The Paleo Diet – Part 2
Problems with grains, beans, nuts, seeds and pseudo grains (quinoa, chia, buckwheat and amaranth)
Leaky Gut and Dysbiosis
Many health problems, including autoimmune disease are caused by leaky gut, or permeable bowel. Dysbiosis is a lack of beneficial bacteria and the overgrowth of unfriendly bacterias and yeasts, which also cause leaky gut.
Leaky Gut or Permeable Bowel
The tube that runs from the mouth to the anus is considered “outside” the body. What is absorbed from this tube goes “inside” the body. Leaky gut allows pathogens, toxins, and incompletely digested food particles to enter the bloodstream, aggravating the immune system and increasing inflammation and triggering many symptoms of ill health.
The cells that line the small intestine have what is called a “brush border” made up of finger like projections called villi, which have even smaller projections, called microvilli. They look kind of like a brush, hence the name. Almost all absorption of food and nutrients happen through these microvilli.
Celiac disease destroys the brush border impairing the uptake of nutrients. The “gold standard” of diagnosing celiac disease is an intestinal biopsy showing a flattened or damaged brush border. These intestinal cells normally have a tight junction between them so that nothing gets absorbed into the bloodstream other than nutrients. Gluten not only damages the brush border but causes the secretion of zonulin which breaks these normally tight junction, causing permeable bowel, or more commonly “leaky gut.” Zonulin secretion happens in response to wheat even in people who are not sensitive to gluten or wheat.
The significance of leaky gut is that fragments of bacteria, yeasts and other pathogens, as well as partially digested protein particles get into the bloodstream causing the immune system to target and destroy these antigens, but also creating antibodies to these various antigens that should not be in the bloodstream. These antibodies have the potential to cause an inflammatory reaction and to attack our own body tissues. This is autoimmune disease.
Leaky gut can lead to many symptoms and disease states, or aggravate many chronic health issues, sometimes with no obvious digestive symptoms. Sinusitis is a typical example often caused or aggravated by leaky gut. Also, recurring upper respiratory and urinary tract infections, brain fog, skin issues, food and airborne allergies and chemical sensitivities, all can be caused or aggravated by leaky gut.
In addition, overgrowths of yeast and unfriendly bacteria “poop” in our guts, some of which will enter the bloodstream creating toxic inflammatory substances that can cause more health problems of various kinds. The paleo diet, by eliminating these foods, and incorporating more nutrient dense foods allows the gut to heal and gut microflora to normalize.
Foods That Cause Leaky Gut
- Wheat – Even if someone is not “gluten sensitive,” wheat causes a release of a chemical called Zonulin, which causes the normally tight junctions of the lining of our small intestine to open, causing leaky gut.
- All grains, gluten bearing or not.
- All legumes, including peanuts and cashews.
- All seeds.
- All nuts.
- All pseudo grains – quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and chia.
- All nightshade plants, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.
- Alcohol – including alcohol and aldehydes generated from the fermentation of yeast in the gut.
- Casein – the dairy protein that is similar to gluten.
All the above contain substances called glutenoids, which have similar effects as gluten on the digestive tract. When these enter the bloodstream by “leaking” through the gut wall, the immune system attacks and destroys these glutenoids, which, sooner or later can create infectious and inflammatory attacks anywhere, whether it shows up as some kind of “itis” like sinusitis, dermatitis, or worse yet, damage to organs like the liver, brain or nervous system, reproductive system, or connective tissue, causing the erosion of bone and collagen.
In addition, the gut inflammation/infection and presence of unfriendly bacteria prevent the absorption of many of the nutrients in our food. Malnutrition.
In a healthy gut there are trillions upon trillions of microbes, anywhere from 500 to 1,000 different kinds of organisms, mostly friendly, which keep in check a much smaller population of unfriendlies, like candida yeast or e-coli bacteria. These beneficials aid digestion, have anti-inflammatory effects and make vitamins and other nutrients. They also secrete substances that protect the integrity of the gut lining.
One course of antibiotics will kill half of these beneficials, some species never returning. It takes up to five years to replenish these beneficials.
Other damaging factors are trace antibiotics in conventional meat and dairy, chlorine in water supplies, chemicals in food and water and the presence of sugar, grains, beans, nuts and seeds, which tend to encourage the overgrowth of unfriendly species. These unfriendly organisms secrete toxins damaging the gut lining causing leaky gut.
The healthy groups that Weston Price studied ate none, or very little of these foods. They ate nutrient-dense foods that were more or less compatible with the physiology that we all still have from tens of thousands of years ago. Remember, we all live in stone age bodies.
Many people seem to tolerate the anti-nutrients in these foods without problems. For others, small amounts can create uncomfortable and painful reactions. And still others, it is the presence of these foods that lead to gradual degeneration of gut and immune health, leading to eventual chronic disease, like arthritis or osteoporosis or the apparently sudden onset of heart disease or cancer.
How important is it to avoid these foods?
- If you have an autoimmune disease, or multiple chronic symptoms that leave doctors scratching their heads – very important.
- If you've had cancer, or have cancer – very important.
- If you have heart disease, diabetes, the onset of dementia, untreatable depression, or bipolar – very important.
- If you have asthma, multiple allergies, hay fever, upper respiratory infections or urinary tract infections that keep returning – very important.
- If you can't get pregnant, keep miscarrying, or can't take a baby full term – very important.
- If you are into high performance – whether it is athletics, business, career or simply want to feel and do your best to enjoy life, your children, your grandchildren, or just to stay healthy, pain and disease free until it is your time to die – very important.