Categories super nutrition academy health class
We’re Joined by Dr. Peter Osborne as We Discuss Nutritional Deficiencies
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Yuri: Hey, guys, Yuri Elkaim here. Welcome to another edition of the Super Nutrition Academy Health Class. Now, I was giving you guys some forewarning that today’s podcast was going to be really special because I’ve got my good friend and I believe one of the leaders in the world with respect to gluten-free stuff; so, celiac disease, gluten sensitivities and allergies. None other than Dr. Peter Osborne; this guy is awesome.
I’ll just quickly introduce him before we bring him in. If you don’t know who he is, you will after this podcast. He is the clinical director of Town Center Wellness in Sugarland, Texas; he’s a doctor of chiropractic medicine and a board-certified clinical nutritionist; he’s an expert in orthomolecular and functional medicine; and he’s been practicing since 2001. He’s been doing this a while. He really focuses on holistic, natural treatment of chronic, degenerative diseases like celiac and a lot of gluten-related stuff.
As I said earlier, for me, he’s one of the top guys in this field. I’m really excited to have him join me on the podcast today. Welcome, Peter. How you doing’, buddy?
Peter: I’m doing great, Yuri. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.
Yuri: Absolutely. I think we’re going to cover some really cool things here. We were just discussing earlier about…we were talking about, well, maybe we could go down the gluten route, maybe we could talk about Celiac, we could talk about some of that stuff, but maybe we’ll touch upon a little bit of that.
You’re also talking about the prevalence, how prevalent now, when you’re seeing patients on a personal level, you have patients coming in to your clinic who are on three to five medications and that’s presenting some serious problems from a nutrient-deficiency perspective. Can you elaborate on that and tell our listeners what’s happening and why that’s important?
Peter: Absolutely. Yuri, so frequently, people will come in to my office. Let’s just say we’re treating somebody for high blood pressure and their other doctor has put them on a couple of different medications to control their blood pressure but did not inform them that those very same medications being used to control their blood pressure could actually cause nutritional losses.
A common example would be somebody who’s taking a diuretic-based medication. These medications cause fluid loss and therefore lower blood pressure. The problem is they can also cause magnesium deficiency and potassium loss and CoQ10 deficiency.
Now, fast forward five years; the person’s been on this medication, and this medication has induced these deficiencies, and these particular deficiencies cause high blood pressure. Now, here we’re in a situation where we’re trying to ascertain the origin of the blood pressure issue, and they’ve been on the medication for such a long time, the medication has actually come back around and induced problems that can perpetrate blood pressure issues.
And that’s just one example of literally hundreds I can list. But that’s the big conundrum because their doctors are not describing this to them; they’re not disclosing it to them, so the patient has no idea that long-term use of this medication is going to hinder their nutritional status, and the doctor’s not monitoring it, so there’s no follow-through, there’s no follow-up. There’s just a very brief conversation of eat right and take a multivitamin, and beyond that, there’s no information or forethought into the long-term consequences.
Yuri: I guess for the average individual, they’re just like, “Okay, thanks, Doc. I guess I’ll just keep taking my meds.” They almost become scared to discontinue their medication because they don’t know what’s going to happen.
Peter: Right, right.
Yuri: So, what kind of advice do you have for somebody who—I guess out of all the people you’ve worked with, what are the top two to three medications that you see people on today, and what are the most common nutritional deficiencies that go along with those? And then, third, what recommendations can you make for somebody?
Well, I guess, obviously we’re not going to diagnose people through this interview, but what general recommendations would you make for those kinds of people?
Peter: Okay, so, let’s start with some of the most common things. Some of the most commonly prescribed drugs; one of them is cholesterol-lowering medication, oftentimes referred to as statin drugs. These drugs block the enzyme responsible for producing cholesterol; unfortunately, it also blocks the same enzyme responsible for producing coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, which is a substance very similar to the vitamins. It’s one of those nutrients that a lot of people will take because it helps the cell generate energy so that the cell can heal and repair. Even more importantly, it helps the heart and it helps the skeletal muscle stay strong.
So, what happens with these patients is—and the problem is…I’m not talking about somebody who’s been on a statin for a month; I’m talking about somebody who’s been taking statins for six months or longer, where we start to get into these nutritional losses. CoQ10 is necessary for generating energy through the liver, the muscle, the brain, and if you start blocking energy production in those tissues, a person’s going to develop muscular weakness, muscle spasm, they’re going to develop congestive heart failure, they’re going to develop memory loss.
And these are some of the most common side effects. If you read the label on a statin drug, it says, “These are the side effects you want to pay attention to and talk to your doctor about,” and it’s going to list those particular effects, which are your muscle pain and your memory loss. Some longer-term studies have shown early onset dementia with statin drugs, and some studies have shown that with the 30 years of data now that we have collected on the use of statins, that the outcome of reducing heart disease has not even changed.
Here now, we have this common drug that’s used in at least thirty-two million Americans as potential in not even being all that effective at changing their outcome but may be potentially worsening their outcome through the induction of muscle loss, muscle weakness. Now, let’s just take that one step further. Most people that have high cholesterol also, too, are looking at either high blood pressure or diabetes. Now their muscles are aching, so every time they try to exercise, every time they try to get up, move, walk around, they can’t because it hurts so bad.
Now we’re treating a disease that could otherwise have been treated by diet and lifestyle changes we’re treating with a drug that induces a muscle problem that also inhibits their ability to apply those changes that we’d love to see them apply to get better in the first place. You can kind of see all the different scenarios that we can play out.
Yuri: And I guess what’s interesting here and ironic that you’re bringing this up is that most dieticians and dietetic type of boards would recommend for cholesterol to eat more whole grains because of the fiber they contain. So, with your experience obviously with Celiac and gluten intolerances and stuff, somebody comes in and says, “I’m on LIPITOR,” for instance, or any kind of statin drug. “My cholesterol levels are elevated.” What do you recommend to them other than Cheerios, because a lot of people think Cheerios is supposedly helpful in reducing cholesterol?
Peter: I gotta go backward even further and say even before I recommend something to lower their cholesterol, I really am wanting to look even deeper at the whole hypothesis and realize that it is very much a hypothesis. High cholesterol causing heart disease is arguably a myth, and many experts, physicians and researchers, have kind of challenged this standard that we all go by, which is high cholesterol is a risk.
I mean, in 1998 cholesterol won a Nobel Prize in medicine because it was discovered to be one of the key ingredients in forming brain synapses. So, for a person to develop new brain synapses and have neuroplasticity—in other words, to be able to prevent dementia that’s age-related, they have to have adequate cholesterol.
To me, the bigger question is: What are we really trying to target your cholesterol for? Now, there are scenarios where cholesterol is really high and the wrong kinds of cholesterol are really high. I’m going much deeper than HDLs and LDLs; we’re talking about small LDL, dense type three or type four particles that actually can increase some risk for cardiovascular disease. But most doctors don’t test for those things; they simply stick to testing HDLs and LDLs.
So, I’d ask the question first: What do we want to lower the cholesterol for? Is it high enough that we would really want to merit targeting it? And if it is, then we would make recommendations for diet changes. Of course, in my office we test for gluten sensitivity and other food allergies so that we know what diet changes to make, because, you know, as you’re aware, one man’s food is another man’s poison, so just to say, “Eat a healthy diet with whole grain,” is being, I would say, almost irresponsible on the part of any doctor or nutritionist. We really have to get much more specific.
Yuri: Yeah. And considering your work with all the testing you’ve done for gluten sensitivity and genetic testing and stuff, I haven’t done as much research; you’ve talked about the fact that gluten is associated with over a hundred ninety autoimmune disorders. Have you seen any correlation between gluten and heart disease at all? I’m sure there’s gotta be some manifestation at some level.
Peter: Oh, there’s a tremendous manifestation there. Actually, a few years ago a cardiologist wrote a book by the name of Wheat Belly because he saw so much heart disease clear up when he took his patients gluten-free. But we know that gluten can induce high blood sugar levels and contribute to diabetes; we know that gluten can cause vascular damage and inflammation and lead to arterio- and atherosclerosis. We know that gluten can cause inflammation around the heart.
A patient I just had here a few months ago, he had pericarditis of unknown origin. Pericarditis, for those of you who don’t know, is a disease where the sac around the heart is inflamed. It was unknown; they didn’t know what was causing it.
They at least ruled out a bacterial infection because some of these can be caused by infection. But we diagnosed him with gluten sensitivity, and within two months, his pericarditis is now nonexistent.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s amazing. And it’s funny that, I was just actually talking about this on a previous episode. I was like, if you got into a discussion with a doctor or dietician, whoever, about the need for bread or grains in general in our diet and you ask them to provide a convincing argument for the need for it, let’s just use bread as an example.
If you said there’s really no nutritional benefit to the human body for eating bread, and they said, “Well, I don’t agree with that,” and you said, “Why?” I’m trying to play devil’s advocate to come up with all the possible reasons that they would possibly say that bead, whether it’s whole wheat or whatever, is good for us. I’m thinking, the only thing I can think of is maybe some fiber, maybe some B vitamins, but that’s pretty much it, but you can get that stuff elsewhere.
You’ve probably come up against this a lot in terms of, it’s a paradigm shift, I think, for a lot of people because we’ve all been led to believe through commercials and advertising and stuff that whole grains are the secret to getting more fiber and heart health and all this other nonsense. So, how do you get, I guess, how do you get somebody to accept that notion that we don’t need bread and you’ll survive without your sandwiches?
Peter: I think the best way is to educate them. Very few people alive are aware that in 1943, the United States banned the sale of processed grain. It was illegal unless the manufacturer actually fortified the grain with B vitamins and minerals. You actually could not sell it; it was illegal to sell.
And the cereal manufacturers, who are marketers at heart and they do a good job of marketing their product, they turned around and instead of saying, “Hey, this stuff is bad for you, so now we’re going to add vitamins to it so that it’s not quite as bad,” what they said is, “Now it’s even better for you because we’ve fortified it.”
So, when you look at a package of bread or cereal or pasta and you see all the nutrients there that are being fortified, it’s illegal to sell it without fortification. And the reason why that all happened in 1943 was, these products actually caused beriberi and pellagra; those are B-vitamin deficiency diseases.
Yuri: It was interesting because in this article that I alluded to earlier from up here in Canada, they were talking about how gluten-free diets are not necessarily healthier than glutinous diets. The dietician was making reference to the fact that—I’m just trying to find this.
She was saying that, and I quote here: “Gluten-free, processed foods are often low in fiber and nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and folate.” I’m trying to think, okay, if you’re talking about grains as an example here, what grains are naturally high in calcium, vitamin D, and folate? There probably aren’t too many, so I’m thinking they have to be fortified with this stuff.
There’s so much misinformation out there, and I think for the average person, they’re just like… That’s why we’re putting this stuff together, so we can kind of inform people as to what to look out for and what’s happening.
Peter: Yeah, I mean, no doubt. I think it’s just a mantra. I think we’ve created a monster of the whole grain and we said you can’t live without it and now here we are. Everybody has this intrinsic belief because that’s the way they’ve been raised, so challenging that is rattling a lot of cages, and it’s making a lot of people have to rethink.
For some people, as you are well aware, change is one of the biggest fears that a human can have, especially when you’re saying, “Look, don’t eat whole grain,” when that’s ninety percent of their caloric intake.
Yuri: Yep, totally. I have a lot of Italian friends who are like, “Oh my God, what am I going to do without my pasta?” But for them, they tend to respond a little bit better to it. It depends, I guess, on culturally where they’ve been brought up and that whole kind of genetic chain. Have you noticed this, with certain demographics around the world that respond better to grains if they’re indigenously more, if it’s indigenously been more part of their culture?
Peter: No, actually, I haven’t seen that trend at all. I’ve seen it equally affect Asians and Caucasians and Orientals, and I’ve seen it equally affect Indians. I don’t think there’s any real rhyme or reasons as to why.
And then there’s so much else that goes into the grain as well. You’ve got genetic hybridization and manipulation and you’ve got a bromine addition and other chemicals that are being added. I really honestly think there’s a gap in scientific information about who’s actually gluten sensitive versus who’s actually reacting to the way that we process the food.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s a tricky one to distinguish. So, we talked about statin drugs and their effect. What’s another common drug that you see people on coming in to your office and its effect?
Peter: Heartburn medication; things like Nexium and Prilosec or Tagamet, even the over-the-counter varieties, including things like Tums and Rolaids. They block stomach acid and when we block stomach acid, not only do we have several kinds of side effects when we block stomach acid, and the first is, we don’t fight infection very well.
Our immune system takes a hit because one of the primary ways we get rid of infectious microorganisms is through acid, so when we eat food—and we eat food with bacteria and parasites all the time; it’s just that most of us have an immune system that’s strong and tolerable enough that can kill these things before they become an issue. But you block stomach acid for a few years, and now that becomes another matter, so you become more prone to infection.
But then there are other nutrients that can be lost. So, in the case of antacid medications, we’ve got vitamin B12 is the most clinically common deficiency I see personally in my clinic. And B12 deficiency causes anemia’s and can cause neuropathies and depression and fatigue. There are so many different symptoms it can cause ’cause B12 is necessary to generate energy, it’s necessary to make red blood cells, it’s necessary to form the myelin coating around the nerves.
I’ve actually seen patients who had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis—or what they thought was multiple sclerosis—when, actually, they had proton-pump inhibitor-induced vitamin B12 deficiency. They just had it for such a long enough period of time that it was demyelinating their nerves to a severe degree.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s crazy. And, obviously, hydrochloric acid is required for B12 absorption, as it is necessary for a lot of other things, ’cause then you get into the whole undigested food leading to potential leaky-gut issues and that whole slew of events that you’re not even digesting your food properly.
Peter: Right, and one of the things that happens is, you take—I’m going to go backward just to gluten for a minute. You take somebody with gluten-induced bone loss, and they get put on one of these bone-blocking drugs or these bone-building drugs, like the bisphophonates. These drugs can cause gastroesophageal reflux.
Now they’ve got a gluten issue that caused bone loss, so they’re given a bone drug. Then the bone drug causes reflux, and so then they get on an antacid to treat the reflux, and the antacid causes more bone loss. Where do we stop the madness, I guess is the question?
It’s very ironic the things that we do and how the mainstream medical community just hasn’t come around to this. There’s ample research; it’s not like we’re just saying these things and we’re creating them out of thin air. There’re plenty of research studies.
Even the commercials, if you listen to the commercials. I think it’s Nexium now that gets advertised the most among acid-blocking drugs, but right on the commercial, it tells you that the medication can cause magnesium loss.
Yuri: Followed by death, yeah.
Peter: Followed by death.
Yuri: But people will still line up and get it.
Yuri: So, what do you recommend for somebody in that case? What are the different steps you would take for somebody…?
Peter: If somebody came into my office and they were suffering from severe heartburn, I think the first thing we’d have to look at is we’d have to look at what they were reacting to in their food, because food can cause heartburn. I would look at the status of their gut, whether they were capable of producing digestive enzymes, whether they were capable of producing acids, whether they were digesting and breaking their food down.
There’s a number of battery of tests that I can do to analyze the functionality of their gut and how it’s working. And then I would also look potentially at seeing whether or not they were on any kind of medications that could also create these same types of issues.
I would rule out any kind of infection, because H. pylori s a common example. Helicobacter pylori are a type of bacterial infection, and it loves the stomach and it eats away the mucosal layer of the stomach and can cause cancer. It’s one of the most common causes of gastric reflux.
Yuri: Yeah. And bad breath.
Peter: And bad breath, yeah.
Yuri: But it’s tough for…when you…I don’t know if we’ve been—again, I think a lot of people tend to believe that its cause and effect, so there’s one thing that causes an effect, but as you’ve mentioned, it’s like peeling the layers off an onion.
There are so any different things at play here, especially if you’ve been on medication or have preexisting health issues where there could be compromises in nutrient status. You really have to—and that’s why it’s important that, the stuff that you’re doing, where you’re actually seeing people on a one-on-one basis is so great because you’re able to spend time with somebody to really peel back those different layers of the onion to say, “Okay, you’ve been on this. That could attribute to why this is happening. And then this is going on as well,” and so forth and so on.
As you mentioned, not everyone responds the same way to food. You could have two people eating an identical diet and respond completely differently, so it’s like why does that happen? And it’s not just one thing, right? I’m sure you’ve seen countless cases of that.
Peter: Oh, no doubt. Biochemical individuality is the name of the game, and I think that’s probably one of the biggest problems in medicine today. If you take a one-size-fits-all approach, you’re never really going to figure out what’s wrong with that individual.
Disease is multifactorial; it’s not simple. That’s why you have a doctor to help you. And if you let your doctor oversimplify it by just mitigating disease symptoms through the use of masking those symptoms through pharmaceuticals, you’re not really going to figure out why you’re sick.
What you’re actually going to do is allow the problem to fester and morph and grow into something bigger and different with time.
Yuri: Totally. Just switching gears for a second, I forgot to mention the other Web site that you run, which is more of an online platform: GlutenFreeSociety.org. For everyone listening, this is an incredible resource for everything related to gluten-free, gluten-allergy testing.
You guys do genetic testing for the HLA-DQ gene, which is important for people to know about if they want to be tested for gluten sensitivity and stuff. It’s pretty much as simple as somebody just going to the Web site and ordering the testing; is that right, Peter?
Peter: Yeah, all they have to do, there’s a big tab at the top that says “Genetic Testing.” We try to have it set up because not all doctors will order it for a patient, so you get people who are left out in the cold; they don’t have a doctor who’s on their team, so we wanted to make it available to the world to be able to get a simple answer.
Yuri: And what does that entail? Does that entail the person is kind of drop-shipped a kit? They do a saliva test, they send it back, and the tests come back?
Peter: It’s actually a DNA cheek swab, so they would just take the cotton swab out of the kit and swab the insides of their cheeks, and then we’ll get ’em an answer in about six weeks.
Yuri: That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s a great tool to have. Let’s say somebody does do the test. They get the results saying, “Okay, you have one of the HLA-DQ genes.” What’s the next step?
Peter: Well, the next step is, usually, we’ll send out a video if they’re positive gene-test results; this way we can get that person educated on what those steps might be. The next step in my clinic with patients that I see directly is, if we know they’re gluten sensitive, we now have to investigate for the potential of leaky gut, additional food allergies, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, because gluten causes all these problems.
If they’re just now discovering gluten sensitivity at age thirty or forty, now they’ve got thirty or forty years of damage that we have to go in and try to fix and repair. Going gluten-free oftentimes is not going to repair all that damage. You’ve got to dig them out of that hole first.
Yuri: And for people wondering, let’s say I’m positive in the gene. Is this something, like, I can never have gluten ever again or I can have it once in a while? What’s the prognosis with that kind of stuff?
Peter: With positive gluten-sensitive genes, all that really means is that if you get exposure to gluten, your body’s going to have an inflammatory response to it. And over time that inflammatory response builds and builds and builds and the damage builds and builds and builds and then, eventually, it will trigger autoimmune disease. Some studies show that eating gluten even periodically and having gluten sensitivity will shorten your life by about twenty years.
My advice is to avoid it. Some people will say, “I avoid it ninety percent of the time.” Well, studies show that ninety percent of the time is not enough. You’re still going to end up sick; you’re still going to end up with a problem if you’re gluten sensitive. Now, if you’re just doing it for a fad, for a trend and you don’t really know if it’s the right thing for you to do or not, I can’t argue the point there, but if you’re actually somebody who is gluten sensitive genetically, you can’t… Yuri, it’s like saying I know my genes don’t allow me to produce gills so that I can breathe underwater, but I’m going to go underwater and try to breathe anyway.
Only the outcome that’s different there is that you’ll choke and drown, which is an acute outcome, whereas with gluten, it’s a chronic autoimmune outcome. It’s not as obvious as trying to go underwater and breathe the water in. That’s why I think you get a lot of people who don’t stick to the diet or who try to deviate from it.
Yuri: Yeah, it’s not painful enough in the immediate term.
Peter: Well, even sometimes it is. I had a patient earlier today who knew she was gluten sensitive, but she’s waiting on her DNA test results to confirm it. I mean, her body confirms it for her, but she was getting ready to go celebrate at Olive Garden and kind of say good-bye to gluten. She knew she was going to pay for it and she knew it was going to hurt her and she knew she’d be out for a few days. Sometimes the pain is even at the top of the their mind, but to them it’s worth doing.
Yuri: That’s great. So, if somebody’s never heard of genetic testing—I remember I did an IgG food-sensitivity test last year with my naturopath, and I came up negative on everything other than brewer’s yeast, which was really surprising to me because I know that I respond not favorably to dairy or wheat or a number of other things.
I’m not too sure if our listeners have had similar testing done with respect to food sensitivities, but the genetic testing is really the gold standard. If you’ve done everything else and it comes back negative, then you have not done genetic testing for gluten sensitivity. They’re missing a huge piece of the pie, right?
Peter: A huge piece. As a matter of fact, it should be done in the opposite order; genetic testing should be done first. And even Mayo Clinic is now finally starting to come out and say this in some research that was published about a year ago. They’re now recommending genetic testing for all patients, HLA-DQ testing for all patients with unexplained IBS because they realize that there’s a value in a gluten-free diet for these individuals that have positive genotypes.
But the problem that we have with the traditional allergy test is that the immune system response in at least seven known ways; there are seven different kinds of immune reactions that we know of. I’m sure we’ll discover more that we don’t know of today, but at least today there are seven that we know of. When you have these food-allergy tests done, most doctors’ offices are only measuring IgG. Some of them will combine IgG and IgA, so that’s only one way or two ways out of seven ways that a person can respond.
So, if the test comes back negative, it’s not definitively negative; it’s only definitively negative for a response to that particular food based on IgG or based on IgA or based on however the test was run.
Yuri: Yeah, it’s fascinating stuff, so that’s cool. Thank you for bringing that to the attention of us. All right, we’ve covered some really cool ground about pharmaceutical drugs, nutritional deficiencies. We talked about gluten, allergy sensitivity and genetic testing.
For everyone listening, if you guys want to get a test kit sent to you, just go to GlutenFreeSociety.org and click on the tab that says “Genetic Testing for GS,” which is gluten sensitivity. You can learn more about it there; you can order it right from the Web site; they’ll send you a kit right to your home, and you can get results within six weeks.
If you think that you’re somewhat on the brink of, you’re not too sure if you’re sensitive or not, this is something that can give you a definitive answer and really give you some clarity moving forward with respect to your diet and lifestyle. Anything you want to finish off with, Peter, before we end today’s episode?
Peter: Yeah, I just think it’s important to say—I don’t know what percentage of your listeners are on a gluten-free diet or not on a gluten-free diet, but I think as it relates to that particular topic, I think it’s important to understand that going forward, it’s important to know versus not knowing.
The other thing I would encourage them to do on that particular topic is, there’s a nice little video that I put together on gluten sensitivity, and it lists the different diseases that are linked to gluten. They can watch that video on Gluten Free Society, and it has a list of all those different diseases ad symptoms. I would just say start there.
If you have any of those conditions or you have family members with any of those conditions, then you would be a likely candidate to be screened to rule gluten as part of the problem in or out.
Yuri: Very cool. Awesome. Well, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy day; I really appreciate it. Once again, guys check out Dr. Osborne’s stuff over at GlutenFreeSociety.org, and if you’re local to the Sugarland area in Texas, you can also check him out in person at TownCenterWellness.com. Thank you very much again, Peter. It’s been a pleasure having you; great talking to you, as always.
Peter: Yeah, same here, Yuri. Anytime. I’m always happy to come on and talk education with you.
Yuri: I appreciate it, buddy. We’ll talk to you soon.
Peter: Okay, take care.
Yuri: For everyone else, thanks very much for tuning in, and we’ll see you guys in the next episode.
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