digestion

Good Soy, Bad Soy

 When I first moved into the college dorms, one of my favorite meals was Special K (with those freeze-dried "berries") floating in tan-colored soy milk. It was healthy and I thought it tasted pretty good. Looking back I shudder because it was quite clearly the culprit in many of the stomach issues I had, as it was rich in the dreaded Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols (FODMAPS). 

Once I realized that soymilk was one of the major causes of the bloating and other fun stuff I struggled with, I never bought soy milk again. 

GERD Brainstorming

It's funny because GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) is one of the main reasons I changed my diet, but I don't blog about it much. I guess it's because I don't have it anymore. Neither do my sister or father. I think my case was the toughest because I had been on the evil proton pump inhibitors the longest. It probably took  me six months to really feel better.

Ancestral Health Symposium Talk!

 I usually don't like to watch people speak about stuff. Maybe that's why I almost never went to lectures in college. I prefer to read things. As Data from Star Trek might say, I find it to be the most efficient form of assimilating information. So you can watch my talk on Vimeo thanks to AHS, but if you read much faster (or you are hearing impaired), you can read the transcript below, which was donated by Averbach Transcription, which is run by a paleo enthusiast and you should consider hiring him if you need a transcript:

Short Chain Fatty Acids and Low-Carb

 "Why does my stomach feel so good?" 

It had been a long week of moving from Brooklyn to Queens and having no kitchen, I had eaten out every single day. Queens is probably one of the ethnic food capitals of the US. I had thrown caution to the wind and hadn't bothered trying to be paleo beyond avoiding gluten and junk food. Chris and I ate a large variety of Filipino, Thai, and Mexican food. Rice was the dominant food, but there was plenty of coconut milk and offal to be had. I expected to pay in cramps, but instead my stomach felt better than ever. 

The Omega-6 GERD Connection

 While I was doing research on variations in gastric acidity, I came across an interesting paper: Diet, reflux and the development of squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus in Africa. It's interesting that a lot of conventional dietary advice on digestion is based on studies done in Africa that found that African agrarian cultures eating low-fat high-fiber diets had low rates of common Western digestive issues like hemorrhoids and colon cancer.

IBS: Bran is bad... when will doctors catch up?

 In the next few months I hope to write a couple of posts on irritable bowel syndrome. It's interesting because so many (including myself) get relief from IBS by following a low-carb low-fiber grain-free fructose-free diet with probiotic supplementation. There are many reasons this works, but in the long term people following it might want to wean away from probiotic dependence, since probiotics in pills cannot become part of the permanant microbiome of most adult guts. In addition, there are real benefits from short chain fatty acids produced in the colon by fermentation.

The Middle Way

 Last year I met a girl who was trying the paleo diet and complaining she "felt weird" and her stomach hurt. I asked her what she was eating and it turns out she was eating 5 tablespoons of coconut oil for breakfast! I told her that wasn't food, that it was an ingredient you can use to make foods or a supplement and that maybe she should try eating food. Later she said she felt better. 

The Human Colon in Evolution: Part 5, Human Variation

The following presents data that gasp...people might be different and those differences might correspond to ethnic groups/"races." I would note that research in this area is scant because funding is hard to come by since it's so controversial. I know American researchers who have gotten funded for this research though and then have been pressured to suppress their results.

The Human Colon in Evolution: Part 4, The Secrets of Butyrate

 Another hypothesis is that lack of SCFAs is behind such diseases of civilization. A SCFA called butyrate provides some insight into this. Butyrate is the preferred fuel of the colonic epithelial cells and also plays a major role in the regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation (Wong, de Souza, Kendall, Emam, & D. J. a Jenkins, 2006). Lower than normal levels have been found in patients with several diseases, notably types of colitis and inflammatory bowel disorder. Studies show such diseases can be treated through application of butyrate in the colon.

The Human Colon in Evolution: Part 3, Creepy Crawlies in the Gut

 The fact that humans cannot digest certain fibers and starches in the diet does not mean they are nothing but bulking matter. In the scientific world, more and more research focus has been on the fact that these seemingly indigestible ingredients actually are often digested in the human body, just not by human enzymes. Instead, they are digested by human gut bacteria.