Millions of people suffer from reflux, burns, bloating, stomach pain and continue to take antacids that are prescribed, without ever being told what are the real reasons for these symptoms. There are situations in which changes in diet can resolve the gastrointestinal symptoms, but in many other situations the person has to address the Helicobacter Pylori infection and other gastrointestinal infections that coexist with it.
Over 80% of duodenal and gastric ulcers are caused by the presence of H. pylori infection. This is the only bacterium classified as a carcinogen because if left untreated it can cause stomach cancer. Other complications that may develop are autoimmune diseases, Barrett’s esophagus, colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer. Not all H. pylori species are pathogenic, some are commensal and may even reduce the risk of parasitic infection, but it is essential that the pathogen infection is determined properly. Statistics show that more than 50% of the world’s population is infected with this bacterium. Infection rates increase with age, and the prevalence of infection increases by 1% with each year of life. Therefore, we can expect that about 80% of people over the age of 80 are infected with H. pylori.
What Happens in Your Body When You Have an Infection with Helicobacter Pylori?
The classic symptoms of H. pylori infection are heartburn, chest pain, bloating, regurgitation, halitosis, constipation, diarrhea, possible association with irritable bowel syndrome. Stress will always exacerbate these symptoms, as well as the virulence of H. pylori infection. Neurotransmitters have a profound effect on the microbiome, and the production of noradrenaline (resulting from stress) increases the infection.
Among the lesser known symptoms of H. pylori infection are: low libido, menstrual problems, low energy, muscle pain, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, skin problems, weight loss, migraines, anemia, gallbladder stones, insulin resistance, osteoporosis, reduced male fertility, autoimmune thyroiditis.
Evasive Colonization Techniques of Helicobacter Pylori.
Normally, the pH of the stomach should drop to a very acidic level of 1.8 – 2 when eating food. To avoid the acidic environment of the stomach, H. pylori uses its flagellum to “bury” in the stomach lining. Thus it can reach the epithelial cells, where the environment is less acidic. H. pylori is able to detect the pH level in the mucus and move to a friendlier territory to survive. In addition, H. pylori also neutralizes the acid in its environment by producing large amounts of urease, which breaks down urea present in the stomach, to produce carbon dioxide and ammonia. Many infected people will have symptoms of toxicity with ammonia such as fatigue, lack of concentration, muscle weakness, irritability, pain, nausea, etc.
These are the survival mechanisms of H. pylori that make it difficult to detect in many conventional laboratory tests. Many people infected with H. pylori are undiagnosed because of a “negative” result on a stool or blood sample. That is why it is recommended to use a specific and very precise PCR type test that detects the presence of bacteria by their genetic encoding, and not by their mere presence in the blood or stool sample. Although further studies are needed to confirm the risk factors and complications of H. pylori infection expression, there are indications that certain genetic factors of virulence may contribute to more severe inflammatory responses and more pronounced pathological changes in some individuals. The GI MAP test that I use in my health programs identifies these virulence factors, in addition to the presence of many pathogens and other indicators relevant to the state of the gastrointestinal system.
Acidity and Infection with Helicobacter Pylori.
Since bacteria prefer lower acidity conditions and H. pylori infections increase with age, it results that hypochlorhydria (low hydrochloric acid) also increases with age, so not excess acid is the cause of burns…. Because the stomach can no longer become as acidic as it should, it will no longer remove the contents in the small intestine. Thus, if food is “stationed” in the stomach too much the rot process will start and lactic acid will be released. This is the source of the “burns” that many people mistakenly interpret as being from “acidity”.
Dr Johnatan Wright and many other medical experts believe that the lack of hydrochloric acid triggers the opening of the esophageal sphincter, thus causing the release of acid into the esophagus. Even a very small amount of acid is sufficient to cause reflux and burn symptoms.
What happens, however, when the stomach will continue to remain in this low acidity state? This broadly opens the doors to nutritional deficiencies. Essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, boron, and vitamins such as vitamin C, folate and B12 will not be properly absorbed in the body. Also, protein digestion will no longer be done properly and amino acids will no longer be produced – vital elements for both tissue restoration and proper functioning of the brain and liver. In addition, lack of gastric acid can lead to dysfunctional activity of the gallbladder. When the stomach has a correct level of acidity, then the chemicals CCK and secretin are released. CCK sends the message to the gallbladder that it must contract and determine the intestinal motility, and the secretin transmits to the liver that it must replace the bile that was released from the gallbladder. When these processes are not triggered, then the gallbladder becomes “lazy”.
Another important role of gastric acid is that of the methylation process. Many methyl donors, including folate and B12, are produced in an acidic environment of the stomach.
How Do We Address the Helicobacter Pylori infection?
In a person infected with H. pylori the infection does not exist in isolation of the complex metabolic functions of the body. It is not a simple scenario of an intestinal infection, which is easily eradicated with conventional therapies, especially antibiotics. The infection settles deep in the stomach lining, where antibiotics cannot reach. It is also affected by liver function, adrenal gland status, poor cholesterol synthesis and hormonal toxicity and heavy metal toxicity. These can alter the balance and natural strategies used by a healthy body in attacking an infection such as H. pylori.
That is why it’s essential to find the underlying infection when the specific symptoms appear, followed by balancing the immune system, the biochemistry of the body, establishing the individual and healthy diet and treating the infection by natural methods, as well as other possible co-infections. This will prevent the use of drugs that suppress the symptoms, determine the dysfunction of the immune system, as well as the malabsorption of nutrients.
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The bidirectional relationship between H. pylori infection and the brain-gut axis influences both the contagion process and the host’s neuroendocrineimmunological reaction to it, resulting in alterations in cognitive functions, food intake and appetite, immunological response, and modification of symptom sensitivity thresholds. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017036/
Furthermore, disturbances in the upper and lower digestive tract permeability, motility and secretion can occur, mainly as a form of irritable bowel syndrome. Many of these abnormalities disappear following H. pylori eradication.
Biologically, H. pylori infection to gastric tissue can induce inflammatory cytokines, such as c- reactive protein (CRP), IL-series including IL1, IL6, IL18, etc, and TNF-, which leads to systemic inflammation.
Testerman TL et al . H. pylori pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment
Moreover, H. pylori infection led to significantly different population structures in both the gastric and intestinal microbiota. These studies indicate that H. pylori influences the microbiota and host immune responses not only locally in the stomach, but distantly as well, affecting important target organs.?
Cell Rep. 2016 February 16; 14(6): 1395?1407. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2016.01.017.
N. C. Doherty, A. Tobias, S. Watson, and J. C. Atherton, The effect of the human gut-signalling hormone, norepinephrine, on the growth of the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori,? Helicobacter, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 223?230, 2009.
The literature shows categorically that H. pylori can cause iron deficiency anemia and B12 deficiency in patients of all ages.
Helicobacter pylori and Hematologic Diseases Germa?n Campuzano-Maya. http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/62971