IS THE ENGINE IN YOUR CELLS THE TRUE FORCE IN YOUR IMMUNE HEALTH?

shutterstock_233501629 (2)

How nourishing your mitochondria might be fundamental to staying healthy this winter

You may have come across the word ‘mitochondria’ recently or perhaps you recall it from a school biology lesson and know that its associated with your cells and energy production in the body. It’s a new area of focus in human health and not without due cause.

A human cell is made up of many functions and organelles, which are enclosed within a strong cell wall. The mitochondria are an integral part of your cells which have many complex roles. Recent research is now suggesting that the mitochondria is the back bone of your immune system and without it functioning correctly we either have an increased susceptibility of getting sick or we are more at risk of chronic illnesses such as autoimmune diseases.

Here I will discuss the role of mitochondria in your immune system and how nourishing your mitochondria might be more effective at improving your immune health than targeting it directly with conventional treatments such as immune boosters like Echinacea or anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

The “powerhouse” of your cells

Mitochondrion is a small organelle within your cells which has long been understood for its ability to turn sugars into the energy ATP which our bodies then use for biological processes.  It provides essential energy to organs such as the heart, brain and muscles.  Much like an engine in a car that burns fuel to power a car to drive, your mitochondria provide the energy in your cells to help them work optimally. This mighty organelle in your cells, which may have originated from bacteria and has its own separate DNA from the 23 chromosomes found in the human genome is passed down through the mother’s genes, so any genetic inheritance is on the mother’s side only.

And there’s more…, emerging evidence is suggesting mitochondria has a role in recruiting essential immune cells in your first line of defence against bacteria and viruses. Mitochondria may also be responsible for activating ‘cell suicide’ which ensures that any cells which are not working properly such as those associated with cancer and autoimmune disease are destroyed.

Your immune army

The immune system is a complex arrangement of immune cells which all have a specialised function, like the duties of an army, whereby some cells attack, others recruit more immune cells and some cells specialise in memorising the enemy, so they are well prepared for any further conflicts with the same opponent. All these cells require energy from ATP to do their jobs properly so any deficit in energy because of mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to either a lethargic immune response to the enemy resulting in infection or defective military tactics on the battlefield.  This can lead to inflammation and autoimmune conditions.

It is now understood that mitochondria also have a role to play in the conscription of immune cells to sites of infection and injury to provide protection and promote healing.  In mitochondrial dysfunction when the immune cells are not monitored properly, they can cause damage to healthy tissue by targeting our own cells. It is therefore essential that mitochondria are nourished with the right nutrients so that they can act properly when we need them to protect us from bugs without causing damage to your own body.

Help your mitochondria to thrive

Mitochondria rely on a vast supply of nutrients to work effectively and are dependent on complexes being broken down correctly to provide the right fuel to perform their tasks. As such, both impaired genetics, malnourishment and toxic load can cause these go-getters to fall flat – but there are ways to bio-hack your body, so that any challenge that your mitochondria face can be attuned.

Antioxidants such as quercetin and resveratrol help to protect and restore mitochondria which promotes energy production in the cells. These can be found in red and purple coloured fruits and vegetables, and fresh leafy greens. Green tea is also important for mitochondria so when you need an energy boost, a green brew may be more advantageous for energy purposes than a cup of coffee. More specialised nutrients such as glucosamine, n-acetyl cysteine and coenzyme Q10 have been shown in studies to promote mitochondrial health and should be considered for people suffering with mitochondrial fatigue – symptoms for which can present themselves in various ways such as chronic fatigue, brain fog and aching muscles and joints

A new approach to fighting disease?

Perhaps we have been missing a trick all along in our quest for health and understanding the intricacies of our cells could be more important than our knowledge of distinct organ functions. Our cells make up every part of our body so if we target one function in the cell it could impact our health in totality rather than just perfecting one area. Given the immune systems relies on its vast army of cells to perform its tasks, improving the health of these cells could be fundamental in the betterment of our immune health.

NUTRITION IN THE NEW WORLD: Is Food Still Fit for Purpose?

Where it all began

In the early years of mankind, we had evolved such remarkable characteristics, especially our large thoughtful brains, that we were able to outcompete much physically stronger species such as Neanderthals due our abstract thinking skills of making tools and finding edible food sources through cooking techniques. We used our environment to our advantage in a world flourishing with potential fuel sources that only we understood how to use.

40,000 years on, human beings are being left behind in the technological age that they created, but how did we all become so out of sync with our environments – and with one of the major consequences of this being that we are becoming increasingly malnourished as a population?

From king of the jungle to lost in space

The human brain is a phenomenal machine which has created scientific developments in industrial methods and technological advancements.  These have propelled society forwards even more so than imagined in 1960s sci-fi films.

One primary focus in these developments has been the way in which we produce food, with food producers preferring quantity over quality in the crops that are grown and the animals that are reared, as well as using genetic modification to enable the cultivation of inorganic food without the complexities of growing food naturally.  Technology has allowed food production on a mass scale, increasing population sizes who require more food – it becomes a viscous cycle, difficult to maintain.

Here I will consider what these evolutions mean for humanity, and how we can make meaningful changes to our diet and wellbeing to survive in this modernistic world.

When did food lose its meaning?

If you look up the definition of the word ‘food’, it refers to a nutritious substance that we can eat or drink in order to maintain life and growth. But how much of the food that we eat today can we truly say should be classified as “food” based on this definition? The food that the majority of us eat nowadays has a high glycaemic load, is low in omega 3 fats and doesn’t contain adequate amounts of minerals and nutrients to justly nourish us anymore, so everyone is getting sick. Depression, heart disease, cancers and autoimmune diseases have all be linked to mineral and nutrient deficiencies, so we need to take action now, so our caveman-like bodies can survive in this futuristic reality.

The nutritional transition  

An interesting illustration of the effects of the western lifestyle on human health is in “nutritional transition” whereby healthy populations in Africa become modernised, eat a more western style diet and then start to develop nutrition-related diseases. Although further research needs to be conducted, it provides some noteworthy evidence that our diets and environments have a fundamental impact on our wellbeing, and our current approach to diet is not fit for purpose in the western lifestyle and needs to be revaluated.

The “Paleo” movement has provided some awareness of the mismatch between the diet that humans thrived on as part of the Palaeolithic heritage vs. the low-nutrient dense foods that people consume today. However, the practicalities of eating like a hunter gatherer, as well as the ethical and environmental considerations, are not always suitable in the busy urban lives in which most of us exist – there needs to be an alternative that complements our means, rather than trying to eat like our ancestors who lived in a very different world.

Functional foods of the future

Fortified foods enriched with vitamins and nutrients which are also low in sugar and saturated fats, are potential solutions to bridge the gap between our humanly requirements and the nutritional limitations of this new age. A new functional food revolution is emerging, whereby innovative convenient nutrient dense foods are being created to ensure your survival in these new metropolises that we set to conquer.

Japan is ahead of the curve in this game, with its “FOSHU” (food for specified health use) categorised foods which propose a new purposeful way of consuming food. Eating with purpose might not only be the trend of the future, but also an evolutionary advantage in the survival of mankind. Do you want to be left behind?

Many foods in themselves are already “functional” in nature including dark chocolate, blueberries, and green tea. Various new products are appearing on the market including drinks, snacks and even wine, which are aligning to this functional concept, so you can now make considered choices in the shopping aisle to optimise your wellbeing in this ever-evolving world.

A new human strategy

Strategic living and life enhancing approaches to the way we eat and live seems the most intelligent response to the disparity between the human body and these new-fangled surroundings that we find ourselves in. Our food needs to rightly support us to achieve a unity.

By bringing food back to its initial purpose in our lives: for nourishment and nutrition rather than eating “empty calorie” foods that have no sustenance, we can change our health and wellbeing, the way we feel and the impact we have on other people.

Here is one for you to ponder as you move through your daily lives: food with nutritional benefit is really just food; anything else you eat is essentially a fraud – at least in terms of health and wellbeing.

 

As featured in https://thrive-magazine.co.uk/nutrition-in-the-new-world-is-food-still-fit-for-purpose/

 

THE SECRET OF SLEEP & DIET: MAKING MELATONIN

Sleep is the new black

Sleep is the current health trend which costs you nothing but can have more of an impact on your health than any super-powder, green juice or bone broth. Far from the ‘work hard, play hard’ vibe of the 90’s, it is now obvious to most, that if you want to live a fulfilling, happy and productive life you need to prioritise sleep.

But is it as simple as just making sure that you go to bed earlier or set your alarm clock an hour later?  Unfortunately, not. Sleep is a complex science which is dependent on numerous biological factors that need to be balanced to ensure you get that restful and restorative sleep that your body craves.

An important factor in this web of intricacy is the neurotransmitter melatonin. Sometimes coined the ‘sleep hormone’, the amount of melatonin in your blood at night can be a key indicator of how easy sleep comes to you when your head hits the pillow and how impactful and regenerative your sleep really is.

Here I will explore ways that you can increase melatonin production in your body so that you fully reap the benefits of those additional hours of ZZZ’s.

See the stars and sleep

The production of melatonin is largely linked to the internal circadian rhythm and light (or lack of it) is one of the most important factors in its production, with the melatonin manufacturing plant in your brain peaking in activity in the early hours between 2am and 4am.  However, those cells involved in the construction of melatonin have vampire like qualities and can be extremely sensitive to light, so make sure you sleep in a pitch-black room and if this is not possible, buy an eye mask to sleep in.  Also, go tech-free at least a couple of hours before bed, as the light exposure from a laptop or mobile phone can halt production of this sleeping beauty causing disruptive and fruitless-feeling sleep.

Boosting melatonin with food

Melatonin is synthesised from the essential amino acid tryptophan which is found in foods such as turkey, lentils and nuts, and a deficiency in this nutrient may lead to a decrease in melatonin production. In the western world, deficiency in tryptophan is not common but if you eat a fairly low protein diet it might be worth considering adding these foods to your diet if you have trouble travelling to the land of nod on an evening.

In addition, some foods contain high amounts of melatonin which have been shown to increase levels of nocturnal melatonin including walnuts, olive oil, rice and tomatos. If you struggle with sleep, factor these in when you are choosing a bed time snack.

The vineyards of zen

Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that most alcohol causes the amount of melatonin made by the body to decrease, triggering troublesome sleep. However, as wine and beer naturally contain a very high amount of melatonin, the negative effects of alcohol may be counteracted when consuming these types of alcohol and they may even have a beneficial impact on our sleeping abilities.

Still, not all wine is made equal, Nebbiolo and Croatina have been shown to have very high levels of melatonin whereas the amounts in Cabernet are negligible. Choose wisely when you are pairing your wine with sleep.

Sleep well, eating the rainbow

Other potential nutrients which may contribute to improved sleep include increasing essential fatty acids in the diet, and eating foods rich in B vitamins, magnesium and zinc which have influential roles in melatonin synthesis.  Eating colourful and varied food is vital to ensure that you have all the nutrients necessary to enable your body to reach sleep the right way.

Magical melatonin

New evidence is suggesting that the presence of melatonin is not only central to proper sleep function but it also has anti-oxidative activity and helps to modulate the immune system which is important in autoimmune diseases. Melatonin may also have a protective role against cancer and cardiovascular disease.  With more of its charmed properties likely to be unveiled as the research develops, it would be unwise to ignore sleep issues which may be linked to inadequate melatonin levels in the body.

3-steps to sleep

If you are finding that you regularly have disruptive sleep or that you are habitually awake until the early hours, consider whether you need to make changes to your lifestyle to encourage more melatonin production in your body. Start by blocking light exposure on a night time, then resolve any nutritional deficiencies in the diet, and finish with melatonin boosting foods. This is the 3-step plan to the most unwittingly followed health fads going: sleep.

 

GLUTEN-FREE: THE RISKS OF GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN

Should you be considering other dietary changes when going ‘gluten-free’?

 A gluten-free approach to eating is more than just the latest food fad, it can save lives. However, should we be more conscious of the reasons for our food choices, rather than following the most recent trend? People who suffer with coeliac disease, where eating gluten can cause serious damage to the digestive system and cause a severe inflammatory response in the body, have an obvious reason for excluding gluten from their diet, but those of us who opt for a gluten-free diet for a healthier lifestyle should consider all of the facts before embarking on grain-free living.  Here I will consider the pros and cons of going “gluten-free”, and what other dietary changes we should consider when going against the gluten-containing grains.

Wholegrains for a Healthy Heart

Some scientists have long considered that eating gluten was associated with an increased risk of heart disease.  As the theory went, gluten was likely to cause an inflammatory response in the body which caused damage to the blood vessels leading to cardiac risks. However, a landmark study published in the British Medical Journal in 2017 concluded that gluten consumption was not linked to increased risk in heart disease, and moreover, avoidance of gluten in the diet may actually increase the risk of cardiac disease.

The findings of the study suggested that as those following a gluten-free diet had less wholegrains in their diets (which are a key source of dietary fibre and promote heart health), their cardiac risk increased rather than declined when cutting out the grains.

It is therefore important to ensure that additional dietary fibre is added to the diet when considering a gluten-free lifestyle.  Good gluten-free grains which contain a high amount of fibre include quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice and millet. Berries, almonds, flaxseeds, peas and beans are also good grain-free high fibre foods.

Nutrient Deficiencies when Narrowing the Diet

Another factor to consider when restricting your diet to gluten-free is the potential nutrient deficiencies which might occur as a consequence. Although in those with coeliac disease gluten containing foods may actually cause anaemia, there is a risk for those without gluten-related intolerances that they may become deficient in iron and folic acid due to the decrease in wholegrains in the diet.  Again, adding foods such as quinoa, pumpkin seeds, beans and lentils to a gluten-free diet ensure these vital nutrients are not missed.

Substitute with Variety

Often those who opt for a gluten-free lifestyle turn to brown rice as an easy and readily available alternative grain.  However, as with most things in life, moderation is key to maintaining a healthy equilibrium, as some studies have associated brown rice with heavy metal toxicity which can cause issues such as nausea, abdominal pain and problems with the nervous system.

So, if brown rice is your favoured substitute to gluten-containing foods try to minimise your servings to twice a week and get inventive with a variety of other foods such as sweet potato, aubergine, parsnips, sorghum and green split peas which make a satisfying alternative accompaniment with your meals. Cauliflower rice is also a popular substitute.

Is Gluten-free Best for Me?

As well as coeliac disease, recent research proposes that some people have a condition referred to as ‘non-coeliac gluten sensitivity’ where they have an adverse reaction to gluten without the auto-antibodies present which are associated with coeliac disease. As there is no specific presentation of this disease and no current test to confirm its existence it is hard to identify how many people might be affected by this syndrome.  However, if you do feel like you have an adverse reaction when eating certain foods it is recommended to exclude these from you diet for 3 months, and then try to reintroduce them and see if the symptoms reoccur – if that is the case, it is usually worth excluding these from your diet long-term.

In addition, some studies have shown a link between gluten and intestinal permeability, due to gluten’s effect on the wall of the digestive tract. Intestinal permeability (also known as ‘leaky gut’) is now considered one of three crucial aspects in the onset of autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis where the body attacks the thyroid gland. So, should you have a susceptibility to autoimmune disease, going gluten-free may be a wise option for you.

Now Informed, You Choose

Lifestyle choices are for you to decide, and whatever your health status, we all have the right to choose what diet suits us best, as long as we are properly informed in making that decision.

If you do decide to go gluten-free, always consider the fibre levels in your diet to make sure you are getting the recommended daily dose, avoid gluten-free processed foods and eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables to ensure that you are consuming a variety of vitamins and minerals every day.

Going against the grain in life should be liberating not restricting, so rather than considering only what foods you have to cut out of your diet as part of going gluten-free, remember to also focus on the abundance of wholefoods that you can bring into your diet to keep you flourishing no matter what you’ve lost!

 

LUCUMA: INCA’s GOLD

Lucuma is a SUPA-fruit full of wondrous treasures – it is a rich source of anti-oxidants, iron, niacin and fibre. The perfect addition to a healthy lifestyle to find a sense of revival in your everyday.

The lucuma fruit was a symbol of longevity and fertility for Peruvian people for the wealth of health benefits the fruit provided, the so called ‘Gold of the Incas’. Recent research has supported this theory, suggesting that lucuma encourages wound healing and promoting skin regeneration, repairing our bodies from inside out from the wear and tear of daily life.

Lucuma has also been shown to enhance digestion so it is perfect to mix with a digestif after a heavy meal or overindulgence, or just when you need that extra digestive support.

Due to Lucuma’s antioxidant content it is also linked to improvements in various other conditions including heart health and diabetes, so a daily dose of this gleaming gold beauty is worth a try to see whether you can find harmonisation of your ailments to reboot you back to your beginnings and make you feel alive again.

It’s hard to believe Lucuma’s array of health properties when you taste its caramelly, sweet and fragrant flavour. It tastes great added to smoothies and juices, and recently it has been used in ice creams, complimenting the creamy consistency rather delightfully.

As much as Lucuma acts as a great sweetener it is actually low on the glycaemic index scale, so it helps balance blood sugar, rather than causing the blood sugar swings which affect our mood which is encountered with insulin stimulating foods that contain sugar, and that even includes natural sugars! Lucuma will keep you balanced and replenished and make you feel set to conquer the world!

Lucuma’s nourishment, delicious taste and grand history certainly proves it really is worth its weight in gold.

Try incorporating it in your every day regime to bounce back to life and set the world ALIVE!

ATTACK YOUR MIGRAINE HEAD ON BY TACKLING THE ROOT CAUSE

ATTACK YOUR MIGRAINE HEAD ON BY TACKLING THE ROOT CAUSE

 Migraines affect lives

Migraines are a debilitating condition with 190,000 migraine attacks occurring every day in the UK.1 Migraines affect 1 in 7 people and is more widespread than those suffering with diabetes, epilepsy and asthma.1

A migraine is a condition which is characterised by severe episodic headaches which are commonly incapacitating. Migraines decrease quality of life by reducing productivity, missing events, having prolonged periods off work and causing chronic pain which is not relievable effectively with the painkillers available on the market.2

Chronic migraine is almost 3 times more common in woman than in men, and for women chronic migraine usually peaks between 18–29 years old and again at 40-49 years old.3  Patients report feelings of intense headache, nausea, light-headedness and light sensitivity.4  Although the exact cause of migraines is still not fully understood, recent studies have demonstrated that diet and lifestyle changes can lessen the severity of a migraine attack helping those who suffer to be able to lead a normal life.

Here we consider the potential causes of migraines and the possible treatment strategies targeting the underlying cause of migraine rather than just the presenting symptoms.  This will give more options to sufferers to find release from the shackles of migraines in everyday life.

So, what causes the symptoms of a migraine?

There are currently two theories in respect of the cause of a migraine. One (older) theory suggests that migraines are caused by vascular (i.e. blood vessel) contractions and dilations. The other hypothesis is that migraines are caused by neuronal (i.e. nervous system) events. Present understanding is that migraines are caused by both components, however, more recent research seemingly supports that neurological stimulus of the condition is the most significant attribute to its painful presentations.5

There is good evidence to support that the initial phase of a migraine “with aura” (with sensory disturbances) is started with ‘cortisol spreading depression’. This refers to an event in the brain where there is a wave of biochemical and electrical disruption which encapsulates the brain, putting it in a fragile state which is easily unbalanced.6 This concept is consistent with the experiences of those patients who suffer from migraine who describe the initial onset as specks of light in their central vision which gradually widens to their peripheral vision before the full impact of the migraine is felt.

The energy building blocks in the body’s cells, mitochondria, which produce all the body’s energy to function properly, seem to play a key part in the cause of a migraine. If the mitochondria are not working efficiently, especially those that are located in the cells in the brain, then it could be hypothesised that the other systems in the brain which rely on that energy source will be weakened and a cascade of events will then follow which may lead to a migraine attack.7

Mitochondria also play an important role in the homeostasis (i.e. biological balance) of calcium in the cell as well as moderating the concentration of “reactive oxygen species” which are extremely volatile compounds that can cause mutations in DNA as well as impacting central systems in the body.5 These are thought to play a role in the cause of migraines.

The tumbling effect of increased intracellular calcium then causes dysfunction of astrocytes, which are vital glial cells located in the central nervous system which require optimal energy to perform properly.8

Inflammation worsens the symptoms of a migraine as elevated calcium levels trigger inflammatory processes which promote further inflammation to those areas in the brain causing increased pain and unhinging of the body’s processes, such as perception of balance and light tolerance.

An excitatory neurotransmitter called glutamate has also been shown to indorse the symptoms of migraines, as it stimulates neurons by binding to a receptor known as NMDAr (N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor). The NMDAr is stimulated in normal bodily functions ordinarily, but too much stimulation by glutamate and other substances which bind to the receptor cause over stimulation of the nerves causing pain, depression and, in some cases, neurodegeneration.5

Glutamate can be beneficial if converted into a substance called inhibitory GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid), which causes a calming effect on nerves and the brain, but this is dependent on adequate amounts of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine).9 As such, deficiencies in this nutrient could contribute to the start of migraines.

The precipitating factors which trigger migraines is still under debate, but it is widely believed that food allergies may contribute to a migraine’s commencement, such as foods containing tyramine and other amines which are found in aged cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits and red wine and beer.10 It is hypothesised that this reaction is due to a person’s inability to breakdown tyramine which, if not metabolised properly, can stimulate the release of neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline which can kindle migraine symptoms.10

The integrated effects of inflammation, impaired energy processing and over stimulation of nerves in the brain, caused in part by nutrient deficiencies, stimulating (allergenic) foods and increased absorption of calcium in the cells, are all factors which have been demonstrated to play a part in the onset of migraine. These should be considered when developing a treatment strategy to manage the illness, rather than developing medicines which only treat the peripheral pain temporarily.

Can we eat to beat the pain?

Due to the increased understanding of the mechanisms underpinning the cause of migraines, there are now various dietary supplements which can be taken to ease the condition. Here we discuss a number of nutrients which may help to alleviate migraine symptoms:

o   Moderating migraine with Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency can contribute to migraines in numerous ways.  Magnesium is involved in the prevention of excessive nerve stimulation – it facilitates the energy production cycle in the mitochondria and also increases vasodilation – so in short supply it promotes all the factors associated with migraine onset.5 Magnesium supplementation is therefore normally recommended for migraine sufferers as it is safe and effective, unless there are specific issues with the patient that might be worsened by increased magnesium such as kidney disease.11

o   Qualifying Coenzyme Q10

As discussed above, the health of mitochondria is significant in migraine sufferers.  Defects in a patient’s energy generating processes is one of the potential causes of migraine, so ensuring that energy supply is sufficient is essential in migraine treatment. Coenzyme Q10 is suggested for sufferers as it helps to moderate the dysfunctional energy processes in the cells, thereby optimising energy production and circumventing the cascading destructive events which lead to migraine onset. Coenzyme Q10 is also thought to control the immune system so can prevent the over-stimulation of inflammatory cells and can ease the pain in the brain.12

o   Reroute to calmness with Vitamin B6

Studies have demonstrated the effects of vitamin B6 on the conversion of damaging glutamate to comforting GABA, so in patients suffering with migraines supplementation of this vitamin should be considered. It is worth noting that as vitamin B6’s effects are reliant on the presence of magnesium, vitamin B6 should be supplemented in conjunction with magnesium to obtain the best results.5

o   Freeing Feverfew

Feverfew is one of the most studied plants for the treatment of migraine symptoms which may be due to a component in it called parthenolide.  It has anti-inflammatory properties, inhibitory effects on serotonin release from platelets (which may alleviate excitatory effects on nerves in the brain) and the ability to relax and dilate vessels. Although the results in human studies vary, it is believed to have beneficial properties for migraine relief, as long as the feverfew is from a good quality source and the quantities of supplementation are optimal.13

Peace-making lifestyle adaptations

o   Cut out the cause

As discussed above, there are various types of food associated with provoking migraines, so a well-documented approach to treating migraines is to embark on an ‘elimination diet’.10 This method is formulated to remove all allergenic foods from the diet to ensure any inflammatory triggers of migraine are minimised, however, there is no conclusive evidence to support this technique.  A better solution would be to keep a ‘food and migraine journal’ to see if there is any connection between attacks and certain foods and try removing these foods from the diet rather than a complete elimination of a variety of different foods which may have beneficial nutritional properties as well.

o   Heal with movement

Certain ‘myofascial trigger points’ (i.e. muscular tension) for migraines have been identified in some people in the upper back and are well treated with exercises and stretches around this area. If, when this area is palpated (examined with touch), there is pain in the person’s head or face then this might be the underlying cause of the migraine. 5 In this situation, a movement approach is most suitable for migraine management and healing.

Mitigate the migraine and live again

Research has shown that common antimigraine analgesic (i.e. painkiller) and anti-inflammatory drugs may relieve migraine pain momentarily, but they can actually make migraines worse in the long run – leading to a cycle of pain and respite.14 A better resolution for migraine sufferers is to tackle their migraines from the bottom up and avert the triggers and dysfunctional biochemistry that lead to pain by lifestyle changes – for example, diet and supplementation interventions which supports optimal brain function and modulation of the immune system. This may take some trial and error to find the root cause, but it does mean that once the problem is recognised a more targeted treatment plan can be adopted.  This means that a sufferer can prevent migraine attacks for the long term, rather than experiencing temporary lapses of liberation and living the rest of the time in distress!

Stand up to migraines head on by addressing their fundamental root cause and live a fulfilling and enlivening life free of hindering headaches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

  1. The Migraine Trust (2018). Available at: www.migrainetrust.org/ (Accessed: 9 April 2018)
  2. May, A. & Schulte, L.H. (2016) Chronic migraine: risk factors, mechanisms and treatment. “Nature Reviews Neurology12, 455–464 doi:10.1038/nrneurol.2016.93
  3. Ibekwe, A., Perras, C., and Mierzwinski-Urban, M. (2018) ‘Monoclonal antibodies to prevent migraine headaches.’ CADTH issues in emerging health technologies, 167.
  4. Gaul C, Diener H-C, Danesch U, on behalf of the Migravent® Study Group. (2015) ‘Improvement of migraine symptoms with a proprietary supplement containing riboflavin, magnesium and Q10: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter trial.’ The Journal of Headache and Pain. 16:32. doi:10.1186/s10194-015-0516-6.
  5. Vasquez, A. (4th Edition) Brain Inflammation in chronic pain, migraine and fibromyalgia: the paradigm-shifting guide for doctors and patients dealing with chronic pain. ICHNFM.ORG, Available at InflammationMastery.com/pain
  6. Cui Y, Kataoka Y, Watanabe Y. (2014) ‘Role of cortical spreading depression in the pathophysiology of migraine.’ Neuroscience Bulletin. 30(5):812-822. doi:10.1007/s12264-014-1471-y.
  7. Yorrns, W.R & Hardison, H.H (2013) ‘Mitochondrial dysfunction in migraine.’ Semin Pediatr Neurol. 20(3):188-93. doi: 10.1016/j.spen.2013.09.002
  8. Capuani, C. Marcello Melone, M., Tottene, A.,  Bragina, L., Crivellaro, G., Santello, M., Casari, G., Conti, F., and Pietrobon, D. (2016) ‘Defective glutamate and K+ clearance by cortical astrocytes in familial hemiplegic migraine type 2.’ EMBO Molecular Medicine. 8(8):967-986. doi:10.15252/emmm.201505944.
  9. Ciranna L. (2006) ‘Serotonin as a Modulator of Glutamate- and GABA-Mediated Neurotransmission: Implications in Physiological Functions and in Pathology.’ Current Neuropharmacology. 4(2):101-114.
  10. Arora, H. and Kaur, R. (2008) ‘The Role of Diet in Migraine Headaches.’ DELHI PSYCHIATRY JOURNAL 11.1
  11. Sun-Edelstein, C. & Mauskop A. (2009) ‘Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine’ Expert Rev Neurother. Mar;9(3):369-79. doi: 10.1586/14737175.9.3.369.
  12. Rozen, T.D., Oshinsky, M.L., Gebeline, C.A., Bradley, K.C., Young, W.B., Shechter, A.L., Silberstei, S.D. (2002) ‘Open Label Trial of Coenzyme Q10 as A Migraine Preventive.’ SAGE Journals. 22:2:137-141
  13. Angèle Guilbot, A., Bangratz, M., Abdellah, S.A. and Lucas, C. (2017) ‘A combination of coenzyme Q10, feverfew and magnesium for migraine prophylaxis: a prospective observational study’ BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 17:433 doi.org/10.1186/s12906-017-1933-7
  14. Diener H. C., Holle D., Solbach K., and Gaul C (2016) ‘Medication-overuse headache: risk factors, pathophysiology and management.’ Nat Rev Neurol. 12(10):575-83. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2016.124.

Fixing Autoimmune Disease – how close really are we?

Autoimmune disease is starting to get the recognition that it deserves – it has long been thought of as an umbrella of various illnesses which attack ‘self-tissue’ with different presenting symptoms but as the research has developed we are now understanding more about the mechanisms underlying these diseases which all have a common cause.

I attended a seminar with Tom O’Bryan last weekend on Autoimmunity who discussed this matter in detail, and the current findings imply that the best way to treat autoimmunity is to ‘fix’ the underlying causes rather than to aid the presenting symptoms. This functional medicine approach to the treatment of autoimmune disease usually comes with much speculation but it is a method I strongly support, and I can make most sense of.

So, what goes wrong in autoimmune disease?

It seems that the one of the most important factors in autoimmune disease is ‘molecular mimicry’ which to put simply, is where our body’s immune system attacks a foreign particle in our blood stream to protect us, for example, a virus, which happens to look very similar to say one of our own thyroid cells, and it gets confused which one is which.  The immune system then starts attacking our thyroid cells (to protect us!) and we end up with an autoimmune disease such as Hashimotos Thyroiditis. These so called ‘autoantibodies’ which attack our thyroid gland (‘self’) need to be desensitised and the ‘trigger’ for their action removed from the body to cure ourselves of these diseases.

It is now hypothesised that a number of these autoantibodies are triggered by food particles which can cross from our digestive system, such as the stomach and intestines, into our blood stream due to an increasing incidence of compromised gut function known as ‘intestinal permeability’. This often means that the wall of the digestive system has larger openings than it should have, which lets undigested food particles into the blood.

Other important components of autoimmunity are;

  • having a family history of autoimmune disease,
  • the health and tolerance of the person’s immune system and,
  • toxic chemical exposure.

How to fix yourself

Tom O’Bryan’s presentation proposed a dietary and supplementation strategy for fixing autoimmune disease as follows:

Prebiotics

Apple pectin

Bone broth

Fermented foods

Probiotics

Vitamin D

Zinc Carnosine

Glutamine

EPA/DHA

Curcumin

Colostrum

These suggestions are all areas that I intend to study further to determine what the best approach is on a case by case basis, as it might not be suitable in this form for everybody. For example, colostrum would not be appropriate for someone with a dairy allergy but is there an alternative? And glutamine feeds yeast, so it would not be beneficial for someone who suffers from candida overgrowth, it may even be detrimental, so you need to treat the yeast infection first before further interventions.

As with most things in life, an individualised course of action is always the most successful, but a framework to start from is useful and I will be using Tom’s advice to research these areas further to decide on my own opinion for the best approach to treat autoimmune disease.

In the meantime, start decreasing daily toxicity which can infest our cells and cause our bodies to start attacking these cells (again, to protect us!), potentially causing harm to our organs and body system.

Some of the main toxic offenders are:

  • xenoestrogens found in plastics, and household ad cosmetic products in the form of phthalates, parabens and BPA.
  • metals such as aluminium and mercury, found in foil wrapping, cookware and fish.
  • moulds and pollutants in the air we breathe, from water damaged buildings, diesel engines and even wood-burning stove.

This is an extensive area which justifies a separate focus, but if you wish to make a few easy adaptations to your lifestyle it would be valuable to invest in some glass containers for water, hot drinks and food, rather than using plastic or metal ones.  Also, if you are at risk of mould toxicity, use an air filter in your bedroom like I have, to help you sleep easy on a night.  A lot of old properties in the UK do have toxic mould so unless you are prepared to invest heavily to remove the mould from the property (and the issue causing the mould) then I would suggest getting a filter as the second-best option.

Tom O’Bryan’s presentation was an inspiration and a motivation, it has given me the tools and a fresh insight into autoimmune diseases to start my own exploration into the subject.  Small steps taken together, get us one step closer to finding a cure for these intricate illnesses – we may still have a long journey ahead of us, but we are certainly getting to closer to understanding the cause of these diseases and potential ways to fix them.