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What Do Bacteria Do To Our Immune System?

Thursday, 01 July 2010 by | Comments: 3
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The germ theory that has so modernised medicine and driven us, the western world living human to regard all bugs as bad has been undergoing a dramatic rethink over the last few years. Firstly the recognition that your body is teeming with bacteria, providing a warm residence to approximately 10 times as many bacterial cells as human cells. Our mutual inhabitants live on skin, in the respiratory tract and throughout the digestive tract. Your digestive tract alone is home to between 1,000 and 40,000 bacterial species depending on your choice of journal.

Butyrate Improves Bowel Transit

Wednesday, 02 June 2010 by | Comments: 3
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Problems such as poor transit or constipation are common, and can produce significant misery for the individual compromised in this manner. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid, manufactured in the gut by the anaerobic fermentation of dietary fibres by resident microbiota. It is proposed that apart from its already well understood properties that it has another remarkable effect – the ability to increase the neuronal concentration of the Enteric Nervous System.[1]

Butyrate-generating foods and supplements might become an effective and simple option to prevent or treat functional gut disorders via modulation of enteric neuroplasticity.

Can Bacteria Make You Smarter?

Wednesday, 02 June 2010 by
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The potential cognitive gains linked to the role of gastrointestinal bacteria continues to attract international interest. The scientific community are becoming entranced with the notion that our bacterial exposure affects not only the local tissues, but also others including the brain.

Exposure to specific bacteria in the environment, already believed to have antidepressant qualities, could increase learning behaviour.  Mice fed live cultures of Mycobacterium vaccae were able to learn and complete a maze twice as fast as control mice were the key comments delivered at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology last week.

Mycobacterium vaccae is a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breath in when they spend time in nature,” says Dorothy Matthews of The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York, who conducted the research with her colleague Susan Jenks.

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Michael Ash looks at leaky gut with a contemporary approach to investigation, relevance and restoration. It is quite clear that in order to extract nutrients and other sentinel information carrying agents the barrier that divides the contents of the gastric lumen from the host must be permeable. The question that has interested clinicians for many years is – when is it too permeable and what does that mean in terms of health and illness.

A paper in the March edition of Mucosal Immunology explores this concept in some detail and delivers some much needed information and potential direction in terms of dietary management and risk.[1]

Antibiotics Can Cause Gut Related Diseases

Thursday, 18 March 2010 by | Comments: 4
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Michael Ash BSc (Hons), DO, ND FDipION reviews the current understanding of the role of antibiotics in the initiation of gut associated inflammation and local and systemic health problems, and briefly explores some strategies to prevent and manage this.

What is perhaps the greatest medicinal discovery in the last 100 years has a sting in its tail, the tremendous success in managing bacterial infection has encouraged over and inappropriate use of antibiotics, the problems of which have been well documented. This review explores the developing comprehension that even a single day of antibiotic use has consequences that may produce transient and long term effects that compromise the health and well being of the patient and their bacterial co-habitants.

Sir Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic substance penicillin in 1928 and was awarded a co share in the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945.

It was a discovery that would change the course of history. The active ingredient in that mould, which Fleming named penicillin, turned out to be an infection-fighting agent of enormous potency. When it was finally recognised for what it was—the most efficacious life-saving drug in the world—penicillin would alter forever the treatment of bacterial infections. By the middle of the century, Fleming’s discovery had spawned a huge pharmaceutical industry, churning out synthetic penicillin’s that would conquer some of mankind’s most ancient scourges, including syphilis, gangrene and tuberculosis. (Time Magazine April 1999)

However, as the combined benefits of decent engineering for sanitation, prevention via vaccination and bacterial infection control through antibiotics have contributed to life extension, they have also produced microbe and human disturbances. The incidence of immune mediated disorders is continuing to increase and the gastrointestinal tract is continuing to gain traction as a site of significant origination.[1],[2]

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The connection between gut bacteria and obesity has gained some weight, with new findings demonstrating links in mice among immune-system malfunction, bacterial imbalance and increased appetite.[1]

Mice with altered immune systems developed metabolic disorders and were prone to overeating. When microbes from their stomachs were transplanted into other mice, they also become obese. These latest findings add weight to the growing appreciation about the role of the bacteria in and on our bodies.  We are all outnumbered in terms of human versus bacterial cells and the concept of human and bacteria symbiosis as a super-organism is gaining traction.

Already there have been strong associations between asthma, some cancers, autoimmune conditions and unwanted weight gain.

Gut Bacteria May Make You Fat

Friday, 05 March 2010 by | Comments: 2
Reading Time: 18 minutes

Obesity: A consequence of adverse inflammation & microbial disruption?

By Michael Ash BSc(Hons) DO, ND, FDipION

Published in CAM 2005

Overweight and obesity are serious, chronic medical condition associated with a wide range of debilitating and life threatening and economically burdensome conditions. The recent and extensive increases in obesity among Europeans are eroding many recent health gains.

Paradoxically the economically wealthier communities of the world continue to over consume food and food products, whilst other nation communities still suffer from food deprivation and starvation, due in the main to drought, floods, ‘acts of God’, corruption and conflict. Approximately 9.5% of the global burden of disease is currently attributable to being underweight,[1] whilst there are now hundreds of millions of people (>500) in developed and developing countries that are overweight or obese. This condition of excessive weight is now so common that it is rapidly replacing malnutrition and infectious diseases as the most significant cause of ill health[2]. An escalating global epidemic of overweight and obesity – “globesity” – is taking over many parts of the world.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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
Reading Time: 2 minutes

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.

IBS Not Improved by St Johns Wort

Wednesday, 13 January 2010 by
Reading Time: 2 minutes

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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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