What You Need to Know About Leaky Gut…

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Leaky gut, as the words suggest, is describing a “HOLEy” intestine.

By the way, leaky gut does have a fancier scientific name – “increased intestinal permeability” or “intestinal hyperpermeability”.

In a normal healthy intestine, the cells lining the intestinal walls are glued very tightly to each other. In fact, the joining point of the cells are called tight junction, so we’re reminded that they’re tight.

The intestine is the body’s first line of defense against the outside world. No matter how clean you wash your hands, utensils, cook your food or raw food. There’ll be unwanted guests being ingested the same time.

This is where our intestines save our lives everyday as our shining armor. The intestine wall is supposed to block out everything that is harmful to our body, and selectively allow what our body needs to pass through into the circulatory system or lymphatic system. Just like a bouncer at the club entrance. No entrance if you’re not on the VIP list.

For reasons we’ll discuss shortly, the intestine lining gets challenged and the integrity of the tight junction is being sabotaged, resulting in a compromised defense mechanism and the intestinal wall become less selective of what’s allowed to cross the barrier into the blood stream.

This can be dangerous, as we already mentioned, God knows what else is in the food we eat.

With the not-so-tight junction now, anything that can fit through the gap, will enter. That means, partially digested food now can get through without being thoroughly digested. Bacteria, virus and fungus can enter into the bloodstream. Toxins from liver and bile generated from the body.

The not-so-tight junction is now free for all.

These uninvited guests trigger autoimmune reactions, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes, and autoimmunity.

Leaky gut results in hepatic dysfunction and pancreatic insufficiency, which further impede food digestion and toxin accumulation, and making the gut more permeable, creating a vicious cycle of food allergy, malnutrition, bacterial dysbiosis and hepatic distress.

So…what happened now?

First we need to figure out why our gut becomes leaky or “holey”.

There are many possible causes of leaky gut. Definitely, anything that’s harmful to the intestines, such as chronic inflammation, food sensitivity, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) therapy, cytotoxic drugs and radiation or certain antibiotics, excessive alcohol consumption, or compromised immunity.

And here’s a list of medical conditions that are associated with leaky gut

• Inflammatory bowel disease
• Infectious enterocolitis
• Spondyloarthropathies
• Acne
• Eczema
• Psoriasis
• Urticaria
• AIDS/HIV infection
• Cystic fibrosis
• Pancreatic insufficiency
• Hepatic dysfunction
• Irritable bowel syndrome with food intolerance
• CFIDS
• Chronic arthritis/pain treated with NSAIDS
• Alcoholism
• Neoplasia treated with cytotoxic drugs
• Celiac disease
• Dermatitis herpetiformis
• Autism
• Childhood hyperactivity
• Environmental illness
• Multiple food and chemical sensitivities

Leaky gut syndrome may trigger or worsen disorders such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma.

And I would be wary of any diagnosis of leaky gut syndrome if you don’t have Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, or asthma.

How do you know if you have leaky gut?

Having one of the above medical conditions make you at higher risk of have leaky gut. Having one of the symptoms below should increase your suspicion for leaky gut.

SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH LEAKY GUT:

• Fatigue and malaise
• Joint and muscle pain
• Fevers of unknown origin
• Food allergies and intolerances
• Abdominal pain and distension
• Diarrhea
• Skin rashes
• Toxic feelings
• Cognitive and memory deficits
• Shortness of breath

If you have one or more of the medical conditions associated with leaky gut along with a few of the symptoms above, it may be wise to consider the possibility of leaky gut.

There are tests that can confirm your diagnosis of leaky gut. Or you can just start treating your leaky gut empirically with a clean nutrient dense plant-based diet that is free from toxins and filled with antioxidants.

I would suggest the second option, if you don’t want to bother with the testing and wait.

The treatment of leaky gut generally does not involve any big gun pharmaceuticals that are loaded with toxins and dangerous side effects.

To find the right treatment, we need to first understand the causes. Otherwise, we’re just keep putting bandaids on the symptoms.

So…what causes leaky gut?

Leaky gut syndrome is generally not recognized by conventional physicians. If you ask your general physician if you have leaky gut, chances are you’ll get a funny look like he/she does not know what you’re talking about.

On the other hand, a functional medicine doctor may consider runny some tests to look for clues to confirm leaky gut or bacterial dysbiosis.

Related articles: Testing for leaky gut

The leaky gut is the manifestation of the vicious cycle of allergy, malnutrition, bacterial dysbiosis and hepatic stress.

Each problem feeds into the next and the cycle just keep going and your symptoms continue to get worse.

The relationship between food allergies and sensitivities and the leaky gut is complicated. The leaky gut or intestinal that is “holey” is a cause of food sensitivities because it allows anything to past through. Then, when the intestine is exposed to all kinds of allergens, the immune system is activated, mast cells are deployed and histamine is released. This immune reaction makes the gut even leakier, then more undigested food past through, then more allergic reaction. And it keeps going, and going, and going…

Now with damaged epithelial cells and really leaky gut, nutrients are not absorbed properly. As a result, malnutrition happens, which further aggravates the structure, integrity and function of the epithelial cells in the intestines.

Under normal conditions, intestinal epithelial cells dies and regenerate every three to six days. This is a very demanding task that requires lots of energy and nutrients. The malnutrition, which is the result of poor nutrient absorption from the leaky gut, would hider epithelial cell repair and regeneration. As a result, the intestinal wall continues to get weaker and weaker because the body cannot catch up with the demand to regenerate new cells.

With nutrients not being absorbed properly, the microbiota in the gut will be affected. You can imagine overgrowth of all kinds of bacterial, fungus, other organism out of proportion leading to bacterial dysbiosis. These guys are supposed to be living in harmony with each other and with our guts. When certain one species grow too fast, they overcrowds the other. Even if it’s the good bacteria that is growing too fast. Too much of a good thing is not always better.

Related article: Bacterial Overgrowth/Dysbiosis

This results in disruption of the intestinal harmony and with the now bigger organism population, we also have a waste control problem.

The liver in people with leaky has to work extra hard to remove the unusual guests that enters the leaky gut, and get rid of the toxic waste generated in the crazy overpopulated gut microbiota.

The situation is putting the liver in stress.

Cytochrome P-450 oxidase is induced and the liver starts making more free radicals. The result is damaging to the liver cells. The liver dumps the toxic free radicals into the bile, which is excreted via the intestine.

The problem does not stop here. This is just the beginning.

While the toxic bile is traveling in the intestine towards the colon and hopefully, out of the body, some of the toxin is being reabsorbed back into the system. Remember from physiology class, our body normally reabsorbs some of the bile back.

Yikes…

Not only that, the toxic bile is damaging to the bile duct, intestinal wall and it can also reflux into the pancreas, affecting nutrient digestion.

This whole scenario just feeds further into the leaky gut, making the intestine more permeable to intruders.

And the cycle keeps going.

Now that we have a better understanding of the etiology of leaky gut.

Now let’s break the cycle, patch up the HOLES and heal your leaky gut.

Symptoms of ADHD

Does Your Child Have ADHD?

Well, the signs and symptoms of ADHD are pretty self-explained – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – lack of attention (or focus) and hyperactive (cannot sit still).

You know how we often jokes about ADHD when one of our friends keeps forgetting things while multitasking.

Of course, you don’t get the diagnosis of ADHD just for being forgetful occasionally.

A child has to show that he/she has at least 6 items from that category to be classified as inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive. And the child must show to have these behaviors for at least 6 months, and the behaviors are creating significant impairment in social, academic or occupational functioning or relationships.

A diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is given when hyperactivity and impulsivity are not present. But, in general, ADHD and ADD are used interchangeably.

ADHD or ADD is usually diagnosed in childhood. We all know young children have short attention span. But if his/her attention span is unusually short-spanned for his/her age, that warrants some concern. Or an older child who is not able to stay put in his/her chair and behaves more like a toddler wandering around the classroom.

Let’s look at the list below and see how many you have.

Inattention

■ fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
■ has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
■ does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
■ does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)
■ has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
■ avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)
■ loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
■ easily get distracted by extraneous stimuli
■ forgetful in daily activities

Hyperactivity

■ fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
■ leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
■ runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)
■ has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
■ “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”
■ talks excessively

Impulsivity

■ blurts out answers before questions have been completed
■ has difficulty awaiting turn
■ interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

I’m sure we all can find a few of these behaviors in ourselves at one point in time. And that’s normal.

Remember, every child is different and we all learn differently. If your child’s teacher raises a concern, take the time to observe and get a proper diagnosis. Don’t jump to conclusion right away to put a label on your child.

Related article: ADHD Symptoms or Something Else?

Why Artificial Food Coloring Matters?




What do Allure Red, Carmoisine, Sunset Yellow and Tartrazine all have in common? Some fancy names huh.

YES! You guess it right. They‘re all names of food colorings. One more thing they are in common, which you might not know…

You commonly see them in food packages or beverages labels…but did you know these food coloring that our children are consuming everyday are banned in parts of Europe.

The University of Southampton reported a study commissioned by the British Food Standards Agency that linked consumption of food dyes and sodium benzoate to increase in hyperactive behaviors in children and possibly lower IQs.

The additives tested in the research were:

§ Sunset yellow (E110) (FD&C; Yellow #6)

§ Carmoisine (E122) – Red coloring in jellies

§ Tartrazine (E102) (FD&C; Yellow #5)

§ Ponceau 4R (E124) – Red coloring

§ Quinoline yellow (E104) – Yellow coloring

§ Allura red AC (E129) (FD&C; Red #40)

§ Sodium benzoate (E211) – Preservative

On April 10, 2008, the Food Standards Agency called for a voluntary removal of the six food colorings tested, but not sodium benzoate the preservative. The European Union (EU) began requiring products that contain artificial food dyes to have warning labels that state “consumption may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

Wow, the Europeans are serious. We have warning labels on cigarettes because tobacco causes cancer. But warning labels on candies? That’s serious.

Out of the six food colorings banned in Europe, four are still currently approved for use by the FDA in the United States. They are Sunset yellow (E110) (FD&C; Yellow #6), Carmoisine (E122) (FD&C; Red #3), Tartrazine (E102) (FD&C; Yellow #5) and Allura Red (E129) (FD&C; Red #40).

Check out the list of food additive ingredients approved for use by the FDA.

What is the United States doing?

Despite Europe’s tight stance on food dyes and the numerous clinical studies showing the increased risk to children who consume them, the FDA continues to support the idea that there is not enough evidence and has been reluctant to address the issue until now.

In a recent statement, FDA staff admitted: “For certain susceptible children with ADHD and other problem behaviors, the data suggest their condition may be exacerbated” by substances in food including artificial colors. According to the FDA, Americans were consuming five times more artificial food dyes in 2007 than in 1955.

What are US companies doing?

Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have pledged not to sell products with synthetic food colors. And Starbucks doesn’t allow food dyes in its beverages or pastries. However, Starbucks still ended up in trouble with its vegan customers for one of its natural food colorings that originated from bug juice.

Other companies have reformulated their products to meet the regulations in Europe. Kraft and McDonald’s have stopped using artificial colorings abroad while they continue to sell foods with the undesirable ingredients in the U.S. market. How rotten business people are.

Kellogg’s strawberry Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars sold in the U.S. contain Red No. 40, Yellow No. 6 and Blue No. 1. But the “supposedly” same Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars in the U.K., contain natural colorings, such as beet root red, annatto and paprika extra.

What Can You Do?

Arm Yourself with Knowledge. Learn to read the ingredient labels on food and beverages containers. Don’t forget about medications too. Food dyes are frequently found in medications as well.

Here is a list of Natural Food Color to get know:

§ Caramel coloring (E150), caramelized sugar

§ Annatto (E160b), a reddish-orange dye from the seed of the achiote.

§ Chlorophyllin (E140), a green dye made from chlorella algae

§ Cochineal (E120), a red dye from the cochineal bug. This coloring recently got Starbucks in trouble with its vegan customers.

§ Betanin (E162) from beets

§ Turmeric (curcuminoids, E100)

§ Saffron (carotenoids, E160a)

§ Paprika (E160c)

§ Lycopene (E160d)

§ Elderberry juice

§ Pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius), a green food dye

§ Butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea), a blue food dye

Click here for suggestion on an natural alternative food colors for your next baking project.




Probiotics




The Good Guys in Our Gut

What is probiotics?

The prefix “pro” means good, as in “pros and cons”. The last part, – biotics, basically means living things, such as bacteria.

So probiotics means good bacteria.

Good vs Bad Gut Bacteria

Our intestines are filthy, not clean and full of bacteria, yeast, etc. Got the picture? In fact, there are between 500-1,000 different species of bacteria in the intestines, mostly large intestines. Small intestines contains only a small amount as it is close to the acidic content of the stomach.

Let’s get back to our bacteria in the large intestines. Actually there are more than just bacteria. There are also fungi or yeast and protozoa. Of course, there are good ones and bad ones too.

Let’s start with why there is bacteria in our intestines. Who would have thought of that?

Actually, these bacteria are scavangers in our system. As we all know, we ingest food, digest food, then absorbs the nutrients from the food. These all happens in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

We always think that this is a very highly efficient system at least it has stayed pretty much the same over last millions of years with the first human on earth.

Anyway, food particles are not 100% digested and absorbed. When the leftover food gue gets to the large intestines or colon, someone has to take care of that. Just like we have garbage man who takes care of our garbage in the city.

The intestines provide the perfect environment for these critters to survive – moisture, nutrients and protection to outside threats.

The only threats they have antibiotics.

Anyway, while our intestines provide a nurturing environment for these critters, they’re also working for us.

Obviously, these bacteria are eating our leftover undigested food scraps. Here’s the difference between good bacteria (probiotics) and bad bacteria.

They both have their own very distinct diet.

The good bacteria (probiotics) prefers healthy foods, and they break down the undigested carbohydrates and produces short-chain fatty acids that our body can use for energy. Kind of like recycling, and renewable energy.

The good bacteria can also make vitamin B’s and vitamin K. And they also help with metabolizing bile acids, sterols and xenobiotics.

The bad guys feed on junk food. And you know what I’m talking about. The byproducts that they produced are harmful to our body. And some studies is showing that having a well-fed robust population of bad bacteria in your gut is the probable cause of obesity.

So how do we get more of the good probiotics guys and get rid of the bad guys?

The way I frequently explained to my families is an analogy to keeping a house pet.

We all know kitty eats cat food. And doggie eats dog food.

Since we know the good and bad guys eat a different diet. We’re going to feed more of the healthy diet that the good guys prefers, and restrict the bad guys’ diet of junk food.

When this happens, the bad bacteria will soon die because of lack of food for them. And the good bacteria will continue to flourish on the healthy food, and less environmental competition from the bad bacteria.

Also, taking a probiotic supplement is a good ways to add more good bacteria to your intestines. This will also help crowd out the bad bacteria.

Remember, taking the probiotics supplement is not enough. You need to feed your “pet” (probiotics) with a healthy diet. Otherwise, they’ll keep dying of hunger and starvation. And you’ll be wasting your probiotic supplements.

What are some good ways to add probiotics to your diet?

The best sources of probiotics are in fermented foods and beverages. It sounds quite disgusting, but these products actually taste pretty good.

Kefir. Kefir is a fermented yogurt drink made from milk. You can also get Kefir made from coconut water, if you’re allergic to milk. You can purchase your own kefir grain, and make your own kefir from organic milk or coconut water. The kefir grain can last up to couple of years.

Kefir is different from the commercial yogurt drinks (ie Danimals), which has only sprinkles of probiotics.

Kombucha Fermented tea. I think you can make your own, but I wouldn’t trust myself with this one.

Kim chee This is a spicy fermented vegetables in Korean cuisine. The vegetable is usually marinated and fermented in Korean chili pasta and salt. The most common kim chee is made with Napa cabbage. But you can also get cucumber kim chee.

Probiotics supplement Start with at least 1 billion colony forming unit (CFUs). Don’t waste you time and money with anything less.

Just a word of caution. Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria. That’s why a course of probiotics during antibiotics therapy is beneficial. Be sure to take the probiotics and antibiotics at least 2 hours apart from each other.




ADHD Symptoms or Somethings Else?





ADHD Symptoms or Something Else

Getting an accurate ADD/ADHD diagnosis can be difficult as there is no scientific test to confirm the diagnosis. And the fact that many disorders share symptoms similar to ADHD symptoms can make it even harder.

People with autism can seem to lack the ability to create emotional bonds and can struggle with interactions with others. Children with autism are often over-excited when in high stimulus environments, which can mimic hyperactivity. Both children with ADHD and children with autism can have a hard time adjusting to change.

People that suffer from hearing impairments can experience problems in social situations and may have underdeveloped communication. They may have a hard time paying attention because of their inability to hear properly. Undiagnosed hearing loss can appear as missing details of conversations, not listening or not paying attention. These symptoms are also common in individuals with ADHD.

Hypothyroidism can create feelings of sadness or depression. People with ADHD can also suffer from these feelings, especially if depression is a co-existing condition. Hypothyroidism also includes symptoms of inability to concentrate and memory problems. ADHD also includes the symptom inability to concentrate, and forgetfulness can be mistaken for memory loss.

Iron Deficiency in adults causes lethargy, feeling exhausted and irritability. In infants and children, however, the symptoms include irritability, inability to concentrate, impaired cognitive skills and a short attention span. Children with ADHD also show symptoms of inability to concentrate and are distracted easily, mimicking a short attention span.

Lead poisoning, even at low levels, can create a number of problems. Some complications of lead toxicity include mental retardation, decreased school performance, short-term memory problems, inability to concentrate and decreased cognitive function. Many of these symptoms are also seen in children with ADHD.

Mental retardation can appear as emotional immaturity. Some symptoms include limited social skills, school performance issues and needing extra time to learn. Symptoms of mild mental retardation include forgetfulness and the inability to connect consequences with actions.

Hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar, can cause a number of symptoms similar to ADHD including aggression, hyperactivity, and inability to sit still or low concentration levels.

In addition, some people also have an adverse reaction to chemicals in food, such as, MSG, red dye, corn syrup or additional additives. These reactions can include anger, agitation, impulsiveness, hyperactivity and lack of concentration.

For children with sensory disorder, overstimulation can create symptoms similar to ADHD. They may take risks without understanding the danger, quickly jump from activity to activity, be accident-prone or have difficulty paying attention.

Although people with ADHD notoriously have difficulty sleeping, they may or may not have a sleep disorder. The inability to get a good night’s sleep interferes with many daytime activities. People that lack sleep can have a hard time concentrating, communicating, following directions, and may suffer decreased short-term memory. People with ADHD may experience many of these symptoms, unrelated to getting a good night’s sleep.