Helicopters in Your Belly

If you’ve been a frequent visitor, you will be aware that our household is undergoing some radical changes with diet and lifestyle, prompted by a keen desire to improve our health. However the path that we have taken has had many ups and downs, crossroads and detours due to new diagnoses impacting on recommended dietary treatments.

Well there is another one being thrown into the mix. Helicobacter Pylori – or as Mum calls them, helicopters. She was actually diagnosed with this infection a few years ago, but it had been put on the backburner. However, it has reared its ugly head again, by interfering with her treatment plan.

So – what on earth is Helicobacter pylori? As you know, I am not a doctor, and have no medical training. However I do like to have an understanding of diagnoses and why certain treatments are being recommended by our health carers.   The internet is such a marvellous tool, and though you do have to be careful of your sources, and sometimes take things with a grain of salt, you can learn quite a lot sitting in front of your computer.

I’ve tried to stick with genuine medical websites, and those that provide a consistent message. Here is my summary of these lovely little critters.

H pylori ulcer diagram en
 

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium (germ) that lives in the inner lining of the stomach. Due to the bacteria’s spiral shape and how they move, they are able to burrow into the stomach’s protective mucous lining. Once in there, they produce chemical substances that weaken that lining and make the stomach more susceptible to damage.

The damage caused by the bacteria causes inflammation of the stomach (gastritis), stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, and has even been proven to cause some stomach cancers.

The bacteria quite often don’t cause symptoms themselves, and some people will never display symptoms at all, but symptoms of the damage to the mucous lining and excess production of gastric acids can include:

  • Gnawing of burning abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Black, tarry stools

It is still not known how the infection is spread, however once a person has become infected, it is persistent and can remain for life.

Treatment is available to eradicate the bacteria, generally through a strong course of a number of antibiotics. If this treatment is successful, the chance of recurrence is very low.

Sources:

 When her GP diagnosed this infection, Mum was placed on the standard course of antibiotics, however the side-effects were so severe that she did not complete the course. Therefore, the infection is still present, and is now impacting on her other treatment. Natural treatments are available, and this is the path that we will be investigating next. As always, we’ll let you know how we go!

MTHFR – A Brief Look

4As promised, I am going to provide a brief outline of the MTHFR gene mutation, and what that means for us.  I am not a doctor, nor have any medical training of any sort.  The information below is simply my understanding of the condition, based on my own internet research.  There are several sites, referenced at the end of this post, that will be able to provide more in-depth information if you’re interested.

Firstly, what does MTHFR stand for?  The full title is – methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase.  Unless you’re a scientist or in the medical field, you will no doubt find MTHFR easier to remember, write, and say.

The MTHFR gene produces the MTHFR enzyme, which plays a pivotal role in a process called methylation.  Methylation, which is the addition of a methyl group (a group of atoms) to another molecule, is responsible for a huge array of processes responsible for keeping your body whole, healthy, and functioning well.  Some of the key processes include:

  • Making proteins
  • Utilising antioxidants
  • Assisting the liver to process fats
  • Defence against depression and inflammation
  • Support for immune system
  • Production and breakdown of brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine and melatonin
  • Growth, repair and maintenance of cells and tissue
  • Elimination of toxins and heavy metals
  • Support of adrenal system
  • Supply glutathione, a key anti-oxidant
  • Support our energy cycle

In a nutshell, methylation is a switch that turns genes, enzymes and neurotransmitters on and off.  This can mean turning on or off:

  • Tissue repair
  • Inflammation
  • The stress response
  • The aging process
  • Production of anti-oxidants and amino acids

When someone has a mutated MTHFR gene, the enzyme it produces is defective, and does not function correctly.  This can lead to retention of heavy metals in the system, and high levels of homocysteine.  These build ups can each lead to multiple, and severe, consequences such as:

  • Increased risk of heart disease and thrombosis
  • Increased risk of dementia
  • Build up of stress and toxins
  • Increased risk of arteriosclerosis
  • Fatty liver degenerative disease
  • Anemia
  • Increased inflammation and free radical damage
  • Reduction in the production of SAM-e, which can lead to depression
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Miscarriages
  • Migraines
  • Chemical sensitivities

Other conditions that have been linked to the MTHFR gene mutation include:

  • Autism
  • Schizophrenia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Parkinson’s
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Heart murmers
  • Asthma

There are a number of forms of the gene mutation, with research only fairly new in this field.  Currently, there are two main positions that are being researched and tested for – C667T and A1298C.  These codes relate to the actual segments of the gene where the mutations can be found.  The terms Homozygous and Heterozygous relate to whether you have received a mutation from one or both parents.

Heterozygous means you have one copy of either the 677 mutation, or the 1298 mutation, plus a normal one from the other parent.  This generally relates to a 40% loss of function of the MTHFR enzyme.  This is the diagnosis that we are facing for Mum.

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So what does this all mean?

Genetic research is still a relatively new field, and therefore treatment is also not fully developed.  Most treatment protocols include the supplementation of the amino acids and anti-oxidants being limited by the mutation, along with dietary changes.  The removal of gluten from the diet, along with most other cereal grains, is a widely used technique.  The GenoType diet is also based on the methylation process, hence why it is also used as a foundation of treatment.

All in all, this will be an ongoing journey and education over the foreseeable future, as new research continues, and treatments are developed.  Come and join the ride if you dare!

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Resources

http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/mthfr/

http://www.mthfrsupport.com.au/

http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/MTHFR

http://mthfr.net/

http://www.proactivwellnesscenters.com/Hormone-Replacement/mthfr-implications-and-treatment/

The Rawleotype Diet – Say What??

imageIf you’ve been following my recent posts, you’ll be aware that medical issues and pending diagnoses have turned our dietary lives on our heads.

Well, the results are in.  Mum is not coeliac – phew!  However, she still must avoid gluten and processed sugar.  That isn’t so painful, as the Raw Food diet already complies with this.  However, her naturopath isn’t a huge fan of Raw, and insists on cooked food still being the staple.  Her dietary advice comes from a few different sources, based on scientific test results, so I’m willing to work with it.  Raw food will still be incorporated into Mum’s diet though, as there are too many benefits not to.

So, what are these tests and results?

Mum is Heterozygous for the MTHFR Gene Mutation C677T. 

I’m sure that makes as much sense to you as it did to me when I first heard it.  I will go into the exact details of the mutation in a separate post.  For now, I want to look at how our naturopath has interpreted this result and developed a nutrition plan.

1. The GenoType Diet

Dr Peter D’Adamo is the author of the Blood Type Diet, and the GenoType Diet.  He has undertaken many years of scientific research into the human body, and how foods interact with different people.  The question behind this research is essentially ‘why don’t all diets work for all people?’  I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of the inconsistency in results of different people undertaking the same diet.  Some people drop the kilos, have abundant energy and feel 10 years younger.  Other people following the exact same regime feel sluggish, bloated and the weight simply won’t budge.

Dr D’Adamo has discovered that our genetic makeup has a huge impact on how our bodies utilise and react to different foods.  I’ve read his book, and I can understand his theory.  We haven’t been utilising this regime for long enough to determine if it will have real effects yet.

There are 6 GenoTypes, and these are determined by such things as your physical measurements, body shape, teeth shape, fingerprint patterns and blood type.  Mum has been identified as a ‘Gatherer’, and reading the definition of this type, I can see how she fits.

Dietary wise, Gatherers are put onto a high-protein, low GI diet, with foods designed to aid in natural detoxification and to boost metabolism. There is a list of ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ foods, essentially those that your body can utilise well and provide the most benefits, and those that will slow down your metabolism and cause problems.  The list I posted recently is the Gatherer’s ‘bad’ list.  These are therefore foods Mum should avoid whenever possible.

2. The Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet has become very popular over the last few years, particularly amongst the fitness community.  The philosophy behind it is going back to our roots, and how our ancestors ate before the development of agriculture ie the Hunter-Gatherer’s.  Food was freshly picked, foraged and killed.

In modern-day translation, this means grass-fed meat, no processed food, no cereals or grains, limited nuts and seeds, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Other than the meat, this diet resonates with me, as it is natural, whole food, with limited human intervention.  I do struggle with the amount of meat included in the paleo diet, especially the use of organ meat.  I am still doing a lot of reading and research into Paleo, and think I will be taking some of the ideas on board, whilst leaving some alone.

3. The Raw Diet

You of course are aware of my belief in the Raw Food Diet.  Fresh, natural food.  Lots of fruit and vegetables, good fats and proteins from nuts, seeds and coconut, and retaining the maximum nutritional benefit by not heating the food above 46 degrees C.   I am determined to still use Raw methodology as much as possible, whilst complying with the specified foods on Mum’s approved lists.

Hence, I have labelled our new dietary regime the Rawleotype Diet – a balanced use of the benefits from each of these diet styles.  The results could be interesting!

My First Raw Food Workshop

I attended my first raw food workshop yesterday, and found it very interesting and insightful. The main topic was ‘cleansing’ with raw food.  This was not looking at a detox programming or juice fast; but rather how the raw diet maintains and cleanses your body on a continual basis. As the instructor said,

How often do you shower?  Every day or only occasionally?

This is the same approach we should take with the inside of our bodies too.  Rather than clog them up with empty foods devoid of nutrients then try to flush out our system every few months, we should be maintaining it with daily high-value food. This puts less stress on our bodies and leads to an overall more healthy lifestyle.

We tried out several juice, smoothie and salad recipes, some of which I probably wouldn’t have chosen to make myself. However, that’s another bonus of workshops – you can experiment with new tastes, and often be pleasantly surprised, as I was.  I didn’t expect to enjoy carrot and ginger juice or beetroot salad, but found them both to be very delicious!

That’s another thing I am finding with this raw food experience. I need to keep an open mind, and be willing to try new tastes. Food in its pure form can taste totally different to the cooked or canned varieties we are used to.

Overall, it was a fantastic afternoon. And I plan to hunt down another raw food workshop very soon!

Back on the Raw Food Wagon

EvenTonight's tea though I’ve decided to make a slow transition to the Raw Diet, I had achieved at least two raw meals a day over the last two weeks. The last two days saw and end to that – and didn’t I pay the price!

It was the old ‘too tired’ and ‘too rushed’ evening meal that was my undoing. I was still having my smoothies for lunch and snacking on fruit and nuts. However, tea became ham and salad rolls. Wheat rolls. Large wheat rolls.

I would have considered that a reasonably decent meal until a few weeks ago. Now I am mentally kicking myself in the behind for ‘falling off the wagon’.

I also missed my green smoothies on those days. Dismal failure.

The physical reaction was quite astounding. The fatigue really kicked back in, and my belly was not impressed whatsoever. I’ve been taking more bathroom breaks than is enjoyable.

Never again! Now that I’ve experienced some of how I can feel on the Raw Food diet, I am determined to stick with it. As a lot of the sites I follow point out – it is OK to have an occasional cooked or non-raw meal. However, ‘occasional’ would be the key word there.   Not days in a row.  And keep up those smoothies!!

Get gorgeous skin fast with easy green smoothie

Get gorgeous skin fast with easy green smoothie.

Great post from The Curious Giraffe.  Love those green smoothies – they truly are wonderful for you, inside and out!