Do Diseases begin in the gut?A Shocking Truth
Hippocrates, the father of medicine had said that “All disease begins in the gut”. Indeed a wise quote. However, this quote does not hold good for genetic diseases! Otherwise, many chronic metabolic diseases begin in an individual’s gut. This is related to the gut flora (friendly bacteria) residing in the digestive tracts and the reliability of the lining of your gut.
Numerous studies say that unwanted bacterial products (endotoxins) leak through the gut and enter the bloodstream. Our immune system recognizes the foreign molecules and starts attacking them. This results in a chronic inflammatory response. This inflammation induced due to diet can trigger insulin resistance leading to diabetes, fatty liver disease, obesity and can be linked to many serious diseases. This particular area of research has no clear answers as of yet and is rapidly developing.
Why should you worry about inflammation?
Inflammation is the immune system’s response to toxins, foreign invaders or cell injury. The purpose of inflammation is to initiate an attack against toxins or foreign invaders and to begin repair of the body’s damaged structures.
You know about acute inflammation as it happens when you get bitten by an ant or knock your big toe against the door. The area becomes red, painful and hot. This is inflammation. It is considered to be good as without it bacteria and viruses would invade our bodies and kill us. But there is another kind of inflammation that is harmful and is called chronic inflammation; it is active all the time. For example your blood vessels or parts of the brain could be inflamed. Chronic inflammation leads to serious diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and many more. However, it is not exactly known what causes the inflammation.
The gut flora, residing inside us has not so friendly bacteria too. The population and composition of gut bacteria can greatly affect our health. Certain gut bacteria have compounds called endotoxins. These substances cause immune reaction in the body.
These substances can leak from the gut and enter the bloodstream causing chronic inflammation that can spoil your health over the years.
A ‘leaky gut’ i.e. a gut that is permeable, is a key mechanism behind chronic inflammation induced by diet.
An unhealthy diet can result in endotoxemia
Studies have been done on endotoxemia in which endotoxins have been injected into the bloodstream of humans and lab animals. These studies show that this leads to insulin resistance that further leads to metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Studies also show that an unhealthy diet causes the levels of endotoxin to go up in the blood.
In one human study it was found that having a western style diet for a month increased the levels of endotoxin activity by 71% and on the other hand a sensible diet reduced the levels by 31%.
Researchers also believe that refined carbs increases the bacteria that produces endotoxin. Refined carbs also increase gut permeability making things tougher.
Inflammation is a quite complex and studies about how it is linked to diet are just at their infancy. A particular dietary agent is not being identified and it is the totality of the diet and lifestyle that matters.
It would be better to lead a healthy lifestyle with good sleep and lots of exercise. Eat real food instead of processed junk. Include a lot of probiotics in your diet as they are known to reduce endotoxemia and inflammation. So, don’t forget to include yoghurt and other fermented food in your diet.
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