Tag Archives: colitis

Paleo Diet and Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Are Emulsifiers to Blame?

We are often asked whether a Paleo diet can be a promising agent for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. Impaired mucosal immunity in the gastrointestinal tract has been shown to lead to this debilitating condition.1 New data suggests that common food additives, called emulsifiers, could be contributing to the development of inflammatory bowel diseases, including colitis, by disturbing the composition of intestinal microbiota.2 This research has the ability to improve the health of 1-2 million people who suffer from ulcerative colitis,3 a major risk factor for colorectal cancer.4  Let’s take a closer look of how this research could impact Paleo dieters.

What role does intestinal microbiota play in reducing inflammatory conditions?

Gut microbiota is considered to be an organ within an organ,5 and provides many important benefits, especially in metabolism and immunity. In healthy individuals, the intestines are protected via multi-layered mucus structures that cover the intestinal surface, to keep a barrier between the epithelial cells that line the intestine and both healthy and pathogenic bacteria.6  Dysfunction of the relationship between the mucosal lining and bacteria results in low-grade inflammation that has been linked to promoting adiposity and contributing to negative metabolic effects,7 which can account for the increase in obesity and metabolic syndrome rates worldwide.8,9

Are emulsifiers sneaking their way into your Paleo Diet?

Emulsifiers are common food additives that impart creaminess, improve texture, extend shelf life, and emulsify oils in many processed foods. Emulsifiers and 1600 other food additives have been considered by the FDA to be “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). It is alarming that there are this many processed substances are added to foods regularly consumed by Americans, without fully understanding the implications of these additives.10

Current research suggest emulsifiers in particular are in fact causing physical harm.11,12,13 They are often described to be like detergent – where the molecules lead to massive bacterial overgrowth,14 damage the mucosal lining, transport bacteria across epithelial tissue,15 and are cancer promoting.16 Hopefully, this evidence will encourage the FDA to perform further analysis and alter the criteria that has previously been used to evaluate food safety. Until then, further scientific evidence indicates it is best to avoid such processed foods as they contribute to the rise of modern diseases.

Although processed foods are not a part of a true Paleo Diet, many Paleo eaters still incorporate convenience foods containing them into their diet. These foods may include chocolate, mayonnaise, coconut and almond milk products, grain-free baked goods, protein powders, as well as many personal hygiene products like toothpastes and mouthwashes. To minimize the impact on your intestinal health and overall inflammation levels, avoid the following emulsifiers in any product you buy: xanthan gum, guar gum, carrageenan, cellulose gum, polysorbate 80, and (soy) lecithin.

In addition to being void of artificial emulsifiers, the foods eaten by traditional hunter-gathers are typically lower in carbohydrate than modern diets, and have also been linked to lower levels of inflammation of the gastrointestinal microbiota. Following a Paleo diet may lead to a microbiota that is more consistent with our evolutionary ancestors, and less likely to be impacted by the chronic inflammatory conditions linked to modern diets.17

Eat like our ancestors. Eat Paleo.

 

REFERENCES

[1] Middendorp, S., and E. E. S. Nieuwenhuis. “NKT cells in mucosal immunity.”Mucosal immunology 2.5 (2009): 393-402.

[2] Chassaing, Benoit, et al. “Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome.” Nature 519.7541 (2015): 92-96.

[3] Colitis–Pathophysiology, Ulcerative. “Inflammatory bowel disease part I: ulcerative colitis–pathophysiology and conventional and alternative treatment options.” Alternative medicine review 8.3 (2003): 247-283.

[4] Eaden JA, Abrams KR, Mayberry JF. The risk of colorectal cancer in ulcerative colitis: a meta-analysis.Gut. 2001;48:526–535.

[5] O’Hara, Ann M., and Fergus Shanahan. “The gut flora as a forgotten organ.”EMBO reports 7.7 (2006): 688-693.

[6] Johansson, M. E. et al. The inner of the two Muc2 mucin-dependent mucus layers in colon is devoid of bacteria. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 15064–15069 (2008)

[7] Bäckhed, Fredrik, et al. “The gut microbiota as an environmental factor that regulates fat storage.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 101.44 (2004): 15718-15723.

[8] Furet, Jean-Pierre, et al. “Differential Adaptation of Human Gut Microbiota to Bariatric Surgery–Induced Weight Loss Links With Metabolic and Low-Grade Inflammation Markers.” Diabetes 59.12 (2010): 3049-3057.

[9] Alberti, K. G. M. M., et al. “Harmonizing the Metabolic Syndrome A Joint Interim Statement of the International Diabetes Federation Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; American Heart Association; World Heart Federation; International Atherosclerosis Society; and International Association for the Study of Obesity.” Circulation 120.16 (2009): 1640-1645.

[10] Winter, Ruth. A consumer’s dictionary of food additives: Descriptions in plain English of more than 12,000 ingredients both harmful and desirable found in foods. Crown Archetype, 2009.

[11] Chassaing, Benoit, et al. “Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome.” Nature 519.7541 (2015): 92-96.

[12] Tobacman, Joanne K. “Review of harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in animal experiments.” Environmental health perspectives 109.10 (2001): 983.

[13] Watt, J., and R. Marcus. “Harmful effects of carrageenan fed to animals.”Cancer detection and prevention 4.1-4 (1980): 129-134.

[14] Swidsinski, Alexander, et al. “Bacterial overgrowth and inflammation of small intestine after carboxymethylcellulose ingestion in genetically susceptible mice.”Inflammatory bowel diseases 15.3 (2009): 359-364.

[15] Roberts, C. L. et al. Translocation of Crohn’s disease Escherichia coli across M-cells: contrasting effects of soluble plant fibres and emulsifiers. Gut 59, 1331–1339 (2010)

[16] Tobacman, Joanne K. “Review of harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in animal experiments.” Environmental health perspectives 109.10 (2001): 983.

[17] Spreadbury, Ian. “Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity.” Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity: targets and therapy 5 (2012): 175.

Probiotics, Paleo, and Gut Health | The Paleo Diet

The gastrointestinal tract is home to some 500 different species of microorganisms. Collectively known as the gut microbiome, these microorganisms confer an array of benefits, including assisting with digestion, warding off pathogenic bacteria, training the immune system to respond only to pathogens, and synthesizing various vitamins.

The Paleo lifestyle promotes a healthy gut microbiome, but certain medical conditions warrant additional support, including natural probiotic supplements and cultured foods. The Paleo diet eliminates some cultured foods, like fermented dairy and salt-brine-pickled vegetables, but not all of them. So how can natural probiotics and cultured foods fit into a Paleo lifestyle? Which foods and supplements are most appropriate?

It is unusual to need additional support when following a Paleo regime and consuming lots of veggies, as they are the biggest fiber source. Conditions that might warrant natural probiotic supplementation according to the Cleveland Clinic include:

The strongest evidence for probiotic efficacy is for treating diarrhea, particularly among children. At least four large meta-analyses have been published regarding probiotic treatments for children suffering acute, infectious diarrhea. Despite differing probiotics being tested, different doses, and different lengths of treatments, each study shows that probiotics, along with standard rehydration therapy, decrease diarrhea symptoms.1

Regarding irritable bowel disease (IBD), the evidence for probiotic efficacy is less conclusive, but is nevertheless promising. A 2013 review published in Current Opinions in Gastroenterology determined that probiotics demonstrate considerable potential for treating IBD, but better-designed, longer-term studies are necessary.2 Furthermore, IBD probiotic treatments appear to be strain specific. In other words, certain strains are likely to be effective for certain conditions, but ineffective for others. Of the various IBD conditions, pouchitis and ulcerative colitis have thus far shown the best potential with respect to probiotic treatments, whereas the current evidence for Crohn’s disease is less promising.

The global probiotics market is expected to reach $42 billion by 2016.3 But not all probiotics are created equal. Some have been shown to be ineffective or even counterproductive.4 Viable natural probiotics should demonstrate the ability to survive transit through the gastrointestinal tract, to colonize the intestines, and should have a long shelf life.

Gut microbiome research is still in its early stages, but as the Human Gut Microbiome project and other research initiatives advance, clearer answers will surely emerge. For now, natural probiotics can effectively treat or ameliorate certain conditions.

If you are making the transition to a Paleo Diet and would like additional gut health support, supplements which improve intestinal integrity and which may reduce intestinal permeability include probiotics, prebiotics, Vitamin D3, fish oil (EPA and DHA), and Zinc.5 Dr. Cordain recommends supplementing with probiotics between 6-9 billion bacteria/day during one month, then cut down to 4-5 billion. You may also consider 4-6 grams prebiotics a day during one month (if you do not improve with 4 grams increase up to 6 grams). Then cut down to 2 grams a day.6 Speak with your qualified health practitioner to determine whether or not probiotics are appropriate for you.

For those who prefer food to supplements, try coconut yogurt, which is becoming increasingly popular. Look for products devoid of added stabilizers or sweeteners. Alternatively, you can easily make your own. Just blend 16 ounces of coconut “meat” (from young coconuts) with about 1 cup of fresh coconut water. Add the contents of two natural probiotic capsules and mix well. Allow the mixture to rest, covered by a kitchen towel or cheesecloth, for 8 to 16 hours (the fermentation goes quicker in warmer environments). Alternatively, a tablespoon of coconut oil a day is not only a good source of Medium Chain Fatty Acids, but added support for your gut.7

Christopher James Clark, B.B.A.
@nutrigrail
Nutritional Grail
www.ChristopherJamesClark.com

Christopher James Clark | The Paleo Diet TeamChristopher James Clark, B.B.A. is an award-winning writer, consultant, and chef with specialized knowledge in nutritional science and healing cuisine. He has a Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan and formerly worked as a revenue management analyst for a Fortune 100 company. For the past decade-plus, he has been designing menus, recipes, and food concepts for restaurants and spas, coaching private clients, teaching cooking workshops worldwide, and managing the kitchen for a renowned Greek yoga resort. Clark is the author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning book, Nutritional Grail.

 

REFERENCES

[1] Pham, M, Lemberg, DA, and Day, AS. (2008). Probiotics: sorting the evidence from the myths. Medical Journal of Australia, 188(5). Retrieved from https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2008/188/5/probiotics-sorting-evidence-myths

[2] Whelan, K and Quigley, EMM. (2013). Probiotics in the Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Current Opinions in Gastroenterology, 29(2). Retrieved from //www.medscape.com/viewarticle/779778

[3] Berkley Wellness. (March 2014). Probiotic Pros and Cons. Berkley, University of California. Retrieved from //www.berkeleywellness.com/supplements/other-supplements/article/probiotics-pros-and-cons

[4] Gibson, GR and Fuller, R. (2000). Aspects of in vitro and in vivo research approaches directed toward identifying probiotics and prebiotics for human use. Journal of Nutrition, 130(2S Supplement). Retrieved from //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10721913

[5] Cordain, Loren, PhD. “Hidradenitis Suppurativa, Autoimmune Disease, and The Paleo Diet.” The Paleo Diet. The Paleo Diet, LLC, 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.

[6] Cordain, Loren, PhD. “Eating Paleo But Still Constipated | The Paleo Diet | Dr. Cordain.” The Paleo Diet. The Paleo Diet, LLC, 01 Dec. 2009. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.

[7] Ibid.

Below is a recent success story we received from a Paleo Diet follower:

Dr. Cordain,

I have been following your Paleo diet for 6 weeks, and have been off of Asacol, the medication I take for ulcerative colitis for 4 weeks!  It’s amazing that my colitis symptoms are gone.

I do a lot of long distance cycling, and am currently training for Ride The Rockies, and the MS150.  I have a lot of questions about nutrition during and after training and on my long rides.  I have your book Paleo Diet for Athletes, but have a lot of questions and could use some clarity.

Thank you so much.  I’m a believer!

All the best

– Sheila

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