To Maintain Health, Protect the Gut Barrier

Protect your GutJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

It’s hard to believe that the intestinal epithelium, the largest and most important barrier between our internal and external environments, consists of a single layer of cells connected by cell-to-cell junctions that seal the intercellular space. This highly regulated and selectively permeable barrier permits the absorption of essential nutrients, electrolytes and water, and effectively defends against toxins, foreign antigens and microorganisms. As well, it maintains tissue integrity, and receives and transmits signals that affect cell behavior. Constantly challenged by the gut microbiome, the gut barrier is crucial to maintaining tissue homeostasis. For a variety of reasons, this physical barrier can become compromised. Intestinal permeability, wherein the naturally tight cellular junctions don’t function properly, allows substances not normally released to cross over into the blood stream.

Like other health syndromes, the debate continues as to whether this gastrointestinal disorder, sometimes referred to as ‘leaky gut’, is responsible for poor health. Increasingly, the association between disrupted barrier function and the development of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases has been recognized by the alternative and natural health community. The medical community at large insists there is not enough research to support the theory that leaky gut wreaks havoc within the body, which may result in a range of symptoms from fatigue, joint pain, skin problems, sleep disorders, irritability, food sensitivities and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Yet, other practitioners who diagnose leaky gut syndrome claim that a lack of adequate studies does not mean it does not exist.

Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), intestinal permeability is regulated by multiple factors including exogenous factors, such as pathogens, epithelial apoptosis (programmed cell death), immune cytokines and immune cells. Immune-induced intestinal barrier dysfunction is thought to be critical in the predisposition and exacerbation of many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions including IBD, food allergy, celiac disease and diabetes. As well, chronic alcohol consumption has been shown to be associated with increased intestinal permeability, as well as inhibition of vitamin and nutrient transport and a reduction in sodium and water absorption. While not fully understood, evidence suggests the mechanism underlying alcohol-induced barrier dysfunction is related to the influx of inflammatory cells, as well as the release of various mediators, including cytokines, reactive oxygen species, leukotrienes and histamine.

Psychological and physical stress can induce a number of changes in normal gastrointestinal function that affect gut motility, permeability, mucous secretion and absorption, resulting in stress induced changes in intestinal barrier function. Long-term chronic stress is associated with an increased risk or worsening of ulcerative colitis and the exacerbation of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as well as functional gastrointestinal disorders. Increased permeability induced by stress is believed to play an important role in disease progression and relapse.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are associated with a high incidence of gastrointestinal side effects. Substantial evidence indicates that chronic use can alter intestinal barrier function, causing significant damage including ulcers, perforation, hemorrhage and exacerbation of IBD. It has become evident that acute and chronic ingestion of NSAIDs by healthy persons promotes altered intestinal barrier dysfunction.

In summation, dysregulation of the intestinal barrier has been associated with chronic immune and inflammatory diseases. High blood sugar, common in those with diabetes, obesity and other metabolic syndromes, disrupts the intestinal barrier leading to intestinal inflammation and systemic infection complications. Food allergies, pathogens, toxins, and bacteria, such as E. coli that causes food poisoning, can all alter intestinal barrier function. Whether the role of intestinal epithelial barrier function remains a factor in the predisposition for disease development, or disease results in barrier dysfunction, remains elusive. However, clinical and experimental evidence supports the role of intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in disease pathogenesis.

It’s clear that a vital indicator of gut health is the degree of intestinal permeability. Intestinal health is paramount for achieving and maintaining overall health and wellness, as nearly 80 percent of the immune system is housed in the gut. Immune health impacts inflammatory markers, a root indicator of chronic disease. The intestinal wall villi could be considered ground zero for inflammation and oxidative stress. Maintaining the epithelial barrier is crucial for decreasing permeability and reducing risks of associated health conditions.

Well studied L-glutamine is a unique amino acid that provides an energy source for immune cells, as well as nutrition for villi health. Clinical studies have found that L-glutamine may reduce intestinal mucosal permeability, contribute to intestinal barrier maintenance and modulate immune cells, enhancing intestinal immune function. L-glutamine is thought to improve mucosal repair and address restoration of barrier function, helping to maintain the integrity of the gut and addressing a foundational cause of many health conditions.

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality products in support of a  healthy intestinal barrier:

L-Glutamine PowderL-Glutamine Powder by Designs for Health®: This powdered supplement provides 3 g of L-glutamine per serving in support of the immune and digestive tract health. L-glutamine supports the healthy function  of intestinal mucosal cells for normal healing and repair. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.

Comprehensive Gut...Comprehensive Gut Health by Pioneer®: This professional product is formulated to provide nutritive support for gastrointestinal health. Specific ingredients support and soothe the intestinal lining and mucous membranes to protect the gut barrier. Verified gluten free. No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

L-Glutamine 1,000 mgL-Glutamine 1,000 mg by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formulation provides 1,000 mg of free-form G-glutamine per serving in support of the mucosal lining and a healthy functioning gastrointestinal tract. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegan formulation.

Restore Gut Health...Restore Gut Health Mineral Supplement by Restore®: This premier liquid formulation is designed for complete wellbeing of the immune system and intestinal tract. Specific ingredients help to balance gut health by combatting environmental exposures and creating a healthy microbiome for good bacteria to grow and flourish. Naturally gluten free, BPA free, non-toxic formulation.

Leaky Gut WellnessLeaky Gut Wellness by Bio Nutrition: Leaky Gut Wellness is formulated to provide bowel, gastrointestinal and digestive stress support. Specific ingredients support the maintenance of a healthy mucosal barrier and aid nutrient absorption for overall wellness. Free of gluten, yeast, corn, sugar, starch, salt, milk, preservatives and artificial ingredients.

Stress SuppressStress Suppress by Diamond Formulations: Stress Suppress provides specific ingredients known to support healthy levels of calming neurotransmitters that enhance the body’s ability to cope with stress, elevate mood and support relaxation. Stress Suppress aids the body in returning to homeostasis by encouraging balanced stress and inflammatory responses, providing nutrients to improve symptoms of stress and supporting a general sense of wellbeing. Free of wheat, yeast, soy, gluten, animal or dairy products, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and artificial colors, artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives. Non-GMO kosher formulation.

Intestinal Barrier Function: Molecular Regulation and Disease Pathogenesis.
Apoptosis in the intestinal epithelium: its relevance in normal and pathophysiological conditions.
Intestinal barriers protect against disease.


Quantum Nutrition Labs – Featured Brand

Quantum Nutrition LabsSusan Brown Health and Wellness EditorQuantum Nutrition Labs was founded to empower individuals to enjoy optimal health by delivering 100 percent non-toxic nutraceuticals designed with uncompromising quality, extraordinary purity and clinically tested effectiveness. All formulas are based on broad-spectrum, bioavailable “once living” nutrients free of toxins, preservatives and excipients in order to provide ideal cellular DNA rejuvenation. Phytonutrient raw materials sourced worldwide are chosen solely for excellence in terms of purity, potency and quantum state resonance capacity. Quantum Nutrition Labs’ dedication to excellence ensures their supplements meet the highest biochemical and bioenergetic standards.

Products are manufactured according to current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) standards in a facility routinely monitored by the FDA. These standards ensure products meet label claims for potency, purity, identity and accuracy. A full in-house analytical laboratory utilizes proprietary cutting edge testing methods to ensure reliable and consistent nutrient identity, composition and quality. All products are manufactured to avoid fillers and excipients, as well as artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Their products are encapsulated in 100 percent solvent-free vegetable capsules and vegetable-sourced softgels, which dissolve readily and provide excellent delivery of nutrients.

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Immune Support, Q.Immune Support: This live-source, nutraceutical formulation features Olea-Pro™, a premier olive leaf extract, naturally containing the phytonutrient oleuropein. Oleuropein is a unique antioxidant, anti-inflammatory molecule with immune-, gastro-, neuro- and cardiovascular-protective properties. Additional immune supportive ingredients include red algae, cranberry and green tea, as well as reishi and turkey tail medicinal mushrooms. No added ingredients. Non-GMO, vegan formulation.

Bladder Support, Q.Bladder Support: This powerful, broad-spectrum organic formula is designed for optimal nutritional support of the bladder and urinary tract. Ingredients include Bladder Multi-Blend™ with organic chlorella, cranberry, blueberry, parsley and hydrangea, plus Pro-Cleanse™ with organic marshmallow, alfalfa, olive leaf and rice fiber. No added ingredients. Non-GMO, vegan formulation.

Kidney Support, Q.Kidney Support: This quantum-state, broad-spectrum formula is designed to effectively support optimal kidney health. Ingredients include Rena-Prime™ with cordyceps, cranberry, hydrangea and kale, plus Rena-Bolic Support™ with rhodiola, parsley, blueberry, burdock and rice concentrate. No added ingredients. Non-GMO, vegan formulation.

Gallbladder SupportGallbladder Support: This unique, comprehensive gallbladder formula promotes detoxification and  healthy bile metabolism with ingredients such as lovage, artichoke, turmeric, milk thistle, garlic, red algae and chlorella. No added ingredients. Non-GMO, vegan formulation.


Let’s Talk Keto

ketoJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

During the last few years, the keto diet has become a mainstream eating method for weight loss and other health benefits. Some may be surprised to learn that a keto-style diet mimics the metabolism of fasting and has actually been in existence since antiquity. Evidence of treating epilepsy through fasting is found in the Hippocratic Corpus, a body of about 60 surviving Ancient Greek medical treatises. Although these medical papers bear the name of Hippocrates, they are attributed to later generations of physicians. From the early 1920’s through the 1940’s, fasting was widely utilized to treat epilepsy in children, particularly those who didn’t respond to traditional anticonvulsant medications and needed an alternative remedy to control seizures.

More than a century has passed since the keto diet was initially used for therapy. While the diet remains one of the most effective treatments for hard to treat childhood epilepsy, today the high-fat, adequate-protein, very low-carb eating plan is largely utilized to promote rapid weight loss. Increased calories from healthy fats, much less protein than Americans typically consume, as well as a strict limit on all carbohydrates make this diet very effective, but also highly restrictive. During extreme carbohydrate restriction, the body and brain are deprived of a steady stream of glucose, the main source of cellular energy. The highly demanding brain, which does not store glucose, requires a steady supply of approximately 120 grams daily.

In the absence of a continuous supply of glucose, the body pulls stored glucose from the liver and muscles. When glycogen stores are fully depleted, generally within a few days of restrictive dieting, the body is forced into a state of ketosis. As insulin levels decrease, the body begins to use ketone bodies, an alternative fuel source produced from stored fats. Ketones are always present in the blood in fluctuating levels, dependent upon diet, activity level and medical conditions, such as diabetes. Healthy individuals naturally experience mild ketosis during periods of overnight fasting or very strenuous exercise.

While eating fats to lose weight may sound counterintuitive, the keto diet is effective for burning both dietary and stored fats for energy. During a strict ketogenic diet 80 – 90 percent of daily calories are consumed from fats; protein is limited to one gram per kilogram of body weight; and only 10 – 15 grams of carbohydrates a day are allowed, about the amount in a single small apple. In the typical American diet about half of daily calories come from carbs, so this represents a huge change. The shift to a diet that’s almost entirely fat forces the body into starvation mode. The idea behind the keto diet is to maintain a mild form of starvation, so that the body is in a constant state of fat burning.

Maintaining extreme carbohydrate limitation is difficult. Unless one consumes a lot of leafy greens, fiber sources are limited since vegetable and fruit consumption is restricted. Disallowing foods like whole grains and a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables means the diet also lacks essential  nutrients. Typically, healthy dieting takes a lot of planning and this diet is no exception. As fats play a starring role in this diet, it’s vital to choose wisely. Good keto fats include meats, fatty fish, full fat dairy, avocados, olives, nuts, seeds and nut butters, as well as oils, such as coconut, MCT, fish oil, flaxseed, sunflower and olive. Green leafy veggies, eggs, peppers, cauliflower, cucumbers and berries are all keto-friendly. To stick with the plan and get creative with the food choices you have, look for recipes online or purchase a keto diet cookbook. Above all, avoid sugar, refined carbs and processed foods. On the plus side, the diet is satiating, weight loss happens quickly and energy levels remain stable. A keto diet is meant to put one in an optimal metabolic state, aid hormone balance and provide a variety of cognitive benefits.

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality supplements:

MCT Oil USPMCT Oil USP™ by NuMedica®: Medium chain triglycerides are quickly absorbed fatty acids, which are metabolized into fuel for immediate use for mitochondrial energy production. Sourced from coconut. Free of gluten, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, wheat, soy, artificial colors, sweeteners and preservatives. Vegetarian formulation.


Keto-Nootropic™Keto-Nootropic™ by Designs for Health®: This fast-acting, readily available, carbohydrate-free blend of exogenous ketones provides support for healthy muscle and cognitive function. Specific ingredients help to control hunger, support healthy cognition and stimulate a metabolic shift away from glucose dependence. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.


KETO Electrolyte...Keto Electrolyte Drops by Trace® Minerals Research: This ideal liquid formula provides full-spectrum electrolytes to help avoid imbalances, dehydration and muscle cramps that could otherwise result from a keto diet. Gluten free, certified vegan formulation.


Ketone Energy MCT...Ketone Energy MCT Oi by Dr. Mercola®: MCT oil is a high quality fat that is particularly valuable for creating ketones and maintaining nutritional ketosis. Odorless and tasteless, this product helps boost satiety and satisfaction while on a keto diet.


History of the ketogenic diet.
Intermittent fasting: A “new” historical strategy for controlling seizures?
A Detailed Guide to the Potential Health Benefits and Risks of the Keto Diet.
Can eating mostly fat help you lose weight?