This week I posted the last top reads for 2014 on my home page. It included all the hot topics in wellness, holistic health, integrative nutrition, drug updates and conventional, naturopathic, and functional medicine for December.
Besides giving the noteworthy medical news of 2014 from Medscape, here’s a preview of the updates I included:
- coconut oil for stress relief and brain health
- how sugar, not salt, may be what actually hurts the heart
- the link between chocolate, stress, and men
- diet’s impact on longevity
- how celiac symptoms may not just be in the gut
- a link between blood type and diabetes risk
- how kids who eat junk may do worse in school
- how yoga and mindfulness promote health
- women, aspirin use, and the risks associated
- statins linked to cataracts
- and more…
Now, to top off the end of 2014, I review some of the fascinating and newer research that emerged this December in regards to the role of how our microbiome (the population of critters that reside in our body) affects our health.
Feeding the Gut with Fiber-licious Foods
The abstract excerpt below describes a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 3-period, crossover trial with 21 healthy men. The intervention used was either bars containing no supplemental fiber (placebo; NFC), polydextrose (21 g/d), or soluble corn fiber (SCF; 21 g/d) for 21 days each. The results demonstrated a positive shift in microbial populations in the gut (an increase in Bacteroidetes) with polydextrose and SCF enriched bars. This shift in bugs related to metabolic changes but not to body mass index alterations.
The authors reported:
Fecal specimens were collected between days 16 and 21 for fermentative end-product analysis and 16S ribosomal RNA bacterial gene amplification for bacterial taxa identification. Fiber supplementation decreased fecal putrefaction compounds and shifted abundances of several bacterial taxa.
Conclusion: This study conveys novel information about the impact of dietary fiber supplementation on the phylogenetic structure and functional capacity of the fecal microbiome of healthy adults. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02091349.
Fiber supplementation influences phylogenetic structure and functional capacity of the human intestinal microbiome: follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. January 2015 ajcn.092064.doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.092064
The Gut-Skin-Candida Connection
This abstract connects psoriasis, an inflammatory skin disease, to candida. It was a comparison study of 100 psoriasis patients and 50 healthy controls. Results were determined by immunoglobulins in the serum and skin and oral specimens of subjects:
Candida species were isolated from the skin of 15% of patients and 4% of controls and from oral specimens of 60% of patients and 20% of controls. There was a significant difference in candidal colonization between patients and controls (P < 0.05). Serum IgM, IgA, and IgG levels against C. albicans were significantly lower in patients with psoriasis than in controls (P < 0.05). There was no significant association between serum levels of specific antibodies against C. albicans or the frequency of candidal colonization with the clinical severity of the disease (P > 0.05).
The results of the present study show a higher rate of candidal colonization in patients with psoriasis in comparison with controls and a reduction in humoral immune responses in patients.
Evaluation of candidal colonization and specific humoral responses against Candida albicans in patients with psoriasis. Int J Dermatol. 2014 Dec;53(12):e555-60. doi: 10.1111/ijd.12562.
Gut Microbes and Stroke Risk
A new study linked bacteria of the genus Collinsella to patients with systematic atherosclerosis. Roseburia and Eubacterium were enriched in healthy controls. These bugs seemed to modulate levels of B-carotene and were associated with inflammatory status:
Our findings suggest that the gut metagenome is associated with the inflammatory status of the host and patients with symptomatic atherosclerosis harbor characteristic changes in the gut metagenome.
Fredrik H. Karlsson, Frida Fåk, Intawat Nookaew, Valentina Tremaroli, Björn Fagerberg, Dina Petranovic, Fredrik Bäckhed, Jens Nielsen. Symptomatic atherosclerosis is associated with an altered gut metagenome. Nature Communications, 2012; 3: 1245 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2266
University of Gothenburg. Changes in the gut bacteria protect against stroke, research finds. ScienceDaily. December 4, 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214091024.htm
The Gut Microbe- Asthma Connection
A recent study determined that an imbalance in gut microbiota, “dysbiosis”, from antibiotic treatment, was associated with an increase in allergic airway inflammation in mice. The antibiotics resulted in overgrowth of candida species and increased concentrations of inflammatory mediators leading to activation of immune cells in the lung. The authors concluded:
Thus, Abx treatment can cause overgrowth of particular fungal species in the gut and promote M2 macrophage activation at distant sites to influence systemic responses including allergic inflammation.
Gut dysbiosis promotes M2 macrophage polarization and allergic airway inflammation via fungi-induced PGE₂.Cell Host Microbe. 2014 Jan 15;15(1):95-102. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2013.12.010.
The Gut-Brain Connection
Below is a summary on how our gut microbiome impacts brain health in the following ways: through
systemic inflammation, cross-reaction with our own tissues, toxic byproduct formation, hormonal and neurotransmitter signaling patterns, and stimulation from the gut to the brain:
The human gut microbiome impacts human brain health in numerous ways: (1) Structural bacterial components such as lipopolysaccharides provide low-grade tonic stimulation of the innate immune system. Excessive stimulation due to bacterial dysbiosis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or increased intestinal permeability may produce systemic and/or central nervous system inflammation. (2) Bacterial proteins may cross-react with human antigens to stimulate dysfunctional responses of the adaptive immune system. (3) Bacterial enzymes may produce neurotoxic metabolites such as D-lactic acid and ammonia. Even beneficial metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids may exert neurotoxicity. (4) Gut microbes can produce hormones and neurotransmitters that are identical to those produced by humans. Bacterial receptors for these hormones influence microbial growth and virulence. (5) Gut bacteria directly stimulate afferent neurons of the enteric nervous system to send signals to the brain via the vagus nerve. Through these varied mechanisms, gut microbes shape the architecture of sleep and stress reactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. They influence memory, mood, and cognition and are clinically and therapeutically relevant to a range of disorders,
including alcoholism, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and restless legs syndrome. Their role in multiple sclerosis and the neurologic manifestations of celiac disease is being studied. Nutritional tools for altering the gut microbiome therapeutically include changes in diet, probiotics, and prebiotics.
The gut microbiome and the brain. J Med Food. 2014 Dec;17(12):1261-72. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2014.7000.
These studies offer more proof that we aren’t just feeding our cells with our dietary choices, but we are also “what our belly bugs eat”. Therefore, remember to treat your little critter inhabitants well in 2015!