Gut Health And Inflammation

  I am not a doctor – so I can’t help you with any medical advises. For these you will need to consult your doctor. But you will find (on the bottom of each page) medical articles on which I based my information. My advise is that after you read the information I presented – to print the references and have a discussion with your doctor.

  While I can’t help you medically, I am a certified Life Coach and Professional Engineer (PEng). So I can counsel and encourage you in taking the best decisions in your personal life.

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  Please read also the Lectins, the Evil Protein. It will explain certain facts about why you have gut issues and weight gain.

  Thousands of years ago, Hippocrates, the father of medicine said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Now, science is catching up ….. with ……antiquity !!!!!

  Our gut is home to approximately 100,000,000,000,000 (100 trillion) microorganisms including yeast. Our gut microbiota (formerly called gut flora) is home to around 80 percent of your immune system and 95 percent of your “happy” neurotransmitter serotonin. Often called your “second brain,” it helps control your mood, weight, hormones, and even your genetic expression.

  Basically, in the healthy condition, the gut lining is selectively permeable (material or membrane allowing liquids or gases to pass through it), as well as selectively impermeable, to various bacterial components, proteins, and other gut related particles. When the integrity of gut lining is challenged, these entities gain access through the gut wall and stimulate immune reactions that activate the production of inflammatory responses.

  It’s really very important to gain an understanding as to the factors that can lead to loss of integrity of the gut lining and, as such, lead to a condition also known by the name of “leaky bowel”.

  Unfortunately, several features of the modern lifestyle directly contribute to unhealthy gut flora:

  • Antibiotics and other medications like birth control and NSAIDs: in the laboratory animal exposure to NSAIDs not only compromises the barrier function of the lining, but in addition, and probably because of the effects upon the gut lining, this class of medications, at least in the laboratory animal, induce gluten sensitivity. With the rapid expansion of gluten sensitivity in Western cultures, and people scratching their heads wondering why this is happening, we now have at least a conceptual explanation represented by one of the most commonly used class of medications in our society, the nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs. This study (reference 3) involved indomethacin in particular and its conclusion is that: “Indomethacin potentiates barrier dysfunction and EC (epithelial cell) injury induced by gluten, affects systemic IFN-c production and the host response to intestinal microbiota antigens in HLA-DQ8/HCD4 mice. The results suggest that environmental factors that alter the intestinal barrier may predispose individuals to an increased susceptibility to gluten through a bystander immune activation to intestinal microbiota”. While this sounds a bit strange for the people not used with the medical lingo, it simply states that – Indomethacin potentiates gut dysfunction and makes you more susceptible to gut injuries from gluten. And even worst: the study suggests that this can lead on the long run to celiac disease. While this is an animal study, just take a look at the institutions involved in this – suggests quite a big concern of how such class of medication can affect your health. The sad news is the role of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in terms of damaging the gut lining and leading to inflammation, the very problem for which these drugs have been designed to help!
  • Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods: particularly in the form of fructose and sucrose. These are spiking insulin and triggers release of inflammatory cytokines. Through the digestion they form advanced glycation endproducts which bind to proteins, and oxidizes lipids which form cell and mitochondrial membranes.
  • Diets low in fermentable fibers: first you may ask yourself what is a fermentable fiber. According to Linus Pauling Institute “Some fibers are readily fermented by bacteria that normally colonize the colon. In addition to increasing the amount of bacteria in the colon, fermentation results in the formation of short-chain fatty acids (acetate, propionate, and butyrate) and gases (1). Short-chain fatty acids can be absorbed and metabolized to produce energy. Interestingly, the preferred energy source for colonocytes (epithelial cells that line the colon) is butyrate. Pectins, β-glucans, guar gum, inulin, and oligofructose are readily fermented, while cellulose and lignin are resistant to fermentation in the colon (6, 7). Foods that are rich in fermentable fibers include oats and barley, as well as fruit and vegetables. Cereal fibers that are rich in cellulose, such as wheat bran, are relatively resistant to bacterial fermentation.” Behind the fancy terms, what this means for everyone of us. If your gut have hard time digesting the food you provide to it you will not get any nutrients from that food. The longer this situation goes you will feel more weak, more fatigued and your health will deteriorate more and more. Let’s take the example of a slice of bread: ingredients in bread are – wheat flour, salt, sugar, margarine, yeast. Now taking a look at the fermentable fiber definition. Your body has hard time digesting wheat especially if the flour has any wheat bran in it. It may make you feel full for longer as it will move much slower through your digestive system. But there is no nutrient going in your body. So, practically your body gets mostly salt, sugar, margarine and yeast. Sugar and yeast go hand in hand. Sugar helps yeast grow. So, practically the more bread you eat the more you invite a yeast overgrowth. Looking at the rest of ingredients I will let you think what you really get from that slice of bread! But the definition also outlines the importance of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  • “Dietary” toxins and industrial seed oils: notably herbicides, gluten grains, and genetically modified foods, promote intestinal permeability that trigger changes in our intestinal flora that facilitate overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and fungus which keep your immune systems in a permanent state of alarm. This leads to all plethora of auto-immune diseases when the body seams to be attacking itself. Your body is smart – its screaming at you to realize that something is attacking you from within; that is something YOU get inside you that your body doesn’t want.
  • Chronic stress: represents the ultimate link between hormones and inflammation, because stress, whether it’s psychological or physiologic, triggers the release of cortisol. Cortisol helps to mobilize blood sugar so that you can run effectively and efficiently from that tiger chasing you. It also acts as a systemic immune suppressant, lowering levels of secretory IgA, an important body guard of the gut mucosa. Cortisol also inhibits the conversion of storage thyroid hormone to active hormone leading to states of hypothyroidism even with normal-looking labs.
  • Chronic infections: a study by CDC (U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention) states that “Recent data suggest a role for one or more infectious agents in the following chronic diseases: chronic lung diseases (including asthma), cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Many of the agents implicated are commonly transmissible and are either treatable with existing antibiotics or are potentially treatable with antiviral drugs.” I will advice you will read the full report of this study (reference 6). But even a more direct link between your gut health and general health can be seen in the case of H. Pylori bacteria. This bacteria in an healthy gut doesn’t create any problems. Keeping the balance of the microbiota will keep it’s growth in check. But once your gut balance is greatly impacted H. Pylori becomes an opportunistic bacteria and not only causes ulcer but in more extreme cases leads to stomach cancer.

  So, what is inflammation after all? Inflammation is your body’s response to stress – whether from your diet, lifestyle or environment. Think of what happens when you catch a cold. You may experience inflammation in the form of a fever as your body heats up to eradicate the effects of the invading virus. This kind of inflammation is good, but the modern epidemic of chronic, low-grade inflammation destroys the balance in your body. When your body’s systems experience a constant inflammatory response, is keeping your body on a constant alarm state and makes you more susceptible to disease, as your body start believing is in a constant war for your life. Chronic inflammation wears out your immune system, leading to chronic diseases and other health issues, including cancer, asthma, autoimmune diseases, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, osteoporosis and even (gasp!) appearing older than your years. Unfortunately, these challenges are often only treated with drugs and surgery, which may provide temporary relief from the symptoms, but do not treat the root of the problem.

  Once inflammation is active, it is highly self-perpetuating. Inflammatory cytokines travel throughout the body causing oxidating stress to the fragile machinery of the tissues and mitochondria, specifically. In the brain, inflammation serves to shunt the use of tryptophan toward production of anxiety-provoking chemicals like quinolinate, instead of toward serotonin and melatonin. They produce a replicable collection of symptoms called “sickness syndrome”, noted for it’s overlap with “depressive” symptoms: lethargy, sleep disturbance, decreased social activity, mobility, libido, learning, anorexia, and andhedonia. Psychiatric researchers have observed that patients with higher levels of inflammatory markers (like CRP) are less likely to respond to antidepressants, and more likely to respond to anti-inflammatories. But what are these inflammatory cytokines? Cytokines are small secreted proteins released by cells that have a specific effect on the interactions and communications between cells. There are both pro-inflammatory cytokines and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Inflammatory cytokines are involved in nerve-injury/inflammation-induced central sensitization. Practically inflammatory cytokines are involved in the development of inflammatory and neuropathic pain.

  And if by now you may not be convince how close link is in between inflammation and diseases, just take a lot at the table below. It may have some medical terminology but beyond that the interrelations between inflammation and disease is quite obvious.

Disease Mechanism
Allergy 4 Immune Mediated Types + Sensitivities, all of which cause inflammation
Alzheimer’s Chronic inflammation destroys brain cells
Anemia Inflammatory cytokines attack erythropoietin production
Ankylosing Spondylitis Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions against joint surfaces
Asthma Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions against airway lining
Autism Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions in the brain arresting right hemisphere development
Arthritis Inflammatory cytokines destroy joint cartilage and synovial fluid
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Chronic inflammation causes excessive muscle tension shortening tendons in the forearm and wrist compressing the nerves
Celiac Chronic immune mediated inflammation damages intestinal lining
Crohn’s Disease Chronic immune mediated inflammation damages intestinal lining
Congestive heart failure Chronic inflammation contributes to heart muscle wasting
Eczema Chronic inflammation of the gut and liver with poor detoxification and often antibodies against Transglutaminase-3
Fibromyalgia Inflamed connective tissue often food allergy related and exacerbated by secondary nutritional and neurological imbalances
Fibrosis Inflammatory cytokines attack traumatized tissue
Gall Bladder Disease Inflammation of the bile duct or excess cholesterol produced in response to gut inflammation
GERD Inflammation of the esophagus and digestive tract nearly always food sensitivity and pH driven
Guillain-Barre Autoimmune attack of the nervous system often triggered by autoimmune response to external stressors such as vaccinations
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Autoimmune reaction originating in the gut triggered by antibodies against thyroid enzymes and proteins
Heart attack Chronic inflammation contributes to coronary atherosclerosis
Kidney failure Inflammatory cytokines restrict circulation and damage nephrons and tubules in the kidneys
Lupus Inflammatory cytokines induce an autoimmune attack against connective tissue
Multiple Sclerosis Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions against myelin
Neuropathy Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions against myelin and vascular and connective tissues which irritate nerves
Pancreatitis Inflammatory cytokines induce pancreatic cell injury
Psoriasis Chronic inflammation of the gut and liver with poor detoxification
Polymyalgia Rheumatica Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions against muscles and connective tissue
Rheumatoid Arthritis Inflammatory cytokines induce autoimmune reactions against joints
Scleroderma Inflammatory cytokines induce an autoimmune attack against connective tissue
Stroke Chronic inflammation promoted thromboembolic events
Surgical complications Inflammatory cytokines (often pre-dating the surgery) slow or prevent healing

  If by now you have questions about what you can eat – please keep reading the “IBS” page.


References:
1. Asa Hakansson and Goran Molin, June3, 2011 U.S. National Library of Medicine: Gut Microbiota and Inflammation
2. Wilson et al. JAGS 50:2041–2056, 2002 Cytokines and cognition – The case for a head to toe inflammatory paradigm.
3. Jane M. Natividad, Xianxi Huang, Emma Slack, Jennifer Jury, Yolanda Sanz, Chella David, Emmanuel Denou, Pinchang Yang, Joseph Murray, Kathy D. McCoy, Elena F. Verdu July 31, 2009 Host Responses to Intestinal Microbial Antigens in
Gluten-Sensitive Mice.

4. LINUS PAULING INSTITUTE Micronutrient Information Center Fiber Facts
5. Perry VH, Cunningham C, Holmes C. 2007 Jan 15 Systemic infections and inflammation affect chronic neurodegeneration
6. Gail H. Cassell September 1998 Infectious Causes of Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Cancer
7. Bjarnason IT, Charlett A, Dobbs RJ, Dobbs SM, Ibrahim MA, Kerwin RW, Mahler RF, Oxlade NL, Peterson DW, Plant JM, Price AB, Weller C. 2005 Aug 10 Role of chronic infection and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract in the etiology and pathogenesis of idiopathic parkinsonism. Part 2: response of facets of clinical idiopathic parkinsonism to Helicobacter pylori eradication. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled efficacy study
8. Jun-Ming Zhang, MSc, MD and Jianxiong An, MSc, MD US National Library of Medicine 2009 Nov 30 Cytokines, Inflammation and Pain