week, I compiled all my favorite headlines in health from October 2015 on my
geek in me is always excited to share what I’ve been studying through the month
with my readers, but this month I am especially giddy. Updates in some of the
most popular controversies popped up again, such as the low fat verses low carb
wars, the fake fish fraud, how our environmental exposures are linked to our
health, and the importance of eating your veggies. There was also some
intriguing news on topics not often discussed, such as drinking tea for bone
of my favorite topics, the
microbiome, continued to make the Top Holistic Health Reads with exciting research
releases at explosive rates. It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the
latest links between the microbes that line our insides and all the implications
on our health. Although all this information is exciting, we still have a long
way to go. Researchers are still searching for the best methods to optimize microbial
identification and make their findings applicable from mice models to the human.
Furthermore, inclusion of the
interaction of the microbiome with environment inside and outside the body must
be studied. (Remember our microbial cloud-Pig-Pen
month, it was announced that the Unified Microbiome Initiative Consortium
(UMIC), a group of forty-eight research experts from 50 different scientific
organizations, have urged the government leaders to create a “Unified
Microbiome Initiative” to coordinate efforts for optimizing research on microbe
cultures. As reported in Science, the
main focus is on technologies which will not only improve the classification
and identification of the microbiome, but also focusing on the applications
using more integrative models and imaging. The authors stated:
Despite their centrality to
life on Earth, we know little about how microbes (1) interact with each other,
their hosts, or their environment. Although DNA sequencing technologies have
enabled a new view of the ubiquity and diversity of microorganisms, this has
mainly yielded snapshots that shed limited light on microbial functions or community
dynamics. Given that nearly every habitat and organism hosts a diverse
constellation of microorganisms–its “microbiome”–such knowledge could transform
our understanding of the world and launch innovations in agriculture, energy,
health, the environment, and more (see the photo). We propose an
interdisciplinary Unified Microbiome Initiative (UMI) to discover and advance
tools to understand and harness the capabilities of Earth’s microbial
ecosystems. The impacts of oceans and soil microbes on atmospheric CO2
are critical for understanding climate change (2). By manipulating interactions
at the root-soil-microbe interface, we may reduce agricultural pesticide,
fertilizer, and water use enrich marginal land and rehabilitate degraded soils.
Microbes can degrade plant cell walls (for biofuels), and synthesize myriad
small molecules for new bioproducts, including antibiotics (3). Restoring normal human
microbial ecosystems can save lives [e.g., fecal microbiome transplantation for
infections (4)]. Rational management of
microbial communities in and around us has implications for asthma, diabetes,
obesity, infectious diseases, psychiatric illnesses, and other afflictions (5, 6). The human microbiome is a
target and a source for new drugs (7) and an essential tool for
precision medicine (8).
Therefore, the science will get more precise and our
understanding of the implications of our tiny 100 trillion friends lining our
insides and even present on our skin, may move from jet speed to light speed!
This wasn’t the only exciting update. Below are some
of the top reads in wiggly-giggly-buggy news for this month:
Gain and Antibiotic Use Linked in Children
Results- Among 142 824 children under care
in the prior year, a reversible association was observed and this short-term
BMI gain was modified by age (P<0.001);
effect size peaked in mid-teen years. A persistent association was observed and
this association was stronger with increasing age (P<0.001). The addition of the progressive association among
children with at least three BMIs (n=79 752)
revealed that higher cumulative orders were associated with progressive weight
gain; this did not vary by age. Among children with an antibiotic order in the
prior year and at least seven lifetime orders, antibiotics (all classes
combined) were associated with an average weight gain of approximately 1.4 kg
at age 15 years. When antibiotic classes were evaluated separately, the largest
weight gain at 15 years was associated with macrolide use.
Conclusions-We found evidence of reversible, persistent, and
progressive effects of antibiotic use on BMI trajectories, with different
effects by age, among mainly healthy children. The results suggest that
antibiotic use may influence weight gain throughout childhood and not just
during the earliest years as has been the primary focus of most prior studies.
(International Journal of Obesity.
21 October 2015; doi: 10.1038/ijo.2015.218)
Life Infection Linked to Celiac Disease
According to a recent study in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, increased infections in
early years could be linked to a greater risk of celiac disease. Health Day
who have a lot of infections in the first 18 months of life may have an
increased risk for celiac disease, a new study from Norway suggests.
study found that children with 10 or more respiratory and gastrointestinal
infections during the first 18 months of life were 30 percent more likely to
develop celiac disease than kids who had fewer than five infections. The
researchers also found that youngsters with repeated respiratory infections
were at greater risk than those with repeated gastrointestinal infections.
think there are many pieces to the puzzle that must fit together for someone to
develop celiac disease, where heredity, gluten intake and possibly many other
environmental factors are important,” study first author Dr. Karl Marild,
from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, said in an institute
having frequent infections in early life influences the immune system so that
it is subsequently more likely to react to gluten,” Marild said.
What does this have to do with the microbiome? More
infections mean that the body’s immune system, mostly found in the gut (the
home of our belly bugs), is unbalanced. Furthermore, more infections can lead
to more antibiotics, which kill off our beneficial critters. Previously, I
wrote about how
different microbes may help with gluten breakdown. Perhaps these infections
and resultant chronic inflammatory states disrupted these microbe-munching
gluten bugs and wiped them out. Interestingly, another study did, in fact, link
microbiome diversity to the bowel health in children.
Microbiome Shifts Can Help
Lead to Clues for Crohn’s Treatment in Children
Different treatments for
Crohn’s disease in children affects their gut microbes in distinct ways, which
has implications for future development of microbial-targeted therapies for
these patients, according to a study led by researchers from the Perelman
School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Their work revealed that
an imbalance in the normally diverse array of microorganisms that populate the
intestines of children is more complex than previously thought in pediatric
Crohn’s patients. Therapeutic strategies in Crohn’s disease range from
therapeutic diets to immunosuppressant drugs and antibiotics. However, effects
of these treatments on the imbalanced, or dysbiotic, intestinal microbiome
remain unclear. The Penn team, in collaboration with the Children’s Hospital of
Philadelphia, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Canada’s IWK Health Centre and
Hospital for Sick Children, published their work online this week in Cell Host and Microbe.
Efficacy of Poo Transplants
Finally, there’s more evidence that the power of the
microbes in our own wastes can heal:
analyzed available evidence and found that fecal transplants were 85 percent
successful in treating patients, compared with 20 percent for standard
recent clinical trial was halted early because fecal transplantation proved so
effective, with a 90 percent success rate compared to 26 percent for powerful
antibiotics, the researchers noted.
more than 7,000 fecal transplants, few harmful effects have been reported and
the transplants seem relatively safe for elderly patients and those with
weakened immune systems, the researchers wrote in the Oct. 20 issue of BMJ.
Tantalizing Links Between Gut Microbes and the Brain”
Finally, we can’t leave the amazing updates of our
microbe friends without how they impact our brains. According to an article in Nature, we may be getting more evidence
from human studies, though a handful still exists:
is excited to see something else from the children–their faecal microbiota, the
array of bacteria, viruses and other microbes that inhabit their guts. Her
project (affectionately known as ‘the poop study’) is part of a small but
growing effort by neuroscientists to see whether the microbes that
colonize the gut in infancy can alter brain development.
comes at a crucial juncture. A growing body of data, mostly from animals raised
in sterile, germ-free conditions, shows that microbes in the gut influence
behaviour and can alter brain physiology and neurochemistry.
The impact of the bugs in our body is rapidly changing
medicine and how we approach health. I’ll be keeping you posted.
In the meantime, make sure to eat a healthy diet,
exercise, decrease stress, sleep, and have some fun (boosts immune function) so
your little bugs stay healthy.
Ranosa T. US Scientists Call For National Initiative
On Microbiome Research. Tech
Times. October 29, 2015
A unified initiative to harness Earth’s
microbiomes. Science. 30 October 2015; 350(6260):507-508. DOI: 10.1126/science.aac8480
Study Links Early Infections to Celiac Risk. Health
Day. October 2, 2015. http://consumer.healthday.com/gastrointestinal-information-15/gastrointestinal-problems-news-330/early-infections-linked-to-celiac-risk-study-703698.html
Schulfer A, Blaser MJ. Risks of Antibiotic Exposures
Early in Life on the Developing Microbiome. Miller VL, ed. PLoS Pathogens.
Differences in treatment effect on out-of-balance
microbiome in Crohn’s disease. EurekAlert. October 14, 2015. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-10/uops-dit101415.php
Review Finds Fecal Transplants Work Well But Need
Tight Regulation. Health Day. October 21, 2015.
Smith PA. The Tantalizing Links between Gut Microbes
and the Brain. Nature. October 24, 2015.