In my last post, I wrote about personalized nutrition based on the composition of the gut flora. That is, your gut flora dictates which foods tend to be healthier for you. In that same vein, I spotted an article this morning entitled “Healthy Diet? That Depends on Your Genes.”[i] The study of how our genes interact with food is called nutrigenomics: “Based on one’s ancestry, clinicians may one day tailor each person’s diet to her or his genome to improve health and prevent disease.”
So while I’m still rattling on about amazing medical advances of the future, I thought I should also mention a 2nd article[ii] I found on another important, and related, topic. It turns out that the same way various gut bacteria differently metabolize food, so too do they differently metabolize medications. As we all know, people respond very differently to the same treatments. A couple of months ago, there was a lot in the media about how gut bacteria determine response to cancer medicines.
Then last week, I read that the same goes for treatments for inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers from MIT and Harvard noticed that those with similar microbiomes responded to an antibody-based drug while those with different microbiome profiles did not. “The findings showed that doctors may be able to predict the efficacy of treatments for IBD before they’re even prescribed, all on the basis of analyzing the microbial population of the patient’s gut.”
It will be quite some time, of course, before we have the data necessary to make microbiome analysis before selecting a treatment the norm, but still – it’s something to look forward to, I think.
By the way, remember my days (and days and days…) of raving and ranting about Dr. Mercola’s claim that helminths are an unnecessary and undesirable risk? One of the researchers involved in this study, commenting on why this type of research is so important, points out that, “… the therapy for IBD is still not optimized, even though there are different medications…. The success rate is still not as good as we’d like — probably only 45 to 55 percent have achieved remission on their current medications. Efficacy for medications is still not optimized yet.”
I reckon that the 50% of people who do not respond to medications might want to keep their options open.