Can Trampolines Improve Your Health?

When I was a kid, my parents were pretty generous in the activity and toy department.  I honestly don’t remember wanting to do or be involved in something that they turned down…well Mom…because we all know who makes the decisions.  However, there was one line I couldn’t get her to cross, and that was getting a trampoline.  Back in the day you didn’t have to have the cages around them, but they did mess up a huge patch of grass.  So, that was a no-no in the beautiful backyard oasis department.  However, my friend that lived next door had one, and I’m pretty sure kids can jump on those things for hours without getting bored.  Ah the fond memories.

Fast forward 20 years later and I find myself at a trampoline park, bouncing my heart out with a few gems from the new generation.  I have read some articles about rebounding and how it’s good for your health, I’ve watched really funny workout videos where people are on trampolines with sweatbands, and I even had a small trampoline in my PT room at the chiropractic clinic to help with rehab, but is this rebounding thing actually good for your health?  Much of the studies done to prove that it’s beneficial were done of astronauts because when they come back to Earth, they were having issues with injuries trying to retrain their bodies to acclimate to gravity.

Anyway, that data basically says that the change in velocity that you receive when you rebound off of something has systemic health benefits.  However, other than that, I feel like the data out there really only shows the same amount of benefit you’d get from doing any other form of exercise!

The benefits that I could see over other forms of exercise are:

  • dispersed impact, so less injuries (although tell that to the kids that break their ankles landing wrong or on each other!)
  • it’s fun!  and doesn’t really require any skill
  • you could likely do it despite many types of injuries, so that’s a positive in rehab
  • it trains your feet, which we often support to the point of weakness when barefoot
  • you can get the same amount of cardiovascular improvement or more than running with less work from your heart

Conditions I love rebounding for:

  • Musculoskeletal rehab
  • Heart patients
  • Osteoporosis
  • Training the nervous system for balance and proprioception

Otherwise, I hate to burst the rebounding bubble, but I don’t think it’s any more beneficial for your health than other forms of activity.  I will say that I laughed the entire couple hours of jumping though and felt like a kid for second, so there’s that. So, before you invest in something that could take up lots of space or burn patches in your yard, decide if you’re just as excited to do another activity.  I may opt for an alternative, however, a little part of my soul is probably secreting still requesting a trampoline on every Christmas list.

Autoimmunity and Exercise (Part VII)

At this point in the autoimmune series, you can understand why I was reluctant to write an article in the first place! It is so complex, complicated, and multifaceted. So, if I were going to touch on another lifestyle change someone can easily implement, it would be exercise. Unfortunately, exercise is one category where you can have too much of a good thing, especially if you suffer from autoimmunity. There is a point where movement is healthy, beneficial, and will IMPROVE your immune system. On the flip side, if someone’s system is under extreme demand, their adrenals are shot, and they are often stressed, you can easily overdo it. Then the question becomes, what types of exercise are best, and how much.
Exercise is very closely related to your adrenals and the production of cortisol. Cortisol is a steroidal hormone that helps you keep up with stress and is important in the fight or flight response. These spikes in cortisol production should be short-lived and not chronic by any means. However, many of us live stressful, hectic lives and some add tons of exercise on top of it. This is a recipe for adrenal fatigue, and if you want to read more on that, click here.  The more intense you exercise, the more cortisol you release.  This disrupts something we call the HPA axis, which is important in regulating hormones and the immune system.   The types of exercise that stimulate the HPA Axis disruption the most are chronic cardio and and high intensity exercise.  That means that if you have an autoimmune disease, you may be doing more damage than good if you try to run marathons (or any long distance) or Crossfit.  It doesn’t mean you can’t participate in these workouts, but it does mean you need to be smart about it!  Resistance training does not have the same effect on cortisol if it is practiced alone.  This means that weight lifting or body weight movements at lower intensities may be a great option for those with autoimmunity or adrenal fatigue! If you decide to participate in physical activity that is too strenuous for your body to keep up with the cortisol production, guess what, you can CAUSE LEAKY GUT.  We talked about how leaky gut is how this whole thing got started in the first place!  It’s a classic case of too much of a good thing.  Balance is key and more doesn’t always mean better.

As far as how exercise affects the immune system, it can cause a huge inflammatory response.  Any exercise someone does at more intensity that usual for longer than usual, is mobilizing neutrophils and natural killer cells.  This type of exercise also stimulates phagocytosis and increases the production of inflammatory compounds.  In studies, we see that following acute exercise,  the number of T and B cells (immune cells) drop below the levels they were BEFORE every working out.  This quickly recovers if someone has adequate recovery time.  However, if there isn’t sufficient days between these types of workouts, then it is common for athletes to get sick!

Now we understand that we may need to back off the intensity, how often should we be working out if we have an autoimmune condition?  I like to say High Intensity work should not be done more than 2 times a week.  That would include intervals, Crossfit, intense cardio.  You should leave at least 2 days between those sessions for proper cellular repair and recovery.  In between, yoga, walking, leisurely biking are all amazing, repairing options.  You can also add some resistance training  like weight lifting or body weight movements like squats, push ups, pull ups, etc to the mix.  The key here is to keep your heart rate down when you are avoiding high intensity.  This may mean doing less initially which seems counter-intuitive because we all want to look good naked. However, chronic cardio and too much high intensity activity are driving your adrenals into the ground.  Once that happens, your body will begin taking building blocks from hormone production in order to try to keep up with cortisol production.  It doesn’t care how fertile you are, heavy your periods are, or how horny you are if it is trying to survive a flight or flight experience! As far as our genetics are concerned, stressful situations are life and death.  That is why de-stressing is so important.

If you have cut out gluten, upped your fat soluble vitamins, addressed you stomach acid, and quit taking miscellaneous medications, this could be your next step in the equation.  Exercise should be a positive challenge to the body.  If overdone, it most definitely acts in the opposite direction.  Choose something FUN.  I like group classes because community makes every second fun for me.  I really enjoy sports. Join a sports club.  Take family walks.  Movement does not have to be a dreaded to-do on the endless list.  It should and could be something you ENJOY and LOOK FORWARD TO!  If you haven’t found that type of movement yet, then keep searching.  Different strokes for different folks.  The more you can do outside, the better, too.

Medications and Autoimmune Healing (Part VI)

Before we get started, let me say that I am not rendering advice on what to do with your medications in this article!  I am simply going to explore how some common medications may be obstacles in your healing process.  If you have followed this journey, we started with how an autoimmune disease happens, touched on the involvement of heartburn, gluten, nutrient deficiency, and discussed how leaky gut is involved.  Most of the medications I talk about, I will place in the category of things you can control.   That means I will not be talking about immunosuppressants or other common autoimmune meds; I will be talking about drugs like: antacids, antibiotics, birth control, steroids, and pain relievers. Let’s get started with heartburn meds because we talking about heartburn and stomach acid one of the first articles.

PPIs (aka Nexium or Prevacid) and H2 blockers (aka Pepcid and Zantac):

If you would like a reminder of how important stomach acid production is, feel free to re-read the heartburn article.  If we consider that any disease healing process requires adequate nutrients, we also must consider if we are able to get those nutrients based on the health and performance of our digestive system.  Stomach acid is a major component for the beginning of our digestion and without adequate amounts, we develop issues such as GERD, heartburn, H. pylori, and intestinal dysbiosis.  If you are taking a stomach acid reducer, you are hindering the first step in food breakdown.  This sets you up for impaired digestion, decreased nutrient absorption, possible infection, and leaky gut.  That’s a very basic understanding.  If we get more technical, PPIs have been shown to interfere with antigen presentation mechanisms by affecting lysosomes.  They also obstruct the work of cytotoxic C cells. These are IMPORTANT for immune function, so you can imagine if you have created the perfect environment for leaky gut, which can trigger an autoimmune disease, then impaired digestion setting you up for infection which can trigger an autoimmune disease, then took a medication for the heartburn that interferes with appropriate immune system functions…insert cry emoji here.

Birth Control Pills

I have spoken before in brief posts about hormone health and how taking the pill to correct hormone imbalance may be doing more harm than good.  I have also been vocal about the pill and it’s ability to significantly increase clotting risks in women that can result in strokes or pulmonary embolisms!  This is not a medication to be taken lightly, and from first-hand experience, I know these risks are not brought up.  I was speaking to a nurse the other day about how interesting pregnancy can be in autoimmune conditions and how that speaks to hormone involvement.  I have had autoimmune patients tell me their autoimmune condition completely goes into remission while they are pregnant, and they wish they could trick their body into believing it’s pregnant all the time!  Sex hormones play a role in immune system function, so the decision to artificially alter them, may be causing an immune system issue.  In addition to directly changing hormones, they cause disturbance in the gut flora resulting in dysbiosis and many times leaky gut.  Remember leaky gut being how autoimmune issues start?!


Antibiotics save lives.  Period.  However, they are way over-prescribed and many people take them multiple times a year.  If you are doing everything right, it can still takes months for the assault of antibiotics on your gut flora to fulling repair.  If we KNOW that the bacteria in your gut account for the majority of your immune system, then how could you not be worried to take a medication that would wipe them all out?!  Antibiotics are often broad spectrum and will have no issues wiping things clean, good and bad.  Imagine having to rebuild your house every time it got messy.  That is the task you ask of your body when you take antibiotics for every sniffle, sneeze and infection.  It is often common for antibiotics to be prescribed without a culture which means your infection could be viral.  Viral infections are not killed by antibiotics.  Antibiotics kill bacteria.  Oops.  In a nutshell, antibiotic need may be more scarce than you think, it has a dramatic effect on the bacteria balance in your intestines, and they should be avoided if possible.

NSAIDS (aspirin, advil, aleve)

These anti-inflammatory drugs are non-steroidal but they are used widely to control pain and inflammation.  So widely, that you probably have bottles in your purse, your bathroom, your desk drawer, etc.  I can say that I don’t even have a single bottle of these around and if I needed one on some off chance, I would have to go purchase them.  Most people know the dangers of taking too much because your doctor will warn you about how bad it damages your gut, which can result in ulcers.  I hope this connection is screaming at you before I tell you….wait for it….if they damage the gut, and your gut houses your immune system, then it can’t be good for conditions concerning the immune system! A SINGLE DOSE OF NSAIDs damages the intestine of even a healthy person.  It does this by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase which is essential for maintaining the gut mucosal barrier. They also inhibit the formation of the proteins that keep tight junctions together (remember that cell lining gate being damaged).  These drugs are popped like candy because most people see them as harmless when you can buy them in the store.

Well, those are the major ones I wanted to hit because so many people are unaware of the negative side effects.  If these are part of your “health” routine, you may be causing more damage than good.  If you have an autoimmune disease, these may be a part of your routine that you can control.  There are tons of natural compounds that fight infection and decrease inflammation.  These can be found widely in foods and many supplements now exist.  Try cooking with turmeric, adding garlic to everything, using onions abundantly, and fresh herbs are crazy good in the medicinal department.  Funny how all this complex material always lands us back at basic lifestyle changes.  Nature is so smart.


Intestinal Permeability and Autoimmune Disease (Part II)

I have written several articles about our bodies being hotels for bacteria, and when the bacteria levels are balanced and the microorganisms are happy, we are healthy.  These bacteria make up so much of our immune system, its hard for me to fathom why we haven’t placed more focus on their role in studying disease.  It’s gaining traction, and therefore most people have heard the buzz phrase “leaky gut” thrown around somewhere.  In this article, we are going to discuss what it actually is, and how it has to do with autoimmunity.

Let’s start with the basics.  From your mouth to your anus, you have one long tube with stops along the way.  The mucosal barrier that keeps food in the tube, and not in your tissue, it technically ON THE OUTSIDE!  I know it sounds crazy, but that tube running down the middle of your body is an exterior surface. It’s comprised of a single layer of cells; that’s it!  Pretty amazing if you think about how food goes in one and end and comes out the other.  After food goes in your mouth, it has stops along the way and one of them is in the small intestines.  The small intestines is where most of your nutrients are absorbed into the body. The way nutrients get into the body through the section of tubing we call the small intestine is by specific breakdown that occurs via acid, enzymes, bile salts, and bacteria.  Proteins are broken down into their lego parts, amino acids.  Fats are broken down into fatty acids, and carbs are broken down into simple sugars. Once food is broken down into its simplest form, it’s ready for transport into the body.

In order to get into the body, digested nutrients have to cross that single layer of cells called enterocytes.  On the other side of the wall lives blood vessels, lymph vessels, and immune cells of the gut.  The amino acids, simple sugars, minerals, and water soluble vitamins (like B vitamins) are transported via blood and the fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins (like A, D, E, and K) are transported through the lymph. A leaky gut occurs when there is damage to that single layer of cells and things that shouldn’t be able to cross over, do.  This damage can occur by sections of cells themselves being damaged, or the bonds between them being broken. When this happens, now we have things like pathogens, incompletely digested proteins, bacteria, and toxic substances entering the territory where immune cells live.  The immune cells immediately recognize them as foreign and plan an attack.  However, if any of them get through that line of defense, now we have them floating in the bloodstream. The body frantically tries to clean it all up, and this produces a fairly global inflammatory state.

I think it’s worth mentioning that those undigested proteins stimulate a part of the immune system that produce IgE antibodies.  Food allergies that cause difficulty breathing, swelling, ER visits…those are due to this IgE response.  This is a TRUE allergy.  However, when antibodies such as IgGs are produced, this is what we call a food sensitivity. The reason we call it a sensitivity is because the immune response produces symptoms of allergies for example, fatigue, mucus drainage, inflamed sinuses, and possibly even things like eczema.  This is what doctors are testing for when they do a blood panel for food allergies!  If you have ever had a food allergy/sensitivity test and it came back with a list of crazy amounts of foods like chicken, spinach, strawberries, etc., you are most likely NOT allergic to those foods.  This is nothing more than a IgG production because food proteins got into spaces they don’t belong.  Once you heal the gut and keep those foods from crossing the gut lining, your body will QUIT producing antibodies against them.  I see this all the time when I work with food allergies.  You can absolutely resume eating most of those foods without issue as long as appropriate care has taken place.  I got off track….back to the antibodies. Of those antibodies being produced, some can be autoantibodies.  When cytokines (chemical messengers) are released, it stimulates both the innate and the adaptive immune system.  This pokes the bear of the adaptive immune system that can result in an autoimmune disease.  If you remember from the previous article, this is where amino acid sequencing can get confused for our own tissues.

I hope I didn’t lose anyone with crazy words, but I think this connection between how the food we eat gets to places it shouldn’t, and the immune response that results is an important one to know!! Why? Because autoimmune diseases live in about 50 million DIAGNOSED people and cancer is only 12 million.  Heck, heart disease is 25 million!  Needless to say, this costs our country more than just $100 billion dollars in direct care costs, it is costing us our quality of life!  Anytime I have a patient that is able to go about their day without worrying about the symptoms of an autoimmune disease, I do a happy dance.  It gives them their life back!  This is priceless.  In the upcoming articles, I will talk about which foods can create the perfect storm, and other lifestyle factors that damage that single layer of cells that keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.  These are things you CAN CONTROL!  I’m getting pumped up…can you tell…welcome to what it feels like to be in the audience when I give a talk.  I just can’t help myself….

How does an Autoimmune Disease Actually Happen?

Without the audience having an in depth knowledge of the body, this can be a confusing process to explain.  However, I’m going to put on my teacher hat and try my best to explain how your body could ever be so confused that it begins to attack it’s own tissues resulting in diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s, Psoriasis, Hashimoto’s, etc.  Even though these diseases are present in different systems within the body, the same mechanism of trigger initiates the cascade.  Every autoimmune disease is an IMMUNE SYSTEM disorder.  However, most people focus on the system involved by taking thyroid medication for Hashimoto’s, creams for psoriasis, digestive aids for Crohn’s, and the list goes on.  Most of the heavy duty medications on the market for these problems are immunosuppressants.  That means their entire job is to dampen the ability of the immune system to function in hopes it will quit attacking itself.  This has a nasty side effect of also leaving patients vulnerable to sickness because their immune system is being shut down (hence the fine print in commercials saying not to take them if you are sick, in contact with the sick, etc.)  Many patients will say “Isn’t there a way to help this WITHOUT shutting down my immune system?!”  The answer is “absolutely,” but you will not find those methods in medication.  I hope now you are asking “HOW?!”  Let’s look at how it happens to try to address that question later…

Proteins: Proteins are the building blocks of life.  They are made up of things called amino acids and we use about 20 different amino acids to build every single kind of protein that we need.  Based on how you put the amino acids in sequence, you can create different kinds of proteins.  These creations make up the cells of your organs, your hormones, and the antibodies we call immunoglobins.  You may have heard of some of these amino acids without even knowing it!  We have all heard of tryptophan around Thanksgiving because people blame the sleepiness on it’s presence in turkey.  Maybe you’ve heard of Glutamine if you are in the fitness industry.  Perhaps phenylalanine has popped up as you search the risks of artificial sweeteners?  These amino acids are essentially the legos that make up parts of your structure.

Well, these proteins tend to have a lot of similarities to the proteins in other life forms such as animals, plants, and even viruses.  For heaven’s sake, we have 67% DNA similarity to an earth worm!  Like I’ve said before, this is why biological principles are important to know; we all exist under the same fundamentals!  Small sections of these proteins are recognized by antibodies.  This is the recognition system for our immune system to be able to ID, tag, and get rid of foreign invaders by recognizing specific amino acid sequences present on the protein structure.  When the antibody binds to one protein, it’s common that it will also attach to other proteins containing a similar sequence. This is a good thing if those other proteins are also foreign invaders, but it’s a bad thing if the other protein happens to be our own tissue.

Don’t worry though, we have a quality control system.  Because of so much shared DNA sequencing, this happens all the time!  It happens in everyone really.  However, we have a process called “selection,” that allows T and B cells to recognize self and they are destroyed.  This is all happening in the bone marrow and the thymus gland (hence T and B cells, haha…ok, not funny).   It can also happen via suppression where certain T cells shut down autoantibody production from any cells that may have escaped the first check.  In a healthy individual, this system of checks and balances works beautifully!  However, for those with autoimmune conditions, the body has a breakdown in the second process and simply can’t keep up with the quality control process of destruction.  Let’s just say your employee came in drunk and is no longer paying attention to the bad specimens rolling through!   So, it’s not really a problem with the body making antibodies against itself, because everyone does that.  It’s more about a faulty system in the ability to keep them at a minimum.

Once this breakdown occurs, it’s much easier for the body to then create another autoantibody to a different tissue, which is why so many autoimmune patients can then get another autoimmune disease fairly easily.  When enough damage has occurred to the tissue being targeted, you will start to express systems of the disease.  This is when you show up at the doctor with digestive distress due to Crohn’s, or unbearable joint pain due to Rheumatoid, or heaven forbid the neurologic symptoms of MS.  Here is where the fork in the road happens.  How do you treat it?  You can take medication to address the symptoms presenting, you can take an immunosuppressant to try and shut down your body’s ability to produce antibodies (to itself or to foreign invaders), or you can eliminate the triggers that cause the immune system to attack in the first place.

The environmental triggers for immune system attack can include anything from vitamin D deficiency, bacterial infections, silicone implants, chemical exposures, and yes, intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut).  Even though genes may create the perfect recipe for an autoimmune disease, the environmental triggers are really what start the cascade of events.  This is the reason why many people will say that genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.  This is why it is so important to be testing for underlying infections, nutrient deficiency, eliminating chemical exposure, and doing all we can to correct leaky gut.  If you correct intestinal permeability, you can reverse an autoimmune disease.  I have done this over and over with patients, and the changes in their quality of life and thought of such a different future makes me overwhelmed sometimes.  THERE IS ANOTHER WAY.  If you don’t believe that, then I can only imagine the thoughts that run through someone’s mind knowing it will only progress and get worse.  That part of my job breaks my heart.

The silver lining is that even though you can’t control your genes, you CAN control your lifestyle.  I will be writing a number of articles focusing on different aspects of this including the story of gluten, dairy, nightshades, and eggs in addition to the powerhouses I utilize with patients including ferments, broths, and organs.  I never know much to simplify my explanations to help someone understand the connection, so I have decided to go a little bit more in depth on the blog.  That way I have the easiest answer possible “Go take a look at the articles on the blog and let me know if you still have questions!”  For a professor, it’s like trying to teach 8 years of physiology in 30 seconds (because that’s how long you have until people tune you out if they aren’t understanding).  Good luck with that one!  I hope you enjoy, and if you have any questions you would like to make sure I touch on along the way, feel free to shoot me a comment!