The common thread between low thyroid, autoimmune disease & GI disorders
This is Dr. Peter Kan. My practice in Gilbert helps people with chronic health conditions with functional medicine and functional neurology. In my last video I talked about how our country is overburdened with chronic illness like auto-immune disease, GI disorders, and thyroid disorders. These conditions are not only destroying quality of life, but also breaking us financially. The root causes include food sensitivity, chemical toxicity, and chronic infection. These root causes damage the barrier system creating what’s called Leaky Gut Syndrome.
And the commonality to thyroid, auto-immune gut disorder is leaky gut. So today I want to talk in detail about leaky gut and how can we go about fixing it. Leaky gut syndrome, aka intestinal permeability, is chronic inflammation of your gut lining causing inflammation leading to a vicious cycle of inflammation and immune response.
In your intestinal tract there are epithelial cells that line up to form the intestinal barrier. They’re like the Great Wall of China and are meant to keep the food and undigested particles and toxins inside.
The space between the intestinal epithelial cells are called tight junctions. The cells are held together by specialized proteins called occludin and zonulin. These tight junction proteins can actually open and close the tight junction to control absorption and elimination of certain nutrients and toxins.
When the tight junction proteins such as occludin and zonulin get damaged, undigested food proteins or toxins like lipopolysaccharide can start leaking through these tight junctions. The immune system can see these compounds as foreign invaders and trigger a reaction.
Now, your immune system’s job is to survey and kill things that it think it doesn’t belong in the body. And when it kills these foreign invaders it causes inflammation. So inflammation is an immune system response and this can happen in the case of leaky gut. Once it triggers inflammation, this can become a vicious cycle where more inflammation causes more leaky gut, more sensitivity, loss of immune tolerance, which ultimately lead to autoimmune disease, chronic digestive issues, and thyroid problems.
Leaky gut syndrome is a common condition that most Americans suffer with. However, it is not a disease entity where you get a diagnosis code, and it’s not something that a medication can fix. It’s an acquired state due to chronic exposure to toxins, inflammation and stress. To heal leaky gut we must remove the stressor and repair the gut. There are four important steps that I use in my NeuroMetabolic Gut Repair Program to help patients with chronic illness to heal their leaky gut. You can use this same approach to help restore your body and reach optimal health.
The first step is Remove. So what do we need to remove? We talked about the triggers for leaky gut are chronic infection, food sensitivity, and chronic toxicity. Dietary intake is something that will have the biggest impact because we put food in our body multiple times per day. So every time we eat we are introducing something in our body that’s either going to hurt us or help us.
So think of food as something that can heal you. In the Chinese culture where I grew up, food is medicine. We eat to live, we don’t live to eat. So you must think of food and your relationship with food differently. Many people use food as a drug to comfort themselves. But we must break that cycle and start thinking of food as something that can heal us.
The first step to using food to heal is to put in the good stuff and leave out the bad. We must remove foods that could be harmful for us. And what are some of these foods? First of all, EAT REAL FOOD. If you read the ingredient list of a packaged food and you don’t recognize half the ingredients that are chemials, then it’s not real food. If it doesn’t grow on trees or you can dig up from the ground or something you can kill, just don’t eat it. So what that means is you want to stick with food like fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and animal protein.
Since leaky gut can lead to increasing food sensitivities, you may need to remove certain foods that you may be sensitive to. Some of these food categories include gluten and dairy. In people with more severe and chronic health conditions we may need to eliminate all grains for a period of time. This include rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and other gluten free grains. If this seems daunting to you, just focus on the next 30 to 60 days. Typically we have patients start with a 30 day program and re-evaluate.
So set short term goal to make it easier to reach. So you want to cut out things like gluten, dairy, soy, you want to cut out the grains and a few other foods. You want to eat real food, like animal protein, veggies, healthy fat and couple of servings of fruit per day. So the ratio is going to look like this – lots of fiber, lot of veggies, lots of healthy fat, moderate protein, very little carbs to no grains, and some fruit. I’ll give you more details and recipe ideas in the next video and blog article.
Now, eliminating the offending foods is often not enough if you don’t “put out the fire” from the inflammation. The following analogy often helps with this concept. Let’s say someone throws a lit cigarette butt in the forest and it starts a forest fire, and the fire is burning out of control. Once the fire is burning, do you have to throw more cigarette butts in the forest to keep the fire burning? No, because the fire has already started and needs no more cigarette butts. In fact, it’s going to keep burning until it burns itself out. That’s what happens with leaky gut. Once you start this vicious cycle of inflammation you don’t have to keep eating the bad stuff to keep the inflammation going. And the inflammation won’t stop until your body is basically completely destroyed and you have chronic health conditions on your hand.
So what that means is it’s not enough to stop throwing the cigarette butt in the forest, you also need to put out the fire. You do that with nutritional compounds. Use specific supplements that actually put out the fire, and that’s the Repair phase.
These nutritional compounds include L-Glutamine. L-Glutamine is an amino acid and is the preferred source of fuel for the cells in your intestinal lining. So you need L-glutamine to support the intestinal cells natural regenerative process. We may use Deglycyrrhized Licorice to support healthy inflammatory in the gut. We may use marshmallow root, okras and other mucilaginous compounds that help coat and soothe the gut. These compounds when used together create a synergistic effect that can help “put the fire out”.
A common mistake people make is they do the Remove without doing the Repair. They may say “I eliminated gluten for a week but I didn’t feel any better.” 3 things going wrong in that statement. 1) Only gluten was eliminated and that may not be enough because you can be sensitive to multiple foods. 2) Elimination phase was not long enough. Research shows that one exposure to gluten can trigger a reaction in those who are sensitive that can last 6-9 months. 3) Did not take specific nutritional compound to actually heal the gut. That’s the Repair phase.
Next phase is Replace. There is a bi-directional brain-gut axis where the brain and the gut communicates. The brain projects nerves that innervate the gut to stimulate gastric acid and enzyme secretion, as well as stimulate gut motility so intestinal muscles can move food through the GI tract. The brain and gut also have immune system communication where inflammation of brain will lead to inflammation of gut and vice versa. When you have leaky gut, the inflammation and immune chemicals from the gut can travel to the brain and cause brain inflammation. This decreases brain’s innervation to the gut through the vagus nerve and and leads to decreased gastric secretions and lowered gut motility. The result is can be poor absorption of nutrients, gas, bloating, burping and indgestion, as well as brain symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, and lowered brain endurance.
So we will want to replace the decreased enzymes and stomach acid with a product that contain a full spectrum of these digestion supporting compounds. In addition, many people with leaky gut may also have a compromised microbiome. These friendly bacteria that reside in your intestinal tract may be damaged by processed foods, chemical toxins such as pesticides, and medications such as antibiotics. We may need to replace with probiotics to create a healthy gut environment.
The last phase is Reset. You want to reset your metabolism and hormones because this will help you with energy and restore a sense of well-being. One of the main ways that we accomplish this is through stabilizing your blood sugar. It’s such a foundational and simple step that people tend to overlook, and even many doctors don’t address. Blood sugar imbalance can lead to insulin resistance, adrenal stress and fatigue, throw off your sex hormones and hamper your thyroid.
Many doctors do bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. Countless patients relate to me that their doctors tell them ”You have a thyroid problem” or “You have hormone imbalance. Here, take some fancy hormone replacement. By the way, it’s bio-identical”. But not many doctors talk about “You have a hormonal imbalance, we’ve got to stabilize your blood sugar.”
I’m going to tell you that keeping your blood sugar level in an optimal range is a key step to actually healing from leaky gut, healing from autoimmune, and restore hormone balance. There is a specific way you accomplish that. You must eliminate the refined carbs, grains, and foods that can spike insulin and spike blood sugar. And some of the things that you can do to help stabilize blood sugar besides cutting out the bad stuff is introducing more good stuff. See, it’s always about substitution. So what are some of those things that will help stabilize blood sugar? Again, lot of fibers, veggies, lot of healthy fat, moderate protein, and a few fruit. Again, certain nutritional supplements can really help. We’ll talk about it in a subsequent video.
There you have it. The NeuroMetabolic Gut Repair Program. This program is not difficult, you just need to understand the process and be committed and motivated to get healthy. I have literally helped thousands of people through the NeuroMetabolic Gut Repair Program. It’s a program specifically designed to help people with chronic health conditions. You can see over 80 video testimonials of patients who have been everywhere, done everything, tried everything else, all with little to no result until they went through our program.
You can see these life changing video testimonials at askdrkan.com. So I invite you to scoot on over and take a look to see what’s possible for you. The whole point of this video is to show you that if you or someone you love is suffering from a chronic health condition, lack energy, have brain fog, can’t focus, chronic digestion issues, you feel your hormone is out of whack, you can’t lose weight even if you eat perfect, or you have chronic pain. There is hope.
This is just a first step, but of course there maybe more steps for people with chronic health issues. But this is a great first step. If you haven’t taken that first step yet, I’m going to invite you to take that first step with us. I’m going to invite you to actually do something that will change the trajectory of your health. In the next video and blog I’m going to give you more information on how to implement this. Thank you so much. I look forward to helping you get your life back.
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