High-Fat Diets Do No Favors for Your Gut Bacteria

Has a high-fat meal ever left you feeling bloated and sluggish? It turns out that a heavier fat diet may keep the many bacteria that live in your digestive system from doing their best, too.

New research found that when people boosted their fat intake to 40 percent of their daily diet for six months, the number of “good” gut bacteria decreased while “unhelpful” bacteria amounts increased.

“The [study] result showed that a high-fat diet is linked to unfavorable changes in the type and numbers of gut bacteria — collectively known as the microbiome,” said the study’s senior author, Duo Li. He is chief professor of nutrition at the Institute of Nutrition and Health at Qingdao University in Qingdao, China.

In addition to changing the make-up of the microbiome, the study authors also noted an increase in inflammatory triggers in the body. These changes may contribute to the development of metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and heart disease, the researchers noted.

Nutritionist Samantha Heller, from NYU Langone Health in New York City, said bacteria living in the digestive system appear to have broad-ranging impacts on human health, and that they “eat what we eat.”

“Research suggests that they thrive on plant fibers — such as those found in fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains — and that the typical Western diet, which is rich in fat, red and processed meats, cheese, sweets, refined grains and fast-fried junk foods, in a sense, poisons them,” she explained.

In China, where the study was done, a traditional diet has been low in fat and high in carbohydrates. That, however, has been shifting to a diet higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates. At the same time, the rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes have also been rising, the study authors said.

To see if changes occur in the gut microbiome when people transition from a low-fat diet to a higher-fat diet, the researchers recruited about 200 young people, who weren’t obese, for the study. Their average age was about 23 years old.

Li said their average fat intake before the start of the study was about 31 percent.

The study volunteers were randomly placed into one of three groups for six months. One group ate a diet comprised of 20 percent fat, another ate 30 percent of their daily calories from fat, while the third had a 40 percent fat diet.

The researchers altered carbohydrate intake — things like rice and wheat flour — to make up for the changes in fat intake. The amount of fiber and protein in the diets stayed essentially the same.

All three groups had weight loss, but the lowest-fat group lost the most weight and had the greatest reductions in waist circumference, total cholesterol and bad cholesterol. The low-fat diet group also had an increase in gut bacteria that have been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

Those on the higher-fat fare had an increase in a different type of gut bug — one that’s been linked to higher cholesterol levels. Their diet was also associated with “significant” changes in long chain fatty acid metabolism, producing higher levels of chemicals that are thought to trigger inflammation.

Li said the findings may be relevant in developed countries where fat intake is high, but that further research needs to be done to see if similar changes occur in different populations.

“We suggest that fat intake for a general healthy population should not be more than 30 percent of total energy — at least in Asian populations,” Li said, and added that most fat should come from healthy fats, such as soybean, peanut or olive oil.

Nutritionist Heller said it’s important not to “interpret the findings of this study to suggest that dietary fat is unhealthy. We need to eat fats to be healthy, unsaturated fats in particular.”

But, she added, you can have too much of a good thing. “Fad diets rich in animal fats — such as ‘Keto’ or ‘Paleo’ — over time, are likely to be deleterious to the gut microbiome and subsequently increase the risk of inflammation and chronic diseases,” Heller said.

To keep your microbiome happy and healthy, Heller recommended eating more vegetables, legumes, fruits, grains and nuts, while avoiding processed meats, limiting red meat and cheese, and balancing your intake of fats, carbohydrates and protein.

Human Emotions Really Are Affected by Gut Bacteria, New Study Suggests

The more we find out about the bacteria that live in our gut, the more we’re coming to realise how these microbiota could have an impact on every facet of our lives – and not just our physical health and well-being, but our thoughts and emotions too.

A new study has identified associations between two kinds of gut microbiota and how they affect people’s emotional responses, and the researchers say it’s the first evidence of behavioural differences related to microbial composition in healthy humans.


Up until now, most research looking into how gut organisms influence emotions has been conducted on animals, with scientists finding that the bacterial composition of rodent guts can have an effect on the animals’ behaviour.

Now, a team led by gastroenterologist Kirsten Tillisch at UCLA has shown that the same kind of associations appear to be affecting human emotional reactions.

The researchers took faecal samples from 40 healthy women between the ages of 18 and 55. When the samples were analysed, the participants were divided into two groups based on their microbiota composition.

One of the groups showed a greater abundance of a bacterium genus called Bacteroides, while the other group demonstrated more clusters of a genus called Prevotella.

Next, the team scanned the brains of the participants via functional magnetic resonance imaging, while showing them images designed to provoke a positive, negative, or neutral emotional response.

What the researchers found was that the group with greater abundance of Bacteroidesin their gut bacteria showed greater thickness of the grey matter in the frontal cortexand insula – brain regions which process complex information – and also a larger volume of the hippocampus, which is involved with memory.

In contrast, the women with higher levels of Prevotella demonstrated lower volume in these areas, and demonstrated greater connections between emotional, attentional and sensory brain regions.

When shown the negative images, the Prevotella participants showed lower activity in the hippocampus – but reported higher levels of anxiety, distress and irritability after looking at the photos.

According to the researchers, this could be because the hippocampus helps us to regulate our emotions, and so with less hippocampal volume – which is possibly related somehow to the makeup of our gut microbiota – negative imagery may pack a greater emotional wallop.

“Reduced hippocampal engagement to negative imagery may be associated with increased emotional arousal,” the authors write in their paper.

“Such changes have been suggested to result in less specificity of encoding the contextual details of incoming stimuli, a deficit seen in the setting of several psychiatric disorders, including depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. While the subjects in this study were healthy, it is possible that the patterns which emerge from the microbial clustering represent vulnerability factors.”

It’s important to bear in mind that the sample studied here was very small – a point the researchers freely admit in their paper, acknowledging that further research with larger numbers of participants will be needed before we can really understand what’s going on here.

But it’s clear that there’s something going on between the organisms in our gut and the thoughts and feelings we experience, and the sooner we delve into this, the sooner we’ll comprehend just how emotionally powerful our ‘second brain‘ really is.

Another study just linked chronic fatigue syndrome to gut bacteria.

A new study has shown that people with chronic fatigue syndrome have abnormal levels of specific gut bacteria – providing even more evidence that the condition isn’t “just in a person’s head“.

For decades, millions of people have reported experiencing symptoms now associated with a condition called chronic fatigue syndrome – a debilitating disease that causes brain fog, severe pain, and exhaustion so extreme, patients can’t go about their daily lives, and sometimes can’t even get out of bed. But a physical cause has been elusive, leaving many feeling that their condition isn’t being taken seriously.

It was only in 2015 that the US Institute of Medicine detailed a comprehensive way to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), and earlier this year, scientists linked the condition to faulty cell receptors in immune cells for the first time – which explains why the side effects can be so varied and hard to pin down.

But there are still no effective treatments for the disease, and no cure – some commonly prescribed treatments for the condition have been cognitive behavioural therapy and exercise, neither of which have any evidence to support they work, and could actually be doing more harm than good.

Now, new research has shown that patients with ME/CFS have abnormal levels of specific gut bacteria – and those levels change depending on the severity and type of symptoms they have.

“Individuals with ME/CFS have a distinct mix of gut bacteria and related metabolic disturbances that may influence the severity of their disease,” said one of the researchers, Dorottya Nagy-Szakal from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

“By identifying the specific bacteria involved, we are one step closer to more accurate diagnosis and targeted therapies,” added lead researcher Ian Lipkin.

The study adds to research from last year, which showed that up to 80 percent of patients with ME/CFS could be accurately diagnosed by looking at their gut bacteria.


And it’s also known that up to 90 percent of ME/CFS patients have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), so the latest research began to untangle the specific gut bacteria changes associated with each condition.

The team followed 50 ME/CFS patients and 50 healthy controls, who had been carefully matched. They tested the number of bacterial species in faecal samples, and looked at the immune molecules in their blood.

They found that seven distinct intestinal bacterial species were strongly associated with ME/CFS, so much so that an elevated presence of all of them could predict a diagnosis.

The strains were:

  • Faecalibacterium
  • Roseburia
  • Dorea
  • Coprococcus
  • Clostridium
  • Ruminococcus
  • Coprobacillus

There were also specific changes seen in the gut bacteria of those who had chronic fatigue syndrome with IBS, and those who didn’t have IBS.

Interestingly, when the team measured bacterial metabolic pathways – the ways that bacteria break down food and send signals to the brain – there were clear differences between the healthy controls and the ME/CFS group.

There were also measurable differences depending on the severity of a patient’s symptoms, which suggests that are different subtypes of ME/CFS that could be identified.

While this study involved only a small sample size, with further verification, this could be the first step towards coming up with targeted ways to not only diagnose the debilitating disease, but also treat it.

“Our analysis suggests that we may be able to subtype patients with ME/CFS by analysing their fecal microbiome,” said one of the team, Brent L. Williams.

“Subtyping may provide clues to understanding differences in manifestations of disease.”


Complex pectin metabolism by gut bacteria reveals novel catalytic functions.

The metabolism of carbohydrate polymers drives microbial diversity in the human gut microbiota. It is unclear, however, whether bacterial consortia or single organisms are required to depolymerize highly complex glycans. Here we show that the gut bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron uses the most structurally complex glycan known: the plant pectic polysaccharide rhamnogalacturonan-II, cleaving all but 1 of its 21 distinct glycosidic linkages. The deconstruction of rhamnogalacturonan-II side chains and backbone are coordinated to overcome steric constraints, and the degradation involves previously undiscovered enzyme families and catalytic activities. The degradation system informs revision of the current structural model of rhamnogalacturonan-II and highlights how individual gut bacteria orchestrate manifold enzymes to metabolize the most challenging glycan in the human diet.


Stunning scientific discovery finds that gut bacteria control your brain chemistry, altering moods and more.

Researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School and University of Zaragoza in Spain have uncovered a new way that the community of microorganisms symbiotically living in the human gut may contribute to helping regulate brain chemistry. The remarkable study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The human gut alone hosts approximately 100 trillion bacteria and other microbes of many different species, which are collectively known as the gut microbiome or microbiota (our body’s overall microbiome also includes microbes living on the skin and in other parts of the body). Studies have shown that the gut microbiome plays a key role in regulating everything from digestion and metabolism to immune function and even mood, but the mechanisms of this action remain largely a mystery.

Image: Stunning scientific discovery finds that gut bacteria control your brain chemistry, altering moods and more

Microbes manipulate serotonin levels

Prior research has shown that a disrupted microbiome may contribute to the development of inflammatory disease, including inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Research has also confirmed that people with IBD have a different gut microbiome composition than healthy people.

The current study was funded by the Foundation for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in Aragón, Spain (ARAINF), in order to further study this connection. The researchers focused their investigations on a protein known as TLR2, which is a key marker of the presence of certain microbes in the intestines. Studies have also suggested that IBD may be triggered by the failure of TLR2 to function correctly.

In experiments conducted in cell cultures and in living mice, the researchers found that TLR2 actually helps regulate levels of the chemical serotonin. Although perhaps most well-known as a neurotransmitter that carries signals for the brain, serotonin also plays a key role in regulating bowel function.

The findings suggest that certain gut microbes can, through the action of TLR2, modulate levels of serotonin and therefore directly influence human physiology and brain chemistry.

Could the gut microbiome also modify serotonin levels to cause changes in mood or brain function? A 2014 review of the evidence into whether gut microbes can influence human emotions and behavior, published in the journal BioEssays, concluded that there is strong theoretical support for the idea but that evidence remains circumstantial. For example, studies suggest that some microbes can release chemicals that change the activity of the vagus nerve, which runs from the gut to the brain. Another study showed a different makeup of gut microbes in people who regularly crave chocolate, regardless of what they had recently eaten.

“Microbes have the capacity to manipulate behavior and mood through altering the neural signals in the vagus nerve, changing taste receptors, producing toxins to make us feel bad, and releasing chemical rewards to make us feel good,” said senior author Athena Aktipis. (RELATED: Find more news about scientific discoveries at Scientific.news.)

Far-reaching effects

A 2015 study published in the journal Nature found another mechanism by which gut microbes might influence human physiology. That study showed that the common industrial food ingredients known as emulsifiers (detergents used to improve food’s texture and shelf life) produce changes in the gut microbiome that lead to more of the inflammation associated with IBD and metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of physiological symptoms linked with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and Alzheimer’s disease. It is associated with high levels of systemic inflammation. IBD, in turn, is characterized by abnormal inflammation of the digestive tract. Both conditions have dramatically increased since the time period that saw the widespread adoption of chemical food additives.

Inflammation is an immune response, thus suggesting at least one mechanism by which gut microbes interact directly with the immune system.

Another recent study linked the gut microbiome with the development of Parkinson’s disease, while others have linked a disrupted microbiome with the development of autism.





Targeting Gut Bacteria May Be The Key To Preventing Alzheimer’s.

A new study suggests that a gut-healthy diet may play a powerful role in preventing one of the most feared diseasesin America.
The report, published Feb. 8 in the journal Scientific Reports, demonstrates that mice with Alzheimer’s have a different gut bacterial profile than those that do not have the disease.

The gut microbiome is highly responsive to dietary and lifestyle factors. This suggests that a gut-healthy diet may play a powerful role in preventing one of the most feared diseases in America.

“Alzheimer’s is a preventable disease and in the near future we will likely be able to give advice on what to eat to prevent it,” study author Dr. Frida Fak Hållenius, associate professor at the university’s Food for Health Science Centre, told The Huffington Post. “Take care of your gut bacteria, by eating lots of whole-grains, fruits and vegetables.”

 In the new study, Hållenius and her colleagues revealed a direct causal association between gut bacteria and signs of Alzheimer’s in mice. When a group of bacteria-free mice were colonized with the bacteria of rodents with Alzheimer’s, they developed brain plaques indicative of Alzheimer’s. When the bacteria-free mice were colonized with the bacteria of the healthy rodents, however, they developed significantly fewer brain plaques.
Beta-amyloid plaques between nerve cells in the brain are a central marker of the disease. These sticky protein clumps accumulate between the brain’s neurons, disrupting signals and contributing to the gradual killing off of nerve cells.

“We don’t yet know how bacteria can affect brain pathology, we are currently investigating this,” Hållenius said. “We think that bacteria may affect regulatory T-cells in the gut, which can control inflammatory processes both locally in the gut and systemically ― including the brain.”

The contributions of microbes to multiple aspects of human physiology and neurobiology in health and disease have up until now not been fully appreciated.

The gut microbiome is intimately connected with the immune system, since many of the body’s immune cells are found in this area of the stomach, Hållenius added.

Anything that happens in the digestive tract can affect the immune system, she explained. “By changing the gut microbiota composition, you affect the immune system of the host to a large extent.”

The findings suggest that Alzheimer’s may be more more preventable than health experts previously thought. The composition of bacteria in the gut is determined by a mix of genetics and lifestyle factors. Diet, exercise, stress and toxin exposure all play a huge role in the gut’s bacterial makeup.

Now, the researchers can begin investigating ways to prevent the disease and delay its onset by targeting gut bacteria early on. And in the meantime, anyone can adopt a plant-based, whole foods diet and probiotic supplementation as a way to improve the health of their microbiome.

“The diet shapes the microbial community in the gut to a large extent, so dietary strategies will be important in prevention of Alzheimer’s,” Hållenius said. “We are currently working on food design that will modulate the gut microbiota towards a healthier state.”

The study is far from the first to show a connection between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s. In a 2014 paper published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, researchers listed 10 different ways that the microbiome may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, including fungal and bacterial infections in the intestinal tract and increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier.

“The contributions of microbes to multiple aspects of human physiology and neurobiology in health and disease have up until now not been fully appreciated,” that study’s authors wrote.

 Antibiotics Kill Gut Bacteria, Stop Growth of New Brain Cells.


Article Image

Our lives are intertwined with microbes. These creatures have developed a symbiotic relationship with the plants and animals of this Earth, evolving with us. We can’t see them, but life on our planet is dependent on this vast community of bacteria.

It hasn’t been until recently that we’ve begun to notice the powers they hold. For instance, some studies suggest the bacteria in our gut influence the health of our brains and may even determine whether we are lean or obese.

From the moment of birth, each of us enters the world with a unique set of microbes—as unique as a fingerprint—and throughout life our lifestyles may continue to influence this microbial community for better or worse.

“We know quite a lot about associations between food and health, we know a bunch of associations between food and microbes, and we know a bunch about associations between microbes and health,” microbiome researcher Rob Knight told NPR in an interview back in 2013.

But researchers are still trying to put all the pieces together.

One study looked at how antibiotics decimate a microbiome, and how this loss affects the brain.

“We found prolonged antibiotic treatment might impact brain function,”says senior author Susanne Asu Wolf of the Max-Delbrueck-Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany. “But probiotics and exercise can balance brain plasticity and should be considered as a real treatment option.”

It’s important to note the research in this study was conducted on mice. The researchers treated one group of mice with enough antibiotics to nearly clear their intestinal tracts of microbes, while another group of mice went untreated.

The researchers noted a decline in performance on memory tests among the mice teated with antibiotics, as well as a halt in the production of new brain cells. They found probiotics and exercise were the most effective treatment to reverse the side-effects relating to memory and neurogenisis after receiving an antibiotic.

In future research, the group plans to study the effects of probiotic treatments in patients with psychiatric or neurodegenerative disorders. “We could measure the outcome in mood, psychiatric symptoms, microbiome composition and immune cell function before and after probiotic treatment,” says Wolf.

Microbes play a part in our health, but understanding just how much is something we’re still trying to figure out. Researchers have only just begun to scratch the surface.

Gut Bacteria May Drive Inflammation in Sepsis, ARDS

Microbiome disruption in lungs may play key role in diseases.

Bacteria that live in the gut also show up in the lungs of critically ill patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and in a mouse model of sepsis, suggesting a shared mechanism of pathogenesis for the two deadly diseases.
Bacterial gene sequencing was used to identify the gut bacteria which are not detectable using conventional culture. Greater concentrations of gut bacteria in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from patients with ARDS were associated with greater inflammation, wrote researcher Robert P. Dickson, MD, of the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, and colleagues in the journal Nature Microbiology.

The researchers noted that while the intestinal microbiome has long been recognized as having a key role in both sepsis and ARDS, conventional culture-based studies have failed to demonstrate translocation of bacteria from the gut to the lungs.
In a series of newly reported studies, Dickson and colleagues used bacterial gene sequencing to identify entire communities of bacteria, now a standard method for microbiome studies. The approach allowed the researchers to identify bacteria in the lungs not seen with conventional culture.
It also permitted the researchers to study communities of bacteria rather than individual species, Dickson explained.
“The main new finding is that gut bacteria, which can normally not be found in the lungs, are detectable in the lungs of animals and humans with common diseases of critical illness,” Dickson told MedPage Today. “This disorder of the lung microbiome was associated with how much inflammation we measured in the blood and in the lungs.”
Inflammation plays a key role in both sepsis and ARDS, and the findings raise the possibility that this inflammation may be due, at least in part, to alterations in bacterial communities, he added.

In their initial studies, the researchers used an established mouse model of sepsis — via cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) — to study the microbiota of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts by sequencing bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA-encoding genes.
Bacterial communities in the lungs of the mice with sepsis were found to be significantly different from those of untreated (control) mice.
“Lung communities of post-sepsis mice were significantly enriched with numerous bacteria found in the murine gut, including members of the Bacteroidales order Enterococcus species, and Lachnospiraceae sp. The two most abundant taxonomic groups, comprising nearly 40% of community members, were members of the Bacteroidales order, an abundant member of the murine gut microbiome,” the researchers wrote.
Five days post-sepsis, bacterial communities from lungs of post-sepsis mice remained distinct from those of all control mice, but the bacterial communities were indistinguishable from control mice at 2 weeks and 8 weeks following CLP.
In another round of studies, the researchers sequenced bacterial communities from 100 specimens of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid collected from 68 patients with ARDS and compared these communities to those of seven healthy volunteers.
The researchers focused on the Bacteroides genus (OTU009), which was classified to the same order as the operational taxonomic units (OTUs) enriched in the post-sepsis lungs of the experimental mice.
This gut-associated Bacteroides OTU was common and abundant in the BAL fluid of patients with ARDS and was not detected in reagent control specimens nor in the BAL fluid of healthy subjects.
“Among patients with ARDS, we observed a significant association between relative abundance of this gut-associated Bacteroides OTU and patients’ concurrent serum TNF-α concentration,” the researchers wrote. “This finding indicates that enrichment of gut bacteria in the lung microbiome is correlated with severity of acute systemic inflammation.”
No association was seen between Bacteroides OTU abundance and alveolar TNF-α concentration, suggesting that gut-lung bacterial translocation correlates with systemic, but not alveolar, inflammation.
The researchers wrote that definitive proof of gut-lung translocation will require additional study, “including techniques such as paired metagenomic comparisons of gut and lung microbiota and the use of labelled ‘tracer’ bacteria in gnotobiotic animals.”
They noted that the confirmation of gut-lung translocation and alteration of the lung microbiome in ARDS and sepsis could lead to novel therapeutic strategies to prevent and treat these deadly disorders, even though this mechanism is likely only one of several that lead to ARDS and sepsis.

New Way to Boost Crop Production Doesn’t Rely on GMOs or Pesticides

Researchers are fiddling with the plant equivalent of gut bacteria.

A new treatment for cotton seeds draws on beneficial microbes that live inside plants—much like the good bacteria in our own guts—to help the crops thrive in dry conditions.

The microbe-enhanced cotton, the first product from startup Indigo Agriculture, is already growing on 50,000 acres spread across five different states in the southern United States. Indigo CEO David Perry says the treatment increases yield as much as irrigation can. The company also today announced a new $100 million investment round that brought its venture funding total to $156 million.

Many experts argue that global agricultural productivity is not growing fast enough to keep up with the increase in global demand for food. Intense competition for land and pressures to reduce chemical fertilizer and pesticide use have led technologists to search for new ways to increase yield. Adding beneficial microbes to crops could be an effective but less controversial alternative to genetic engineering.

A field of cotton from seeds treated with Indigo’s microbes.

Seed treatments containing such microbes are part of an emerging class of agricultural technologies known as “biologicals.” The microbiome—the communities of bacteria and fungi that live in the soil around the roots, on the surface of the plant, and inside the plant tissue—contributes to a plant’s health and growth. The idea is that by isolating these good bacteria and fungi and then adding them back into the plant, they could stimulate more growth and make crops healthier.

Agriculture companies including Monsanto have already released a number of microbial products. But most of what’s on the market now is focused on organisms that live in soil. Indigo’s focus is on so-called endophytes, or the bacteria and fungi that actually live in the plant tissue. Researchers have studied the interactions between these particular microbes and their plant hosts for several decades, but are just now beginning to realize how to apply what they’ve learned, according to Betsy Arnold, a professor of plant sciences and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, and an academic collaborator with Indigo.

On the left are cotton plants grown with Indigo’s seed treatment. On the right are untreated crops.

Recent advances in DNA sequencing and inexpensive computing have made it more economical to perform computational analysis on huge databases of microbial genetic information in search of insights that might help improve crops. Indigo has built a database of tens of thousands of individual microbes isolated from crops that thrive under harsh conditions. The company’s scientists use machine learning and other techniques to probe that data in search of new insights.

Tyler McClendon, president of Oxbow Agriculture, which is currently growing 1,000 acres of Indigo’s cotton, says he believes Indigo’s focus on isolating specific microörganisms that seem to help plants thrive under stress makes more sense than the “broad based,” soil-focused approaches other companies are taking.

McClendon says Indigo’s business model is also unique, in that the final cost of the technology to the farmer is tied to a “measurable increase in crop yield.” Under the traditional model, farmers must pay for everything up front and then hope for the best, says Perry. Indigo doesn’t ask for much financial commitment up front, he says. Instead, he says, “we ask for a share of the value we create at harvest.” McClendon says this kind of approach makes farmers more receptive and could speed the adoption of new biotechnologies.

Benefits of Probiotics: How Your Gut Bacteria Can Influence Your Health

When asked about the location of their immune system, many people don’t know. A surprisingly large number of people don’t associate their immune systems with any specific part of their body.

Rather than being confined to a particular organ, about 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gastrointestinal tract in the form of receptor cells. Because of this prime location, what happens in your gut can powerfully influence your immune function.

When your gut is healthy, you have a large, thriving population of beneficial or friendly bacteria, or probiotics, supporting your immune system receptor cells. They help form a protective barrier within your colon and intestines. Ideally, you want about 85 percent of your gut bacteria to be of this beneficial type.

Optimizing and supporting the beneficial bacteria in your gut is one of the most powerful things you can do for your health and well being, including your immune health. As long as you can help your body maintain this optimal balance – 85 percent beneficial to about 15 percent “other” microbes – you support the health-promoting benefits of probiotics.

The Health Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics, or beneficial gut microbes, influence many functions in your body. In addition to your immune health, researchers have found they affect your body weight, energy and nutrition, and your brain, both psychologically and neurologically. Your microflora impacts the expression of your genes, too, which can have a powerful effect on your health.*

Some of the most important benefits of probiotics include:

    • Healthy immune function*

Did you know that your intestinal lining, or mucosal barrier, is about the size of a tennis court? Over 300 square meters in size, that’s a lot of territory for beneficial bacteria to patrol and support health!

Your good bacteria play a vital role in the development and maintenance of this mucosal immune system in your gut. They compete with the less-friendly microbes for both food and attachment sites on the receptor cells. As long as you have a healthy balance of microbes, they’re usually able to prevail.

At home in your gut, your beneficial microbes partner up with your immune cells to help maintain your health in many different ways. Supplementing with probiotics may even help protect against the additional stressors on your immune health involved with strenuous athletic training.

Probiotics also support your normal healthy response to allergens. Beneficial bacteria train your immune system to distinguish between non-harmful antigens and undesirable antigens, and to respond in a normal, appropriate way.

    • Weight management*

One potential benefit of probiotics that has received much attention lately is the ability of certain strains to help with weight management in people with obese tendencies.

A study on infants found that those who had high numbers of beneficial bifidobacteria appeared to have an increased level of protection from excess weight gain. Bifidobacteria flourishes in the guts of breast-fed babies, which may be one reason why breast-fed babies have a lower risk of becoming obese.

Additionally, researchers are learning that obese people’s gut microbes differ from those of lean people. Lean individuals tend to have higher amounts of various healthy bacteria. In a study with mice, when certain microbes were transplanted into normal-weight mice, those mice started to gain twice as much fat.

Increasingly, research confirms that probiotics play a key role in weight management. One human study showed how obese individuals reduced their abdominal fat by consuming a probiotic-rich fermented beverage for a 12-week period.

If you’re struggling to manage your weight, I suggest you take full advantage of the potential benefits of probiotics!

    • Digesting and absorbing carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and waste removal*

Your body needs beneficial gut bacteria to absorb certain undigested starches, fiber, and sugars in foods. When you have a good balance of bacteria, you can efficiently convert these carbohydrates into valuable sources of nutrients and energy.

Another important benefit of probiotics is for your body’s production of vitamin K and B vitamins. Probiotics also promote mineral absorption from the foods you eat. Equally valuable is their ability to help metabolize and break down body wastes.

    • Psychological and emotional health support*

Many people are also surprised to learn that their guts are essentially their second brains. Proof of this can be found in the fact that your gut produces more of the mood-influencing neurotransmitter serotonin than your brain does.

Studies show probiotics can benefit the communications within your gut-brain axis. You have two nervous systems, one in your brain and spinal cord, and another in your gastrointestinal tract. Made from the same type of tissue, they are connected to each other via your vagus nerve, which is the primary route for information sharing between your gut and your brain.

Because of this profound interrelationship, whenever you’re dealing with any type of learning disability or neurological or psychiatric concern, I suggest you look closely at your gut health. Sometimes supporting your emotional and psychological health can be as simple as healing and sealing your gut lining.

Your diet is indeed linked to your mental health!

    • Skin health support*
Healthy Skin for Mother and Child

Considering there are about 100 trillion microorganisms living on and in your body, it’s difficult to separate the ones living within and on the surface.Research suggests the two may be closely related, as your body is a living ecosystem.

There’s no doubt in my mind that probiotics benefit your skin health, andespecially the skin health of children. Skin issues, particularly those commonly seen in infants, are thought to be due to a delay in the development of immune function.

This, in my opinion, confirms the importance for women who plan to become pregnant, along with pregnant mothers and infants, to receive a supplemental probiotic supplement.

For moms-to-be who supplement with probiotics during pregnancy, there’s an added bonus. A study suggests that taking a probiotic supplement during the first trimester of pregnancy through the end of exclusive breastfeeding may help you lose weight after your baby’s arrival. This is in addition to the multitude of probiotic benefits for your newborn as well!

Need More Evidence of the Health Benefits of Probiotics?

Eat Healthy

Clearly, probiotics benefit your health from head to toe in many ways. They are so essential for a multitude of bodily functions that research suggests taking a probiotic supplement may be even more important than taking a daily multivitamin. Keep in mind that many of the nutrients you find in a multivitamin supplement, especially B vitamins, are made by beneficial bacteria in your gut.

The most ideal way to get the probiotics you need each day is to eatfermented vegetables that you prepare at home or to consume other traditionally fermented foods rich in probiotic bacteria. Some of the best sources include lassi, an Indian yogurt drink, kefir and yogurt made from raw milk, or natto or fermented soy.

Make sure your choices are unpasteurized as the high heat process destroys many if not all of the naturally occurring probiotics.

If you can’t find these unpasteurized probiotic foods, or if you don’t care for fermented vegetables, be sure to take the best backup I know of – a high-quality probiotic supplement.

My complete line of Complete Probiotics supplements contain as many as 100 billion CFU of a unique blend of 10 different beneficial bacteria strains. I even have a specially formulated Complete Probiotics for Kids in fruit-flavored, no-mess powder packets!

Start Enjoying Your Probiotic Benefits, but Beware of These
Beneficial Bacteria Slayers

No matter how well you eat, or how diligent you are about supplementing with a high-quality probiotic supplement, you must be equally aware of the factors that can put your microflora at risk.

    • You’re taking antibiotics
Healthy Digestion

If you must take an antibiotic, don’t stop taking your probiotic! Take your probiotic supplement either a few hours before or after your antibiotic, and continue after your antibiotic treatment course for optimal protection.

It’s a well-established fact that antibiotics indiscriminately kill bacteria, both good and bad. If you take a probiotic at the same time, you can help restore your beneficial microbes faster.

    • You’re using heartburn pills

A recent study shows that if you are taking the widely available over-the-counter or prescription proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for heartburn, you may be putting your gut flora at risk.

    • You eat factory farmed meats and dairy
Family Eating Healthy

Be aware that factory farmed meats and dairy also contain antibiotics, although in much smaller doses. About 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used to fatten and prevent disease in non-organically raised food animals and dairy.

Unless you are buying organic grass-fed meats and dairy, you are likely consuming minute doses of antibiotics with every meal!

In addition to the antibiotics you receive, with factory farmed meats and diary, you’re also likely to consume traces of pesticides and herbicides, which can also negatively impact your gut flora. Livestock and dairy are typically fed genetically engineered grains.

    • You’re drinking chlorinated or fluoridated water

The chlorine and fluoride that remain in drinking water that is chlorinated or fluoridated harm your beneficial gut bacteria.

Water Fluoridation Infographic


    • You’re eating processed and sugary foods and beverages

Sugar and processed foods encourage the growth of undesirable bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract and upset the balance of good-to-bad microbes.

In one study, after 10 days on a fast food diet, a subject’s gut microbes were “devastated.” Plus he lost about 40 percent of the diversity of his bacteria species.

Obviously, the less sugar and processed foods you eat, the better. The more you eat, the more probiotics your body needs!

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