"How was your vacation?"
"Oh it was lovely! The beaches were pristine. The sun felt amazing. The only bad thing was that I got sick..."
Traveler's diarrhea affects over 25,000 travelers per day. That's 10 million people per year! Traveler's diarrhea, AKA acute gastroenteritis, occurs from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. It most commonly occurs from eating raw fruits and vegetables or drinking tap water, and the most common bacterial culprits are E.coli, Shigella, and Campylobacter. What they all have in common is CDT -- cyto-lethal distending toxin, which leads to symptoms like these...
Typically, the symptoms of acute gastroenteritis only last 7-10 days, but the long-term effects can last longer. Acute gastroenteritis is one of the risk factors for developing SIBO (see previous blog post).
When the body is exposed to CDT, our intestinal cells produce anti-CDT antibody to neutralize the toxin and recover. However 1 in 5 of us produce an additional antibody, called anti-vinculin antibody.
Anti-vinculin attacks muscle cells in the small intestine, which decreases the amount of movement in the intestines. The intestinal movement is called the Migrating Motor Complex (MMC). Think about the MMC as the cleaning crew that comes in to sweep away excess waste, bacteria, and food debris.
Less MMC movement means that excess bacteria is not being swept away....a perfect recipe for overgrowth. Traveler's diarrhea is not the only cause of SIBO, but it is interesting the 1 in 5 of us produce anti-vinculin antibody and roughly 1 in 5 North Americans have SIBO.
Visit the CDC website for information on how to prevent traveler's diarrhea.