Jump to content

Gut feelings

Recommended Posts

Whilst it seems to some that we are a unique species with our own deity for those who believe we are of the animal kingdom this, at a very fundamental level [ : ) ] shows we are part of the ecosystem.

On an interesting medical matter:


...... A healthy adult human harbours some 100 trillion bacteria in his gut alone. That is ten times as many bacterial cells as he has cells descended from the sperm and egg of his parents. These bugs, moreover, are diverse. Egg and sperm provide about 23,000 different genes. The microbiome, as the body’s commensal bacteria are collectively known, is reckoned to have around 3m. Admittedly, many of those millions are variations on common themes, but equally many are not, and even the number of those that are adds something to the body’s genetic mix.

And it really is a system, for evolution has aligned the interests of host and bugs. In exchange for raw materials and shelter the microbes that live in and on people feed and protect their hosts, and are thus integral to that host’s well-being. Neither wishes the other harm. In bad times, though, this alignment of interest can break down. Then, the microbiome may misbehave in ways which cause disease.

............ Another intervention, though, allows entire bacterial ecosystems to be transferred from one gut to another. This is the transplanting of a small amount of faeces. Mark Mellow of the Baptist Medical Centre in Oklahoma City uses such faecal transplants to treat infections of Clostridium difficile, a bug that causes severe diarrhoea and other symptoms, particularly among patients already in hospital.

According to America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, C. difficile kills 14,000 people a year in America alone. The reason is that many strains are resistant to common antibiotics. That requires wheeling out the heavy artillery of the field, drugs such as vancomycin and metronidazole. These also kill most of the patient’s gut microbiome. If they do this while not killing off the C. difficile, it can return with a vengeance.

Dr Mellow has found that treating patients with an enema containing faeces from a healthy individual often does the trick. The new bugs multiply rapidly and take over the lower intestine, driving C. difficile away. Last year he and his colleagues announced they had performed this procedure on 77 patients in five hospitals, with an initial success rate of 91%. Moreover, when the seven who did not respond were given a second course of treatment, six were cured. Though faecal transplantation for C. difficile has still to undergo a formal clinical trial, with a proper control group, it looks a promising (and cheap) answer to a serious threat.

Perhaps the most striking claim, however, for links between the microbiome and human health has to do with the brain. It has been known for a long time that people with autism generally have intestinal problems as well, and that these are often coupled with abnormal microbiomes. In particular, their guts are rich in species of Clostridia. This may be crucial to their condition."

A long article well worth reading, it covers in passing, curing diabetes and IBS benefits ...and more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Must be all the rage for journalists:


The benefits of breast milk have long been appreciated, but now scientists have found yet another reason why mother's should try and use their own milk rather than formula.

A team at Duke University Medical Center found newborns fed breast milk develop a healthier gut compared to those on infant formula.

This is because lab tests revealed a mother's milk fosters unique colonies of microbiotic flora that aid nutrient absorption and boost immune system development.

Study leader Dr William Parker, said: 'This study is the first we know of that examines the effects of infant nutrition on the way that bacteria grow, providing insight to the mechanisms underlying the benefits of breast feeding over formula feeding for newborns.

'Only breast milk appears to promote a healthy colonization of beneficial biofilms, and these insights suggest there may be potential approaches for developing substitutes that more closely mimic those benefits in cases where breast milk cannot be provided.'

Earlier studies have shown that breast milk lowers the incidence of diarrhoea, influenza and respiratory infections during infancy. It also protects against the later development of allergies, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other illnesses.

As scientists have learned more about the role intestinal flora plays in health, they have gained appreciation for how an infant's early diet can affect this beneficial microbial universe.

In their study, the Duke researchers grew bacteria in samples of infant formulas, cow's milk and breast milk.

The samples were incubated with two strains of E. coli bacteria – necessary early inhabitants of the gut that are helpful cousins to the dangerous organisms associated with food poisoning.

Within minutes, the bacteria began multiplying in all of the specimens, but there was an immediate difference in the way the bacteria grew. In the breast milk, bacteria stuck together to form biofilms - thin, adherent layers of bacteria that serve as a shield against pathogens and infections.

Bacteria in the infant formula and cow's milk proliferated but it did not aggregate to form a protective barrier.

Dr Parker said: 'Knowing how breast milk conveys its benefits could help in the development of infant formulas that better mimic nature.

'This could have a long-lasting effect on the health of infants who, for many reasons, may not get mother's milk.'

The Department of Health recommend mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least six months. Figures released last year revealed 81 per cent of mothers start breastfeeding, however over half have quit by the time their baby is six weeks. Just one in five continue to six months.

Cracked nipples, infections such as mastitis and problems getting a baby to latch on can all hinder breastfeeding.

Dr Gabriela Panayotti, from Duke, said: 'This study adds even more weight to an already large body of evidence that breast milk is the most nutritious way to feed a baby whenever possible.

'We know that babies who receive breast milk have better outcomes in many ways, and mother who breast feed also have improved health outcomes, including decreased risks of cancer. Whenever possible, promoting breast feeding is the absolute best option for mom and baby.'

The findings have been published in the August issue of the journal Current Nutrition & Food Science

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And curiously running on from the use of antibiotics in animals to increase catlle and pig wieght you may not be surprised totally to find other mammals like humans also gain weight.


And the article goes on to fundamental treatment.

It’s been known since the 1950s that feeding low doses of antibiotics to livestock increases their weight gain. The practice, dubbed subtherapeutic antibiotic therapy (STAT), lowers feed costs while increasing meat production. Nearly 80 percent of the antibiotics purchased in the United States are used for this purpose.


Data has supported this hypothesis since a 1955 study in which antibiotics and placebos were given to three groups of Navy recruits. The placebo group showed the least weight gain, significantly lagging behind the two groups given different antibiotics. In general, the rates of obesity have risen with antibiotic use since their discovery, but as they say in science, correlation does not equal causation. Recent research, however, is turning up evidence that this correlation might not be a coincidence. The basic idea is that bacteria alter the body’s microbial communities, also known as the microbiome, and this disruption changes the way our bodies metabolize and store food.


Is it just possible that the obesity epidemic is more than just over-eating. Why some people can stay thin whilst others matching the eating habits just grow. Thought provoking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it just possible that the obesity epidemic is more than just over-eating. Why some people can stay thin whilst others matching the eating habits just grow. Thought provoking.

I imagine that the obesity epidemic has more than one cause. Whether antibiotics fed to food animals survives cooking and is a contributing factor is a question worth investigating. But there are already ample other reasons to justify a sharp reduction in their use for the purpose of fattening food animals. Creating strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria that are capable of then infecting humans should alone scream a warning to us.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Unfortunately, your content contains terms that we do not allow. Please edit your content to remove the highlighted words below.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...