THE KEY TO STAYING THIN, HEALTHY, AND OUT OF PAIN
In a study published in last month's issue of the Journal of Oral Microbiology (The Commensal Microbiota and the Development of Human Disease - An Introduction), we learn that, "Humans and microorganisms, both exist in a symbiotic or mutualistic relationship. We are colonized by a diverse, resident microbiota, which develop into structurally and functionally organized biofilms. The resident microorganisms gain a secure, warm, nutritious habitat from the host and, in return, contribute to the development of many important host functions. The resident microbiota of each habitat is natural and provides important benefits for the host including immunological priming, down-regulation of excessive pro-inflammatory responses, regulation of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems, and prevention of colonization by exogenous microbes." We go on to learn that, "on occasions, this symbiotic relationship breaks down". According to the study, what are the main reasons things fall apart? "Changes in lifestyle, changes in immune status, or following broad spectrum antibiotic therapy."
Think about the implications of the last sentence above for a moment. Most of us are not only far more sedentary than our forefathers, we are FAR CLEANER as well. If you click the link, you will begin to understand how this is not necessarily a good thing. On top of that most of us are eating terrible diets. And as for ANTIBIOTICS, even those people who claim that they "DON'T TAKE MANY" are, if they aren't careful, either fooling themselves, or being exposed VIA THEIR FOOD SUPPLY (and HERE). What are the results of these changes in microbiota? Something called "DYSBIOSIS" --- too many 'bad' bacteria and not enough 'good' (sometimes Dysbiosis is simply an imbalance in the ratio of the various strains of good bacteria). The study goes on to tell us that Dysbiosis is, "associated with a number of clinical disorders such as obesity, allergy, and a variety of inflammatory diseases, including periodontal diseases."
This process of Dysbiosis starts early --- even before you are born, due to mom taking antibiotics while pregnant. Last month's issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology carried a study on this very topic called Impact of Maternal Intrapartum Antibiotics, Method of Birth and Breastfeeding on Gut Microbiota During the First Year of Life: A Prospective Cohort Study. In this study, we learned that, "Dysbiosis of the infant gut microbiota may have long-term health consequences. Intrapartum antibiotics in caesarean and vaginal delivery are associated with infant gut microbiota dysbiosis." We already knew that C-SECTIONS are bad for infant microbiota, but as we might guess, the good news is that, "breastfeeding modifies some of these effects." Note that breastfeeding is not an excuse to let doctors give mother or child Antibiotics indiscriminately, as is often the case (HERE).
On top of this, we know that giving infants antibiotics really screws them up --- often times for the rest of their lives (HERE and HERE are a couple of examples of this). A study from last month's issue of Nature Communications on psoriasis --- an AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE ---- confirms this via its title; Antibiotics in Neonatal Life Increase Murine Susceptibility to Experimental Psoriasis. Not only will you find this true with just about any of the thousands of Autoimmune Diseases you might choose to do a similar experiment on, but the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (Another Frontier in Microbiome Research: Preterm Birth) is saying that, "a woman’s vaginal microbiome during pregnancy interacts with other factors, such as obesity, inflammation, and host genetics, in relation to preterm birth." In other words, mothers who take antibiotics are putting their yet unborn infants at risk in any number of ways.
SUGAR AND LEAKY GUT SYNDROME PROPAGATE THE PROCESS
"AGEs have been implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetes-related complications and several chronic diseases via.... inflammation." Although several pathways for this are discussed in the paper, one of them is, "changes in gut microbiota profile". The authors go on to say that, "In animal models, restriction of dietary AGEs attenuates [decreases / suppresses] chronic low-grade inflammation." Great, but how do the authors of this study suggest solving the problem? Easy; LOW CARB DIETS ("dietary AGE restriction as a therapeutic strategy for the attenuation of chronic diseases..."). HERE are the reasons that I go one step further and suggest you at least think about doing a Paleo Diet if you have any sort of health or CHRONIC PAIN issues.
Interestingly enough, just last week, the journal Diabetes published the transcript of the American Diabetes Association and JDRF Research Symposium: Diabetes and the Microbiome (HERE is the complete article). Both forms of DIABETES (Type I is Autoimmune, and Type II is 100% a lifestyle issue) are associated with Gut Flora / Microbiome. Not only have I already shown you this (HERE), but this group of about 100 specialists in their field revealed what you may have already guessed. "Changes in environmental conditions, such as diet, hygiene, antibiotic use, and other medical practices, can be correlated with the growth of these diseases. Such factors may be influencing the composition and function of the microbiome in ways that significantly impact the immune and metabolic systems, contributing to the increased risk for these diseases." The truth is, much of this can be found in studies I have covered over the past several years (HERE are a bunch of them). But the hits keep coming --- and Leaky Gut Syndrome is one of the biggest and most vicious.
Despite decades of decrying the existence of LEAKY GUT SYNDROME (Increased Intestinal Permeability / Intestinal Barrier Dysfunction), the medical community at large is being forced to come to grips with this common, debilitating, and not-nearly-discussed-enough problem. Playing the "Ostrich Game" is no longer an option. Not only does the previous link reveal this, but so does brand new research from The Journal of Alternative Wackiness and Weird but Cool Natural Cures. Actually I made that up to see if you were sleeping. The August issue of Future Microbiolgy (Gut Permeability, its Interaction with Gut Microflora and Effects on Metabolic Health......) had some interesting conclusions in its abstract.
"There is evidence to link obesity (and metabolic syndrome) with alterations in gut permeability and microbiota. We propose that the gut barrier function is a primary driver in maintaining metabolic health with poor health being linked to 'gut leakiness'. This review will highlight changes in intestinal permeability and how it may change gut microflora and subsequently affect metabolic health by influencing the functioning of major bodily organs/organ systems: the lymphatic system, liver and pancreas. We also discuss the likelihood that metabolic syndrome undergoes a cyclic worsening facilitated by an increase in intestinal permeability leading to gut dysbiosis, culminating in ongoing poor health leading to further exacerbated gut leakiness."
Did you catch that? Seventy years ago, men like DR. ROYAL LEE were crucified for saying this. Just ten short years ago people like DR. GORSKI would have written a column calling you a quack, and had you investigated by the FDA. But there it is in black and white folks; a study written by seven doctors and published in one of the profession's most prestigious journals (it's Australian). It's why the natural healers of generations gone by had a simple principle for helping their patients get well with any number of chronic health issues --- Heal the Gut, Heal the Body. And in case you need any more confirmation, here it is.
The May issue of the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology (Abnormal Intestinal Permeability and Microbiota in Patients with Autoimmune Hepatitis) had some intriguing conclusions in light of everything we've learned today about LGS, Microbiome, and Autoimmunity. "Autoimmune hepatitis is associated with leaky gut and intestinal microbiome dysbiosis." No muss. No fuss. Simple and straight to the point. Isn't it interesting how your doctor just keeps running the same old tests, and telling you the same old junk --- "Sorry; we don't know what's causing your problem Mrs. Jones." --- all the while continuing to ply you with Antibiotics and NON-ANTIBIOTIC MEDS WITH ANTIBIOTIC PROPERTIES (or HERE), and never mentioning some of the dietary changes that might actually solve your problem. But then again, if you SOLVED YOUR PROBLEMS THROUGH DIET AND LIFESTYLE, a lot of people would be out of a job!
NEUROLOGICAL AND IMMUNE SYSTEM IMPLICATIONS OF POOR GUT HEALTH
"Parkinson's disease (PD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are neurodegenerative diseases with pathophysiology that may be related to the gastrointestinal tract. It is well established that tissue barriers maintain homeostasis and health. Furthermore, gut microbiota may have an impact on brain activity through the gut-microbiota-brain axis under both physiological and pathological conditions. In this review, we highlight the current knowledge regarding the role of gut microbiota and tissue barriers in PD and ALS."
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS did not fare any better in studies published in last month's issues of PLoS One and Neurologia (a Spanish journal) respectively. The first study (Role of Intestinal Microbiota in the Development of Multiple Sclerosis) stated something we already knew (see link), "Multiple sclerosis affects young adults; in that age group, it represents the second leading cause of disability in our setting. It is widely accepted to occur in genetically predisposed patients who are exposed to certain environmental factors. The discovery of the regulatory role played by intestinal microbiota in various autoimmune diseases has opened a new line of research in this field. Multiple evidence points to the role of microbiota......" This, folks, is epigenetics in action. The second (Dysbiosis in the Gut Microbiota of Patients with Multiple Sclerosis, with a Striking Depletion of Species) took this idea one step farther, revealing that the guts of people with MS are so dysbiotic that, "Correcting the dysbiosis and altered gut microbiota might deserve consideration as a potential strategy for the prevention and treatment of MS." Read this sentence again, and let the magnitude of what it is saying sink in.
There is a massive amount of research directly tying DEPRESSION to Dysbiosis (HERE is one of those studies). The latest issue of Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry (Nutritional Aspects of Depression) was frankly shocking in the stupidity of its conclusions. The abstract started by actually discussing "nutrition" ---- certain foods that are probably beneficial for those struggling with Depression, "olive oil, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, poultry, dairy and unprocessed meat." I can buy most of these (legumes and dairy are up for debate). However, the way the medical community thinks can be downright scary. A few sentences later, they tell us about some of the drugs that are showing, "a certain potential to treat depression." These include things like, "pioglitazone, metformin, exenatide, atorvastatin, gram-negative antibiotics."
In other words, even though the medical community wants to pay lip-service to nutrition, what they are really promoting in this study is not nutrition, but drugs. According to them, what you should do to treat Depression is use ANTI-DIABETIC DRUGS, STATINS, and worst of all, Antibiotics. Can we just forget about the symptoms for just a moment? How about we deal with the underlying Dysbiosis / Inflammation? All drugs --- but especially antibiotics --- foul the microbiome (see my earlier links). Sure, these drugs might make some short-term differences, but over the long haul they must, by their very nature, make the underlying cause of the Depression worse. In fact, the August issue of the medical journal Nutritional Review (Microbiota and the Gut-Brain Axis) confirms this by saying that, "alterations to the balance and content of common gut microbes may affect the production of molecules such as neurotransmitters." These would be things like SEROTONIN and DOPAMINE.
OTHER COMMON DISEASE PROCESSES ASSOCIATED WITH POOR GUT HEALTH
This next study shows us THE LINK BETWEEN GLUTEN AND AUTOIMMUNITY --- something that has been known for at least eighty years, but is rarely talked about today by treating physicians. "Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and celiac disease (CD) belong to the autoimmune disease family. Despite being separate entities they share multiple aspects. At the clinical level, celiac disease exhibits extra-intestinal rheumatic manifestations and RA gastrointestinal ones. Small bowel pathology exists in rheumatic patients. The infectious, dysbiotic and increased intestinal permeability theories, as drivers of the autoimmune cascade, apply to both diseases. A trend towards responsiveness to a gluten free diet has been observed, ameliorating celiac rheumatic manifestations..... Recently, light was shed on the interaction between host genetics and microbiota composition in relation to CD and RA susceptibility, connecting bugs and autoimmunity." Once you understand how intimately Celiac Disease and NON-CELIAC GLUTEN SENSITIVITY are related to each other, you'll start to grasp how important this concept is in your recovery (or health-maintainence) process.
Incidence of ASTHMA has exploded in industrialized areas of the world. Although there are many reasons for this, one of the biggest has to to with --- you guessed it --- poor Gut Health. Just last week, Science Translational Medicine published a study called Early Infancy Microbial and Metabolic Alterations Affect Risk of Childhood Asthma. Although the conclusions certainly aren't new (HERE), we are warned once again that, "Asthma is the most prevalent pediatric chronic disease and affects more than 300 million people worldwide. Infants at risk of asthma exhibited gut microbial dysbiosis during the first 100 days of life." The asthmatic mice in this experiment were given a very specific four-strain injection of bacteria into their Guts, which solved their problem.
There are so many studies on ALLERGIES AND MICROBIOME, I could write a book. However, I will leave you with only one (Microbiome Influences on Allergy in Mice and Humans), which was published in a recent issue of Current Opinions in Immunology. In it the authors stated, "The microbiota plays a pivotal role in the development and calibration of host immunity. Over many millennia, finely balanced interactions between the microbiota and host have evolved, imparting metabolic advantages and protection against pathogens, while restricting deleterious immune responses against innocuous antigens. Perturbations in host-microbiota crosstalk at critical developmental windows in early life may underlie allergy and chronic inflammation. In this article, we provide a summary of the development of the microbiota in early life, and describe the evidence from studies of how microbial dysbiosis in early life can alter the trajectory of immune development and provide the setting for allergic disorders in later life." Other than the fact that it touts EVOLUTION, it's a great summary of why you and your family have allergies.
Just last month, a Polish journal which I am not going to try and type, let alone pronounce, published a study called The Microbiome and Dermatological Diseases. In this study, they concluded that, "The human skin harbors hundreds of species of commensal organisms, collectively known as the skin microbiota. The composition of the microbiota can be modified by various factors, such as host genotype, diet, antibiotics, hygiene, and pathogen infections, among others. Changes in these factors can cause microbiome disruption known as dysbiosis, leading to the outgrowth of potential pathogenic bacteria or a decrease in the number of beneficial bacteria. Dysbiosis has been implicated in some dermatological diseases." This is another reason that holding your baby before you shower is a big deal. If you want more information about THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GUT HEALTH AND HEALTHY SKIN, just click the link.
There were so many studies on Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) and Gut Health that I am not going to mention any specifically. I bring it up because nearly one third of American children deal with varying degrees of this problem (I regularly dealt with this as a kid). Click the link above if you are interested, or go to PubMed and do your own research.
I actually found two different studies showing that HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (Hypertension) is intimately linked to Dysbiosis and poor Gut Health. In the first, published in Physilogical Genomics (Historical Perspective: Gut Dysbiosis and Hypertension), we learn that, "Mechanisms for hypertension other than steroid metabolism may be influenced by gut dysbiosis. A number of studies over the past 30 years (the original work in 1981) have suggested a role for the gut microbiome in the development of hypertension in rats and man." Did you catch that? Scientists have known about the High Blood Pressure / Dysbiosis link since I was in junior high. But have you heard about it before this?
The second study, published in the June issue of the American Heart Association's Journal of Hypertension (Hypertensive Patients Exhibit Gut Dysbiosis and an Increase in TH-17 Cells) is frankly shocking. Not only do we learn what we did in the previous paragraph ("these observations suggest that gut microbial dysbiosis plays a key role in Hypertension and the establishment of a systemic proinflammatory status... Thus, restoring the gut microbial balance could be a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of Hyopertension."), but it delves into the TH-17 system as well. I am not going to get into this now, but if you have any of THESE Autoimmune Disease (or any others for that matter), just remember that having a cursory understanding of the TH-17 system is critical because it regulates your body's "Self Destruct" center (CELLULAR APOPTOSIS).
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF DYSBIOSIS
HEALING A SICK GUT
Of course, PROBIOTICS are being used to treat any number of these (inflammatory) problems. Some of the specific problems mentioned in the latest peer-review includes......
- OSTEOPOROSIS: Because it is one of the myriad of problems based on Inflammation (aren't they all?), OSTEOPOROSIS is being tackled with Probiotics, as seen in the issue of Current Osteoporosis Reports that came out just last week (Prebiotic and Probiotic Regulation of Bone Health: Role of the Intestine and its Microbiome). "Bone is an organ that the gut has long been known to regulate through absorption of calcium, the key bone mineral. However, it is clear that modulation of the gut and its microbiome can affect bone density and strength in a variety of animal models and humans." Remember that Osteoporosis is an Inflammatory problem (HERE).
- H. PYLORI AND ULCERS: Another one of those 'dirty-little-secrets' that alternative practitioners have known for the better part of a century, but that mainstream is just figuring out, has to do with H. Pylori infections, which are the known cause of gastritis, stomach ulcers, and a common brand of Dysbiosis. The current issue of Heliobacter (The Effect of Probiotics on Gut Microbiota during the Helicobacter Pylori Eradication: Randomized Controlled Trial) has this to say. "Helicobacter pylori causes chronic gastritis, gastroduodenal ulcers, and gastric cancer, and has been treated with two antibiotics (amoxicillin and clarithromycin) and proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs). However, antibiotic treatment alters the indigenous gut microbiota to cause side effects [so do the PPI's]. Probiotic supplementation can reduce the antibiotic-induced alteration and imbalance of the gut microbiota composition. This effect may restrict the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the gut and improve the H. pylori eradication success rate."
- IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME: IBS is one of the more common of the Autoimmune Diseases. A study in last month's issue of the Journal of Biochemistry and Nutrition (Effect of Administering a Multi-Species Probiotic Mixture on the Changes in Fecal Microbiota and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome) said this; "A 4-week administration of multi-species probiotic mixture significantly increased the fecal concentration of most probiotic strains and improved diarrhea-symptom scores in IBS patients."
- OBESITY: Although I have talked about this one any number of times (HERE is one), there are dozens --- maybe hundreds --- of studies linking OBESITY to fouled up Gut Flora (Dysbiosis). One of the most interesting has to do with why people actually gain more weight drinking diet soda than regular soda (HERE). The July issue of EBioMedicine (Dietary Modulation of Gut Microbiota Contributes to Alleviation of Both Genetic and Simple Obesity in Children) said that, "We found that children genetically obese with Prader-Willi syndrome shared a similar dysbiosis in their gut microbiota with those having diet-related obesity. A diet rich in non-digestible but fermentable carbohydrates significantly promoted beneficial groups of bacteria and reduced toxin-producers, which contributes to the alleviation of metabolic deteriorations in obesity regardless of the primary driving forces."
This is all well and good, but the question that I realize is on everyone's mind has to do with treatment beyond Probiotics. What are people doing to dramatically improve their health other than simply taking Probiotics? I ask this because if curing chronic conditions were as easy to fix as just taking a pill (whether prescription or Probiotic) solutions would be easy. It's not, and HERE'S WHY. As you can see from the previous paragraph, there needs to be some serious change of lifestyle take place.
Numerous studies talk about how to get started with dietary changes such as the July and August issues of EBioMedicine, which published research with clever / catchy names like Getting Healthier Through Microbiome Makeover and You Lose Some, You Win Some: Weight Loss Induces Microbiota and Metabolite Shifts. The bottom line is that you had better change your diet if you want to conquer your demons.
The September issue of Current Opinions in Gastroenterology (Reciprocal Interaction of Diet and Microbiome in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases) bears this out when it says that, "long-term dietary habits have profound effects on composition and function [of the Microbiome] eventually leading to dysbiosis. The available cohort-studies establish associative relationships between microbiota changes and disease." You either eat a healthy diet, or expect to die young, while living an 'inflamed' life; suffering through your life and dying early (take the INFLAMMATION QUIZ to find out if you are inflamed).
Changing your diet is great, but it is important to make sure that you are properly feeding your good bacteria. What do they eat? The bad guys eat sugar, and the good guys live on FIBER. Research that was published just two short weeks ago in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care (Resistant Starches for the Management of Metabolic Diseases) went even farther. "Data clearly supports a role for resistant starches in improving a variety of metabolic features. The studies presented in this review offer new insights into the potential pathways by which resistant starches enhance metabolic health, including modulation of the gut microbiota, gut peptides, circulating inflammatory mediators, innate immune cells, and the bile acid cycle."
The other potential solution that I would like to suggest you do some research on is FMT (Fecal Microbiota Transplant). No; I am not advocating you DO THIS AT HOME, as that would go against my license to practice here in Missouri. Just realize that with everything you have learned about the importance of Gut Health and a sturdy and diverse Microbiome as it relates to sickness and disease should at least intrigue you just a little --- especially if you are struggling in the 'health' department.
Another of those impossible-to-spell Polish medical journals published a study a few weeks ago called Fecal Microbiota Transplantation in Gastrointestinal Diseases: What Practicing Physicians Should Know. This study revealed that, "The use of FMT for non-CDI [C. Diff] indications such as inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome, is likely to increase." That's because not only does it work, but if you look at my links above, you'll see just how safe and effective this treatment really is for a wide variety of health-related issues.
Just one short week ago, the journal Expert Review of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Fecal Microbiota Transplantation in Gastrointestinal Disease: 2015 Update and the Road Ahead) chimed in with their two cents. "At its height, the Clostridium difficile infection epidemic caused approximately 7000 infections and 300 deaths per day in the USA. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) has demonstrated extraordinary clinical resolution, C. difficile infection cure rates of over 90%, and low recurrence. In tandem with the rise of FMT, the gastrointestinal microbiome has emerged as a 'vital' organ armed with a wealth of microbe 'soldiers' more powerful than known antibiotics. FMTs' reputation has diffused into many new 'indications' yet these appear to be merely the tip of the iceberg when considering its potential applications." Forget C. Diff people. The new frontier in treatment of chronic conditions is FMT ---- something being touted by a growing segment of the scientific community in the Western world.
One more thing I want to mention further before I close --- the relationship between SCAR TISSUE (the medical community refers to this as "Fibrosis") and Inflammation (HERE is a great article for you). Although we talked today about the relationship between Gut Flora, Inflammation, and chronic organic (organ-based) health issues, we could just as easily be talking about MUSCULOSKELETAL PROBLEMS. I would bet my bottom dollar that if you did the research, you would find that dysbiotic Gut Flora is intimately related to Scar Tissue.
Again; why aren't more doctors talking about this information. After all, even though 90% of the research I wrote this post from was published in the last 6 to 8 weeks, most of it has been around long enough that doctors can no longer plead ignorance, or the fact that they don't believe in "alternative" healthcare. The excuse that, "there's not enough research," no longer rings true --- and hasn't for years; maybe decades. It's time for the medical community to remove their collective heads from the sand, wipe the grit from their eyes, and start telling their patients the truth ---- about everything --- all of it. This final study reveals why you won't see it happening any time soon.
The two week old edition of Current Opinions in Pharmacology (Neuroimmune Pharmacological Approaches) helps pull back the curtain and reveal the cold hard facts --- that the great and powerful Oz is really just a tired old man frantically working the controls of a machine that's being used for one purpose and one purpose only --- to fool people into doing his bidding. Listen to the study's fantastic abstract --- but pay special attention to the last sentence.
"Intestinal inflammation is a major health problem which impairs the quality of life, impacts mental health and is exacerbated by stress and psychiatric disturbances which, in turn, can affect disease prognosis and response to treatment. Accumulating evidence indicates that the immune system is an important interface between intestinal inflammation and the enteric, sensory, central and autonomic nervous systems. In addition, the neuroimmune interactions originating from the gastrointestinal tract are orchestrated by the gut microbiota. This article reviews some major insights into this complex homeostatic network that have been achieved during the past two years and attempts to put these advances into perspective with novel opportunities of pharmacological intervention."
Did you catch it? It's not about helping you get better. It's about the PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY and FDA creating new "interventions" --- this is secret code for 'drugs'. There's no money in educating people how to change their diet --- or having them improve to the point they are able to get off 10 of the 12 prescription meds they are on. However, there is big money in creating, marketing, and selling drugs --- especially drugs with the potential to change so many areas of one's physiology and life. As always, your health is largely up to you. TAKE THE BULL BY THE HORNS AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE --- today.