Feeding Gut Microbiota: Nutrition & Probiotics Are Key Factors For Digestive Health

“Diet is a central issue when it comes to preserving our gastrointestinal health, because by eating and digesting we literally feed our gut microbiota, and thus influence its diversity and composition,” says the distinguished microbiota expert Professor Francisco Guarner (University Hospital Valld’Hebron, Barcelona, Spain).

If this balance is disturbed, it might result in a number of disorders, including functional bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel diseases and other immune mediated diseases, such as coeliac disease and certain allergies. Also, metabolic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, and perhaps even behavioural disorders, such as autism and depression, can be linked to gut microbial imbalances. Although a disrupted microbial equilibrium can have many causes — infectious pathogens or use of antibiotics among them — the role of our daily food and lifestyle is crucial. Thus, the maintenance of our gastrointestinal health is to a considerable extent in our own hands.

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Garlic Counteracts Virulent Bacteria

Garlic has long been recognised as a malodorous but important medical plant with a wide range of health supporting properties. Until recently when Turmeric overtook it, it had the greatest number of research papers in PubMed for a food derived health supporting ingredient. In relation to its content of small molecule chemistry, garlic not only has antibacterial properties; it has antiviral, antifungal and antiprotozoal properties as well, and it has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems.[1]

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Antony Haynes – Auto Immunity 2 (November 2013)

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Vitamins Prime Immunity

Whilst the recognition has existed for many years that deficiency in nutrients and vitamins compromises immune function, some gaps have existed in our understanding.

Whilst I have covered the role of the lipid soluble vitamins A and D in various articles in terms of their immune modulating effects, a research paper out in the Nov 2012 Journal, Nature helps to expand some of the relationships between certain B vitamins and immune functionality.[1]

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Faecal Transplant (FT) and IBD

I have explored the role of appropriate transplantation in the resolution of MRSA infection that fails to resolve with antibiotic therapy, and have intimated that other conditions of the bowel and linked tissues may also benefit. The model is: that loss of mucosal tolerance underlies the pathology of inflammatory bowel disease and is also linked to irritable bowel syndrome. These altered states of function reflect a combination of environmental, genetic and emotional events that coalesce into a wide range of conditions.

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What Are The Immunological Implications of Excess Body Mass?

A provocative article published in Nature Immunology[1] identifies the abject failure of public health’s policy of targeting diet and lifestyle changes in the reversal of the obesity epidemic. They also identify that obesity is a pro inflammatory state and as such promotes many of the chronic non infectious diseases and weakens immune resistance to infections that contribute to early death.

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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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You AhR What You Eat: Linking Diet and Immunity.

Researchers reporting in the journal Cell[1] on October 13th, in the journal Science[2] on Oct 27th and Nature Reviews Immunology[3] earlier in the year are among the first to describe a mechanistic link between dietary compounds and intestinal immune function.

These scientists have found another good reason to eat your green vegetables, although it may or may not win any arguments with kids at the dinner table. It relies on a complex application of immunology and systems biology, the sort of quandary we all love to try and summarise in a few easy sentences whilst becoming lost in a sea of complexity.

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Mega Dose Vit D – Really?

Vitamin D supplementation, and what levels to use are common discussions amongst Nutritional Therapists. I have written a number of commentaries and reviews on this subject over the last couple of years and a recent paper published in the Journal: Joint Bone Spine presents a very interesting take on mega supplementation to restore Vit D status.[1]

Rather than looking at the results as a directive for vigorous upfront Vit D supplementation, as there are obvious considerations that make this as a universal approach very questionable, it remains clinically relevant, and may provide a degree of confidence. What is of greater interest is the rapidly declining levels of serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25OHD) after the first month and the differences noted in the weight of the patient.

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The Appendix – Why We Need It

The term vestigial organ is used to describe tissues that are typically in a degenerate, atrophied, or rudimentary condition, and the appendix has long been characterised as such a tissue. The work of Dr’s William Parker and Randall Bollinger have raised a number of interesting observations that indicate this tissue should be given an updated and relevant title.

To coin a phrase it is a ‘reservoir of dogs bacteria’, providing a safe repository or bank of bacterial species able to re-colonise in the event of a traumatic disruption of the microbial mix, such as that experienced after diahorrea or antibiotic use.[1]

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