fbpx

inflammation of the gut

I talk a lot about reducing inflammation, and anti-inflammatory foods, so I thought it would be worth explaining more about what inflammation of the gut is all about, and how it affects us.

Inflammation is the way our body responds to foreign invaders, toxins or cell injury. There is a very complex cascade of chemicals and communication between cells which I won’t to go into here as you might get a bit bored!

Is inflammation of the gut bad for me?

Inflammation tells your immune system to initiate an attack against foreign invaders or toxins, and brings new blood to begin repair of damaged structures.

If you get an infected cut on your hand it may become hot, red and sore. This is the work of inflammation helping to zap the pathogenic bacteria, turning up the heat to kill off pathogens then turning them to pus as they are dealt with. We need this response to help us fight infection.

Chronic inflammation

So that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well if it’s happening all over the body, especially in areas like blood vessels, brain cells, then we can end up with more serious health conditions. 

What causes inflammation of the gut?

Leaky gut

When we eat foods that irritate the gut, the gaps between the cells can become loose. This is ‘leaky gut’, where undigested food particles and bacterial endotoxins called lipopolysaccharides (LPS) can get into the blood stream. Your immune system mounts a response to the invaders which creates inflammation.

Some medical texts dispute the existence of leaky gut (and the NHS isn’t quite convinced), but there is an emerging body of evidence to support the link between diet and inflammation. There are also specific conditions such an inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) where inflammation in the gut weakens the junctions between intestinal cells.

How you can help – identify your food sensitivities and eliminate them from your diet. There are common allergens (e.g. gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, peanuts) but people can react to anything if they have lived with a leaky gut for a long time. It doesn’t mean everyone needs to cut these foods out, but you may need to remove them for a while if you experience symptoms such as headaches, hormonal issues, skin disorders, as well as digestive discomfort such as bloating, constipation or loose stools.

You need to heal the gut to restore this important barrier. This can be done through food, supplements and lifestyle changes and I work with clients to do this in a controlled way.

Pro-inflammatory diet

Eating a pro-inflammatory diet can also add to the inflammation. Foods rich in fructose (not fruit but foods with high frutose content) can increase systemic inflammation in mice. Artificial trans fats also increase inflammatory markers and reduce the impact of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats.

How you can help – eat whole foods in their natural state, vegetables, pulses, meat/fish, eggs, fruit, etc. Include lots of fibre and variety. Avoid food from a packet. Also avoid heavy alcohol use, processed meats (e.g. bacon, salami) due to the nitrates. I often see clients feeling better within a short time of removing ultra processed foods and concentrating on whole foods again.

Microbial imbalance

You can get an overgrowth of the bad bugs, perhaps a yeast like candida, or other bugs which work against us rather than with us, or for us. We can function well with some of them in our guts, but only in small numbers. If these bugs over colonise the gut we can be left unable to properly digest certain foods leading to bloating, gas or pain.

How you can help – To address the bacterial imbalance you can boost the good bugs. These ‘good’ bugs love fibre, so diet rich in wholegrains, pulses, vegetables and fruit. You can also add beneficial microbes back in through eating fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir.

Work with me to support your gut health

As a Nutritionist I work with people to improve their digestion, reduce chronic inflammation and find a diet that works for you. I run either 4 week or 3 month coaching packages to help you stay accountable, and fully supported to make dietary changes. Contact me to get started. 

 

I received brilliant support from Anna, who knows an incredible amount about nutrition as well as good health, physical and mental well being.

Jane

The Berry Benefit – how blackberries, blueberries raspberries are good for you

There are lots of benefits to eating berries, but eating them can be messy. You know how blackberries stain your fingers (and clothes!)? The pigment in the berries which stains us, is from something called anthocyanins. These give dark coloured berries their gorgeous...

8 non-digestive signs of poor gut health

We often think of gut health if we experience digestive discomfort, but you may not realise these 8 other issues can also be linked to our bugs inside. If you would like to address any of these through diet you can contact me for a nutrition...

Diabetes Diet – How To Eat Well With Diabetes

Firstly let’s break down what we mean by diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus is where the pancreas fails to produce insulin due to an autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic cells, and insulin injections are required regularly. People are mostly diagnosed with this...

Gut Health And The Immune System

Do you feel like you’re constantly run down? Always getting a cold or feeling under the weather? It could be worth looking at your gut health, even if you don’t have any digestive symptoms. Around 70% of our immune system is in the gut, so it...

Struggling to lose weight on a vegan diet?

Many people find they lose weight if they change to a vegan diet. A study from Oxford University found people who ate fish, vegetarians and especially vegans had lower BMI scores than those who eat meat. Sometimes cutting out processed foods is enough for people to...

Is it bad to eat late at night?

Eating late at night isn’t good for our health, sorry if you’re someone who loves a snack at bedtime. There are a whole host of reasons why we shouldn’t eat late in the evening. Read to the end to see my recommendations on timings for food. So...