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…and this can really matter when we’re talking about cancer medication. Immunotherapy is a type of drug therapy used to treat cancer that focuses on boosting the immune system. Without the harmful side effects that come with chemotherapy, immunotherapy is the preferred method to treat many cancers today, yet positive response rates to this type of therapy fall somewhere south of 60%. Why so low? Because gut bacteria play a heavy role in metabolism and immunity, they can ultimately determine the fate of a medication’s effectiveness. And in those who suffer from dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria), the likelihood of a positive response to immunotherapy is lower than those with a balanced, diverse microbiome. In fact, both human and animal studies show that taking antibiotics within a short timeframe before starting immunotherapy results in lower response rates. Researchers have also compared the microbiomes of those who respond well to immunotherapy and…

For the first time ever, researchers discover a strong association between chronic pain and gut bacteria. Fibromyalgia, a disease affecting approximately 4% of the population and growing, is characterized as full-body, chronic pain along with fatigue and cognitive impairment. Compared to a control group, a cohort of patients with fibromyalgia possessed a remarkably different microbiome, including 20 different gut bacteria species in either greater or lesser quantities. Scientists utilized techniques to ensure these microbial differences weren’t due to other factors, such as diet, age, medications, physical activity, etc. Greater microbial alterations were associated with more severe disease symptoms. PAIN Takeaway: While this groundbreaking study shows a strong link between the microbiome and chronic, widespread pain, like with most diseases, scientists are uncertain whether the microbial alterations are the cause of the disease or a result. Further research will hopefully uncover this distinction, as well as help identify possible microbial diagnostic…

Cultivating a healthy microbiome plays a key role in preventing eczema. A review study looks at the effects of manipulating microbial health to prevent and treat eczema, specifically in infants. The study conducted analyses of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics (probiotics and prebiotics together) for eczema prevention. Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology  Results of the study show that scientific evidence supports supplementation with Lactobacillus strains prenatally, followed by long-term (greater than 6 months) postnatal supplementation in infants for eczema prevention. Long-term (greater than 6 months) postnatal prebiotic supplementation has also been successful for eczema prevention in formula-fed infants. Takeaway: Those infants at high risk for developing eczema react most readily to these preventative measures. It’s important to keep in mind that in order to reap the benefits from prebiotic and probiotic supplementation, both in the womb and post-delivery, maternal and infant nutrition is key. Microbiome-focused supplements are only as powerful…

“Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your gut health. Like I’m fond of saying, if you’re not moving, neither are your bowels. Runners and other people who exercise regularly actually have better bowel movements, not as hard, bigger, and more frequent – what I like to call stool nirvana. A January 2018 University of Illinois study sheds light on why exercise might be so important for our gut, as well as overall health. The study found that exercise alone can positively alter the gut microbiome…” Watch the video to learn more! While exercise has incredible benefits for the microbiome, can it help you lose weight? Check out our article Does Exercise Help You Lose Weight.

The gut microbiome & its relation to weight loss There’s lots of hype surrounding the gut microbiome and weight loss. Studies show that when transferring microbial samples from obese individuals to germ-free mice, the mice gain weight, illustrating that the gut microbiome can play a role in determining weight. In fact, the more we study the microbiome, the more we realize that our gut bacteria hold the key to many functions and metabolic pathways associated with weight management. Gut bacteria: Influence how much dietary fat is absorbed by the intestines, affecting fat storage.Play a key role in inflammation, producing lipopolysaccharides (LPS). Mouse studies show that when mice are given LPS, they gain weight equivalent to the weight gain from a high fat diet.Protect against inflammation by helping to maintain a strong gut barrier. The specific species involved in gut barrier function include Bifidobacteria and Akkermansia. Increasing the integrity of the…

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…

 A new study finds proof that Parkinson’s disease begins in the gut. After injecting specific proteins into the guts of mice, the manifestations of Parkinson’s were observed a month later. The mouse model showed how a protein (alpha synuclein) can travel from the gut to the brain via the vagus nerve and resulted in Parkinson’s symptoms rarely seen in previous animal studies. Neuron Takeaway: While this study acts as the first proof of Parkinson’s gut origin, the hypothesis has been around since 2003 and was originally presented by Dr. Heiko Braak. Scientists are now hoping to conduct studies that uncover how and why this process begins in the first place.

In February of this year, we posted an article in our column, Latest Research, regarding the connection between the gut microbiome and blood glucose levels. Research shows that instead of blood glucose response being constant for all foods across all individuals, the gut microbiome actually plays a large role in determining how the body responds to the glucose content in foods – and this response differs for each person. These findings have opened the door to a microbial perspective on precision nutrition, which entails microbiome testing your fecal sample, and then making dietary recommendations based on your specific gut bacteria-modulated blood glucose responses to foods. We are re-presenting this information because more and more people are taking these microbiome tests and based on the results, eliminating wide varieties of nutrient- and microbially-dense, high fiber, plant foods based on their testing results. If you are considering microbiome-based precision nutrition as a…

Alterations in the gut microbiome during infancy are linked to allergies. In a recent study, scientists discover specific gut bacteria strains that act as protection, re-establishing food allergy tolerance. Nature Medicine The study collected fecal samples from 56 infants with allergies every 4 to 6 months and compared the microbial contents to the fecal microbiota of 98 infants without allergies. The healthy and allergic fecal microbiotas were then transferred to a group of mice allergic to eggs – one group of mice received the microbiota from the healthy infants and the other from the allergic infants. Those mice receiving the “healthy” microbiota were more protected against the egg allergy than those receiving the “allergic” microbiota. In addition, scientists identified 6 beneficial gut bacteria strains associated with food allergy protection from the Clostridiales and Bacteroidetes families, then administered an oral formulation of these strains to mice and infants. Those receiving the…

A microbe discovered 15 years ago shows promise in reducing health risks associated with overweightness and obesity in those struggling to lose weight. A study published this month in Nature Medicine used an oral supplementation of Akkermansia muciniphila, a bacteria that breaks down proteins in the intestines, containing ten billion colony forming units (CFUs) in 32 overweight and obese patients. After three months of supplementation, blood markers for liver dysfunction, body inflammation, and total cholesterol were reduced, while insulin sensitivity was improved. Those taking the oral formulation also experienced a 5-pound weight loss. While weight loss was not statistically significant over the time of the study, metabolic markers were significantly improved. Researchers conclude that A. muciniphila is well-tolerated, safe, and could be a meaningful tool in improving the health of obese and overweight patients. Takeaway: While A. muciniphila supplementation may seem worthwhile for improving health parameters in overweight individuals, keep…