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Microbiome

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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,…

A first study of its kind shows that gut microbes could predict how seriously ill a Covid-19 patient might become. In the hopes to identify why some individuals with COVID-19 fare better than others, researchers created a risk score based on blood biomarkers found in severe COVID-19 patients. Scientists found that these biomarkers are linked closely with a core set of gut microbiome characteristics, as well as with increased inflammatory cytokines. COVID-19 is linked closely to the gut. As the virus enters the body, it binds to ACE2 enzymes, which play a large role in regulating intestinal inflammation and gut microbe make-up. COVID-19 patients who experience GI symptoms (diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting) also tend to suffer from a more severe state of the disease, so it makes sense that the gut microbiome and disease severity are strongly associated. MedRxiv Takeaway: Scientists who conducted the research concluded that based on the…

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.…

A 6-month randomized controlled trial investigated various dietary fat levels and their impacts on the gut microbiome. The study included 217 young, healthy adults, aged 18 to 35, and provided all of the food participants ate during the 6-month period. Fat consumption was split up among three groups – a low-fat diet (calories from fat 20% of energy consumed), a medium-fat diet (calories from fat 30% of energy consumed), and a high fat diet (calories from fat 40% of energy consumed). Effects of dietary fats on the gut microbiome were assessed using stool samples and plasma inflammatory markers. Study results showed that short chain fatty acid production was significantly lower in the higher fat group, while plasma inflammatory markers were elevated. The lower fat diet was associated with increased microbial diversity and other positive microbial markers. BMJ Takeaway: Researchers who conducted the study conclude that a high fat diet in…