Leaky gut and LDL-Particle Number

References: PLOS OneWikipediaInfection and ImmunityScience DirectJr of Immunology,

Feel tired and run down? No energy? Ever thought of where that might be coming from? Might you have lipopolysaccharides circulating in your body because you have leaky gut? Does that sound like gobble-di-gook? You suspected it could be your thyroid? I’ve been going down the mold rabbit hole. But there are other causes of fatigue. One of the main causes is explained by one of the main “triads” in your body’s function: the brain-gut-immune triad. And it is inflammation. Here is how it works.

Most of your immune system is around your gut. Some 70% of it is there, as that is the main interface between you and the outside world. Most alien stuff gets into you through your gut by what you eat. Your gut lining is only one cell thick so if the tight junction of your gut is loosened, you allow large particles with foreign antigens in them to leak into your blood. If your gut is leaky, your immune system gets stimulated. Now, the kicker. Half your brain cells are immune responsive and react to the inflammatory messages put forth by your immune system. The triad.

This is where lipopolysaccharides (LPS) come in. LPS is part of the coating of many bacteria and certainly something your immune system gets all in a bother about. You have to get rid of it. Well, you do. You clear it from your blood via your LDL particles. Your LDL particles are essentially taxis carrying the fat you have manufactured in your liver to your fat cells and muscles. But they also function as Uber’s carrying LPS particles back to your liver which is your central laundry. Your liver cells can process and detoxify the LPS particles. You have to get your LPS particles out of circulation where they are setting off all sorts of fire alarms. That’s what LDLs do.

Now, if you are septic (the number one cause of death in American hospitals) you certainly have a lot of circulating LPS particles. But just everyday run of the mill living with “leaky gut” and you have some LPS in you, messing with you. Your HDL particles suck it up and bind it. They transfer it to other white cells, notably your LDLs. The more LPS you have, the more LDL particles you have to make.

So, did you get that slight slip of the tongue? Your cholesterol count goes up, not because you didn’t take a statin, but because you had leaky gut. The more LPS particles you have the more LDL particles you need to carry them. LDLs get smaller and more dangerous. On your LDL particle count, the more small dense particles you have, the worse your heart disease not from the cholesterol effect but really from the lipopolysaccharides.

Ok, you mean my cholesterol may be more dangerous because I have leaky gut? Yup, because it, leaky gut, releases more LPS which then changes your big fluffy, harmless LDLs into small dense, dangerous ones, all with the same total cholesterol. This is why total cholesterol is a simplistic, incomplete picture because the same total can be associated with large, safe LDLs or small, dense LDLs that aren’t safe at all.

How did I get leaky gut? Taking ibuprofen (or any NSAID), too much sugar, too much alcohol, lack of Vitamin D or A, lack of zinc, stress, chronic disease of any kind are all on the common list.

How do you fix leaky gut? First and foremost, stop the above, and throw in wheat. Gluten stimulates zonulin which unzips your gut. Then, feed your gut the food it wants to be healthy. Most importantly, prebiotics and fiber. Aim for 25 grams a day. Glutamine, zinc, inulin, omega fats, fiber, fiber, bifer. Measure your particle number of LDLs, not your total. Measure your zonulin, your LPS, your, CRP. There is a whole raft of newer labs that allow you to see your progress.

WWW: What will work for me. Well, this sounds gross but let’s get down and dirty. Start thinking of your stool as a precious commodity. When your gut is happy and not “leaky”, your LPS goes down, your particle count goes down, your LDLs get bigger and safer. You can tell if your gut is happy with a very simple test. Do you have soft, easily passed bowel movements daily? If you are consitpated, you aren’t getting enough fiber. Make your breakfast cereal from the following: a cut of berries with a cup of almond milk. Add 1-2 T of chia seeds and 1-2 T of freshly ground flax seed. Every week add another T of freshly ground flax. Within twoo-three weeks you will have a happy gut. And a happier LDL particle count. And a happier brain.

Pop Quiz

  1. What is LPS? Answer: Lipopolysaccharide – the coating of many dangerous bacteria which our immune system responds to. Too much of it causes septic shock and collapse. Just a little makes you feel like you do when you feel “crummy”.
  2. How does LPS get into you? Answer: It’s there in your gut all the time but can’t penetrate past your single-cell layer lining, until you damage the lining by eating NSAIDs of all kinds. Motrin is the biggest offender but they are all wicked. Antibiotics, steroids, acid blockers, chemotherapy all do it too. Wheat and milk do it to a variable degree in folks. (Note: read the Canadian GI Societywhich says there is no such thing as leaky gut. They see the world through the eyes of diseases, not function. In time we’ll convert them.)
  3. What does LPS do inside you? Answer: your immune system goes nuts. We call it septic shock and collapse if there is enough. But a small amount makes you feel crummy. Sets off all your internal fire alarms.)
  4. How do you get rid of LPS? Answer: You have to carry it back go your body’s central clearinghouse, your liver.
  5. And to do all that, what happens to your particle number? Answer: It goes up. (I’m looking for stronger research on this. Many functional medicine doctors swear it happens and the see it “all the time” but the published literature is thin. It’s the new frontier and I intend to see if I can prove it. Let me test you and show you.). In the meantime, don’t ruin the test by starting to eat more fiber. You’ll get fixed before I can test you. (Kidding: eat more fiber.)