Diet Plays a Key Role in Developing a Healthy Gut Microbiome
Understanding and practical modification of your gut microbiome is an important part of the future of medicine.
Nearly 15 years ago scientists believed that the Human Genome Project would find information necessary to create gene-based therapies to produce cures for most health conditions.
Many years later, science has learned that genetics are responsible for only 10% of all human disease, while the remaining 90% are triggered by environmental factors. With further research and study, science is now coming to realize the the gut microbiome is actually driving genetic expression, turning genes on and off depending upon which microbes are present in our gut.
We can improve the health of our gut microbiome, and thus may make significant changes to our health, by making small lifestyle changes.
Nary a week goes by without me reading another revelation of how our gut microbiome is intimately related to our overall health. A complete understanding of how a complex microbial community in your intestinal tract may be related to your emotions, mood, energy and neurological condition is still out of reach.
However, science knows that our GI (gastrointestinal) tract is 1 of the most complex microbial ecosystems on the Earth. The microbial community is even more complex as it is unique to each one of us, based on diet, geographical location, chemical exposure, hygiene and other environmental factors.
It is becoming very clear that a negative impact on gut flora from antibiotics, toxic chemicals, sugars and other toxic food products is a primary risk factor in the rising rates of disease.
In fact, a modern lifestyle is depleting the gut microbiome and raising the risk of developing long-term chronic or fatal illnesses.
Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) usually causes debilitating symptoms.
Sufferers may experience unrelenting fatigue, no matter how much rest they get, along with pain and inflammation throughout the body. Without an ability to pinpoint an exact cause, many physicians in the past attributed the condition to a psychological origin, leaving patients without real hope for improvement.
Not until the 1980’s that the condition received an official name, and only recently did researchers discover biological markers in microbes through serial sequencing of bacterial RNA that indicate differences between healthy individuals and those with CFS/ME.
Researchers from Columbia University undertook the 1st study to investigate a relationship between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and CFS/ME, as up to 90 percent of people with CFS/ME have IBS.
50 participants were recruited and matched with 50 healthy control participants.
Stool and blood samples were taken from each, looking for bacterial species and immune molecules. The bacterial colonies in people who suffer from CFS/ME were distinctly different from healthy controls.
The levels of different bacteria also changed based on the type and severity of symptoms experienced.
The 1st study to link CFS/ME with IBS, it builds on a previous trial that demonstrated 80% with CFS/ME could be diagnosed based on their gut bacteria.
Our gut health is tied to more than energy production at the cellular level and the immune system. Gut microbiome may also play a significant role in the development of some neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s affects nearly 500,000 people in the US alone.
It is a neurodegenerative disease that is unique to each individual.
According to a new study released in Neurology, Parkinson’s disease may start in the gut and travel to the brain via the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve and the longest nerve in your body, extending through the neck and into your abdomen. It has the widest distribution of both sensory and motor fibers. The study participants previously had a resection of their vagus nerve, often performed in people who suffer from ulcers to reduce the amount of acid secretion and the potential for peptic ulcers.
Using the national registry in Sweden, researchers compared nearly 10,000 people who had a vagotomy against the records of over 375,000 who had not undergone the surgery. Although the researchers did not find a difference in the gross number of people who developed Parkinson’s between the groups, after delving further they discovered something different.
People who had a truncal vagotomy, in which the trunk of the nerve is fully resected, as opposed to a selective vagotomy, had a 40% lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The scientists adjusted for external factors, such as diabetes, arthritis, obstructive pulmonary disease and other health conditions.
According to study author and PhDstudent Bojing Liu of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden: “These results provide preliminary evidence that Parkinson’s disease may start in the gut. Other evidence for this hypothesis is that people with Parkinson’s disease often have gastrointestinal problems such as constipation that can start decades before they develop the disease.
In addition, other studies have shown that people who will later develop Parkinson’s disease have a protein believed to play a key role in Parkinson’s disease in their gut. Much more research is needed to test this theory and to help us understand the role this may play in the development of Parkinson’s.”
As well as potentially triggering Parkinson’s disease, it appears that bacteria in the gut, specifically H. pylori, may also affect the absorption of 1 of the primary drugs used to control muscle fluctuations in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Research identified H. pylori as a specific bacteria common to patients with the disease, and which impeded treatment.
Each of these conditions exert extensive effects on health and life.
CFS/ME is usually a diagnosis of exclusion, or ruling out all other illnesses that may mimic the symptoms of CFS/ME before suggesting CFS/ME may be the issue. Symptoms of the condition affect your ability to work, maintain your home and interact with family and friends.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that usually starts with motor or movement problems, such as uncontrollable tremors in your hand when it is at rest. As the symptoms progress you may notice slowness and stiffness coupled with a soft voice and fewer facial expressions.
Over time, other symptoms become evident as the disease progresses.
These may include balance and gait unsteadiness resulting in falls, difficulty swallowing, cognitive loss and thinking/memory/behavior changes. Some individuals ind the benefits from medication wear off more quickly.
Although unrelated, CFS/ME and Parkinson’s are both linked to the complex bacterial community residing in the human gut, and a Key link between the 2 conditions may be leaky gut, resulting from bacteria entering the blood as the intestinal walls become more permeable.
Diet plays a crucial role here.
Research has demonstrated that gluten stimulates a protein in your gut called zonulin, which triggers the opening of these cellular junctures, in essence making your gut permeable enough for food particles and foreign molecules to enter the bloodstream, where they can trigger inflammation and immune reactions, increasing your risk for a variety of autoimmune disorders.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively