News You Can Use
Janet Alexander and Chris Maund
March 2012  

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Chris at MDS 2010
This month we consider the possibility that you might have a parasite, we look at 3 more blood tests and we examine the quality of your breathing behaviour.
Got Low Energy? Loose Stools? Foul Smelling Gas?
If you have all 3 of these problems you may well have a parasitic infection. But wait you say "Isn't that a problem confined to third world countries?" No it's not. Chris had 5 different parasites that took over two years to identify using multiple stool tests and multiple rounds of botanical and antibiotic treatments. Most of these infections came from swimming in lakes and rivers in the UK while doing triathlons.

How can you test to see if you have a parasite? You'll need a multi-day stool test. The standard medical approach is to have the patient submit one stool sample. With chronic infections this approach is doomed to failure because you don't see parasites in bowel movements every day (the parasites have a distinct life cycle so won't always be present in your bowel movements - this is also why the symptoms come and go.) The best thing to do is to wait until you are having loose bowel movements and/or some gas then start a 3 day stool test. By collecting stool samples every day for 3 days in a row your chances of detecting something go up significantly.

It is important to eliminate grains, dairy and soy for at least 4 weeks prior to spending money on a stool test. This increases your chances of detecting a parasite (because the crypts in the intestinal mucosa open up once you remove inflammatory foods from your diet). Many of you will find that the dietary change on its own is sufficient to get rid of your symptoms. If you suspect you have a parasite let us know and we can guide you through the detection process.
Making Sense Of Blood Tests Part 3     
Last month we covered albumin, globulin, TSH and homocysteine. This month we discuss C-reactive protein, creatine kinase and ferritin.

C-reactive protein or CRP is an inflammatory marker. We usually see elevated CRP in those with infections and/or systemic inflammation secondary to poor diet and lifestyle habits. The lower this number goes the better. It should certainly be below 1 and if it's close to zero that's even better. Typical infections that can drive CRP up are fungal, bacterial or viral. As usual the first step is to sort out your diet. Many people find that CRP drops dramatically just by eating properly (no grains, dairy or soy) and by exercising every day. If you have already made these changes, and no change has been seen in CRP after 3 months, then it might be time to think about infections as the underlying etiology.

Creatine kinase is a marker of muscle tissue breakdown. It is sometimes referred to as creatine phosphokinase (CPK) or phospho-creatine kinase. In athletes and people who exercise aggressively creatine kinase will rise dramatically after very hard training or racing. How high can it go? In a "normal" male adult this number is usually below 200 units/litre but 2 days after finishing a 7 day stage running race over 150 miles, Chris's creatine kinase was 2910! That's a lot of muscle tissue breakdown.

Ferritin is a good way to measure your stored iron reserves. It is one of the definitive tests that MUST be done if you suspect that you are anaemic. It is NOT sufficient to measure serum iron, iron binding capacity and iron saturation. We have seen several cases over the years of unexplained fatigue, breathlessness, dizziness and intolerance to exercise that eventually turned out to be iron deficient anaemia. The frustrating part about these cases was that all of them had seen at least one doctor who had assured them that their iron was OK. Most doctors are NOT aware of the need to test ferritin. It has been our experience that if your ferritin is over 30μg/L you probably wont suffer the symptoms of iron deficiency. Many labs issue reference ranges as large as 4-400μg/L. If your ferritin is 4μg/L that's NOT good, especially if you exercise aggressively!

In April we'll go over white blood cell count, haemoglobin A1C and 25 hydroxy vitamin D.
Am I Breathing Properly...Probably Not        
We all have to breathe but very few of us breathe properly all day long. Running around doing a million things every day, dealing with deadlines, family commitments, financial stress and so on results in some VERY dysfunctional breathing behaviour.
We have seen many clients who literally do not know how to breathe properly because it's been so long since they did!

Quality deep/slow/3 dimensional breathing will alter the way you  perceive stress and change the level of acidity in your body faster than any other simple change. This is because breathing properly has a profound effect on the balance of the autonomic nervous system i.e. causes diminished sympathetic drive and increased parasympathetic drive. Carbon dioxide accumulates in our bodies when we don't breathe properly. Carbon dioxide when dissolved in water produces carbonic acid. As the level of carbon dioxide builds up in our bodies while we sit tight lipped and not breathing in front of our computers all day long...we become systemically over acidic. If you don't believe us you can test your own pH with standard litmus strips.

What is to be done? Simple...spend at least 20mins every day lying down somewhere quiet while breathing. Each breath must start from the belly and gradually expand into the chest. Your mouth must remain closed the whole time. Your rib cage should expand laterally as well as front to rear and top to bottom...a true 3D breath is needed. Slow things down and aim for a 3 second inhale, a 3 second pause, a 3 second exhale and a 3 second pause. In this way each complete breath will take 12 seconds. Once you have mastered the 12s breath, deepen your breath and slow it even more until you are able to breathe using a 6s, 6s, 6s, 6s tempo.

Many of you will not be able to do this breathing drill. If you get dizzy or out of breath this indicates that your respiratory patterns are VERY dysfunctional. In extreme cases it may take over a month before you can do this drill properly. If you can' MUST.  
We hope you enjoy this newsletter. We will be in Morocco from March 23-April 18 racing in the Marathon des Sables. 155 miles /250 km of running over 7 days in the Sahara desert carrying a back pack. You can bet there will be some serious breathing going on!