An Overview of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two of the inflammatory bowel diseases, and being predominant, this article will focus on them.
Large intestine affected by ulcerative colitis.
This entry lays the foundation for these diseases and will consist of a few more entries. The Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), are caused by immune imbalances in connection with alterations in the intestinal lumen (the hollow part of the digestive tract where food passes) and in the intestinal epithelium (the surface facing the interior wall intestinal).
Dad was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 1996, and was treated by several gastrointestinal specialists for years. The doctor’s treatments included lots of pharmaceuticals and some “unpredictable” food restrictions. None of which resolved their digestive and intestinal disorders. Over time, almost all the foods you consumed caused some negative reaction… stomach upset, indigestion and heartburn and / or a weakened intestine
Table of Contents
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The term Inflammatory Bowel Disease describes a number of conditions that affect the intestinal tract. The main purpose of treatments is to contain inflammation. However, potent immunosuppressive drugs that are used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as glucocorticoids, have in turn a variety of side effects that limit their long-term efficacy.
On the other hand, several approaches based on nutritional aspects such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and probiotics, modulate the immune function of the cell without impairing its defensive abilities. In contrast to the many side effects of TNF inhibitors, they are another class of medications that are used in cases of inflammatory bowel disease.
Patients suffering from any of the inflammatory bowel diseases are predisposed to colon cancer. Even between the onset of disease, mild inflammation can damage and irritate the intestinal tissue, eventually becoming a malignant tumor. This subclinical inflammation can also be spread systemically, increasing cardiovascular risk.
Therefore, it is not only critical that patients with inflammatory bowel disease be tested regularly to rule out colon cancer, but also that they monitor blood inflammatory indicators such as C-reactive protein (CRP), and interleukin -6 (IL-6).
Aim of this article on Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
With this entry, you will learn how various natural ingredients can effectively regulate abdominal immunity and complement the action of conventional treatments to control and seek relief from outbreaks of any inflammatory bowel disease.
You will also discover different blood tests that can help you identify nutritional deficits. Normal deficiencies in people who suffer from these conditions, caused by malabsorption. A very common problem in people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease.
By integrating dietary strategies, evidence-based nutritional support, and pharmaceutical therapies, the individual manages to develop an effective plan that can help him manage the disease optimally. Both during disease outbreaks and during periods of remission!
Anatomy of the Digestive System and Immunology of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
The digestive system consists of a single long tube that has many folds and protuberances, which extends from the mouth to the anus.
This tube is divided into different parts, some of them are:
- Small intestine.
- Large intestine.
With specific functions and structures.
Solid organs such as the liver and pancreas are also considered part of the digestive system. The hollow parts are responsible for processing large portions of food into small molecules so they can be absorbed through the bloodstream.
Already in the blood, the different nutrients of toxins and organisms from the digestive tract are separated by a very thin sheet of cells, which for practical purposes is called the intestinal mucosa.
This complex and delicate lamina is responsible for segregating substances that aid in the absorption and digestion of nutrients. As well as defending the body from toxins and other contaminants that invade the gut. In addition to preventing the passage of unprocessed particles into the bloodstream, avoiding what is known as intestinal permeability.
That is, the intestinal mucosa allows the selective entry of nutrients while excluding the entry of toxins and organisms that may be harmful. To accomplish this, the mucosa is equipped with different types of cells:
- Secretion: Cells that produce a layer of mucosal tissue to trap contaminants
- Immunologic: Cells that directly attack and destroy invading organisms (macrophages)
- Inflammatory cells (neutrophils, killer T cells, among others): Cells that react to the presence of external molecules producing cytokines (small molecules of protein)
In healthy conditions, the immune cells of the intestinal lining face the invading organisms quickly and efficiently. Without producing an excessive amount of focused inflammation. However, in cases of inflammatory bowel diseases, inflammation occurs without any control.
Cytokines released by inflammatory cells in the intestinal tract attract additional immune cells that produce destructive chemicals and spread inflammation.
Intestine affected by Crohn’s disease.
In particular, a sub-category of inflammatory cells called Th17 cells are primarily responsible for producing inflammation in Crohn’s disease, whereas Th2 cells produce inflammation in ulcerative colitis.
Factors that cause cellular inflammation
There are several factors that cause Th17 and Th2 cells to produce excessive inflammation, such as:
- Entry of microbes into the intestinal epithelium
- The composition of the intestinal microbiome
- Damage to the bowel wall
- Insufficient production of intestinal mucosa
- Allergies or other types of food sensitivities
Genetics contributes to the susceptibility of inflammatory bowel diseases. But both the immune response and the intestinal micro-environment and diet can be modified to attenuate the tendency to undergo inflammation. Even in people with genetic predisposition!
Since inflammatory reactions taking place in the abdomen can produce systemic inflammation, people suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases should monitor the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the blood.
Cytokine testing can be used to measure the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory therapies, and may help determine the risk of other diseases associated with inflammation, such as arteriosclerosis. The cytokine blood profiles can measure tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), interleukin-1 (beta), and interlucine-6 (IL-6).
I hope your understanding, but the way is quite long and there is a lot to cover, so I invite you to continue reading this series on inflammatory bowel diseases. The following delivery, will treat in depth Crohn and ulcerative colitis.
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Do you suffer from problems due to inflammatory bowel diseases?