Posted on August 5, 2014 - 42 Comments
When not toiling at research and development for NutriStart Vitamin Company, I also work as a nutritional consultant in a vitamin store, which I have done (one place or another) for almost 30 years now. As my time in the field accumulated, and my knowledge and feedback from customers grew, I developed a unifying theory of illness. It is not a totally unique theory, as you will hear more and more about the “leaky-gut” aspect of it now, but what you won’t hear so often is my approach to it. I have come to believe that a wide-spread deficiency in three key nutrients has caused an underlying problem that is the link to many different illnesses, and leaky gut is only one component of this problem.
“Leaky gut” is just what it sounds like: a porous intestinal tract that is no longer fully intact. Leaky gut is caused by a number of modern problems, the main one being candida yeast overgrowth. Candida yeast overgrowth is caused by frequent antibiotic use, excessive sugars in the diet for long periods, mercury toxicity (usually from fillings in the teeth, or introduced into the body from vaccines), and from birth control pills (via excessively high estrogen levels).
Another modern cause of leaky gut is consuming genetically modified corn and/or soy beans. The pesticide used on these two crops (“Roundup”), is particularly damaging to the lining of the gut. Genetic modification made these two crops resistant to pesticides, so they now can take up, and retain, more pesticide than the plants used to be able to withstand, before dying. This means the consumer now ingests more of that pesticide than would have been possible before the genetic modification of these plants.
Ironically, many of those with celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity are consuming high amounts of corn and soy products, which, if not non-gmo, are actually contributing to worsening the underlying cause of their condition: damaged intestinal tract and villi.
Why is Leaky Gut so Dangerous?
Leaky gut is linked to a wide range of health problems because it allows invasive compounds to enter the bloodstream, before they can be neutralized by the liver, or excreted through the normal channels of evacuation (feces, sweat, and urine). These compounds can be allergens, toxins, or just large protein particles, all of which wreak havoc in the body by triggering allergic responses, inflammation, and even auto-immune conditions.
It is important to note here that inflammation alone is linked to many modern ailments, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis and diabetes. And neurological problems, ranging from autism and anxiety, through depression, up to schizophrenia, have all been linked to protein particles, mostly from gluten and casein, getting into the blood stream and making their way to the brain.
Conventionally, natural health practitioners work to heal a leaky gut by restricting the diet, and eliminating the foods that trigger a negative response, as well as eliminating those foods that feed candida. Those offensive foods include wheat and/or grains containing gluten, cow milk products (especially casein) and sugars (including tropical fruits and all fruit juices).
The patient is then recommended to take nutrients and supplements that help to heal the gut lining, including L-glutamine, licorice extracts in lozenge form (or DGL licorice for those with high blood pressure), and N-acetyl-glucosamine. As well, a few others things are recommended, like Aloe Vera juice, to reduce inflammation in the gut, and marshmallow and slippery elm, which soothes the irritated digestive tract, calming and coating it, in order to allow healing to occur. The patient is also usually put on supplements designed to kill off the candida overgrowth, to forbid further damage from occurring, and given probiotics to counteract some of the damage done by the candida (and the antibiotics).
In the case of auto-immune conditions it is also important that the patient follow the Blood Type Diet (Eat Right 4 Your Type, by Dr. Peter D’Adamo; www.dadamo.com). In this case, particular protein particles called “lectins” are causing an anti-body response that is interpreted by the medical profession as an auto-immune condition. The Blood Type Diet basically tells you your genetic heritage, and which foods you are not genetically adapted to eating.
I also recommend to anyone with a pre-diabetic or inflammatory condition, that they also follow the blood type diet closely, at least until their health improves. This is because certain foods contain lectins that can cause an insulin spike and/or inflammation, in specific blood types. However, once the gut lining has thickened up, the lectins are much less likely to get into the blood stream, and one can broaden the diet again.
What is Leaky Gut Really About?
What is over-looked by this approach, is the underlying nutritional deficiencies that lead to the leaky gut in the first place. And the fact that leaky gut is only one symptom of erosion of the mucous membranes in the body.
We are essentially a worm with appendages, and when the lining of that tube that separates us from the outside world is eroded, the outside world then has direct access to our blood stream, without our filters being in place to selectively allow in what is useful, and keep out what is detrimental.
My belief is that this issue is the root cause of a wide range of ailments. I believe this so strongly that I have a photocopy of the dosages that I will later recommend to you, and we (me and other staff members) hand it out to anyone with any condition that relates to an erosion of their “tube”. And we receive amazing positive feedback from those who follow this regimen, as they often reverse long standing symptoms that no medical professional could help them with.
So, for example, when the sinuses lose their lining, one is prone to allergies (can’t filter out the dander, dust, pollen, etc), post-nasal drip, nasal dryness, and eventually, sinus infections.
When the respiratory system loses its lining, we can be subject to bronchitis, lung infections, asthma, emphysema, and even throat problems that are unexplainable.
When the stomach loses lining we get ulcers, and when the intestinal tract loses lining we get leaky gut, and all the aforementioned problems associated with that, as well as celiac disease, and food allergies.
When the genitourinary tract loses lining we are likely to get re-occurring bladder infections, kidney problems, interstitial cystitis, or vaginal dryness. The lining of the prostate thins and it becomes prone to infection, while thinning of the uterus can lead to endometriosis.
Also, part of the mucosal lining in many cases (sinuses, lungs, and intestinal tract) includes the fine “hairs” (villi, cilia) that keep those systems trapping and expelling foreign particles, again keeping them out of the blood stream. Loss of villi is the main cause of celiac disease, and cilia allow the lungs to expel dust particles (and carbon particles in the case of smokers and those who heat with wood), and mucus (which also carries out toxins and waste).
Three Critical Nutrients
Now to the big three nutritional deficiencies, that have lead to this widespread erosion of our mucosal lining. All of these nutrients are required by the body to build, maintain and heal the mucous membranes, and, while a deficiency in any one is bad enough, a chronic deficiency in all three compounds the problem.
Also, each of these nutrients are necessary for a wide range of critical functions, over and above serving the mucous membranes, and so justly deserve to be used therapeutically by everyone, regardless of the status of their mucosal lining.
85% of all cancers, known as carcinomas, begin in the epithelial tissue that lines the cavities and surfaces of structures throughout the body, laying just on top of the mucous membranes. When the scientific literature on vitamin D suggests that sufficient amounts may help to prevent these types of cancers from occurring, because it helps to regenerate epithelial tissue, and the mucous membranes, we can see that maintaining a healthy mucosal structure is critical for well being. One study showed a 77% cancer risk reduction from taking only 1,100 IU of vitamin D daily.
We are massively deficient in vitamin D since we have been told for the past decades that we only need 400 IU daily, when in fact, if you are deficient, your body will make up to 10,000 IU, in just half an hour of proper sunbathing.
In the temperate zones there are only 4 months of the year that you can get enough vitamin D from the sun, and even then you have to be half naked (50% unclothed), and unwashed (you need sebum on your skin for the sun to produce vitamin D in your body). These days nearly 80% of East Indians are believed to be deficient in vitamin D, so even living in a sunny climate is no indication that you will get sufficient D.
The links between vitamin D deficiency and ailments are so wide that they run from asthma to schizophrenia, with stops in between for everything from diabetes to multiple sclerosis. So, vitamin D is perhaps the single most important nutrient that you should take for good health, even aside from its role in supporting the mucous membranes. (Blog)
Those who have read my book (Health Secrets for the 21st Century) and/or who have read my early blogs, are already familiar with my unpopular pro-vitamin A position, though I am not alone in this belief. While it is generally believed by conventional medicine, and even by many naturopaths, that vitamin A can be dangerous, and should be taken in only small amounts, this is blatantly false, and there is much evidence to prove this. (Blog)
We are commonly deficient in vitamin A simply because we don’t eat liver any more, the only appreciable source of vitamin A in the diet. Traditionally, humans ate organ meats, not muscle meat, which has less nutrients, and is harder to digest. A serving of cow liver (which was eaten weekly when I was growing up) contains about 40,000 IU of vitamin A. Many cultures still eat liver from a variety of sources, including chicken, goose, and lamb, but this is not common among North Americans anymore.
Have a look at your multi-vitamin and see how much vitamin A is in it: maybe 2,500 IU, and often none, except synthetic beta carotene, which is worthless as a supplement. Natural beta carotene, whether from food or as a supplement, will convert to vitamin A, but you need to be in ideal health, and get an awful lot of it, to produce sufficient vitamin A, especially if you are deficient in it.
Vitamin A deficiency is widespread in the developing world, and linked to night blindness, severe diarrhea and lack of resistance to infection. I believe that the deficiency in the Western world is far more extensive than we are lead to believe, and one sign of this is the prevalence of sunglasses (more on this to follow).
The third critical nutrient absent from the modern diet is iodine. This deficiency exists because we generally do not eat seaweed, the only reliable source of iodine in the diet. According to WHO, 72% of the world population is iodine deficient, and according to one source 96% of the U.S. population is iodine deficient. (Dr. David Brownstein, Iodine, Why You Need It. Medical Alternative press, 2009)
Sure, there is iodized table salt (which has fallen out of favor with health-minded people), but the fact is that it is fortified with potassium iodide, not true iodine. Potassium iodide, a synthetic form of iodine, only serves the thyroid gland, whereas iodine, the nutrient, has receptor sites all over the body (breasts, prostate, ovaries, to name a few). And, while potassium iodide supports thyroid function, and protects the thyroid against radiation, true iodine does that and as well helps to remove heavy metals from the body, and kills off bad bacteria and fungus (like candida).
Iodine deficiency is linked to cognitive impairment, fibrocystic breast disease, heart disease, obesity, psychiatric disorders, and various forms of cancer. In fact the healing benefits of iodine are so broad that it would take a book to cover the subject (more info: blog) but, for our purposes, iodine is present because it is also necessary for healing and maintaining mucous membranes. A good example of this is that I had two individuals tell me they avoided surgery for post-nasal drip, simply by adding a moderate amount of iodine to their nutritional regimen.
So, those are the big three commonly deficient, critically required nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin D and Iodine. And most ailments stem from long term (even generational) deficiencies of these three nutrients, not only because of their necessity for maintaining our mucous membranes, but also because of the wide range of bodily functions that they are required for.
To a lesser degree, a fourth nutrient is also necessary for repairing mucous membranes, in some cases, and that is vitamin B-12. This tends to be a deficiency mostly in the elderly, in strict vegetarian, in those with blood type A or AB (as they hit middle age or older), and those with severe intestinal disorders (IBS, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and colitis). In all those cases there can be digestive malfunctions that impede absorption of B-12 from the diet. Chronic B-12 deficiency is linked to pernicious anemia, mood disorders, and neurological problems ranging from dementia to Parkinson’s disease. In cases of B-12 deficiency, the supplement should be taken sublingually (under the tongue) or by injection.
Other nutrients required for maintaining and repairing mucous membranes include vitamin B2 and zinc, and vitamin C, which is required for collagen production (collagen being the glue that holds everything together). But, most people I deal with, either as a consultant, or those who read my blogs, are already aware that they need some basic nutritional support outside of food, and are usually taking a multi-vitamin (which would include B2 and zinc), and also some vitamin C. What most people, even those with basic nutritional understanding, are not taking is the big 3, and if they are, not in adequate amounts for our purposes.
My protocol for healing of mucosal membrane tends to the conservative side, and can take a few months to work fully. Doses of these nutrients can be higher, and perhaps results may occur faster, but this should be done with the help of a natural health professional. Nutrients may be much safer than drugs, but they are not without their own potential side effects (mostly due to depleting other nutritional co-factors).
All recommendations are for 5 days a week. By taking a break we accomplish 2 things: we allow the body to use up any excess of a nutrient that we might have taken (especially in the case of non-water soluble nutrients, like minerals and fat-soluble vitamins), and we remind the body to store nutrients, since we won’t be ingesting them consistently. Constantly taking a nutrient in high amounts, suggests to the body that your environment is so rich in these nutrients that it no longer needs to be conservative with them.
Dosing with Vitamin A
Take 50,000 IU of vitamin A daily (with a meal containing fat) for 5 days, then 30,000 IU daily until one does not squint on a sunny day. Squinting in the sunlight (outside of staring into the sun) is a feedback mechanism indicating vitamin A deficiency; this deficiency is worse when one is sensitive to all bright lights, unless there is a medical condition with this symptom. Poor night vision and dry eyes are other symptoms.
After no longer squinting on sunny days, one can take 10,000 IU daily, and even miss a few days a week. When sensitivity to light returns, I will generally go back to taking 3 or 4 pills (10,000 IU each), until the problem recedes, and then roll back my dosage. I prefer natural sourced vitamin A (from fish liver oil), but it appears that synthetic vitamin A will also do the job (unlike synthetic beta carotene), for our vegan friends.
Dosing with Vitamin D
Take 10,000 IU of vitamin D, as drops, or soft gels with a meal containing fat, for 5 days, then 5,000 IU daily, until the health issue alleviates, and then take 3 to 5,000 IU daily. Unless sunbathing properly (50% undressed, un-bathed, and with no sun block, for at least 20 minutes if you are Caucasian), in which case you can forgo ingesting vitamin D as a supplement on that day. (for more information on how to get tested, and ideal blood levels, see blog).
Dosing with Iodine
The Japanese intake of iodine, from daily seaweed consumption, is between 1 to 3 mg daily (there is a mistaken belief still circulating on-line, that the Japanese ingested between 12 and 18 mg daily; this is based on out-dated and miscalculated information). Though, when I first found out about Lugol’s Solution, an old iodine remedy, my experiments took me up to 60mg of iodine per day, with no obvious adverse effects.
Nonetheless, for the purposes of rebuilding mucosal membrane, I recommend between 1 and 2 mg of iodine, ideally from Nascent Iodine, (or from a mix of iodine and potassium iodide, as is found in cheaper iodine supplements, which will still do this job). Iodine also requires selenium as a co-factor, so if you are not already taking it alone, or in a multi-vitamin, it is a good idea to incorporate selenium into your nutritional regimen.
Doctors Used to Know This
Recently, I was reading through a booklet written in 1928 by pharmacists, for doctors who purchased their products. Here a pharmacist was waxing enthusiastic about the new golden age of medicine that was to replace the ignorant superstitions of times previous. What I found fascinating was that his enthusiasm was about the new discoveries of vitamins, and how critical they were for growth, healing and maintenance of good health.
Those golden nutrients that foretold a new age of healing were, interestingly enough, vitamins A and D, from cod liver oil, and iodine (as well as vitamins C, E and the B vitamins). In fact, to quote from this tract: “Dr. Douglas Harvey, at the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, has reported that cod liver oil favourably influences the metabolism of iodine.”
If only they had followed their ethical instincts instead of selling out to the pharmaceutical industry, and violating their own Hippocratic oath (“I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.”), what a different world we would be living in now.
Instead what we have is: “70% of Americans take prescription drugs,” and “…total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is an astounding 783,936 per year. It is now evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US.” (Article)
So everything I am talking about is not new, it is just being rediscovered by me and others today, a knowledge our ancestors had intuitively (see www.westonaprice.org), even before the advent of modern science, and the first rediscovery of it by the aforementioned medical professionals from 1928.