Restoration Healthcare Blog

The Restoration Healthcare Blog

Here, you’ll find news from our office, insights and observations from trusted sources in health, profiles of Restoration Healthcare staffers, information about innovations in the effort to take back your own good health, testimonials from our clients, resources and recommendations of note, and more. Read a post or two and comment on anything that strikes a chord.

By: Restoration Healthcare 

Indigestion, heartburn, abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, constipation — these are all familiar symptoms of gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction. Less familiar symptoms are food allergies and sensitivities, fatigue, brain fog, and a variety of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. What most people don’t realize is that about 70 percent of the body’s immune system resides in the gut. When the gut malfunctions, the immune system can go haywire, attacking the body it’s supposed to protect.

Conventional GI treatments typically involve medications to reduce stomach acid and alleviate cramps, diarrhea, or constipation — all of which ignore the root cause and can make the problem worse. Sometimes, the problem isn’t so much with the body’s GI tract as with what’s living inside it. Specifically, we’re talking about the trillions of microorganisms living in the small intestine.

SIBO and SIFO

The small intestine is a narrow tube-like organ that’s approximately 20 feet long. It connects the stomach to the large intestine and is responsible for extracting most nutrients from food. The large intestine is a much wider and shorter tube-like organ that primarily absorbs water from undigested food and carries solid waste out of the body.

Bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms (both beneficial and potentially harmful) naturally reside in the small and large intestines. Breaking down food and producing nutrients that the body cannot obtain from food alone is the job of beneficial microorganisms.

However, when certain microorganisms multiply too fast, they can cause a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or small intestinal fungal overgrowth (SIFO) — both of which describe a microbial imbalance in the gut (commonly referred to as dysbiosis).

SIBO Graphic

Left untreated, gut dysbiosis can lead to unplanned weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and even bone loss. It can also damage the lining of the small intestine, which can cause increased intestinal permeability (often referred to as leaky gut) — a condition in which large protein molecules pass through the small intestine into the bloodstream, triggering immune reactions that can result in allergies or sensitivities, chronic inflammation, and autoimmune diseases.

Common Causes of SIBO and SIFO

Common causes and contributing factors that lead to SIBO or SIFO include the following: Continue reading…

By: Restoration Healthcare 

To honor our commitment to patient confidentiality, we rarely share the successes of our patients, and we would certainly never do so without their consent. However, one of our patients, Jennifer Fisher, recently published a fantastic cookbook titled Surprise! It’s Gluten Free! She’s excited to spread the word about it and share her story, and we’re pleased to be able to help her.

Jennifer is the real thing — a self-proclaimed carb-lover with severe gluten sensitivity, and a child who lives with the same sensitivity to gluten as she does. She also has a passion for cooking (and eating) a variety of gluten-free baked goods — breads, pancakes, waffles, cookies, cream puffs, pies, cakes, and donuts — along with a host of entrees and side dishes that traditionally contain gluten. We can’t imagine anyone better qualified to write a gluten-free cookbook, and Jennifer delivers with recipes for more than 100 entrees, breads, and desserts for you and your family and friends to enjoy. Every recipe is gluten-free and sure to fool even the most discerning palette.

Now we don’t recommend loading up on simple carbs of any kind, especially those high in sugar or artificial sweeteners, but occasionally treating yourself to the foods you love is certainly something we encourage. If the foods you love traditionally contain gluten, and you’re living with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity — or your Restoration Healthcare plan of care calls for you to avoid gluten — you know how difficult (impossible?) it is to find tasty gluten-free alternatives that aren’t the consistency of cardboard.

You needn’t deny yourself one of life’s simple pleasures any longer. With the recipes in Surprise! It’s Gluten Free!, you can now literally have your cake, eat it, and enjoy it, too.

Jennifer’s Journey with Gluten Sensitivity

Spoiler alert! Jennifer shares her story in the intro to her cookbook, and we don’t want to give away too much, so we’ll offer just a brief synopsis (with Jennifer’s permission, of course):

For the first 22 years of her life, Jennifer had never heard the word “gluten.” Then she started to experience severe gastrointestinal symptoms. As her symptoms worsened, she began to suffer migraines, canker sores, joint pain, nausea, diarrhea, cramping, body aches, and extreme fatigue, along with (understandably) panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. Her weight dropped from 130 pounds to 99 pounds, and she was afraid to leave her house after dinner knowing how she’d feel in the aftermath of a meal.

She bounced around between numerous doctors who ordered a variety of lab tests, none of which provided any insight into what was wrong. She began self-diagnosis through her own research before stumbling upon the words “celiac” and “gluten.” But when she discussed her condition with her doctors, they pointed out that she hadn’t tested positive for celiac disease and refused to consider the possibility of gluten sensitivity.

At one point, Jennifer was diagnosed as having ulcerative colitis and put on medications that offered some relief. She was even given steroids when she had bad flare-ups. But whenever she brought up the possibility of celiac disease or mentioned “gluten” to her doctors, they would respond by saying, “No, that’s not it.” One doctor even recommended she consume more whole wheat, telling her “it’s great for colitis.”

Jennifer became resigned to her fate until she started having children, at which point she decided to ramp up her efforts to regain her health and vitality. She didn’t want to be the “sick mom.” She wanted to be the “active, fun mom,” so she continued her quest for answers and effective treatment.

Finally, she mentioned her plight to a mentor of hers, who happened to be a nutritionist and was establishing a natural wellness center. The first thing her mentor/nutritionist told her was to stop eating gluten. That was the game-changer. Within months off gluten, Jennifer’s headaches subsided, her “heavy-feeling body” felt lighter, her foggy brain was clear, and her joint pain and GI symptoms slowly started to improve. She was back on the path to recovery, back on the path to living a rich and fulfilling life.

True to her nature, Jennifer refused to give up the foods she had grown to love. Harnessing her talent and passion for cooking, she decided to develop gluten-free versions of her favorite foods that would taste just as good, if not better, than the originals. And now, as a result of her efforts, others living with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity have access to those recipes through her new cookbook — Surprise! It’s Gluten Free!

Jennifer is not totally out of the woods just yet. Her medical issues are complex. In the this video, she talks openly about her experience as a patient here at our functional medicine practice and how it differs from her past experiences with conventional medicine practitioners.

About Jennifer’s New Cookbook

Surprise! It’s Gluten Free!, which is published by DK / Penguin Random House’s Alpha Books imprint, presents recipes for various gluten-free flour blends and breadcrumbs that can be used as replacements in any recipe calling for flour or breadcrumbs. She also includes a list of secret ingredients, including xanthan gum, Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, and Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter.

The bulk of the book is devoted to gluten-free recipes divided into the following categories: Continue reading…

By: Restoration Healthcare 

When you discover that you’re suffering from an ailment that makes you lightheaded, nauseous, exhausted, headachy, or anxious — or all five — the last thing you probably want to hear is that there’s an exercise regimen that can help relieve those symptoms.

But what we’re talking about are symptoms associated with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or POTS. For the uninitiated, POTS is a condition in which much of your blood stays in the lower part of your body when you stand up, thus prompting the headaches, faintness, and other associated symptoms. Within minutes after getting on your feet, your heart starts pounding as your body frantically tries to pump blood to your brain and upper body.

And it’s why we recently published the Restoration Healthcare Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) Introduction and Exercise Guide, which we’re making available here as a free download (right click on the image below to download the guide).

Since its publication, we have been recommending our POTS Guide to our patients diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, as well as any of our patients who might be struggling to make it over the hump of getting started on the path to fitness. That includes new and postpartum moms, patients recovering from Lyme disease or exposure to toxic mold, and so on.

Feeling Conflicted About Exercise?

Starting a fitness program can often make you feel conflicted — you know that you won’t start to feel stronger and more energetic without exercising, but you really don’t feel like exercising when you’re weak and exhausted. This is especially true when you have a chronic illness that has sapped your strength and energy. You can start to feel like Superman or Superwoman in the presence of kryptonite. But it’s worse for you — you can’t just step away from a chunk of kryptonite to restore your vitality.

The not-so-secret solution is to ease into a workout regimen gradually — crawl, walk, then run — as you feel comfortable doing so. This approach is ideal, especially for people living with POTS.

About Our Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) Introduction and Exercise Guide

Our guide begins with a brief introduction followed by a short section on what POTS is, including insights into risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment. Although the treatment protocol varies for each patient, it involves medical treatment along with self-treatment — diet and lifestyle modifications and exercise.

Most of the guide is devoted to the POTS exercise program we recommend — a training program designed to build strength and endurance gradually over the course of eight months, or even longer if you prefer.

This eight-month program provides all the guidance you need, including the following: Continue reading…

By: Rebecca Maas Restoration Healthcare’s Health Coach

Change is scary, especially when your doctor or health coach says your plan of care includes adopting a healthier lifestyle. And nowhere is that more confronting than when it comes to the foods we eat.

As most any health coach will tell you from their own experience, breaking the news to someone that they need to drastically alter their diet is a tough sell. That’s why I often start off with the 80/20 rule.

According to that rule, 80 percent of consequences are attributable to 20 percent of causes. We can apply this principle to any attempt at self-improvement and conclude that making small changes in our lives can lead to big improvements.

Even better, when we make two or more small changes, such as cutting back or eliminating sweets and taking a brisk two-mile walk every day, we start to experience compounding benefits. And each benefit we experience serves as motivation to make additional positive changes in our lives.

The 80/20 rule is a great reminder that we shouldn’t, “let the great be the enemy of the good.” In other words, don’t let a pursuit for perfection discourage you from achieving less ambitious goals. Making positive changes — regardless of how small — is what really matters when we’re trying to improve outcomes, especially when we’re just getting started.

Our brains are highly adaptive. We can become accustomed to just about anything — even lifestyle changes — when we take a gradual and forgiving approach to achieving long-term success. Keeping a positive mindset and setting realistic objectives are essential for avoiding guilt, shame, and discouragement. Often the best approach is to make incremental changes, giving them time to become gradually hardwired into our brains.

Following the 80/20 Rule in Your Diet

The 80/20 rule is also known as the Pareto principle, named after esteemed economist Vilfredo Pareto. Having said that, the 80/20 rule for diet isn’t exactly what Pareto had in mind. Because — in the context of diet — the 80/20 rule means 80 percent whole foods and 20 percent prepared foods: Continue reading…

By: Restoration Healthcare 

You’ve probably heard the expression “You are what you eat.” Eat organic whole foods, and you’ll look and feel much better than if you consume a steady diet of junk food. But that’s not all. You also are what you think.

More and more studies are revealing the many health benefits of adopting a hopeful, optimistic mindset. Here at Restoration Healthcare, we believe so strongly that hope is key to optimal health that we include it in our mission statement — “To restore hope and optimize the body’s innate ability to heal from within through the compassionate delivery of functional medicine.”

To a certain degree, people are products of their environment, and in the modern world, the environment isn’t exactly conducive to optimal health. “Advances” in agriculture and food production have packed the grocery store shelves with unhealthy and often toxic foods. The news media deliver a steady stream of doom and gloom. And people are spending more time being passively entertained and less time engaging in fulfilling and rewarding physical activities and interpersonal relationships.

No wonder why our nation is getting sicker. No wonder why obesity, chronic pain, depression, and other chronic health conditions are on the rise.

The good news is that you have the power of choice. You can change your environment. You can choose to eat healthy foods; adopt a more hopeful, optimistic mindset; and engage in more fulfilling, rewarding activities.

Recognizing the Health Benefits of Hope and Optimism

Thanks in part to 17th century philosopher René Descartes, we tend to think of the mind and body as two distinct and separate entities. As a result, modern medicine has divided illnesses into two groups — mental (psychiatric) and physical (medical). What often gets lost in this split is the fact that what goes on in the mind affects the body and vice versa.

Case in point is the effect that hope and optimism have on a person’s physical health and well-being. (Hope is a wish for a better tomorrow. Optimism is the expectation of a better tomorrow.) Numerous studies draw a connection between hope/optimism and the following health benefits: Continue reading…

By: Restoration Healthcare 

To most, it’s no secret that we live in a toxic environment of our own creation. Toxins are in the foods we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the clothes we wear, the homes we live in, the schools where we send our children, and our workplaces. There’s no escaping them.

Fortunately, our bodies have mechanisms in place to detox — to filter out and eliminate — these toxins. The bad news is, we may ingest such a high quantity of toxins that these mechanisms can’t keep up. In other words, we have more toxins coming in than going out. And if you’re wondering how this can happen, there are essentially three reasons:

  1. Overexposure to toxins
  2. Impaired ability to detox
  3. Combination of overexposure to toxins and an impaired ability to detox

Here at Restoration Healthcare, we have a number of diagnostic and treatment protocols in place to test for toxins and to enhance the body’s detox pathways. Although our detox protocol is individualized to each patient’s unique needs and plan of care, it almost always involves the use of one or more binders — chemical compounds to which toxins stick, making it easier for the body to eliminate them.

Understanding the Four Phases of Detox

To understand the role that binders play in the detox process, it helps to have a basic understanding of the four phases of detoxification: Continue reading…

By: Restoration Healthcare 

Probiotics get a lot of press coverage — and rightfully so. We couldn’t live without the healthy bacteria, yeasts, and other microorganisms that inhabit our guts. They break down and extract nutrients from the food we eat; strengthen our immune system; and supply essential vitamins, particularly B vitamins and vitamin K.

Probiotics also help us maintain a healthy weight; support brain and nervous system health and function; metabolize medications and other chemical substances; and keep populations of unhealthy (pathogenic) microorganisms in check.

Unfortunately, the delicate balance of microorganisms in the gut is disturbed by a variety of factors, including the Western diet (low in fiber and nutrients, high in sugar and processed foods), environmental toxins, and the overuse of antibiotics and certain hygiene products that kill off microbes (good and bad) indiscriminately. This imbalance of intestinal microbiota, technically referred to as dysbiosis, often triggers chronic inflammation and metabolic dysfunction.

What gets much less press coverage than probiotics are prebiotics — the fiber we consume but can’t digest — which promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in our gut. Beneficial bacteria in the colon ferment soluble prebiotic fibers to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have been identified as powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. SCFAs, including acetate, butyrate, and propionate play an important role in maintaining a healthy gut by improving the integrity of the gut barrier, thereby preventing leaky gut. SCFAs, especially butyrate, also play an important role in modulating the immune response.

Thankfully, prebiotics are beginning to attract more attention. While the medical community has long recognized the health benefits of a high-fiber diet, it is just beginning to recognize the importance of fiber in restoring and maintaining a diverse and thriving community of healthy microorganisms.

As a result, our colleagues on the allopathic side of healthcare are starting to realize that taking probiotics isn’t enough. We need to feed those microorganisms, too, and fiber is their food of choice.

Feeding Microorganisms in Our Gut

You’ve probably heard the adage, “You are what you eat,” but in many ways you are what your microorganisms eat. If you’re feeding your microorganisms the Standard American Diet (SAD) — lots of fried and processed foods, sugar, and refined grains, and little in the way of veggies, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fruit — then you’re nurturing the microorganisms that make you sick.

In medical terms, you’re creating an environment that’s vulnerable to small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) — a population explosion of pathogenic microbes. SIBO can cause a host of symptoms, including: Continue reading…