Too many people think it’s normal be bloated after a meal. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed that everyone is gluten free these days. I’m not bashing it – genuine coeliacs have every reason to avoid it. But, what we are increasingly seeing, is a growing awareness to gluten sensitivity. This is down to poor digestion. Your digestion is the single most important thing that you can spend your time improving. The digestive system, specifically the gut, is still such a huge subject, that we are still discovering more and more about it. The work of the Human Microbiome Project (an off shoot of the Human Genome Project) in recent years has shed even more light on this incredible area.
So what is bloating? Undigested food. Food that should have been broken down, but is now fermenting in the gut. That’s not normal digestion – you should be able to digest most foods. The problem tends to arise from disruptive substances that go into the gut in large quantities – alcohol, sugar, and especially antibiotics. Your gut bacteria is what is responsible for keeping your gut healthy, and over use of antibiotics throughout a lifetime can seriously compromise this.
Let me explain the problem in full detail. Your gut lining is lined with a wall of microscopic cells called your endothelial cells. It’s these things that are responsible for keeping things in and out of the bloodstream – this is where you absorb your nutrients, and keep out unwanted things like viruses. However, the endothelial cells can become compromised through poor diet. Everyone has heard of fibre, and how important it is, but I’ve never heard it explained properly so that people actually pay attention. So here we go.
In your gut there are pro-biotics, like the ones that you can buy. These are living organisms that live within you, and just like you, need to eat. They need pre-biotics (fibres) to break down, literally eat. The by-product of this is that they create a short chain fatty acid called butyrate, which is responsible for the health of the endothelial cells, as it’s able to directly interact with them. Without enough of this magical stuff, the endothelial cells will start to struggle, and let things slip through that shouldn’t. The protein molecule found in gluten is of particular problem if it interacts with these compromised endothelial cells. It’s called Gliadin, and as well as being able to cross the endothelial wall, can also find its way past the blood-brain barrier. That is also a barrier that should stay closed to external particles. The problem is that the endothelial wall will continue to let molecules through, and if it’s coming from the gut, it’s likely to be gut bacteria. Gut bacteria are coated in something called lipopolysaccharides, which is literally a coating that stops them being digested by your own digestive system.
They’re fine when they’re in the gut, but when LPS (lipopolysaccharides) get into the bloodstream, they cause a massive inflammatory response. They can cross the blood – brain barrier too and inflame the brain. The brain has no pain receptors, so you won’t even know. Inflammation is a word that gets used a fair deal, but what it means is how it manifests itself in different people – inflammatory diseases are caused by long term exposure, likely from LPS and other molecules that cross the endothelial wall and the body does not recognise them. Inflammatory diseases that you wouldn’t think are linked – but are. Like Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Osteoarthritis – they are all the manifestation of long term, chronic inflammation. And it all stems from the gut. Bold claims? Not really – this is all the recent work of the Human Microbiome Project, and it’s becoming clearer how little we know about the gut and how little we’ve paid attention to it.
So what can you do to make sure that your digestion is in tip top shape? Feed it. Probiotics (whilst only effective whilst you are taking them) are a good start. A big dose like Udo’s Super 8 or Genetic Supplements Pro Bio-15 is a good start. And then of course there are the pre – biotics to help create that all important butyrate. Apart from the obvious – eat fibrous vegetables – you could include a daily green’s powder, or better yet, fibre in direct supplement form – like pectin or inulin. About 8 grams of inulin a day mixed in water should be enough to really get things going well in your gut. So next time you’re bloated - just spare a thought for the microbes in your gut!