Currently viewing the tag: "Crohn’s disease"

Sugar induced stomach painI have told you all about diet and how I believe food sensitivities are responsible for the widespread prevalence of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders in the western world today. I have explained that everything from hiccups to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the body’s response (either early or late) to physiological insult from food which acts as a poison to that body. A recent study outlines how, at least, one GI condition progresses along this path.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that a high-sugar diet worsened inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms in a mouse model. Mice were fed either a standard or high-sugar diet and then treated with a chemical to mimic IBD colon damage after they were fed one of the two diets. All mice fed a high-sugar diet died within nine days of the 14-day experiment. All the mice fed a standard diet survived for all 14 days.

Digestive systemIBD is a chronic condition that affects the digestive system. It’s a term used to describe a group of disorders characterized by chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. The two main types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Current medical science is uncertain of the exact cause of IBD, but believes it to be the result of an abnormal immune response in genetically susceptible individuals, triggered by environmental factors. Sound familiar? I told you in this article that when medical science does not know all the details around a pathology, the standard go-to is “genetic predisposition.” All this means is “we don’t know,” and since everything biological is foundationally genetic anyway, that explanation means very little.

But according to what modern medicine does know: In IBD, the immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the digestive tract, leading to inflammation and damage. This inflammation can occur anywhere along the digestive tract, from mouth to anus, with the severity and location of inflammation varying depending on the type of IBD and the individual. Common symptoms of IBD include abdominal pain, diarrhea (sometimes with blood), rectal bleeding, weight loss, fatigue, and reduced appetite.

Living with IBD often involves periods of active disease (flare-ups) and periods of remission. Medical science classifies IBD flare-ups as unpredictable, and as such, IBD can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, through physical discomfort, emotional distress, and limitations in daily activities. The medical approach to managing IBD typically involves medication and/or surgery. As you can see, the article I wrote on the pathophysiology of food sensitivities outlines this exact scenario associated with IBD.

So for this study, researchers examined the colons of the mice who had died following the high-sugar diet. What they found was that the lining of the large intestine was inhibited in its healing and regeneration as signified by diminished expression of cells (intestinal stem cells [ISCs]) needed to maintain barrier integrity of the colon walls, especially after inflammatory damage.

As you can imagine, these stem cells are very important in regenerating damaged epithelium and must divide even faster to replace dead and damaged cells. What we found was that high sugar concentrations directly affected the ability of stem cells in the intestine to regenerate in response to damage. Under high sugar conditions, when they need to increase their function, intestinal stem cells were unable to do so.

– Tim Hand, PhD, senior study author

High-sugar dietThe study authors, naturally, advise people with IBD to avoid high-sugar intake, especially soda and candy. I will take it a step further and say, try to avoid sugar completely, except for very rare occasions, IBD or not. As I pointed out in my article from 2013, everybody walking the planet has foods to which they are sensitive. These foods act as toxins to that person. In over two decades of observation, I have found that refined sugar is poisonous, and I mean with extremely rare exception, to practically every person. This study on mice being administered high-sugar diets simply confirms what I have been sharing with you over the last ten years: and it gives a peek into the pathophysiology of the process. If you are interested in the biochemistry involved in the study, you can read it here: Excess Dietary Sugar Alters Colonocyte Metabolism and Impairs the Proliferative Response to Damage

This study is particularly relevant considering the average American consumes somewhere between 17-34 teaspoons per day, which is more than six times the recommended intake by the American Heart Association. This averages more than 100 pounds of sugars per person each year. Almost all processed foods in the supermarket contain extra sugar and this includes and many “low fat” products.  Sodas, themselves, contain 10 teaspoons of sugar per can. High Fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has replaced sucrose (sugar) in many food products. HFCS is only sold for processed foods; yet, it provides about 8% of the total calories in the average American diet.

Healthy gutFood sensitivities are a reality for all people. Which foods are poisons for which people vary by type. Finding out which foods you should avoid is paramount to preserving your gastrointestinal health. If you find yourself in Los Angeles or Palm Springs (the Coachella Valley), then I am available for consultations. We can find your specific body type, and thus the foods which are toxic to you, and also those which are tonic – or beneficial – to your digestive disposition. What can you do on your own in the meantime? Pay attention to the moments you do not feel well in any part of the digestive system – from mouth to anus – and record the foods you had just before your symptoms arose. It will take patience and perseverance to find the offenders, but if you remove those suspicious foods from your diet, while also removing symptoms, then you are those many steps closer to figuring things out. If you have IBD of any form, I assure you that something in your diet is causing that situation. Very likely sugar is a major contributing factor, but sugar may not be the only problem – so you will have to look. However, this study shows clearly how at least one substance (refined sugar) acts as a toxin to diminish the healing capacity of the colon and its ability to regenerate as needed. Like I said in 2013, from source of irritation, to symptoms, to chronic condition, to frank disease over time. I’ve been watching it unfold – and helping people with real solutions – for over twenty years.

food allergiesSeveral months ago I wrote a post on food sensitivities, and how I believe this ubiquitous human trait to be at the root of the inordinate amount of digestive disorders plaguing the US and much of the western world today. I would like to take this time to explain the process by which I believe food sensitivities move from a source of irritation, to symptoms, to chronic conditions, to frank diseases over time; and I will also discuss how this process is currently dealt with by the mainstream medical machine (your doctors). Once I am finished, I think you will clearly understand why I think this dynamic is what’s really leading to the explosion of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders in modern society.

As I have explained before, I believe that every person on this planet is sensitive to a variety of foods. These sensitivities differ from individual to individual. They can be as unique in their totality as the person possessing them. Some people are sensitive to nuts, some to dairy and others to shellfish—yes, your typical food allergens; the one’s that medical science recognizes and even tests for.

Berry + Walnut Salad with Strawberry Vinagrette (Copy)But some people are sensitive to foods that modern medicine would never consider causative agents in your typical GI disorders. Berries, melons, leafy green vegetables, chocolate, mint can all be disruptive to some people. I know—I happen to be sensitive to every one of these foods, each causing me symptoms that over time can become quite serious (I’ve done the research). And I have seen everything from chicken, to blueberries, to tomatoes cause symptoms in my children. Now while I believe that food sensitivities vary among people, I am quite certain that they follow a pattern of inheritance. One of my children definitely shares my sensitivities, while the other is similar to her mother, a food sensitivity body-type inheritance if you will.

I wish to be clear that I am not talking about food allergies here, which are a very distinct type of immune reaction to undigested proteins. The body sees these proteins as foreign and, as a result, goes on attack. This is precisely what medical science looks for when they do food allergy testing. The foods typically known to cause allergic reactions (some life threatening, like anaphylaxis) are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, shellfish, soy and wheat (the “big eight”).

Food sensitivities, however, are somewhat controversial among medical professionals (particularly in the UK and Netherlands), and thus do not show up on the radar of most medical doctors. Although I know a handful of rather open-minded and wise docs, I am certain that most shrug-off the notion that food sensitivities are primary causative factors to many GI symptoms epidemic in modern society. This is a big mistake.


After consuming a food that one is sensitive to, the body can respond in a number of different ways. My observation is that there exists a sensitivity spectrum within each person, such that some foods will cause a worse reaction than others in a person. For instance, I can actually have a few berries here and there—a blessing as I absolutely love them—and an occasional green salad won’t bother me too much, despite the fact that I can barely digest lettuce (I’ll spare you from the gory details, but let’s just say my body removes it as quickly as possible). Too much of either, however, and I get heartburn (acid reflux) and watery stool respectively (Sorry! Some gory details are necessary). Pork is another food I must be cautious with. While I love salami, more than just a little leads to some serious heartburn for me, which can last as long as a few days. Chocolate, on the other hand, hits me hard: I’ve had multiple episodes of severe gastritis, which on at least one occasion had sent me to the ER, where I had my healthy appendix graciously removed (because the notion that food sensitivities might be leading to a severe case of gastritis just wasn’t in the playbook [read: consciousness] of the staff there).

All of these GI symptoms—from the minor to the severe—are simply the body’s attempt to remove an ingested food item that is acting like a poison to that body-type. I will admit, though, that I do not know the exact mechanism of the food sensitivity reactions. That will be for medical science to figure out once they finally acknowledge the prevalence and etiology of the phenomenon. But I am rather confident that most GI symptoms are the body’s intelligent response to the ingestion of a food which is an irritant (in the case of foods which lie on the milder side of the spectrum) or toxin (chocolate in me) to that body.

acid reflux medication

Think about it: Halitosis, hiccups, heartburn, excessive gas, bloating, cramping, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea—all are symptoms of the body trying to either remove an ingested food item, or the effects of that item being digested incompletely. But since your average medical doctor will likely not consider food sensitivities as a factor in your GI disorder, what do you think happens? Yes, he or she will go into the standard medical playbook, consider the symptoms only, and prescribe a treatment based on the severity and duration of those symptoms. Short-term and mild GI symptoms (those on the lower end of the spectrum) will get medicated, while the more severe and chronic cases will receive first a bevy of diagnostic testing (to observe how your physiology is changing—think endoscopy and colonoscopy) and then either medication, surgery or both. No doubt some docs will consider diet to a slight degree in your case management, but rarely will they do so as a serious or long term approach. And that’s where the real fun begins.

So the patient goes home with his or her medication and goes back to business as usual. You see, the rationale behind the medical approach to GI disorders, in general, is that it’s due to a genetic predisposition. In other words, they believe that by chance one just overproduces gastric acid leading to reflux; or by poor luck of the draw, one’s intestinal motility lags, so digested food is passed through the system slowly (causing constipation). The answer, then, is to overcome this genetic defect in physiological function by prescribing a powerful chemical substance. So essentially the medical message is, “Sorry you’re just one unlucky sucker, but you’re also lucky because we have the solution—medicine!” Now does this message really make sense?


Try applying that logic to any other physical phenomenon and you will see how truly pathetic it is. It’s akin to believing in spirits, and you know how science feels about that… This belief, which unfortunately has been infused into the consciousness of the general public, leads to symptom suppression, which works for a short time only, since the actual cause of symptoms has not been addressed. Ultimately, the body will work hard to overcome this suppression, because symptoms are not only the body’s response to insult, but also its communication—a way of letting us know that something is wrong. In this case, digestive symptoms are our body’s way of letting us know that we are poisoning it. And how does the human body overcome medicinal suppression—by increasing its physiological response, which in turn, increases symptoms.

So in practical terms: If you take heartburn meds for long enough, your body will fight back with greater heartburn. If you take antiflatulents, anti-diarrheals or anti-constipation meds long-term, then just watch your body rebound with even worse flatulence, worse diarrhea and worse constipation, whatever the case might be. Don’t believe me? Then go for it, but if you’re wise you’ll just take a look around you at all the people suffering from digestive disorders, and you’ll see them playing out the exact scenario I am describing.


Stomach Cancer

Over time this cycle of increasing GI symptoms, to suppression with medications, to even worse GI symptoms, to suppression with more potent medication, to even worse symptoms, is what I believe is the precursor to serious GI diseases—things like Barrett’s esophagus, stomach cancer, acute pancreatitis, cholecystitis, gallstones, Crohn’s disease, and colon cancer. I’m fairly confident that every one of these disorders results from repeatedly eating foods that the body is sensitive to, and ultimately, they act as a form of poison leading to pathophysiology and frank disease.

I’d like to finish by asking two final questions: One, do you really think pharmaceutical scientists, medical doctors, herb pushers or anybody else selling an outside-in remedy for your digestive disorders is smarter than your own body? And two, do you really think that the random chance, crummy luck of the genetic draw explanation for the prevalence of digestive disorders in the western world makes more sense than the innate intelligence of the body communicating through symptoms explanation? I thought so. Listen to your body.

More to come.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Nick Campos - All Rights Reserved.