Zinc is a critical nutrient for digestion and healing your gut. Zinc is responsible for over 300 processes in your body and affects everything – taste, smell, mood, healing, repair, digestion, immunity. Your body needs zinc in order to make digestive juices in your stomach to break down protein and help prevent ALL digestive disorders. Your gut needs zinc to do its normal minute-by-minute repairs your whole life long. Zinc is crucial.
When you eat grains, especially wheat (bread, pasta, cereals) at meals, substances called phytates lock onto zinc. The phytates and zinc form a large molecule that your body can’t absorb or use. Soaking your porridge overnight or switching to sourdough bread are great ways to REDUCE the phytate content of grains. Minimising eating wheat pasta at dinner and instead of increasing the vegetables is another great tweak.
Zinc deficiency is linked to gastritis, acid reflux, psoriasis, Crohn’s, colitis, and many more health issues.
Vitamin D and vitamin A are essential partners in your immune and digestive health. Vitamin A affects the immune system. Over 70% of your immune cells live in your bowel. Here, antibodies spend their time doing surveillance work. Checking everything that floats by and identifying it as friend or foe. Autoimmune conditions (e.g. IBD, hypothyroidism) are where your immune system attacks your own body.
The availability of vitamin A in your food is a key factor in a tolerant immune system. This is an immune system that leaves harmless substances alone and yet has the capacity to see off threats (infections). Immune tolerance is the essence of good health. Vitamin A is the key to your ability to consume a wide range of food and yet not react adversely.
When I say vitamin A I mean retinol (stored form), retinal and retinoic acid (active forms). BETA CAROTENE IS NOT VITAMIN A. Beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A found in red/orange fruit and veg. 41% of the UK female population have a genetic variation meaning they can’t convert beta carotene to vitamin A. Anybody who is overweight, taking steroids, on a high grain or low-fat diet, or is hypothyroid will additionally be unable to convert beta carotene to vitamin A.
Vitamin A is critical for the repair and function of your bowel lining, preventing it from becoming leaky. When cells are deprived of vitamin A, energy production declines and you will suffer fatigue.
When you are low in vitamin A, your body makes more inflammatory compounds and your immune system starts to go haywire. You need vitamin A to manufacture an important antibody called secretory IgA to protect you against infections. Particularly infections in your airways and your gut.
What about toxicity?
If you are low in vitamin D (below 100nmol/L) vitamin A supplementation can be counter-productive as they work together. Some people may get enough from their diet if they regularly eat organ meats such as the liver. The Council for Responsible Nutrition in their 2004 report noted a long history of safe use of vitamin A supplementation at a dose of 10,000iu. I would only use this high-level dosing for very particular reasons and for a specific period of time.
Pregnant women are well-advised to avoid supplementing retinol but to eat organ meats at least once a week. This is a whole other area for exploration.
This is one of my favourite tasty things to recommend to clients because it’s quick and easy. And makes a difference. Because of my background in looking at the science of herbs, spices, and their health effects I was excited to see the ingredients.
Every herb and spice contains components that make your gut an unfriendly place for bad bugs. And a friendly place for the good guys! This has enormous repercussions on your overall digestive health and inflammation levels all over your body. Plus the fermentation process amplifies the effects of the ingredients. It’s sweetened with delicious plump sultanas which feed the beneficial gut bug akkermansia mucinophilia. This clever little bacterium is critically important for restoring or maintaining gut health. For information on stockists go to www.spoonfulbotanical.com.
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Autoimmunity includes conditions as diverse as psoriasis, Crohns, ulcerative colitis, hypothyroidism and vasculitis.
Know the best way to keep your autoimmune condition going? Or to set up an autoimmune condition? Eat gluten. Often. Yes, even in non-coeliacs and people who are NOT sensitive to gluten at all, regular consumption of gluten is a risk factor. Numerous peer-reviewed studies published in prestigious scientific journals confirm this finding. And yet it is little known.
Part of the reason gluten can trigger autoimmunity is that it damages YOUR gut. You must have a damaged gut in order to have an autoimmune condition.
And yet this isn’t common knowledge. Why? In my opinion, there are three reasons:
On average it takes the latest, proven scientific findings 25 years to percolate into medical practice
Medical schools teach only half-day nutrition during a student’s 6 years of study.
Medical schools do not include modules on how to critically assess scientific research.
Rakhimova, Esslinger et al. In vitro differentiation of human monocytes into dendritic cells by a peptic-tryptic digest of gliadin is independent of genetic predisposition and the presence of celiac disease. J Clin Immunol 2009 Jan;29(1):29-37.
You just might be coeliac. For every patient with digestive symptoms, there are 8 patients with coeliac disease and NO gastrointestinal symptoms according to research published in the Journal of Gastroenterology. Coeliac disease dramatically increases your risk of autoimmune hepatitis, hypothyroidism, psoriasis, Sjogren’s, arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders. As well as a constellation of inexplicable ailments.
The number one symptom of coeliac disease is fatigue, with cognitive issues coming a close second. That was certainly the case in my situation. In order for your standard GP blood tests to show anything, you have to have reached the end stage of coeliac disease, where there is severe destruction in your small intestine. But if your immune system is struggling, you may still get a negative blood test even if the damage is severe. Biopsy only shows coeliac disease when it is end-stage. There ARE better ways to get answers. If you want to have a conversation, get in touch.
Fasano and Catassi. Current approaches to diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease: an evolving spectrum. Gastroenterology. 2001 Feb;120(3):636-51.