Scientists researching the human gastrointestinal tract’s microorganisms continue to find significant connections between the gut and patients’ overall health.
The gut microbiome, which is the name for these microorganisms, has inspired many studies as researchers continue to understand their impact on everything from brain disorders to joint pain.
While initial studies linking the gut microbiome to cognitive function showed connections, those studies used animal experiments and small clinical studies. On a larger scale, scientists examining the gut microbiome’s relationship to cognitive function recruited middle-aged participants from another study in four U.S. metropolitan areas.
Previous studies looking at connections between the gut microbiome and cognitive function found links for short-chain fatty acids produced in the microbiota to influence cognitive health.
Small-scale human studies also showed associations between the gut microbiome and cognition, including improvements when comparing controls to people treated with probiotics to increase their gut microbiome.
The Newest Results
In scientists’ newest study, they analyzed the cognitive function and microbiomes of 597 participants between 48 and 60 years old, with a mean age of 55. The study focused on participants’ gut microbiome diversity in connection with six cognitive tests.
The studies concluded a significant association between participants’ microbial composition and cognitive function. All of the conclusions drawn were in line with the previous small-scale human studies and animal studies.
While researchers carefully note that this study needs replication in larger human samples, some of the initial findings support short-chain fatty acids playing an instrumental role in regulating the interaction between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis.
Short-chain fatty acids are one of the main byproducts of the microbiome and may have neuroactive properties.
Animal studies found short-chain fatty acids protecting the brain against vascular dementia and cognitive impairment. Recent results support a strong connection between nutrition, microbiome composition, and cognitive function.
Beans really might be a magical fruit. Recent studies find beans to be nutritional powerhouses rich in fiber, resistant starch, and plant protein. Adding beans to your diet promotes weight loss, insulin sensitivity, and cardiovascular health.
However, the power of a tiny bean may be even more impressive than previously thought. New studies on the body’s gut microbiome reveal that this internal ecosystem may affect our overall health in significant ways and that beans may be the key to unlocking its powers.
The Gut Microbiome
The human body’s microbiome is a collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and microorganisms that live throughout the body’s surfaces, like the skin and the digestive tract. However, most of the microbiome lives in the gut, which contains over 1,000 species of bacteria and trillions of organisms.
The gut microbiome produces vitamins, develops immune responses, and enhances the benefits of food. For instance, the gut microbiome converts dietary fiber and resistant starch into short-chain fatty acids that protect the intestines’ cells and regulate metabolism.
How Do Beans Help Gut Health?
The large intestine’s bacteria rely on prebiotics to survive. Prebiotics serves as food for gut bacteria. When your body isn’t getting enough prebiotics through your diet, the gut bacteria need to find new food, which ends up being the immune defense on the surface of the intestinal lining.
While all plants contain probiotics, beans, which are full of fiber and resistant starch, are especially rich in prebiotics. In addition, beans’ ability to nourish the gut microbiome and promote short-chain fatty acids production helps kick your immune system into gear.
Additionally, as studies dig deeper into the species of bacteria living in the gut microbiome, researchers have discovered that people with multiple sclerosis lack a bacteria that breaks down isoflavones. This nutrient is also highly prevalent in beans.
As new studies into the gut microbiome find connections between chronic conditions and the foods and nutrients that offer potential remedies, beans may be a powerful tool in improving your overall health.
You may have heard about chia seeds being a “superfood,” but dismissed the idea as one more food fad that will soon disappear. Chia seeds have been an important source of nutrition for indigenous populations for hundreds of years.
Today, chia is considered to be a valuable ancient grain that is enjoying a comeback due to its high levels of nutrition.
What’s in a Chia Seed?
It’s hard to believe that something so small could be packed with so much nutrition, but it’s true. While you may still need high-quality supplements to provide all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs daily, eating a serving of chia seeds will help you meet your goals of a healthier diet.
One tablespoon of chia seeds provides the following:
2 grams of protein
5 grams of fat
6 grams of carbs
5 grams of fiber
2 milligrams phosphorous (about 11% of recommended daily value for an adult or DV)
7 milligrams calcium (8% DV)
8 mg potassium (1%DV)
5 IU vitamin A (1% DV)
2 mg vitamin C (1% DV)
1 mg vitamin E (1% DV)
In addition to being nutrient-rich, chia seeds are a good source of important omega-3 fatty acids and important antioxidants. If that’s not enough, the fiber contained in chia seeds supports gut health, and a healthy gut leads to an improved immune system.
Some studies suggest that including chia seeds in a diet may offer benefits for those who are managing high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and depression.
How to Eat Chia Seeds
Including chia seeds as part of your well-balanced diet is easy. They don’t have to be soaked or ground like some other ancient grains. Add them to baked goods, or smoothies or eat a crunchy spoonful raw right out of the bag. If your diet has been low in fiber, make sure to drink plenty of water and consume no more than the recommended 2 tablespoons of chia a day to prevent digestive upsets. Always consult with your primary care provider when adding new supplements to your diet regimen.
Over the last few years, medical professionals and researchers have emphasized the importance of gut microbiome health. Specifically, some professionals have started systematically mapping the interactions between gut bacteria and drugs. One such study demonstrated that certain gut bacteria are accumulating human drugs, altering the function of these organisms.
By gaining a better understanding of the impact of oral medications on gut health, researchers can potentially reduce side effects and improve the efficacy of these drugs.
What Is the Gut Microbiome?
The gut microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria and microorganisms that live within your GI tract. These bacteria play a key role in several critical functions, such as the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. Gut microorganisms also influence other processes such as immune regulation and metabolism. If the gut microbiome is out of balance, it can have far-reaching health effects.
During the study, researchers grew 25 of the most common gut bacteria in a lab setting. They then exposed these organisms to 15 different oral medications. The researchers selected medications used to treat a wide range of conditions. The scientists discovered a total of 70 interactions between drugs and bacteria, 29 of which had not been reported previously.
After identifying the 29 new interactions, researchers conducted further tests. They determined that in 17 of these interactions, the medication accumulated in the microorganisms without changing to their chemical makeup. A few of these drugs include rosiglitazone (anti-diabetic medication) and duloxetine (antidepressant).
Potential Risks of the Bioaccumulation of Medications
The bioaccumulation of these medications poses two main risks to patients. First, the drugs may become less effective over time. This is especially concerning when discussing anti-diabetic and antidepressant medications, as reduced effectiveness can negatively impact patients.
How Do I Find Out If My Gut Microbiome Is Healthy?
If you are experiencing GI issues or just want to ensure that your gut microbiome is functioning properly, the best way to learn more about your overall gut health is through medical testing. A GI test will help medical professionals assess the root cause of most gut health complaints. They will also be able to suggest targeted treatment protocols to address your specific gut health issues.
If you would like to learn more about Precision Health testing or are interested in supplements that may benefit gut health, contact Stemedix today.
Gut bacteria have been a suspect in a number of brain disorders like Parkinson’s and autism since at least the mid-2000s. While more research continues to be done on this topic, gut microbes continue to be a prime suspect for some impacts on human health.
While research has focused mostly on how gut bacteria affects adults — including its impact on mental health — a new study suggests that gut microbes may be a potential factor in the risk of brain damage for premature babies.
Researchers at the University of Vienna discovered that premature babies with an overgrowth of the Klebsiella bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract were at higher risk for developing neurological problems at birth.
Because premature babies have not had enough time to complete the development process in utero, they run a much higher risk of having unbalanced gut bacteria. Because of this, certain microbes may proliferate while others, which would typically counterbalance the other entities, are crowded out.
Because researchers usually found these overgrowths in the gastrointestinal tracts of premature babies before observing neurological disorders, it may indicate that there is time to treat this imbalance of gut bacteria before it can impact the baby’s brain and nervous system.
While this study was focused specifically on how gut bacteria affected the brains of premature babies, it adds yet another example of ways that gut microbes might have an impact on human bodies as a whole.
There are several tests currently available that will let you test your gut bacteria at home, allowing you to identify any imbalances you might be experiencing. Combined with probiotic therapy, it may be possible to not only relieve many gastrointestinal symptoms but also to resolve or better control problems in other areas of your body as well.
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