Monday, June 24, 2013

Leaky Gut = Autoimmune Diseases = Paola's IC

First of all, let me start by saying that I am an English teacher (don’t go looking at my grammar now! ☺), and it is really helpful for me to write these essay-like posts because it helps me sort through ALL the material and notes I’ve been taking in my IC note-book. I’m posting them here because I hope my journey and on-going learning will be interesting and helpful to you.

Most of my posts originally began on the IC Network Forum, but I started this blog to keep things more tidy.

So, writing things down helps me keep track of ideas and improvements as I figure out this IC body of mine. I recommend that you do the same.

The first significant 'find' that I identified relating to my IC was Leaky Gut.

Let's get down to the bottom line: How did this help me become pain free? Leaky Gut often means a Gluten & Grain sensitivity (the only way I figured this out is via grain-elimination).

For me, once I stopped grains, my symptoms significantly reduced within 24-48 hours. 
I say give it the old-school try! And drink tons of water to flush out that bladder as you wait for symptoms to possibly improve. Note that for me--in addition to some other ingredients, EGGS REALLY REALLY make me flare bad. So experiment with other foods that commonly bother people with leaky gut to see if it helps.

I believe that IC (FOR ME) is a systemic issue. This means that I don’t think the real problem is sourced in my bladder. I don’t think my bladder is ‘broken’. Based on my food intolerance's and the huge amount of relief I find from avoiding foods, my issue is somewhere else. For me, namely? The Leaky Gut.Let's Back Up...What is Leaky gut?
What is the Leaky Gut? I don’t know, officially. Ha! (gotcha). I’m no doctor. But I have spent literally hundreds of hours researching this. I DO, then, know a few concrete things about leaky gut and how it relates to MY experience in IC. 

1st- Non-traditional medicine has been honking the ‘leaky gut’ horn for years and years and YEARS. Traditional medicine has been saying that there was no traditional medical evidence backing this syndrome. Others have flat out called leaky gut beliefs as ‘quackary’. Ah. The 2 schools of thought have collided in controversy for literally decades. That is until recently. Bring in Dr. Alessio Fasano.
2nd Dr. Alessio Fasano has conclusively proved with traditional medicine that the leaky gut DOES exist. Here is a summary of his research (you can listen to the full-explanation by going to blogger Chris Kresser's Website).

  • a) Dr. Fasano’s leaky gut discovery begins with gluten and celiacs. He discovered that people who are celiac AND virtually all people who are gluten-sensitive produce an overabundance of Zonulin. Zonulin is an enzyme that opens and closes little ‘doors’ in the gut. It opens the ‘doors’ to let vitamins and nutrients into the blood stream. It then closes it and keeps toxins that are naturally found in the food we eat out.
  • b) People who are gluten sensitive (ME) over-produce zonulin. This means that our ‘doors’ stay open too long, this LEAKS in toxins to our blood stream. 
  • c) Who is gluten sensitive? To Dr. Fasano, people who have auto-immune disorders are particular sufferers.
  • d) What about those natural med doc’s who have been tooting the leaky gut horn for all those years? What does Dr. Fasano say about them? In the interview he refers to them as VISIONARY.
  • e) Please note that Dr. Fasano’s discoveries are VERY recent…as in it was discovered about 2 years ago. Information about his research hasn’t trickled down to practitioners, particularly gastro-docs and definitely not to doctors who treat people with auto-immune disorders.
3rd- So gluten intolerance means leaky gut. But I’m not celiac! Just do some research on this misconception. Suffice it to say that it IS a misconception to think that you have to be celiac to be gluten sensitive.

How does the whole probiotics (beneficial bacteria) relate to the leaky gut?
Again, I really don’t ‘KNOW’, but again, I did do a ton of research, and this is what I’ve garnered…

1st- All foods come with toxins. It’s just part of the package deal. The acidic nature of our stomach kills off most of the bad stuff, but a few hardy bacteria survives this process. That’s when they get to the gut, or intestinal track. 
2nd- The gut has millions of probiotic (beneficial) bacteria that will then ‘take care’ of the rest of the toxins.
3rd- Antibiotics kill beneficial bacteria. Have you ever had antibiotics? If you’re an IC-er like me, the answer is a resounding YES because I, for one, was on antibiotics for years trying to put out ‘bladder infections’ which were really just flairs. So what happened? We either reduced the quantity of beneficial bacteria in our gut, and/or Worse...killed some 'species' of beneficial bacteria off completely (there are millions of different kinds of beneficial bacteria).
4th. Killing off beneficial bacteria is BAD. For example, there is a toxin called Oxalates that is found in some vegetables like spinach, chard, etc. But nature has created a way for us to deal with this toxin: We were born with a beneficial bacteria in the gut (called the Oxalabactor Formegenis) which ‘eats’ oxalates. If we don’t have enough of the OF, then our gut will have an overabundance of oxalates. Thus, if you have a leaky gut, you are surely getting oxalates in the blood stream (I think ). Symptoms of this often come up with people having kidney stones (a traditional gastro doctor will confirm this…this is pretty concrete medical info). But this toxin--oxolates--can affect IC People in particular, and CAN even be the source of someone’s IC.
5th- How do oxalates relate to the leaky gut? Well oxalates are a tricky nasty toxin. Remember Zonulin? It opens the ‘doors’ in the gut to let in nutrients to the blood stream. Well, let’s say you’re Gluten Sensitive, and by eating gluten, you’ve jammed those doors opened. Well, oxolates prevent those doors from closing. How? Oxolates will use fat to make a nasty wad of oxo-fat (not a technical term ). Then it kind of sucks up calcium that you've ingested. It is the CALCIUM that shuts those 'doors' Thus the gluten-causing overabundance of zonulin will jam the door open, and the overabundance of oxalates can prevent those doors from shutting. Thus you have even worse Leaky Gut. [I may have missed some info here on the nature oxolates, but I know a lot of it is accurate as well! Any more insights from you are appreciated ]
6th- One last thought about oxalates: some people are born with not enough of that beneficial bacteria, OF. This is called Hyperoxaluria. One IC patient created a website telling her story about healing her IC by discovering and addressing her hyperoxaluria (google IC Oxolates Rachel Blond). Finally, there is an amazing Yahoo support group for people who want to try oxalates. Look up Trying_Low_Oxolate_Diet. I am a member of that forum.
7th- How does oxalates relate to probiotics and candida? Probiotics help replenish and reculture the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Unfortunately there are hundereds (millioins?) of different species of this bacteria. The OF is just one of them. The sad part is that the Oxolabactor Formegenes probiotic is not available for purchase yet. A company named OxThera is in the process of testing their OF. They HAVE successfully cultured some, but it is not yet on the market. The next best thing as far as probiotics go is the VSL#3 probiotic brand. For now, if you suspect oxalates as an issue, you just have to lower your overall oxalate intake. I’m working on this. Yes. This means that I have now added HIGH-oxolate containing foods to my list of ‘food intolerances’ (see previous post!). Again, I like that Yahoo Group as a good support in helping me navigate this.
8th- If this is just ONE of the millions of bacteria that could be either weakened or completely annihilated in my (or your) gut, and it’s causing the leaky gut, how many more are missing that aren’t available in probiotics that are affecting my overall health and IC??? Great question. This brings me to…

CANDIDA. It’s like the opposite of probiotics…it's the 'bad' fungus that creates an imbalance with good gut bacteria.
1st- Testing for it? Candida can be a systemic issue, meaning it’s not just a little yeast infection in the vag. Instead it can even be in your bloodstream (hello! Leaky gut again). If you like doing lab work, go to your IC doc and ask for a PCR test (it’s expensive, make sure insurance covers it). That can help you see if you have any issues. It tests for bacterial and fungal growth in the vag area. It can help ID candida. You can also get a urine culture where candida may/may not grow. You can also go to a gastro-doc (I think) and get a test done there to see how much is in your gut. DOES ANYONE have experience with this? I’d be very interested to hear about it. I have heard of the CDSA test (comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis)...hmmm..may be the one to try?

2nd- I no longer think I have a candida issue (more on that later). However, be aware that it may or may not show up in labs or not. Either way, I limit my sugar intake because I'm trying to create a healthy gut-environment for my gut flora. I'm also on 6 pills of VSL#3 a day.

3rd- Back to the leaky gut. If toxins are in your blood stream because your ‘doors’ stay open too long (too much zonulin, too much oxalates, and too little calcium), then detoxing is good. Detoxing can also aid in getting rid of candida. I’m working on finding a good detox that I can do that also works with my diet. Going grain free and drinking a lot of water is already a BIG step in the right direction.

Well, there’s a summary of my research on Leaky gut. I’m may have butchered some areas, and I have still a lot to learn, but FOR ME, ALL OF THIS IS WORKING.

Again, drug free. Pain Free (fluctuates between 0-10% if I don't deviate from my diet...and usually it goes up before my period starts).

Stay positive everyone!!!! WE CAN BEAT THIS! 
Yours in healing,
P.S. Update: I found an interesting article about Leaky Gut (aka Gut Dysbiosis) and IC: