leaky gutTag Archives

Eat fat, lose fat

I’m currently reading Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon. Mary Enig was a key scientist in the fight to get trans fats listed on our nutrition labels. She was actively opposed by the Institute for Shortening and Edible Oils (ISEO). This is an organization that pulls political clout to prevent the funding and publication of research intended to study the harm of vegetable oils and shortening. This organization was incensed about the fact that Mary Enig’s initial paper on the subject had gotten published at all. They have industry watchdogs to prevent such an occurrence, but somehow the paper managed to slip through their scrutiny. Doctors and scientists had been questioning the use of vegetable oils and trans fats since the 1920s when they were beginning to come into popular use. Myocardial infarctions (what we know of as heart attacks) were unheard of prior to the advent of the use of these fats. But their concerns got drowned out by the proponents of the cholesterol theory of heart disease, which would include organizations such at the ISEO and the pharmaceutical industry since they stand to gain from it.

According to Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, lack of healthy fats contributes to several diseases including chronic fatigue, low energy, anxiety, depression and mood swings, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, food cravings, gallbladder ailments, bacterial infections, fungal issues, viral infections, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease, gas and bloating, eczema and dry skin, sagging and wrinkled skin, dandruff, and cellulite. They propose a diet that has coconut oil and cod liver oil to correct these issues that they believe to be the result of lack of healthy fats. They also say that dietary cholesterol is important for maintaining the health of the intestinal wall and preventing leaky gut. Their list of sources for healthy fats: coconut oil, butter, cream, nuts, meats, and eggs as well as cod liver oil.

Leaky gut syndrome

Leaky gut could be a cause for the multiple allergies and sensitivities that could in turn result in an autoimmune disease. So what is leaky gut?

Leaky gut is a condition in which the intestine is allowing passage into the bloodstream of incompletely digested food. The immune system then reacts to those food particles, resulting in a cascade of allergies and sensitivities. These multiple allergies and sensitivities are the hallmark of a leaky gut. If you have multiple food allergies and sensitivities, it’s a good bet that your gut is leaky. Way back in the 80s, I did an IgE test for food allergies, and the only thing that came back negative was walnuts. In other words, the only item in the test that I wasn’t allergic to was walnuts.  The doctor said that I probably had not been eating them. Can you imagine the elimination diet required to treat that? Trust me, you don’t want to. The doctor put me on some obscure formula that was something like hot wheat cereal (but of course it wasn’t wheat), and that was all I could eat while I healed. Yes, been there, done that.

There are two causes of leaky gut that I know of. The first and the easiest to correct is a gluten problem. I’ve seen varying descriptions of the mechanism for how it works, but the upshot is the same. To correct the problem, you must eliminate all sources of gluten from the diet. This is principally wheat, rye, and barley, but your practitioner may suggest elimination of all grains.

The other cause is overgrowth of harmful microbes in the gut that can cause damage to the intestine. Antibiotic use or poor diet can set this in motion. To rebalance your intestinal flora, you need to starve the bad little critters. This requires elimination of all sugar, fruit, grains, and other starches. Since those buggers can also thrive on artificial sweeteners, that means completely forgoing sweets. The resulting diet is composed mainly of meat and non-starchy vegetables. Along with that, you need to encourage the increase of beneficial gut microbes. This can be done by consuming probiotic supplements, yogurt, and fermented vegetable products such as kimchee and fermented sauerkraut. The fermenting process should eliminate the goitrogens, so one need not be so concerned about consuming the cabbage products.

Serious solutions for serious problems. This is an issue best solved with the help of your health practitioner.

References:
Andrew Weil, M.D. What is Leaky Gut?
PubMed

Testing for food sensitivities

In many cases, a malfunctioning thyroid is the result of an autoimmune reaction. In other words, your immune system could be attacking your thyroid. Such a situation could have been set in motion by a leaky gut and the cascade of food allergies and sensitivities that follows. Allergists will check for food allergies by checking IgE reactions. This won’t find sensitivities, though, since they are reactions of IgA, IgG, or IgM. It used to be that the only way to test for these was through elimination diets. They would begin with an extremely limited diet of least likely suspects and gradually add back in new foods to see what caused a reaction. In the last year or two, Cyrex Laboratories came out with blood tests that will check for sensitivity reactions. You can pass that on to your doctor, and he can order the tests for you. If you are allergic and/or sensitive to any foods and they are eliminated, in time you may heal from thyroid issues or any of a number of other autoimmune disorders.