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Microbiome

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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…

Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) receives an FDA safety alert due to adverse reactions in two individuals who underwent FMT and received stool from the same donor. The stool, infected with extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli (E. coli) – a multi-drug resistant organism (MDRO) and therefore very challenging to treat – was administered to two immunocompromised adults, resulting in one death. FDA Takeaway: The FDA identified that more screening is needed throughout the stool donor process, including specific questions addressing risk factors for MDRO stool colonization and rejection for those donors who are at high risk – as well as testing for MDRO colonization in donor stool. FMT is an FDA approved therapy for recurrent C. diff. While research shows that FMT may result in positive improvements for some other conditions – inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), infectious diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and severe antibiotic-associated diarrhea – the…

Introduction Inulin is a soluble fiber that is not absorbed in the small intestine – it’s constructed of fructose molecules linked in a way that prevents breakdown. Instead, it acts as a prebiotic, meaning it feeds beneficial bacteria (including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) in the large intestine that play an important role in improving bowel and overall health. Gut bacteria convert inulin into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which act as the main energy source for the cells that line your colon. SCFAs also contribute broadly to disease prevention, immune function, and good health. The benefits of dietary inulin are well documented. Inulin has been associated with promoting microbial balance, improving weight loss (10 to 30 grams/day for 6 to 8 weeks), controlling diabetes, and relieving constipation (15 grams/day for up to 4 weeks). Studies also show that inulin may help increase calcium absorption (8 grams daily), prevent colon cancer, and treat…

Scientists have created E. coli bacteria using a 100% man-made genome. While the bacteria is “unusually shaped and reproducing slowly”, scientists say it’s alive and is four million base pairs long, four times larger than the synthetic genome built 9 years ago. The study was conducted so that scientists could better understand how living things code genetic information. Researchers believe this is possibly a first step in creating organisms that produce and deliver medicine and may also answer questions about the origin of the genetic code and how and why it’s constructed in such a “redundant” way. New York Times

Does a microbiome exist in utero, or is the environment sterile up to the moment the baby exits the womb? This has been an area of much debate in the scientific community. While some studies show the intrauterine environment to be sterile, others have uncovered bacteria in the uterus and placenta, showing that an intrauterine microbiome does in fact exist. A new review study adds evidence to the idea that if colonized, the intrauterine environment is contaminated. Researchers of the study propose that maternal stress causes a disruption of bacteria in one region of the mother’s body – oral cavity, gut, or vagina – triggering the transfer of bacteria (or what scientists refer to as bacterial translocation) to the intrauterine environment. This transfer of bacteria, scientists believe, may trigger an immune (or inflammatory) response that leads to neurodevelopment insufficiencies in the fetus. Science Direct Takeaway: While we are far from uncovering the truth…

Adults spend approximately 93% of their time indoors and babies up to 98% of their infancy indoors. Yet, the built environment (which includes our manmade surroundings – the homes and cities we live in, the parks we play in and paths we walk on, the cars we drive, the offices we work in, and even the water systems we drink from) can be one of the most toxic and microbe-unfriendly places on earth. John Bower, founder of Healthy House Institute, states, “Walking into a modern building can sometimes be compared to placing your head inside a plastic bag that is filled with toxic fumes.” Studies have shown that built environments are lacking in beneficial bacteria and diversity and are instead rich in disease-causing microbial communities. Because we spend so much of our modern lives in manmade surroundings, it’s safe to say that the built environment has the potential to make…

Glenn had been on various antibiotics for cystic acne for seventeen years. His skin would initially respond well, but after a year or two the cystic lesions would return, and his dermatologist would switch him to a different antibiotic. Ten years after he first started taking antibiotics Glenn began to have persistent loose stools and weight loss. He experimented with cutting out dairy and tried to increase his calories, but no matter what he ate, he still had diarrhea and trouble gaining weight. Evaluation of his digestive tract eventually revealed a diagnosis of celiac disease, and he was put on a gluten free diet (GFD), which he adhered to strictly. His doctor reassured Glenn that after a few months on the GFD his diarrhea and weight loss would improve, but two years later nothing had changed. Repeat evaluation showed the signs of celiac disease had completely resolved, and his small…

Overview Acne is the most common skin condition in the US, affecting approximately 50 million Americans each year. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), 85% of those between the ages of 12 and 24 experience minor to severe acne. The condition can extend into one’s thirties and forties, and studies show that acne in adults is on the rise, affecting 15% of adult women. We go through life thinking that acne is a normal human occurrence – a rite of passage as one transitions from childhood into adulthood. Yet, in less developed parts of the world, acne is virtually non-existent. Why is this? Why is acne such a common condition among Americans and essentially unseen in more indigenous cultures? There is one main difference between them and us. Societies living in rural environments are intimately connected with the earth and eat a traditional, microbiome-friendly diet, rich in plant fiber…