Thursday, November 09, 2006

The link to the leaky gut and autoimmune disease becomes clearer.

The link to the leaky gut and autoimmune disease becomes clearer.

In a just published review on alterations in intestinal permeability Dr. J. B. Medding and his colleagues in Edmonton, Alberta Canada (Arrieta, Gut, 2006) describe how the intestine serves as a barrier when normal but becomes a source of the genesis of autoimmune diseases when it becomes abnormally permeable. That is, when your gut becomes leaky (“the leaky gut syndrome”) several autoimmune diseases are known to occur.

Intestinal permeability (how leaky the gut has become) can be evaluated in a manner specific to various sites in the gut. That is, the different areas of the gut, from stomach to large intestine, can be evaluated by specific tests for leakiness and related to damage and disease in those areas. Areas of leaky gut can be observed prior to the onset of disease and appear to be involved in the development of disease, especially autoimmune diseases like Celiac disease, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, as well as probably skin diseases like atopic dermatitis, rheumatologic conditions, and even irritable bowel syndrome. The authors propose a new paradigm consisting of “three main features…

(1) A genetically susceptible immune system (the mucosal immune system), that allows the host to react abnormally to an environmental antigen.
(2) An environmental product that triggers the disease process.
(3) The ability for the environmental agent to interact with the mucosal immune system. Since the purpose of the epithelial barrier is to keep these two factors separate, and we measure this function of the barrier by permeability, the corollary of this is that an increase in permeability is a requirement for disease expression.”

What does this mean in lay terms? The gut or intestine is supposed to be a barrier to foreign proteins like foods and bacteria. If your immune system is genetically predisposed to react adversely to a certain food proteins and/or bacteria in your gut (or nerves, skin or joints) you may react with activation of damaging chemicals intended to protect you from foreign invaders that instead damage your gut making it more leaky and more vulnerable as well as your nerves, skin, and joints.

Leaky gut begets damage to your gut, nerves, skin and/or joints and you have Celiac, Crohn’s, IBS, multiple sclerosis, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes etc. etc. Now, what is concerning for some of us interested in this area is the overload of our gut with certain foods that have proteins known as lectins that are difficult to digest and potentially toxic to the gut, especially after genetic engineering or modification. Stay tuned for more on this exciting area as I continue writing on the relationship of food, gut and disease. As your food doctor, the food doc, I hope to help you find the information you need to eat right to feel right.

Arrieta MC, Bistritz L, Meddings, JB. Recent advances in clinical practice. Alterations in intestinal permeability. Gut 2006;55:1512-1520.

Copyright 2006 The Food Doc, LLC All Rights Reserved.

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