Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity Explained By the Colorado Functional Medicine Doctors at Restore Health

Colorado Functional Medicine

Have you been having issues with gluten and you’re not sure whether you have celiac disease? The Colorado functional medicine doctors at Restore Health Center are here to help you figure it out Celiac disease is best diagnosed with an intestinal biopsy or blood test, however determining intolerances and sensitivities can be more complicated. Our approach is to obtain a thorough history, then guide you through an approach that will not only help you figure out food reactions, but put you on the path to overall improved gut health. Some of the tools we use include tests for food sensitivities and allergies, plus evidence-based elimination diets. A gluten sensitivity is not as serious as celiac disease, but it can lead to several uncomfortable or painful symptoms, including bloating, abdominal pain, skin issues and more.

What Is Gluten and What are Some of its Effects in the Digestive Tract? 

Glutens are proteins found in barley, wheat and rye. The proteins are like glue that helps food maintain their shape. Wheat, barley and rye contain proteins that are not efficiently broken down by digestive enzymes, which is one reason why some people are sensitive or allergic. For a number of reasons, gluten can negatively impact the lining of the gut, leading to “leaky gut,” in individuals with and without celiac disease. After digesting gluten your body will release a called zonulin. Zonulin modulates the permeability of tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract. Particles within the intestine (like incompletely broken down foods, bacteria and bacterial byproducts) will “leak” into the bloodstream. This results in an immune response that can create systemic inflammation. In genetically susceptible individuals, this may even induce autoimmunity. 

What Is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) occurs when symptoms in the intestines and extraintestinal areas are triggered by foods containing gluten. You might have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity if a wheat allergy or celiac disease have been ruled out. Doctors think that a gluten sensitivity could relate to components other than gluten. Symptoms of NCGS are similar to celiac disease, with gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal symptoms. The most common symptoms of NCGS are similar to irritable bowel syndrome, which is why it can be difficult to diagnose.

Elimination Diet Recommended By Colorado Functional Medicine Doctors

If you have noticed that you have a negative reaction after eating gluten, try an elimination diet and see how you feel without it. Additionally, when you remove gluten from your diet you make room for more nourishing foods like vegetables, protein and healthy fats. You might start noticing a difference in how your body feels, your mood, skin and digestion. After removing gluten from your diet for at least 21 days, you can reintroduce it and observe your symptoms. If you still notice that you can’t tolerate it, you can remove it for good and prevent any future symptoms. 

If you would like to get tested for gluten sensitivity or allergy or discuss any gastrointestinal symptoms that you can’t seem to figure out, contact us at Restore Health Center. We’re here to help you live your healthiest life!

Food Allergies: Adverse Food Reactions and Allergy Evaluation with Restore Health Center

Restore Health Center

Have you ever experienced dizziness, recurrent headaches, hives, and/or a swollen or itchy tongue after eating a certain food? Do you have consistent joint pain or tummy troubles? Have you experienced bloating, constipation, gas, cramping, or nausea repeatedly after eating? These symptoms could mean that you have a food allergy sensitivity or an intolerance to certain foods.  Negative reactions to food are more common than you might think, and if you suspect that you have adverse food reactions, you might be right. Here at Restore Health Center, we offer food sensitivity and allergy testing to help you discover which foods your body reacts to poorly and help you find ways to avoid them to live a healthy, symptom-free life. Additionally, we offer guided Elimination Diets, which can often be just as — if not more — helpful.

Adverse food reactions can be broken down into three basic categories: allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities. Food intolerances and sensitivities are more common than allergies. When you have a food allergy the reaction usually occurs within seconds to hours and symptoms result from your immune system increasing levels of a compound called IgE.  You might get hives, rash, or itchy feeling on your tongue or airways. This type of immune reaction has the potential to be quite severe, like with peanut allergies. When you have a food sensitivity, the reaction is still immune-mediated (by IgG and IgA) but can be slower than an IgE reaction and can occur within a few to 72 hours. That’s what makes identifying the source of these reactions so difficult! Unlike the potential danger of a food allergy, food sensitivities are not life-threatening but can lead to several uncomfortable or painful symptoms including belly pain, bloating, heartburn, headaches, joint pain, worsening skin issues like acne and eczema, as well as increased fatigue or sleep disturbances. Food intolerances are not an immune reaction and tend to result from poor digestion such as lactose intolerance because of the low production of the lactase enzyme that breaks down lactose.

Sometimes people don’t realize that they are experiencing adverse reactions to a specific food because of a delayed response and/or a reaction to multiple foods. Ongoing food reactions can also be a contributor to chronic health problems, such as digestive disturbances, chronic sinus congestion/drainage, mood swings, low energy, joint aches, and more. But this is often overlooked as a result of other health issues. Symptoms that have failed to respond to conventional medicine may often resolve by following an Elimination Diet, like the one used by the physicians at Restore Health.

Food Sensitivity Testing at Restore Health Center

Food allergy testing can be reliably helpful when you are trying to detect true food allergies. Food sensitivity testing is not always as dependable as allergy testing but it can definitely help reduce the guesswork in determining which foods your body may be struggling with. Doing a guided 21-30 day Elimination Diet is the gold standard for determining food sensitivities; however, testing takes less time and can be easier for some patients. 

At Restore Health Center, we prefer to use food sensitivity tests that examine your body’s reaction to the multiple peptides (the building blocks for protein) within specific foods that are common “offenders” such as eggs, dairy, wheat/gluten, corn, soy, and nuts. When you chew, digest and prepare/cook food many of the proteins are degraded or changed. General food sensitivity panels that test multiple foods are not examining how you react if the proteins change form. We have found that “peptide-level” tests better correlate clinically with the patient’s symptoms. 

As mentioned above, a great option for detecting food sensitivities, intolerances, or allergies is with the Institute for Functional Medicine Elimination Diet. An elimination diet removes certain foods that are known to cause uncomfortable symptoms. Then you reintroduce them one at a time no less than 21 days later while observing for symptoms. Once you have identified a food your body can’t tolerate, you can remove it from your diet to prevent any future uncomfortable symptoms. Unlike IgE allergies, foods you are only sensitive to can usually be reintroduced on a rotating basis after 9-12 months. 

During the three-week elimination diet, chronic symptoms should noticeably improve. After the three-week period, the food reintroduction process begins. You will add one food at a time back into your diet and observe if there are any negative symptoms associated with it. If a specific food continues to result in any negative symptoms, it is avoided for a longer period of time. Doing an elimination diet can seem daunting at first. At Restore Health Center, we provide patients with a comprehensive guide, weekly planner, and a shopping list to make it as easy as possible. Our health coach, Julie Michelson, can be a great resource to help patients through the whole process.

If you think you might have an adverse food reaction or sensitivity to a certain food, come to Restore Health Center for our food sensitivity testing. Our team of experts is dedicated to providing you with all of the tools and treatments to help you live your best and healthiest life. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn more about food sensitivity testing at Restore Health Center!

Functional Medicine Fort Collins Physicians Answer Your Questions About the Elimination Diet

Functional Medicine Fort Collins Elimination Diet

Have you been advised to start on an elimination diet? If so, this is most likely because you’ve noticed that your body does not properly tolerate some foods. Elimination diets can help identify food intolerances, sensitivities, and allergies. But before you jump headfirst into an elimination diet, your Functional Medicine Fort Collins physicians at Restore Health Center want to make sure that you’re approaching your elimination in a healthful way.

You may be dealing with a food intolerance if you’ve ever dealt with nausea, bloating, headache, or diarrhea after eating certain foods. This is a digestive problem that occurs after a certain food is eaten. More severe cases of food intolerance are food allergies. This is an unpleasant or even dangerous immune system reaction after a certain food is eaten. Symptoms of food allergies can include digestive problems, hives, or swollen airways. Severe reactions can even be life-threatening. 

According to, food intolerances and sensitivities are extremely common. In fact, it’s estimated that anywhere from 2% to 20% of people worldwide may suffer from food intolerance. 

An elimination diet is a short-term diet that helps identify foods that your body can’t tolerate very well so that you can eliminate them from your diet. This involves removing certain foods if they’re known to cause uncomfortable symptoms and then reintroducing them at a later time while testing for symptoms. There is an array of types of elimination diets, but they all revolve around eating and removing specific types of foods. However, it’s important to note that if you have a known or suspected food allergy, then it’s important to try an elimination diet only under the supervision of a medical professional. 

If you’ve been looking for relief from uncomfortable symptoms that you believe to be food-related, an elimination diet might be exactly what you’re looking for. As stated by the Cleveland Clinic, it’s important to identify whether you have a food intolerance and not just diagnose yourself. If you’re dealing with symptoms that can’t be explained, especially GI issues, that’s when it’s time to get evaluated.  Whether it’s an allergy test or elimination diet, it’s important to get to the bottom of the issue. 

“You have to be very specific,” Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, emphasizes in the Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials blog. “If you do have a food sensitivity, it’s about looking at which foods you have to limit, but it doesn’t mean you have to give them up completely.”

You may also be able to try digestive aids or alternatives to help with certain GI symptoms — such as lactose-free dairy products, milk alternatives like soy milk, or lactase supplements. It may take some time to figure out, but you’ll be so much happier and feel so much better when you know what foods your body can and cannot tolerate. 

There are a number of very common foods that cause food intolerance and food allergies, including:

  • Lactose
  • Gluten (wheat, rye, and barley)
  • Casein (protein in milk products)
  • Eggs
  • Soy products
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Peanuts or tree nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts)
  • Sulfites (compounds in red wine and beer)
  • Food additives like MSG

If you’re curious about potential food intolerances or food allergies that you may be suffering from, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with the Fort Collins Functional Medicine physicians at Restore Health Center today by calling us at 970-278-0900 or by visiting us online at Not only can we help establish an elimination diet that would be best for your particular symptoms, but we also have a wide variety of tests that might help pinpoint your exact allergies and intolerances. Contact us today. 

Why Are Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods Important? Your Questions Answered by Our Colorado Functional Medicine Specialists

Colorado Functional Medicine

At Restore Health Center Loveland, your Colorado Functional Medicine specialists, we are dedicated to a new model of health care that is focused on achieving optimal health, rather than treating disease. We look at the body’s systems rather than just symptoms. This largely includes what foods we’re putting into our body’s systems and the effects that those foods have on our health. 

When it comes to eating foods that are instrumental in creating health and wellness, one of the most important considerations is the inclusion of probiotic and prebiotic foods in your diet. According to Medical News Today, “Prebiotics and probiotics both support the body in building and maintaining a healthy colony of bacteria and other microorganisms, which supports the gut and aids in digestion. These food components help promote beneficial bacteria by providing food and creating an environment where microorganisms can flourish.” 

This environment where microorganisms can flourish is also called our microbiome. As the Mayo Clinic describes it, “the lining of your gut, like every surface of your body, is covered in microscopic creatures, mostly bacteria. These organisms create a micro-ecosystem called the microbiome. And though we don’t really notice it’s there, it plays an oversized role in your health and can even affect your mood and behavior.”

Check out our previous blog post talking to your Fort Collins GI Doctor about eating for your microbiome for tips on what foods to eat. But one of the most important ways to eat for your microbiome is by including prebiotic and probiotic foods in your diet. The key to a healthy microbiome is creating a balance between all the different species of beneficial bacteria found in the gut. To maintain this balance, we must help the microbes already living thereby giving them the food they need (prebiotics) and adding living microbes directly to your system (probiotics).  As a matter of fact, the better the ratio of beneficial bacteria present, the less likely the “non-beneficial” bacteria, fungi and yeast are to overgrow–potentially creating or contributing to poor health.

Prebiotics are mostly present in fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, and especially those that contain complex carbohydrates. As the Mayo Clinic explains, “These carbs aren’t digestible by your body, so they pass through the digestive system to become food for bacteria and other microbes.” 

Probiotics, on the other hand, contain live organisms that add directly to the population of healthy microbes already living in your microbiome. You can make sure you’re getting enough probiotics with foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, or kombucha, or with supplements. Keep in mind, that every food or spice creates its own unique probiotic when fermented, so variety is key. If you’re not sure what type of supplements to take or foods to eat to ensure you’re getting enough quality probiotics, you can ask the Functional Medicine specialists at Restore Health. 

All in all, the ecosystem in your gut must be healthy for you to be healthy. Normalizing gut function and flora through improved diet, increased fiber intake, daily probiotic supplementation, enzyme therapy, the use of nutrients that repair the gut lining, and the direct treatment of bad bugs in the gut with herbs or medications can be remarkable. Our patients find relief from allergies, acne, arthritis, headaches, autoimmune disease, depression, ADD/ADHD, and more – simply by restoring their delicate gut system.

Please call your Colorado Functional Medicine specialists at Restore Health at 970-278-0900 or visit us online at, so that we can help restore the symbiotic relationship between you and your gut. 

Functional Nutrition Fundamentals with Your Fort Collins Optimal Health Practice

Fort Collins Optimal Health

If Functional Medicine is the wave of the future, then Functional Nutrition is the current that drives it. Functional Health, which combines Functional Medicine and Functional Nutrition, is an innovative medical practice that is all about identifying and removing the things that push you toward disease – leaving only things that create and foster wellness. In accordance with this way of thinking, we at Restore Health Center, your Fort Collins optimal health practice, believe in the fundamentals of Functional Nutrition and Functional Medicine as well. By making uniquely targeted diet and lifestyle modifications, and educating our patients in regards to what’s going on in their bodies, we are better able to help you get healthy and stay healthy.

This is what we do at Restore Health Center, your Fort Collins optimal health practice. In accordance with this way of thinking, Functional Nutrition is, according to Functional Nutrition Lab, “A modality that works to not just support, but to educate the patient in what’s going on in their body and how making uniquely targeted diet and lifestyle modifications will shift the terrain and help them meet their goals.”

We like this definition because it addresses the fact that the body’s systems create a terrain. Signs and symptoms that you encounter are all a part of this terrain. We, as your Functional Health and Fort Collins Optimal Health Clinic, look at the array of issues and underlying root causes of those issues to ensure that you start feeling better from the inside out, rather than just masking symptoms with medications. While standard health care may simply suppress your symptoms with medication, Functional Nutrition sees them as “clues for understanding the underlying issues within your body.” (Via

The physicians at Restore Health take every aspect of your health into consideration and create an overall plan that keeps your particular biochemistry in mind. In most cases, a Functional Nutrition approach to health involves a review of everything from a patient’s medical history, organ systems, lifestyle habits, etc. and creating a customizable program. While these functional nutrition plans vary with each particular patient, most of them follow five main principles outlined by the AFPA:

  1. Filling up on essential nutrients
  2. Avoiding toxic growing conditions
  3. Sticking with quality foods
  4. Prioritizing gut health
  5. Tending to your microbiome

Nothing is more beneficial to one’s health journey than ensuring that each of these five principles have been addressed within the nutrition plan and dialogue between the Functional Nutrition specialist and patient is open. As the AFPA states, “Success comes from having a conversation with your body that keeps you aware of how it responds to different factors so that you can continuously set it up for better success.”

If you would like to learn more about Functional Nutrition fundamentals or set up a consultation with the Functional Health experts at Restore Health, your Fort Collins optimal health practice, contact us at 970-278-0900.

Preventive Health Care Northern Colorado: Cardiometabolic Food Plan Explained

Preventive Health Care Northern Colorado

When it comes to preventive health care in Northern Colorado, the health and wellness experts at Restore Health Center have your best interest in mind. We believe in the power of consistent measures taken to achieve disease prevention, rather than just focusing on disease treatment. Disease and sickness are dynamic processes that often begin as a result of lifestyle choices, genetic predisposition and environmental factors. With anticipatory treating of these factors, or preventive health care, overall health and wellness can be achieved.

One of the most efficient ways we’ve found to prevent and treat a number of conditions is the Caridiometabolic Food Plan. This food plan, created by the Institute for Functional Medicine, was formulated specially for those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease or dysfunctional metabolic conditions such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood fats, high blood sugar and increased belly fat.

When it comes to these types of conditions, fortunately, diet and lifestyle interventions are quite effective. The Cardiometabolic Food Plan allows people to use food medicinally to treat the underlying causes of both cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunctions. The components of the Cardiometabolic Food Plan are as follows:

A modified Mediterranean approach – While 16 different countries comprise the Mediterranean region, people in these countries tend to eat a similar diet: whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, dairy, extra virgin olive oil, and spices; modest amounts of poultry, fish and red meat; and red wine. It is not one of these foods that is responsible for the cardiovascular and metabolic benefits of this way of eating, but the combination of all these foods.

Low glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) – The food plan presented in the Cardiometabolic Food Plan provides a list of allowable foods that are low or moderate in GI or GL. Eating foods low in GI or portions low in GL helps to stabilize blood sugar throughout the day. When blood sugar is stabilized, people experience less hunger and cravings and have better health results overall, whether there are cardiovascular concerns, metabolic dysfunction or blood sugar imbalance.

Targeted calories –  A targeted calorie plan that specifies individual food groups and servings can help people lose weight and achieve cardiometabolic balance. However, Drs. Fischer and Howton generally discourage calorie counting and instead instruct patients to eat “proportionally.” For example, eating 5-7 servings daily of vegetables versus 1-2 servings of non-vegetable carbohydrates.

Regular eating times – The average meal should provide at least four hours of energy before the person feels the need to eat again. A balanced meal will result in a feeling of satisfaction, clear-headedness, the ability to focus, and sufficient energy. If the person experiences hunger within an hour or so of eating or reports feeling “brain fog,” shaky, or fatigued, it may be that the meal was missing something, most likely quality protein, fat, or enough fiber to keep the blood sugar levels balanced.

High in fiber – Along with the low GI and GL features of this plan, eating whole, relatively unprocessed foods also helps the patient take in more dietary fiber and less added sugar. Fiber is found in plant-based foods like whole grains, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. It is a form of carbohydrate that the body is unable to digest, giving the sensation of fullness without many calories.

Low in simple sugars –  Another feature of the Cardiometabolic Food Plan is the reduction or absence of added sugars. Added sugars contribute a significant portion of calories to the American diet.

Balanced quality fats – Anti-inflammatory fats are typically high in omega-3 fats compared with omega-6 fats, and are found in foods like fish, leafy greens, nuts, certain oils, and seeds. Organizations like the American Heart Association have recognized the health benefit of these anti-inflammatory oils and encourage individuals to include more omega-3 sources in the diet.

Condition-specific phytonutrients – Plant foods contain thousands of compounds called phytonutrients that affect body function. Certain phytonutrients can intervene to help with blood sugar regulation, lower LDL-cholesterol, and even help to get blood pressure back into a healthier range.

The Cardiometabolic Food Plan also offers a snapshot of the foods that people should choose from every day based on the suggestions of their health practitioner. These food categories include: fats and oils, nuts and seeds, protein, non-starchy vegetables, legumes, low-fat dairy and alternatives, starchy vegetables, fruits and some grains.

For more ideas and suggestions on preventive care in Northern Colorado, call Dr. Rachel Fischer at Restore Health Center. She would love to talk with you more about the Cardiometabolic Food Plan and other forms of preventive care that will keep you healthy and strong for years to come.