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Bugs, Guts and Research

Tuesday, 18 October 2011 by
Reading Time: 7 minutes

For the majority of the last 100 years the role of bacteria in human health has been explored in terms of risk to health and well-being, the ‘bad bug = bad health’ paradigm. The result has been a combination of remarkable benefits against infectious related deaths and a slow but steady development of chronic non communicable diseases (CNCDs) – cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and respiratory diseases now kill more people worldwide than all other diseases combined.

This rate of demise will continue to rise in the coming years as the global population ages, sedentary lifestyles and inappropriate food consumption continues to spread across the world.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Functional gut problems, such as those classified by the Rome criteria as IBS are a significant health problem for many people. The use of probiotics as a single or multiple intervention offers a potential route to resolution, but the data is as yet inconsistent and in need of further clarification. This is the opinion of a group from Thames Valley University in a recently published review.[1]

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Probiotics and Safety

Tuesday, 31 May 2011 by
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The use of probiotics and saccharomyces Boulardii as part of a Nutritional Therapists strategic intervention with many of their patients is very common, and with good reason, they address and correct many functional health problems that involve the mucosal immune system.

A recent review from The Agency For Health Care Research and Quality (a USA organisation) undertook a comprehensive look at probiotics.

According to this review on the safety of probiotics, safety aspects seem to have been forgotten or have been addressed in general terms only in the majority of the large volume of studies on the subject. This review only looks at safety rather than application and concludes:

There is a lack of assessment and systematic reporting of adverse events in probiotic intervention studies, and interventions are poorly documented. The available evidence in RCTs does not indicate an increased risk; however, rare adverse events are difficult to assess, and despite the substantial number of publications, the current literature is not well equipped to answer questions on the safety of probiotic interventions with confidence.

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Probiotics and Lecithin cause heart disease?

Thursday, 05 May 2011 by | Comments: 2
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Diet, intestinal bacteria and liver metabolism to the generation of a chemical that promotes the build-up of arterial plaque and cardiovascular disease is the proposal in the alarmingly interesting paper published in the internationally respected Journal; Nature.[1] What we shout, how can two not simply innocuous but beneficial agents gang up to contribute to the cause of the world’s leading promoter of disease and death? Read on to find out..

Pass the POO/Medicine

Thursday, 21 April 2011 by | Comments: 2
Reading Time: 10 minutes

Faecal Bacteria

As many will know if they read the reviews I compile, I have an over 20 year interest in the role of the mucosal immune system (mainly in the gut) and its effects on human health, beyond the local tissues and organs.

The gastrointestinal tract is rooted in what is gently chided by the dedicated science/medical community as ‘folk medicine’, and for thousands of years healers, shaman and other practitioners have applied their best efforts to securing the gut as the seat of all disease.

In Asian medicine the abdomen is recognised as the seat of the soul the “Honoured Middle” (onaka) and the centre of spiritual and physical strength (Hara) is how the Japanese describe the intestine. [1] Yet for many Europeans and North Americans it is largely a tube which simply has to function albeit increasingly less efficiently.

LGG improves IBS in Children

Monday, 29 November 2010 by
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Functional Bowel problems can be a real problem, causing considerable emotional as well as physical distress. If you are a child and not really able to comprehend or manage your life as easily as an adult and you have IBS it can be very lonely.

This study published online on the 15th November will provide relief for parents, clinicians and children.[1] The use of a well studied probiotic LGG. Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG (LGG) reduced the frequency and severity of abdominal pain in children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), with persistent benefit once the treatment was stopped.

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

The fact we are not ill more often is due to the remarkable capacity our bodies have to revert to a state of ‘homeostasis’ – a somewhat dull word provided by Walter Cannon in the early 20th century to summarise the work of the physiologist Claude Bernard who was based in Paris in the 1850s. It has dominated biology, physiology and medicine ever since. Homeostasis is regularly used to describe the exquisite intrinsic ability we possess to respond to, counteract and adapt to external and internal sources of damage and disturbance to maintain health/function in us and other living organisms.

A more contemporary – albeit controversial term to describe this is: ‘Homeodynamics’.[1] This is the concept that we are not static but constantly adapting. Homeodynamics, accounts for the fact that the internal milieu of complex biological systems is not permanently fixed, is not at equilibrium, and is subject to dynamic regulation and interaction among various levels of organisation. Aging, senescence and death are the final manifestations of unsuccessful homeodynamics and in utero exposure represents the first opportunity and experience  for remodelling and constant adaptation.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As discussed here on many occasions it is well recognised that developed countries are suffering from an epidemic rise in immunologic disorders, such as allergy-related diseases and certain auto-immunities. One of the proposed explanations and one that I feel most convinced about is the changing composition of our intestinal microflora and parasite burden. Our intestinal ecological changes  appear to be altering our ability to manage appropriate immunomodulatory responses to various ingested and inhaled antigens.

The Proceedings of The National Academy of Science Journal published a paper this June 2010 exploring the differences in the microbial communities between those children on a western style diet and those from a rural African community whose diet reflected that of a the early humans – high in fibre.[1]

A Bacteria Triggers Arthritis.

Thursday, 01 July 2010 by | Comments: 2
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The gut microbiomes of humans and mice are broadly similar which is helpful as this paper has used the mouse model to explain how a resident bacteria in the gut can induce arthritis. In both hosts human and mouse upwards of ∼1000 different microbial species from ∼10 different divisions colonise the gastrointestinal tract, but just two bacterial divisions—the Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes—and one member of the Archaea appear to dominate, together accounting for ∼98% of the 16S rRNA sequences obtained from this site.[1] 16SrRNA is a laboratory method for analysing bacterial and provides species-specific signature sequences useful for bacterial identification but is not routinely used in diagnostic settings yet.

Their analysis revealed that despite the enormous species variation in the gut a single species of bacteria that lives here is able to trigger a cascade of immune responses that can ultimately result in the development of arthritis.[2] Gut-residing bacteria can also play a role in disorders of the immune system, especially autoimmune disorders in which the body attacks its own cells. The gut microbiota is now known to shape intestinal immune responses during health and disease with systemic effects.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Vitamin D is increasingly understood to be an essential component of many aspects of human health and although technically not a “vitamin,” vitamin D is in a class by itself. Its metabolic product, calcitriol, is actually a secosteroid (A compound derived from a steroid in which there has been a ring cleavage) hormone that binds to over 2000 gene receptors (about 10% of the human genome) in the human body. There are 3 recognised ways for adults to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D:

These are:

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