Podcast: All About Autoimmune Diseases with Dr Stacey Francis

Feeling tired and full of brain fog? Or struggling to lose weight?

Have you considered an autoimmune disease?

Dr Stacey Francis chats to Dr Orlena about autoimmune diseases, how they can present and what you can do to help yourself if you have an autoimmune disease.


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Transcription of Podcast

Please note this transcription is generated by software. There may be some errors. I hope you find it useful.

Hello, Hello, hello. Welcome to Fit and Fabulous with me, Dr. Orlena. I am super excited. Today we have Dr. Stacey Francis, who's going to be talking to us, all things autoimmune.

Welcome Dr Stacey Francis

Welcome, Stacey. Thank you so much for being here with us. Thank you for having me. Perfect. Well, before we get to pick your brains about your expertise, would you like to introduce yourself and tell people where you are and what you.

Yeah, so where I am, I am in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and I have a clinic called Specific Wellness, which is specific if you're looking for me. And I am a chiropractic kinesiologist, which means I do muscle testing to determine imbalances in the biochemical system, the structural system, and the psyche system.

And I'm a public speaker. I am a newly published author as of May of this year. Yes. It's called The Supercharged Method, and I'll tell you about that later. Perfect. And I've been in practice for 30 years and doing a lot of functional medicine, so we're talk all about that.

This sounds fascinating. Things are so different in the States than in the UK. In the UK we have basically doctors and there are some other people, but mostly we, We don't have these amazing things. I'm interested to pick your brains and find out. So I would like you to just start by giving us an overview of all things Autoimmune, because it's such a big topic and on the podcast we've never talked about it.

What are AutoImmune Diseases?

So could you just start at the beginning so that know what we're talking?

Okay. Well, I'm gonna start and feel free to ask me questions as we go. So, autoimmune starts in the GI system. Let's, let's go back in time. When we're gonna talk just briefly about the GI system. So the GI system is the tube that goes from your mouth all the way through your intestines and out.

And that's an outside system. Think of it like the world is here outside, right outside the body, but so is this, Ah, still outside until you get to the lining of the tube, which is lined with cells that are tight together. Nothing gets through that lining. That GI system allows it through, so when something comes through the system, it means that the cells pulled it into the inside of the system, or let's say the blunt stream, Let's call the bloodstream the inside of the system.

And when there's any disruption in the GI system where those cells pull apart, then you have a continuum from the outside world where there's bacteria and parasites and all the creepy crawlies. And your bloodstream. That's not okay. And that sets up your defenses. You have an immune system. Think of soldiers in your body that go and fight the things that should not be in your bloodstream.

And they get activated when something gets in that shouldn't. And when something gets in that shouldn't, then inflammation happens, which is wonderful. We love inflammation because inflammation, acute inflammation. Is all your resources coming to your rescue to protect you and keep you alive, right? But the problem happens when that inflammation doesn't end and it becomes chronic months, years.

In Autoimmune Disease, Our Body’s Immune System Attacks Our Own Body

Then we start getting disease. One of the diseases we get is our body's own confusion of what to attack. And instead of attacking just the things outside our system that shouldn't be inside our system, it starts attacking our sim, our own system. So let's take a little step to the side about the most common autoimmune that I.

Fatigue and Brain Fog are Very Common in AutoImmune Disease

Okay, so we're gonna take a step and you're a patient and you come into your doctor's office and you go, I'm so tired all the time. I'm falling asleep at my desk at three o'clock. I can barely drive home. My eyes are getting so heavy, I can't function. My brain is all foggy and I just cannot. Get through my day, doctor, please help me.

And so your doctor, if they're a traditional doctor that only does blood work based on what insurance covers, that's key, right? Then it's gonna be a very cursory look at what's going on. If something's really pathological, something's really big wrong with you, it's gonna show up on Antron L a high or low on those ranges of the very.

Few factors that the doctor will look at, and if you look at a blood work, it will look long to you, but it's still oftentimes not as comprehensive as it should be. Okay, so he does this blood work, he comes back, he goes, Good news. You are perfectly fine. And then you leave being happy that you're perfectly fine.

But then you go home and you're like still tired and you're still exhausted and you're still confused and you go back and he's like, You're fine. And you go back and I'm still tired and you're, until he says, Oh, would you like an antidepressant with that? Or something else that is placating you, because there just isn't in their protocol to look any.

So that's where we come in. So I'm a functional medicine doctor or a functional nutrition doctor, and there's plenty of us and even new, even traditional doctors are now opening up their. Awareness to do these further testing. So let's start with, can, can I just pause you and ask? Yeah.

What is the Difference between a Functional Doctor and a Regular Doctor?

A regular doctor will typically only do lab work based on what insurance will cover and will not do anything more that you might have to pay out of pocket a little bit for, to dig deeper. And so you're not even offered that as an option because one, sometimes the doctor just isn't. It's just not in their wheelhouse.

Now, if you came with them, if you came to them and you needed an antibiotic or you needed some kind of medication that was imperative to your life, like you have asthma and you needed something, an inhaler, that is their sweet spot. They are great at emergency. They are great at identifying things that is in their wheelhouse, but when it comes to something that doesn't fit there, that's where functional medicine comes in because we'll look at all that, but then we'll dig deeper and we'll say, There's a test that can look a little further.

Would you like to pay for that? And then you get a choice to do. And so when I do lab tests, I'm gonna look at, let's talk about thyroid specifically, cuz we're gonna go down this pathway. Okay? So one of, when I do lab work, I'm gonna do a full blood sugar panel, which is gonna include insulin, which is often not include.

I'm gonna do a whole anemia panel that's gonna look at homocystine, which is, can you convert B nine from something synthetic into something natural that your body can use? And if you cannot do these things, you're going to have symptoms and not feel well. Thyroid is a gland right here. It is your thermostat.

It's, I'm just gonna say where right here is for people who are listening to the audio , Sorry. Oh, that's a good point. Ok. Right here is in the middle of your neck, so if you just grab onto the front of your neck, there's a little butterfly shaped organ in your neck and your throat that is called the thyroid Bland.

and it's going to help regulate your temperature throughout the day. It's going to regulate your metabolism. How quickly you you burn calories. It's gonna give you, it's gonna evaluate your energy. And so when someone's thyroid is not functioning well, they, if it's not functionally well, and it's. Doing what it needs to do.

It's a low function. Then you might get really cold all the time. You might have cold hands and feet. You might have headaches. Your skin and hair might be really dry. You might lose the outer third of your eyebrows. You're like looking at yourself in the mirror and you're like, Why are the outside third of my eyebrows thinning?

You might carry more weight around your middle. You might have trouble losing weight. And then if it's functioning too much, because that can happen too. You might be nervous and anxious all the time. You might feel your heart beating out of your chest. You might be sweating all the time. So the thyroid gland does all these things and.

One of the things that a medical doctor, a traditional doctor will do is if you go in saying, I think I have a thyroid problem, they're going to do two tests. They're gonna do something called thyroid stimulating hormone, or ts h. And t4. And the reason is because if those are out, then they can definitively diagnose you with either hypothyroid, low functioning thyroid or hyperthyroid, high functioning or over functioning thyroid, both of which are problems that they can help solve.

What Happens when the Thyroid is Not Functioning the Way it Should?

But it hasn't reached those markers yet. There is tests that are underneath the surface that we can look at to identify what else might be going on to have those symptoms, but it hasn't shown up yet in those markers. So there is a whole cascade of thyroid tests that we can do that really identifies because the thyroid is made up of different components, and if you are starting to have this low functioning process, we can identify it and correct it naturally before you need a drug for it.

And that is the whole point. So we're gonna, Right? Yes. I say Herre. Now, before you tell us all about correcting it, I have some questions for you. So you're talking. Autoimmune disease. Now, I used to work as a pediatric doctor and I know that I haven't gotten there yet, but I'm getting that . I'm just gonna go back to the beginning a bit.

So I know that some autoimmune diseases happen from childhood and you know, often their genetic, there's a genetic predisposition, but some of them happen later on in life, and you're talking about. This problem with your gut lining and your gut lining as sent, and you know, your immune system basically being a little bit over zealous saying what it's reacting to.

Other Than Genetic Predisposition, What Causes AutoImmune Diseases?

And so my question really is what is causing that, which is obviously not genetic. So why are they, why are people getting that overactive immune response? Why are they getting their gut allowing too much in, Is that a lifestyle or is that just chance? So that's a fabulous question. Thank you for asking.

And I want you to remember that when we look at this long cascade, if they have these symptoms, one of the things we look at is something called thyroid per oxidase. Enzyme and thyroid globulin. And these are two, it's called TPO and t, anti tg. These are autoimmune markers or part of your immune system.

Sorry, that. Will be activated when you have an autoimmune problem. So when we see that, we know that there's an autoimmune situation going on, and autoimmune only means when you think autoimmune, all you need to think about is my body is confused, my immune system is confused and doesn't know what to attack, so I need to take special extra care of it.

And I need to pay attention. So let's talk about that. So when the immune system gets activated, it's typically activated because something came into your system. This is if it's not genetic. So genetic is a whole another thing that's like autoimmune can be type one diabetes. And you know, that can be genetic as well.

And that's usually from a very young age and you identify that. But when I'm talking. Autoimmune to your thyroid. Oftentimes about 40% of the population has. Oftentimes, even though you have a predisposition, if you have family members that have it, it is very environmental based. It's very habit based or a situation based.

So it doesn't mean you are prone to it if you don't have the environment to allow it to express itself. So what I'm hearing is a bit of both. So it. It's something that you inherently have. But if you have these, I'm gonna call them bad habits, but they're not bad habits, they're lifestyle habits, and you have these lifestyle habits that are sort of constantly poking it and triggering it and triggering it, eventually the whole system collapses, which may not happen to other people because they don't have that predisposition in the first place.

Right? So, There's one habit specifically that we're gonna talk about, and it's not even a habit, it's just an unfortunate coincidence that when a certain food comes into the system, it looks so similar to the thyroid gland, that in the presence of that, your immune system is already activated to start attacking things.

When it sees that food, it gets confusing. Also, attacks your thyroid, g. So, do you know what that food is? I'm gonna guess it's gluten, but I don't know. . It is gluten. Gluten has the same molecular structure, not the exact same, but it's a similar molecular structure to your thyroid gland. And when your immune system is activated because it has an irritated GI system, where does that come from?

It comes from too many antibiotics when you're a kid. Or even as an adult that disrupts the GI flora. It causes inflammation in the GI system. If you have too many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents like Motrin and Advil, that can cause an irritation. If you have gut bugs like you ate a salad that had something on it that irritated your GI lining, if you take too many acid blockers, We can talk all about that.

That's a whole other subject. But if you take too many acid blockers and you don't have the ability to break down your food as well, then these big food particles come down and your GI system doesn't know what to do with it, and it irritates it. And when the gut gets irritated, those cells pull apart.

And now you have the outside roll coming into your bloodstream again and your immune system saying, This isn't okay. Let's start attack all these. Right. So here's an interesting question for you, and I don't know if you know the answer to this. I've heard that the wheat that you have in the states has a lot more gluten in it than the wheat that we have in Europe.

So does that mean that you get more thyroid problems in the states because of that trigger in? We do, and for that reason, but also because we use a lot of glyphosate on our crop. Oh, okay. Glyphosate is a weed killer. Or, and it, or, Yes, And it kills off the weeds that might be strangling the plant. And so they spray it all over the plant so that the plant can live, right.

But now it also has this, this herbicide on it and the herbicide. Think about Killing off and it kills off bugs. It kills off good bugs also, or the bugs that are on the plant that might be killing it. But it kills off good bugs too in our gut. So when we eat something, remember our gut is made of really wonderful probiotics that we need lots of.

But if they're being peeled off, then there's other organisms that get a chance to propagate like candida. That can cause irritation in the lining. And once again, the lining gets inflamed and full apart. And now we have inflammation. And when our immune system starts attacking, Things in the food system like gluten or grains, and then gets confused and starts attacking the thyroid gland.

We have a condition called Hashimotos, and that is an autoimmune condition that I see more in my clinic than anything else, just because it doesn't get tested. And my patients that are tired, tired, tired, come in. They're like, I tried this. I tried that. I saw this doctor, I saw that doctor. What do I do? We take them off of gluten and grains.

We take them off of things that have irritated their GI system. We put them on things that support their GI system and support the rest of their body. We give them lots of nutrients. We make sure they're digesting their food so that they can grab the nutrients from their food and when we correct all these things, they have energy, they have clarity, they have focus, they have.

They love their life. They have just, now they have goals because they have the energy for them. Right. That was a lot of talking. No, it's fabulous. And you know, it's similar to the work that I do and I love seeing people make that transformation. So here's my question. You have mentioned this in passing, but can we go into more detail of what that autoimmune diet is?

So the diet that is going to. Help you if you have an autoimmune disease. How should you be eating to avoid triggering your autoimmune problem? Right. Okay, let's talk about that. Let's make it simple. First, we need to remove the things that are triggers. Most often it's gluten and sometimes it's other grains.

Other grains would need boat oatmeal, would need spelt. Would mean millet barley rye. Those are some of the gluten and non gluten grains could also be a factor. Now let's talk about gluten real quick. Gluten is definitely wheat and wheat for a lot of, very irritating, but it does depend on you specifically.

And so, Eliminating it for a period of time. Usually three months is a good starting point, is a good way to identify. Now, when I say remove, I don't mean it's sneaking in. I don't mean you're doing it occasionally. It is a test. It is your test. If you had an owner's manual for your own body and. This would be something you would put in, you'd say three months without gluten and grains, and this is how I felt after three months.

Right. And you are creating your own owner's manual, so taking out things that we know is that molecular memory, that's number one. And across the board with autoimmune, you wanna take away foods that are irritating, but what is it for you? Some people might be irritated by corn and some people may not, and so you do this experiment.

How Can You Tell What Foods Affect Your Autoimmune Condition?

So elimination diet is the best way. I personally, I, in my office, I do muscle testing and other people in lots of states and countries also do muscle testing as a screen to kind of narrow it down for you. Or you could do some blood work and see if that will help you narrow it down. But remember, always go off gluten and grains no matter what for at least three months because we know of that molecular mimicry.

But what about dairy? Dairy is very irritating to a lot of GI systems. That's another food that I would avoid. Let's do seed oils. Inflammatory oils. So we wanna remove the oils that cause inflammation, and that is vegetable oils, seed oils. What oils can you eat? Let's talk about that. You can have olive oil.

You can have my favorite. Yes, you can have avocado oil and you can have coconut oil. Those are the three oils. And remember olive oil. So good for. But you don't wanna heat it to high intensities because then it's not good for you. So it has a very low smoke point. What has a higher smoke point is avocado oil or coconut oil.

So if you're used to heating something to high intensity to cook it, then you wanna choose those oils. Olive oil is great if you're just gonna lightly heat something. Or if you're going to, You know what, I am going to question you on this because I know that this is a myth and I've looked into olive oil and I've done, I actually spoke to the person who did the PREDIMED study and I've looked at the smoke points.

If you actually looked them up on Wikipedia, they're all about the same. And he, he told me, use olive oil to cook with, and since that day I have been using olive oil. But I don't want to pick an argument with you, so I'm just gonna put it, put that in a little package. Well, I would love to see the research that you have on that, because I'm always learning and it is in my book, so I get a chance to re re-up my book and do the next edition, and I will correct that if I am incorrect about that.

Yeah, yeah. Well, it's interesting, but I see this a lot, a lot, a lot that people say, Oh, Don't use extra. Well, it's specifically extra virgin audible. Now my take on it is that really for each oil, in the same way that they put alcohol content on a bottle of alcohol, so you know, beer is somewhere between four and 6%.

Really and truly what we want to see is the smoke oil of that specific oil, because it's different for all of them. And it depends on how processed it is. It depends on what kind of, you know, oil olives or whatever the seed is that they've used. And so, My take is, unless they put that smoke point on, we don't really know what the smoke point is.

Right? Well, I scan corrected if I'm wrong. I'd love to get the research and I love to learn, so thank you for that. But nonetheless, you wanna do those oils, those are healthy oils and you wanna step away from canola oil. You wanna step away from SA flour and sunflower oils. Those are have more omega. Components in them, which oftentimes we, so much of it causes our omega threes, which are anti-inflammatory to go down too low, and we really want omega three oils to keep our bodies healthy.

And that's a really great anti-inflammatory. So we're talking about eating good oils. We wanna eat a lot of fresh. Fruits and vegetables. Yay. In the whole, we don't want to juice them because we don't wanna keep the specifically, specifically fruit juices. We don't want to pull the fiber out. Fiber's really important to slow down blood sugar absorption, and so we really want to make sure that we're eating whole.

Whole vegetables and really good protein because that's good for our muscles and our immune system. So important. Perfect. Perfect. And I totally agree with you with fruit juice, I will say fruit juice is like fruit, but with the good fits taken . Right, Exactly. Okay, perfect. So I think we have a big picture of what's going on here.

The people are gonna present mostly with tiredness, and the problem with Titus is one of those really non-specific things that could be. Ave, you know, a variety of different problems including lifestyle changes, as you said. Now the good news is, part of it is lifestyle, and so there's actually a lot of things that people can do to really feel better, firstly, to understand what's going on.

And secondly, the. To understand what is affecting them in terms of nutrition and what they're gonna do to find out is essentially an elimination diet, but with some things that they have to eliminate and then other things experimenting a little bit more to find out what personally triggers them. That is correct.

Did I sum up okay? Have I missed it? Very well. Thank you very much. Perfect. So is there anything else that you think, Okay, Hashimotos autoimmune Disease. This is a really important topic that we haven't mentioned. So autoimmune itself, you want to make sure that you have an autoimmune diet, which we just covered, which is removing you want.

If you are sensitive to something in particular, you want to remove it. And so if you are sensitive to strawberries, You want to avoid that. So if you know you're having a reaction to something or you've had a reaction to something, you certainly wanna avoid that. But also you wanna get really good sleep.

It's your best anti-inflammatory. So important. You wanna make sure you're drinking a lot of water, filtered healthy water, not necessarily reverse osmosis where all the minerals are up. Cause then you have to put minerals back in. But definitely healthy water. Clean, clean water. Don't have any creepy crawlies or anything like you want really good water, healthy water and you wanna be able to chill.

You have little glands above your kidneys in the back called adrenal glands, and they are there for when you need to run and fight, and, Flee and they get activated when you're under stress. And so we need to keep stress level down because when your stress is really high, it shuts off your GI system and your GI system can't digest.

At that point. So you, if you're totally stressed out, you are not digesting your foods well and then you're gonna once again contribute to the inflammation in the GI system. So we need to learn to chill and calm down and meditate or pray or walk or whatever works for you. Perfect. You've just mentioned three of my four pillars, so.

My four pillars are healthy eating, which you've just described, essentially the Mediterranean style diet, more or less. Well, here's a question for you. What about lentils and legos? Are they allowed in a autoimmune diet? They absolutely are allowed for most people, but I'm gonna say a little caveat. If you have sensitivity to phytates and lectins, then you may not be digesting them.

Well, there is something in the plant that keeps the plant. Being planted again. So it doesn't allow itself to be completely digestive and it can cause irritation in some people. So you have to figure out if that's you. And here's what I'm guessing as well, that if you've started and you've just started on this journey and you're doing an elimination diet and finding things that actually, you might find that there are some things that you can't tolerate, perhaps like Len and Legum to begin with, but in a year's time of looking after.

You might be able to tolerate those things later on, is that yes, if you can improve your GI system, then you can, Sometimes it's dose dependent. You can sometimes bring in those foods you were able, that you had to eliminate before in smaller amounts, infrequently, and tolerate them just fine. Perfect, perfect.

So just recapping my four pillars, so loving healthy foods. Number two, we didn't specifically talk about this, but I'm guessing that you're going to say yes. What I call exercise that lights you up. It's always beneficial to everybody. Absolutely. Particularly if fatigue is one of your problems. People always say to me, I'm too tired to exercise, and I say, Oh, you've got it the wrong way.

Wow. Exercise is where you get your energy from. Right. And pillow number three is what I call delicious healthy sleep. And then pillow number four is your emotional wellness. And that's ex, you know, that includes your stress levels and making sure you have time to relax and not allow your emotions, your big emotions to what I call spiral down that negative plug on.

So I always love it when I have an expert who comes on and basically says, Pay attention to your poor pillars and all will be well or all will be better. So thank you so, so much for your words. My pleasure. Yes. Any last words of wisdom for people or any messages that you would like to impart? So, I would love for you to work with someone that you trust, that listens to you and really listens to you in your concerns.

So choose wisely when you're choosing a healthcare practitioner someone who really is there for you and you feel cared for. Right? I wrote a book called The Supercharged Method, Your Transformation From Fatigue to Energize, and you can find that on Amazon. Okay. And I [email protected] if you wanna find me.

And so can people, do you have people online as well? Like thinking about all the blood tests? Can you do those remotely? Yes. Yeah. We have a whole program that it's a six week program. It's going through the supercharge method. You get the book, you actually get a whole blood panel, and we do that together and we identify and correct things as a team.

Perfect. Fabulous, and I will leave those links in the show notes too. Stacey, thank you so much for spending some time with us. You're so welcome. Thanks for having me.


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