Author: Robert Stephens

Saturated Fat

It is an understatement to say that corn oil isn’t benefecial for treating heart disease, it actually contributes to it! Other studies …

Advertencia: Antibióticos Fluoroquinolonas Pueden Causar Daño Permanente Del Nervio

Por el Dr. Mercola – Traducido por Robert y Sheila Stephens La Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emitió recientemente una advertencia de que los antibióticos de fluoroquinolona, ​​tomados por vía oral o por inyección, conllevan un riesgo para la neuropatía periférica permanente. Dice el 

Leaky Gut – All you wanted to know but were afraid to ask :)

The mucosa is the inner lining of the digestive tract; a mucous membrane. The innermost layer of the mucosa is a single layer of cells called the epithelium. The epithelial cells of the digestive tract are held together in tight junctions. The tight junctions are various proteins that hold the cells together to form a tight membrane. The gut is also a lymphatic organ; the mucosa contains lymphatic tissue that detects pathogens (Tortora & Derrickson, 2007, p. 475). The lining of the digestive tract is, like our skin, a barrier that protects the interior of the body from the external world. It is, not unlike the skin, a membrane that is semi-permeable, but must block harmful substances that should not be in our bodies. If our skin is strong and healthy, it is able to impede the entrance of bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances. In the same way, our digestive system is a semi-permeable barrier that must facilitate the passage of nutrients after they have been adequately digested, but prevent the entrance of any other xenobiotic. It is not simple like a sieve, but rather a selectively permeable membrane that intelligently allows the passage of certain nutrients while protecting the body from undesired substances.

Leaky gut is a term used for a pathology of a digestive tract that has become excessively permeable, and is not adequately doing its job of separating the intestinal contents from the inside of the body. This can be caused by damage to the enterocyte by a toxin or damaging substance. When the enterocyte is destroyed, a hole is left through which material can pass. Another factor is tight junction dysregulation, which I will discuss later. In either case, excessive amounts of undigested proteins, bacteria, and other macromolecules can pass through the epithelium and result in immune system activation. Within the mucosa, just below the epithelium are a host of immune cells, including macrophages, dendritic cells, B cells, and lymphocytes, as well as naïve T and B cells (Ballantyne, 2013, p. 50). When the body encounters these foreign substance, it triggers both the adaptive and innate immune system which responds by producing antibodies. Even normal gut flora can provoke an immune response when they leak out of the gut. When the adaptive immune system creates antibodies to an antigen, they travel throughout the body looking for something that has the same amino acid sequence that they were programmed to recognize. Unfortunately, some proteins in our own body may have similar surface proteins, so that our own body tissues are attacked. This is called cross-reactivity. Depending on the severity of leaky gut, and the particular genetic makeup, stress, and other lifestyle factors, the inflammation that results from leaky gut can result in many serious health conditions. Some clinicians suggest that low HDL levels might be a proxy indicator for leaky gut [reference needed].

Much of what is known about leaky gut has been discovered through the study of celiac disease, and gluten’s role in the disease. The Center for Celiac Research, led by Dr. Alessio Fasano, brought awareness to the prevalence of celiac disease, and investigated the mechanisms involved in its pathology. The research discovered zonulin, a molecule that is responsible for mediating tight junctions. Gluten was found to trigger the release of zonulin, and zonulin triggered intestinal permeability, which triggers the disease:

…When exposed to luminal gliadin, intestinal biopsies from celiac patients in remission expressed a sustained luminal zonulin release and increase in intestinal permeability that was blocked by FZI/0 pretreatment. Conversely, biopsies from non-celiac patients demonstrated a limited, transient zonulin release which was paralleled by an increase in intestinal permeability that never reached the level of permeability seen in celiac disease (CD) tissues. Chronic gliadin exposure caused down-regulation of both ZO-1 and occludin gene expression. Conclusions. Based on our results, we concluded that gliadin activates zonulin signaling irrespective of the genetic expression of autoimmunity, leading to increased intestinal permeability to macromolecules. (Fasano, et al., 2006)

In a later publication, Dr. Fasano et al. postulated that intestinal permeability, as well as environmental factors and genetics, is a precursor in the development of all autoimmune diseases (Visser, Rozing, Sapone, Lammera, & Fasano, 2009). This would incriminate wheat and other gluten containing grains as being contributors to a plethora of modern diseases. Sarah Ballantyne goes so far as to say that “…by healing a leaky gut you can reverse autoimmune disease!” (Ballantyne, 2013, p. 48) It sounds easy in theory, but in practice the solution is more elusive.

This notion of leaky gut being responsible for autoimmunity is helping to propel the modern low carbohydrate and gluten free diets into the mainstream. However, the conclusion from Dr. Fasano’s research is only that gluten is a trigger for autoimmunity by increasing intestinal permeability, not that it directly causes any disease in absence of other risk factors. For example, exercise could trigger an asthma attack, but that doesn’t mean that it made the person sick in the first place. This is why I’m not putting all the blame on gluten. The regulation of the tight junctions by the epithelial cells is not well understood, and I opine that we should not conclude that mild up-regulation of zonulin from consuming a natural, whole-foods diet would be detrimental for a healthy person. On the other hand, most of us do not eat a natural whole-foods diet, and our modern wheat has been highly modified from its natural form, is sprayed with herbicides and other chemicals. Furthermore, many of us are living with digestive systems that are already in some state of disrepair, whether from foods, environmental chemicals, or other reasons, so avoiding wheat and other gluten-containing foods is probably a good idea for most people.

Leaky gut results from many factors. Some identified factors include:

  • Stress (physical or emotional) can weaken the mucus layer and decrease blood flow to the gut by altering the balance of the autonomic nervous system. The body’s ability to digest food decreases when a person is feeling stress or anxiety (Minocha, 2014, p. 67). It’s advisable to not eat when you’re in a stressful situation. Chronic stress is indicated by muscle loss.
  • Toxins can cause leaky gut by various mechanisms. They can directly damage gut enterocytes, or cause damage by other mechanisms. Many common medications can do serious damage to the gut, especially when used long-term. NSAIDs block cyclooxygenase (COX), a class of enzymes that are necessary for maintaining the integrity of the gut layer. Also, NSAIDS trigger the adherence of leukocytes to the vascular endothelium, and block prostaglandins, which are needed to maintain adequate blood flow to the gut to facilitate healing. (Wallace, 2008)
  • GMOs – Genetically modified foods have toxins, and proteins that may cause inflammation in the gut. Genetically engineered varieties of grains contain higher levels of prolamins and agglutanens, which are brutal to the digestive system.
  • Mold, or a reaction to mycotoxins could manifest as leaky gut.
  • Oxalates. Some people have lost the ability to detoxify oxalates, and these damage the digestive tract. See my article on this topic. Glyphosate destroys gut bacteria that break down oxalates, leading to a sulfur deficiency. Low sulfur impairs the formation of the mucus lining. (Rostenberg, 2016)
  • Alcohol opens tight junctions, depletes B vitamins, depletes glutathione, and feeds Gram-negative bacteria, causing an increase in endotoxins.
  • Pathogens, including parasites or bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori produce endotoxins which increase gut permeability. (O’Dwyer, et al., 1988) The presence of a pathogen will increase the production of cortisol. H. pylori can result in inflammation of the gut mucosa and a destruction of cells lining the gut, but some people have no GI symptoms at all, only fatigue. An infection can mimic the symptoms of GERD or IBS and results in poor protein digestion, which can result in amino acid imbalances. H. pylori can cause either too much or too little stomach acid, depending on the location of the infection.
  • Poor diet causes disease. Unhealthy fats can result in inflammation. Certain lectins which are found in grains and legumes can be damaging to the gut, particularly prolamins, agglutinins, and saponins. Our digestive enzymes are not very good at breaking them apart, so and they can result in feeding bacteria instead (Ballantyne, 2013, p. 54). Nightshade vegetables including potatoes contain varying levels of glycoalkaloids, which can harm epithelial cells. Modern wheat should be totally avoided by anyone wanting to improve their digestive health.
  • Allergies and food sensitivities can cause an immune response to food, which can exacerbate the damage to the gut, which conversely increases the immune response in a viscous cycle.
  • Cooking foods at high temperatures destroys nutrients and makes it more inflammatory. Advanced glycation end products (AGES) contribute to the elevated immune response. (Minocha, 2014)
  • Sugar feeds yeast, causing candida and yeast overgrowth.
  • Elevated levels of cortisol, blood sugar, and certain other hormones open tight junctions and divert blood away from digestion.
  • Liver problems. The liver is responsible for detoxification, and for the synthesis of hormones and bile.
  • Nutritional deficiencies hinder gut repair. The cells lining the gut have a very fast turnover rate, and for a new cell to be formed, many nutrients must be present. A deficiency of vitamins, minerals, or various other co-factors will degrade gut health. Particularly important are Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Unfortunately an inflamed gut lining will cause malabsorption (because of excess mucus, or damaged enterocytes), which can make it more difficult to heal.
  • Leaky gut and inflammation can exist together in a viscous cycle, and inflammatory molecules affect the entire body. This is mostly due to a molecule called lipopolysacchride (LPS), which is found in the cell membranes of Gram-negative bacteria. Leaky gut will allow this toxin to enter the bloodstream, affecting the entire body. This is partly why leaky gut can trigger autoimmune disease. The inflammation in the gut will eventually result in a leaky blood-brain barrier.
  • Exercise causes a decrease in blood flow to the gut, since energy is being diverted to other parts of the body, although exercise has other benefits that promote general health. Some people feel better after exercise due to the rush of cortisol, and other hormones. It is generally recommended to abstain from strenuous exercise immediately after eating, and to stay adequately hydrated.
  • Lack of beneficial bacteria, due to excessive hygiene, environmental chemicals, and antibiotics. The herbicide glyphosate is directly toxic to the gut bacteria, and is becoming ubiquitous in the environment. Gut bacteria produce certain vitamins, neurotransmitters, as well as create short-chain fatty acids. Those who are nonsecreters of ABO group are more likely to have severely disrupted gut microbiome (Peter D’Adamo). Antibiotics decimate gut bacteria.
  • Low serum folate will lead to unstable gut flora. (Stirling Hill)
  • Pasteurized milk is irritating to the gut lining, and promotes inflammation, while raw milk may have a protective effect. (Shanahan & Shanahan, 2009, p. 159) (Minocha, 2014, p. 61) Milk is a common allergen, so a person with gut problems might need to avoid it. Conventional dairy contains antibiotics, and a lot of nasty chemicals. A1 casein might cause problems.
  • Lack of good sleep makes it difficult to heal. (Lipski, 2012, p. 174)
  • Poor brain health results in a decreased activation of the vagus nerve. Reduced vagal function results in poor blood flow, reduced motility, low HCl and enzyme secretion, and can lead to overgrowth of bacteria and yeasts. (Kharrazian, 2013, p. 168)

Depending on the severity, leaky gut is very difficult to treat, and requires a multifaceted approach that identifies and treats the root causes, while also addressing other factors, including stress, good sleep, allergies, food sensitivities, brain health, immune system inflammation, malabsorption, endocrine function, infections, and genetics.


Ballantyne, S. (2013). The Paleo Approach. Victory Belt Publishing Inc.

Fasano, A., Drago, S., El Asmar, R., Di Pierro, M., Grazia Clemente, M., Anna Sapone, A. T., . . . Catassi, C. (2006). Gliadin, zonulin and gut permeability: Effects on celiac and non-celiac intestinal mucosa and intestinal cell lines. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology.

Kharrazian, D. (2013). Why Isn’t My Brain Working? Elephant Press.

Lipski, E. P. (2012). Digestive Wellness. McGraw-Hill.

Minocha, A. (2014). Is It Leaky Gut or Leaky Gut Syndrome? Shreveport: LOGOS Enterprises LLC.

O’Dwyer, S., FRCS, Michie, H., Ziegler, T., Revhaug, A., Smith, R., & Willmore, D. (1988). A Single Dose of Endotoxin Increases Intestinal Permeability in Healthy Humans. Retrieved from Jama Surgery:

Rostenberg, A. (2016 March 21) The Down Side To High Oxalates Beyond MTHFR

Shanahan, C., & Shanahan, L. (2009). Deep Nutrition – Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. Lawai, HI: Big Box Books.

Tortora, G. J., & Derrickson, B. (2007). Introduction to the Human Body. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Visser, J., Rozing, J., Sapone, A., Lammera, K., & Fasano, A. (2009). Tight Junctions, Intestinal Permeability, and Autoimmunity – Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes Paradigms. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1.

Wallace, J. L. (2008, October 1). Prostaglandins, NSAIDs, and Gastric Mucosal Protection: Why Doesn’t the Stomach Digest Itself? Retrieved from Physiological Reviews:

“Surround sound” speakers in your church?

A lot of people are unhappy with the PA speakers in our sanctuary (myself included) here at the Lanham IDD7. A few people have suggested putting speakers in the back of the sanctuary pointed forward, or around the edges. The idea is to re-create the 

Some cool products that won’t break the budget

Consoles It seems obvious, but always think about your needs in the future, not the present. Before you buy something, try to find someone who has one to let you try it out. These days I don’t think analog consoles are worth considering, unless you 

Recording Church Services with Audacity

I’ll be discussing the basics of using your computer to capture the audio of your weekly service and making sermon MP3’s or audio CD’s using the Audacity recording program.

Copyrights: Before you record or broadcast a worship service, make sure you have the rights to use the music. Old hymns and songs that you have written are OK to use as you wish, but most modern music carries copyrights, and there are certain restrictions on how the music can be used. A CCLI license gives you right to perform the a lot of modern music in your church. Check with Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) or Christian Copyright Solutions for for more information on how to legally record and distribute music. The preacher’s sermon is OK to use, because he is the copyright owner.


Recording to a Computer: If you have a digital console, this is easy. Otherwise, you will need some type of interface to get sound into a computer. Be aware that the “mic input” on a cheap soundcard should not be connected directly to the console, as the input level is about -40dBu. If you do, it will likely give poor results, becuase the analog/digital conversion is taking place inside the computer, which is noisy. Apple computers seem to work better, but an external interface is still prefered, such as the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2 In/2 Out USB Recording Audio Interface

Recording to a Handheld Recorder:  Handheld recorders are small devices for recording ambient sound to an SD card. The least expensive that I’ve found is the Zoom H1, which costs about $100. But be aware that the “line input” on the Zoom and Edirol products aren’t the best quality, and it’s not suitable for connecting to a console. The Sony PCM-M10 would probably be a better choice.

Remember that if you record directly to MP3, you’re not going to be able to edit it later. To get the best results, you should record in an uncompressed format, such as WAV. Export to MP3 only after you’ve finished editing.

Recording Sermons

If it is necessary to record from only one channel, you may use the direct out from the channel, or an aux send. 

Make sure you get the recording levels set correctly during the sound check, to not have to change these in the middle of your recording. Not too high, to avoid clipping. Make sure you save your recording as a project when finished, or export to an un-compressed format, like .WAV

A Music Mix

It is theoretically possible to record simply using the “Main Out” of the console, but this often gives poor results when recording music, because any instruments that are not miked are not going to be in the recording. For best results, the EQ for recording needs to be done separately from the house mix. Instead, use direct-out, or pre-fade aux or group sends, with the outputs going to the recording interface. This allows you to have a separate mix for the recording. If you have a stereo aux send, you can pan stuff around, and be as creative as you like. 

There will also be much less reverberation in the recording; this is great for speech intelligibility, but your music won’t sound as good. I use an effects processor to artifically add ambience. Audience mics are another way to make the recording mix sound more natural, especially if you are not able to mic all of the instruments. Your audience mic should not be sent to the main mix, only to the recording interface (and in-ear monitors). 


Compression on speech: It’s usually best to use the Compressor effect to reduce the “dynamic range” between loud and soft. Most churches use audio compressors, at least on vocals, but it’s even more important for a recording mix in a large environment.

The default compressor in Audacity has very limited controls, but others can be installed. Keep in mind that a compressor can:

  • Improve intellegibility
  • Improve ease of listening

but can also:

  • make the audio sound unnatural (if overused)
  • make background noise more significant
  • move the system closer to feedback (live environment)

Settings: For voice, I usually put the threshold slightly above the soft parts, the ratio should be high enough to function properly, but not so high as to take away the character of the audio. Attack and decay can be set to your preference. A good place to start is 15ms for attack and 250ms for decay.  If the attack is too fast, it could be triggered by T’s, S’s, P’s, and so on. If it’s too low, you’ll hear the first part of the syllable stronger than the rest. Play with the controls and try to hear the difference.

Editing and Distributing

This is where it’s useful to have a powerful computer. We’ll probably upgrade our old PC to a Mac Mini, since it works well with our hardware. The size-compressed MP3 format is ubiquitous for audio players and website plugins. But keep your Audacity project (or export your recording as FLAC) so as to save an original, uncompressed copy. This lets you fix any problems that you find later without audio losses. When you save as MP3, some quality is lost in the process. MP3 files cannot be edited and then re-encoded as another MP3 without significant loss in quality.  

WAV is the native file format of conventional audio CDs.

Streaming Audio or Video

If you want to broadcast live or pre-recorded audio (embedded player on your site, or to another location), you’ll need a program for encoding your audio to send to your streaming server. There are many DJ programs available which can both stream and record. Be aware that it’s very important to have a good level of compression on the signal before it’s sent.

Video is much more expensive, and I’ll talk more about this later. Just getting a simple HDMI camera into a computer you’ll at least nee, but will all depend on your needs. If you want a simple video stream, begin with something like and an encoder. If you have a budget and you’re looking for a better solution for creating an online presence, check out or or

Checklist for Recording and Editing Sermons

  1. Before the sermon, verify that:
    • Gain levels are correct to the recording device
    • Signal sounds good.
    • For sermons: Aux Send goes to one channel. Other channels could be used if needed.
  2. Start recording.

    • Make sure your power-saving features are turned off
  3. Save your work

    • …as an Audacity project file and/or an uncompressed file (WAV, FLAC, or AIFF)
    • Append the day’s date, sermon title, speaker.
    • Save in a second location for safety.
  4. Edit your work
    • Trim so that it begins/ends at the appropriate location
    • Listen to your work, and fix any problems as needed
    • Use the compressor to make levels more consistent.
  5. Use the Metadata Editor to create the ID tags. ID tags of the sermons should be the same each week.
  6. Set the levels to get a good sounding finished track.
  7. Export
    • If it is for the website or ipods, use MP3 with variable bitrate, and lowest quality (smaller file)
    • For archival and burning CD’s, use .FLAC. or .WAV)
  8. Listen to the final product
  9. Use the FTP program to copy the .MP3 to the web directory (if applicable)

note: I copied a simpler version of this tutoral to Audacity’s wiki at
and in Spanish at