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Microbiome

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Is your microbiome test giving you an accurate picture? A recent study looked at one of the most well known markers of microbial health – bacterial diversity. The researchers found that taking 5 fecal samples over 5 consecutive days portrays a more accurate picture of microbial diversity than just 1 sample. This study also concluded that when looking at microbial composition (bacterial species and their ratios), 1 fecal sample was sufficient. In a letter to the editor, a group of researchers argue that microbial composition also varies over time. In their study of 61 infants, fecal samples were taken weekly for 6 weeks. Microbial composition varied over time, even from week to week. Researchers point out that the age of the study participants could be partly to blame. But, they ultimately conclude that calculating an average composition from fecal samples taken over a period of time could offer a more complete portrayal. Current Microbiology →Takeaway: Microbiome testing…

High processed salt intake alters gut bacteria composition and may disrupt the relationship between the microbiome and host homeostasis. While increased salt intake is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), we’re not exactly sure why that is. A recent study gave rats either water or a salt-water solution over a two-week period and analyzed blood plasma, urine, and stool samples for TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide – a bacterial byproduct that is linked to CVD) markers. Gut bacteria composition was also analyzed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Results found that high salt intakes increased TMAO and altered gut bacteria composition. Nutrition →Takeaway: The results of the study could help explain the relationship between high salt intake and an increased risk of CVD, although more research is needed. Based on this study and previous studies, a low or moderate salt intake in the diet is recommended. When looking at the Western diet, approximately 90% of…

Artificial sweeteners promote dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria) in Crohn’s disease (CD) patients and may worsen the disease and its symptoms. In a series of 3 studies, scientists mixed a low dose of Splenda into the drinking water of mice (who originated from a genetic line of mice with CD). They increased the dose slightly for the second study and ten times for the third study. When compared to control groups of healthy mice that received plain water, there was an increase in Proteobacteria, E. coli, and intestinal wall immune cell reactivity – all signs of dysbiosis. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases →Takeaway: The lead researcher in the study concluded that Splenda and other artificial sweeteners should be avoided by those with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or other digestive diseases, as they can cause inflammation and disease flare-ups. He also suggested in Newsweek that those without these conditions might not need to worry about the potential side effects of Splenda. At…

Initiating an intrauterine device (IUD) with copper over a 180-day period significantly increased the prevalence of bacterial vaginosis (BV) in a group of women seeking contraception in Zimbabwe, while hormonal contraceptive methods did not affect BV prevalence. In the 234 women using the copper IUD, BV prevalence was assessed at baseline and at 30, 90 and 180 days, and was 27% (slightly higher than the BV prevalence in American women), 35%, 40%, and 49% respectively. While beneficial lactobacilli frequency and density levels did not change in the copper IUD participants’ vaginal microbiome, an increase in Gardnerella vaginalis and Atopobium vaginae was observed. Overall, copper IUDs increased the relative risk of BV by twofold. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology →Takeaway: This study highlights the negative effects of copper IUDs on the vaginal microbiome, yet previous studies have illustrated the negative impacts of hormonal contraception on the gut microbiome. For individuals seeking a…

Studies show that overweight mothers are more likely to have overweight children, but why? A recent study, looking at 935 mother-infant pairs, found that infants born vaginally to overweight mothers were 3 times more likely to be overweight by the age of 3 when compared to infants born from normal weight mothers. Those born via C-section from overweight mothers were 5 times more likely to be overweight. In normal weight mothers, birth mode made no difference in the risk of overweightness for their offspring. Scientists hypothesize that this increased risk of overweightness in offspring is due to alterations in gut bacteria, specifically an over-abundance in Lachnospiraceae. JAMA Pediatrics →Takeaway: While overweight mothers are more likely to have overweight children, whether born C-section or vaginally, it’s not all doom and gloom. Practicing a lifestyle that cultivates a balanced microbiome can help maintain healthy weight throughout life. Make a vaginal birth (if possible) and breastfeeding a…