Do you know anyone,yourself perhaps,who eats all the right things in the right proportions at the right times and still does not feel well?“You are what you eat!” is only a partially true statement – metaphysical considerations aside, and speaking only of the physical body, it would be more accurate to say that you are what you absorb. No matter how healthy, organic and well balanced your diet, and what and how many supplements you take, nothing is contributed to the body if it is not absorbed through the intestine into the blood and lymph systems. One of the real secrets to good health is having a healthy gut; an intestinal lining that can absorb necessary nutrients and block unhealthy molecules. Each of us carries in our intestines about 400 or more different species of microbes. Some of these are bad and some are good. There are also the in-between I call opportunists that take over when the good are killed off. Not so bad but not helpful. Sometimes the harmful bacteria over whelm the good bacteria and create the state known as dysbiosis. When this occurs, the good bacteria can no longer carry out their functions, such as making certain B vitamins and K vitamins, while the harmful opportunistic are free to perform negative; activities such as giving off dangerous toxins, and allowing; the re-absorption of estrogens that can contribute to certain cancers.
Dysbiosis can be caused by the way we eat (the Standard American Diet ( a.k.a. SAD) that is high in unhealthy fats and simple carbohydrates such as refined flour and sugar: and low in fiber and complex carbohydrates such as fresh fruits and vegetables: by environmental toxins, by stress, and by medications – especially antibiotics. If dysbiosis continues we can end up with leaky gut syndrome.
A leaky gut allows dangerous substances that should be passed out of the body to leak back into the system through the wall of the small intestine. One example of this is an intestinal yeast invasion. Yeast gives off at least 79 different toxins. Three of these can interfere with the neurotransmitter actylcholine and lead to foggy brain thinking. Other symptoms of dysbiosis are digestive problems such as bloating, gas,constipation or diarrhea, as well as irritable bowel problems.
There can also be systemic effects from the leaky gut syndrome. When foreign substances (antigens) that should be eliminated are getting into the blood, the body forms antibodies against them. If the molecular structure of the antigen is similar to that of another part of the body (organ, gland, blood vessels, joints) the result is an autoimmune disease, where the body’s own defenses attack the body instead of protecting it.
Leaky gut syndrome can be diagnosed through a thorough history and evaluation and confirmed with diagnostic testing. Once the diagnosis is made, there are curative natural treatments to remedy the situation, such as an appropriate liver-intestinal cleansing. I believe that both should be done at the same time since the liver and intestine are so interrelated in detoxifying the body. It may be important to take digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid. It is too often overlooked that 50% of people over the age of 60 lack hydrochloric acid. Unfortunately a lot of the same symptoms occur with too little stomach acid as with too much, and the recommendation is often antacids. It is stomach acid that stimulates the gallbladder and pancreas to do their jobs. Stomach acids are also the first line of defense against pathological microbes that gain entry into the system via the digestive tract. Without proper digestion by the digestive juices absorption cannot take place.
Another cause of malabsorption in a fairly large percentage of our child and adult population is the often misdiagnosed celiac disease. Celiac disease is when a person cannot digest grains that contain gluten, such as wheat, oats (?), r;ye, and barley. These seem to act like a steam roller as they go through the small intestine flattening out the absorptive apparatus. Unfortunately, celiac disease is often not considered in the differential diagnoses of people with intestinal and systemic problems; such as weight loss, anemia, foul smelling stools, rashes, indigestion, abdominal discomfort, allergies and recently found neurological problems. Celiac may not even have signs nor symptoms in the intestinal tract and only cause neurological problems. Often it is the the educated patient who brings this possibility to the attention of the health care provider. Again, once an accurate diagnosis is made (there are easy blood tests) natural remedies and dietary chooses can give relief.
So while the advice of Hippocrates to “Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food” is certainly excellent, it is also important to be sure that we create the optimal environment in order for the food/medicine to be effective.
Alan J. Sault MD, ABHM – Diplomat
Author: Emotional Vampires and Your Hormones: an holistic physician’s view of how stress affects your well-being and what you can do about it holisticsecondopinion.net/vampires