The number one cause of disease is….following vegans on twitter.
Close…but what I really want to discuss is gut health.
2500 Hippocrates was correct when he stated that “All disease begins in the gut”.
New science has vindicated his intuition.
Leaky gut plus endotoxins are likely the main causal factor in many of the chronic diseases we see today.
The best part about this diagnosis is that it implodes the low carb / high carb debate. What matters is lowing endotoxins above all else.
Let me explain
The Gut’s Hard Role
First, let me give the gut a break…
The gut has a tough job. It needs to both absorb nutrients while kicking out toxic invaders. Think of it like a bouncer at a very exclusive club.
Most people give this bouncer a very hard time. Every time you eat, you’re consuming potentially toxic waste that the gut needs to expel.
The small intestine doesn’t get nearly as much love as the brain and heart, but it’s just as important. The most challenging and important work at this “nightclub” is being conducted in your small intestine.
The small intestine is ~50% of your gut. It is responsible for 90% of food absorption and has the largest mass of immune cells in your entire body .
Everything you eat directly touches this vital organ. And it’s very vulnerable.
The only barrier protecting what you eat from your bloodstream is just a single layer of mucous, linked together by proteins .
But this barrier can be broken, which creates gaps between the proteins in the cellular layers of your gut
Essentially, the lining of your gut is not HOLDING THE DOOOOORRR.
And when the lining is open, toxins can pass into your bloodstream. Rightfully so, your body freaks out. It’s like a bartender catching an underage drinker inside.
This is what’s called Leaky gut
Leaky. gut. Can you imagine a grosser sounding two word combination?
Leaky gut used to be a fringe medical condition. Most mainstream doctors didn’t recognize it as a real disease.
But recently the gut has become a focus because of its role in a variety of diseases.
New research shows that leaky gut plays a role in everything from anxiety to skin issues to cancer and autoimmune disorders.
Pictured below are the diseases it’s been linked to…yeah, doesn’t sound like a fun time.
How can the gut have such a wide impact?
This brings me to endotoxins.
An endotoxin is a compound that gram negative bacteria release in your intestines. That’s a mouthful…but all it essentially means is your gut bacteria can go rogue and produce compounds that are toxic. Combined with leaky gut, this can be disastrous.
The problem is that both your “good and bad bacteria” can produce these compounds. And with a leaky gut, they end up coursing through your bloodstream.
When that happens, your immune system is mobilized to expel it, which creates inflammation. Similar to when somebody gets kicked out of a bar, everybody stops and takes a look. Nothing functions properly in that moment.
If you have incessant chronic issues, this could be why.
One of the main ways they cause harm is by causing scarring in your tissues. Pretty much every disease involves inflammation — an activation of the immune system. And in one study, researchers found that in all of these chronic conditions researchers there was a dense fibrin scarring structure. Endotoxin create exactly that. According to them “Just one molecule of LPS in a mixture of a hundred million fibrinogen molecules was enough to encourage the formation of these misformed clots.”
These clots ultimately gunk up all your cells and may contribute to diseases like alzheimers, diabetes and arthritis. Additionally, endotoxins increase the rate of iron oxidation almost 20x….think of this like your insides turning to rust . This can be especially problematic if your iron intake is excessive.
Another study recently showed that endotoxins can trigger social isolation. Not shocking given how depressed and anxious most people are. But what if this is the explanation?
Other studies have linked endotoxins to liver cancer . This one linked endotoxins to low testosterone and hypogonadism.
Lastly, researchers in this study tied endotoxin production to diabetes. Researchers blocked the endotoxin receptors in this study and reverse type 1 diabetes .
Name a disease and you can tie it back to endotoxins.
What’s clear is that our overall picture of disease is myopic and most doctors are ill equipped to handle the nuance required…imagine going to your doctor with high blood sugar and asking him about your LPS levels…
The list goes on and on…but if you don’t want to be another victim of these sinister little molecules, here are some tips to reduce your endotoxin load.
How to reduce endotoxins?
The approach to reducing endotoxins is two fold: (1) improving your gut barrier integrity to defend against them and (2) reducing LPS exposure.
Here’s how I’d attack it.
#1 Cut out everything upsetting your gut
This step is the easiest. There are probably foods you can think of right now that irritate your gut. It may be so bad that if you picture yourself eating them your gut will start to rumble…
Stop eating these foods immediately.
Whenever you eat something that upsets your gut, that’s a sign that youre increasing intestinal inflammation and endotoxin production
But instead, most peiple just continue eating the junk foods and use medicines to cover up the symptoms.
Every time you upset your stomach you are hurting your health. Your body is smart. It’s a sign. Stop silencing it.
This is a huge reason why the carnivore diet works so well. Because it cuts out many of the biggest gut harming culprits like the following below.
#2 Remove Gluten
Gluten is probably the only thing feared more than coronavirus these days…But probably for good reason.
A study conducted on subjects 61 subjects showed improvements in in autoimmune disorders, IBS, bloating, brain frog and even depression when removing gluten.
Gluten increases zonulin production, a protein that breaks apart the tight junctions in your digestive tract .
Many people, especially those with celiac disease, can be intolerant to gluten. Studies show that those with celiac disease that go on a gluten free diet, restore their gut health.
Once gluten is removed from the diet, serum zonulin levels decrease, the intestine resumes its baseline barrier function, the autoantibody titers are normalized, the autoimmune process shuts off and, consequently, the intestinal damage (that represents the biological outcome of the autoimmune process) heals completely
Even for those without celiac disease, cutting gluten may be beneficial.
#3 Remove Lectins
Vegetables have phytochemicals that they produce to ward off predators. Protease inhibitors, sulforaphane, oxalates, alkaloids, cyanogenic glyocides….the list goes on.
This is plant-chemical warfare. Weapons of mass destruction.
Each of these damage the lucky person who decides to consume the plant. But two in particular have been found to lead to leaky gut specifically: lectins & saponins.
Lectins are proteins that the plant uses to protect itself. They’re found in all foods, but in very high quantities in beans (legumes) and grains .
Many lectins are resistant to digestion. We cannot break them down, meaning when consumed they access our gut without any deterrence.
When they reach the gut, they bind to the lining and wreak havoc. There, they block nutrient absorption in the gut wall, change the gut flora and can break open the intestinal wall [*]
Saponins are fairly similar. Beans and pseudo grains, like Quinoa, are high in saponins.
Saponins are soap-like and create foam in water. They are able to bind to the cholesterol on the surface of the intestinal layer, and cause a reaction that increases leaky gut
Lectins and saponins basically are like jackhammers on your gut lining. They create holes by binding to the wall and lead to leaky gut.
Fun, or not so fun fact: Saponins are actually used to make some detergents in South America. This is why Quinoa sometimes tastes soapy.
#4 Remove seed oils
Vegetable oils are high in omega 6 which is highly inflammatory . When heated, they produce toxic byproducts.
They’re disastrous to our health, inflame the gut and can promote intestinal permeability.
#5 Reduce stress
Stress directly causes leaky gut. A recent study found a link between PTSD and autoimmune disorders because of the elevated cortisol levels allowing endotoxins to pass into the bloodstream .
This is why health needs to be holistic…
If you’re eating a carnivore diet but your blood is boiling with rage all day at a soul sucking 9 to 5 job, you’re not going to be healthy.
My favorite way to take control if your stress levels is via meditation.
#6 Eat nutrients that support gut health
This is the main reason I follow a variation of the carnivore diet. It has the most gut supporting nutrients out of any way of eating there is
Vitamin D helps improve the strength of the protein junctions between intestinal cells
Vitamin A has also been shown to increase the intestinal defense layer
Both Vitamin D and Vitamin A cannot be found sufficiently in vegetable foods, but are abundant in animal products like beef liver and eggs.
Glycine is critical for gut integrity.
The B vitamins are necessary for energy production in your gut and the health of your intestinal lining.
Long chain saturated fats have been shown to be protective against alcohol induced leaky gut .
Among the many amino acids, glutamine and tryptophan have been reported to maintain, promote, and protect intestinal barrier function. Glutamine, one of the nonessential amino acids, is a major energy source for intestinal epithelial cell
All in all, if you’re eating steak & beef liver, you’re well on your way to better gut health.
If you want to add beef liver to your diet for the first time, check out my crisps below.
#7 Eat Raw Carrot
This is a gift from the wild world of ray peat. Raw carrots have a tremendous ability to soak up and remove endotoxins in your gut.
According to ray
Endotoxin formed in the bowel can block respiration and cause hormone imbalances contributing to instability of the nerves, so it is helpful to optimize bowel flora, for example with a carrot salad; a dressing of vinegar, coconut oil and olive oil, carried into the intestine by the carrot fiber, suppresses bacterial growth while stimulating healing of the wall of the intestine. The carrot salad improves the ratio of progesterone to estrogen and cortisol, and so is as appropriate for epilepsy as for premenstrual syndrome, insomnia, or arthritis.
Think of them as like the sham wow of endotoxins.
#8 Orange Juice
Last but not least, my favorite “non carnivore” addition to my diet is orange juice. Orange juice has loads of benefits I will get to in another post, but one of the most potent ones is its anti inflammatory, anti endotoxin effects.
In this study, orange juice was able to neutralize the proinflammatory effect of a high fat, high carb meal. This is why I try to include some OJ with every single meal