Monthly Archives: January 2014

Doctors And Leaky Gut Syndrome

What is it with Doctors in the UK and discussion of Leaky Gut Syndrome?

I have seen four different consultants up until now with regard to various tests I have had, and none of them will discuss the possibility that my Gluten intolerance is caused by another factor. My GP did seem quite interested when I mentioned it to him that I thought Candida overgrowth was the underlying condition, but was keener to know where I had got this mad notion from. Not a very encouraging response, but I can’t be too critical, as he does his best within the framework he has. An article by Dr. Humiston caught my attention, with a remark he makes summing the situation nicely;

Candida is so common that it’s likely your own doctor has it.  It’s hard to pin down what’s wrong with your patients when you yourself may be suffering with similar things but can’t figure out what the cause is.  Also, it’s harder to distinguish an illness as truly abnormal when so many people have it and the illness doesn’t have any single definite identifying symptom.

Dr. Hummiston also states that modern medical practice has become focused on symptom treatment, rather than the correction of underlying abnormalities.

It is disheartening to know that doctors are looking for an easy solution to your problems. ‘Give them a prescription, and get rid of them’ is how it sometimes feels.

However, I could not fault the doctors, nurses and the NHS for the treatment I received whilst undergoing an endoscopy procedure. The caring staff made the diagnosis of flattened Villi slightly more bearable. However, I do not believe that the Villi have failed on their own. From the research I have carried out via the internet, I have come to the conclusion that a bacterial, or yeast overgrowth (possibly Candida) has caused my Villi to fail, and given me a condition called ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’ or intestinal permeability to be scientifically correct. But, according to the NHS website

‘Leaky gut syndrome’ is not a recognised medical diagnosis

They go on to say;

There is little evidence to support this theory, and no evidence that so-called ‘treatments’ for ‘leaky gut syndrome’, such as nutritional supplements and a gluten-free diet, have any beneficial effect for most of the conditions they are claimed to help.

Perhaps I am being too simplistic, as according to WebMD, this condition is anything but an easy problem to solve. All we have are various claims by individuals that a particular diet, or supplement will give a cure. Apparently, there is no hard evidence, and no official case studies for the medical community to take seriously. From the WebMD page;

“From an MD’s standpoint, it’s a very gray area,” says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic. “Physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ.”

Quackwatch is another website where Leaky Gut Syndrome is attacked as mere nonsense, but a statement suggesting Leaky Gut is a recognized condition is confusing;

Some medical scientists use the term “leaky gut” for problems associated with abnormal intestinal permeabilty, but “leaky gut syndrome” is not one of them.

I would argue that nit picking between the terms Leaky Gut Syndrome, and Leaky Gut as two different conditions is contradictory. I would suggest that some people are looking to attack the alternative medical community, trying to ridicule the whole movement as mumbo jumbo – akin to snake oil peddling. As has been mentioned on several websites, perhaps the real reason is just this; the medical community cannot prescribe a simple pill for this complicated condition, so therefore cannot make any money from it. After all, there is plenty of money to be made from treating the symptoms. With no hope of ever being cured.

Attitudes like this abound in the medical community. It appears that even after numerous practitioners have documented their own experiences with the treatment of various gut problems, doctors (on the whole) do not want to recognise this condition.

There is also plenty of money being made by alternative health practitioners, who are selling books, and supplements in order to capitalise on the new revolution in gut awareness. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has written extensively about the GAPS diet, and what she says makes a lot of sense with her theory for a healthy diet;

The reason for allergies and food intolerances is so-called “leaky gut” when the gut lining is damaged by abnormal micro flora.

There are accounts from other respected practitioners, such as Elaine Gottschall who are firm believers of the theory. She promotes the SCD (Selective Carbohydrate Diet) as started by Sidney V. Haas in 1924.

Intestinal permeability, commonly called “leaky gut”, means that there are larger than normal spaces present between the cells of the gut wall. When these large spaces exist in the small intestine, it allows undigested food and other toxins to enter the blood stream. When incompletely broken down foods enter the body, the immune system mounts an attack against the “foreigner” resulting in food allergies and sensitivities.

There are countless websites who extol the virtues of the SCD of which SCD LIfestyle seems to be very authoritative. Jordan Reasoner wrote a very good article about Leaky Gut Syndrome where he explains in layman’s language the theory;

Symptoms of Leaky Gut can vary from person to person depending on the level of damage and the tissues being affected. Multiple Food Sensitivities can be a sign that your immune system is developing antibodies to everything you’re eating.

Crohns.net promotes the SCD lifestyle. They defend the theory extensively with statements such as this;

What happens next with Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Once the lining of the digestive tract becomes inflamed or damaged it disrupts the way the digestive system functions. The spaces that open up allow large food antigens to be absorbed into the body, which are regarded as ‘foreign’ to the body’s defence system. This results in the production of antibodies against what was once harmless and innocuous foods. This is how food allergies are created as well as new symptoms with target organs. e.g. arthritis and fibromyalgia.

On the other hand, there is another respected alternative practitioner, who extolls the virtues of a healthy diet in order to rid themselves of a Candida overgrowth. However, Bee Wilder has written a damning article on the theory of Leaky Gut;

Another argument against the leaky gut theory is even “if” large undigested food particles could possibly get into the blood steam, then how does the gut or the blood stream select which types of undigested food are allowed entry, and which are not?

Conclusion

When I have mentioned to doctors about my theory of my problems being connected, there is an immediate change in their demeanor, or worse, they find it comical. Doctors do not like it when patients have their own opinion, which makes it even more difficult to get to the bottom of the cause. Then you hear of patients who are miss-diagnosed, or worse, being kept on symptom supportive drugs for years. The risk to patients who rely on their doctor for help only to get gradually worse is high. Doctors seem good at preventing a premature death, with the payment being a poor quality of life for an extended period.

My take on all of this, whether practitioners call it ‘Leaky Gut’, or ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’, or ‘Candida Overgrowth’ or more scientific terms including ‘Intestinal Permeability’, or ‘Gut Lining Inflammation’, or even ‘Dysbiosis’. It doesn’t really matter what it’s called, because at the end of the day the only way to cure it is to adjust your diet, by cutting out all unhealthy foods. There doesn’t appear to be a quick fix – if there was, the medical community would be quick to give you a pill. You just can’t afford to rely on your doctor to help you.

 

hole-in-bucket

Can I heal My Gut? – Story So Far

My first post on my pet subject of ‘Can I heal my gut’? This is my story so far.

Hole In My Gullet

There is a hole in my Gullet

As far back as I can remember, I have had more than my fair share of burps, and stomach ache’s (as it used to be called). This was a normal activity for me, and a dose of Alca-Seltzer soon did the trick. The ingredients are harmless compared to more powerful ant-acids that are available these days, nevertheless to me back then it tasted disgusting.

My gut problems became more serious when I had my first gut wrenching cramp. This was shortly after eating a Chinese takeaway meal. I did not really take much notice at the time, as it passed after a few minutes, but the pain was intense enough for me to remember it distinctly almost 30 years later. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if I knew then what I know now…

I soon developed increasing bouts of heartburn, and stomach cramps which went on for years. Like most people though, I just took the advice of doctors and the media who informed me that taking ant-acids were the best course of action. For fear of running out, I would buy these things in bulk! I could take six rennies before any effect could be had to stop my heartburn. The worst attacks would be while I was asleep, which would awaken me to intense discomfort. Zantac was effective against cramps, but sometimes I would have to take three in order for the pain to subside.

Lager, or beer was bad for me (obviously I know now), but back in my 20′s and 30′s I would drink a lot, and my recovery from a binge would take longer and longer, with vomiting a certainty. One thing I noticed was that food I had eaten perhaps eight hours before would come back up undigested. All these symptoms I put down to getting older – I just couldn’t take it like I used to. I moved on to drinking Guinness, and the symptoms improved – Guinness isn’t brewed with wheat, so doesn’t contain Gluten. It does contain Hordein, which is similar to Gluten, but I was okay with it. Not realising at the time the connection, I put it down to Guinness being a more ‘healthy’ drink. Later on, I started drinking red wine which seemed even more tolerable, white wine doesn’t agree with me though.

Apparently, as one of the consultants informed me, being of Irish descent, I was more likely to become Gluten Intolerant than others. So, I can thank my father for passing this on to me – he had similar stomach problems to me. Sadly, he never got to realise the cause.

Moving on to 2013, when I developed consistent constipation. I had had this condition on and off for a few years I suppose, but last year it became an issue. I also started to get pains in the right side of my gut. Upon visiting my GP (to be fare, he acted quickly), he sent me for various tests. After the tests came back, I was diagnosed as being a potential member of the ever expanding Coeliac Society. Of which I had heard about, but was never really a fan. So, yeah this was my fate and – for better or worse, the rest of my life.

I began researching this disease – if you can call it that. To me it’s more like a condition. I soon realised that Gluten intolerance was only the start of my problems. The first thing I realised was that the causation of my condition was an out of control gut bacterial imbalance, and this was when I first came across the word Candida. Candida for those of you that don’t know, is a gut living bacterium – one of the bad ones, and this lives quite happily amongst your fellow gut dwelling microbes waiting patiently for an opportunity to advance it’s cause. Opportunities were abundant in my body, as frequent courses of anti-biotics, a less than favourable diet, and stress had all been gradually chipping away at my defences for years.

That was just the start though, as more research led me to the conclusion that I have a leaky gut, with low stomach acid. I now knew the reason for my constant bloating, and burping. Numerous visits to various doctors over many years had been ineffective in finding this out. But now, thanks to the internet, my condition is understood. I had mentioned self diagnosis via the internet to people in the past, who had ridiculed the notion as complete madness. Apparently, you cannot believe anything you read on the net, and don’t even do it as you’ll scare yourself to death are two of the most common responses. Well, no thanks to well meaning individuals, and the NHS – I am now a learned scholar in the various aspects of gut dysbiosis, err, and feel liberated!

I had been losing weight steadily over the last few years, and no amount of eating could get it back. I must point out that I was also exercising regularly, and would have periods of intense workouts if I was preparing for an event. I entered a few 10k events, and half marathons. Consuming large amounts of pasta didn’t help with my weight gain, I just figured that as I was training quite hard, I was just burning it off. I look back now and see that all that pasta contributed greatly to me becoming intolerant to gluten. Not only pasta though, but I also ate vivaciously – bread, and cakes. Another daily staple was musli for breakfast, as I aimlessly followed the misguided advice that this stuff was ‘good for you’. I even took to making my own concoction from ingredients found at Holland and Barrett – the well known pedlars of so called ‘health foods’ for the uneducated.

It was a great shame as I had discovered a love of baking bread just a few months prior to me being diagnosed, and had even been developing the art of Sourdough. I am at this moment of the opinion that Sourdough bread could be a bread that I may be able to eat in the future, as some research I did led me to believe this a possibility. In a more recent report from CBC News in Canada, they found Sourdough bakers had many customers who were on a Gluten Free diet. I know it’s not politically correct in this country to say that Coeliacs can eat Wheat flour bread, and a discussion with two separate NHS dieticians told me the same, but as soon as my gut has healed enough, I am going to try it.

I have at this point various minor ailments, that I realise are all connected. Which include an arthritic right knee, flakey-itchy scalp, constantly clogged left ear, tiny white patches on my legs, and also a big mole looking growth on my forehead. I could go on, as my hair seems to be falling out at a faster rate, manic insomnia, my memory is very poor, with the ability to find the correct word at any given time being sometimes impossible.

Having read about the Candida diet, the GAPS diet, and the SCD, I have taken an objective sampling of all these views, and cut out all processed foods, grains, rice, and potatoes. I have also cut back on fruit, and now make and eat my own Kefir, and Sauerkraut.

Onwards, and upwards…