Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gut Infections May Be Linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Came across a really interesting article about some new research that suggests that gut infections could be a trigger sending the immune system into a downward spiral where it can't distinguish between good and bad bacteria in the gut.

The hypothesis (that still needs to be confirmed) is that a gut infection potentially causes good bacteria to act strangely (e.g. overgrowing), your gut to be leaky (i.e. let bacteria invade other parts of your body like your bloodstream), and then your immune system is forced to respond to these bacteria and start treating them as bad.  At that point, your body has trained itself to treat these good bacteria as bad bacteria, and then your immune system is just totally thrown off.

I blogged about this before, but I had several serious bouts of food poisoning when I was younger and I've often wondered if those events threw my system off.  Interesting research though.

Here's an excerpt:

Most likely, Hand said, the immune system is indirectly responsible for spreading the good gut bacteria around. A strong immune response can damage body cells, including the gut cells that usually keep beneficial bacteria on the inside of the intestines. 
Once the parasite infection is over, the researchers found, the immune system locks in a memory of the invaders it fought in memory T cells. These cells are able to mount a fast immune response if they encounter the same pathogens for a second or third time. 
Unfortunately, the T cells remember the beneficial gut bacteria as well as the parasite, the researchers report online today (Aug. 23) in the journal Science. This memory seems to last as long as the mouse lives, Hand said.


  1. Hi, I just found your site. Like you, I had a rash of food bourne illnesses in the early 90's when I was under a lot of emotional stress. Alternative doctors said "leaky gut" then but everyone in the conventional medical community didn't believe in it. Ironically or luckily, I didn't have any bowel problems afterwards until I got salmonella in 2006 and have been constipated ever since, which I understand is not typical of IBD, and have no other symptoms. I don't have a diagnosis yet & gastro dr seems to be experimenting on me with drugs for IBS/SIBO and IBD.

  2. Just constipation? Yikes, that sounds like an easy issue to deal with compared to crohn's, etc.
    If you eat 3-5 pieces of fruit in a day what happens? (say 2 organic gala apples, and 1 organic banana?)

    1. oh, and say 4 bottles of spring water (I like Nestle PureLife).

  3. Hello,

    Stumbled on your site searching for Alopecia and Crohns.

    I travelled to India in 2000 while I was 19. I got TERRIBLE Delhi Belly there, I got hypothermia and had the runs (BAD) for days. It was fixed very very quickly with simple antibiotics. From returning from my trip I was diagnosed with IBS and after 2 years of symptoms finally diagnosed with Crohns. I honestly believe that the sickness in India directly led to me getting Crohns. My travelling partner who got sick, but not as sick, was unable to eat wheat for 5 years and is still lactose intolerant, which is crazy as she used to drink at least 1L of milk a day! It wasn't a nice bug! (And it came from a vegetarian pizza - we were feeling homesick).

    It's been 13 years, and I haven't needed surgery, apparently I have slow growing "moderate" Crohns. My symptoms are controlled through Mesasalazine twice daily, no steroids, very few symptoms, but I need to avoid fatty foods, and caffeine.

    I have further developed Hashimoto's disease (underactive thyroid) and very recently have some patches of alopecia on my head! Crazy!

    Just thought you'd like to know.


    1. Thanks for sharing this Kristy! So sorry. Yeah, I had a friend in New York City that got food poisoning after eating chicken from a street vendor and he has been lactose intolerant ever since. Food poisoning can so easily destroy whatever balance you had in your GI track. Hard to recover it. Check out my latest post about fecal transplants though. I haven't tried it, but sounds like the efficacy is quite high. Hope you're doing well!

  4. Just before I was diagnosed with crohns disease I had "off" mince and then got food poisoning. Never really recovered from it. Before that I was so fit and healthy. I still think it was the parasites in the mince that triggered my crohns!