Getting into the New Year’s countdown spirit, I thought it would be fun to share my top 10 favorite health news stories of the year.EAT YOUR FIBER!!! “High-fiber diet keeps gut microbes from eating colon’s lining, protects against infection” – Researchers showed that when microbes inside the digestive system don’t get the natural fiber that they rely on for food, they begin to eat the natural layer of mucus that lines the gut, eroding it to the point where dangerous invading bacteria can infect the colon wall.
10. EAT YOUR FIBER! “High-fiber diet keeps gut microbes from eating colon’s lining, protects against infection” – Researchers showed that when microbes inside the digestive system don’t get the natural fiber that they rely on for food, they begin to eat the natural layer of mucus that lines the gut, eroding it to the point where dangerous invading bacteria can infect the colon wall. So, make eating more plant-based, high-fiber foods one of your New Year’s Resolutions!
9. More on the relationship of the gut biome to the development of Celiac disease: “Celiac Disease Causes Update: Gut Bacteria May Determine If You Get The Disease” – “Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, found that mice with the presence of bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Psa) isolated from celiac patients in their guts metabolized gluten — a protein found in grains like wheat, rye and barley — differently from mice that had been treated with Lactobacillus.” In fact, upon rereading this, I’ve been inspired to write about Celiac and the biome in the near future! 🙂
8. Research continues on searching for the connection of alterations in the microbiome to autism: “Researchers Hunt for a Link Between Microbiome and Autism”: “…kids with ASD in different families have microbiomes that are more alike than the microbiomes of non-autistic children in different families.” I only wish more progress had been made on this front, seeing as we’ve known about this since before my son was diagnosed over 20 years ago. Still – I’m always glad to see it’s still being studied.
7. Fabulous article on the relationship of the gut microbiome including both bacteria and the virome, to multiple scleroses – a really good and complete explanation of where research stands. ” Your Head or Your Gut.” I wrote about this in detail in this blog post from a couple of weeks ago.
6. There has been an amazing amount of new research this year into the importance of vitamin D in terms of autoimmunity, the biome and health. This was a particularly interesting article: “Vitamin D improves gut flora and metabolic syndrome.” A high fat diet causes negative changes to the gut flora, which, in turn, leads to a fatty liver and raised blood sugar levels. Researchers found that insufficient vitamin D deficiency aggravates this metabolic syndrome by reducing the production of something called defensins, anti-microbial molecules that are essential to maintaining healthy gut bacteria. When given synthetic defensins orally, blood sugar levels, the bacterial biome and the liver all recover. Especially in the winter months, be sure to keep tabs on your vitamin D level and supplement if necessary!
5. “Gut bacteria can aid recovery from spinal cord injury, study suggests” – Now, who would have thought that?! Research shows that that such injuries actually alter the bacterial microbiome which, in turn, exacerbates the neurological damage and impaired the ability to recover. In this study: “Mice that showed the largest changes in their gut bacteria tended to recover poorly from their injuries. Indeed, when mice were pre-treated with antibiotics to disrupt their gut microbiomes before spinal cord injury, they showed higher levels of spinal inflammation and reduced functional recovery. In contrast, when injured mice were given daily doses of probiotics to restore the levels of healthy gut bacteria, they showed less spinal damage and regained more hindlimb movement.” AMAZING!
4. Great article on the relationship of the microbiome to mental illness: “Gut feelings: How the microbiome may affect mental illness and interact with treatment.” The article summarizes a variety of studies. Two examples: a. rats were put under constant stress for 7 weeks, severely depleting their bacterial microbiome along with altering their behavior (i.e. the rats experienced a loss of pleasure and “despair-like “ behaviors. Incredibly, when the researchers transferred these depleted biomes (via FMT (fecal microbiota transplant) into non-stressed rats, within 5 days this group began to display the same negative behaviors. B. In another study, similar reductions in the bacterial microbiome were found in depressed humans and those suffering from bipolar disorder. I am absolutely sure a lot more about this connection will be published in the coming year(s).
3. Nice overview of the relationship of the loss of the human macrobiome to chronic inflammatory diseases: “Old Friends: The Promise of Parasitic Worms“: “To researchers exploring helminths, this suggests that the human-worm relationship might sometimes be something other than one-way and purely parasitic — and even potentially mutualistic and symbiotic. We host them, and, like the best of frenemies, they help us by keeping our immune system from attacking itself.” Helminths are our past and our future. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be acceptable as the medical norm at some point in the not-very-distant future.
2. The recent confirmation that Parkinson’s disease likely starts in the gut had tremendous personal meaning for me. I have two friends suffering from the disease now, which daily makes my heart ache. I look at this as good news: improving the quality of the biome may help at the very least slow down the regression. “Parkinson’s Disease May Be Traced to Gut Bacteria.” I also wrote about this recently in more detail in this blog post just last week.
And my number one story for the year…
1. “Worm Infection Counters Inflammatory Bowel Disease by Drastically Changing Gut Microbiome.” Dr. Loke and colleagues at New York University found that the presence of helminths in the gut leads to a huge increase in good, anti-inflammatory bacteria and decrease in bad, inflammatory species. More than that, they replicated this finding when they studied humans in non-industrialized settings (who had helminths) and compared their gut flora to those in urban populations (who do not have helminths). Those with helminths had markedly higher populations of anti-inflammatory gut bacteria and lower inflammatory than those individuals who were helminth-free.
And thus – my new holiday t-shirt!