Sunday, April 17, 2022

How prebiotic polysaccharides strengthen mucosal immunity


It is known that strenuous exercise and sport reduces innate mucosal immunity, which is the first line of defense against catching viruses and bacteria that play a role in most respiratory diseases.

A small but interesting study of 41 male marathon runners who completed the 42,195 km Barcelona Marathon in 2016 showed that those who did not receive the test supplement (made of polysaccharides from arabinogalactants, aloe vera, gums and algae) had significantly lower salivary sIgA after the race. Lower levels of sIgA indicate decreased mucosal immunity, which is the first and most important defense mechanism to stop pathogens, such as viruses, to enter our body through the mucous membranes of the airways.

Polysaccharides are known to play a role in immune activation and inflammatory processes. Many are better known as prebiotics. Currently, there are three major types of prebiotics that are well documented: inulin, oligosaccharides and arabinogalactans. Other well known polysaccharides are beta-glucans from mushrooms, seaweeds or oats. 

Food for friendly bacteria

These types of polysaccharides are not digested by human enzymes of digestive tract but they have an important role to play as a food source for our microbiota. 

Many studies suggest that the combination of different types of these indigestible polysaccharides provides nutritional benefits by prolonging microbial fermentation in the intestines. This is known to increase uptake of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. The presence of prebiotic polysaccharides keeps the intestinal mucous layer healthy, which promotes the process of absorption of nutrients. If the mucous layer becomes unhealthy and inflamed, the absorption of nutrients is compromised (such as happens in coeliac disease).

Training immune cells

It is easy to understand why prebiotic polysaccharides are useful for the intestinal mucosa. However, it is somehow more difficult to imagine their mechanism of action on other mucous membranes, such as in the respiratory tract. Here comes the second action of polysaccharides. When parts of their molecules cross the intestinal wall, they get scrutinised by the immune cells in the same way as any large and undigested structures would be. Immunity becomes vigilant, but not over-reactive. It becomes activated sufficiently to function properly and ready for a real threat.

The runners took the supplement at dose of 8 g/day for 15 days before the marathon. The supplement was made of arabinolactans, Aloe Vera, rice starch, ghatti gum, gum Tragacanth, Glucosamine HCl and Wakame algae extract. These 15 days were probably enough to ensure more optimal and less-inflammatory state in the intestinal mucosa, which would help better nutrients absorption. However, it is believed that the main effect is happening on the other side of the intestinal layer, called lamina propria, where most of the body's immune cells are trained and developed. This training of immunity would cause a systemic effect (that is, in the rest of the body), thereby promoting a healthier condition of all mucous layers, not only the intestinal ones.

Arabinogalactans are class of long, densely branched polysaccharides belonging to hemicelluloses. In most plants, arabinogalactans occur bonded to protein, either as proteoglycans or as glycoproteins. Many edible and inedible plants are rich sources of arabinogalactans including leeks, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, coconut etc. However the structure in the Western larch tree is slightly different and water-soluble, which makes it more suitable to make concentrated prebiotic supplement.

Aloe Vera, gums and algae extracts (containing fucose, fucoidan, mannose, mannitol...) in the tested supplement would enhance the fermentation in the intestines and therefore help to create stronger and faster immune effect. 

Are supplemental prebiotics polysaccharides suitable for me? 

How much fruit and vegetables do I need to consume to have the same effect? 

What about SIBO??

Find out!


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Immune system "kryptonites"

Human microbiota consist of many bacteria, viruses, fungi and even parasites which live with us peacefully, keeping us healthy and training our immune system to be active and balanced. Only balanced immunity can face new or opportunistic pathogen with enough power but without creating serious side effects. 
Long term isolation and distancing from other human beings, constant disinfection, fear and stress, they all have a negative effect on our little "friends" living in our gut and other mucosal surface of the body.  
What else weakens our microbiota?

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

How to End an Elimination Diet Correctly

First of all, congratulation to all who were brave and persistent enough to keep the elimination diet, based on FoodPrint  intolerance  test (more accurately - IgG allergy test).

Some of you experienced results almost immediately and it was easier to keep the diet if health improvements were clear. Many needed to combine it with other type of "diets", eliminating both food and non-food personal „kryptonites“. Maybe some had no visible improvement and as a consequence do not believe that food is connected to a health problem. If latter is the case, please remember that IgG allergy is only one piece of puzzle and one part of a complex, and highly individual, gut-healing Protocol 4R. 

In all cases, whether improvement has been noticed or not, keeping this test-based elimination diet have had a positive influence on health. Giving a long-needed break to overloaded immunity - by lowering overall inflammation mechanisms, it created more space for healing. Rather than being occupied by daily fights with incoming allergens, immunity could use the spare energy for regeneration and repair. For many people, this could mean lowering general pain and discomfort.

The recommended time for elimination diet is 3-4 months but what’s going to happen next - coming off the diet - is no less important.

Many make a crucial mistake of jumping off the diet suddenly and „treating“ themselves to a good portion of „forbidden“ food. Be it a whole slice of (wheat) bread, cake or a pot of ice cream. If this is how you ended the diet, unfortunately it is possible, it was a waste of time. By sudden introduction of your „kryptonite“ food, before making sure the gut is healed and sealed, you’re risking not only a bad reaction to given food but also continuing inflammation and leaky gut syndrome.

Please do not waste your time and £££ testing for IgG allergy, if you’re not going to do it right or do not yet understand the reasons why it‘s done. Bad rep to these diets and lab tests come often from people, who see and treat this diet as a simple black&white list. Always try to find practitioners who can take you through the full and complex functional medicine „Protocol 4R“. This protocol may take several months or even years, depending on your situation and the level of ill health. Be patient. Quick fixes by straightforward elimination diet may work fine for those reasonably healthy, but symptoms may creep back slowly.

Coming off the diet

1. Do not stop the diet abruptly. Do not eat a whole portion of previously eliminated food. Avoid stocking up on any foods you were avoiding for a period of time. Go slowly.

2. Make sure the gut is healed and sealed and ready to take on the previously allergenic load. You can test this directly, by doing a special test for gut permeability, or indirectly - by repeating the FoodPrint (or other IgG test), to show the level of improvement.

3. Forget the first 3 foods on the list which scored the highest at least for another couple of months. For many people this is often very difficult as it involves wheat and/or gluten, soy, egg and dairy. Unfortunately 90% of the cheapest and most accessible foods contain one of these four ingredients. Watch out and read the labels.

4. Start with the least reactive foods on the list (orange colour and lowest in red) introducing them in small amounts, no more than 1-2x per week. Do it as if you were introducing new foods to a baby - no more than a small bite or one leveled teaspoon.

5. Rotate. Do not eat any of listed food (or ideally any same food) every day. For example if you had oats (porridge, oatcakes etc.) on Monday and Tuesday, avoid them for 3-4 days and have something else instead. If you had high reaction, make these avoidance mini-periods even longer. In my opinion, this is a principle of so-called varied diet. Varied diet does not mean eating 15-20 different ingredients each day every day.

Eating simple meals, ideally up to 10 ingredients daily (read the labels!) and rotating them over time, is what varied diet should look like, taking into consideration our genetics. Our ancestors did not have a huge variety over a day or a week, but changed diets with seasons. The number of various ingredients in their meals was much lower. Possibly the only exception were days of feasts, several times per year, but not every week as we tend to practice today.

Introducing the most problematic foods

When your health or symptoms improve enough, after a year or even two, you may wish to re-introduce the most common and strongest allergens:  gluten, eggs, dairy, nuts and soy.

Think about the reasons why this is? Why they are the worst offenders and if, in your case, it is worth to eat them at all? Double check the IgG test, coeliac panel Cyrex Array3 or true IgE allergy. You may be surprised what you find! 

Moreover, gluten is a thyrotoxin and tissue mimicker, causing problems even if none of these tests show any positives. Soy also interferes with thyroid function, it’s a well-known goitrogen, plus most of soy is GMO. This is another new and potentially dangerous type of concern for all of us, sick or healthy.

Gluten and grains - make a home-made bone broth soup into which you add some grains in form of pasta. Do not eat pasta at first when having this soup. Miniature amounts of protein will be released into the liquid. Bone broth is helping to heal your intestinal lining at the same time, so the effect of re-introduced gluten is hopefully dampened down. Another way is to start buying porridge oats which are not gluten-free certified and as such are usually contaminated with few grains of wheat or barley. Choose organic if you can.

Dairy – a good way to start is with butter (goat or cow) and fermented dairy products. Try organic milk home-made sour whey and quark (soft cheese) or a teaspoon of coconut-dairy culture mixed yogurt. Hard cheeses only as few strands of grated cheese at first, no more! Probably the best way of introducing dairy protein back to your life is in form of colostrum supplement, which can seal your gut very quickly. It's the original function of colostrum to do just that in newborn!

Egg – split the white and yolk, depending on your needs. If you tested for both, you can introduce both at the same time but in very small amounts. Start introducing egg which is not highly denatured (such as happens after baking). Try soft-boiled or scrambled egg made for another family member. Have only 1-2 teaspoons at first and only once per week.

How to prevent new food sensitivities

Eat varied diet (see above what I mean by it) by rotating all foods weekly or seasonally, specifically those previously tested positive.

Do not eat same foods and food ingredients every day, all day.

The biggest concern is presence of highly reactive and pro-inflammatory gluten, wheat & other grains, denatured powdered egg, dairy and soy. Most of these can be hidden elsewhere, including „health foods“. This includes vegan or vegetarian meat imitations, some made of pure gluten, some of pure soy, or Fusarium mold. Frightful! Cheap meat is also filled with wheat and soy flour, as well as ready-made meals, cakes, bars, non-dairy replacements and sauces. Another bad example is snacking on whole 100 or even 200g bag of nuts at once.


Remember that your immune-based sensitivity to food (by forming an IgG antibodies), is only one type of body reaction to food. If you test IgG and correctly proceed through elimination diet and nothing improves, you have to dig deeper. There can be several other reasons, why symptoms related to food can persist. This is why we use Protocol 4R.

True allergy to foods which shows as an increase of IgE (not IgG) antibodies. 

Environmental reactions. Both IgE and IgG type allergy can develop towards chemicals hidden in food, or every-day cosmetics, cleaning products or even to surrounding air and environmental dust (biotoxins - pollen, mites, molds and their mycotoxins – this is sometimes called the sick building syndrome).  

Enzymatic insufficiency based intolerance to foods (such as lactose or histamine). This deficit of enzymes can be natural, such as loosing tolerance to large amounts of milk sugar lactose in adulthood. It can also be caused by gut dysbiosis and inflammation of intestinal lining. In such cases the lining lost normal function and does not produce enough DAO enzyme to deal with all the histamine. 

Another example is dysbiosis-induced fructose malabsorption (or wider FODMAP malabsorption).

Reactions to solanin, salicylates or other plant-protecting phytochemicals.

Cross-reactions. Both IgE and IgG tested foods/items can have several other, cross-reacting pals. For example, if you don’t eat buckwheat but tested positive for all other grains, it is very likely you’re going to react to buckwheat too, even if test does not show it. Cross-reactions have to be taken more seriously when dealing with autoimmunity and this stricter version of elimination diet is called AIP = autoimmune protocol.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

ME/CFS is not a psychosomatic illness

Source:  Free Icons Library -

When people get diagnosed with CFS, they are most likely told it is a psychosomatic illness. The meaning of  "psychosomatic", found in various dictionaries online, being:
 ...caused or aggravated by a mental factor such as internal conflict or stress...
... of mental or emotional origin...

...of or relating to a disorder having physical symptoms but originating from mental or emotional causes...

The patient is basically told, it's his or her own fault and most likely a consequence of hectic stressful life and/or internal emotional problems. When he or she changes her life outlook, thinking, job, beliefs, or even house and partner, everything should get better. Yes?

Not quite...

Medical dictionary  meaning of this word is slightly more complicated and we learn, that even asthma, migraine, and peptic ulcer is "psychosomatic"! Therefore more or less related to our emotions and stress, as are most chronic illnesses... Shouldn't we all be sent to a psychotherapist for a correct diagnosis?!

After a long and somehow uneasy decade of self-managing this condition, I have looked at the NHS website with a hope, that there would be something new on offer in terms of  testing, treatment, guidance or a specific support. I haven't found anything new, but their website pointed to ME Association with the article I copy below in full.

You can also check my small "collection" of information on this subject here and the latest outcomes from the same group of scientist are becoming more and more specific in terms of biomarkers (Nagy-Szakal et al. 2018):

Among the top plasma biomarkers differentiating ME/CFS patients from controls were decreased levels of betaine, complex lipids (lysophosphatidylcholine [LPC], phosphatidylcholine [PC]) and sphingomyelin (SM), and increased levels of triglycerides (TG), α-N-phenylacetyl-glutamine, ε-caprolactam and urobilin (Table S2). Set enrichment analysis of the results of logistic regression models revealed that ME/CFS subjects had reduced levels of PCs and dysregulation of the choline-carnitine pathway (Table 2).

I do hope that the mystery of CFS is on a good way to be resolved by mainstream medical science. In the meantime, functional medicine and nutrition has a lot to offer to support overall health if you want to be pro-active and not just wait for "magical pill".

Check out my system of coaching here or,  if you're already able to walk for at least an hour and wish to get outdoors, send me an email to book a Walk&Talk experience.

---------------- here is the article ------------------

W. Ian Lipkin, Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and the Center for Solutions for ME/CFS at Columbia University, has written the following letter several days before the Fourth Annual Conference on Psychosomatics at Columbia University this weekend. The original letter can be found at this link.

18 October 2018
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
The Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) has been committed to ME/CFS research since 2010. We began this research with generous support from the Chronic Fatigue Initiative of the Hutchins Family Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Microbe Discovery Project.
In 2017, the CII was selected to host one of three NIH centers funded for collaborative research into the biology of this disease. The Center for Solutions for ME/CFS (CfS for ME/CFS) includes representatives from #MEAction and Solve ME/CFS as well as clinical and basic scientists drawn from leading academic institutions and clinical sites across the United States.
Our studies of blood, cerebrospinal fluid, saliva and feces, using state-of-the-art methods that include microbial gene sequencing, metabolomics, proteomics, and immunological profiling, confirm that patients with ME/CFS have biological abnormalities that cannot be characterized as psychosomatic.

Committees convened by the National Academies of Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also concluded that ME/CFS is not a psychosomatic disorder.
We are committed to actively investigating the causes of immunological and metabolic abnormalities in ME/CFS. Our hope is that this work will enable insights that lead to treatments.
W. Ian Lipkin, MD
Director, Center for Infection & Immunity
Director, Center or Solutions for ME/CFS