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Are noncommunicable diseases communicableNoncommunicable diseases (#NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, happen as a result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors, and are not transmissible directly from one person to another. The main types of NCDs are #cardiovascular diseases, #cancer, #asthma and #diabetes, and they now account for 70% of all deaths globally. The definition of NCDs rules out any microbial involvement, but data is increasingly showing us that the microbiota of individuals with various NCDS has been altered. Scientists have transplanted dysbiotic microbiota from animal models of NCDs into healthy animals which have resulted in the disease. The Canadian microbiologist Brett Finlay has recently written an article in Science Mag proposing that some NCDs could have a microbial component capable of communicability via the microbiota.

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Using Common Food Compounds to Manage the Gut MicrobiomeThe foods we eat commonly affect our #gut #microbiota by triggering the production of #bacteriophage, which are the viruses that infect and replicate inside #bacteria. The #microbiome is made up of hundreds of different bacteria and the #phages they host. Researchers from San Diego State University have discovered a new way to harness food as medicine by identifying common dietary compounds that can kill specific bacteria without affecting others.

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The microbiota and the heartThe department of Immunology from the University of Toronto have recently completed research into the origins and causes behind inflammation of the heart (#myocarditis). Whilst many other studies have been conducted, resulting in a variety of theories, there has not yet been a conclusive definition of how risk factors and environmental exposures intersect. The Toronto team have shown in their results that genetic predisposition, production of a commensal #gut #microbial #autoantigen, and systemic #inflammation combine to trigger the generation of autoreactive CD4+ T cells that cause autoimmune myocarditis and #cardiac dysfunction.

Microbiota and the Social Brain

Thursday, 21 November 2019 by
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Microbiota and the social brainMany theories have been developed to explain why animals exhibit certain social behaviours, the impact of the #microbiota, however, has rarely been considered.  In a review published in Science Mag this month, scientists have examined several pre-clinical and clinical trials investigating the effect of the microbiota on the social brain. It has been discovered that through a diverse set of pathways the gastrointestinal microbiota is able to send signals to the brain, this is known as the #microbiota-gut-brain axis. The microbiota plays a key role in neurodevelopment from early life into adulthood influencing processes such as #neurotransmission and #neuroinflammation as well as behaviour throughout lifespan. With animals having evolved in a microbial world, these signals may have influenced the animal brain throughout evolution.

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Raw vesrus cooked diet and the gutThere have been various studies investigating the impact on the #microbiome of different kinds of diets, such as vegetarian versus meat based, but as yet none to question whether the cooking process itself alters the composition of the microbial ecosystems in our guts. Cooking involves exposing food to heat which can change the foods chemical and physical properties. Researchers from the University of California and Harvard University have set out to answer whether these alterations change the microbial environment of the #gut.

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Bile Acids and Mucosal Immunity

Monday, 26 August 2019 by
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The-Importance-of-Bile-Acids-to-our-HealthBile acids are critical for the digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins in the small intestine. Recent studies suggest bile acids have further functions as pleotropic signalling metabolites able to interact with germline-encoded host receptors and microbiota to regulate an array of #metabolic and #inflammatory pathways. Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute Florida and Osaka University Japan have recently published a piece discussing the interplay between bile acids, the microbiota and the mucosal immune system. They focus on how this interplay can regulate intestinal homeostasis and inflammation. The dynamic three-dimensional interplay between #bile acids, the microbiome and the mucosal immune system represents an important new frontier in the field of Mucosal Immunology. 

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9-coverWhen asked, what is the best diet to follow, there is normally a wide range of options provided. These are mostly based on contemporary patterns, ethical, religious, geographical and preference. However, whilst all dietary practices have aspects that are lauded over, one style of eating consistently supports general benefit to the consumer. That is the traditional Mediterranean diet (MD), defined as: A nutritionally recommended dietary pattern characterised by high-level intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and minimally processed cereals, moderately high consumption of fish, low intake of saturated fat, meat and dairy products and regular, but moderate, consumption of alcohol. Unesco has recognised the Mediterranean diet (MD) as an intangible cultural heritage.

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PrintThe idea that bacteria in the gut may have many twists in their skill set to enhance human health has been around for a while. That they may have the capability of inducing a cytoprotective enzyme called Nrf2 in local tissues, which in turn promotes the production of glutathione, detoxification and numerous other health supportive elements has until recently been less well understood.[1]

Nrf2 activation upregulates a regulon of genes including those involved in xenobiotic and reactive oxygen species (ROS) detoxification, as well as pro-restitutive function. This pathway has attracted considerable attention because small molecule inducers of Nrf2 have cytoprotective effects against oxidant and electrophilic environmental stressors.[2],[3]

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nutrients-logoThere is now considerable scientific evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can improve human health and protect against chronic diseases. However, it is not clear whether different fruits and vegetables have distinct beneficial effects. A paper in Nutrients published in May 2015 helps to tease apart some of the key mechanisms involved related to the consumption of apples.[1]

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Apples; great for SCFA production, restoring bacterial eubiosis in a disrupted gut and likely able to assist with weight management, say scientists in the journal Food Chemistry.[1] Apples, in general, have shown to protect against human chronic diseases due to their content of fibre and phenolic compounds. These bioactive compounds have low availability and can potentially reach to colon, modulate the balance of bacterial populations in the gut, and influence the host physiology. The apple health benefits are, in part, due to the interaction of fibre and phenolics with gut microbiota that results in changes in phenolic bioavailability and activity, and the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) after fibre fermentation.

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