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When you’re insulin resistant, that is, you’ve got metabolic syndrome, pretty much every chemical in the body is NOT QUITE RIGHT. Some are up. Some are down. Few are actually at physiologically NORMAL levels.
Traditionally the focus is on the big guns.
- And cholesterol
In this series, we take a look at some of the other players.
Who they are, what they’re up to and how they’re part of the state of insulin resistance.
Endotoxin in the insulin resistant
In metabolic syndrome, endotoxin is fractionally up.
It’s NOT septicaemia
We’re talking somewhere between 3-5 times higher, than normal. This contrasts with the situation of sepsis, which is when you have a raging uncontrolled infection, under these circumstances, endotoxin levels can be a 100 times higher than normal.
In this situation, calling it a toxin, is an accurate description.
Sepsis is life threatening.
On guard, not acting crazy
The immune system is in an absolute frenzy and that frenzy can create lots of collateral damage. But at 3-5 times higher…………. the situation is different.
The immune system is on alert, but it won’t be behaving as an out of control, maniac.
The polite way to describe, the immune system’s temperament, is metabolic endotoxemia. It is a toxic situation. But going so far as to describe the chemical as toxin – is probably a bit melodramatic.
Lipopolysaccharide aka endotoxin
The chemical in question, is actually part of the cell wall, of one of the tribes of bacteria that live in the gut. When it’s part of a gram negative bacteria’s anatomy, it’s referred to as lipopolysaccharide or LPS for short.
The little guys need it, to keep themselves together.
And they shed it, into the gut, on a continuous basis.
It is estimated that at any given moment in time, there is about 1 g of LPS, inside the gut.
It’s presence is NOT a big deal.
A calling card
In fact, it’s quite useful – it alerts our immune system to the presence of bacteria and ensures, the necessary defences and precautions are in place, allowing for a peaceful co-existence, between MAN and BEAST.
Where things get tricky……………
Beyond the gut
Is “items” move from inside the gut, into the body. Now most of the “items” are useful, think sugar, caffeine and calcium, but less desirable things, can also make the trip.
LPS is one such item.
It arrives in the liver and it’s presence makes liver immune cells NERVOUS. But, generally speaking, it’s quickly cleared up and things return to normal.
Except in people who are insulin resistance….
When the defences fail
Small amount of LPS, slip past the defences. Leaving the immune system a bit twitchy. The term describe this is low grade inflammation.
Low grade inflammation makes for bad body chemistry.
It is implicated in most age associated diseases…
Why do the defences fail ?
There are a couple of possibilities……….
- The defences, in the gut, aren’t working properly.
- There is too much, of the “wrong kind” of LPS in the gut – overwhelming the normal defences.
- The intestinal barrier is more “leaky” than usual e. it is allowing more LPS through, overwhelming the normal defences.
There is science, to support all three.
And no doubt, high insulin levels are a contributing factor….
Protecting the intestinal barrier
The take home message, you’ve got to do what you can to keep your gut, strong and healthy.
How do you do this ?
The place to start is to watch when and what you consume and cultivate the “right” microflora.
For tips and strategies to help you create the “right” microflora, visit our microbiome library page.
Substances that can be particularly problematic include gluten, alcohol and food additives, particularly emulsifiers, these are found in processed foods.
NOTE : LPS is just one of the hundreds of chemicals in the body that are amiss, when you’re suffering from metabolic syndrome. You can learn about some of the other players, in the Ups and Downs of Insulin Resistance series.
Gastrointestinal and hepatic mechanisms limiting entry and dissemination of lipopolysaccharide into the systemic circulation. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol (2016) 311: G1–G15. Mathilde Guerville and Gaëlle Boudry
Intestinal permeability – a new target for disease prevention and therapy. BMC Gastroenterology (2014) 14:189. Stephan C Bischoff , Giovanni Barbara , Wim Buurman, Theo Ockhuizen, Jörg-Dieter Schulzke, Matteo Serino, Herbert Tilg, Alastair Watson, and Jerry M Wells.
Endotoxin, a bacterial waste product is partly to blame for the inflammation of obesity, but why is it accumulating ? There is a lack of IAP to clean it up.
Endotoxemia (LPS) is contributes to the low grade inflammation associated with obesity – but it shouldn’t be circulating, house keeping should sweep it away
When a gut bacteria can’t find something fibrous to chew, it will just eat something else. Good for the bacteria, but potentially dangerous for you !