15 areas of health and wellness.... #2
Continuing with the series of 15 areas of wellness that is assessed in the WICO questionnaire, today's area of health to consider is one that approximately 1/3 of US adults take into consideration daily because they have symptoms or take medication to help them with this (but really, 100% should...)
DIGESTION and it's evil cousin, ABSORPTION.
I would go out on a limb here and say that YOUR DIGESTION PROBABLY SUCKS. (Sorry. Keeping it real, people....)
Seriously, this is so critical to health but SO many of you are doing it wrong!! If it is common for you to have days that remind you of the ol' Pepto-Bismol jingle, digestion is a weak link in your chain of health, my friend.
Take my unofficial quiz for digestion:
1. Do you get heart burn or take anything for heart burn? (It's the 3rd most-common class of medications.)
2. Do you burp, or feel gassy or bloated after eating?
3. If you burp, do you re-taste your meal? (sometimes still counts...)
4. Do you still have your gallbladder?
5. Have you taken antibiotics?
6. Did you take probiotics afterward?
7. Do you chew your food about 20 times per bite? (really, take a count next time! Your bite should be like liquid when you swallow.)
8. Do you DRINK a lot of fluids DURING your meal?
9. Do you have a bowel movement EVERY day?
10. Do you lose at least 12" of stool per day? (Yes, 1 foot!)
11. Do you take anything to help you go to the bathroom?
If you answered "Yes" to #1, 2, 3, 5, 8, or 11... or "No" to #4, 6, 7, 9 or 10, your digestion is probably poor.
Any 1 of those on that short list (depending on how you answered) is a sign of bad digestion.
If you can't DIGEST your food, you make it so much harder on your body to ABSORB nutrients from your food. You could be eating "right" and still have poor nutrition because your digestion just isn't working.
To see how you would score in 15 areas of health, check out the WICO score. I also offer free 10 minute phone consultations if you would like to talk.
Do you know the 15 areas of health?
Wellness.... What does that mean to you? For me, there are many areas of health to address when assessing one's health condition, and some of them take a higher priority than others. Often times what brings someone to contact me is just a piece of their actual health issues.
One of the tools I can use in my office is the WICO® score assessment, which is a comprehensive, 294 question survey that you can take online and it gives you a "wellness" score, sort of like you get a FICO® score for your credit.
There are 15 areas that the WICO score assesses, and I wanted to take some time to go through each of these.
Interested in how YOU score in these areas? You can take the WICO® assessment here.
Ah, Good Ol' Glucose. The FUEL of your body.
If you are feeling fatigue, fatigue between meals, or if eating RELIEVES your fatigue, you may have problems regulating your blood sugar....
If you have trouble sleeping, don't get enough exercise, are overweight, or need to use caffeine to make it through your day...you might have problems regulating your blood sugar....
If you eat a lot of refined carbs, or not enough protein (among many, many other items too numerous to list), you guessed it, you might have problems regulating your blood sugar!
Contrary to what you might believe, you do NOT need to be obese to be pre-diabetic or even full-blown diabetic. In our high-stressed, fast-food, caffeine-rich, nutrient-poor average American population, I find pre-diabetes all the time in persons who "look healthy". (By the way, ANYONE with a chronic condition will tell you that LOOKS have little to do with HEALTH.)
And sometimes we find LOW blood sugar contributing to fatigue, headaches and other symptoms.
TRUTH #1: this is an area often OVERLOOKED by your primary doctor. Fasting glucose, which is typically run at your annual physical, is NOT enough. When was the last time your HbA1c was assessed? If you are like 95% of my patients the answer is NEVER, (unless you are known to have diabetes).
(Seriously, I find glucose problems ALL THE TIME in people who have been told they are "healthy".)
TRUTH #2: If you do have glucose handling problems, this is a main priority for the body. It's how your body gets fuel.... Too little is bad, and too much is like gas on a fire. You will NOT have lasting health if you don't get this under control. Hormone balance, S-E-X functions, reproduction, etc. all take a back seat to GLUCOSE metabolism. Got it?
If you want to assess your own wellness status further, I suggest that you take the WICO® assessment and get your baseline in all 15 area of health, or you can schedule a complimentary phone consultation with me.
To your health,
Cough & Congestion remedy that works!
It's that time of year again when coughs and congestion runs high. I have a home-made recipe that I have used for years to clear out the crud and help restore breathing freely..... Made with items you probably have in your pantry, this concoction will help clear your sinuses and throat in no time!
Dr. Welch's Cough/Congestion remedy
2 Tablespoons honey (from a local source is best - the honey is then made from plants in your area!)
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (brings in the heat! be careful or omit if on blood thinners...)
1/4 tsp ginger
--------------------------- that's it!
Take 1 Tablespoon and keep tissues handy for the outcome..... May repeat every 30 minutes as needed.
For a little extra "boost" I sometimes add 1/4 tsp of turmeric and 1 tsp of lemon juice.
You could also add 1/2 tsp crushed garlic to this to give it even more antibiotic power (but I do find that this works well as-is, too.)
If you try it, let me know what you think!
*Please note this is not intended to be used as medical advice. If your symptoms do not get better, seek the help of a qualified health professional. If you are on medications, please check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure none of the ingredients interact with your medications.
There are now over 100 named auto-immune diseases recognized. This has grown from 88 named diseases in 2008, when I graduated from school.
Auto-immune diseases tend to favor women and are the #2 cause of chronic illnesses and in the top 10 causes of death for those under age 65. They can cause symptoms all over the body, making them a challenge for conventional providers to diagnose. Let's take a look at auto-immune diseases, what they are, why some get them, and what to do about it.
What is an auto-immune disease?
An auto-immune disease is when your complex immune system, designed to protect you from foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses, etc.) turns against YOU. Depending on the disease, your immune cells start attacking your pancreas, your thyroid, your joints, your skin, your organs.... Your immune system thinks that some (or several) types of cells in your own body are dangerous to you, and kills them.
Why do people get an auto-immune disease?
iThere are many factors involved in why a person develops an auto-immune condition. There is a genetic component, but genetics alone does not mean that you will get a specific condition - you may have the gene but it never gets "turned on" or expressed.
So, what can "turn on" the gene?
Often it is a STRESS to the body. Your immune system gets ramped up to fight off that stress and, in the process, confuses your cells with harmful cells.
For some, it may be intense emotional stress... a divorce, a birth of a new child, a death of a close friend or family member.
For some, it may be toxins - heavy metals like mercury or aluminum, mold exposures, etc.
Maybe a chronic infection like Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), Candida, Herpes, Lyme disease...
Over time, these stressors can cause disrupt the functions of the gut - causing "leaky gut", food intolerances - especially gluten and dairy, etc. Think about it, 80% of your immune function is in the gut, so is it any surprise that many autoimmune conditions have GI symptoms?
7 Signs You May Have an Auto-immune Disease
If you are experiencing a combination of any of these symptoms, you may have an auto-immune disease (list is not all-inclusive):
What to do if you think you have an autoimmune disease?
ThThe most important thing you can do if you think you have an autoimmune disease is to find and treat the underlying cause. Typically there are several factors that need addressed, but first, let's discuss the conventional route.
Conventional doctors treat the SYMPTOMS, but do not look to find the root cause. Common treatments are prescribing medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids (such as prednisone), or immunosuppressants. (Yes, let's turn off your immune system...? Be wary of getting the flu or any other infections then....) You may start with your primary care provider, but will likely be sent to see one or more specialists, for conventional medicine is very segmented. If you have joint symptoms, you'll see a rheumatologist. Have hormone symptoms, you'll see an endocrinologist. (Rarely does an auto-immune disease stay in one system...)
But the body is not segmented....it all plays together. The specialists are very good at analyzing you under their specific lens, but when your symptoms don't fit that picture, you get referred on (and on, and on...) Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an autoimmunologist.
Well, there's something close....
What is my approach to helping those with auto-immune diseases?
With my labs-supported clinical nutrition (functional medicine) approach, I look at you as a total person. What is the history behind your condition? What is your family history? What are your risk factors for being exposed to different infections, toxins, parasites, etc. Do you have food sensitivities? How do you handle stress?
The initial testing is a 52-point blood test to evaluate your current health status. I always run a mineral and toxic metal hair test as well as a urinalysis. We may do stool testing, of which there are several options depending on your case and your risk factors.
We keep looking for the cause(s) of your health condition and we make a plan to reverse them.
As always, help is just a call away.
Can you reverse diabetes? Is it for real?
Yes, and YES!
Reversing diabetes, putting it into remission, preventing its horrible complications (neuropathy, amputation, blindness, kidney failure) is possible. But don't just believe me.... CNN said so. WebMD said so. Diabetes Today magazine said so. What about this article in the Huffington Post - it says so, too.
If you're prediabetic (most don't even know they are, so bravo to you if you know where your health status is at), now is the perfect time to take control of your health - typically the earlier you start, the faster you heal.
But if this out-of-control epidemic is reversible and preventable...
Why hasn't your doctor told you so?
When the diet and exercise advice you received from your medical team is not enough, you need a new approach.
If you're a diabetic, ask yourself this:
Now, ask your doctor who prescribed you these medications "how many patients have you gotten OFF medications because their diabetes status got BETTER?"
WHY did you develop diabetes? Why do you still have it? Yes, it's a metabolic disorder, specifically in how you process and manage glucose levels, but has anyone done a THOROUGH evaluation to see how your whole body is functioning, where all the problems and deficiencies are, and not focused on your glucose/A1c?
Maybe you are getting some additional labs because of the side effects of your medications and the progression of your diabetes, but has anyone really analyzed your labs as a whole, and not focused on each individual part?
Has anyone assessed your toxicity burden and whether your body adequately handles the environmental toxins we are all hit with on a daily basis? Not all functional medicine providers seek out toxins, but we do that! See how many cases were helped by reducing toxicity in these SBN successes.
If you are worried about your diabetes and are looking for the next steps for you, we're here for you.
If you have Type 1 diabetes and you think there's no help for you....think again! These same principles - getting functionally tested and addressing nutritional deficiencies - can help you, too! While you will never be completely off insulin, you can typically reduce the amount of insulin you need and prevent diabetic complications by following our program.
I'm on a mission to make a dent in diabetes. Let's do this!
Are you one of the MILLIONS of adults taking stomach acid medications? With over $6 Billion in sales on antacids, you're not alone.
Started them because you felt a little heartburn after you ate?
What if I told you that your heartburn was most likely from LOW stomach acid?
It's true. As we get older, our ability to produce most secretions, including stomach acid goes DOWN, not up. (Thanks, physiology classes!)
Maybe some of you do have true GERD or reflux.... from a faulty valve (LES) at the top of your stomach. Some of you may be overweight, which pushes up on your stomach (and pushes your trying-to-be-digested food upward). Pregnancy can do this temporarily, as well. Some may have a hiatal hernia (where the top of the stomach pokes up through the diaphragm muscle, where it doesn't belong).
Wait, where was "too much stomach acid" on that list??...
You're probably wondering "how can I get heartburn from LOW acid?"
I'm glad you asked.
You need stomach acid to activate your protein-digesting enzymes (pepsin) in the stomach - this breaks protein down into useable amino acids. The low pH produced by stomach acid also inhibits bacterial growth in the stomach and creates the signal to release your food from the stomach (now called chyme) into the small intestine for further digestion.
It takes LONGER for you to process a protein-rich meal when you have low acid. Your stomach will dump as much as is (mostly) ready into the small intestine, leaving undigested food to ferment (causing gas) in the stomach. You eventually release MORE acid to try to finish this digestion, making it seem like you have too much stomach acid, when really if you had enough, you wouldn't need a round 2 of acid to finish your meal. The gas from the fermenting food can cause the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) to open up to relieve the pressure. Hence your heartburn sensation.
***If you burp and taste your dinner, you didn't properly digest it!
Check out this list of signs and symptoms of LOW stomach acid. How many do YOU have now or are being treated for?
Bloating, gas, indigestion, burping... Heartburn, reflux.... vitamin and mineral deficiencies.... yeast infections (candida), dysbiosis, IRREGULAR BOWELS.... Food sensitivities, allergies, or intolerances.... Bad breath (halitosis), weak nails.....
As well as others not on the above picture: FATIGUE, ADRENAL (cortisol) imbalances.... GLUCOSE imbalances... The repercussions of LOW stomach acid are numerous and go way beyond your digestive system.
In the human body, you never affect one organ system without affecting other(s).
Functional medicine providers remember that. That's why it's so crucial to evaluate your entire functioning, while ensuring proper foundational function. (Like good acid levels for digestion, preventing this cascade of consequences.)
NOW for a very important word of CAUTION. If you are on prescribed antacids, DO NOT go off of them without supervision. Why? The "rebound" phenomenon is powerful. Meaning, you will produce excess acid for a few weeks after reducing/eliminating your dosage, making you feel worse initially.
It will pass. Find a doctor that will help you.
Side effects of long term use of antacids include: headaches, diarrhea, lowered immune function (making one more prone to problems such as pneumonia and nasty Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections); the mineral deficiencies lead to: osteoporosis, fractures, muscle spasms, irregular heartbeats, seizures....
When Dr. Welch was expecting baby #2, she experienced heartburn for much of her pregnancy. She DID NOT use antacids (and her OB even told her not to because of the rebound effect - some do remember physiology!!) She used natural methods (especially gravity), such as sleeping at a slight elevation at night, to keep stomach fluids down where they belong.
Found this video from a friend in Michigan. If you or someone you care about is suffering from back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, or knee pain, or you have limited mobility in those joints (which often starts because of pain) then you need to check this out. Available in central Iowa only at Iowa Functional Health!
Thought I would post the follow up treatment video from Dr. Clark.
I've never seen anything else compare to the results we get with this machine. You can't get that kind of relief with chiropractic (OK, maybe sometimes...), physical therapy or massage--only the ATM2 can give you huge relief in only a few minutes.
Why waste weeks for your back pain to feel better? How much do you value your time?
It sucks to have back pain. Statistically 80% of us at one time or another in our lives will have it. It is a common misconception that "it will go away on its own 90% of the time within a month." A study posted back in 2003 disproved this notion, revealing that an average of 62% of back pain sufferers still experienced pain 12 months after their injury.
Back pain is the 2nd most common reason for missing work and is a costly injury. A team of Duke Medical Center researchers has found that patients suffering from back pain consume more than $90 billion annually in health-care expenses, with approximately $26 billion of that amount directly attributable to treating the back pain. Tremendous costs are associated with LBP, including lost productivity and income from work, the expense of medical, rehabilitation, and surgical interventions, and the costs of disabling pain and limited daily function. (americanspinal.com)
There is also a large number of Americans who, after trying many standard treatments, are still left suffering with serious back pain. If you, your friends, or your family members have been told you have to learn to live with the pain, or if you have tried exercises, medications, and/or shots, even chiropractic adjustments, and you are still suffering, and are now being told you need surgery, then this therapy may be just what you are looking for. Retrain your brain.
Check out this video by my former mentor and person who introduced me to this treatment system, Dr. David Clark. If you are a candidate for this care, you will see incredible results for ending your back pain, too.
My labs are "normal" but I still feel terrible.....
It's one of the most common statements we hear from a new patient.
Did you know that, on average, a patient with an autoimmune condition will see 7 doctors before they find someone that helps them? We've had patients come from a list of even more.
What makes us different?
First of all, did anyone ever tell you how those "normal" ranges are developed?
Would it SHOCK you to learn that those values come from a statistical analysis by the lab itself? The good ol' bell curve.
For example, we'll pick on TSH. We have seen TSH have a "normal" range, depending on the lab, of 0.5-5.0 or 0.4-4.0 or 0.4-4.5. So, if you had a TSH value of 4.5, two labs would label you healthy and one would have marked you "H" (or high, for possible hypothyroidism).
Who gets a TSH level run more often, a healthy person with no thyroid issues, or a person with symptoms or on an active thyroid treatment? (Hint: It's probably not the healthy person....) So, it would be fair to say that that statistical analysis (bell curve) is based on SICK people, right? Is it accurate to base the curve on sick people?
Second, did you have all the right labs run?
We often request that you bring in copies of any recent lab work you've had done, and it's stunning how limited the panels are that are brought in. No wonder nothing "abnormal" was found when they checked so little of your body's systems. You won't find it if you don't look for it.
We look at labs a little differently. Of course we look at the reference ranges, but we also consider what functional medicine is calling "functional ranges" or a tightened value range for many (not all) reference ranges. This allows us to look at trends before they become major problems. Those values are marked on your report in yellow as a caution level.
Plus, we run a comprehensive panel. We look at your liver function, thyroid (more than TSH and T3), vitamin D levels, inflammation markers, a CBC.... a 52 point check up on YOU. We also run hair analysis, looking at heavy metal toxicity and mineral imbalances, and will run other testing as needed.
If you're sick and tired of being sick, you've got a call to make.
Did you know that a child on medications is significantly more likely to be an adult on medications?Are you looking for a different perspective for you or your child's ADD or ADHD symptoms? A natural approach to ADHD?
It is widely supported that ADHD is a neurological disorder. Several years ago, Dr. Welch was mentored by some phenomenal chiropractic functional neurologists, who trained her in functional neurology rehab for several neurological disorders, including patients with ADHD and ASD. But something profound was realized that changed Dr. Welch's path forever.
You see, the group of them decided to be trained in functional medicine and clinical nutrition and the doors opened up. They realized that the functional neurology rehab was great (and still is excellent work), but clinical nutrition worked as well, maybe even BETTER. Help a person FUNDAMENTALLY restore health, and the rest "sorts itself out" if you will. Patients got dramatically better by restoring their functional health through nutrition QUICKER than through the neurological rehab alone.
The brain is highly sensitive to toxins like heavy metals, chemicals, and pesticides from our environment. Studies have shown that lead in particular can cause lower IQ levels, learning disabilities, and hyperactive behavior.
Hormone imbalances like too much glucose, insulin, or cortisol are actually toxic and damaging to the brain. Digestive issues like food allergies and intolerances, food additives, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and overall poor digestive functions can also play a role in ADHD symptoms.
The potential causes are many. There's only one real way to know if yours or your loved one's ADHD symptoms are caused by or escalated because of any of these factors.
In many cases, changes in behavior can be seen in as little as a few weeks.
Let us help.
If you have ever suffered the embarrassment or lack of self confidence due to acne, even cystic acne, this message is for you!
You may be asking, what does clinical nutrition/functional medicine have to do with acne?
Did you know that acne may be the symptom of a more serious problem developing? Problems such as poor diet, heavy metal toxicity, digestion disorders, mineral deficiencies, even liver dysfunction?
What about medications for acne? First of all, they don't address the CAUSE, but try to reduce the symptom. Did you ever read the side effects of those medications? Accutane, a commonly used drug for severe acne, is associated with inflammatory bowel disease, psychiatric problems, and birth defects. In fact, the warnings are very strong about avoiding this drug if pregnancy is a pending possibility.
Due to our environment and the processing and farming practices of our food, we are exposed to a higher level of toxins than ever before. Children today are becoming sick with chronic diseases at a younger age and increasing rate than ever before. It has been said that for the first time ever, this generation, our children, will not outlive their parents.
There are a lot of things broken with our current status. But you can fix yourself and those you love.
More and more people are turning to organic foods and realize that supplements are necessary to replace what's been lost from farming and processing practices. Is that enough? If you have any symptoms, including acne, it probably is NOT enough.
That's where testing comes in. Don't GUESS about your health. Lab results don't lie.
At Iowa Functional Health we take a comprehensive look at your body's function. We do a 52-point comprehensive blood test and a hair test to check for heavy metal toxicity. After testing is complete, you get a detailed report explaining the test results, diet, and nutrient recommendations.
You don't have to be scarred by acne any longer. Get tested and get back to the foundation of good health.
Reuters: Common Acne Treatments Linked to Bowel Problems, http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/08/20/us-acne-bowel-idUSTRE67J3GG20100820
Reuters: Study on Acne Suicide Risk Fuels Debate Over Drugs