Author

Gutbliss

Browsing

If you’ve read our newsletter in the past, you’re familiar with our motto of lifestyle interventions first and foremost, and medications as a last resort for treating physical ailments. But even we were shocked to find out that older individuals, on average, are on 15 prescription medications each year. A recent New York Times article highlighted these findings from the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists – “People aged 65 to 69 take an average of 15 prescription medications a year, and those aged 80 to 84 take 18 prescriptions a year. And that’s in addition to the myriad of over-the-counter drugs, herbal remedies, vitamins and minerals they may take, any of which — alone or in combination — could cause more problems than they cure.” An overwhelming majority of prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies have harmful side-effects, especially when taken improperly. Legacy prescribing – when a drug is prescribed and…

Gut microbes may help repair damage done to the body following a stroke. A study conducted out of the University of Kentucky and published in the Journal of Neuroscience, uncovers the idea that supplementing the body with short chain fatty acids (SCFA – byproducts produced by gut bacteria when breaking down plant foods) could improve stroke recovery in some. The study, conducted in mice, used water fortified with SCFAs and gave it to mice who had suffered a stroke. The mice who drank the water showed a reduction in motor impairment following stroke, as well as increased growth on the spines of dendrites on nerve cells – a key component for memory. These mice also showed an increase in genes associated with the brain’s immune cells. These observations point to the idea that SCFAs may play a role in altering how the brain responds to injury via the gut-brain axis.…

A 6-month randomized controlled trial investigated various dietary fat levels and their impacts on the gut microbiome. The study included 217 young, healthy adults, aged 18 to 35, and provided all of the food participants ate during the 6-month period. Fat consumption was split up among three groups – a low-fat diet (calories from fat 20% of energy consumed), a medium-fat diet (calories from fat 30% of energy consumed), and a high fat diet (calories from fat 40% of energy consumed). Effects of dietary fats on the gut microbiome were assessed using stool samples and plasma inflammatory markers. Study results showed that short chain fatty acid production was significantly lower in the higher fat group, while plasma inflammatory markers were elevated. The lower fat diet was associated with increased microbial diversity and other positive microbial markers. BMJ Takeaway: Researchers who conducted the study conclude that a high fat diet in…

Families that have members both with and without celiac disease under one roof often have separate kitchen equipment. But is this something we should be concerned about? Is sharing kitchen equipment used for gluten containing foods safe for those with celiac disease? An October 2019 study sheds light on this common concern. The study tested traces of gluten in gluten-free foods prepared with three common pieces of kitchen equipment: a toaster used for whole wheat bread, a knife used to slice gluten-containing cupcakes, and a pot used to cook wheat-based pasta. When tested, gluten free foods prepared using these kitchen items contained less than 20 parts per million of gluten and in most cases less than 10 parts per million of gluten. According to gluten-free standards, anything less than 20 parts per million is considered gluten-free and can be labeled as such in both the United States and Europe. The…

A fungus found on the skin and scalp of humans and animals may drive pancreatic cancer. A study published in Nature last month found that the fungus, a yeast known as Malassezia (which has also been linked to inflammatory bowel disease), can settle in the pancreas (an organ that was thought to be sterile until this decade), where fungus can proliferate 3,000 times faster than healthy tissue found in the organ. The rapid proliferation of Malassezia appears to fuel the growth of cancer tumors in the pancreas based on the study’s findings. To confirm the migration of fungi to the pancreas and its role in cancer tumor growth, scientists injected mice with fungi illuminated with a green fluorescent protein. In just minutes, the fungi travelled from the digestive tract to the pancreas. Scientists also observed that Malassezia was abundant in both mice and humans who developed pancreatic cancer. In mice,…

Antibiotics disrupt flu vaccine success. A study published this fall found that in those who hadn’t had the flu shot or the flu in the last three years, receiving antibiotics just before the flu shot made it less effective. Cell Takeaway: This is the first human study of its kind, and illustrates the key role our gut bugs play in determining our immune response, as well as how our microbiome can impact the success – or failure – of medication. If you plan to receive the flu vaccine (and even if you don’t!), avoiding antibiotics is an important step in cultivating a strong, responsive immune system.

Some populations have a heightened risk of celiac disease based on the amount of gluten they eat before the age of 5. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed gluten intake in 6,600 children who possessed celiac disease-related genes (deeming these children genetically “at-risk” for celiac disease). Gluten intake was measured using parent-recorded food diaries. Researchers found that children who ate more than 2 grams of gluten per day around the age of 2 had a significant increase in their risk of developing celiac disease. In addition, for every 1 gram of gluten consumed (equivalent to a ½ slice of bread or a ½ cup of cooked pasta) daily beyond the 2 grams, the chance of developing celiac disease increased by 7%. Takeaway: Researchers who conducted the study concluded that those children who have a first-degree relative with celiac disease should limit the amount…

Proton pump inhibitor (PPI) use in infants increases risk of infection in certain populations. PPI’s (as well as other acid blocking drugs) are commonly prescribed to infants who suffer from gastrointestinal upset and reflux. A recent study found a significantly increased rate of infection in infants who take PPIs and have regular CYP2C19 gene function – a gene that plays a role in processing and metabolizing some commonly prescribed drugs. The rate of infection was significantly increased in those infants compared to ones who have heightened CYP2C19 function. Pediatrics Takeaway: Researchers who conducted the study concluded that CYP2C19 function should be assessed when considering PPI therapy in infants. PPI and acid blocking drugs are commonly prescribed in infant populations, yet studies show they are both ineffective and unsafe – and this study proves more of the same. Unfortunately, parents are often given prescriptions for acid suppression medications – a particularly…

The link between diet and depression is meaningful in an at-risk population. In only the second study ever conducted in young adults looking at the therapeutic impact of diet on depression, researchers found that a short 3-week dietary intervention, utilizing a diet comprised of vegetables, fruits, other whole plant foods, fish and lean meats, resulted in significantly lower self-reported depression symptoms. The randomized controlled trial consisted of 38 study participants in each group – the diet and the control groups – and reduced depression scores remained significantly lower in follow-up calls three months post study. PLoS One Takeaway: Approximately one fifth of the adult population suffers from depression symptoms with only a little over one third of these individuals seeking treatment. The findings from this study, and the fact that participants in the diet group had high rates of compliance, show that diet can be a viable and effective treatment…