Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All health care starts with diet. My recommendations for a healthy diet are here:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
There are over 190 articles on diet, inflammation and disease on this blog
(find topics using search [upper left] or index [lower right]), and
more articles by Prof. Ayers on Suite101 .

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dr. Oz’s Pain: Constipation and Bursitis

Dr. Oz has complained several times about his constipation and the pain he feels in his shoulders during surgery.  He has recommended numerous treatments.  Since I feel a friendly affection toward Mehmet after talking/shouting at his image on the screen for hours, I think that I should give him some advice to relieve his pain.

Hot, Cold, Topical Treatments Are Effective, but Don’t Penetrate Themselves
Dr. Oz keeps talking about how various topical applications penetrate the skin.  He has even recommended the use of an electrical system to carry pain relieving steroids into his tissue by what looks to be electrophoresis.  This is dubious.  I would recommend that he stick to the topical chemicals, e.g. capsaicin, menthol, that target the hot and cold sensors of the superficial layers of the skin and result in deep penetrating nerve signals that trigger anti-inflammatory responses in the underlying bursa.

Constipation Is Caused by Damaged Gut Flora or Dysbiosis
Dr. Oz, like most physicians, does not usually explain the causes of diseases, such as bursitis.  Unfortunately, when he tries to explain problems, such as constipation, he overlooks important aspects of the problem for a facile physical model.  In the case of bursitis, it is important to realize that the patient, Dr. Oz, is also constipated.  Constipation can be aggravated by dehydration or “holding it”, but in Dr. Oz’s case, the combination of bursitis, an autoimmune disease, with constipation (and gas) suggests the more complete explanation of dysbiosis or damaged gut flora.  Dysbiosis is what causes constipation, because bowel stools, poop, is mostly packed, hydrated bacteria that grow in the colon by digesting soluble fiber.  If you eat an apple a day, there is enough pectin and other plant polysaccharides, i.e. soluble fiber, to increase the volume of the stools to make one regular.  [Don’t be confused by the misconception promoted by Dr. Oz that the volume of stools results from insoluble fiber, such as in whole grains.  The husk part of whole grains is useless or unhealthy and grains in general are not needed for a healthy diet.]  

Flush Toilet Hero
Dr. Oz’s constipation suggests a damaged gut flora.  Since he is a physician, one would suspect that he has used antibiotics in the past few years and wiped out essential types of gut bacteria.  Dr. Oz probably followed his own advice and attempted to patch up his damaged gut flora with probiotics.  Unfortunately, as I have repeatedly explained, dairy probiotics don’t survive in the gut and cannot repair damaged gut flora.  But Dr. Oz is even harder on his gut flora.  He has recommended the use of colloidal silver throat spray when he has been exposed contagious germs.  Silver, although ineffective for its intended use, is very toxic to gut flora after it is swallowed.  Dr. Oz also subscribes to numerous approaches to house and body hygiene, which are probably occupational hazards for surgeons.  Hygiene is the enemy when it comes to ingesting bacteria lost to antibiotics.  The atomizing flush toilet is my gut flora hero for spreading contagious health.

Damaged Gut Flora = Damaged Immune System
Constipation is bad enough, but damaged gut flora can mean that some of the bacteria needed for the gut-based development of cells regulatory T-cells (Tregs) that keep the immune system under control, are missing.  Constipation can lead to deficient Tregs and that means a major predisposition to autoimmune disease and allergies.  [Fecal transplants cure autoimmune diseases and allergies.]  Antibiotics, silver, hygiene excesses and constipation suggest to me that Dr. Oz has been cruising toward some rude immunological sequelae.

Autoimmunity Results From Antibiotics, Dysbiosis and Compromised Tregs
Autoimmune diseases result when a trifecta of inflammation, compromised Tregs and appropriate antigens occurs.  Normally physical damage, such as abusive shoulder exercise, results in inflammation as the first step in healing.  The inflammation can rev up the immune cells in the local area of tissue damage and some of the proteins, such as lubricin, which lubricates the bursa, may have basic triplet amino acid sequences that lead to presentation to immune system cells.  But no antibodies against self tissues are produced, because the Tregs stop the process.  Healthy gut flora produce healthy Tregs and block autoimmunity.

Dr. Oz abuses his shoulder bursa during surgery, but it can’t heal properly, because he has damaged his gut flora and compromised his Tregs.  The result is the autoimmune bursitis from which he now suffers.  He can reduce the symptoms and inflammation with topical anti-inflammatory natural chemicals, but he needs to repair his gut flora to repair his Tregs and reduce autoimmunity.  In the mean time, he is contaminating his local environment, family and friends with his unhealthy bacteria.  I wonder if Dr. Oz’s friend, Dr. Mike Roizen also suffers from autoimmune diseases?

Prescription to Repair Gut FloraAnti-Inflammatory Diet, Soluble Fiber, Fermented Vegetables, Less Hygiene


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Antibiotics, Gluten, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Baldness

My impression is that Hashimoto's is caused by a combination of an initial immune attack on the thyroid and incompetent regulatory T cells.  In most cases the immune attack on the thyroid is a secondary consequence of celiac/gluten intolerance, in which anti-transglutaminase antibodies attack transglutaminase bound to gluten in the intestines.  Transglutaminase  is an enzyme that is also produced by the thyroid (and hair follicles) and attack by celiac antibodies can enhance or inhibit thyroid hormone production (or baldness.)  Both Hashimoto's and celiac do not occur if the suppressive part of the immune system, i.e. regulatory T cells, is functioning.  

Antibiotics Compromise the Immune System
The major point here is that antibiotics disrupt normal bacterial biofilms that line the intestines and these healthy gut bacteria are required for development of regulatory T cells.  Compromise of Tregs leads to autoimmune diseases, e.g. celiac, Hashimoto’s and baldness, and also allergies.

Antigens/Allergens Have Basic Amino Acid Triplets
The antigens targeted in autoimmune diseases, e.g. tTG, anti-nuclear, TPO, and allergies form an obvious pattern.  All of these antigens and allergens have simple amino acid sequences (rare patches of three basic/positively charged amino acids) that enhance their presentation to the immune system to produce antibodies.  Nuclear proteins, for example, are frequent autoantigens and most of these proteins interact with nucleic acids (negatively charged) and have predictable patches of positively charged amino acids (arginine and lysine).  Other common autoantigens have basic amino acid (arg/lys) patches, because they interact with phospholipids (also negatively charged.)  Proteins with basic patches, e.g. HIV-TAT or heparanase, are also readily transported into cells and nuclei.  Peptides with these sequences are produced by action of stomach enzymes on proteins, e.g. milk lactoferrin, and are antimicrobial.

Allergies / Autoimmune Diseases Are a Predictable Consequence of Antibiotics
Doctors treat with antibiotics, but they fail to repair damage that they cause to gut flora.  The gut flora of most patients treated with antibiotics, especially those who are most fastidiously hygienic, never fully recover.  Constipation is a common symptom of severe dysbiosis and related immunoincompetence.  Probiotics are gut flora bandaids and do not survive as components of gut flora.

Gut bacteria are also needed for development of the aggressive part of the immune system.  Thus, autoimmune diseases can be treated with even more intense use of antibiotics, that will eliminate the rest of the immune system.  Since all vitamins are produced by gut flora as quorum sensing signals, antibiotics can also produce the exotic symptoms of vitamin deficiencies.

Antibiotics are essential to many therapeutic approaches, e.g. surgical procedures or therapy for chronic Lyme disease, but they must be used responsibly and treated patients must be subsequently tested to ensure a repaired gut flora and a functional immune system have been reestablished after antibiotics.  Long term antibiotic use needs special attention, e.g. deliberate Repair of Gut Flora or a fecal transplant.

Thus, I think that it is most likely that ever increasing antibiotic exposure and processed foods, coupled with obsessive hygiene have led to crippled gut flora (as observed in the simplified gut microbiomes of Americans), a net decline in suppressive Tregs and the observed increase of autoimmunity and allergies.  The competence of the immune system may be a major determinant in the course of infection with a pathogen that can produce chronic infections.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vitamin C, Guinea Pigs, Limeys and Gut Worms

Scurvy and the Need for Vitamin C
Old timey sailors got the symptoms of scurvy, defective collagen and connective tissue, presumably because they stopped eating leafy greens that contained the needed vitamin C, aka ascorbic acid.  Primates/humans and guinea pigs are among the few animals that lack the ability to make their own ascorbic acid and therefore must eat a diet with a minimum amount of the vitamin to avoid a deficiency disease.  This is the conventional wisdom partially based on observation and experiment, but also founded on conjecture.

Parasitic Gut Worms Were the Natural Source of Vitamin C
I don't believe that vitamins are essential ingredients of a healthy diet, but rather I contend that all of the necessary nutritional chemicals are produced by the microorganisms of the gut.  I have previously discussed the gut flora (bacteria and fungi) as the source of most vitamins.  I wish to expand vitamin production to include gut fauna (animals).  I think that it is likely that intestinal worms are the historically natural source of human vitamin C.

Gut Bacteria Control the Development of the Immune System
The human gut actively communicates with the biofilms of bacteria and fungi that form a lining for the healthy gut.  The aggressive cells of the immune system that attack invading pathogens, develop in response to chemical signals from filamentous gut bacteria, and the suppressive cells of the other half of the immune system, which prevents attack on innocuous food antigens (to avoid allergies) or the human body itself (autoimmunity), develop in response to Clostridium ssp.  Thus, the immune system can be highly compromised, if the gut flora bacteria are damaged, e.g. by antibiotics.

Vitamins are Signaling Chemicals of Gut Biofilms
The communities of bacteria in gut biofilms are self-regulating by exchanging chemicals called quorum sensing signaling molecules.  Different species of bacteria and fungi in the biofilms produce and detect different chemical signals.  Since the biofilms are in intimate contact with the cells that line the gut and absorb dietary nutrients, it is not surprising that the biofilm signaling molecules are also absorbed by intestine cells.  Many of these biofilm signal molecules are vitamins, e.g. the B vitamins.  Gut bacteria are the natural source of most vitamins and healthy gut flora eliminates the need for eating vitamins in food or supplements.  Vitamin deficiencies are a symptom of a damaged gut flora.  Antibiotics and vitamin supplements can damage healthy gut biofilms.

Dietary Soluble Fiber Feeds Gut Flora
The human gut flora consists of a couple of hundred different species of bacteria in each person.  Those bacteria in aggregate can produce about a hundred thousand different proteins that focus on the digestion of food molecules that the upper gut cannot digest and absorb.  Since the upper gut can only digest proteins, fats and starch/sugars, that means that the gut flora eat the rest, undigested plant/animal polysaccharides.  Soluble fiber is the plant polysaccharides, e.g. inulin and pectin, that are digested and feed the gut flora.  The undigested polysaccharides include cellulose.  Lignin and some other plant polymers also pass through the gut and are eliminated.  The undigested stuff is called insoluble fiber and it also has bound phytate, which drags some metals such as zinc out with it.  That is why insoluble fiber, such as wheat bran, is not nutritious or healthy.  Insoluble fiber is also a minor contributor to the bulk of stools, which are made up predominately of the gut bacteria that have grown on soluble fiber.

Sea Voyages Damage Gut Organisms
The hundred of different species of bacteria in the gut change in proportions to adapt to different foods in each meal.  If the diet is fairly constant, then the diversity of the population gradually increases, just as the diversity of species in a tropical rain forest is greater than in a temperate forest.  This also explains why gut flora diversity is far less in the USA than in other parts of the world.  Americans are encouraged to eat diverse diets in the search for vitamins and superfoods.  Each dramatic change in diet makes it hard for the gut flora to adapt and the remaining bacteria are those that are generalists.  It might also be expected that early sailors who changed their diets dramatically when they went to sea, ended up with a highly compromised ship-board gut flora (and fauna.)

The Perils of Hygiene
I have a fascination for stories involving the potential of rampaging tigers.  Images of a tiger attempting to drag a hunter from his seat on an elephant or the need of a colleague to employ an armed bodyguard when capturing crabs from Malaysian Mangrove roots at night, linger in my imagination.  I still think about the report of Wallace guarding his derrière while collecting beetles in Bukit Timah, Singapore, in “The Malay Archipelago.”  Humans tend to be incompatible with lions and tigers and bears, and we wipe them out.  We do the same with bacteria, fungi and worms.  We wash our hands, flush the toilet, use hand sanitizers, kill weeds, spray pesticides, grow meticulous lawns/crops, dose ourselves with antibiotics and cleanse.  We are free of the threat of tigers, but we failed to see what else was lost during their extermination.

Probiotics Don’t Fix the Damage of Antibiotics
Antibiotics ravage gut flora.  It is no surprise that a course of antibiotics frequently leads to diarrhea or constipation, since normal stools require normal gut flora.  What is surprising is that physicians, e.g. Dr. Oz, seem to think that antibiotic decimated gut flora can be fixed with probiotics.  Sure, probiotics can provide a temporary bandaid, since Lactobacilli that would normally live on milk in the gut of newborns, are able to provide most of the functions of an adult gut flora.  But probiotics don’t survive in the adult gut and probiotics to not repair damaged gut flora.

Changes to Gut Flora are Permanent, Unless....
Gut bacteria are like wolves in Idaho.  If you don’t bring in new wolves and stop hunting them, you never again have wolves in the wilderness.  If you don’t bring in new bacteria and feed them, damaged gut flora does not repair.  Antibiotic treatment that wipes out the bacteria needed for development of the suppressive immune system will lead to autoimmune disease.  However, repairing the gut flora by flushing in new bacteria (fecal transplant) or gradually reintroducing new diverse bacteria with fermented foods, can also reverse autoimmune diseases as the immune system is repaired.

Parasitic Worms Were Lost at Sea
We think that vitamin C is only provided by plants that we eat, because we didn’t notice what was lost when we cleaned out the worms that typically inhabit the human gut.  Who would have thought that those inconvenient creatures were there for our own good?  We unknowingly compensated for the lost vitamin C production of the worms by incorporating foods rich in vitamin C in our diets.  Shipboard diets that eliminated bowel worms were augmented with limes rich in ascorbic acid.

Guinea Pigs Also Need Worms
It is interesting to note that the experimental animal used to replicate human nutritional requirements for vitamin C is the guinea pig, which is one of the few animals (in addition to bats and primates) that doesn’t make its own.  It is also interesting that guinea pigs (and bats?) commonly have intestinal worms that have to be purged from their bowels before they are used in the lab. 

Gut Flora and Fauna Provide Vitamins
My bottom line is that a normal, healthy gut contains all of the bacteria, fungi and worms to supply all of the needed vitamins.  I do, however, think that dietary vitamin C is a good replacement for one function of intestinal worms, even though I will be watching for other benefits ( Helminth therapy?) that were lost with the removal of these parasites.

Some points:
  •   Many vitamins are signal molecules for gut biofilm quorum sensing.
  •   Intestinal worms are the typical source for human vitamin C.
  •   Vitamin D is a hormone produced in the skin in response to sunlight.
  •   Vitamin supplements are unnecessary (problem?), if gut flora and fauna are healthy.
  •   Modern diets and hygiene eliminate gut parasites, so food needs to supply vitamin C.
  •   Chronic inflammation consumes vitamin C and eliminates production of vitamin D.