Quick Hits

Not much time but I wanted to share some updates and thoughts in rapid fire.

Are Appendicitis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease Connected?

I had never heard of this before but a few years ago a new hypothesis was created to explain the purpose of the human appendix.

Last December, researchers published a novel explanation in The Journal of Theoretical Biology. The appendix, they suggest, is a “safe house” for commensal bacteria, the symbiotic germs that aid digestion and help protect against disease-causing germs.

In times of trouble like a diarrheal infection that flushes the system, these commensal bacteria could hide out there, ready to repopulate the gut when the coast is clear.

What’s very interesting to me is that when I was 1 year old, my appendix burst (appendicitis) and was taken out. At 17 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. My gut intuition says there might be a connection in my case.

I would love to know how many people with IBDs and IBS had their appendix taken out.

GAPS – Day 40 (June 4)
Doing well on GAPS. I’m on stage 4 of 6 before going on the full GAPS list of allowable foods.

Documentary Updates
I’m doing a lot of research these days and talking to doctors about various aspects of IBDs. I talked with Dr. Alessio Fasano, a world renown researcher of Celiac disease at the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research. He helped me understand that all autoimmune diseases, particularly Celiac and IBDs have three factors involved in their pathogenesis (cause, development and effects of a disease).

  1. genetic susceptibility
  2. intestinal permeability (aka “leaky gut”)
  3. foreign invaders (food and/or bacteria) that cause an immune response

I have much more I want to say on this later.

I also talked with Dr. David Rubin of the University of Chicago Medical Center. He also shared with me some great insights, one being that genetics play a limited role in IBDs because it’s well known that in a set of twins, one can have IBD and not the other. Clearly, there is something else besides genetics involved in the disease process. As stated above, they think it’s a foreign invader, most likely a bacterial infection.

This Fall, Dr. David Rubin will conduct a clinical trial of a little known treatment called bacteriotherapy on people with ulcerative colitis. I wish I had ulcerative colitis because I am extremely interested in this treatment. It makes so much sense to me.

Talking to Dr. Fasano and Dr. Rubin, both confirmed to me that it is likely that many people with IBDs have what’s called gut dysbiosis. With dysbiosis, all hell breaks loose because the body doesn’t have the proper balance of healthy bacteria. Bacteriotherapy seeks to restore that balance by implanting a healthy donor’s ecology of gut bacteria into the recipient.

I’m excited to talk with these two more and both have agreed to be interviewed. I just need to figure out a good schedule and coordinate with them.

My Latest Theory
I don’t know if this one will stick, but what if one of the causes of Crohn’s and UC is the following. It is known that healthy, friendly bacteria in our guts help to breakdown and digest our food so that our intestines can absorb it. I’m hypothesizing that healthy gut bacteria attach themselves to food particles to do their job.

Then, in someone with a leaky gut, those food particles slip through, along with the healthy bacteria stuck to it. The immune system them says, “Wait a minute, WTF is Lactobacillus Acidophilus doing in the bloodstream? ATTACK!” So begins the autoimmune reaction, attacking the food particles and healthy bacteria.

What’s important to note is that the healthy bacteria also live on our intestines and in the mucosa layer. The immune system attacks the bacteria, and because they are living on the intestinal walls, the intestines is caught in the attack and becomes inflamed.

Just a guess, but I would love for a doctor to let me know their thoughts on it.

This isn’t as rapid fire as I expected, oops.