Saturday, June 5, 2010

Heal Your Gut, Reduce Chronic Inflammation

This blog is about chronic inflammation which we are now finding can be improved by developing healthy gut flora. I write as a Type 2 Diabetic, but chronic inflammation is a factor in many chronic diseases.  I have found that addressing gut health dramatically helps children who suffer allergies, eczema and asthma.  For adults, it is a critical factor in obesity, heart disease, chronic fatigue, depression, fibromyalgia, lupus, arthritis, Celiac, Crohn's, IBS and many other disorders.

1. People with chronic disease (including T2s) generally have poor gut health. The mucosal lining of their small intestine is inflamed.

2. People with chronic disease (including obese people) have different gut flora than healthy people. The imbalance of the intestinal microbial community is clear and can be easily demonstrated. While we can see the differences in gut flora, our understanding of the hundreds of species and thousands of subspecies of the 10-100 trillion microbes in our gut is still very rudimentary at this point.  My blog explores emerging understanding.

3. People with an inflamed lining of their small intestine have an impaired gut barrier and the inflammation spreads.  We suffer chronic inflammation as measured by C-reactive protein and other markers of inflammation.

4. Chronic inflammation is associated with insulin resistance and obesity. Obesity is both a result of inflammation and insulin resistance and a cause of further inflammation and insulin resistance. Vicious cycle.

5. Incretins involved in insulin signaling are produced in the intestinal lining. In T2 diabetics, an inflamed gut leads to disturbed incretin signalling and a weak or nonexistent First Phase Insulin Response.

6. Other hormonal signaling is disturbed by chronic inflammation.  Beside insulin resistance, inflammation will impair the response to leptin (the hunger hormone) and result in increased obesity.

7. Five measures are known to improve the composition of the gut flora and reduce inflammation: 
-   (a) consuming more probiotic organisms.
-   (b) consuming more prebiotic soluble fiber that favors the growth of healthy bacteria.
-   (c) consuming more phytonutrients that discourage the growth of unhealthy bacteria and yeast.
-   (d) limiting the consumption of simple carbohydrates (especially fructose) which encourage the growth of unhealthy bacteria and yeast in the gut. 
-   (e) improving the body's omega-3 to omega-6 ratio by eating healthy fats and oils.

Rather than battling disease by killing and cutting, I am more interested in realizing health and wellness by achieving balance. I am pleased that many people are looking for gentler ways to achieve health through lifestyle changes and relying less on radical drugs and surgery.


  1. "Rather than battling disease by killing and cutting, I am more interested in realizing health and wellness by achieving balance"

    I think the traditional therapies (Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, etc.) and modern naturopaths also aim at realizing health and wellness by achieving balance. The traditionalists have a lot of empirical data obtained through centuries and millennias of keen observation. Modern naturopaths have both the traditional empirical data and modern scientific knowledge at hand. But the unfortunate thing is that neither the traditionalists nor the modern naturopaths have solid scietific theories to back their methods. We can pardon the traditionalists for having weird and illogical theories entwined with superstitions -- the period through which these theories evolved were more conducive to promoting non-scientific beliefs laced with a fair amount of superstitions. Also, they did not have the modern tools to investigate nature. But what can we say of modern naturopaths who still wallow in the mud of illogical beliefs and unscientific theories? A large number of naturopaths promote Homoeopathy (sorry, I have absolutely no sympathy for Homoeopathy which appears to me to be only as good as - or worse than - a placebo.)

    Hope modern medicine will grow out of the "cut/kill" mentality and adopt a holistic (but logical and scientific) attitude striving to achieve the harmonious balance that the traditionalists were seeking.


  2. Rad,

    I have met more than a few MD's who practice a form of medicine variously called Functional Medicine, Holistic Medicine, Integrative Medicine, etc. who all seem committed to "harmonious balance." I do think modern medicine is changing.

    Some of my MD heroes include Dr. William Davis, Dr. Michael Eades, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Dawn Motyka. All of them are more conversant in the latest medical research than most mainstream doctors. Are practitioners of medical theories they learned in medical school more than a decade ago really practicing modern medicine?

  3. how do you add more probiotic elements when those probiotic illness themselves cause vicious migraines?

  4. Mouse,

    I see I never answered your question. I don't really understand what you mean by "probiotic illness" which seems like a contradiction in terms to me. Are you saying you think some probiotic micro-organisms cause migraines? While I know people who suffer headaches related to yeasts and mold, I have never heard of any the common probiotic bacteria strains causing headaches or any other adverse reaction.

  5. Hi Denny,
    I am so happy to stumble on your blog. I have suffered with fibromyalgia pain for the last 10yrs with all attempts at treatment leading me to dead ends. Many foods exacerbate my pain and reading about leaky gut here sounds dead on. What I want to ask you is, can you give some suggestions on how to add probiotic organisms, periobiotic fiber and phytonutrients to my daily intake.

  6. Hi Denny
    Would you know if there is a way for me to figure out if some doctors are covered under my insurance plan who practice functional medecin?

  7. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any doctors practicing functional medicine in the US who are covered by my health insurance. I hope your insurance plan is more open. Most insurance cards have a toll free number on them that you can call to inquire about whether a particular service is covered.

  8. I prefer food over supplements, as I have to eat food anyway (and am taking entirely too many supplements already).

    13 g glutamine per pound of beef. All meats, eggs and dairy have a lot.

    Also, a lot of the reason for glutamine is to produce glutathione - and there's a lot of it in raw milk (destroyed by pasteurization though, but I expect the amino acid survives even if the peptide is denatured).

    Also, butyric acid is very good for healing the gut... so butter.

  9. As Glutamine is easily destroyed by heat and I do not eat raw beef or raw eggs, I supplement with glutamine.

    Agree with you about butyric acid. Do you know if normal butter (all that is available here in Shanghai) has the same amount of butyric acid as butter from grass-fed cows?

  10. So happy to stumble upon your blog while I was looking for info on xylitol. I have chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease, as well as some chronic fatigue. Because I see a functional medicine MD, I understand the connection between gut health and overall health. I am happy to see someone else out there spreading awareness about this connection. Happy health to you!