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Did you know since laparoscopic technique was introduced into popular practice in the 1990s, the number of cholecystectomies (surgery for gallbladder removal) in the US has almost doubled? Laparoscopic cholecystectomy minimized what was a large incision to a few tiny punctures, reduced infection rates, scar tissue, hospital stay, and surgery time, and sped up healing and recovery. But is it an incredible coincidence that just as the surgery got easier, so many more people developed gallbladder problems—or are there additional reasons to explain why people are losing their gallbladders in record numbers? Technological advances in medicine always generate excitement, and doctors don’t always follow guidelines designed to prevent unnecessary procedures. Plus, some doctors believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and so have a low threshold for whipping out your gallbladder, even when the indication for surgery may be murky. If you aren’t asking lots of…

Did you know the recommended age for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening is now 45 for the general population (or those at average risk)? The age recommendation (previously 50) changed in May 2018 after researchers analyzed data and found that the rate of new CRC cases is increasing in younger adult populations. This new age recommendation will result in earlier CRC detection and will save more lives. While colonoscopy is the gold standard test for CRC screening and recommended every 10 years between ages 45 and 75 for those at average risk, stool-based tests can also be used, as long as immediate follow-up with a colonoscopy is performed in the presence of an abnormal test. These tests include an annual highly sensitive fecal immunochemical test (FIT), an annual highly sensitive guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), and a multi-targeted stool DNA test (MT-sDNA) every 3 years. For some, screening is recommended…

Drinking at least a couple liters of water every day is important for regular bowel movements and overall gut health, but it’s not just the amount of water you’re drinking – the quality of your water matters too, especially when it comes to the health of your gut bacteria. Modern water systems are treated with chlorine, a disinfectant that protects us from illnesses like cholera and typhoid fever. While arguably one of the most important public health interventions of the 20th century, unfortunately chlorine-based disinfectants have a significant downside too – they can be harmful to our microbiome. Preliminary studies suggest that chlorine derived disinfectants like chloramine and sodium hypochlorite can lower microbial diversity, and may increase our risk for disease. If you’ve ever accidentally killed a goldfish or houseplant with tap water you might have wondered how safe it is for you! So what’s the solution? While it’s premature (and currently not advisable) to…

Did you know women have longer colons than men – on average four to five inches longer? That may not seem like much but it can cause a lot of extra looping and twists and turns – what I like to call: The Voluptuous Venus Colon. Women also have a wider, deeper, pelvis in order to accommodate a fetus during pregnancy. This means that in women, the colon is located low down in the pelvis, where it has to compete for space with the reproductive organs. Men have a narrower pelvis so most of their colon ends up in the roomier abdominal area, and when it is in the pelvis, the only other thing taking up space there is a very small prostate gland. Men also have higher levels of testosterone, which causes their abdominal muscles to be tighter and stronger. In women, lower testosterone levels means a weaker abdominal wall…

Candida auris is resistant to many anti-fungals and has recently been making its way around the world. If it makes its way into your bloodstream, it can cause a life threatening infection. Mostly found in hospitals and nursing homes, once Candida auris is present, it’s extremely difficult to get rid of. What you need to know about Candida auris: 587 cases have been reported in the U.S., mostly in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois 90% of infections are resistant to at least one anti-fungal medication, and 30% are resistant to two or moreRemoving floors and ceilings is often necessary to rid facilities of the yeastImmune compromised patients are most at risk for contracting C. auris, including the elderly, infants, pregnant women, and those who are chronically ill or on a medication that weakens the immune systemIf you are healthy and spend little or no time in hospitals or nursing homes, you probably have nothing to worry about. If…

Did you know that the enteric nervous system (ENS – the nervous system that controls the functions of the gut) has half a billion neurons – that’s five times the amount than in your spinal cord – which is why the gut is often referred to as “the second brain”? 90% of your “feel good” hormone, serotonin, and 50% of your dopamine is also located in the gut. The food you eat alters the response of your enteric nervous system, and this can have large impacts on your entire body.

Along with a balanced gut microbiome, a balanced skin microbiome is THE most important predictor for glowing, blemish-free skin – especially since after your gut, your skin is really your second biggest digestive organ. The beauty industry has convinced us that bacteria on the skin are a no-no and that the best thing to do is scrub them away with harsh, expensive cleansers and exfoliators. But in fact, you should be doing just the opposite if you’re trying to banish blemishes and get that good skin glow. The best thing you can do for your skin is to protect the beneficial bacteria on it that are an essential part of your skin’s functioning ecosystem. So what exactly promotes bacterial balance on your skin? Here’s the scoop: Minimize practices like scrubbing, shaving, and waxing that can disrupt your skin’s microbiome. Use products with safe, gentle ingredients, like food-grade edible Manuka Honey that…

If you think your face cleanser should cost big bucks and wear a long list of unidentifiable ingredients to really work, think again! The best cleanser is one that will help balance your skin microbiome – which means one that addsbeneficial bacteria, not one that scrubs away all your microbes (including the good guys). Too-harsh cleansers will leave you with a depleted skin terrain that’s more likely to pick up and harbor pathogenic and acne-causing bacteria – just what you want to avoid! At Gutbliss, we’ve found that one of the best facial cleansers actually has just one ingredient and can be found in your kitchen: Manuka honey, that comes from bees that eat nectar from New Zealand’s Manuka tree. What makes Manuka honey so much better for the skin? Here’s what: It’s anti-inflammatory,anti-agingmoisturizing,and promotes a balanced skin microbiome. Here’s how to get started… Moisten your face and hands with water. Gently…

Scientists have discovered a key factor in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) prevention: reducing meat consumption. A recent study looked at the daily dietary habits of 3,882 seventy-year old adults and their liver scans. Scans showed that 34% of study subjects had NAFLD, despite many of them being a healthy weight. Those who were overweight and ate the most animal protein were 54% more likely to have NAFLD than those who consumed less meat. Calorie and vegetable consumption were similar in both diseased and healthy groups. Hepatology →Takeaway: Researchers who conducted the study point out that dietary factors can help in preventing the disease, even in those who have a genetic risk. Processed meats and red meats pose the greatest risk for developing NAFLD and reducing overall meat consumption and replacing animal protein with plant-based options is the way to go!

A new study uncovers evidence that a single course of antibiotics may irreversibly damage important beneficial gut bacteria. Using a computer model based on past studies that looked at how antibiotics affect the microbiome, scientists found that even after 1 year of taking a single antibiotic prescription, overall gut bacteria was less diverse with fewer species. This is important because gut bacterial diversity is an important marker of health and a decrease in diversity is associated with diseases like obesity, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, autism, cancer, and more. These effects were most pronounced in those who had taken the antibiotics Ciprofloxacin and Clindamycin for urinary tract, skin, and respiratory infections. ISME →Takeaway: The primary author describes the microbial damage observed in the study: “If you picture the state of the microbiome as a ball resting in a valley, antibiotics can ‘kick’ the ball up and out of…