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Massive Study Yields Exciting Findings about Gut Health and the Microbiome

Gut health could be the biggest trend in the health field right now. Everywhere I turn people are discussing the importance of their gut health and how it is linked to their overall health, as well as the benefits of probiotics. And, for good reason: a growing body of research shows that what happens in our gut expands well beyond the gut.

Now new research shows that the health of your gut is significantly influenced by what you eat. A new study assessed 15096 fecal samples provided by 11336 people, published in the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, found some exciting facts about gut health and the microbiome, which is the total of all the microbes in a living being.

We each have a microbiome and no two microbiomes are alike, although there can be some similarities between them. The microbiome is a sort of microbial fingerprint. And, thanks to the new research, we have greater insight into the effect of diet on our microbiome. Here are some of the findings from this exciting study:

1) Plant-based diets produce the most diverse microbiomes. Diverse microbiomes seem to confer health benefits. Consider people who struggle to lose weight: earlier research in the journal Beneficial Microbes shows that they tend to have less diverse strains of beneficial bacteria and a lower ratio of beneficial microbes to harmful ones.

2) Eating more than 30 types of plant foods weekly yields the most diverse microbiome. In other words, it’s important to eat a plant-based diet but also one that has tremendous diversity. So, expand your horizons when it comes to trying new vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains. Your microbiome will thank you. And, who knows? You might even discover a new favorite food.

3) There is a lower incidence of bacterial resistance in those who eat the greatest variety of plant foods weekly. This is great news since more and more varieties of harmful bacteria like E. coli and MRSA are, not only becoming more prevalent, they are also becoming resistant to the typical drug treatment: antibiotics. This is an astounding discovery on its own. We tend to assume that all of a certain variety of bacteria have the same level of potency against humans, but the research shows that people who eat a large variety of plant-based foods are less likely to be host to these disease-causing, resistant bacteria. People who ate more than 30 types of plant foods weekly had less resistance to antibiotics.

4) The gut bacteria of people suffering from mental health issues, including: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder were more similar to others suffering from mental disorders than to those who do not suffer from mental disorders. While the scientists conducting the study did not draw any conclusions, there may be a possible connection between gut health and mental health. Certainly other research suggests that is indeed the case. Research in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found a link between gut bacteria and increased activity in brain pathways that improve brain health and reduce depression risk.

microbiome

How can you reap the benefits of this exciting research?

There are endless ways to boost the variety of plant-based foods you consume, but the following ones should help you get started:

  1.    Start by replacing meat in your diet with plant-based options. Start with Meatless Mondays but don’t hesitate to go meatless the rest of the week as well
  2.    The next time you pass by that odd-looking fruit or vegetable in the produce section of your grocery store, add it to your cart. It’s easy enough to find recipes for lesser-known foods using a quick Internet search. And, most importantly, add the food to your diet.
  3.    Instead of just snacking on almonds or another nut, branch out to try Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, etc. Choose raw, unsalted varieties.
  4.    Rather than just add a can of kidney beans to your soup, stew, or chili, opt for bean varieties you are less familiar with. That could include: chickpeas, lentils, pinto beans, Romano beans, black beans, navy beans, etc.
  5.    The next time a snack attack strikes, choose a piece of fruit or a bowl of mixed berries.
  6.    When you have a craving for salty foods, choose traditionally-fermented pickles, pickled green beans, pickled beets or other foods with live cultures. Not only will you be getting a wider variety and a greater quantity of plant-based foods, you’ll also help expand the beneficial microbes you consume. Be sure to choose pickled foods that state “live cultures” or “unpasteurized” on the label.

 

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook May 31, 2018
 Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook
 
source: www.care2.com
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Are Gut Bacteria Linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Intestinal bacteria yield clues to the mysterious ailment, researchers say

Scientists have found differences in the gut bacteria of people with chronic fatigue syndrome versus their healthy peers.

The finding is among the first to link abnormalities in the makeup of gut bacteria – the “microbiome” – and chronic fatigue, a mysterious and debilitating malady.

Whether these differences are merely a sign of chronic fatigue syndrome or an underlying cause isn’t clear, said study lead author Dr. W. Ian Lipkin.

But they could be tied to disease severity, said Lipkin. He is director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Chronic fatigue syndrome affects about 1 million Americans – women more often than men, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People with the syndrome typically complain of extreme fatigue after exertion, muscle and joint pain, thinking difficulty and sleep problems. But only about 20 percent of people who have the syndrome actually know it, because it’s difficult to diagnose, the CDC notes.

Scientists have begun to look to the microbiome for answers to a host of medical mysteries.

Your microbiome is the community of bacteria living on and in your body. “In this case, we are describing the bacteria in your intestines,” said Lipkin.

“These bacteria influence how we feel, how our immune systems respond to our environment and our resistance to disease,” he added.

To explore a potential association between chronic fatigue syndrome and an imbalance in the gut environment, researchers recruited 50 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and 50 healthy peers from four U.S. cities. Most were women, average age 51.

Fecal samples from all participants were genetically broken down to identify the types and quantity of bacteria present. Blood samples were also analyzed.

What the investigation found is that people with chronic fatigue syndrome “have different bacteria in their intestines than healthier people,” Lipkin said.

Specifically, the research team observed that chronic fatigue patients – but not the healthy participants – had high quantities of several intestinal bacteria species.

Also, among people with chronic fatigue syndrome, investigators found that bacterial composition appeared to shift depending on disease severity.

Both associations held up regardless of whether or not a person with chronic fatigue syndrome also had irritable bowel syndrome. The two often go hand-in-hand.

“This study is an early but important step toward determining the composition of a healthy microbiome,” said Lipkin. Ultimately, the findings may aid diagnoses and point to new treatments targeting subtypes of chronic fatigue, he and his colleagues suggested.

“As the work continues,” Lipkin added, “we anticipate that physicians will be able to make specific recommendations that influence the composition of our microbiomes, and reduce some symptoms of [chronic fatigue syndrome].”

Currently, there are no approved treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome in the United States.

However, one doctor cautioned that much more research is needed first.

There is unlikely to be a single explanation or “silver bullet” for the syndrome, said Dr. Jim Pagel. He is an associate clinical professor with the University of Colorado Medical School System.

Pagel noted that microbiome abnormalities might reflect just one “secondary” factor related to, but not causing, chronic fatigue syndrome. Numerous factors could be involved.

The bottom-line: “We have only a very limited understanding as to what makes up an appropriate diet and the associations of gastrointestinal flora with illness,” said Pagel. “There is far more we don’t know than what we do know.”

The findings were published online April 26 in the journal Microbiome.

By Alan Mozes     HealthDay Reporter    THURSDAY,  April 27, 2017    HealthDay News
Sources: W. Ian Lipkin, M.D., professor, epidemiology, and director, Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York City; Jim Pagel, M.D., associate clinical professor, University of Colorado Medical School System, and director, Sleep Disorders Center of Southern Colorado, Pueblo, Colo.; April 26, 2017, Microbiome, online
source: www.webmd.com


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Can Gut Bacteria Affect Alzheimer’s Disease?

New research finds the microbes in your gut may play a major role in escalating the chronic brain disease.

A raft of recent studies has shown that the microbiome is a factor in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, asthma, and cardiovascular disease. Now, we can add Alzheimer’s disease to the list.

A new study, published in Scientific Reports, has shown that certain gut microbiota may speed up the development of the chronic brain disease.

Researchers studied both healthy and diseased mice and found that those with Alzheimer’s had a different composition of gut bacterium. Healthy mice also had a lower level of beta-amyloid plaque in their brains than the mice with Alzheimer’s. (Beta-amyloid plaques are the lumps of protein fragments that form at nerve fibers, creating tangles leading to neuroinflammation.)

To further test the connection between intestinal flora and Alzheimer’s disease, researchers placed microbes from mice suffering from Alzheimer’s into germ-free mice. The result? The germ-free mice given the gut microbes from the mice with Alzheimer’s developed more beta-amyloid brain plaques than those who received bacteria from healthy mice.

“The results mean that we can now begin researching ways to prevent the disease and delay the onset,” researcher Frida Fåk Hållenius, PhD, of Sweden’s Lund University Food for Health Science Centre, says in a press release. “We consider this to be a major breakthrough as we used to only be able to give symptom-relieving antiretroviral drugs.”

gut-brain
‘TAKE CARE OF YOUR MICROBIOME, IT’LL TAKE CARE OF YOU’
The findings open the door to testing new preventive and therapeutic strategies — such as dietary modification — on bacteria’s role in Alzheimer’s disease development.

In November 2016, for example, Iranian researchers found that probiotics helped improve memory in people suffering from severe Alzheimer’s disease. Although the sample size was small (60 participants) and the study lasted only 12 weeks, the results indicate that eating microbiome-boosting foods may improve memory in those who are cognitively impaired.

“If you take care of your microbiome, it’ll take care of you — and that’s all the way up to your brain,” says leading Alzheimer’s researcher Rudolph Tanzi, PhD.

To reduce your Alzheimer’s risk, Tanzi advises avoiding eating processed and other inflammation-promoting foods, which negatively affect gut microbial communities, and focusing on real food.

HEIDI WACHTER · FEB 16, 2017


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Microbiome: Buzzword in Gut Health — But What Is it?

The advances in gene sequencing have created an enthusiasm for research linking gut bacteria to diseases.

Have acne? Could be your gut. Crohn’s disease? PTSD? Obesity? Could be your gut.

The gut microbiome — trillions of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract — has everyone from immunologists to gut health nuts excited about what problems it could explain, or solve, about their health. Researchers are pumping out new studies linking the gut bacteria makeup to everything from asthma to irritable bowel syndrome, and lay people obsessed with their guts eagerly await the next study explaining all that ails them.

Experts, however, caution that a larger body of research is needed before the extent of the significance is known.

On the verge of discoveries

Dr. Ken Croitoru, professor of medicine and immunology at the University of Toronto and gastroenterology at Mount Sinai Hospital said advances in gene sequencing have created the enthusiasm for future discoveries. This sequencing “revolution” allows researchers to understand the community of bacteria within a DNA sample, he said.

“We can catalogue what’s in there and. . . see how the makeup of the bacteria in a given sample from someone who’s got a disease is different from someone who’s healthy,” said Croitoru. “This is where all the excitement starts.”
“It’s hugely exciting whenever you’re at the forefront of things,” said Croitoru. “Hopefully we’ll get some discoveries that will be paradigm shifting.”

For the past decade researchers have been trying to pinpoint the specific roles the microbiome play in preventing disease and boosting immune systems. Once more is known, experts say the implications for illness prevention and treatment are boundless.

But they aren’t there yet.

Researchers have yet to discover what makes up a “normal” gut microbiome. They’re overwhelmed by the amount of microbiome data collected and by how to best analyze it, said Croitoru.

“We’re still not sure what it’s trying to tell us,” he said. “The real question is . . . if we’ll be able to take this information at some point down the road and say, ‘Aha, this abnormality in this community describes someone who is at risk for developing inflammatory bowel disease, for example, and . . . develop a strategy that would change that abnormal microbial makeup.’”

Croitoru estimates researchers are five to 10 years away from establishing scientifically supported methods of how to change the microbiome to fight or prevent disease.

Good for your gut

In the last 15 years, researchers have discovered a diverse and richer gut microbiome is better than one with less bacterial diversity.

“What’s shifted is our understanding that not all bacteria are harmful,” said Dr. Vincent Pedre, a New-York based medical doctor and functional medicine specialist and the author of the book Happy Gut. “(Good gut health) is about promoting the growth and presence of good bacteria.”

A study released last year examining the microbiome of an “uncontacted” Amazonian indigenous tribe that ate a high-fibre diet, found the community had the most diverse microbiomes researchers had ever seen. They appeared to be healthy without obesity or metabolic diseases, though some experts caution it’s too early to read much into those findings.

Good bacteria promotion can come from eating fibre, probiotics, such as yogurt and kefir, or even from exposure to dogs and dirt, say experts.

So step away from the hand sanitizer.

“Dirt does not equal disease,” said Marie-Claire Arrieta, a postdoctoral fellow at the Michael Smith Lab at the University of British Columbia and co-author of the book Let them Eat Dirt, out in September. “That does not mean that I should be licking surfaces of a mall or of a subway. . . but that does mean that we shouldn’t be . . . disinfecting everything that a kid touches early on in life.”

Microbiome composition changes throughout life but the first 100 days of life are most important for microbiome development, said Arrieta.

love-your-gut

In the womb, babies are “sterile,” so they first accumulate bacteria when travelling through the birth canal — accessing rich bacteria caesarean-born babies miss out on — and continue to build their microbiome “ecosystem” through contact with surfaces, people, animals and other environments, she said. Babies putting their hands and feet in their mouths may even be an evolutionary function that helps get environmental bacteria into their guts, she said.

It takes about three years for the microbiome foundation to be established, she said.

Building a diverse microbiome

Antibiotics, while potentially life-saving, can be problematic for the microbiome.

“When you take an antibiotic, it’s not that it’s like a targeted missile, going in to shoot the (bacteria causing an infection), it’s more like a carpet bomb that is going to kill that one and a whole bunch of others,” said Arrieta, who supports use of antibiotics to treat illnesses but said use can detrimentally affect microbiome diversity.

Studies have shown that use of antibiotics, particularly in childhood, may contribute to increased incidences of certain diseases such as Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease.

“At the same time polio and measles and all these nasty diseases have decreased, there’s been an equal increase in chronic immune-mediated diseases, so diabetes, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, even autism, asthma — diseases that have only popped up in the last two generations,” she said. “What the evidence is pointing towards is that it’s the microbes within us that is driving that change.”

Researchers also know that babies born by caesarian section face obstacles in building a diverse microbiome as they don’t receive the same rich bacteria vaginally-born babies do. Studies are currently focusing on how to boost the microbiome of C-section babies.

Hope is on the horizon

As the body of evidence grows, researchers will likely learn more scientific-based details about how the microbiome is linked to disease. This could lead to major discoveries in treating and preventing diseases, said Croitoru.

Researchers hope that more physicians will start prescribing probiotics — which help repopulate good bacteria — alongside antibiotics. They’re also optimistic advances in probiotic research will get more effective probiotic supplements and products on the market.

“There needs to be a balance of prevention of infection and promotion of microbes that are associated with health,” said Arrieta.

Arrieta adds that hyper-hygienic practices have to change.

“I do hope that as more information from this field of science reaches the general population, people will begin to understand the overwhelming advantages of not being hyper-hygienic, especially during the childhood years,” she said.

More playing in dirt, less hand sanitizer.

Foods that can boost your microbiome health

  • Fruit, vegetables and legumes that are high in fibre: Sweet potato, yams, raspberries, apples, bananas.
  • Fermented foods: Sauerkraut, kimchi.
  • Whole starches: Brown rice, barley.
  • Probiotics: Yogurt, kefir.

Where to learn about the gut microbiome:

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders

Enders, a 26-year-old German scientist, started researching the gut after she developed a skin disease at age 17. She became fascinated with the subject, enrolled in a PhD program in gastroenterology and went on to write Gut in 2014. It’s topped international best seller lists and captivated gut nuts with explorations of communication between the gut and the brain, the gut and gluten intolerance and the gut and your mood.

The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long Term Health by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg

Published in 2015, The Good Gut explores strategies for nourishing the microbiome though lifestyle change-ups in the hopes of achieving better health. The Sonnenburgs, a married couple and Stanford University microbiome researchers, wrote the book after realizing their daughter was suffering from constipation. They changed up the whole family’s diet, solving their daughter’s problem.

Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues by Martin Blaser

In his 2014 book, Missing Microbes, Blaser explores links between the overuse of antibiotics — around since the 1940s — and “modern plagues” such as obesity, asthma, allergies, certain cancers and diabetes. Blaser, a medical doctor and director of the Human Microbiome Program at New York University, also examines the consequences of C-sections, which deprive babies of important bacteria from their mothers, and says antibiotics given to children in early years pose great risks to their long term health.

By KATRINA CLARKE  Staff Reporter   Fri., Aug. 19, 2016
 source: www.thestar.com


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Gut Bacteria May Hold Clues to Chronic Fatigue

Intestinal colonies differ in CFS patients, study finds, bolstering notion the disorder isn’t a psychological problem

Chronic fatigue syndrome – a condition that continues to baffle doctors – may be influenced by a person’s intestinal bacteria – sometimes called gut microbiome, new research finds.

“Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have a different profile of bacterial species in their gut microbiome than healthy individuals,” said the study’s senior author, Maureen Hanson. She’s a professor of molecular biology and genetics at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y.

In the small study, she and her colleagues found that people with chronic fatigue syndrome had less diversity or different types of bacteria, compared to healthy people without chronic fatigue syndrome. People with chronic fatigue syndrome also had more species of bacteria that promote inflammation and fewer bacteria that dampen inflammation, the researchers found.

The new findings provide evidence to refute what Hanson calls “the ridiculous concept that the disease is psychological in origin.” For years, she said, some have suggested that chronic fatigue syndrome is simply psychological and can be helped by therapy. Not so, she said.

Even so, “I would not say we found the cause,” Hanson said. Rather, her team has found “another biological abnormality.”

Not everyone with chronic fatigue syndrome has the skewed microbiome, she said. Some of the study volunteers had fairly normal microbiomes.

Between 1 million and 4 million Americans have chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But only about 20 percent of people with the condition have been diagnosed. Symptoms may include overwhelming fatigue not helped by rest, sleep that is not restorative, malaise, joint and muscle pain, headaches and gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.

In the study, the Cornell researchers evaluated 48 people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and 39 healthy controls. All provided stool and blood samples. The researchers tested stool samples for bacterial DNA. In chronic fatigue syndrome patients they found bacterial profiles with less diversity. This is similar to those seen in people with two bowel diseases: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the researchers said.

love-your-gut

“A lot of bacteria in our gut are beneficial,” Hanson said.

If patients with chronic fatigue syndrome don’t have as diverse a population of bacteria, she said, that could cause problems. The researchers also found markers of inflammation in the blood samples of chronic fatigue syndrome patients, likely due to a “leaky gut” from intestinal problems that let bacteria enter the blood. Bacteria in the blood could trigger an immune response and worsen symptoms, the researchers said.

Using the microbiome findings, the researchers said they were able to correctly classify whether 83 percent of the study volunteers had chronic fatigue syndrome or didn’t. If these findings are confirmed in a larger study, the authors suggested that the gut microbiome could be used as an additional test to determine if it’s likely that someone has chronic fatigue syndrome.

The new research “is yet another study that proves this is not a psychological disease,” said Zaher Nahle, vice president for research and scientific programs at the Solve ME/CFS Initiative, a nonprofit organization focusing on myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome.

More and more research on various health conditions has focused on what experts call the gut-brain axis, Nahle said. Other research has suggested the gut microbiome might be linked with anxiety, depression, autism and other conditions. “It’s a promising avenue of research,” he said.

If the research progresses and bears out for chronic fatigue syndrome, Nahle said, adjusting the diet might be one way to help symptoms.

Remedies such as probiotics are often suggested to patients, Hanson said. Probiotics are foods or supplements with live “good” bacteria that may alter and improve the gut environment. But it’s too soon to know if it would have an effect.

“Really, we don’t know whether probiotics will help or not,” Hanson said. There is not enough research currently, and more research on probiotics would be helpful, she said.

The study was published recently in the journal Microbiome.

WebMD News from HealthDay     By Kathleen Doheny     HealthDay Reporter     Friday, July 15, 2016    HealthDay News

SOURCES: Maureen R. Hanson, Ph.D., Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of molecular biology and genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.;  Zaher Nahle, Ph.D., M.P.A., vice president, research and scientific programs, Solve ME/CFS Initiative; June 23, 2016, Microbiome
 
Source: HealthDay  WebMD