one to look out for is maltodextrin.

  1. Restaurant Meals

It is so important that you let the restaurant know you are gluten intolerant. Many of the seamingly gluten free meal options (such as French fries) are actually covered in a gluten product before cooking to give them that extra crunch. Yeah but you don’t order French fries – well it is still important to let the restaurant know in case there is cross contamination. If your food is cooked in the same oil as those French fries (or any other gluten containing product) and you eat it, you might actually have a reaction.

  1. Pickles

Some commercial pickles use malt-vinegar in the pickling process, which contains vinegar. Instead, make your own.

  1. Pre-cooked Roast Chicken

This one depends on where you buy it from, so it is always a good idea to ask. Some roast chickens are covered in spices, which may contain gluten. And if you buy a bird with stuffing – those bread crumbs definitely contain gluten.

  1. Spice Mixes

Spice mixes, or ‘seasonings’ use wheat flour or wheat starch as a carrier. Therefore, it’s best to by the individual spices and mix up your own.

  1. Salad Dressings

Many commercial salad dressings use a thickener made from gluten – perfect way to invent/make your own we say!

 

For us, these were the main culprits, but for a more comprehensive list of gluten-containing foods check out www.celiac.com.

 

What NOT to eat for Hashi’s

Keep in mind that these are listed in order of toxicity and the top 3 (sugar, gluten and seed oils) should be avoided by everyone, not just those with Hashi’s!

  • Sugar (particularly fructose): Seriously, what are the reasons for eating this? It disrupts hormones, leads to weight gain, is linked with many chronic diseases, makes boys grow boobs (I’m not even joking – high levels of fructose in the diet increase the hormone aromatase which decreases testosterone and increases estrogen)! If anyone tells you that sugar is natural and that we have to eat it, tell ‘em their dreaming!
  • Gluten: Basically, our bodies aren’t meant to deal with gluten. Even if you’re not gluten intolerant or Coeliac, I challenge you to give up gluten for 30 days and see how good you feel!
  • Industrial Seed Oils: Become rancid very easily causing inflammation within the body. Did you know that the added ‘healthy’ Vitamin E in that bottle of vegetable oil you have is just a preservative to stop the oil going rancid at room temperature?! Definitely avoid any oil or margarine that has the heart foundation tick or the slogan ‘Contains Vitamin E’; it’s a farce!
  • Soy Products: Contain phytoestrogens which disrupt hormonal balance and induce estrogen dominance (think cellulite, weight gain around the thighs, menstrual disturbances and even an increased risk of breast cancer)! Not to mention the fact that most soy products are genetically modified but I’ll save that argument for a later date!
  • Chickpeas and Legumes: Contain both phytates and lectins which make them very difficult to digest but also leach micronutrients from the gut so they can’t be properly absorbed by the body.
  • White Potatoes: Contains a high concentration of lectins which damage the gut, leach valuable micronutrients from the body and issue an autoimmune response (given the body does not have the tools to deal with them). This process worsens a pre-existing autoimmune condition.
  • Other Sweeteners (regardless of calorie content): Although a sweetener may contain negligible calories, the sweetness on our tongue still issues an insulin spike which negatively impacts blood glucose levels and leaves us with sweet, carby cravings!
  • High FODMAP foods: Although this may not effect everybody with Hashi’s, consuming high FODMAP foods (such as onion and garlic) can actually promote an autoimmune flare up (ie temporary worsening of symptoms).
  • Processed foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce: Chances are, if you don’t know what fructo-oligosaccharides are, your body and digestive system won’t know either, leading to ahem, flatulence and funny poos…
  • High Casein Products: Most people with Hashi’s have a casein intolerance and consuming high casein foods (think cottage cheese and ricotta) can lead to digestive problems and a very sore tum!

Toxic Food

So what do I eat..?
I follow a mostly paleo diet; lots of good (saturated) fats, organic grass fed meat/eggs and a heap of veggies, with the exception of some occasional local, organic cheese. I have tried the autoimmune paleo protocol (an extension of the normal paleo diet that also excludes nuts, nightshades and eggs) and found that nuts do not suit me but I’m fine with capsicum, tomato and chilli.

Given I also suffer from Addison’s disease, I tend to follow a low-carb, almost ketogenic, paleo diet to keep my hypoglycaemia under control.

As far as fruit goes, I do indulge in the occasional berry, but now that I have completely quit all sugar (and sweetness from other sources), fruit tastes far too sweet for me and I much prefer sweet veggies, like a ripe, juicy red capsicum or a high cacao percentage chocolate. Although this may seem quite extreme to the naked eye, this is the best I’ve felt my whole life.

As sufferers know, maintaining your weight with Hashi’s is really difficult, but by eating this way, I find I’m satisfied between meals, have no cravings and can eat as much as I feel like without gaining weight.