Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Gluten Intolerance and Probiotics
Just as an aside, I’ve had a few people ask me if “leaky gut” is a real phenomena. Also known as “increased intestinal permeability”, leaky gut is not only real but a quick internet search will show that such respected journals as the Journal of Hepatology, Gastroenterology, the British Medical Journal, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Digestive and Liver Disease and the Journal of Pediatrics, to name a few, have multiple scientific studies focusing on the importance and effects of a leaky gut on health. There are literally hundreds of articles that focus on this issue. Okay, sorry for the digression.
What are probiotics? A major constituent of the intestinal immune system consisting of 100s of trillions of organisms. You have more (at least you should have) of these organisms in your gut than you have cells in your body!
It’s estimated that 70 - 80% of your immune system is housed in your gut. This is why we spend as much time as we do ensuring that our patients’ digestive systems are working optimally. More and more research is supporting the premise that without a healthy digestive tract, good health is all but impossible.
Not only do these good bacteria help defend you against infection but the new research that was just released shows that they have an ability to modify gene expression.
What does this mean? The researcher was evaluating why certain people “turn on” celiac disease and gluten sensitivity at different ages. If it’s genetic, as we know it to be, then why doesn’t that first teething biscuit or gold fish cracker begin the symptoms of gluten sensitivity? It does in some of course but for many the symptoms begin in later decades of life.
Dr Alessio Fasano believes that it’s not enough to have the gene and have the presence of gluten, but there must be a third factor, an initiator, that creates an insult to the gut enough for gluten to then be able to cause its inflammation and subsequent damage.
It’s like the spark that begins the forest fire. You can have a windy day and dry tinder but you need the spark to begin the decimation.
Dr Fasano believes that the “spark” is an unhealthy balance of good and bad probiotics in the gut. The good ones are protectors, but the bad ones are initiators. The make-up of probiotic populations actually have the ability to turn on and off genes at will.
This is terribly exciting and at the very least should have you interested in “who” is being housed in your intestines! There is a simple lab test that provides the data and treatment is similarly easy but very beneficial.
I hope this helps.
p.s. New Discovery - Appendix Provides an Important Function!
Did you think it was unlikely that you possessed a body part that had no function? I know I did. Well after a very long wait the reason why we have an appendix has been discovered.
It turns out that the appendix houses probiotics. Don’t worry if your appendix was removed. You can still restore health to your intestines.
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”