Ah, the gut. Full of so many wonders. If you are a fan of wines made from Chardonnay, lactobacillius is used not only to get that fancy tart acidity on the first fermentation of a Champagne, but also that butterscotch softness of a thick California Chardonnay. Also, fun fact, lactobacillius happens to find a comfy home in human genetalia, and is often a strong contributing factor in yeast infections (sorry to ruin Chardonnay for you). Where it really shines is in your gut- particularly your small intestine.
Lactobacillius is what is known as a gram positive bacteria. This means that it is structured in a certain way. It does have a dark counterpart, the Loki to lactobacillius’ Thor, the gram negative bacteria that can populate much of the rest of your digestive tract, and can invade the safe small intestine home of lactobaccilius. Gram negative bacteria have a structure that looks almost like a “hairy” surface, and this outer surface contains highly toxic endotoxins. In small amounts the body can balance these things, and when the population gets a little high the body kicks into effect with an immune response that starts with inflammation. This is a natural response and in short bursts completely healthy. After the gram negative bacteria are zapped, that inflammation can continue for some time, but as long as the population is in control there is nothing to be afraid of. There is some collateral damage that the body is pretty good at cleaning up.
But what happens if the population of gram negative bacteria is too high, or keeps being repopulated? This is where it gets less fun.
That inflammation doesn’t go down. In fact it keeps going until that collateral damage piles up more and more. Suddenly the gut starts becoming Fallujah. These endotoxins stack up in an effect called endotoxemia. In this study they look at E. coli endotoxemia and watch in rats as nitric oxide starts to spike, followed by multiple organ dysfunction, starting with the liver.
Ok, grim story. How about some positive news: this can be prevented and repaired.
Certain foods contribute to gut dysbiosis, and this is where the whole gluten free trend makes sense. Bacteria likes sugar. Beer, cheese, wine, sourdough bread, and more are all products of this basic process that is also taking place in your gut. Yeasty, gluteny things like bread and beer contribute to spikes in certain pupulations. Sugar promotes spikes in all sorts of gut populations, like an algae bloom. If I drop too many nutrients into my poor fish pond at home, algae blooms and clogs up the water pump. Same thing happens in your body if you dose it with too many fast growth nutrients like sugars. Large meals promote spikes in gut flora as they have to cope with larger amounts of nutrients.
So if we return to the swamp analogy from the previous blog post, the Liver is like the water flow or pump that keeps the water from slowing. Take care of it or the water will start to slow. Gut flora is the life that populates the water and shores- if only the mossy, water clogging stuff blooms, it stops the water from moving. Have a diet that is varied and it will stay balanced. Also you can slow the water by cooling everything down, as in the case of eating ice cold things.
So here are the cardinal rules for gut dysbiosis:
- Beware excess fats, dairy, gluten, and sugars
- Eat regular meals
- Eat your largest meal in the morning and smallest meal at night
- Sleep, reduce stress, limit alcohol
- Limit ice cold foods and excessive raw foods
If you have it and want to get rid of it:
Drain the swamp:
- Bitter flavored foods are best (black tea, chicory, tannic foods)
- Easy to digest foods are great (white rice, brothy soups, simple foods)
- Fermented foods are fantastic (kimchee, saurkraut, pickled foods)
Move the water:
- Pungent foods are good (everything that makes you sweat or makes your sweat stink like onions, garlic, etc.)
- Sour foods are good (lime, lemon, etc)
P.S. These three references can sum gut dysbiosis up in a terrifying way if you like to read some pretty medical language: