Dr. Reese’s Bits and Pieces
September 2013 Newsletter
This has become a buzzword lately even though I’ve been treating it for over 20 years. It is describing an increase in intestinal permeability that allows larger than normal molecules to get past the gut barrier and into the blood stream. These larger molecules, especially proteins, will stimulate the immune system to attack these molecules as foreign invaders to the body. Some of these molecules resemble different tissues in your body which are then attacked by the same immune system causing autoimmune reactions.
The cells that line the digestive tract have tight junctions between them to form a barrier between the outside world and the inside world. Anything that goes down your throat via the trachea or esophagus is from the outside world and your body has to be picky about what gets into the inside world of your blood stream and cells.
This means there is a gut barrier and a lung barrier to protect us from the germs, chemicals and pollutants of the environment while allowing the passage of oxygen and nutrients past the barrier and into the blood stream. This tight “fence” made of cells keeps the bad guys out and lets the good guys in. With a leaky gut, the cells start to spread apart and let things “leak” by or the cells themselves have been split down the middle and now there is a direct connection from the outside world to the blood stream without any guards to keep out the bad guys. There is also a blood-brain barrier system but I’ll talk about that next month.
If you eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) high in fast foods, GMO’s, High Fructose Corn Syrup, processed and packaged foods, you are creating inflammation in your body which makes the cells tight junctions open up. Gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts, eggs and fried foods are a few common inflammatory foods. Drugs like steroids and antibiotics or weak thyroid, low estrogen, progesterone and excessive testosterone also help create a leaky gut.
Infections like parasites, yeast, bacteria or virus cause leaky gut. Chronic stress (which of course no one has any of that), lack of sleep, long work days, stressful relationships, alcohol in excess of a few drinks a week, over-training with exercise, eating foods you know you are reactive to and autoimmune attacks on the cells themselves are just some of the causes.
A lack of good bacteria in your digestive tract can also make you susceptible so eating fermented foods like vinegar, pickles, sauerkraut, etc helps the gut permeability. Many probiotics though are a waste of money because they are dead or contaminated with bad bacteria. The amount of bacteria listed on the label is what was in the bottle when it left the manufacturer and not necessarily what is still in each dose when you get it home. Many of the brands that have to be refrigerated don’t survive the gut and never make it to the intestines.
There are products being touted as good for your belly and bowels but are they really? Is Greek yogurt really healthy for you and does the bacteria in yogurt re-colonize your bowels? Well it depends on who you ask. Many studies have shown that high yogurt consumption doesn’t really change the amount of bacteria that passes out into the stool. If you have a dairy sensitivity, it is definitely not good for you to eat any kind of yogurt from cow’s milk. Goat’s milk can cause the same reaction in many people because they are reacting to the casein (one of the proteins) in the milk. Even some of the cheese substitutes can have casein in them so you have to read the labels if you are dairy sensitive.
Also good marketing comes from the drug companies promoting drug solutions to dietary problems like the famous Purple Pill or even antacids being touted as good calcium sources. Nexium was the 16th most prescribed drug in the world last year. Interestingly, the top 3 drugs prescribed last year were all related to lowering the symptoms of autoimmune attacks on the joints, skin, bowels, etc. Leaky gut problems left untreated increase the autoimmune attack on all types of tissues in the body. It is clear, this is not something to just cover-up the symptoms with drugs and OTC pills. The other thing that never gets mentioned in relation to digestive problems is the role of the brain. If you have an inflamed brain, you have an inflamed gut and vice versa. I will talk about this connection more next month.
Leaky Gut Help
The best way to help heal up the gut is by avoiding inflammatory foods; kill any infections in the gut and by using healing herbs and bacteria to repair the gut. This takes weeks or months to fix and not just a few days. The Repair-Vite Program or the Repair and Clear Program are specifically designed to help heal a leaky gut.
This is another popular word these days. Doing the Master Cleanse with the lemon, cayenne and maple syrup in water may help you drop some pounds from not eating many calories or inflammatory foods, but it really has done nothing to repair the problem or kill the infections so most people just gain the weight right back once they start eating food again. It’s not really cleansing anything.
The MLM cleansing products being promoted may be fine or you may react to them because they are using inflammatory fillers like soy, nuts, grains, dairy, legumes, gluten, etc. You have to read the labels carefully! Companies like Apex Energetics, Thorne Research and Pure Encapsulations have been working with environmentally sensitive patients for decades and keep their products as non-reactive as possible. That doesn’t mean they are good for everyone which is why I test you first usually before putting you on any of these products.
Fall is only a few weeks away and that is a great time to work on healing up your digestive system according to acupuncture philosophy. We can help you fix your digestive problems and figure out your food sensitivities as well. There is also a blood test from Cyrexlabs.com (Array 2) that can test you for leaky gut and can help you to know when it is fully healed.
The office will be closed for an extended holiday over the Labor Day weekend. Both Stephanie and I will be gone Wed August 28th through the holiday weekend. Stephanie will be back in the office on Tuesday Sept 3rd and I will be seeing patients again on Wednesday Sept 4th.