Exercise Linked to More Diverse Intestinal Microbiome

Athletes, particularly those at the top of their profession appear to be are big winners when it comes to their gut microflora. A recent paper suggests that exercise has a direct effect on microbial composition and related gastrointestinal health. The article ‘Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity’ was published in the international journal GUT.[1]

The relationship among the gut microbiota, exercise and related dietary changes has received much less attention. Loss of community richness/biodiversity has been demonstrated in obesity studies while increased diversity, which has been advocated to promote stability and improved ecosystem performance, is associated with increased health in certain populations. This has led to the suggestion that microbiota diversity could become a new biomarker for health status. It has been suggested that monitoring the gut microbiota annually to determine changes in the composition and stability could be sufficient to detect health status changes.

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Gut Bacteria Trigger Autism

Our gut microbiota can influence our state of mind, including our mood and behaviour. In the recent issue of Cell, scientists reported that the compositional and structural shifts of microbes and associated metabolites can trigger autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms.[1] (2013, Cell 155,1451).

Neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), are defined by core behavioural impairments; however, subsets of individuals display a spectrum of gastrointestinal (GI) abnormalities.

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Bacteria Plus Prebiotic Induce Metabolic Benefits Including Weight Loss.

Our gut as we all know is home to innumerable different bacteria — a complex ecosystem that has an active role in a variety of bodily functions. In a study published on the 13th May 2013 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,[1] a team of researchers finds that in mice, just one of key bacterial species plays a major part in controlling obesity and metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.

The bacterium, unfamiliar to many of us and called Akkermansia muciniphila, digests the epithelial mucus and makes up 3–5% of the microbes in a healthy mammalian gut. But the intestines of obese humans and mice, and those with type 2 diabetes, have much lower levels. The researchers led by Patrice Cani, who studies the interaction between gut bacteria and metabolism at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, decided to investigate the link.

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Tocotrienols, Probiotics and PhosphoGlycolipids: A Perfect Prescription for the Liver?

By Michael Ash, BSc, DO, ND, F.DipIOn

One of my primary areas of research and expertise is the gut microbiota and its diverse impact on our health. Your liver receives nearly 70% of its blood supply from the intestine, and represents a first line of defence against gut-derived antigens. Intestinal bacteria—and the antigens they produce—play a key role in the maintenance of gut-liver axis health. Modulation of the gut microbiota to achieve and maintain symbiosis represents a new way to treat or prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Along with the concomitant use of tocotrienols and glycophospholipids, we may be starting to see the emergence of a truly profound intervention for a complex metabolic disease, using safe,natural compounds.

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RA – Bacteria, Diet and Hormones a Fixable Mix?

Rheumatoid arthritis! – these are not the words anyone wants to hear when they start to experience joint discomfort. It quite naturally engenders fear and worry as the tretaments offered are in themselves a challenge in most cases and avoiding effective treatment can predispose an individual to a shortened and miserable life.

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Interactive Bacteria Chart

The journal Scientific American in their June 2012 issue looked at the social network of the bacteria in our digestive tract and on our skin. As I have previously stated the role of our commensal bacteria as significant players in our health and function is becoming more and more understood. Whilst those of us involved in alternative, complementary or functional medicine have regarded the digestive tract and its commensal inhabitants as a primary partner in the hunt for health – it is still a strange concept to the majority of clinicians who still focus on bacteria as the enemy.

The diagram below is extracted from the June edition of Scientific American, if you visit their interactive site, more can be learnt about the bacteria including links to a variety of related papers.

Copyright held by Scientific American

Breast is Best for Gut Bacteria

Whilst the findings may seem consistent with our current understanding of the relationships between the gastrointestinal tracts bacterial maturation and immune functionality – the relationship between competence and breast milk, from a neonate’s immune perspective has been expanded following the publication of this study in Genome Biology.[1]

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Microbes and Us

Over the past several years, studies have revealed an astonishing diversity in our so-called microbiome. A five year project utilising researchers from around the world has been constructed to identify our mutual cohabitants that define our microbiome.[1] In Europe the MetaHIT project has pulled 8 countries and 13 academic partners together to add further data to this project.[2]

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Food and Our Bacterial Mix – Can we really change them both?

A few weeks ago (June 2012), a paper in Nature by a group of researchers suggested that despite the vast geographical and nutritional differences in the human population, that just three predominant bacterial clusters (referred to as enterotypes hereafter) could explain all of our gastric microbial mixes.[1] This they suggest indicates the existence of a limited number of well-balanced host–microbial symbiotic states that might respond differently to diet and drug intake.

Each of these three enterotypes are identifiable by the variation in the levels of one of three genera: Bacteroides (enterotype 1), Prevotella (enterotype 2) and Ruminococcus (enterotype 3). These enterotypes are not as sharply delimited as, for example, human blood groups; they are, in contrast, densely populated areas in a multidimensional space of community composition. They are nevertheless likely to characterise individuals, in line with previous reports that gut microbiota are quite stable in individuals and can even be restored after perturbation.[2]

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Bugs, Guts and Research

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.

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