“All diseases begin in the gut.” -Hippocrates
The gastro intestinal mucosal barrier comprises the overwhelming majority of the body’s immune defenses. The mucosal barrier contains several antibodies known as immunoglobulins. The primary mucosal antibodies are IgA, IgG, IgM, IgE. Secretory IgA is the most abundant of these immunoglobulins. When there is damage to the mucosal barrier of the body, many of the underlying tissues may be compromised. This can have debilitating and devastating effects upon one’s health in a variety of ways.
In the small intestine there are millions of tiny finger-like hairs called villi. Sitting atop the villi there are even smaller particles known as micro-villi. These micro villi make up what is called the “brush border” in the gut. They are the tiny structures in the small intestine that are responsible for absorption of nutrients. They secrete the digestive enzymes necessary to complete sugar, starch and carbohydrate digestion.
If the microvilli are damaged or ‘atrophied’, the absorptive surface in the small intestines is reduced. Additionally, undigested food particles can then pass into the bloodstream where they can set off an immune reaction, and numerous food sensitivities. Continuous loss of digestive function due to the catabolic breakdown of the structures in the gut can also compromise the intestinal flora and allow certain opportunistic flora and organisms in the gut to thrive. This includes candida albicans, various yeasts and bacteria, as well as parasites.
The loss of normal gut ecology can set off a simplex of symptoms, many of which extend far beyond the digestive tract. If there is intestinal dysbiosis there is likely a high amount of toxicity in the body. A normal functioning gut is able to process, compartmentalize and prevent certain toxins from entering into circulation. When the gut is shut down, this proper compartmentailzation is compromised. Additionally, opportunistic organisms can generate toxicity if not kept in check by the beneficial gut flora.
Breastfeeding Is Of Critical Importance For Normal Gut Ecology
Infants who are breastfed inherit the acquired immune system of their mothers. This is particularly critical in the first 10 days of a child’s life when the mother’s milk releases colostrum, which are tremendously rich in immunoglobulins.
The child who is not breast fed will not have a properly developed immune system. They may experience numerous immune-related issues throughout their lives including asthma, eczema, bronchial inflammation, abnormal digestion and chronic infections.
If you have not been breast fed, my personal belief is that you should take exceptional care of your gut ecology and closely monitor your gut function throughout your entire life. If you have not been breastfed, taking raw, bovine colostrum may be very beneficial. Bovine colostrum contains high concentrates of immunoglobulin IgG.
IgG provides protection against all forms of pathogens. IgG is the only immunoglobulin capable of protecting the fetus in utero from pathogens. IgM is also an abundant pathogen-destroying immunoglobulin.
Raw colostrum is also a very rich source of the potent antioxidants lactoferrin and hemopexin. Lactoferrin is one of the primary constituents of the mucosal immune system, which comprises approximately 80% of the immune system.
Colostrum is a very rich source of PRP’s (proline-rich polypeptides). PRP’s are powerful modulators of the immune system, activating it when infections are present, and de-activating it when less needed. PRP’s have also been shown to protect against viruses, fungal infections and cancer. PRP’s also have powerful antioxidant properties and have demonstrated the ability to prevent DNA damage.
Reduce Toxic Load
Ancient physicians have known that the gut was the centerpiece of health as well as the location of where many diseases have originated. Children today are born with compromised health due to a multitude of factors. I believe that the health of the mother who is bearing the child is of monumental proportion to the development of the fetus.
It is very important to recognize the incredible exposure to toxicity that all people, including pregnant mothers experience today. The incidence of chemical and heavy metal toxicity has reached epidemic proportions. In a 2009 study, The Environmental Working Group reported an average of 232 environmental chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of pregnant mothers. There is no question that a fetus will inherit the virulent environmental toxicity found in the mother. It is becoming increasingly more important for expectant mothers to strive to reduce exposure to toxins, to protect the health of the developing fetus.
Restoring Gut Ecology
First, it is of critical importance to identify if gut malfunction and dysbiosis is present. This can be identified through certain functional lab tests such as mucosal barrier screening tests, stool antigen tests, Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and even in some blood chemistry factors.
There are differences in protocols for gut repair depending upon presenting symptoms and correlative laboratory data. In some instances, immunoglobulin levels in the gut may be elevated, indicating heightened immune response. In other instances immunoglobulins in the gut may be diminished indicating that gut function is shut down.
While the protocols may be different in some respects, the underlying common thread is to support the normal biological functions of the body, which include the support of:
- All of the digestive processes and associated organs
- The underlying homeostatic metabolic systems which have regulatory effects upon digestion and assimilation
- Detoxification and the associated organs of the body
If there is dysbiosis, it is important to also recognize and address any underlying infections which may be present. In the dysbiotic gut, it is very common for gut infections such as parasites, candidiasis and pathogenic yeasts, bacterial and viral infections to be present. This is due in large part to the inability of the GI immune system to properly deal with these infections. These infections should be properly dealt with and eradicated.
In addition to this, it is important to eliminate food sensitivities and intolerances.
Dysbiosis, leaky gut and villous atrophy are reflective of catabolism, the excessive breakdown and destruction of cells and tissues. in order to restore gut ecology there must be a concerted effort to halt the catabolic excesses. Adequate protein is critical for this. Protein repairs damaged tissues. Additionally dietary fats have anabolic effects in the body. It is important to point out that not everyone responds well to all proteins. In fact, there are different classifications of protein foods. Knowing yourMetabolic Type® is the best starting point to identify which proteins (and in what amounts) are essential for your body.