collecting lots of fun information on the little
residents that make home in our bellies and line our insides and outsides
microbial clouds!). This is due to an upcoming exam I have that includes
the health of our gastrointestinal tract.
the impact of these bugs, which outnumber our cells 10:1, the research on their
role on health has been exploding. (By the way, that’s just the bacteria. There’s
actually more critters,
including viruses, that need to be counted! We have so much more to learn!)
blog for all that they can do if you are curious.
some more fun facts to help you respect your little trillion tiny friends that you
may not have known you have.
1. My Microbiome and Me
and Me was an amazing application of what researchers found to be true in
rodents and then applied to a human. It was like a reverse “Supersize Me, “using
prebiotics and a healthy diet to lose weight. The abstract reads:
In 2004, microbiologists showed a link
between obesity and gut microbiota in mice. To find out whether that link
extended to humans, microbiologist Zhao Liping adopted a regimen involving
Chinese yam and bitter melon–fermented
prebiotic foods that are believed to change the growth of bacteria in the
digestive system–and monitored not just his weight loss but also the microbes
in his gut. When he combined these prebiotics with a diet based on whole
grains, he lost 20 kilograms in 2 years. His blood pressure, heart rate, and
cholesterol level came down. Faecalibacterium
prausnitzii–a bacterium with anti-inflammatory properties–flourished,
increasing from an undetectable percentage to 14.5% of his total gut bacteria.
The changes persuaded him to focus on the microbiome’s role in his transformation.
He started with mice but has since expanded his research to humans. [bold emphasis
2. A Gut-Brain Connection
The role of
how our gut microbiome interacts with environmental factors, including our
diet, is becoming an important concept in psychiatry. A 2015 review reports:
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: With depressive
disorders the leading source of disability globally, the identification of new
targets for prevention and management is imperative. A rapidly emerging field
of research suggests that the microbiome-gut-brain axis is of substantial
relevance to mood and behaviour. Similarly, unhealthy diet has recently emerged
as a significant correlate of and risk factor for depression. This review
provides evidence for the gut microbiota as a key factor mediating the link between
diet and depressive illness.
RECENT FINDINGS: The development of new
technologies is affording a better understanding of how diet influences gut
microbiota composition and activity and how this may, in turn, influence
depressive illness. New interventions are also suggesting the possible utility
of pre and probiotic formulations and fermented food in influencing mental
SUMMARY: Although in its early
stages, the emerging field of research focused on the human microbiome suggests
an important role for the gut microbiota in influencing brain development,
behaviour and mood in humans. The recognition that the gut microbiota interacts
bidirectionally with other environmental risk factors, such as diet and stress,
suggests promise in the development of interventions targeting the gut
microbiota for the prevention and treatment of common mental health disorders.
3. Exercise for Gut Health
A 2014 study
in Gut reported that athletes had
more diverse microbiomes than controls. Another recent study showed that
children who exercised had positive effects in their developing microbiome. Science Daily writes:
The research, which was recently
published in the journal Immunology
and Cell Biology, indicates that there may be a window of opportunity
during early human development to optimize the chances of better lifelong
“Exercise affects many aspects of
health, both metabolic and mental, and people are only now starting to look at
the plasticity of these gut microbes,” said Monika Fleshner, a professor in
CU-Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology and the senior author of the
new study. “That is one of the novel aspects of this research.”
4. Feeding Your Little Friends Has
Eating fiber feeds our little critters. A rodent study found that
offspring could be affected by continuing with the unhealthy habits of consuming
the low fiber diet of its parents. Specifically, diversity could not be
recovered if the next generation wasn’t munching on fibers… and that’s bad
news. A diverse gut is a healthy gut.
(Proton Pump Inhibitors) Harm Gut
One study showed that these common drugs used to treat gastrointestinal
reflux disease (GERD) could negatively impact the microbiome:
We identified a significantly lower abundance in gut commensals and lower
microbial diversity in PPI users, with an associated significant increase in
the abundance of oral and upper GI tract commensals. In particular, significant
increases were observed in Streptococcaceae. These associations were replicated
in an independent interventional study and in a paired analysis between 70
monozygotic twin pairs who were discordant for PPI use. We propose that the
observed changes result from the removal of the low pH barrier between upper GI
tract bacteria and the lower gut.
Our findings describe a significant impact of PPIs on the gut microbiome and
should caution over-use of PPIs, and warrant further investigation into the
mechanisms and their clinical consequences.
your bugs well by feeding them with healthy foods, exercise, and getting to the
root cause of digestive orders to avoid unnecessary medications could have huge
impacts on your health. You can read more on my newly designed website!
M. My Microbiome and Me. Science.
June 8, 2012; 336(6086): 1248-1250.
Clarke G, Berk M, Jacka FN. The gut microbiome and diet in psychiatry: focus on
depression. Curr Opin Psychiatry.
2015 Jan;28(1):1-6. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000117.
Fiore K. Exercise
Tied to Gut Microbiome Diversity: Being physically fit appears to boost the
diversity of gut bugs, researchers found. MedPage Today. June 9, 2014.
Colorado at Boulder. Early-life exercise alters gut microbes, promotes healthy
brain and metabolism. ScienceDaily, 29 December 2015.
ED, et al. Diet-induced extinctions in the gut microbiota compound over
generations. Nature. January 14,
2016; 529: 212-213
Proton pump inhibitors alter the
composition of the gut microbiota. Gut.
December 30, 2015.doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2015-310861