Eat Better – Live Better – Feel Better
(Part 2 of 3)

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     May 5, 2016   [printfriendly]

Eat Better - Live Better - Feel BetterIn Part 1, I described how inflammation could move from the healthy state of acute inflammation to the unhealthy state of chronic inflammation. In this part, I discuss how gut bacteria and the cellular lining of the gut are involved in chronic inflammation.


The Bacteria


Healthy bacteria make vitamins and other nutrients, and they affect the immune system. They support digestion and total health when they populate our guts in proper ratios, varieties of species, and absolute numbers. They specifically nourish the cells that line the gut and provide a first line of defense against invaders into the body. The gut microbiome also can influence the health of the blood brain barrier.


When the ratios of unhealthy to healthy bacteria soar, overall health is compromised. When the gut microbiome falls out of balance and the “bad guys” proliferate, the imbalance is called dysbiosis. The byproducts of bad bacteria, yeast, and parasites are toxic and inflammatory to the body and destructive to the cells lining the gut. HERE.


The Gut Barrier


The cells that line the gut are replaced every one to two weeks. This quick turnover helps maintain health and function in the gut lining. However, toxic substances and overpopulation of bad bacteria over a long period of time can lead to a breakdown in the cell lining of the gut barrier, allowing leakage into the bloodstream.


Think of the lining of your digestive tract as a fine mesh net with extremely small holes that allow only specific substances of a specific size to pass through. If the substances are smaller than the holes in the net, they can pass through. If the substances are larger than the holes, they can’t. If the bigger particles are not digestible, they eventually get eliminated. If they are digestible, they’re broken down into their smaller nutritional elements. Only then can they pass from the gut into the bloodstream. This is how a healthy gut should function. Your gut lining works as a barrier keeping out those bigger particles that can damage your system.


If the “fine mesh net” in your digestive tract gets damaged and bigger holes develop, some bad stuff could pass through into your bloodstream. This damage to the gut lining is called a leaky gut, or more specifically increased intestinal permeability. Some of the larger particles that should never seep through are able to penetrate. Unhealthy substances might include not-fully-digested proteins (such as gluten that is not able to be completely digested by the human gut), bad bacteria along with their harmful byproducts, and other food particles that have not been broken down into their biologically effective components. Toxic waste could also leak from the inside of the intestinal tract into the bloodstream. All substances that leak into the bloodstream (but should not be there) can initiate chronic inflammatory responses. The entire body becomes the playground for chronic inflammation.


Frequently, damage to the gut lining can cause symptoms that are well removed from their source. Examples are lesions in the mouth, damage to the joints, malfunctioning organ systems, and the list goes on. However, some gut symptoms resulting from chronic inflammation include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Dark and foul-smelling feces
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritable colon
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Colon cancer, etc.


Chronic Systemic Inflammation


Chronic systemic inflammation is a serious problem. It can make you feel really bad. It can stop your body from doing what it should. It also can contribute to cascading and cumulative problems like insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and various autoimmune diseases (including rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel diseases, multiple sclerosis, periodontal disease, and many others). Many of the problems of chronic inflammation may not show up as obvious symptoms until years or even decades have past.


In Part 3 of 3, I’ll explore ways of reducing chronic inflammation


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Are There Holes In Your Gut?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     March 3, 2016   [printfriendly]

Holes in your gut?Bad things could be leaking from your gut into your bloodstream. It’s called a leaky gut or more correctly intestinal permeability.


You may not know if you have this problem. It’s not necessary for you to have obvious gut distress to confirm you have a leaky gut. You don’t have to have bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. In fact, most people with leaky gut do not have belly problems, but they have other problems in other parts of their body.


Sometimes, a leaky gut could result in thyroid disease, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, insulin resistance, neurological conditions, and various autoimmune diseases.


Interestingly, some mouth problems could be the result of a leaky gut. It is curious how this could occur.


Specific foods like processed grains and sugars (as well as other foods) could cause a change in the balance of bacteria in your gut. An overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut could cause inflammation and damage to the gut lining. This lining is only one cell layer thick, and damage could easily cause small holes to develop. Once this happens, toxic substances could leak into the bloodstream, which would cause various inflammatory reactions. Once in the bloodstream, inflammation could damage tissues in all areas of the body.


It is also noteworthy that the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut could cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the mouth. Here, Here. All of a sudden, a vicious cycle might begin. Here’s how:


The processed carbohydrates that damaged the gut are also the food for the bad bacteria that are now overgrowing in the mouth. The bad bacteria in the mouth continue to grow uncontrolled. Bad bacteria in the mouth could cause gum disease and tooth decay. Also, sores in the soft tissues of the mouth could pop up. As more problematic food is eaten, more damage occurs in the gut, and more bad bacteria proliferate in the mouth. The vicious cycle continues.


So, do you have holes in your gut?


While there is a blood test provided by Cyrex Labs (Array 2) that could help determine if you have a leaky gut, that would not be my first suggestion. The simplest solution would be first to remove all the offending foods that could be the source of damage.


An elimination diet is one that removes all the potentially harmful foods. Here is my 30-Day Reset diet, which is an elimination diet that lists all the bad foods to remove as well as those foods that are perfect to eat. I recommend this first step to my patients who need more in-depth exploration of the cause to their problem. At a later date, other functional medicine testing (including the Cyrex Array 2) could be prescribed if necessary.


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We Were Born to be Healthy:
Part 5 of 7

evolution rThis is installment 5. Part 1 is HERE; Part 2 is HERE, Part 3 is HERE, Part 4 is HERE.


Leaky gut


Undigested proteins from grains, ingested toxins, and unhealthy levels of microbes can damage the one-cell-layer-thick lining of the intestines, creating small holes in the lining. This is called intestinal permeability or leaky gut. With constant exposure to indigestible peptides, toxins, and unhealthy bacteria, damage to the gut lining becomes more serious. Just like tears in cheesecloth, an opening or pathway is created for unwanted stuff to leak into the blood system.


Damage to the gut lining sets up a critical scenario.


Specific biological insults could occur:

  • Undigested peptides from grains and other undigested food particles could leak through these holes into the bloodstream.
  • Toxins and Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) that are very irritating could leak through these holes creating severe systemic inflammation.


The results:


Our immune system would react to these insults by creating a cascade of inflammatory reactions within the lumen of the intestines as well as within the bloodstream and throughout the rest of the body.


Complicating this process, some of these invading peptides might look like normal proteins in other tissues of our body. After enough insult to our body through this leaky gut, our immune system could become confused and begin attacking the normal cells of various organs that looked like these invading peptides (called molecular mimicry). Those tissues and organs that had the weakest genetic predisposition could become affected – possibly the Beta cells in the pancreas resulting in type 1 diabetes; possibly the skin cells resulting in psoriasis; possibly the thyroid cells resulting in hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis; possibly the joint cells resulting in rheumatic arthritis; or possibly the periodontal tissues resulting in periodontitis.


We are more bacteria than human


Our human body is made up of 10 trillion human cells. However, our body is host to 100 trillion microbial cells. Most of these live within our digestive system, and the far majority of them reside in the colon. We are healthy when these microbes are in a state of homeostasis. We are unhealthy when this delicate balance goes astray.


There are probably 35,000 or more microbial species in our gut, most of which cannot be cultured through normal means. Gut bacteria affect our entire body including our mouths.


Studies have shown that patients with inflammatory bowel disease have unhealthy bacterial changes in their saliva. Research also has shown that species of gut bacteria have been able to become dormant, live intracellularly in red blood cells without detection, and then migrate to distant organs of the body, resulting in infections of apparently unknown origin. Healthy bacteria in fermented foods have been shown to improve the bacterial components in dental plaque in a randomized controlled trial involving a population of school children. All this research demonstrates how bacteria from the gut influence our entire body.


By returning the gut bacteria to a healthy balance is proving promising for various diseases. Some cutting-edge procedures like Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT) (Here, Here) have replaced bad bacteria in the gut successfully with healthy populations to cure Clostridium difficile, an otherwise difficult infection to treat. These procedures currently are being investigated for the treatment of obesity, Alzheimer’s, autism, multiple sclerosis, and even ALS – all of which have been shown to have chronic inflammation as the underlying cause.


Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, which may very well respond to reestablishment of healthy gut bacteria.