How Effective Are Probiotics
Researchers are currently unsure how effective probiotic supplements are for treating conditions. Theres constant research on the topic. While many research studies have had positive results on the impact of probiotic supplements, more research is still needed.
Its also important to keep in mind that unlike medications, dietary supplements do not need to be approved by the FDA. This means that manufacturers can sell supplements simply with claims of safety and effectiveness.
Always talk with your healthcare provider before taking a supplement or giving one to your child. Supplements might interfere with medicines you may be taking. If you are pregnant or breast feeding, check with your provider before taking any supplement.
Obesity And Metabolic Syndrome
The gut flora has also been implicated in obesity and metabolic syndrome due to the key role it plays in the digestive process; the Western pattern diet appears to drive and maintain changes in the gut flora that in turn change how much energy is derived from food and how that energy is used. One aspect of a healthy diet that is often lacking in the Western-pattern diet is fiber and other complex carbohydrates that a healthy gut flora require flourishing; changes to gut flora in response to a Western-pattern diet appear to increase the amount of energy generated by the gut flora which may contribute to obesity and metabolic syndrome. There is also evidence that microbiota influence eating behaviours based on the preferences of the microbiota, which can lead to the host consuming more food eventually resulting in obesity. It has generally been observed that with higher gut microbiome diversity, the microbiota will spend energy and resources on competing with other microbiota and less on manipulating the host. The opposite is seen with lower gut microbiome diversity, and these microbiotas may work together to create host food cravings.
Just as gut flora can function in a feedback loop that can drive the development of obesity, there is evidence that restricting intake of calories can drive changes to the composition of the gut flora.
What Does The Gut Microbiome Do
The gut microbiome has a number of jobs, including:
; extracting nutrients from food
; digesting fiber and proteins from food
; making vitamins B and K
; shaping the immune system
; protecting the body from pathogens
One key job the gut microbiome performs is to digest fiber from the food you eat, as your body cant digest fiber on its own.
Your microbes turn fiber into molecules, or metabolites, such as short-chain fatty acids .
These metabolites are important for a range of things, including gut health, blood sugar and blood fat control, appetite control, and the immune system.
Gut microbes can also digest protein and make B vitamins and vitamin K.
Researchers estimate that your gut microbiome can produce thousands of different metabolites.
Studies in mice have shown that animals lacking a microbiome dont develop a normal immune system, highlighting how crucial your gut microbes are.
They work together with your immune cells to protect you from infection and disease.
Your microbes also stop the growth of pathogens in your gut. They do this by competing for the space, maintaining the health of the intestinal barrier, and by producing molecules that kill invading pathogens.
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What Are Gut Bacteria
Living inside of your gut are 300 to 500 different kinds of bacteria containing nearly 2 million genes. Paired with other tiny organisms like viruses and fungi, they make whatâs known as the microbiota, or the microbiome.
Like a fingerprint, each person’s microbiota is unique: The mix of bacteria in your body is different from everyone else’s mix. Itâs determined partly by your motherâs microbiota — the environment that youâre exposed to at birth — and partly from your diet and lifestyle.
The bacteria live throughout your body, but the ones in your gut may have the biggest impact on your well-being. They line your entire digestive system. Most live in your intestines and colon. They affect everything from your metabolism to your mood to your immune system.
Beneficial Harmful And Opportunistic Bacteria
Typical intestinal bacteria are classified according to their actions into three types.
Good bacteria have health maintenance and anti-aging effects such as aiding digestion and absorption, and stimulating immunity.
Representative examples are bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria.
In contrast, bad bacteria have adverse effects on the body. Representative examples include Clostridium perfringens, Staphylococcus, and Escherichia coli . They inhibit health by triggering disease and promoting aging.Opportunistic bacteria cause no trouble when you are healthy, but have adverse effects upon the intestines when the body is weak. Representative examples include Bacteroidetes, E. coli , and Streptococcus.
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What Sorts Of Foods Compromise Your Microbiome
Whitney Tingle and Danielle DuBoise, co-founders and co-CEOs of organic meal delivery service Sakara Life, built their brand with the intention to deliver whole-food, plant-based options that promote a healthy mind-body connection through the gut. Although Tingle tells us Sakara Life doesnât believe in vilifying foods per se, anything that doesnât support the growth of good bacteriaprocessed foods that dehydrate the colon, therefore inviting harmful pathogens and sugar-loving bacteria to thriveshouldnât make up the majority of your diet. Think alcohol, foods sweetened with artificial sugars, red meat, and saturated fats.
âThe incredible thing about our bodies, is that the more you eat for your gut through high quality, diverse array of organic plants, the more your body can handle and acclimate to those days when French fries and dirty martinis are on the menu,â Tingle says. Remember, everything in moderation is key.
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Detox Your Microbiome: A Two
Although science likes to draw conclusions through cause and effect, the reality is that most things influence one another in a bidirectional way. This means that A influences B, and vice versa that B influences A. In the case of the impact of toxins and the human biome, there is indeed a reciprocal influence from one onto the other.
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How Safe Are Probiotics
Because microbes used as probiotics already exist naturally in your body, probiotic foods and supplements are generally considered safe. They may trigger allergic reactions, and may also cause mild stomach upset, diarrhea, or flatulence and bloating for the first few days after starting to take them.
There are certain people who need to use caution when using probiotic supplements. There is a risk of infection in some people. These people include those who have:
- A weakened immune system .
- A critical illness.
Caution should also be used when giving probiotics to very sick infants.
Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a probiotic supplement.
Gut Microbiome And Diseases
External factors and host factors can induce dysbiosis in gut microbiome. Dysbiosis is likely to impair the normal functioning of gut microbiota in maintaining host wellness, and potentially induce selective-enumeration of certain microbiota member including pathobionts, leading to dysregulated production of microbial-derived products or metabolites which might be harmful to the host, causing diverse range of diseases on local, systemic or remote organ , with some of the notable diseases, along with their respective microbiome-based therapy being discussed as below.
TABLE 3. Gut microbiome-associated human diseases and their respective dysbiotic features.
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How Do Antibiotics Impact The Gut Health
As the name suggests, antibiotics are anti-bacterial. Unfortunately, they cannot differentiate between the harmful pathogens and good bacteria.
They kill off both infection-causing harmful bacteria and the friendly gut bacteria, you would rather leave alone. Antibiotics kill bacteria by blocking vital processes in them to stop them from multiplying.
When antibiotics kill the bacteria that belong in your gut, it creates a state of dysbiosis. This refers to a condition where the delicate ecosystem in your gut is disrupted.
Your gut becomes susceptible to overgrowth of other organisms, like yeast when the levels of good bacteria drop. Yeast is opportunistic and if given a chance, will thrive and grow, especially when it gets its favorite food sugar.
The best case scenario would be gas and diarrhea, also called antibiotic associated diarrhea, for a few a days. However, in sometimes it may get so bad as to cause a severe shift in your gut microbiome.
This can lead to a number of digestive issues like, acid reflux, mal-absorption, anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, acne, autoimmune diseases, brain fog, and candida overgrowth among others.
Fortunately, you do not have to suffer all these and wait for your gut flora to bounce back.
Why Is The Gut Microbiome Important For Your Health
Scientists have found over 1,000 different species of bacteria in gut microbiome samples, although each individual only has around 160 of these species in their gut.
Three phyla or groups of bacteria make up the most abundant members of the gut microbiome.
; Bacteroidetes, including Prevotella
; Actinobacteria, including Bifidobacterium
The precise mix of microbes in your gut directly influences your health. This is because some microbes are beneficial and others harmful.
Tipping the balance in favor of harmful species can contribute to a number of health conditions, including obesity and autoimmune diseases.
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Microorganisms And Our Health
While the term microorganism refers to all types of microbes, we are going to focus primarily on bacteria in this article. When we think about the bacteria that colonize our intestinal tract, we typically sort them into two categories: beneficial strains of bacteria , including those in the genera Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, and potential disease-causing strains of bacteria , including Escherichia coli and;Clostridioides difficile. While its actually much more complex than this, it is an easy way to denote which bacteria will generally improve our health or harm us. Beneficial bacteria keep pathogens in check and offer many health benefits. Disease-causing bacteria release proteins and toxic byproducts that can cause infection and harmful symptoms such as diarrhea. Some, such as Helicobacter pylori,; can be both beneficial in certain quantities and harmful in other quantities.3
The balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria is important for maintaining health. Several factors can upset this balance, including diet, stress, and medications, particularly antibiotics. Adding prebiotics to the diet and taking probiotics changes the microbial population and their activity, fortifying the number of good bacteria in the gut. An increase in good bacteria can also help limit the number of harmful bacteria, since they compete for food sources and adhesion sites on the intestinal mucosa.
How Modern Life Impacts The Gut
Modern society has given us so many wonderful things, but healthy gut microbiomes is not one of them.
In Part 1, I discussed what the gut microbiome is, how we acquire it, and why its so important to overall health. In Part 2, we will look at the ways that our modern life can be harmful to the healthy balance of the microbiome. Many of the foods, chemicals, medications, lifestyle choices and behaviours that are commonplace in our society are damaging to healthy microflora populations. Sadly, research around the gut microbiome, human health and the impacts of modern life has only recently begun to catch up well after a lot of the damage has been done. Its not all bad news with the information from part 2 and the upcoming part 3, you will be empowered to make better decisions for your gut.
What disrupts the gut microbiome?
It simply cant be understated how much modern life has harmed the human gut microbiome. As a naturopath, I see my fair share of patients with blatant gut issues but more and more, I am seeing all manner of body systems and symptoms that are being impacted by a damaged gut microbiome.
Antibiotics and other medications
Other medications can wreak havoc on the gut microbiome, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers, the oral contraceptive pill, anti-diabetes drugs, and anti-psychotic drugs.
Infectionsand the gut microbiome
Other modern factors that disrupt the gut microbiome:
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Direct Inhibition Of Pathogens
The gut flora community plays a direct role in defending against pathogens by fully colonising the space, making use of all available nutrients, and by secreting compounds that kill or inhibit unwelcome organisms that would compete for nutrients with it, these compounds are known as cytokines. Different strains of gut bacteria cause the production of different cytokines. Cytokines are chemical compounds produced by our immune system for initiating the inflammatory response against infections. Disruption of the gut flora allows competing organisms like Clostridium difficile to become established that otherwise are kept in abeyance.
Why Is Gut Health Important
The complex colony of organisms that live in the gut can affect virtually every aspect of health. Researchers are only beginning to understand the gut microbiomes far reaching effects.
When the body does not have the right balance of bacteria, certain organisms can grow out of control, impacting on fungal and other infections. For example, a person who takes antibiotics may experience changes in their gut bacteria that make them more vulnerable to yeast infections.
So far, research suggests that gut health
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They Have Been Linked To Obesity And Several Diseases
Artificial sweeteners are often recommended as a sugar substitute for people who are trying to lose weight .
However, questions have been raised about their effects on weight.
In particular, some people have noted a link between artificial sweetener consumption and an increased risk of obesity, as well as other conditions like stroke, dementia and type 2 diabetes (
Artificial sweeteners are often used by people who are trying to lose weight.
However, some people have suggested that artificial sweeteners may actually be linked to weight gain .
So far, human studies have found conflicting results. Some observational studies have linked eating artificial sweeteners to an increase in body mass index , while others have linked it to a modest decrease in BMI .
Results from experimental studies have also been mixed. Overall, replacing high-calorie foods and sugar-sweetened beverages with ones containing artificial sweeteners seems to have a beneficial effect on BMI and weight .
However, a recent review couldnt find any clear benefit of artificial sweeteners on weight, so more long-term studies are needed .
Other Ways To Change Gut Bacteria
There may be other ways to change your gut microbiome and treat things tied to its balance. For example, fecal transplants change your gut bacteria to treat things like;C. diff;and ulcerative colitis. A device called deep transcranial magnetic stimulation uses a coil put on the scalp to stimulate the brain and change gut bacteria. It shows promise for treating obesity.
9) Jose Luis Pelaez Inc. / Thinkstock
11) AntonioGuillem / Thinkstock
12) ; olgakr / Thinkstock, skyjo / Thinkstock, MartinFredy / Thinkstock
UConn Today: How Bactera Keep Us Healthy.
Integrative Medicine: A Clinicians Journal: Part 1: The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease.
ACP Microbe Institute: Microbe Magic, The Good Bacteria.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Prebiotics and Probiotics: Creating a Healthier You.
Crohns & Colitis Foundation: Gut Microbiome Points To Cures and Treatment for IBD.
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: Gut Bacteria and IBS.
Cleveland Clinic: How Gut Bacteria May Help Curb Your Heart Disease.
University of California, Los Angeles: Changing Gut Bacteria Through Diet Affects Brain Function, UCLA Study Shows.
Journal of Neuroscience: Gut Microbes and the Brain: Paradigm Shift in Neuroscience.
Endocrine Society: Magnetic Brain Stimulation Causes Weight Loss By Making Gut Bacteria Healthier.
Mayo Clinic: What Are Probiotics?
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How Do Probiotics Work
The main job of probiotics, or good bacteria, is to maintain a healthy balance in your body. Think of it as keeping your body in neutral. When you are sick, bad bacteria enters your body and increases in number. This knocks your body out of balance. Good bacteria works to fight off the bad bacteria and restore the balance within your body, making you feel better.
Good bacteria keeps you healthy by supporting your immune function and controlling inflammation. Certain types of good bacteria can also:
- Help your body digest food.
- Keep bad bacteria from getting out of control and making you sick.
- Create vitamins.
- Help support the cells that line your gut to prevent bad bacteria that you may have consumed from entering your blood.
- Breakdown and absorb medications.
This balancing act is naturally happening in your body all of the time. You dont actually need to take probiotic supplements to make it happen. Good bacteria is just a natural part of your body. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in fiber every day helps to keep the number of good bacteria at proper levels.
Behavioural Changes Are Likely To Be A By
A recent paper titled ‘Why does the microbiome affect behaviour?’ examined the theory that the gut microbiome has evolved to manipulate its human host for its own success, much like parasites, by making the host more sociable in order to be transmitted.
The paper argued, however, that this theory is unlikely, and behavioural changes are likely to be a by-product of processes that help microorganisms grow and compete in the gut, such as fermentation.
“The gut microbiome is so diverse that, even if there was a type of bacteria producing active chemicals to manipulate our behaviour, this bacteria would quickly be outcompeted by other bacteria not investing any extra energy to produce the compound,” says Johnson, one of the paper’s authors.
Science has not yet defined what a healthy microbiome looks like, and a conclusion appears some way off yet. But there is growing consensus that environmental factors, such as diet and antibiotics, affect our microbiome more than our genes, and that a more diverse microbiome is better for us.
“While we can change our microbiome with our diet, they seem to have a set point to which they often return after a temporary disturbance,” says Johnson. “But one thing we can do is eat more fibre, to increase the diversity of the gut, which is frequently associated with health.”
While there have been many advancements within microbiome research in recent years, there also remain some challenges.
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