Ottawa Functional Medicine – Dominick Hussey – Centretown and North Gower
Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence: Everything you need to know

If you live in Ottawa and suffer from Urinary Incontinence, you are not alone. According to the Canadian Continence Foundation, approximately 12% of Canadians experience urinary incontinence, which equates to 120,000 in Ottawa. In this blog, I outline the different types of Incontinence, the risk factors and different strategies you can use to help your symptoms.

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary Incontinence (sometimes called leaky bladder) is the involuntary discharge of urine. It is more common in women than men.

What are the risk factors that lead to Urinary Incontinence?

One risk factor is vaginal birth, particularly greater than one birth. Another risk factor is menopause when there is a weakening of tissues around the vagina due to a drop in estrogen.

There is also a genetic link to incontinence as population studies suggest that women whose other family members have incontinence are more prone to the same.

Types of incontinence

The first type of incontinence is called Stress Incontinence (SI). This type occurs when you’re doing something physical, like coughing, or sneezing, laughing, standing up, and exercising. SI is an anatomical problem due to the weakening of the tissue in and around the vagina and the bladder.

The second kind of incontinence is called Urge Incontinence (UI). UI is categorised by a sudden urge to go to the bathroom, but you just can’t make it in time. This kind of incontinence is more of a neurological problem as opposed to an anatomical problem.

The third kind of incontinence, which is the most common of all types, is called Mixed Incontinence (MI). This is a combination of SI and UI.

The final form of incontinence is called Overflow Incontinence (OI). OI happens when the bladder is full and can’t hold its contents any longer. Then it just releases urine on its own, and this can happen to any of us at any time when we ignore the urge to go.

How can we help Incontinence?

If incontinence is a problem for you then below is a list of steps you could take to help manage your symptoms.

Remove Diuretic Foods

Consider removing diuretic foods from your diet and see if that improves symptoms. The two biggest food diuretics are alcohol and caffeine. If there is little or no change, then you might consider removing all other diuretic foods, which includes: Apple cider vinegar, Artichokes, Asparagus, Brussel Sprouts, Cranberry juice, Cucumber, dandelion, green tea, fennel, lettuce, nettle, oats, parsley, and melon.

Remove Inflammatory foods

Consider removing inflammatory foods starting with gluten, dairy and sugar, and eating a whole foods diet avoiding processed foods as much as possible. These foods may be causing irritation to your urinary tract.

Evaluate water intake

Of course, too much water intake is going to worsen incontinence in some individuals, but so is too little. Too little water causes the urine to be highly concentrated, and this too can irritate the bladder lining, leading to problems of incontinence. Also, if nighttime leakage is a problem, then try stop drinking water within two hours of bedtime.

Consider medications you are taking

Certain medications especially blood pressure pills can act as diuretics. If you are taking any medications consider asking your doctor or pharmacist whether they might be causing your incontinence.

Pelvic exercises

If incontinence is the result of pelvic muscle weakening then pelvic strengthening, known as Kegeling, can help. To exercise these muscles, just pull in or squeeze your pelvic muscles as if you were trying to stop urine flow and hold this squeeze for about 10 seconds, then rest 10 seconds. You can do sets of 10 to 20 contractions per day.

To learn more about kegeling, check out this video:

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

bloating

Bloating and Gas: Everything you need to know

Intestinal bloating is caused by an excessive build-up of gas in your small intestine. There are two varieties of gas – either regular/chronic gas or severe/acute gas. Gas can be nothing more than a sign that you have swallowed some air but it can also be a sign that you are not correctly assimilating your food.

Chronic gas typically composes of methane. Methane has the adverse impact of exhausting particular short-chain fatty acids that line a healthy large intestine. The prolonged exposure to methane can raise the probability of disease in the colon such as polyps or even cancer.

Symptoms of bloating include distention of the abdomen, abdominal pain, excessive discharge of gas (i.e. farting), and heartburn.

Common Causes of Bloating

  1. Excess intake of caffeine, sugar, alcohol or processed oils
  2. Nutrient insufficiency
  3. Absence of adequate enzymes
  4. Food allergies or sensitivities
  5. Inadequate bile production
  6. Stress
  7. Dysbiosis or bacteria imbalances
  8. Candida
  9. Parasites
  10. SIBO (small intestinal bowel overgrowth)

Treatment for Gas and Bloating

Step One

If you want to try and help reduce your gas and bloating think about how and what you are eating before reaching for a supplement or medication. Here are my top 8 suggestions:

  1. Make sure you chew your food well
  2. Massage your colon, following the line of the colon
  3. Consider removing all dairy products
  4. Soak beans and grains before cooking
  5. Avoid sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and xylitol
  6. Try a low FODMAP diet
  7. Do an elimination diet to detect food triggers
  8. Use herbs such as ginger, fennel, anise and cardamom in cooking

Step Two

If step one only partially helps you might want to try supplementation. It is important only to try one supplement at a time so that you know what is working. Here are my top 6 suggestions:

  1. Soil-based probiotics
  2. Digestive enzymes
  3. Enteric coated peppermint oil
  4. Activated charcoal
  5. Fennel ½-1 tsp; 3x per day
  6. Fermented apple cider vinegar with meals

Step Three

If you are still suffering from gas and bloating, after steps one and two, it is time to utilise some functional lab testing. The two most common tests I use in my Functional Medicine practice are:

  1. A Stool Test is looking for Candida and parasites.
  2. A Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) breath test.

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

elimination diet

Elimination Diet: Everything you need to know

You may not be aware of it, but the foods you’re consuming every day could be gradually damaging your health and cutting your lifespan. But how do you know? For numerous people, toxic foods are hard to detect, particularly for those who’ve already cleaned up their diets and believe they are eating healthy. For example, I recently saw an old client who came in because she was getting headaches. She had already gone gluten-free, was a trained nutritionist, and overall had a very healthy diet. But examining her, I found that she had signs of chronic low-grade inflammation. This client came in because she wanted food allergy testing. But what she left with was an elimination diet. Here’s why.

Allergy Testing can be illuminating, but the “gold standard in figuring out if foods are causing inflammation, is to cut out the suspect foods for about a month and see how you feel when you reintroduce them.

I suggest that everyone do an elimination diet at least once.

So how do you do an elimination diet and not make it difficult?

Here is my easy 6-step plan for doing an elimination diet. You might be shocked by what you learn!

1. Take a step back. It’s difficult to know where you’re going unless you know where you began

Do you, like my client also get headaches? Do you have skin problems? Digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, or constipation? Allergies? How’s your energy? What about your mood? Do you feel like you suffer from brain fog? Joint pains? These are just a few of the symptoms of food sensitivities.

So, before you begin an elimination diet, scan your body from top to bottom, and make a list of everything you notice, however, subtle or long-standing the symptom has been. This process sets you up to see significant changes when they occur.

2. Eliminate the usual food suspects for 30 days.

The primary elimination I use in my practice was developed by the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM). This includes:

No gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, peanuts, red meat and shellfish for 30 days.

Why 30 Days?

Antibodies, which your body produces when food allergens are present, take approximately 30 days to leave the body. So if you don’t eliminate things that you’re sensitive to for at least 30 days that time, you will not get an accurate picture.

3. What can I eat?

If this is your response, do not panic! You can do this. The diet requires a little grocery shopping and taking a few extra minutes a day to prepare food.

We’re all habituated to fast-food, easy preparation, and taking two seconds to eat a meal. The problem is that typically food made and consumed this way makes us unhealthy over time.

New habits take 21 days to form, which is also why we’re doing a 23-day elimination diet! We want these new habits to die hard.

This is what you can eat:

30% lean chicken, lamb, pork, and fish.
70% vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and gluten-free grains like quinoa.

Simple!

4. Do’s and Don’ts

DO …

DO eat fish. (But beware of fish high in mercury like tuna and swordfish.)
DO eat lots of fibre, fresh whole foods, and homemade meals.
DO eat lots of healthy fats including olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, and avocados.

DO NOT …

Do NOT eat packaged or processed foods if possible. They are often full of additives, preservatives, and sugar.
Do NOT replace gluten products with gluten-free bread, cereals and crackers. After all, a muffin is a muffin whether it is gluten free or not.

5. How do I reintroduce foods the right way?

This process is also much simpler than people make it out to be.

On day 31, choose one food you eliminated but not more than one, and eat it.

See how you feel over the next four days. If you have no reaction after four days, eat that same food again, and for a second time, notice how you feel. From there, it’s up to you whether or not to re-incorporate that food into your diet on a regular basis.

Once you have decided whether a particular food is good or bad, pick another one and follow the same steps.

6. This process works best when you are self-aware.

During the elimination diet and the reintroduction process, be aware of how you feel. Maybe you’ll see changes you weren’t anticipating. Maybe your sleep quality or your energy level is better. Maybe the redness in your skin is gone, or your belly is flatter.

No blood test can tell you what life will be like without a particular food. When you find out for yourself by doing an elimination diet, you could be saving yourself a lifetime of annoying symptoms, and in some cases, even life-threatening diseases.

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Heartburn

Heartburn – Everything you need to know

If live in Ottawa and you suffer from heartburn you are not alone. In Canada, 14% of the population suffer from heartburn each year. In Ottawa, that equates to 140,000 people. This blog will help you understand what are the common causes and how you might help your heartburn symptoms.

Most people assume that heartburn is the result of too much acid in the stomach. However, researchers now understand that heartburn is the consequence of too little acid in the stomach. Either the food has been sitting in the stomach for too long because there is not enough acid to properly break it down or the oesophagal valve is not working correctly and fails to prevent the contents of the stomach from rising into the oesophagus.

Symptoms of Heartburn

  1. A burning feeling in the chest usually behind the breastbone, burning in the throat
  2. A hot or sour taste in mouth
  3. Difficulty swallowing
  4. A sense of food being ‘stuck’ in the throat or chest a chronic cough, sore throat or hoarseness

Common Causes of Heartburn

  1. Low stomach acid
  2. Overeating
  3. Eating too fast
  4. Consuming too much coffee or caffeine
  5. Consuming too much sugar or refined carbohydrates
  6. Smoking
  7. Drugs
  8. Food allergies and sensitivities
  9. Certain health conditions such as ulcers, gallbladder problems or
  10. IBS
  11. Stress or anxiety
  12. H. pylori
  13. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO
  14. Histamine Intolerance

Treatment for Heartburn

If you have heartburn, I suggest the following four-step process that I use in my practice to identify and resolve the cause of your symptoms.

Step One – Modify your eating habits

  1. Don’t eat late at night
  2. Don’t over consume fluids with meals
  3. Eat more slowly and chew food thoroughly
  4. Avoid eating just before exercising

If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief then it is time to consider whether your diet is causing your heartburn.

Step Two – Modify your diet

  1. Avoid cold drinks
  2. Increase vegetables
  3. Avoid caffeine and sugar
  4. Increase probiotic foods
  5. If excessive, avoid chocolate, citrus, tomatoes, onions, peppers and peppermint temporarily
  6. Food combining can work well as it creates less work for the stomach
  7. Try a Food Elimination Diet to identify potential triggers.

If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief, then it is time to consider introducing supplementation.

Step Three – Try supplementation

Below are the most common supplements I use in my practice for constipation. When using supplements introducing one at a time is best.

  1. Soil Based Probiotics
  2. Aloe vera juice
  3. Apple cider vinegar
  4. Betaine HCl treatment
  5. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)
  6. Slippery elm or marshmallow root to help soothe oesophagal tissue
  7. Vitamin A, beta-carotene and zinc to help heal the mucosa membrane
  8. Fennel tea

Step Four – Functional Lab Testing

If steps one to three does not help, then consider the following functional lab tests, which you can obtain from your family physician or a functional medicine practitioner.

  1. H. pylori testing (stool)
  2. SIBO Breath Test
  3. IgG food sensitivity testing
  4. Barium swallow (Physician only)
  5. Endoscopy (Physician only)

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

constipation

Constipation: Everything you need to know

Constipation is a big problem for millions of Canadians each year. When a person doesn’t eliminate entirely and daily, their body is in a toxic state. Persistent constipation is a symptom that should not be ignored.

What is Constipation?

Constipation is a lack of daily bowel movement (normal is 1-3x per day), straining to eliminate or hard stools or unfinished elimination.

Symptoms of Constipation

Constipation can cause a number of different symptoms including:

  1. Fatigue and brain fog
  2. Aches and pains elsewhere in the body
  3. Chronic headaches

Typical Causes

  1. Food allergies or sensitivities
  2. Lactose intolerance
  3. Leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability
  4. Impaired digestion and absorption
  5. Parasites
  6. Prescription drug use
  7. Reduced Friendly Bacteria
  8. Lack of dietary fibre
  9. Dehydration
  10. Not enough exercise
  11. Lack of sunshine
  12. Stress or anxiety
  13. Magnesium deficiency
  14. SIBO
  15. Hypothyroidism

Treatment

If you have constipation, I suggest the following four-step process that I use in my practice to identify and resolve the cause of your symptoms.

Step One – Practical suggestions

  1. Eat more mindfully. Avoid eating on the run or while watching the television. Remember to chew your food.
  2. Bring more movement into your life. This can be as simple as taking a regular walk in the morning or consider joining a yoga or pilates class.
  3. Check side effects of medications you are taking. More than 150 prescriptions and many regularly used over-the-counter medications can induce constipation. These can include certain acid blocking, antidepressant, cold, painkiller, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol medication.
  4. Manage or reduce the stress in your life. Exercise and mindfulness techniques such as meditation have been scientifically proven to reduce stress.
  5. Consider what you might be ‘holding on to’ or not releasing in your life. Emotions can have a powerful effect on how our bodies work. If you are holding on to loss or sadness from your past then this can affect the functioning of your intestines.

If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief then it is time to consider whether your diet is causing your constipation.

Step Two – Dietary changes

This step has two parts. Part 1 is adding in foods that can help speed up bowel movements, and part 2 is removing foods that may be causing constipation.

Part 1

  1. Consume more fibre in the form of vegetables.
  2. Drink more water – at least 2 litres per day.
  3. Consume probiotic foods
  4. Add ground flax seed or chia seeds
  5. Flaxseed oil(unheated)can be used in salad dressings
  6. Eat more garlic
  7. Soak dried figs or prunes overnight; drink the soak water
  8. Papaya can stimulate bowel activity
  9. Eat more probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods
  10. Dandelion root tea

Part 2

  1. Avoid hydrogenated and processed foods
  2. Eliminate dairy

If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief then it is time to consider introducing supplementation.

Step Three – Supplementation

Below are the most common supplements I use in my practice for constipation. When using supplements introducing one at a time is best.

  1. Soil Based Probiotic
  2. Magnesium
  3. Digestive enzymes
  4. Aloe vera juice (2-4 oz)
  5. Slippery elm or marshmallow root
  6. Psyllium husk
  7. Vitamin C

Step 4 – Functional Testing

If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief then it is time to consider using functional lab testing. The most common tests I use in my practice are the following:

  1. IgG food sensitivity testing
  2. Comprehensive Stool Test for Candida and Parasites
  3. Organic Acids Test for yeast, metabolic and overgrowth concerns
  4. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) breath test
  5. Comprehensive serum thyroid panel

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

parasites

Parasites: Everything you need to know

Finding out you have parasites can be disturbing, but you’re not alone; they are far more prevalent than you would imagine. It is a myth that parasites only exist in third world countries. In fact, many of the clients I see in my practice have a parasite. Thay can cause a countless number of symptoms, only some of which are digestive.

What are parasites?

Parasites are organisms that exist and feast from another organism. Intestinal parasites are usually worms that feed off of the food you eat.

Examples of intestinal parasites include roundworms, tapeworms, pinworms, whipworms, hookworms, and more. Parasites can cause a very wide range of problems:

  1. Some eat your food, leaving you feeling empty after every meal and not able to put on weight.
  2. Some feed off of your red blood cells, leading to anaemia.
  3. Some lay eggs that can produce itching, irritability, and even insomnia.

If you have attempted many strategies to heal your gut and alleviate your symptoms without any resolution, a parasite could be the underlying reason for several of your unexplained and vague symptoms.

How do you get a parasite?

There are a plenty of ways to catch a parasite. First, parasites can invade your body via infected food and water. Undercooked meat is a well-known place for them to hide, as well as contaminated water from third world countries, lakes, ponds, or streams. Meat is the not the only offender. Polluted or contaminated fruits and veggies can also hide parasites. Some parasites can even invade the body by moving through the sole of your foot.

Once infected with a parasite, it’s very easy to pass it on to somebody else. If you have a parasite and don’t clean your hands after using the bathroom, you can easily transfer microscopic parasite eggs onto anything you touch such as a door handle, salt shaker, phone, or anybody you feel. It’s also very easy to catch a parasite when around animals. Ensuring you was your hands can help prevent parasite infection and transmission. Going overseas is an added way that parasites can enter your body. If you drank any contaminated water during your travels, you have probably acquired a parasite.

12 Signs You Might Have a Parasite

  1. You have unexplained constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, or heartburn.
  2. You travelled abroad and remembered getting traveller’s diarrhoea.
  3. You have had food poisoning in the past, and your digestion has not been right since.
  4. You have difficulty falling asleep, or you wake up multiple times during the night, particularly
  5. between 2 and 3 pm.
  6. You get unexplained rashes, hives, rosacea or eczema.
  7. You grind your teeth at night.
  8. You get pain in your joints and muscles.
  9. You experience tiredness, weariness, sadness, or frequent feelings of indifference.
  10. You never feel satiated or full after your meals.
  11. You’ve been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anaemia or low iron that does not increase with supplementation.
  12. You experience a crawling feeling underneath your skin.
  13. You drool on your pillow while asleep at night.
  14. You get nightmares – especially children.

The symptoms of a parasite can often seem independent and unexplained. As I stated previously, there are many diverse types of parasites that we are exposed to in our environments. I typically see parasites prompting more constipation than diarrhoea. Insomnia, skin rashes, mood swings, and muscle aches can all be produced by the toxins that parasites release into your body. These toxins often cause anxiety, which can display itself in different guises. For example, waking up in the middle of the night or grinding your teeth at night are signs that your body is feeling anxiety while you rest. When these toxins mix with your brain chemicals or blood, they can cause mood swings or skin rashes.

How to Test for Parasites

The best route to test for a parasite is to do a stool test. In Ontario, parasite testing is covered under OHIP through your family physician. This one major drawback of this testing is that the lab only asks for one stool sample. Parasites can be difficult to detect so taking more than one sample significantly increases the chance of detection. In my practice, the lab I use (Biohealth) ask for three different samples collected on separate days.

Stool testing is the best scientific method for testing parasites sometimes it can produce false negative results even though all the presenting symptoms point towards parasites being present. In such cases, I way up all the presenting data and may treat even though the stool test may be negative.

How to Treat Parasites

Any positive stool test will tell you which type of parasites are present. You can then use specific herbal medications to target those particular parasites. If, however, the parasites cannot be distinguished, you can use a combination of herbs, comprising magnesium caprylate, berberine, Tribulus, sweet wormwood, grapefruit, bayberry, bearberry, and black walnut. You can typically find herbal mixtures at any health food store or my practice. In general, these herbal formulas afford a broad spectrum of action against the most prevalent pathogens existing in your GI tract, while not damaging the beneficial gut bacteria.

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

iron-deficiency-anaemia

Iron Deficiency Anaemia: Everything you need to know

This blog is the most comprehensive guide to iron deficiency anaemia ever. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of iron anaemia.

According to Health Canada, around 20% of women and 50% of pregnant women are iron deficient, while only 3% of men are iron deficient in Canada. According to the World Health Organisation, the prevalence of anaemia should be less than 5% and is defined as a moderate problem if the prevalence is 20% to 39.9% and a severe problem when the prevalence is 40.0% or higher. Therefore, by definition, there are populations in Canada in which iron deficiency anaemia is undoubtedly a public health problem.

The question is: If you have an iron deficiency, what can you do about it? Well, that is where this guide comes in.

Chapter 1: What is iron deficiency anaemia?

Anaemia occurs when you have a level of red blood cells (RBCs) in your blood that is lower than normal.

Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia, and it occurs when your body doesn’t have enough of the mineral iron.

Your body needs iron to create a protein called haemoglobin. This protein is responsible for transporting oxygen to your body’s tissues, which is essential for them to function effectively.

When there isn’t enough iron in your bloodstream, the rest of your body can’t get the amount of oxygen it needs.

Chapter 2: What causes iron-deficiency anaemia?

1. Low Iron Intake

Consuming too little iron over an extended amount of time can create a shortage in your body.

Foods such as meat, eggs, and some green leafy vegetables are high in iron.

Because iron is imperative during times of rapid growth and development, pregnant women and young children may require even more iron-rich foods in their diet.

2. Pregnancy or Blood Loss Due to Menstruation

In women of childbearing age, the most prevalent causes of iron deficiency anaemia are heavy menstrual bleeding and blood loss during childbirth.

3. Internal Bleeding

Specific medical conditions can cause internal bleeding that can lead to iron deficiency anaemia. Examples include a stomach ulcer, Intestinal polyps, or colon cancer.

Frequent use of pain relievers, such as aspirin, can also cause bleeding in the stomach.

4. Inability to Absorb Iron

Certain disorders that affect the intestines can also interfere with how your body absorbs iron.

Even if you get enough iron in your diet, the following conditions may limit iron absorption:

  • Celiac disease
  • Non-celiac gluten sensitivity
  • SIBO
  • Achlorhydria (low stomach acid)
  • Parasites

Chapter 3: What Are the Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anaemia?

The symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia can be very mild at first, and you may not even notice them.

According to the American Society of Hematology (ASH), most people don’t apprehend they have mild anaemia until they have a blood test.

The symptoms of moderate to severe iron deficiency anaemia include:

  • general fatigue
  • weakness
  • pale skin
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • strange cravings to eat items that aren’t food, such as dirt, ice, or clay
  • a tingling or crawling feeling in the legs
  • tongue swelling or soreness
  • cold hands and feet
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • brittle nailsheadaches
  • lower back pain

Chapter 4: How Is Iron-Deficiency Anaemia Diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose anaemia with blood tests.

A Complete Blood Count

A Complete Blood count (CBC) test is usually the first test a doctor will use.

A CBC test measures the amount of all components of the blood, including:

  • red blood cells (RBCs)
  • white blood cells (WBCs)
  • haemoglobin
  • hematocrit
  • platelets

The CBC test provides information about your blood that helps diagnose iron deficiency anaemia. This information includes:

  • the hematocrit level, which is the per cent of blood volume that is made up of RBCs
  • the haemoglobin level
  • the size of your RBCs

In iron deficiency anaemia, the hematocrit and haemoglobin levels are low.

Also, RBCs are usually smaller in size than normal.

A family doctor will usually perform a CBC test as part of an annual physical examination.

It’s a good indicator of a person’s overall health and may also be performed routinely before surgery.

This test is useful to diagnose this type of anaemia since most individuals who have an iron deficiency don’t realise it.

Other Tests

Anaemia can usually be confirmed with a CBC test.

Your doctor might order additional blood tests to determine how severe your anaemia is and assist in identifying treatments, including:

  • Iron level in your blood
  • Ferritin levels – Ferritin is a protein that helps with iron storage in your body. Low levels of ferritin indicate low iron storage.
  • Total iron-binding capacity (TIBC)
  • Transferrin – Transferrin is a protein that transports iron. A TIBC test is used to determine the amount transferrin that’s carrying iron.

What if you have symptoms of low iron, but your doctor says your test results are normal?

If you suspect low or high levels of iron, then check your ferritin test result. The ideal range of ferritin is 50 to 70 ng/ml.

Chapter 5: What Are the Potential Health Complications of Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Most cases of iron deficiency anaemia are mild and don’t cause complications.

The condition can usually be easily corrected.

However, if anaemia or iron deficiency is untreated, it can lead to other health problems, including:

1. Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat

When you’re anaemic, your heart has to pump more blood to make up for the small amount of oxygen that can lead to an irregular heartbeat. In severe cases, it can lead to heart failure or an enlarged heart.

2. Pregnancy Complications

In severe cases of iron deficiency, a child may be born prematurely or with a low birth weight.

Most pregnant women take iron supplements as part of their prenatal care to prevent this from happening.

3. Delayed Growth in Infants and Children

Infants and children who are severely deficient in iron may experience a delay in their growth and development.

They may also be more likely to experience infections.

Chapter 6: How Is Iron-Deficiency Anaemia Treated?

1. Iron Supplements

Iron tablets can help restore iron levels in your body.

If possible, you should take iron pills on an empty stomach, which helps the body absorb them better.

If they upset your stomach, you can take them with meals.

You may need to take the supplements for several months.

Iron supplements may cause constipation or stools that are black in colour.

A non-constipating form of iron is iron glycinate.

2. Diet

Diets high that include the following foods can help treat or prevent iron deficiency:

  • red meat
  • dark green, leafy vegetables
  • dried fruits
  • nuts

Additionally, vitamin C helps your body absorb iron.

If you’re taking iron tablets, I suggest taking the pills along with a source of vitamin C, like a glass of orange juice or citrus fruit.

Treating the Underlying Cause of Iron Deficency

If you have tried supplementing, modifying your diet and your doctor has ruled out any serious causes of anaemia such as internal bleeding, then you more than likely have an absorption problem.

In my clinical experience, the most common causes of poor iron absorption include:

Did I Miss Anything?

Now I would like to hear from you.

Whisch part of the guide did you find most useful?

Or maybe I did not mention a question regarding rion deficiency anaemia.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

histamine-intolerance

Histamine Intolerance: Everything You Need To Know

Do you endure unexplained headaches or migraines? What about difficulty falling asleep? Do you react badly to mosquito bites? Do you experience irregular periods? If you said yes to any of these questions, then you could have a histamine intolerance.

What is histamine?

Histamine is a chemical associated with your immune, digestive, and central nervous systems. As a neurotransmitter, it conveys important messages from your body to your brain. It is also an ingredient of stomach acid that helps you digest food in your stomach.

You might be most intimate with histamine as it associates with the immune system. If you’ve endured seasonal allergies or food allergies, you may have noticed that antihistamine medications such as Zyrtec, Allegra or Benedryl provide quick relief of your symptoms. This process occurs because histamine’s role in the body is to cause an immediate inflammatory response. It serves as a warning to your immune system, of any potential threats.

Histamine causes your blood vessels to widen, or dilate so that your white blood cells can quickly find and attack an infection. The histamine accumulation is what gives you a headache and leaves you feeling flushed, itchy and miserable. This process is part of the body’s natural immune response, but if you don’t break down histamine correctly, you could develop what we call histamine intolerance.

Because it travels throughout your bloodstream, histamine can affect your digestive tract, lungs, skin, brain, and cardiovascular system, leading to a broad range of symptoms that can make it difficult to diagnose the underlying cause.

Typical symptoms of histamine intolerance

  1. Headaches/migraines
  2. Difficulty falling asleep, easily arousal
  3. Hypertension
  4. Vertigo or dizziness
  5. Arrhythmia, or accelerated heart rate
  6. Difficulty regulating body temperatureAnxiety
  7. Nausea, vomiting
  8. Abdominal cramps
  9. Flushing
  10. Nasal congestion, sneezing, difficulty breathing
  11. Abnormal menstrual cycle
  12. Hives
  13. Fatigue
  14. Tissue swelling

What Causes High Histamine Levels?

  1. Allergies (IgE reactions)
  2. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
  3. Increased Intestinal Permeability or Leaky gut
  4. Parasites
  5. Gastrointestinal bleeding
  6. Fermented alcohol like wine, champagne, and beer
  7. Diamine Oxidase (DAO) deficiency
  8. Histamine-rich foods
  9. In addition to the histamine made in your body, there is also a mixture of foods that naturally contain histamine, create the release of histamine, or block the enzyme that breaks down histamine, Diamine Oxidase.

How do I break down histamine?

Once made, histamine is either stored or broken down by an enzyme. Histamine in the central nervous system is broken down primarily by histamine N-methyltransferase (HMT) while histamine in the digestive tract is broken down mainly by diamine oxidase (DAO). Though both enzymes play a significant role in histamine break down, the American Society for Clinical Nutrition found that DAO is the primary enzyme responsible for breaking down ingested histamine. So if you’re deficient in DAO, you likely have symptoms of histamine intolerance.

Causes of Low DAO

  1. Gluten sensitivity
  2. Intestinal Permeability
  3. SIBO
  4. DAO-blocking foods: alcohol, energy drinks, and tea
  5. Genetic mutations (common in people of Asian-descent)
  6. Gut Inflammation from Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
  7. Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin), Antidepressants (Cymbalta, Effexor, Prozac, Zoloft), Immune modulators (Humira, Enbrel, Plaquenil), Antiarrhythmics including Propranolol, Metoprolol, Cardizem, and Norvasc, Antihistamines including Allegra, Zyrtec, and Benadryl, and Histamine (H2) blockers including Tagamet, Pepcid, and Zantac.

Although histamine blockers, a class of acid-reducing drugs, seem like they would prevent histamine intolerance, these medications can deplete DAO levels in your body.

Testing for Histamine Intolerance

Elimination/Reintroduction

Remove the above high histamine foods for 30 days and reintroduce them one at a time.

Click here to download a free copy of my Histamine Intolerance Food List

Blood Testing

You can ask your doctor to test for histamine and DAO levels. A high ratio of histamine to DAO means that you are ingesting too much histamine and that you don’t have sufficient DAO to break it down.
Trial of DAO

If testing is unavailable to you, you could only try a diet low in histamine and add DAO supplementation at each meal. If your symptoms resolve, you could have reduced DAO.

How to Treat Histamine Intolerance?

  1. Remove the high histamine foods for 1-3 months.
  2. Add in a supplement of DAO by taking two pills at each meal. Most importantly, find the root cause of the histamine intolerance. If you’re on a medication that is causing the intolerance, working, with your physician, to wean off of these medications is essential. The main reasons I see in my practice are SIBO and gluten intolerance, which cause a leaky gut.
  3. If you currently have histamine intolerance, you may not have to avoid these foods permanently. It can be a short-term answer until your histamine or DAO levels revert to their optimal ranges. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may discover that you tolerate some foods better than others, so I encourage you to stay positive as you learn priceless information about your body!

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

signs of sibo

SIBO: Everything you need to know

Have you ever consumed some food or drink and within a few hours seen that your belly is so bloated that you can’t fasten your pants? It’s not unusual for my clients to inform me that they get up with a flat tummy and by the close of the day they look seven months pregnant. Even if you haven’t endured abdominal swelling to such an extreme, any amount of bloating is not healthy, and it is a mark of intestinal inflammation. If you’re producing gas and bloating frequently, you could have food sensitivities and a gut infection, such as SIBO.

What is SIBO?

SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth happens when the bacteria in our gut get out of balance and overgrow. Most of your friendly bacteria should reside in your large intestine. When you have SIBO, these bacteria overgrow into your small intestine. This overgrowth occurs when you have a slowing down peristalsis through the digestive tract.

What causes weak peristalsis?

  1. Intestinal wall nerve damage, For example, diabetes mellitus and scleroderma can both affect the muscles in the gut.
  2. Scarring from surgeries or Crohn’s disease.
  3. Diverticulitis, which are tiny pouches that can form in the wall of the small intestine.
  4. Medications such as antibiotics, acid-blocking drugs, and steroids.
  5. A diet high in sugar processed carbohydrates and alcohol.

17 Signs Of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

  1. Abdominal bloating
  2. Belching,
  3. Flatulence
  4. Abdominal pain or cramps
  5. Constipation and or Diarrhea.
  6. Heartburn
  7. Nausea
  8. Food Sensitivities
  9. Headaches
  10. Joint Pain
  11. Fatigue
  12. Eczema or rashes
  13. Asthma
  14. Depression
  15. Fatty stools – stools that float
  16. Iron Deficiency Anaemia or B12 deficiency that does not resolve with supplementation
  17. Weight Loss

How to test for SIBO

The gold standard test for testing SIBO is a lactulose breath test. This test is not readily available in Canada but can be obtained from labs in the US such as Genova Diagnostics.

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.