24 October 2014

How to Heal a Leaky Gut, Part II

Did you miss my first Leaky Gut Article?! Read more here

So now you may be wondering if you have leaky gut...

Food allergies, toxins, sugar, antibiotics, parasites and stress can wreak havoc with your gastrointestinal system, upsetting the balance in your intestine as well as allowing harmful substances to enter the system. Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or abdominal discomfort may be the first clue that something is wrong with the digestive tract, but did you know allergies
or even lack of energy and fatigue can often be traced to digestive problems as well?

Normally the gastrointestinal epithelium provides a semi-permeable barrier with allows nutrients to be absorbed while preventing larger molecules from crossing into the bloodstream. When this lining becomes inflamed or damaged, then the barrier becomes "leaky". The fallout results in larger, undigested food molecules and other “bad stuff” (yeast, toxins, and all other forms of waste) that your body normally doesn’t allow through, to flow freely into your bloodstream.

Causes of increased intestinal hyperpermeability or "leaky gut":

  • Medications (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen and motrin
  • Microbial overgrowth or infection
  • Parasite infections
  • Fungal overgrowth (Candida)
  • Ingestion of allergenic foods
  • Maldigestion/malabsorption (pancreatic insufficieny or low HCl)
  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • Stress
  • Aging
  • IgA deficiency
  • Chronic alcohol intake
  • Excessive or strenuous exercise
  • Inflammatory bowel disease - Crohn's or Ulcerative colitis
The small and large intestines contains numerous dietary and bacterial products with toxic properties. These include bacteria, bacterial cell wall (LPS), peptides, and bacterial antigens capable of inducing antibodies which may cross-react with human tissues.... when these antibodies react, they may form systemic immune complexes which can circulate and deposit in tissues far away from the gut.

Abnormalities of the gut lining barrier lead to increased uptake of inflammatory molecules and pathogenic bacteria. With inflammation & injury to the gut lininng, mucosal absorption of normally-excluded substances increases dramatically. Intestinal inflammation enhances the uptake and distribution of potentially injurious bacteria and proteins .

Leaky Gut is seen in disorders such as:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's & Colitis)
  • Inflammatory joint disease
  • Food allergy
  • Celiac disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Reiter’s syndrome
  • Eczema & psoriasis
  • Bipolar, depression and schizophrenia
  • Allergies and asthma
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Autoimmune liver & gallbladder disease

So how do we test for "Leaky Gut"?

Small molecules (glucose or mannitol) readily penetrate cells and passively diffuse through them. Larger molecules such as lactulose are normally are normally not able to diffuse through the cell. If the tight junctions between the cells are functioning properly, they will prevent the lactulose from leaking through. The Intestinal Permeability Test directly measures the ability these two sugar molecules—mannitol and lactulose—to permeate the intestinal mucosa.

Mannitol is readily absorbed and serves as a marker of transcellular uptake. Lactulose is only slightly absorbed and serves as a marker for mucosal integrity (ability of those "tight junctions" to keep out the bad stuff) The test is a 6 hour urine test that compares ratios of the two substances.

For more info:

Genova Diagnostics Intestinal Permeability Assessment
You will need to contact your functional medicine physician in order to order the test.
Now for some treatment options for this leaky gut!

Nutritional Support

  1. Glutamine, an amino acid, has been shown to reverse intestinal mucosal damage from various insults. Glutamine is the principle fuel used by the upper intestinal tract to repair and heal.
  2. Agents that stimulate protective mucus secretion may also help with the healing. Some common ones I use are marshmallow root extract and deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) extract.
  3. Probiotics are essential! Lactobacillus casei, bifidobacter species, and saccromyces boulardii, a beneficial type of yeast are all important to restore gut health.
  4. Fish oil can be very helpful in the treatment of intestinal inflammation by decreasing inflammatory prostaglandins. EPA and DHA should be used in the range of 2-4gm daily
  5. Quercetin functions as a natural mast cell stabilizer and decrease release of histmine which contributes to inflammation & injury. To be effective, quercetin should be used in powder form and taken 3-6gm daily.
  6. Vitamins A and D are critical to supporting secretory IgA function and restoring the mucosal immune system. Ask your doctor for specific doses...

To Decrease Toxic Load:

  • Eliminate all known foods that you are sensitive to. This can be determined through a comprehensive elimination diet or IgG/IgE food tests on the blood.
  • Avoid alcohol, NSAIDS (ibuprofen, motrin, alleve), and minimize other medications.
  • Bentonite clay is a well-known intestinal adsorbent which absorbs numerous toxins, endotoxins and bacteria. Its value in permeability alterations may result from lowering the toxin load in the lumen, thus facilitating repair. I also frequently recommend Upgraded charcoal tabs for the same purpose.
  • HCI and digestive enzymes such as plant enzymes, pepsin and pancreatin might help to lessen the antigenic load or toxic molecules being presented on the intestinal lining.

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Photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

14 October 2014

11 Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention

It's Breast Cancer Awareness month, so here are a few simple tips for prevention!

  1. Exercise: Women who do aerobic exercise 3-5 times per week have a 37-60% less risk of breast cancer. Exercise lowers the amount of estrogen and dangerous estrogen metabolites.
  2. Stress Reduction: Chronic stress is a huge risk factor not only for heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, and depression but also cancer. Breast cancer frequently follows a period of severe, constant stress…a bad marriage, the death of a child, abusive work conditions, and bankruptcy. Cortisol, the stress hormone increases estrogen dominance. Getting rid of stressors, consciously acknowledging them, and altering your response to those stressors is critical in disease prevention. Walk, talk, meditate, laugh, and BREATHE! People who ‘go with the flow' and ‘let it go' rarely get cancer. Release the anger, forgive.
  3. Low Carbohydrate Diet: Elevated insulin levels from a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, increase ‘estrogen dominance' by increasing the amount of free estrogen and stimulating the estrogen receptor directly. Tumor cells over express insulin receptors allowing more glucose in to feed the tumor. Breast, and other cancers are stimulated by sugar and other refined carbohydrates. Women diagnosed with breast cancer, who have high insulin levels, have an increased risk of breast cancer coming back and are more likely to die from breast cancer.
  4. Whole food, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds: “Let food be your medicine. ” Hippocrates Much of what you need to prevent cancer is a gift from the earth. It's your choice. The more refined the food, the less nutrition, the more chemicals. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds contain Phytonutrients, which naturally balance your hormones. They contain usable minerals, vitamins, and fibers which also lower the estrogen burden and create healthy estrogen metabolites. Eat 5-8 servings a day.
  5. Avoid Partially Hydrogenated Oils and Tran fats: They are found in almost all processed foods. They not only increase the dangerous estrogen metabolites they stimulate the breast cancer cell directly. Use olive oil or coconut oil instead.
  6. Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids (flaxseed and high quality fish oil capsules) inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation. Flax seed (2 Tbsp. /day) has been shown to reduce the size of breast cancers between the time of diagnosis and surgery. Flaxseed also increases the good estrogen metabolites and binds to the estrogen receptor directly preventing the strong and chemical estrogens from stimulating the cell. I also recommend chia seeds.
  7. Fiber: Fiber lowers the amount of estrogen and estrogen metabolites which are available to stimulate the breast tissue. It also lowers insulin and glucose levels which feed tumor cells.
  8. Get the Chemicals out of your home and off of your body: Chemical estrogens are very stimulatory to the breast tissue, acting as very strong estrogen. Lotions contain all types of chemicals which get absorbed into your body through the skin.
  9. Limit or avoid Alcohol: Limit alcohol if you have breast cancer. Alcohol is not only toxic to the cell but increases the amount of estrogen made in the fatty tissue.
  10. Avoid obesity: This will lower the amount of estrone, a stimulatory estrogen, made in the fatty tissue. It will help prevent the conversion of testosterone (breast protective) to estrogen.
  11. Sleep: A low melatonin level has been associated with an increased risk of breast and other cancers. Poor sleep affects the immune system. Hormone imbalance affects sleep.

Photo courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net