Functional Wellness “Health Detective” Reveals Secrets Linking Food Sensitivity & Inflammation

Written By Nurse Mary  |  Podcasts, Recent News 

The world health organization says about 85% of all chronic degenerative diseases has its root in inflammation.

One of our main jobs with food is to decrease inflammation. We want to do this by not eating foods that come in a box and removing as much sugar as possible. Most of us have way too much sugar in our diets. Many things are going to help, but checking for food sensitivity is right up there as very important because if you don’t know you had a sensitivity to lettuce (for example) and you’re eating salads all day, you’re causing inflammation to your body without realizing it.

Dr. Christopher Gross is a Chiropractor with close to 400 hours of training as a functional medicine doctor. He likes to help people solve Thyroid mysteries and is well versed on the modalities that will help the Thyroid mainly. He is the owner and operator of Ozark functional wellness.

Dr. Gross explains how he is different from a regular chiropractor

We talked about getting down to the grassroots of nutrition and how it often affects illness.

How Dr. Gross helps you by becoming YOUR “Health Detective”

His favorite part of his job is being a health detective, working with the patient by trying to get to the bottom of a problem. This could include the functional issues you may have. We like to get to the root cause of their chronic health concerns. It’s kind of like a patient, for example, they come in with brain fog and they can’t lose weight or they’re fatigued all the time. Maybe they have insomnia and they’re losing their hair.

Health Detective

They come in for an initial history. We talk about what’s been going on, not just currently but all of their life. With the Functional Medicine approach, we want to get as much information on their history as we can. At the same time, he is doing a full physical exam from the hair all the way down to the toenails. He will look inside your mouth, looking at your tongue. To see if there are symptoms of dysregulation, I combine all of these little symptoms to figure out the full picture. For example, if the lateral third of their eyebrow is thin it can point to thyroid issues, so I will look for swelling in their thyroid area. Another example, is if I see little things like skin tags on their neck, there may be a blood sugar issue.

Through that, we can also check old labs as well as new labs to see a full picture. We can also order labs if needed. 

Let’s take another part of the picture: Say we order labs and they have high cholesterol and high triglyceride, but they are about one-to-one. That’s another sign of insulin resistance, which is beginning to look like a blood sugar issue. With all of these things we are starting to put a picture together with that patient. 

“I love it when we can actually do that for you because you can begin to see HOPE! “

Clients are like wow! Someone’s actually trying to figure all this out and putting all the things together and coming up with the patterns. That’s what I really get excited about. It’s the most satisfying thing to connect the dots for the patient.

Extensive health histories with people related to food and their environment

Dr. Gross likes to specialize in thyroid conditionsHashimoto’s specifically, which is an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid.

Hashimoto’s can have symptoms of both hyper and hypothyroid issues

It’s crazy because Hashimoto’s can be both Hyper & Hypo Thyroid Condition. It can be very confusing as a clinician because it’s an autoimmune disorder. It’s an autoimmune that attacks the thyroid so you get symptoms of low thyroid and higher thyroid. You may have a problem where you can’t gain weight or you may have a problem where you can’t lose weight. You may be fatigued, but you also might have heart palpitations – a racing heart. 

You could have a little bit of both because of the immune system is flaring up and causing certain hormones to flood the system all of a sudden. This is literally tearing up the thyroid and actually breaking it down. So that’s why you’re getting more of the hypo.

90% of all hypothyroidism is actually Hashimoto’s that is undiagnosed

Hashimoto’s is often mismanaged in conventional medicine because there’s not really a lot that they can do for it other than Levothyroxin or some kind of medication for the thyroid hormone. But in actuality, they are not addressing the immune system part Hashimoto’s.

Some things that can help are getting off of processed food, eating nutritious foods and greens, as well as pasture-raised meat, and wild meat like game meat. Those things may help your body. 

What are some basic things you can do for your body to help the thyroid? 

At Dr. Gross’ office, he does food sensitivity testing. You could be sensitive to a food and not even know it because it’s not like a food allergy. 

Allergies vs Food Sensitivity

A food allergy is a very quick onset because it is a histamine reaction. You’re going to get itchy hives. Your throat might close up and could be life threatening. You’re going to know fairly soon, within an hour or so of after eating that food. A lot of people think, well, I don’t have a food sensitivity because ‘I didn’t have that problem.’

With a food sensitivity, it could have been the food that you ate four days ago. For example: You could have eaten cauliflower three or four days ago and now you have a headache. The list of symptoms is not just gastrointestinal or just hives for instance, it can be all kinds of different symptoms.  It can be soreness, achy joints, all kinds of things.

For example, some people with Hashimoto’s being exposed to any gluten at all, may display flu-like symptoms for many days. Sensitivities are very different than something you would see such as Celiac’s disease. That’s not really what we’re looking for. We’re looking for an IgG test instead of an IgE. IgE being your typical allergy test. 

We do a lot of that testing in the office just to see what foods you’re sensitive to, which is causing inflammation. 

If you want to know more about that, you can go to 

Here is some advice regarding exercise: Try not working out for an entire hour or more at a time. This is because working out more than 30 minutes constantly can create inflammation. Dr. Gross recommends exercises in shorter burst intervals or the High-intensity interval training. Doing that 10, 15 minutes a day is going to actually help you with your insulin resistance issues. It is going to help you increase your metabolism throughout the day. It’s much better for you than really, really long workouts because it causes inflammation and we want to avoid that. 

Have you heard of the emotional freedom technique? 

Something I use a lot in my office for stress issues. This concept is based on emotions and involves a kind of tapping. You tap certain points and is known as emotional freedom technique. It’s great for someone who has issues with stress, anger or even cravings. You can find it on YouTube videos – just do a search for EFT or emotional freedom technique. The issues with emotion like anger, cravings or stress can lead back to sensitivities in the body and inflammation.

Emotions can lead back to sensitivities in the body and inflammation

Emotions can lead to stress if you don’t find a way to decrease them. This can be alleviated by finding ways to diffuse the emotions that are causing the anxiety or disturbance. We can do that by lowering the amount of stress, which lowers cortisol, which lowers inflammation. It’s kind of a roundabout thing, but we want to decrease our stress and we’re not going to completely get rid of our stress.

We want to be able to run from that tiger when he chases us. The problem is that our body doesn’t always know we are not being chased by a tiger. Our body does a very good job of protecting us but after a while, if the stress is not real danger, we end up depleting our body. 

One of those stress hormones is cortisol and it has 3 major jobs: 

  • To raise your blood pressure
  • Raise your awareness and 
  • Lower your immune system

Think about this: If you have chronic stress, you’re creating all of these problems chronically

We need cortisol in the morning to wake up. We need blood pressure to come up in the morning so we have oxygen in our brain and that causes your blood sugar to go up.  The sugar rising helps us to wake up. We don’t need to be working on our immune system at that point. That’s the whole thing about the tiger chasing you. You can lick your wounds later. We need blood flow to our muscles so we can fight or flight. 

Melatonin kicks in at night

Melatonin is the opposite of that. At night, for example, children have fevers and sometimes they seem like they’re doing worse. However, it’s just that their immune systems kicked on because the melatonin has come up. Naturally, cortisol should be higher in the morning and lower at night, assuming you have a good circadian rhythm and everything’s working well.

For the most part, if we get our stressors managed and eat right, will our bodies be able to handle eating off-plan and/ or manage stressful things in our life?

It depends. It’s kind of like having a lot of rocks in a bucket, meaning you can not put a whole lot more in it if it’s full. If you can take some of those stressors out, you can handle some of those stresses and even some normally sensitive foods. 

On the other hand though, if you have Hashimoto’s, you’re not going to get back your sensitivity. Say you’re sensitive to something like cilantro, you might get something like that back, even in as short of a time as a few months. The major ones though, like your gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, you don’t usually get back. 

This is because your body doesn’t handle these things as well. Gluten, specifically with Hashimoto’s, is something called molecular mimicry, where the molecule of gluten is so similar to the structure of the thyroid gland or one of the cells in the thyroid gland, that if you’re sensitive to the gluten, it will attack. If you eat it, it will attack the thyroid. That’s why it’s called molecular mimicry. 

As Americans that need to get healthy, we need to move more, eat better and manage your stress.

  • Move more with high-intensity interval training
  • Get the kids off the electronics
  • We all need to outside doing something

The good bacteria on the things outdoors is what builds our immune system

Thinking about foods, we need to make sure we’re eating sauerkrauts and things that have those good probiotics in them. Research is saying that we’re really not getting enough from our food, especially since we have to deal with all the not-so-healthy things like processed foods and antibiotics. 

If you were a Cesarean birth, you didn’t get the vaginal bacteria as you were coming out of the birth canal. That is the seed of your bacteria, your probiotics, your microbiome – the bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are very important.

Years ago, and even in our childhood, I remember making cracks of vegetables, not just sauerkraut, but we would pickle all kinds of vegetables and in a Crocs and put it in the pump house.

Back in those days, people had some kind of fermented food, whether it was pickled, fermented kombucha or yogurts, nearly every day. Now it can seem unusual and even a novelty. Our taste buds don’t necessarily like fermented foods anymore.  We’ve got to change our taste buds. Sugar is so addictive! In rat studies, it’s more addictive than cocaine! Absolutely scary.

Sugar is addictive and causes Inflammation

Sugar lowers our immune system, increases inflammation and is awful for you, but it does taste great. 

Back in the day when we didn’t have sugar in plenty – our taste buds were designed to find sugar because we needed a little bit of sweet out certain things. Now the average person eats about 52 pounds of sugar a year? 

What advice would you give someone starting out? What advice would you give yourself maybe 5 years ago? 

The very first thing you want to do is to join a networking group as soon as possible. You can’t help people if they don’t know where you are or what you do. The biggest advice I can give someone starting out new is just get out and talk to people. Even some kind of group talk every now and then Invite people through Facebook or wherever so that they understand what services you provide and what you can do to help them. 

The biggest thing is joining a networking group. 

Create a habit. In the morning think about 3 things you are grateful for. It set’s the tone for your day. Even in challenging situations, there is something to be grateful for. Train yourself to find it. 

Looking for the positives in your life 

Affirmations are more of a positive statement. I am healthy. I am happy. I am rich. Right? With such statements, there is often something called a belief gap, which is something that’s similar to affirmations but seems to work better because it is called an “Afformation” 

An Afformation is asking yourself a question

You’re saying to yourself: Why am I getting healthier? Why do I feel so healthy? – or – Why am I always in the right place at the right time? The reticular activating system in your brain is saying, “okay, I’ve got a question I need to answer.” Your brain is trying to find these little answers throughout the day. 

The question is kind of a bio-hack. It’s really about where you put your focus. Figure out where your focus should be and what you’re trying to accomplish. Stress is always going to be there so focus on what you’re grateful for.

The importance of good sleep

Just one more thing: I want to talk to you a little bit about how sleep is really, really important. You know, if you’re not getting good restorative sleep, then your body is just not healing at its full capacity. 

I recommend setting a routine, like a ritual for going to bed. This typically involves brushing your teeth, washing your face, getting off your electronics at least an hour before bed.  Avoid blue light because blue light from electronics actually shuts down melatonin production. 

As we talked about earlier, Melatonin is what helps you go to sleep and allows your immune system to balance out. 

In the evening you might want to use something like a salt lamp. The orange or red salt lamp that gives off a color similar to a fire at night.

Some really good music for that, is called neural acoustic music. What it does is it entrains the brain to a specific brain wave pattern for sleep.

For sleep we want that to be a Delta brainwave pattern

Dr. Jeffrey Thompson has really good content that you can find on YouTube.

If you were doing something like meditation, you might want to be a theta wave and background pulses.

Essential oils for sleeping: Lavender or Clary Sage – maybe to your pillow or to your feet. Bottom of your feet is a good place to put it. The lavender’s very calming and kind of melts the tension and anxiety. Clary Sage helps calm mental chatter and helps you go to sleep a little more relaxed.

What works well for some might not work for everyone. Once again, if blood sugar levels are off, adrenals/ thyroid are out of wack, or have chronic, maybe even hidden infection, you’re going to experience inflammation. That inflammation happens in your brain as well. That is a difficult problem to deal with if you don’t know what the problem is.

That’s why we want to get to the root cause because it may not just be these simple solutions. You may actually have to really figure out YOU. For example, you may have to get your blood sugar stable before some of these other things get better. So if you have blood sugar issues, for example, it’s going to affect your adrenals.

If something affects your thyroid, we can trace that back to your gut. Gut issues can lead to blood sugar issues, which can cause adrenal problems. We really need to just figure out the specific issues for each person because everyone’s body is different.

Dr Gross’ Shares His Story

I actually didn’t grow up in a healthy family. My family never went to the doctor. We never went to the doctor for anything, not even chiropractic. I didn’t know about chiropractic till I was well in my upper teens, early twenties. I got into this game late, so I didn’t know a whole lot about health. I first became a massage therapist for about 16 years. I did hypnotherapy for two and a half years.

Dr. Gross

I’ve done lots of different things, so when I went to chiropractic school, I wanted to be a naturopathic physician. Unfortunately, I lived in Arkansas so that didn’t really work because they didn’t have a licensed profession. I couldn’t actually become a naturopathic physician there, or at least not legally. This is why I went to chiropractic school. I was good with my hands, and I liked the principles behind it.  

Then as I was in school, I was learning more about functional medicine. Really for me it’s all about treating everyone as if they were your family. 

Hashimoto’s destroys the thyroid. Will it repair itself to a degree once you, once things are leveled out?

It depends. There’s a principle in Chiropractic that says matter has limitations. If the thyroid is completely destroyed, no, you’re not going to recreate it. If there’s still enough tissue there and you stop the storm from happening, then yeah, the body can regenerate itself to a point. 

The problem is most people don’t even know they have Hashimoto’s. Most people know they have Thyroid symptom but they go to their medical doctor and they run a TSH that they use to decide if that person has a thyroid problem or not. That is flawed in and of it’s self.  Just running one lab to find out if you have a thyroid issue is not enough. At our office, we run a TSH, a free T4, a free T3, a reverse T 3 and then antibodies to the thyroid. We want to know the relationship of your T4 which is inactive to your T3 which is the active hormone.

That’s the one that’s made in mostly your liver and some of the target tissues and is not made out in circulation. There is a different test needed to see if you’re converting your T4 to T3 because if you’re not, that could mean you might have a selenium deficiency. You might even have a magnesium or B vitamin deficiency. It is specific to each person. We need to know what’s causing the thyroid issues and not just, “I have a high TSH”. 

We appreciate your time and I’m sure our listeners will love this.

I hope this has been helpful in your day. 

Here are some helpful links: 

Affiliate Book links: 

Hashimoto’s Food Pharmacology – Isabella wentz 

Amy Myers – The thyroid connection

Marissa Marissa Snyder – Essential Oils Hormone Solution

Dr Gross Functional Wellness

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