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In This Issue
What is Leaky Gut?
Chronic Constipation - Food Allergy Link
Cooking Oils 101
Did You Know?
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"What Is Leaky Gut?"
"Leaky gut" or "Leaky gut syndrome" is a serious problem that can develop as a result of Dysbiosis. This means that there is an abnormal or increased permeability of the intestinal lining. A healthy intestinal lining allows only the nutrients from properly digested fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to pass through for transport to the cells. Simultaneously, the lining acts as a barrier to keep out larger particles, including disease causing bacteria, toxic molecules, undigested food particles, and other foreign substances.
When irritated or inflamed, the lining becomes damaged. The damage results in increased permeability. It allows harmful substances to pass directly through the weakened cell membranes. With time, this becomes leaky gut syndrome, a condition causing a large number of symptoms and illnesses. As our knowledge about the connection between digestive function and the immune system expands, the list of health conditions associated with leaky gut grows. Depending on individual susceptibilities, a wide variety of health problems may develop.
Common conditions associated with leaky gut include:
Chronic constipation caused by food allergy
Several studies have demonstrated that allergy to foods (particularly cow's milk) is a common cause of chronic constipation in children. This is the first study to show that food allergy is a cause of chronic constipation in some adults. The study also found that patients who responded to an elimination diet had certain characteristics that differed from those of patients who do not respond.
According to Carroccio et al, 4 women (mean age, 40.2 years) with chronic constipation who had failed to respond to fiber supplements and laxatives, consumed an oligoantigenic diet followed by double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges. In all cases, constipation resolved within ten days of starting the diet. All four patients experienced a return of constipation after ingestion of wheat, cow's milk, and egg; other positive food challenges included tomato, beef, soy, and cocoa (three cases each); oranges and goat's milk (two cases each); and fish, legumes, peas, cauliflower, and beans (one case each).
All patients had experienced chronic anal itching, which resolved in each case on the elimination diet. During a mean follow-up period of 3 years (range, 2-4 years), bowel movements remained normal, and anal itching did not recur, as long as the patients avoided foods to which they were sensitive.
In comparison with the non-responders, the responders had a longer duration of illness (p < 0.03), lower body mass index (p < 0.03), higher frequency of self-reported food intolerance (p < 0.01), higher frequency of nocturnal abdominal pain and anal itching (p < 0.01).
Carroccio A, et al. Multiple food hypersensitivity as a cause of refractory chronic constipation in adults. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2006;41:498-504.
Cooking Oils 101
It's not easy to keep straight the various types of oils and fats that are on the market. Here are some basic definitions that may help.
Mono-saturated Fatty Acids: According to research, mono-unsaturated fats tend to lower LDL (bad)-cholesterol levels and, thus, can promote cardiovascular health. Major sources of such oils are plants and sea foods. Olive, canola, avocado and sunflower oil are high in mono-unsaturated fatty acids.
Poly-unsaturated Fatty Acids: Poly-unsaturated fats, which are found in plants and sea foods, tend to lower LDL (bad)-cholesterol in the blood levels, according to research studies. Essential fatty acids (such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) are poly-unsaturated fats that are said to help protect against heart attack and stroke. Safflower, flaxseed and corn oil are high in poly-unsaturated fatty acids.
Saturated Fatty Acids: Saturated fats can come from two main sources: animals (such as lard) and plants (such as coconut and palm oils). Animal-derived, long-chain saturated fats tend to raise LDL-cholesterol blood levels, which can lead to poor heart health. Plant-based, short- and medium-chain saturated fats, however, are used in the body as energy and are not stored as fat, according to research.
Trans-Fatty Acids: Trans-fatty acids are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated through a process that extends the shelf life of baked goods and other snack foods made with these oils. As a result, trans fats are made more solid, more stable, and, thus, are difficult for the body to break down.
The Omegas: Omega-3 and -6 are essential fatty acids that are needed in our diets, but are not produced by our bodies. Omega-9 is needed for good heath and is produced in the body. All cells in our body need omega-3 fatty acids to survive. Sources include flaxseed and fish. Omega-6 fatty acids are more readily available and are found in vegetable oils such as walnut oil, soy, and corn. Omega-9 fatty acids are mono-saturated fats that are produced in the body and are available in olive, canola, sunflower and almond oils.
E. Mayfield, A Consumer's Guide to Fats (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, MD, 1999)
Did You Know?
As many as 90,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. According to Dr. Jerome Groopman, chief of experimental medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, says misdiagnosis is often the deadliest. "An astounding 15% of all patients who enter a hospital or doctor's office this year will be misdiagnosed, and about half will face serious complications, even death," he says.
There is no safe level of secondhand smoke, says the most recent report by the U.S. Surgeon General, who calls it a "serious health hazard." Nearly half of all nonsmoking Americans are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke, which increases their risk of lung cancer and heart disease by about 30%. Even brief exposure can endanger young children (asthma and infections) or adults who have heart disease.
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