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“As researchers continue to study the microbiome, it’s clear that our gut is a powerful tool in disease prevention and treatment. How can understanding the microbiome influence the way we eat and nourish our bodies? Is our gut the missing link to using food as medicine? This panel features preeminent researchers, scientists, and entrepreneurs who are leading this breakthrough area of science.” (Milken Institute: Future of Health Summit) Watch Dr. Chutkan, as she acts as moderator for the panel, Gut Feeling: Food, Microbiome, & Disease Prevention, that took place at this year’s Milken Institute: Future of Health Summit. Speakers include: Mark Hyman Head of Strategy and Innovation, Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine Rob Knight Professor, Departments of Pediatrics, Bioengineering, and Computer Science & Engineering, University of California, San Diego David Perlmutter Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs and Dean, Washington University School of Medicine Karen Sandell Sfanos Associate Professor,…

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.…

Tabatha: I have spent years rebuilding my gut after reading your book, The Microbiome Solution. After 4 years of amazing health, I’m afraid of the damage that my next colonoscopy might do to my rebuilt gut microbiome. Should I be concerned and how can I still do my scheduled colonoscopies with the least amount of damage to my gut? Are there other options than a colonoscopy?  Dr. Chutkan: Tabatha, many of my patients, like you, have spent years working on rehabbing their gut microbiome, so your question is a really valid one. Preparing for a colonoscopy requires fasting and cleansing the colon using strong laxatives 24 hours before the procedure. This process can remove many of the microbes that live inside your gut. Let’s take a look at the science: a 2013 study assessed the effect of traditional colonoscopy prep on the gut microbiota in 10 men and 10 women,…

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.

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…

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…

Antibiotic therapy disrupts the gut microbiome and results in a pro-inflammatory response that negatively affects bone health. Previous studies have uncovered the direct relationship between a balanced microbiome and healthy bone development. A February 2019 study took this relationship further and investigated the use of a broad-spectrum antibiotic in mice to determine if there were any microbiome-mediated alterations in skeletal formation on a cellular level. After administering antibiotic therapy during the post-puberty phase (this phase is responsible for 40% of our bone accumulation), researchers found that the antibiotics led to significant disruptions in gut bacteria that altered the communication between immune cells and bone cells. These alterations led to substantial changes to trabecular bone – the bone type that experiences high rates of bone metabolism. The American Journal of Pathology  Takeaway: Antibiotics, especially broad-spectrum ones, significantly alter the gut microbiome, which may have negative and lasting effects on skeletal health. Researchers hope to conduct…

Weight control could be more genetic than previously thought.New studies confirm a genetic mutation that makes people feel full all the time, which may explain why some people are less interested in food and naturally thin. The first study included half a million participants between the ages of 40 and 69. Through DNA samples, medical records, and years of health tracking, scientists identified a genetic alteration in about 6% of the population that mutes appetite and protects against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The single gene, MC4R, plays a key role in hunger and satiety (the feeling of fullness). During a meal, the gene is turned on to send signals of fullness, and then turns off. The mutation involved in this study occurs when the gene is turned on all the time, therefore the person always feels full. The gene can also play a role in obesity in those who have…

Rose was in a big hurry when she came to see me. Gallbladder surgery was looming on the horizon based on a test (HIDA scan) that showed a poorly functioning organ, and she needed answers fast. Her symptoms were pretty mild and non-specific: bloating, a feeling of fullness after eating, and vague abdominal discomfort, but as I read through her initial food journal, I tried to maintain a neutral expression. She had been having a cheese Danish with a latte for breakfast, a turkey and provolone sandwich for lunch, and steak, chicken, or cheese pasta for dinner, with ice cream for dessert. Occasionally she’d have an apple for a snack, but usually it was a chocolate bar, cookies, or frozen yogurt. I’ve seen lots of food journals in my time (and mine certainly isn’t always pristine), but Rose’s was Exhibit A for what not to eat if you have a…