Clare sent me a great link today to an article in the New York Times
The piece sets out to explore reasons for the relatively sudden increase in gluten illness.
Basically, from my reading of it, one of the key factors is a loss of the correct bifidobacteria in early babyhood in genetically-susceptible people. This may be worse in people who were not breastfed (me, thanks Mum) since that is where we get a lot of the bifidobacteria from. There is some debate, always of course, about whether the inflammation downregulates/reduces the bifidobacteria in the gut or whether the lack of bifidobacteria causes the inflammation. Either way, the takeaway point seems to be that you need the bifidobacteria to have any chance of turning off the disease process.
Now, of course, I smiled smugly here since what is the first task in the barrier protocol? Yes, re-establishing the very first babyhood type of bifidobacteria if you missed out on it and then following up with other adult types of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli generally, most chosen specifically for their well-researched effect on gut healing, inflammation and absorption. I thank you.
Some of you have missed this step out and I have nagged at you not to (sorry!), but now you can see why it is important. I have been asked frequently to choose what I feel the most important supplement in the protocol is – and of course that is a REALLY difficult question as it varies with everyone. Do you need the anti-inflammatories for pain? Do you need the nutrients because you are deficient? What about the gut healers to stop the leakiness? But, all that said, I usually reply: the probiotics. And now I will say it even more…
There are bound to be many other factors, not least GM gluten, much stronger gluten in our wheat products (as in this article – those poor babies!), environmental triggers, viruses etc, but the bifido theory strikes me as an eminently-sensible part of the jigsaw and it came up time and again when I was researching the causes of gluten illness myself, hence it playing a starring role in the BP.
Thanks for sharing, Clare. I will go and stop smiling so smugly. Well, in a bit anyway…
Update: I was just thinking some more about this. I have noticed quite a few of you on tests do actually have high E Coli and I had been wondering about that. I will keep my eye on if the E Coli is high and Bifido low in future tests and see if we can spy a trend. The most common test for discovering your levels of bifido and E Coli, by the way, is the Intestinal Colonisation test (someone already just asked that: very speedy!)