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Microbiome

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Could quarantining put you at a higher risk for disease? Studies and data analysis show that the best way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus is isolation. But could the practices of self-isolation, quarantining, and extreme social distancing put you at a higher risk for health conditions over the long term? The surprising answer is it may. Not only has the pandemic increased our over-sanitization, the very thing that, over the last century, has so dramatically (and negatively) affected the beneficial microbes that are essential to our health, but it has also brought on a complete change of lifestyle for most of us – less exercise, more unhealthy foods, added stress and the anxiety of juggling dwindling finances, job loss, homeschooling, and a lack of childcare, as well as inadequate sleep quality and quantity. All of these factors create a perfect storm for weight gain, increased disease risk, and…

Raw milk, by definition, is milk from grass-fed cows that is both unpasteurized and un-homogenized (the pasteurization process is a high heat treatment that kills any bacteria and potential pathogens in the milk, while the homogenization process is a mechanical process that distributes the fat particles evenly throughout the milk so that it’s blended uniformly). And because it doesn’t go through these nutrient-degrading processes before human consumption, it’s marketed as containing all of the “healthy” stuff that are destroyed in conventional milks during the pasteurization and homogenization processes, such as natural enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and beneficial bacteria for the gut. Yet, a recent study found that raw milk might not be the super food some health circles believe it is. The study, published this summer in Microbiome Journal, looked at 2,304 pasteurized and unpasteurized milk samples across 5 states. Results showed that raw milk contains little to no…

This is a confusing time for those of us who are cautious of over-sanitizing our bodies. How do we live a “dirty” lifestyle to promote microbial and immune health, while protecting ourselves from infection, and more specifically, from the coronavirus? At Gutbliss, “live dirty” is still our motto, even during the pandemic. Here’s why… and how to do it. As James Hamblin points out in his latest article published in the July/August issue of The Atlantic, You’re Showering Too Much, we have never been more obsessed with cleanliness, yet autoimmune-associated skin conditions, such as eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis, and even acne, are on the rise and more unsolvable than ever with modern medicine. So, what’s the deal? Could it be that over-washing is causing a bacterial imbalance (or dysbiosis) on the skin, triggering these conditions to take hold? Skin health, as with gut health, is all about microbial balance –…

Lindsay: I saw a compelling study linking the ketogenic diet to reducing inflammation in the gut and improving microbial parameters. I realize you’ve been against keto diets in the past. To me, ketones seem to be beneficial for gut health. Can you elaborate on the study and your take on it? Dr. Chutkan: Lindsay, the study you’re referring to, Ketogenic diets alter gut microbiomes in humans, mice, was published in May of this year and was conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Probably the trendiest diet of 2020, the ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high fat way of eating, which keeps the body in a metabolic state called ketosis, in which the body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates and transforms fat cells into ketones in the liver, which act as an energy source for the brain. Some preliminary scientific evidence shows that a ketogenic diet may…

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…

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,…