Author

Leslie Ann Berg, MSPH

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If you follow a gluten-free diet, whether it’s because of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) or for other health reasons, a good slice of bread may be one of the main things you miss from your previous diet. But science shows that you may not have to miss out after all, and sourdough bread might be your solution! First let’s take a look at sourdough bread and what makes it so different from other breads. Sourdough bread (the traditional way of making gluten-containing bread prior to the mid 1600’s), instead of baker’s yeast, is made with a starter culture rich in Lactobacilli bacteria. Why is this so important? Lactobacilli, besides being great for the gut microbiome, makes the bread more nutrient rich by neutralizing the undesirable phosphorus, or phytic acid, found in the wheat’s bran. (Studies show that sourdough fermentation can neutralize phytic acid by up to 90%). Phytic acid in conventional bread binds to…

When most of us undergo dietary changes for weight loss, it usually involves drastic changes, like cutting carbs, eliminating entire food groups, or adopting a 30-day detox program. But surprisingly, a recent study found that people lose as much weight by making one simple dietary change alone than by following these complicated diets. That dietary change? Eating more fiber! Using a randomized controlled trial including 240 participants with metabolic syndrome, researchers found that eating more fiber alone resulted in equivalent kilograms lost over a year’s time when compared to a more strict diet regimen. If you’re looking to lose weight, try increasing your fiber intake first. And don’t be shy! Populations with some of the most diverse gut microbiota eat as much as 100 grams of fiber daily. A great way to begin is to track your current daily fiber intake, then increase it by 5 to 10 grams each…

Do you struggle to lose weight? Your microbiome could have something to do with it. A recent study implemented a 3-month lifestyle intervention in 26 overweight and obese adults (aged 18 to 65) and compared weight loss success (defined as losing 5% or more of baseline body weight) with microbial composition. Results showed an association between weight loss success and an increased abundance in Phascolarctobacterium, while weight loss failure (unable to lose 5% of body weight in the 3-month period) was associated with an increased abundance of Dialister and a gut microbiome that is genetically efficient in metabolizing carbohydrates. Mayo Clinic Proceedings →Takeaway: Microbial health plays a key role in our ability to reach and maintain a healthy weight. If you struggle with weight loss, focusing on balancing your microbiome (or rewilding!) could be an important first step. For a comprehensive plan to optimize microbial health in your everyday life, check out Dr. Robynne Chutkan’s book The…

The secret behind Clostridium difficile strength is uncovered. C. Diff, a harmful bacterial infection that often takes hold after antibiotic exposure and is more common in hospitals, was found to release para-cresol, a special compound that prevents other bacteria from growing. This compound gives C. Diff a competitive advantage and dominance over the intestinal microbiota. PLOS C. Diff affects half a million Americans annually, and is the cause of 15,000 deaths each year, and these numbers are climbing. Researchers are hopeful that this study finding will lead to the development of a drug that targets C. Diff infection more effectively.

Have arthritis or at risk for developing arthritis? A new study found that both rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) have specific oral microbial footprints that could be used in screening and early detection of the disease. Scientists analyzed saliva from 110 RA patients and 68 OA patients and compared these to 155 healthy subjects. Scientific Reports →Takeaway: 8 oral bacteria biomarkers were discovered that differentiate RA from OA, making the oral microbiome a viable tool in detecting arthritis and distinguishing arthritis type.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is drastically higher in those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD – Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis). After analyzing 11 studies, including over 1,100 IBD patients and 400 controls, researchers found that IBD patients are 9 times more likely to develop SIBO. Alimentary Pharmacology Therapeutics →Takeaway: Why this incredible risk of developing SIBO in IBD patients? Scientists hypothesize that prior surgeries, gastric pH changes and compromised intestinal mucosal integrity, all common in IBD, could be to blame. If you have IBD and/or think you may be suffering from SIBO, or if you are a practitioner who treats IBD and/or SIBO, check out Dr. Chutkan’s course, the Gutbliss Guide to SIBO for an incredible compilation of clinical information on testing, diagnosing, and treating SIBO.

High intake of dietary fiber is linked to lowering the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) – a form of liver cancer that often develops in those with chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. The study included over 125,000 participants with an average follow-up of 24 years and found that of those participants, 141 patients were diagnosed with HCC. Among the cohort, researchers found that those who increased whole grains in the diet had a reduced risk of developing HCC. JAMA Oncology →Takeaway: Increasing fiber intake can be a powerful tool in lowering disease risk. Focus on non-gluten containing whole grains such as brown rice, rolled oats, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and amaranth – as well as vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.

As little as 1 drink a day could lead to high blood pressure, a new study claims. The study looked at 17,000 U.S. adults and found that those who had moderate alcohol consumption (7 to 13 drinks weekly) were over twice as likely to experience stage 2 hypertension (systolic pressure of 140mm Hg or higher or a diastolic pressure of 90mm Hg or higher) and 1.5 times more likely to experience stage 1 hypertension (systolic pressure ranging from 130 to 139mm Hg or a diastolic pressure ranging from 80 to 89mm Hg) when compared to those who don’t drink. American College of Cardiology →Takeaway:While past research showed that moderate alcohol consumption could help protect against heart disease, recent research shows quite the opposite: a 2018 study – including data from 600,000 current drinkers showed that 5+ alcoholic drinks weekly raises the risk of stroke, heart disease, and aneurysms and can lead to premature death.…

Cancer rates are rising in young Americans and obesity could be to blame. The American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute released a report showing that the rates of 6 different cancers (multiple myeloma, colorectal, endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, and pancreatic), associated with obesity, are on the rise among adults between the ages of 25 and 49. Pancreatic and kidney cancers rose 4.34% and 6.23% respectively between 1995 and 2014. The report linked excessive body weight to approximately 40% of U.S. cancer cases; based on the 2014 estimates, obesity accounts for 60% of endometrial cancers, 36% of gallbladder cancers, 33% of kidney cancers, 17% of pancreatic cancers and 11% of multiple myeloma in those 30+ years of age. Lancet Public Health →Takeaway: From increasing inflammation to altering hormone levels, obesity can fuel the growth and proliferation of cancer cells. While the cancer rate increases in young adults can’t be directly attributed to obesity, it’s…

A new study shows a link between gut bacterial imbalances and life threatening forms of lupus for the first time. Blood and stool samples were analyzed in 61 women with systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE) and compared to those of 17 healthy women of matched age and racial backgrounds. Results showed that women with the disease had on average 5 times more Ruminococcus gnavus in the gut. In addition, disease flares (and especially kidney flares) aligned with drastic increases in R gnavus as well as a prevalence of antibodies in the blood that are designed to attach to the bacteria. Annals of Rheumatic Diseases →Takeaway: Scientists who conducted the study believe that in some instances, bacterial imbalance may be a key player in lupus and its flare-ups. They also hypothesize that bacteria leaking from the gut could trigger the immune response that elicits the disease, and that imbalances in the gut microbiome may play a more critical role…