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Natural Ways to Heal Your Digestive Tract: Part 2

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Last time we discussed the effects of food sensitivities on digestive health. For part 2 I wanted to outline some of the key nutrients that heal the gut lining and can repair the damage caused by food related inflammation. There are many nutrients that can fit into this category but I have included 3 unique ingredients that I find work best with my patients.

L-glutamine is a conditionally essentially amino acid that is the primary fuel source for the cells lining your digestionintestinal wall (enterocytes). Since damages during stress are so high the intestinal tract accounts for approximately 40% of the glutamine utilized by the whole body. It works with other with other amino acids, such as leucine and arginine, to maintain integrity and function by decreasing inflammation, enhancing antioxidant protection and restoring the junctions (called “tight” junctions) between enterocytes. L-glutamine supplementation has been shown to improve symptoms in conditions with increased intestinal permeability such as Crohn’s disease, food sensitivities, infections, dysbiosis (overgrowth of bad bacteria), postoperative inflammation and other gastrointestinal conditions. One big advantage of L-glutamine is that it is an amino acid that is hypoallergenic and can be taken in high doses which means that even every sensitive people can supplement with glutamine. In addition to its benefits in the intestinal tract, glutamine supplementation enhances immunity by serving as fuel for immune system and is a precursor for glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants.

Zinc-Carnosine is a combination of the mineral zinc and potent antioxidant carnosine. This combination has been used as a prescription medication in Japan since 1994 for the treatment of stomach disorders such as ulcers, dyspepsia and infections with Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with stomach ulcers. Clinical trials have demonstrated remarkable improvements in symptoms including heartburn, nausea, vomiting, belching, bloating and anorexia and improved healing rates during supplementation with Zinc-Carnosine. Zinc-Carnosine can be especially helpful for individuals with “leaky gut syndrome”, a condition associated with increased gut permeability (see part 1 more info). Zinc-carnosine helps stabilize the gut mucosa and to stimulate healing and repair in the GI tract. In humans, zinc-carnosine has also been shown to protect the gut from damage caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are known to make the intestinal lining more leaky.

Digestive enzymes – Enzymes are essential for many functions of the body, and are especially important in the digestive system. Digestive enzymes are required to break down food into smaller particles so the body can use them.Spectators Celebrating Enzymes called proteases breakdown proteins, lipases break down lipids and amylases break down carbohydrates. Some people argue that under optimal conditions a healthy human body does not need digestive enzyme supplementation. While this may be true in theory the reality is that 1 in 2 Canadians have some degree of substantial digestive tract disease or dysfunction at some point in their lifetime. A number of factors can cause a decrease in the body’s ability to produce enzymes including food related inflammation (previously discussed in part 1), difficult to digest foods (especially high in protein and fat), and poor pancreas function. There also are many factors that decrease the production of stomach acid, which is essential to the breakdown of proteins and the absorption of vitamins and minerals (including B12 and magnesium). A number of medications (antacids, proton pump inhibitors) commonly prescribed for digestive symptoms decrease stomach acid and have been linked to a number of long term health problems.

Digestion

It’s important to look for a broad-spectrum enzyme supplement that contains proteases, lipases, amylases and alpha Galactosidase. Alpha Galactosidase is particularly important because it’s the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of non-digestible sugars found in legumes that cannot be broken down in the small intestine. One specific enzyme that stands out with a very specific and unique function is the DPP IV Protease. This enzyme helps break down problematic proteins like gluten and casein at the intestinal border. Since the so many people are sensitive to wheat and diary proteins, this enzyme can really help with the breakdown and elimination of any gluten or casein that makes its way into the digestive tract. If these proteins are not adequately broken down they can trigger a damaging immune response and can lead to inflammation and possibly autoimmune diseases. DPP IV Protease has been found to be deficient in those with autism and atopic dermatitis

There are so many other great natural ingredients that also help heal and repair the intestinal tract. Some of my other favorites are probiotics and anti-inflammatory herbs like ginger, fennel, and licorice.

 

Image by: © 2014 Monkey Business – Fotolia and © 2014 Monkey Business Images via DollarPhotoClub

References:

1. Rapin JR, Wiernsperger N. Possible links between intestinal permeability and food processing: A potential therapeutic niche for glutamine. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2010 Jun;65(6):635-43.
2. Hulsewe KW, van der Hulst RW, van Acker BA, von Meyenfeldt MF, Soeters PB. Inflammation rather than nutritional depletion determines glutamine concentrations and intestinal permeability. Clin Nutr. 2004;23:1209-16.
3. van der Hulst et al, et al. Gut permeability, intestinal morphology, and nutritional depletion. Nutrition. 1998;14:1-6.
4. De-Souza DA, Greene LJ. Intestinal permeability and systemic infections in critically ill patients: effect of glutamine. Crit Care Med. 2005;33:1125-35.
5. Quan ZF, Yang C, Li N, Li JS. Effect of glutamine on change in early postoperative intestinal permeability and its relation to systemic inflammatory response. World J Gastroenterol. 2004;10:1992-4.
6. Coëffier M, Marion-Letellier R, Déchelotte P. Potential for amino acids supplementation during inflammatory bowel diseases. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2010;16:518-24.
7. . Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2008;24:190-7.
8. Matsukura T and Tanaka H. “Applicability of zinc complex of L-carnosine for medical use.” Biochemistry 2000;65(7):817-823
9. Mahmood A, FitzGerald AJ, Marchbank T et al. “Zinc carnosine, a health food supplement that stabilises small bowel integrity and stimulates gut repair processes.” Gut 2007 Feb;56(2):168-175
10. Suzuki H, Mori M, Seto K et al. “Polaprezinc, a gastroprotective agent: attenuation of monochloramine-evoked gastric DNA fragmentation.” J Gastroenterol. 1999;34(11):43–6
11. Odashima M, Otaka M, Jin M et al. “Zinc L-carnosine protects colonic mucosal injury through induction of heat shock protein 72 and suppression of NF-kB activation.” Life Sciences 2006;79:2245–2250
12. Kashimura H, Suzuki K, Hassan M et al. “Polaprezinc, a mucosal protective agent, in combination with lansoprazole, amoxicillin and clarithromycin increases the cure rate of Helicobacter pylori infection.” Aliment Pharmacol Ther 1999;13:483-487
13. Sunair M, Tanaka N, Kuwayama H, Nakajima M. “Effect of Z-103, a new antiulcer agent, on Helicobacter pylori – antimicrobial, antiurease, and antiadhesive activities.” Jpn Pharmacol Ther 1994; 22(9):31-5
14. Zhang WH, Wu XJ, Niu JX et al. “Serum zinc status and helicobacter pylori infection in gastric disease patients.” Asian Pacific J Cancer Prev 2012 13(10):5043-5046.
15. Vojdani A, Bazargan M, Vojdani E, Samadi J, Nourian AA, Eghbalieh N, Cooper EL. Heat shock protein and gliadin peptide promote development of peptidase antibodies in children with autism and patients with autoimmune disease. Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2004 May;11(3):515-24.
16. Sedo A, Malik R. Dipeptidyl peptidase IV-like molecules: homologous proteins or homologous activities? Biochim Biophys Acta. 2001 Dec 17;1550(2):107-16. Review.
17. Tiruppathi C, Miyamoto Y, Ganapathy V, Leibach FH. Genetic evidence for role of DPP IV in intestinal hydrolysis and assimilation of prolyl peptides. Am J Physiol. 1993 Jul;265(1 Pt 1):G81-9.

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