Gut and Detoxification

January 30, 2018

Gut and Detoxification

The Gut is about 22-25 feet long and the gut epithelium may store toxins from the environment. The colon is like a septic tank as it stores stool, undigested food residue and 100 Trillion microbes. Gut is a Bioreactor that does not sleep. Gut bacteria break down the ingested toxins, molecules and medications. This can affect the blood levels of the medications by either activating the drugs or breaking them down. Gut bacteria have shown to have a role in excretion of heavy metals. Some probiotic strains may have beneficial role in excretion of some heavy metal ions according to some studies. Liver is a large organ and has a big role is detoxification so a good liver health is very important.

Diets high in complex carbohydrates such as fiber can lead to formation of short chain fatty acids which promote a healthy gut lining. These fatty acids are converted to butyrate that can stops the growth of bad microbes and maintains good gut motility by affecting metabolism of intestinal cells. The upper part of the colon has more short chain fatty acids compared to the lower colon. Interestingly, the generation of SCFAs varies along the length of the colon; highest levels are found within the proximal colon and lower levels within the distal colon. There are some commensal microbes namely Faecalibacterium species and Eubacterium/Roseburia that are well known commensals in the gut and produce short chain fatty acids for gut health. Within the intestinal lining cells there are metabolic processes called sulfation, methylation and glucuronidation that can play a role in the detoxification and other cellular processes. Antioxidants such as flavanoids and polyphenols undergo their first activation step in the gut epithelium before they are taken to the liver.

The gut microbes generate methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and hydrogen gas ( to name a few) when the organic matter ferments in the gut. Intake of roughage & fiber helps eliminate ingested toxins by physically binding them. Fiber also has a role in maintaining bowel regularity and promotes digestive health. Staying away from alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs will help maintain a good liver health that in turn can help maintain a good healthy gut lining that will function to its maximum capacity. Having regular bowel movements will ensure that all the excess body waste is eliminated and does not putrefy in the gut. Lots of time we have advised patients to eat activated charcoal tablets as it adsorbs the extra gas in the gut and gives them relief from bloating.

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