With a “leaky” gut the liver acts as a filter. Cleaning and destroying microbes in the venous blood returning from the gut. It also “cleans” or attempts to those deleterious substances created by pathological microbes that are detrimental to the body. With a leaky gut this puts a greater burden on it. 

The liver is usually sufficient. However, with the gut wall damaged these microbes and deleterious substances can bypass the liver and spread throughout the body. As could migrate between cells and migrate in veins that do not drain into the liver. 

Also, what happens if there are manmade substances which the immune system does not recognize. What then? I don’t know. I doubt anyone does and one reason I am push for research.  No, I don’t like to be a fear monger. 

I would be if all I wanted to do was sell more books and attract people to my website. That is a short term play and I am in this for long term. Also, it is irresponsible to accept the worst case scenario as the most probable. Especially when you don’t have all the facts and your reasoning in this case ismostly supposition. 

Also, I believe in us. What I do know is putting your body and in particularly your gut in the healthiest condition possible is your best option. As neither I nor probably you can control how much plastic, antibiotics, pesticides or whatever is found in our foods, yet. So, we must take one step at a time.

But let’s go back to substances added to our food. I found a fascinating article in my favorite journal and the first one I subscribed to after finishing my residency and able to afford it, the Journal Science. This article contained the findings of a study about the chemical propionate. 

Propionate is a short-chain fatty acid produced by the microbiome in our gut. 1 Propionic acid is a precursor to propionate and added to wheat and dairy products as a preservative preventing mold growth. 2,3 I guess it is effective as commonly used. The problem with it is it causes several reactions at least in mice which were detrimental to their health.

To paraphrase the article in the next several paragraph for one propionate caused hyperglycemia-high blood sugar levels. Propionate increases norepinephrine release by the sympathetic nervous system. This leads to increased glucagon and adipokine fatty acid-binding protein 4 (Fabp4).

Which together result in breakdown and release of glycogen (how the liver stores sugar for when the body needs sudden boost of energy) increasing blood sugar levels causing hyperinsulinemia (high insulin levels). Of critical importance as I see it this study found that mice exposed to propionate became ill. 

Those mice that were exposed to it long term developed gradual weight gain and insulin resistance. Studies in humans according to these authors support a similar effect in humans. All you must do is look around and see how the average person’s body has morphed.

Morphed into an overweight type II diabetic or soon to be type II diabetic. Apparently, and curiously propionate is also produced by our own gut microbiota. 1 Curious as mitochondria are thought to be unique organisms that are in a symbiotic relationship with cells. 

Perhaps mitochondria control the bodies energy production through regulation of propionate. My thought is how much and under what conditions? If at optimal blood levels of vitamin D3, does it affect the production of propionate? 

If this theory is true by adding it as a preservative, we are deregulating this system which mitochondria helped regulate the metabolic system. Flooding the body with sugar. To me this certainly makes sense. I need to look further into when propionate was first extensively used and if it correlated with the start of the obesity issues we have. 

Both propionic acid and propionate are part of the Krebs cycle. What if overloading the Krebs cycle does that result in excessive propionate production. What regulatory mechanisms are present concerning converting one into the other, can they both cause the same effect on mitochondria or not. 

Lots of research to be done. As here in my blog I am only putting down the broad strokes to come back later to fill in the detail if any. I also find it is best on more complicated issues to let them percolate in my brain for a while. Though this and the last blog posts have been some of the toughest I do not want to rush it.

  1. Frye, R. Rose, S. Chacko, J. et al. (October 25 2016). Modulation of mitochondrial function by the microbiome metablolyte propionic acid in autism and control cell lines. Transl Psychriatry. 6, e927
  2. Scotter MJ, Thorpe SA, Reynolds SL, Wilson LA, Strutt PR. Survey of baked goods for propionic acid and propionates. Food Addit Contam 1996; 13: 133–139.
  3. Lind H, Jonsson H, Schnurer J . Antifungal effect of dairy propionibacteria—contribution of organic acids. Int J Food Microbiol 2005; 98: 157–165.

*The information posted above is for educational purposes only. Always check with your doctor before initiating any changes in your medical treatment. If you do not, then The Two-Minute Health Fact, Dr. Judson Somerville, nor The Optimal Dose is responsible!


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