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Fasting plasma blood glucose levels (FPG) at hospital admission independently predicts COVID-19 complications and death in those without diabetes. Scientists looked back at the FPG levels at hospital admission in 605 COVID-19 patients in Wuhan. Those with a FPG of 126 mg/dL or higher were nearly 4 times more likely to experience COVID-19 complications compared to those with a FPG less than 110 mg/dL. Annals of Internal Medicine Takeaway: Because FPG proves to be such a strong, independent predictor of COVID-19 complications and mortality, researchers who conducted the study recommend glycemic testing and control at hospital admission for all COVID-19 patients, even for those who don’t have a previous diabetes diagnosis. Testing and controlling blood sugar can help in assessing COVID-19 severity and mortality risk, as well as improve survival outcomes. Are you concerned about your risk for developing high blood glucose levels and diabetes? If so, a study published…

C-section births significantly increase the risk of adulthood obesity and type 2 diabetes in female offspring. Researchers conducted a prospective study analyzing data in 33,226 mothers born between 1946 and 1954. Out of those analyzed, 1,089 women were born via C-section. In the cohort 36.6% of children born were found to have obesity and 6.1% were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in adulthood. Results found that adult women had a 46% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and an 11% higher risk of developing obesity when compared to adult women born vaginally. Adjusting for breastfeeding did not change the correlation of risk for obesity or diabetes. JAMA Network Open Takeaway: Scientists who conducted the research conclude that if these findings are replicated in subsequent studies, they point to an incredible need to decrease C-section birth rates. In the United States, the average C-section rate is approximately 30% – a…

Eating more of your calories during the first half of your day could mean a lower risk of mortality from diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD). A recent study found that if those with diabetes and cardiovascular disease make a small adjustment to the amount of food they eat in the second half of the day – moving just 5% of total calorie intake from dinner to breakfast – mortality risk from their disease significantly decreases. Researchers conducted an observational study in approximately 4,700 adults with diabetes and looked at energy and macronutrient intake using a 24-hour dietary recall over 2 back-to-back days. When looking at the relationship between mortality (including mortality from diabetes, CVD, and all causes) and energy consumption throughout the day, the scientists found that those who consumed the highest amount of their calories for dinner were almost twice as likely to die from diabetes and 69% more…

What causes animals (or humans) with identical genetic codes, gut microbes, and germ exposure to survive the same pathogen (and pathogen dosage), while another dies? Could the answer lie in manipulating the body to tolerate disease as opposed to fighting it? This is a theme that has received lots of attention in the last five years, and one worth discussing, especially in the midst of the pandemic. An article published in The Scientist in June 2019 highlighted a series of rodent studies that investigated this phenomenon. One study in particular showed that providing nutrients for the host when pathogens invade the body could help in maximizing host health and survival. Researchers infected a group of mice (all were identical in terms of genetic code, microbial makeup, diet, and environment) with a pathogenic bacterium, Citrobacter rodentium. Exposure was kept constant across all mice, and pathogenic bacteria levels were identical in the gut…

“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,…

Increased antibiotic use is associated with an increased risk for hospitalization. The study looked at primary care medical records linked to hospital admissions in 1.8 million patients from 2000 to 2016, and analyzed those who had received systemic antibiotics. Infections of interest included urinary tract, ear, and respiratory (those with more serious chronic conditions like cystic fibrosis and chronic lung disease were excluded from the study). The results showed that the more antibiotics a patient was prescribed, the more likely they were to be hospitalized for a subsequent infection in 3 or more months. Those with 9 or more antibiotic prescriptions were 2.26 times more likely to be hospitalized, while those with 5 to 8, 3 or 4, and 2 antibiotic prescriptions were 1.77, 1.33, and 1.23 more likely, respectively. BMC Medicine Takeaway: Researchers who conducted the study claim that the overuse of antibiotics for common infections is “unproven –…

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,…