So much has been written in scientific journals recently about how the loss of microbes in the gut, especially earlier in life, affects the immune system. For example, researcher Marsha Wills-Karp, at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, recently revealed how early life exposure to antibiotics is associated with a substantial increased risk for the development of asthma.
Asthma has become an epidemic in America, affecting 1 in 12 Americans and totaling around $60 billion in direct medical costs, as well as lost work and school days, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
When we are exposed to antibiotics, which may well be a necessary medical treatment, the intervention isn’t really a targeted assault on a particular offending organism. Rather, these days doctors prescribe “broad spectrum” antibiotics that are effective in wiping out a vast array of organisms, well beyond the offending agent, and this may include some of the good guys as well.
If you’ve been following the microbiome story you are likely aware of the emerging literature that squarely places gut bacteria in a pivotal position as it relates to any number of physiological processes. From regulating the balance of the immune system to determining the level of inflammation that a person may experience, it is now becoming mainstream knowledge that our gut bacteria are poised to regulate our most critical, life-supportive processes.
In Brain Maker, and certainly on this blog, I have written extensively on the important role of the microbiome in terms of regulating blood sugar and insulin sensitivity. As such, we would expect that environmental events that disrupt the gut ecology might have a causative role, or at least show correlation with type 2 diabetes.
Recall that several months ago I called attention to the interesting study from Israeli researchers in which changes to the gut bacteria brought on by exposure to artificial sweeteners were dramatically associated with increased risk for issues related to glucose regulation, insulin sensitivity, and, therefore, type II diabetes.
History provides valuable lessons. In fact, it is often said that if we aren’t sure where we have been, we will have a tough time figuring out where we are going.
I have written extensively about the current state of microbiome research, with regard to where we are in our understanding of the role of the hundred trillion microorganisms living within us play in our health, as well as our resistance to disease. Researchers around the globe are aggressively categorizing various arrays of gut organisms and studying how these organisms differ in their representation in various cultures, locations, as well as changes that are noted in correlation with disease states. Continue reading
Antibiotics can be an absolute lifesaver and they are, easily, one of the most important scientific advancements of the 20th century. However, as with all scientific advancements, there have been some recent developments that take this important discovery too far.
In drugs like Cipro and Levaquin, scientists have developed a group of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones. The liberal use of this extremely potent, wide spectrum antibiotics poses a major threat to our microbiome.
Frequently, I see members of this community write in with concerns on how taking an antibiotic may be disrupting the balance of their gut microbiome. Certainly, this is a valid concern, as even the word’s root definition troublingly means “against life.” In today’s video, find my advice for how protect the delicate balance of your microbiome while on antibiotic, the very same strategies I use when I find myself on one.
I have just finished reviewing what I believe is a seminal research article relating to the gut microbiome. The study, written by researchers in Sweden, is titled The Gut Microbiotia– Masters of Host Development and Physiology, and recently appeared in Nature Reviews Microbiology.
If you’ve been following my blog, you are no doubt aware of my keen interest in the role of the gut bacteria, the human microbiome, in the context of how these organisms relate to disease processes. Further, my new book, Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life, is focused on exploring the underlying research that relates these bacteria to various processes that can then affect the brain, as well as the various lifestyle factors that can be modified to enhance the health of these bacteria, and therefore translate into a better environment for brain health.
I can assure you, there is an abundance of research that is ongoing, exploring the powerful role of the microbiome in human illness. But what these researchers describe is the powerful relationship of the hundred trillion organisms that live within us in terms of our normal bodily function and even with the development of our organ systems. Continue reading
Last week, I pointed out the importance of lifestyle changes for health. We discussed that science shows exactly how the choices we make are influential in our health outcomes, which are never set in stone.
This week, learn about some of the lifestyle factors that may be impacting your health, which include, but go well beyond, diet and exercise. These are simple things you can begin to improve upon today!
We are not alone.
Even within the confines of the human body, each of us is colonized by more than 100 trillion microbes with whom we live symbiotically. While we provide an environment that allows these organisms to flourish, they in turn interface with all manner of our physiology, regulating fundamental processes like immunity, metabolism, inflammation, the production of vitamins and neurotransmitters and even the expression of our DNA.
Scientific exploration of these microbes, known collectively as the human microbiome, is now revealing fascinating relationships between, for example, the diversity and types of bacteria living within the gut and a vast array of disease conditions, including diabetes (both type 1 and 2), obesity, allergy, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, anxiety, depression, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, coronary artery disease, inflammatory bowel disorders, celiac disease, skin disorders, and many, many others.
The empowering part of this emerging science is the story told by Brain Maker. For it is in these pages that you will learn how simple lifestyle changes, from food choices to use of antibiotics to even birth method selection, have a profound effect upon gut bacteria, and as such, will dramatically affect your health destiny – for the better.
Antibiotics are an incredible, life-saving tool that we have in medicine. In fact, they are arguably one of the greatest medical discoveries of our time.
However, in America, we see injudicious use of antibiotics, not only in our own bodies, but in the animals that give us the food we eat. In fact, 70% of the antibiotics we use in America today are fed to livestock! Why is this something we should be worried about? Learn more in today’s video.
As a practicing neurologist, one of the most challenging conditions I deal with is peripheral neuropathy. This is a condition in which the nerves in the arms and legs are damaged, and this leads to a variety of issues including pain, numbness, weakness, tingling, and burning. Peripheral neuropathy can be a result of trauma but more commonly it is the result of metabolic problems like diabetes. Alcoholism is a common cause as well as exposure to various toxins including chemotherapy. Some cases of peripheral neuropathy are inherited and sometimes it results from vitamin deficiency, especially the B vitamins.