Understanding the War in Your Gut

Friday, September 18, 2009
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

A new study that documents how Salmonella food poisoning1 causes intense diarrhea illustrates the rather unbelievable nature of the war that can take place on the front lines of your digestive tract.  Old and now rather stuffy explanations of immunity pit immune troops against foreign invaders, wherein bacteria were simply operating as individual entities and their infectious potential was in their numbers alone.  We now know such bacteria talk to each other and form gangs.  In the latest study it was shown that pathogenic bacteria directly signal human cells and try to confuse them so as to mount a more aggressive attack.

In health your digestive tract strikes a friendly balance between good flora gut contents, potential bugs, and the immune response lining your digestive tract.  Food-borne pathogens, like Salmonella, pose a significant challenge to this condition of natural balance.

The new data shows that the first wave of Salmonella attack is more like suicide bombers against the cells that line your digestive tract and the flora balance in your gut.  They communicate directly into cells lining your GI tract, hijacking a normal cell mechanism that is crucial to mounting an immune response as well as making healthy cell membranes.  This has the net result of causing an excessive immune response to the first wave of infection – and that immune response both kills the first wave of Salmonella and triggers diarrhea due to the excessive inflammation.

At the same time, the excessive inflammation knocks out the friendly balance of protective flora (acidophilus), as well as leaving an inflamed battlefield along your digestive tract.  Now the second wave of Salmonella attack, having knocked out or seriously compromised your front line defense.  Once they set up shop they can be very difficult to get rid of and tend to provoke ongoing digestive inflammation. 

This is one of many examples of how an imbalanced gut leads to ongoing low-grade inflammation, compromised digestive immunity, and a friendlier target for future infections with bacterial, Candida, parasitic, or viral.

Immune system competence is based in no small part on a healthy digestive foundation.
 


Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ How Salmonellae Cause Diahrrea  Cell Host & Microbe,  A. Müller, C. Hoffmann, M. Galle, A. Van Den Broeke, M. Heikenwalder, L. Falter, B. Misselwitz, M. Kremer, R. Beyaert, W. Hardt

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