I know it’s
not just me that is “in love with the bugs” and all they do for us. I think the
whole world’s really gone buggy. I’m talking about our microbiota, the ecology
of bugs that live in and on us. They interact with our own cells and modulate our
biology in so many ways.
get a cool study on critters and share it on social media, people tend to get
excited and show it with their little hearts and likes. However, I got bugged
recently by a blog that made a conclusion that probiotics weren’t effective due
to one review of seven studies. The authors determined there was no change in
fecal microbiome population with their ingestion; therefore, probiotics weren’t
a good health tool. What!?
So, I had to
write a blog on my homepage in defense of the actions of probiotics. I went beyond
poo population changes, even though other studies have found changes in fecal
samples by swallowing bugs. For example, a recent review on weight loss did
determine there may be a small, but significant effect, of taking probiotics in
certain populations, though there were some limitations in the trials. Although
swallowing critters to lose weight is still pretty controversial, their effects
on our health in so many other ways isn’t. In fact, there were two recent
studies on their role in multiple sclerosis.
For example, there
was a study from Science Daily finding
an association between those with multiple sclerosis and the ratio of “bad
bugs” to “good guys” in their belly. Following this, a few weeks later, was another
study on the same topic.
article, researchers found that 60 subjects with multiple sclerosis (MS) had
different compositions of gut microorganisms as compared to their 43 healthy
counterparts. Furthermore, they discovered that the MS patients that were being
treated had different gut populations than the untreated patients. What I found
fascinating with this study is that the scientists didn’t just study
populations of microbial changes with the fecal samples, they also assessed
serum levels of immune markers (cytokine and inflammatory measurement) and
correlated alterations in genetic expression of certain immune cells (T cells
and monocytes). Finally, they measured methane in breath tests, as a
rudimentary marker of methane producing bacteria present. Quite an experiment!
(Hence, the long list of authors in the reference section needed to carry out
such a feat!)
Daily reported on these findings as stated below:
Samples from MS patients contained
higher levels of certain bacterial species — including Methanobrevibacter and Akkermansia
— and lower levels of others — such as Butyricimonas — when compared to
healthy samples. Other studies have found that several of these microorganisms
may drive inflammation or are associated with autoimmunity. Importantly, the
team also found that microbial changes in the gut correlated with changes in
the activity of genes that play a role in the immune system. The team also
collected breath samples from subjects, finding that, as a result of increased
levels of Methanobrevibacter, patients with MS had higher levels of methane in
their breath samples. The researchers also investigated the gut microbe
communities of untreated MS patients, finding that MS disease-modifying therapy
appeared to normalize the gut microbiomes of MS patients.
So, if anyone
had a doubt that these little critters are modulating our immune response,
these two studies that show which ones are present in our guts are associated
with an autoimmune disease such as MS, may turn some into believers! This
association wasn’t a big surprise to me though, I think almost everything can
connect back to the gut. I had a hunch on the connections between gut bugs,
coffee, and MS a little while back, if you remember (see here: http://dr-lobisco.com/how-gut-bugs-link-coffee-nutrient-depletion-h-pylori-to-multiple-sclerosis/).
treat your belly bugs good with lifestyle and diet and they will treat you
well. Read more here.
Zhang, Yucheng Wu, Xiaoqiang Fei. Effect
of probiotics on body weight and body-mass index: a systematic review and
meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. International Journal
of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 2016; 67 (5): 571 DOI: 10.1080/09637486.2016.1181156
NB, Bryrup T, Allin KH, Nielsen T,
Hansen TH, Pederson O. Alterations in fecal microbiota composition by probiotic
supplementation in healthy adults: a systematic review of randomized controlled
trials. Genome Medicine.2016; 8:52.
Versalovic J. Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal
immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therapeutic Advances in
Gastroenterology. 2013;6(1):39-51. doi:10.1177/1756283X12459294.
Logan AC, Bested AC. Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient
practice meets nutritional psychiatry. Journal
of Physiological Anthropology. 2014. DOI: 10.1186/1880-6805-33-2
Ahmed M, Prasad J, Gill H, Stevenson L, Gopal P: Impact of consumption
of different levels of Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 on the intestinal
microflora of elderly human subjects. J Nutr Health Aging. 2007, 11:
Iowa Health Care. Link between gut bacteria, MS discovered: MS patients show
lower levels of good bacteria. ScienceDaily.
June 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160627125355.htm.
Women’s Hospital. Changes uncovered in the gut bacteria of patients with
multiple sclerosis: Study finds alterations in the gut microbiomes of treated
and untreated MS patients. ScienceDaily.
12 July 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160712130221.htm.
Gandhi R, Cox LM, Li N, von Glehn F, Yan R, Patel B, Mazzola MA, Liu S, Glanz
B, Cook S, Tankous S, Stuart F, Melo K, Nejad P, Smith K, Topcuolu BD, Holden
J, Kivisakk P, Chitnis T, De Jager PL, Quintana FJ, Gerber GK, Bry , Weiner HL..
Alterations of the human gut microbiome in multiple sclerosis. Nature Communications. 2016; 7: 12015