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…and this can really matter when we’re talking about cancer medication. Immunotherapy is a type of drug therapy used to treat cancer that focuses on boosting the immune system. Without the harmful side effects that come with chemotherapy, immunotherapy is the preferred method to treat many cancers today, yet positive response rates to this type of therapy fall somewhere south of 60%. Why so low? Because gut bacteria play a heavy role in metabolism and immunity, they can ultimately determine the fate of a medication’s effectiveness. And in those who suffer from dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria), the likelihood of a positive response to immunotherapy is lower than those with a balanced, diverse microbiome. In fact, both human and animal studies show that taking antibiotics within a short timeframe before starting immunotherapy results in lower response rates. Researchers have also compared the microbiomes of those who respond well to immunotherapy and…

For the first time ever, researchers discover a strong association between chronic pain and gut bacteria. Fibromyalgia, a disease affecting approximately 4% of the population and growing, is characterized as full-body, chronic pain along with fatigue and cognitive impairment. Compared to a control group, a cohort of patients with fibromyalgia possessed a remarkably different microbiome, including 20 different gut bacteria species in either greater or lesser quantities. Scientists utilized techniques to ensure these microbial differences weren’t due to other factors, such as diet, age, medications, physical activity, etc. Greater microbial alterations were associated with more severe disease symptoms. PAIN Takeaway: While this groundbreaking study shows a strong link between the microbiome and chronic, widespread pain, like with most diseases, scientists are uncertain whether the microbial alterations are the cause of the disease or a result. Further research will hopefully uncover this distinction, as well as help identify possible microbial diagnostic…

A review study finds that fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) is not an effective treatment for “global” IBS symptoms. The study looked at 4 investigations of FMT as a viable treatment for IBS and included 254 participants. In looking at the results of all 4 studies, no significant improvements in IBS symptoms was observed when administering FMT over a 12-week period when compared to placebo. American Journal of Gastroenterology Takeaway: When you slice up the IBS pie, you see multiple different conditions that are causing symptoms – from stress and food allergies to undiagnosed colitis and microbial discord. But there is a clear subset within IBS called post-infectious IBS – this group includes people who have received lots of antibiotics and subsequently suffer from dysbiosis (gut bacteria imbalance). To find appropriate IBS candidates for FMT, the key is to look not just at the determining criteria for having IBS, but to…

We now know that a calorie deficit isn’t the end-all-be-all solution for losing weight. But why is this, and why do so many of us struggle to shed extra pounds? While poor diet is usually the number one culprit for stubborn excess body weight, a recent molecular finding sheds light on why weight loss may be so challenging. In a July 2019 study published in Cell, scientists uncovered a protein which resides on fat cell surfaces that plays an integral role in weight gain and loss. During times of stress, such as during dieting, excessive exercise, and overeating, the protein (RAGE, or receptor for advanced glycation end products) shuts down fat burning mechanisms. This protein could hold the answer for why it’s challenging to lose weight and even more challenging to keep weight off long term – especially when we’re trying our best by cutting calories and increasing our physical…

Cultivating a healthy microbiome plays a key role in preventing eczema. A review study looks at the effects of manipulating microbial health to prevent and treat eczema, specifically in infants. The study conducted analyses of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics (probiotics and prebiotics together) for eczema prevention. Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology  Results of the study show that scientific evidence supports supplementation with Lactobacillus strains prenatally, followed by long-term (greater than 6 months) postnatal supplementation in infants for eczema prevention. Long-term (greater than 6 months) postnatal prebiotic supplementation has also been successful for eczema prevention in formula-fed infants. Takeaway: Those infants at high risk for developing eczema react most readily to these preventative measures. It’s important to keep in mind that in order to reap the benefits from prebiotic and probiotic supplementation, both in the womb and post-delivery, maternal and infant nutrition is key. Microbiome-focused supplements are only as powerful…

“Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your gut health. Like I’m fond of saying, if you’re not moving, neither are your bowels. Runners and other people who exercise regularly actually have better bowel movements, not as hard, bigger, and more frequent – what I like to call stool nirvana. A January 2018 University of Illinois study sheds light on why exercise might be so important for our gut, as well as overall health. The study found that exercise alone can positively alter the gut microbiome…” Watch the video to learn more! While exercise has incredible benefits for the microbiome, can it help you lose weight? Check out our article Does Exercise Help You Lose Weight.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs), once easily curable, now affect millions and are much more challenging to treat, posing serious health risks. A July 13th New York Times article highlights the UTI treatment challenges, which spawn primarily from drug-resistant antibiotics. E. coli bacteria is the most common cause of UTIs, and it’s estimated that approximately one third of E. coli strains are resistant to Bactrim, the most common antibiotic treatment, and one fifth are resistant to the other 5 most common treatment drugs. Women, who during reproductive years are 50 times more likely to contract a UTI than men due to the anatomical proximity of the urethra to the rectum, are commonly going back for 2 and 3 rounds of antibiotic treatments, and are even being admitted into the hospital for intravenous antibiotics. UTIs that go untreated have the ability to travel into the kidneys and even the blood, which can…

 A new study finds proof that Parkinson’s disease begins in the gut. After injecting specific proteins into the guts of mice, the manifestations of Parkinson’s were observed a month later. The mouse model showed how a protein (alpha synuclein) can travel from the gut to the brain via the vagus nerve and resulted in Parkinson’s symptoms rarely seen in previous animal studies. Neuron Takeaway: While this study acts as the first proof of Parkinson’s gut origin, the hypothesis has been around since 2003 and was originally presented by Dr. Heiko Braak. Scientists are now hoping to conduct studies that uncover how and why this process begins in the first place.

Summer is almost over and we’d like to offer you a simple, microbe-boosting plan to rejuvenate your inner (think gut!) and outer beauty. Below you’ll find our simple, Gutbliss 3-Day Beauty Boost, which includes: A 3-day meal planRecipesLive Dirty lifestyle tips This plan will give you a glow and a feeling of lightness to carry you through the rest of summer.  For even more details on how to cultivate a flourishing gut garden, read Dr. Chutkan’s book, The Microbiome Solution, and you’ll be well on your way to microbial balance and a happier, healthier you. Let’s get started! Lifestyle Tips As you embark on this journey, it’s paramount that you focus on incorporating the following lifestyle recommendations (along with the meal plan) for all three days: Drink eleven 8-ounce cups of water per day for women, and sixteen cups for menReset your circadian rhythm; get in bed when the sun…

In February of this year, we posted an article in our column, Latest Research, regarding the connection between the gut microbiome and blood glucose levels. Research shows that instead of blood glucose response being constant for all foods across all individuals, the gut microbiome actually plays a large role in determining how the body responds to the glucose content in foods – and this response differs for each person. These findings have opened the door to a microbial perspective on precision nutrition, which entails microbiome testing your fecal sample, and then making dietary recommendations based on your specific gut bacteria-modulated blood glucose responses to foods. We are re-presenting this information because more and more people are taking these microbiome tests and based on the results, eliminating wide varieties of nutrient- and microbially-dense, high fiber, plant foods based on their testing results. If you are considering microbiome-based precision nutrition as a…