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Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis are understood to have a number of genetic related risks, but increasingly scientists are having to accept that our double helix does not predict our health risks except in a few single gene diseases such as cystic fibrosis, the haemoglobinopathies. In fact the enormous endeavours and resources spent pursuing this elucidation have produced surprisingly modest practical benefits.

Even when dozens of genes have been linked to a trait, both the individual and cumulative effects are surprisingly small and nowhere near enough to explain earlier estimates of heritability.[1]

The recent discovery by a New Zealand group that there are a number of childhood factors associated with the development of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, further supports the concept that environment – in this case during childhood plays an important role in modulating the risk for developing these conditions. The rising incidence of these diseases over the last 50 years also supports the role of environment, as genes take many hundreds of years to change.[2]

Obesity, Probiotics and Pregnancy

Saturday, 20 February 2010 by
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There are numerous reasons to lose weight but scientists continue to explore complex connections between weight and health risks. A new study in the journal FASEB using rats as a model found that those mothers overweight during pregnancy passed on cellular programming in utero that made their off spring predisposed to inflammation related diseases including Parkinson’s, Diabetes, Stroke, Heart Disease and others from the day they are born. Even more depressing was the discovery that it made no difference if the off spring maintained normal weight during their life.

To determine this link the scientists gave rats one of three diets; (low-fat, high-saturated fat, and high-trans fat) four weeks prior to mating and throughout pregnancy and lactation. The high-fat diets rendered the mice clinically obese. The science team analysed the brains of the newborn pups after challenge by inflammatory stimuli.

Dysbiosis – What Have We Learned?

Wednesday, 27 January 2010 by | Comments: 6
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Michael Ash BSc(Hons) DO, ND, FDipION reviews some of the last 12 months of published research.

The human body has some 10 trillion human cells—but 10 times that number of microbial cells. So what happens when such an important part of our bodies goes missing or never develops?

Plus what can we do to limit any adverse consequences linked to microbial disruption – referred to as dysbiosis?[1]

Further, do probiotics—dietary supplements containing potentially beneficial microbes actually support appropriate immune responses?

IBS Not Improved by St Johns Wort

Wednesday, 13 January 2010 by
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St. John’s wort, an herb commonly used to treat mild-to-moderate depression, may not improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) say researchers in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.[1]

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterised by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea. This team proposed that St. John’s wort may help improve IBS symptoms because antidepressant drugs are often used to treat the condition and have some level of success.

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cover_natureThe differing origins of gut dendritic cells — white blood cells that modulate immune responses — may explain how the intestinal immune system manages to destroy harmful pathogens while tolerating beneficial bacteria says an article by Sophie Laffont & Fiona Powrie in Nature journal out on Dec 10th 2009.

The immune system must protect the body from invading pathogens without mounting damaging responses to its own tissues. Dendritic cells, a rare population of white blood cells, have a crucial role in determining the nature of immune reactions and in fine-tuning the balance between tolerance (where the immune system ignores or tolerates an antigen) and the induction of inflammation to destroy pathogenic organisms.

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coverA new twist to the hygiene hypothesis shows that allergic risk can also be modulated by microbial exposure before birth. Mice born to dams that were exposed to bacteria during pregnancy were less likely to develop allergic responses than those born to unexposed mothers. And maternal Toll-like receptor (TLR) signals were required for the transmission of protection.

TLRs are a type of pattern recognition receptor (PRR) and recognise molecules that are broadly shared by pathogens but distinguishable from host molecules, collectively referred to as pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs).

Coeliac Disease – Local & Systemic Consequences

Wednesday, 09 December 2009 by | Comments: 1
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leaky gutCoeliac disease is an inflammatory disorder with autoimmune features that is characterised by destruction of the intestinal epithelium and remodelling of the intestinal mucosa following the ingestion of dietary gluten. The human gut is home to trillions of commensal microorganisms, and we are just beginning to understand how these microorganisms interact with, and influence, the host immune system. This may also include the late onset development of Coeliac Disease, or gluten intolerance.

All Immunity is Mucosal – The GUT is No 1

Monday, 30 November 2009 by | Comments: 3
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The Gut is The Formula 1 of Immunity

mi_cimageProperly regulated mucosal immunity is critical to overall health and well being. The cells found in the mucosal surfaces of the body meet on a daily basis, local challenges from foods, microbes and environmental pollutants. The result is a series of immunological decisions that on a single day exceed those made by the systemic immune system in a lifetime.

The immune system bound up in these tissues – mostly the ‘innate immune system’, must translate this infornatic onslaught to the ‘systemic immune system’  affecting the body as a whole. Immune tolerance or homeostasis in these tissues will help ensure adequate nourishment from passing ‘foreign’ food stuffs and so maintain bacterial/commensal balance. It is this bacterial balance that will ensure immunological tolerance so keeping the balance of power in the hands of health promoters (commensals) via this yin and yang relationship.

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UnknownDietary preferences influence basal human metabolism and gut microbiome activity that in turn may have long-term health consequences. The present study reports the metabolic responses of free living subjects to a daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate for up to 14 days.

A clinical trial was performed on a population of 30 human subjects, who were classified in low and high anxiety traits using validated psychological questionnaires. Biological fluids (urine and blood plasma) were collected during 3 test days at the beginning, midtime and at the end of a 2 week study. NMR and MS-based metabonomics were employed to study global changes in metabolism due to the chocolate consumption.

LGG (Culturelle) Resolves Bloating and Distension

Friday, 13 November 2009 by | Comments: 2
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XLargeThumb.00004836-200911000-00000.CVFunctional gastrointestinal disorders, a group of functional conditions characterised by the presence of symptoms attributable to the mid or lower gastrointestinal tract, include functional abdominal bloating, which is dominated by a feeling of abdominal fullness or bloating without sufficient criteria for another functional gastrointestinal disorder.

Diagnostic criteria are the presence, for at least 12 weeks, that need not be consecutive, in the preceding 12 months of;

  1. A feeling of abdominal fullness, bloating, or visible distension; and
  2. Insufficient criteria for a diagnosis of functional dyspepsia, IBS, or other functional disorders.[1]

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