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Gut Bacteria and Your Health

Gut Bacteria and Your Health

gut bacteria

Most of the time when our medical provider talks about bacteria and our body it’s not a good thing. When it comes to the naturally occurring bacteria in your stomach, it looks like more can be better.

Somewhere between 300 and 500 different kinds of bacteria live in our intestines, and that’s a good thing. These bacteria work with other tiny organisms to make up the microbiota in our intestines. Researchers call the gut our “second brain”.  The microbiota in our gut affects everything from our metabolism to our mood to our immune system.

Gut Bacteria Linked to Chronic Illness

Research into this gut bacteria shows differences between the types of bacteria in healthy people versus those with certain illnesses. While it makes sense what’s happening in our gut would affect chronic diseases such as colon cancer or Crohn’s disease, gut bacteria may also increase your chances for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, autism, and rheumatoid arthritis.

How to Encourage Good Bacteria Growth

What goes into our bodies affects how our bodies work. Encourage good gut bacteria by eating a nutritious diet high in fiber-rich foods. Processed foods and diets filled with red meats can kill certain gut bacteria. Having a variety of gut bacteria appears in research to be as important as having a lot of good gut bacteria.

Exercise can also increase the variety of gut bacteria so aim for 30 minutes of exercise at least five times a week. We’ve discussed the importance of exercise in controlling blood pressure, reducing heart disease and managing type 2 diabetes. All those illnesses may have some link to gut bacteria which can be affected by exercise.

Finally, only take antibiotics when your provider determines it’s necessary. Antibiotics will not help your cold or flu. Those viruses must run their course. Antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria but the good gut bacteria your body needs.

Research is on-going to determine how certain gut bacteria affect disease and what we can do to increase it in our intestines. If you’d like to learn more about gut bacteria and the research surrounding it, we found this article by WebMD to be especially helpful.

Is Thyroid Disease Preventing Weight Loss?

thyroid disease weight gain

Women thyroid gland control. 

In every poll we’ve read, eating better, exercising and losing weight topped last year’s list of New Year’s Resolutions. For most Americans, New Years Resolutions stick around for less time than it takes to sweep up the confetti from the New Year’s Eve party. But what if you met your goals to eat healthier and exercise more and yet your weight remained the same, or worse, increased? Thyroid disease may be preventing weight loss.

What’s Your Thyroid?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland at the front of your neck. This gland produces hormones which control how your body uses energy or your metabolism. If your thyroid gland produces too few hormones (hypothyroidism) your metabolism slows down and your body burns fewer calories. On the flip side, an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) speeds up your metabolism and may cause weight loss.

How Do I Know If My Problem Is My Thyroid?

Hypothyroidism can prevent weight loss. In addition to an inability to lose weight, patients with hypothyroidism may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Altered sense of smell and taste
  • Brain fog or forgetfulness
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Constipation
  • Change in menstrual cycle
  • Slower heart rate
  • Feeling cold or having chills
  • Hair loss
  • Numbness or tingling in hands

How Do I Approach My Provider?

An inability to lose weight or unexplained weight gain doesn’t usually trigger a provider to test for thyroid problems right off the bat. If you’re experiencing any of these other symptoms, however, your provider should request a simple blood test to check your thyroid function. Make a note of which of these symptoms you’ve experienced and how often in the past month you’ve experienced them. Use this information to talk to your doctor. If you do not have any other symptoms but you are not losing weight even after increased exercise and dieting, it’s still time to discuss the problem with your provider. While your thyroid may not be the culprit, you may have another health problem that is.

What now?

If thyroid disease is preventing weight loss, your doctor may prescribe medications that will make you feel better and may make losing the weight easier. Some research shows patients with hypothyroidism have to exercise more in order to burn the calories needed to lose weight. In addition to taking medication, your provider may suggest working with a nutritionist or health coach to help you determine the right combination of food and exercise to help you lose weight.

Before starting any new diet or exercise routine, schedule a physical with your provider. If you want to lose weight in 2019, let our providers help you reach those goals and improve your health.

How Selma Blair’s Symptoms of MS Went Undiagnosed for 15 Years

In October, Selma Blair, known best for her roles in Cruel Intentions and Legally Blonde, shared shocking news about her multiple sclerosis diagnosis on Instagram.

“I have had symptoms for years but was never taken seriously until I fell down in front of him [Dr. Jason Berkley) trying to sort out what I thought was a pinched nerve,” she wrote. “I have probably had this incurable disease for 15 years at least. And I am relieved to at least know.”


How do symptoms of a neurological disease go masked for fifteen years?  

Symptoms of MS mimic those of other, often benign illnesses. In Blair’s case, she mistakenly thought she suffered from a pinched nerve. Symptoms often disappear after a few weeks without treatment leading a patient to believe the problem has resolved itself and delaying treatment.

No one test definitively diagnoses MS. A provider must first rule out other illnesses and often conducts an MRI of the brain to look for lesions on the brain or damage to the spinal cord.

What are the symptoms of MS?

The most common symptoms of MS include:

  • Blurred or double-vision
  • Pain and loss of vision
  • Difficulty walking
  • Prickling or “pins and needles” sensation, numbness or pain

Less known symptoms of MS include:

  • Muscle weakness in arms and legs
  • Poor coordination
  • Muscle stiffness and spasms
  • Loss of sensation
  • Speech impediments
  • Tremor
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing loss
  • Concentration problems
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Memory lapses
  • Poor judgment

Who’s at risk for MS?

Women experience higher rates of MS diagnosis than men and Caucasians of northern European ancestry are more likely than other ethnic groups to suffer from MS, although MS occurs in most ethnic groups. People in tropical climates are less likely to suffer from MS than people from more temperate climates. Researchers believe that’s because people who live the first 15 years of their lives in tropical climates have higher levels of vitamin D. While all these categories may increase the risk of developing MS, the disease may be developed by anyone.

What should I do if I have these symptoms?

Selma Blair’s break occurred when a friend insisted she see a doctor for her symptoms. If you’ve had the symptoms listed above off and on for more than a few months, it’s time to call your provider. Women’s Health breaks down these symptoms into more concrete terms and when it’s time to sound the alarms. Keep track of your symptoms and share them with your provider. Don’t be discouraged if your provider rules out other illnesses first. Your provider doesn’t take this diagnosis lightly. Testing for other illnesses is the first step to finding the correct diagnosis and treatment so you feel like you again.

Our providers are ready to talk to you about any medical symptoms you’re experiencing. You can request an appointment through our website or by calling our clinic at (662)-282-4226.


I don’t understand what my provider said, but I’m afraid to tell them

I don't know what my provider said

Have you ever left a doctor’s appointment more confused about your health than when you arrived? Maybe your provider prescribed a new medication or diagnosed you with an illness whose name is so long you can’t quite remember how it went. Either way, you are not alone. Nine out of ten patients across the nation have trouble remembering and understanding what their provider said. Even highly educated patients suffer from a lack of understanding about medical terms especially when they are under extreme stress or not feeling well.

Not understanding how to take your medication, how to care for an illness at home or when you should go back to the doctor can lead to serious complications and even death. If it’s so important to understand what your medical condition, what can patients do to make sure they fully understand what their doctor said?

Repeat it back

New guidelines suggest providers ask patients to repeat back in their own words what the provider said. If your doctor or nurse practitioner does not ask you to repeat their instructions back, you can offer it yourself. Simply start with, “You’ve given me a lot of information, here’s what I heard, is that right?” Then repeat back what your provider said.

Take someone with you

When your provider prescribes diagnoses an illness, it’s often hard to remember all the information when you get home. Ask a friend or relative to join you for the appointment. They might take notes or ask questions you can’t think to ask.

Ask questions

Sometimes it’s hard to remember all the questions you want to ask when you’re sitting in the crosshairs of your provider’s stare, even if they have the best bedside manner. Write a list of questions you want to ask prior to your appointment. The National Patient Safety Foundation suggests starting with these three questions:

  • What is my main problem?
  • What do I need to do?
  • What is it important that I do this?

If your provider adds a medication, always ask “should I continue taking all my current medications as well?”

Record the conversation

Most clinics have notices prohibiting the use of cell phones to record or take pictures in their building. These rules are based on HIPAA to keep other patients’ information safe. Ask your provider if you can record your conversation in case you can’t remember what they said when you get home. If you are comfortable writing notes, keep a notebook strictly for medical visits. Ask your provider to spell any conditions with which you are unfamiliar.

Know your history

Either write down a list of medications you take or take a picture of the label with your cell phone. They will ask for an update of medications at the beginning of the appointment. Also, list any major illnesses or surgeries you have had or major illnesses of your parents. If the patient is a child, list any illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer or heart disease in the child’s mother or father. Bringing this list to the appointment with you saves you time when filling out forms and helps the doctor to have a complete record of the patient’s medical history.

Healthcare has changed over the last two decades. Providers have less time to spend with individual patients and patients have more access to information via the internet than ever before. Admitting you don’t understand what a provider said can be intimidating. Don’t be embarrassed. You are among the majority.

Clearing up misunderstandings will give you confidence when you need to make a medical decision and it’s shown to lead to healthier lifestyles. Start taking control of your health by ensuring you understand what your doctor said.


What is gluten?

what is gluten

Have you noticed the letters GF next to menu items at your favorite restaurants? Those letters stand for Gluten Free, a designation virtually unheard of in the United States before 2000. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. When water and wheat combine, gluten gives the mixture its tacky, glue-like texture. This “glue” bonds your favorite breads, crackers, and pastries together.

Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which gluten causes gut inflammation, traces back to 100 AD. It wasn’t until the 1940s when a shortage of wheat caused improvement in celiac patients that doctors connected this protein with gut problems.

Only 1% of the U.S. population holds an official celiac diagnosis although 30% of Americans eat a reduced gluten or GF diet.

Why do people eat gluten-free if they don’t have to?

For Celiac patients, gluten causes an autoimmune response in the gut which prevents absorption of nutrients. In these patients, this protein may also cause bloating, diarrhea, headache, tiredness, skin rashes, and anemia. Removing this protein from their diet allows their intestines to heal, restores absorption and clears other symptoms.

Since 2000, claims abound about how the protein affects other autoimmune diseases like diabetes and how a gluten-free diet may benefit people with autism. People may attempt a reduced or GF diet in order to lose weight, because it’s a fad or because they believe it may relieve inflammation symptoms from other diseases.

Should I consider a gluten-free diet?

Before beginning any new diet, visit your healthcare provider. If you have symptoms of celiac, tests to confirm the diagnosis must be made before a patient begins a GF diet. No diagnosis may be made if the gut heals because of the lack of gluten before testing is completed.

Manufacturers fortify bread products with fiber and vitamins necessary for healthy living. By cutting this protein from your diet without a celiac diagnosis, you may do more harm than good. A visit with your provider and a nutritionist can help you decide if GF living would benefit your health.

Is gluten-free eating healthy?

Yes and no. If you replace gluten-containing junk food with gluten-free junk food, it’s still junk food. Diets based on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, legumes and grains like corn can improve your nutrient intake, but these foods are always recommended whether you’re eating GF or not.

If you’re experiencing inflammation, digestion problems or unexplained weight loss, make an appointment with one of our providers today. Whether gluten is your culprit or not, our providers can help you find the way back to health.

3 Types of Female Hair Loss

female hair loss

Women expect to lose a certain amount of hair every day. In fact, doctors consider losing up to 100 strands of your beautiful mane each day perfectly normal. Noticing excessive shedding, however, rises up panic, fear and even shame in the one in four women who experience clinical female hair loss.

Television commercials, magazine ads, and even social media videos champion solutions for male pattern baldness. Rarely do we hear discussions of female hair loss, which makes those who suffer from the issue feel more isolated.

Telogen Effluvium

Don’t worry, we won’t make you pronounce it. Just remember it applies to temporary hair loss triggered by a disturbance in your hair cycle. This disturbance was likely a traumatic or stressful event, that happened three to four month prior to the hair loss. Stressful events include pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, certain medications, and surgery or poor diets.

Temporary hair loss normally involves sudden, overall shedding of your hair. In good news, most women find a return to their normal, healthy mane in six to nine months once the cause of hair loss is addressed.

Androgenetic Alopecia

Also known as female pattern baldness, this hair loss presents as a thinning of hair near the crown. Women typically notice a wider part and less volume in their hair sometime after menopause.  The thinning may begin as early as puberty. In most cases, women with Androgenetic Alopecia will not achieve a full re-growth of their luscious locks, but they may be able to prevent or slow the rate of hair loss. Hormones and heredity both play a role in who develops female pattern baldness.

Alopecia Areata

Unlike the previous types of hair loss, alopecia areata emerges as patchy bald sections most often on the head but it may also appear in other areas of the body. Baldness occurs when the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles. Alopecia areata affects slightly more men than women. Around 70% of women will experience regrowth of their hair within two years even without treatment.

Hair loss rarely causes physical pain, but for women and some men, hair loss can trigger emotional responses including depression, decreased self-confidence and increased self-consciousness. If you’ve noticed increased hair loss leading to baldness, contact your medical provider to determine the cause of hair loss and treatment options. Also contact our behavioral health clinic for assistance managing the emotional response to female hair loss.

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