Monday, November 23, 2009
If you’ve been off gluten for a while, your vitamin D status is optimum (>50) and your small intestine is well healed, you’re probably going to sail through the flu season with no problems. A healthy immune system (and remember 70% of your immune system is housed in your intestines) should stand you in good stead despite the presence of inhospitable viruses.
However if you have been recently diagnosed (less than 1 to 2 years ago) or are just beginning to make changes in your diet due to a suspicion of gluten sensitivity then there are some important steps to take to optimize your immune system as quickly as possible.
First, do get your vitamin D status evaluated and begin supplementing with vitamin D3. As mentioned previously, vitamin D3 is superior to vitamin D2 for normalizing D status so ensure that you use the correct form when supplementing.
Second, begin taking a good probiotic. Probiotics help support the immune system, are best taken with meals and are quite safe. Rarely, patients feel worse on a probiotic and in those cases we perform a stool analysis to evaluate for the presence of pathogenic organisms. A good probiotic will provide billions of organisms per capsule and be a blend of such species as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii.
Third, I like to recommend that you don’t stock up on antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers. The major ingredient in such items is a chemical called triclosan which has been accused of creating antibiotic-resistant germs. Not only that but recent research (Environmental Science and Technology 2006) shows it to be responsible for speeding the transition of tadpoles into adult frogs. I understand that you may be thinking, that’s nice but I’m not a frog… Read on please.
Triclosan has the ability to disrupt the balance of hormones in animals as well as humans. In addition is has been found to contaminate mothers’ breast milk.
Some researchers postulate that triclosan causes thyroid hormones to be more potent as it appears that it requires the presence of thyroid hormones to cause its negative actions. Others are stating that it’s acting as a xenoestrogen, a proposed cause of such conditions as thyroid disease, endometriosis, early onset of the menstrual cycle in young girls, breast cancer and infertility to name a few.
While it’s definitely important to wash your hands and keep good hygiene to prevent the spread of disease, antibacterials are likely posing more problems than benefits and I’m very concerned about the increasing numbers of xenoestrogens in our environment.
Lastly, especially with the holiday season upon us, ensure that you get adequate rest, be vigilant on your diet, take a good vitamin C, A and zinc, and stay hydrated.
Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”