Cardiovascular Disease prevalenceCardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia for both females and males. This link from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that gives details of cardiovascular disease statistics in Australia. Of note among these statistics are:
- Almost 1 in 3 deaths in Australia in 2015 were due to cardiovascular disease.
- An estimated 4.2 million (22%) Australian adults aged 18 years and over had 1 or more cardiovascular diseases in 2014–15, based on self-reported data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014–2015
Closing the GateDuring one of Dr Houston’s lectures, he spoke about the importance of “closing the gate” to reduce the risk of heart disease. By “closing the gate”, Dr Houston is referring to repairing a “leaky gut". “All diseases begin in the Gut”– Hippocrates (460BC – 370BC) Yes, this includes cardiovascular disease. Hippocrates is often referred to as the father of medicine. So the gut was at least suspected as being involved in disease 2500 years ago!
What is “Leaky Gut”?Although it may sound like a bike tyre with holes in it, “Leaky Gut” is simply a reduction in efficiency of the gut wall’s barrier function. In addition to cardiovascular disease, leaky gut has been linked to a host of other chronic disease states too numerous to mention in this article.
Functions of the gut wallA few of the functions of the gut wall include:
- Absorption of nutrients
- Preventing absorption of substances in the gut that should not be absorbed into circulation (I refer to this as the gut’s “barrier function”)
- Complex roles in immune system regulation
- Undigested food particles,
- Waste products and
- Bacterial cells (which contain the highly inflammatory material Lipopolysaccharide or LPS)
What causes a Leaky Gut?
- Other Medications
- Environmental chemical exposure
- Junk food
- Other dietary factors
- Gut infections such as parasitic infections
- Gut bacterial imbalances with the intestines
- How well you are digesting your food
What are the effects of having a Leaky Gut?As a result of this increasing internally derived toxic burden, levels ofoxidative stressincrease throughout the body. Increased levels of oxidative stress cause increased levels oftissue damage throughout the body. When tissue damage occurs, theimmune systemand natural tissue repair processes become involved leading to increased levelsinflammationthroughout the body as the immune system tries to deal with “foreign” particles getting into circulation. So the immune system is not dysfunctional - it is responding normally to an abnormal set of circumstances.
Main Drivers of Cardiovascular DiseaseAccording to Dr Houston, the following three factors drive cardiovascular disease:
- Oxidative stress,
- Inflammation and
- immune dysfunction
What is meant by “Immune Dysfunction”?The term “Immune dysfunction” implies that the immune system is not working properly. In cardiovascular disease, this is not true - the term “Immune dysfunction” is actually a misnomer. The immune system is actually doing what it is meant to do – scanning for threats and dealing with invaders that should not be there. So the immune system is not dysfunctional. So the immune system is not dysfunctional - it is responding normally to an abnormal set of circumstances. The problem in cardiovascular disease is that due to abnormal goings on within the arteries due to oxidative stress, the “teflon” like inner most lining of the artery wall is injured and breached which leads to immune system intervention which results in inflammation and the initiation of vascular disease.
The EndotheliumThe endothelium is the inner most lining of our arteries. It is considered to be an organ of the body – in fact it is the largest organ in the human body. The skin is the second largest organ. The endothelium is the interface between circulating blood and the rest of the artery wall. Atherosclerosis is phenomenon involving formation of plaques within the wall of the arteries. The cells of the endothelium are involved in many aspects of vascular function including acting as a selective barrier between the contents of the blood stream and the surrounding tissue. So oxidative damage and inflammation of the endothelium, along with the resulting immune system intervention, set the stage for cardiovascular disease.
How do I know if I have a Leaky Gut?There is a useful and non-invasive pathology urine test that I have been using for over 15 years to detect leaky gut. It is an intestinal permeability test urine test that also tests for how well your gut is absorbing your nutrients. It can be assumed that most of us have a degree of leaky gut – but the question is HOW leaky? Knowing how leaky the gut is can help determine how long you may have to work on “healing and sealing” the gut lining.
Healing a Leaky GutTo heal a leaky gut, identifying and addressing the causative factors listed above will help to heal a leaky gut. Also, there are many nutrients and supplements that can be taken to accelerate gut healing including:
- Slippery elm
- Aloe Vera
- Zinc carnosine
- DG Licorice
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Coenzyme Q10
- Collagen supplements and collagen forming amino acids (eg lysine, proline)
Why did Dr Houston’s lectures inspire me?
- I’m now hearing a top cardiologist mentionleaky gut as one of the major contributing factors in the worlds biggest killer, cardiovascular disease.
- Naturopaths have been talking about leaky gut s as a major contributing factor to many disease states for decades
- Leaky gut is almost never considered as a cause of chronic disease in standard medical practice. In fact the suggestion that “leaky gut” can play a role in any disease state is still dismissed and often ridiculed in orthodox medical practice.
- Accepting the pivotal role that gut wall health plays in cardiovascular disease
- Testing for leaky gut
- Making the treatment of leaky gut an important part of cardiovascular health treatment protocols