Dr. Olejak Answers Your Back-to-School Questions on Immunity and a Healthy Gut

My daughter missed quite a bit of school last year from being sick. How do I improve her immune system so she doesn't fall behind again?

Dr. Olejak:
Dear Immune Supporting Mom,
The immune system is highly complex, but from a practical standpoint it can be broken down into three parts: cellular immunity, humoral immunity and gut immunity as GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue). Cellular immunity being the circulating cells in the blood, humoral immunity lining the cavities and involving immunoglobulins, and GALT which is the gut immune system maintaining the integrity of the gut. While each of these systems work together, they can be supported independently. As a father of two and practitioner I’ve found the following to be really helpful:
  • Use antibiotics as needed, do not over use. The CDC has finally gotten on board with the notion that indiscriminate use of antibiotics is harmful for kids as it disturbs the gut flora and short circuits the immune system from recognizing threats and mounting a normal response.
  • Let your kids get dirty and quit cleaning like a freak. Germs mature the immune system. A spotless house is not a healthy house.[2]
  • Feed your kids some medicinal mushrooms, such as shitaki by sneaking them into their favorite foods.  My kids never knew the buckwheat pancakes they were eating were laced with healing mushrooms like the ingredients in Liver Life.  [3]
  • Avoid refined sugar in all its forms as it will decrease immune function. [4]  Better to use a blend of coconut sugar and stevia.
  • Support the gut flora with whole foods and lots of fiber.
  • Chiropractic is for kids too. The immune system is an artificial creation of textbooks.  In reality it should be called the neuro-immune-endocrine system.  Chiropractic is the best way to balance the function of this highly integrated system. [5] As a second generation chiropractor who was adjusted when I was a couple of days old, and have been all my life, I can tell you this is no myth.
  • For kids toxicity develops in the womb.  One study showed 100% of pregnant women tested positive for over 200 dangerous toxins. [6] Detoxification is not just a good idea, but is essential for normal cellular function. The prevalence of immune issues and illness in western society should be proof enough of the toxic effects on the immune system. The Detox Trio supports the detoxification process.[7]
  • Botanicals like Echinacea used long term at a low dose have the effect of raising the surveillance role of the immune system and preventing health issues. [8]
My daughter is very moody, craves carbohydrates and I just noticed she's teeth grinding at night. I read unwanted organisms can cause some of these symptoms. What can I do to address this so she's not having these symptoms when school starts?

Dr. Olejak: 
Dear Mom of Carb Craving Daughter,
New research has just been published about how the gut flora actually drive behavior, cause obesity and affect our immune system. [1], [2], [3]  In a wonderful TED talk [4] on the flora that populates our body Bonnie Blasser explains how the bacteria are a lot like another organism living inside of us.  When you consider that the human body has a trillion cells and the bugs on us number around 30 trillion it’s easy to see the importance of taking care of our gut.  

One of the important ways to manage our gut flora in a positive way is by being careful about what we eat.  A diet high in refined carbohydrates will favor the types of gut bacteria (Clostridium, Klebsiella and others) that are harmful.  On the other hand whole grains, fiber rich foods and probiotic foods such as yogurt, kefir [5] and kombucha[6] all work to create an environment that supports gut associated lymphoid tissue, a reduction in leaky gut and better environment for the healthy bacteria; which then keep the bad bugs out.

Artemisia & Clove combined with Cytoflora can aid this process when used like a one-two punch. If you think of the gut like a garden you’d weed first with the Artemisia & Clove and Loving Energy Sat & Sun and then seed with Cytoflora and live probiotics Monday through Friday, think of this as a "gut tonic".  If you alternate this weekend/weekday routine for 8-10 weeks a normal gut flora pattern will re-emerge and you’ll notice better function in the gut and better food choices too.

As a parent you also get to choose what to buy and put in the kitchen cabinets. If there are no refined carbs in the house they can’t be eaten!

[1] Gershon M. The Second Brain : The Scientific Basis of Gut Instinct and a Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestines. ISBN-10: 0060182520
[2] Matej Bajzer and Randy J. Seeley. Obestity and Gut Flora. Nature. Vol 444|21/28 December 2006
[3] Hachung Chung, Sünje J. Pamp, Jonathan A. Hill, Neeraj K. Surana, Sanna M. Edelman, Erin B. Troy, Nicola C. Reading, Eduardo J. Villablanca, Sen Wang, Jorge R. Mora et al. Gut Immune Maturation Depends on Colonization with a Host-Specific Microbiota. Cell, 22 June 2012