Endotoxin is a type of toxin released from gram-negative bacteria, also known as lipopolysaccharides. Endotoxin is believed to play a role in a number of pathogenic diseases including cardiac disease, hepatic disease, septic shock, among a number of other inflammatory related diseases.
What Is Endotoxin? The Microbiome Villain:
Endotoxin occurs as the result of the breakdown of gram-negative bacteria. When these bacteria are broken down a piece of the gram-negative bacteria is broken off from the outer membrane of the bacterial cell wall, which is known as endotoxin or lipopolysaccharides. If this endotoxin passes through the wall of the gut lining into the bloodstream it can bond to the TLR4 receptors. TLR4 Receptors are found on mast cells, immune cells, macrophages and B lymphocytes and when activated they release inflammatory cytokines like tumor necrosis factor into the blood stream. These inflammatory cytokines cause an immune response and can “attack” cells in the bloodstream as they try and neutralize the threat of the foreign invader, in this case the endotoxin.
The body also fights endotoxin through the production of certain cholesterol molecules and chylomicrons including HDL cholesterol and VLDL cholesterol. Elevated levels of these cholesterol molecules can serve as a sign for high levels of inflammation or an infestation of pathogenic bacteria.
5 Ways To Reduce Endotoxin Production And Load:
- Avoiding Fermented Foods - Fermented foods are packed with higher levels of bacteria that when they reach the colon can contribute to bacterial overgrowth in time. Fermented foods are not inherently bad and can play a role in populating the gut microbiome with good, “healthy” bacteria as well, but in a case of bacterial overgrowth they’re best limited.
- Reduce The Consumption Of Difficult-To-Digest Foods - Foods with high amounts of fiber both insoluble and soluble fiber can in excess cause you to get “backed up”. Soluble fiber is much more easily fermented by the bacteria and again can contribute to bacterial overgrowth in excess. Insoluble fiber is a double edged sword. In the right amount it can help to decrease transit time by promoting peristalsis, the small, wavelike contractions of the small intestine. Although in excess it can cause gut motility to slow down and can potentially be fermented in the colon.
- Consume A Daily Raw Carrot, Boiled Bamboo shoots, Cooked White Buttoned Mushrooms - These foods are so indigestible that they’re about 95+% insoluble fiber or cellulose that they make for the perfect digestive boost. The insoluble fibers of these foods help to promote the production and excretion of bile helping to detoxify the body. Additionally, being that all of these roots are found underground it’s likely that they all have certain antibacterial or antiseptic properties, helping to fight bacterial overgrowth.
- Consume Sugars Over Starches - Similar to soluble fibers starches are much more likely to be fermented compared to sugars. Because sugar is a disaccharide or simple sugar it’s digestion should both begin and end within the small intestine. A healthy individual should have a small intestine that is clear of any bacteria, so as long as foods are completely digested before reaching the colon they should not ferment. Sugars are much mores easily digested than starches which are more likely to reach the large intestine (colon) and be fermented.
- Useful Supplements -
- Bentonite Clay or Activated Charcoal - Both bentonite clay and activated charcoal are both forms of mineral chelators, binding to and attaching to both useful minerals and toxins in the intestinal tract. These substances can help to detoxify excess estrogen which slows down digestion in addition to help clear the small intestine of bacteria and reduce bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.
- Glycine - Glycine, the simplest amino acid, is extremely anti-inflammatory in the body, hosting a number of beneficial effects. First, it’s likely that glycine is consumed in the small and used directly as fuel in the gut lining. This may play a role in glycine’s ability to help fill the gap junctions between the intestinal cells, preventing leaky gut. Glycine among with the amino acid taurine are also believed to play a role in helping the liver process and detoxify endotoxin, as glycine has been repeatedly shown to help reduce endotoxin-induced liver damage †. Read More - Glycine | The Amino Acid That Keeps On Giving
- L - Theanine - L-theanine is a unique amino acid that is found in certain tea leaves. Known primarily for its calming properties and as a means to balance out caffeine, L-theanine also has a unique ability to reduce exercise-induced leaky gut. During times of stress when blood flow is reduced to the gut, more bacteria are able to pass through the intestinal lining. L-theanine has been shown to be able to reduce the amount of endotoxin absorbed during exercise.
- Aged Senna Leaf - This leaf can have potent laxative properties and has been used as a natural laxative for thousands of years. The laxative properties of the senna leaf on occasion can be helpful to help restore the gut.
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