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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Unwanted impact of antibiotics broader, more complex than previously known

Antibiotics significantly kill intestinal epithelium, the site of nutrient absorption,  a part of our immune system and a place where other biological functions maintain human health.

Unwanted impact of antibiotics broader, more complex than previously known 

From the 10 February 2015 Oregon State University press release

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that antibiotics have an impact on the microorganisms that live in an animal’s gut that’s more broad and complex than previously known.

The findings help to better explain some of the damage these medications can do, and set the stage for new ways to study and offset those impacts.

The work was published online in the journal Gut, in research supported by Oregon State University, the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon and the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers have known for some time that antibiotics can have unwanted side effects, especially in disrupting the natural and beneficial microbiota of the gastrointestinal system. But the new study helps explain in much more detail why that is happening, and also suggests that powerful, long-term antibiotic use can have even more far-reaching effects.

Scientists now suspect that antibiotic use, and especially overuse, can have unwanted effects on everything from the immune system to glucose metabolism, food absorption, obesity, stress and behavior.

The issues are rising in importance, since 40 percent of all adults and 70 percent of all children take one or more antibiotics every year, not to mention their use in billions of food animals. Although when used properly antibiotics can help treat life-threatening bacterial infections, more than 10 percent of people who receive the medications can suffer from adverse side effects.

“Prior to this most people thought antibiotics only depleted microbiota and diminished several important immune functions that take place in the gut,” Morgun said. “Actually that’s only about one-third of the picture. They also kill intestinal epithelium. Destruction of the intestinal epithelium is important because this is the site of nutrient absorption, part of our immune system and it has other biological functions that play a role in human health.”

The research also found that antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant microbes caused significant changes in mitochondrial function, which in turn can lead to more epithelial cell death. That antibiotics have special impacts on the mitochondria of cells is both important and interesting, said Morgun, who was a co-leader of this study with Dr. Natalia Shulzhenko, a researcher in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine who has an M.D. from Kharkiv Medical University.

Mitochondria plays a major role in cell signaling, growth and energy production, and for good health they need to function properly.

But the relationship of antibiotics to mitochondria may go back a long way. In evolution, mitochondria descended from bacteria, which were some of the earliest life forms, and different bacteria competed with each other for survival. That an antibiotic would still selectively attack the portion of a cell that most closely resembles bacteria may be a throwback to that ingrained sense of competition and the very evolution of life.

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Digestive dysfunction is near the top of the list, with antibiotic use linked to such issues as diarrhea and ulcerative colitis. But new research is also finding links to obesity, food absorption, depression, immune function, sepsis, allergies and asthma.

This research also developed a new bioinformatics approach named “transkingdom network interrogation” to studying microbiota, which could help further speed the study of any alterations of host microbiota interactions and antibiotic impact. This could aid the search for new probiotics to help offset antibiotic effects, and conceivably lead to systems that would diagnose a person’s microbiome, identify deficiencies and then address them in a precise and individual way.

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February 15, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Probiotics – A Cure for what Ails You?

From the 23 January 2014 Bite into Nutrition blog

Probiotics has become one of the biggest “bug” words among nutrition and health professionals today, partly because of all the time the scientific community has devoted to researching the topic.  Research has shown that probiotics are effective in reducing and treating various ailments ranging from antibiotic-induced diarrhea, Clostridium difficile and other digestive disorders.   Partly due to all the science and media buzz, manufacturers have been introducing (and marketing) probiotic products left and right. NPR news recently featured a report on all the potential benefits that probiotics can do ranging from curing colicky babies to and prevention of heart disease. Although more research is needed, this is encouraging evidence on the many benefits that probiotics can offer.

In the past couple of years, there were reports suggesting the use of probiotics offering immune health benefits.  The article from Environmental Nutrition offers more insight into this.

Boost Your Immunity with Probiotics

Environmental Nutrition: February 2014 Issue

Inside each one of us is an “inner ecosystem”—a unique microbiome teeming with bacteria that lines the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or gut, which is the largest organ of immunity in the body. Fortifying the gut microflora with probiotics—also known as friendly bacteria—should be one of your top health priorities, as this promotes a stronger immune system. “We know that the make-up of our gut microbiome—the total of all microorganisms in the gut—has changed over time, due to environmental factors, and that this change may be partially responsible for the rise in prevalence of allergic and autoimmune disorders, which involve the immune system,” explains registered dietitian nutritionist Rachel Begun, MS, RDN.

 

Plant foods, such as whole grains and fruit, and yogurt with live and active cultures boost gut bacteria.

Boost plant foods. A plant-based, high-fiber diet is the best way to positively impact your gut microflora, according to an August 2013 article in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Fiber-rich plants boost a greater volume and diversity of microorganisms in the gut, offering better defense against disease-causing invaders. And researchers are discovering that just by eating fewer calories, you can change your gut bacteria profile for the better.

“It’s best to eat whole foods that are natural sources of probiotics, as these are nutrient-dense foods that contribute other health benefits, such as yogurt made with live and active cultures, fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut, fermented soybean products like miso and tempeh, as well as kombucha, fermented tea,” says Begun.

Prebiotics (non digestible carbs that act as food for probiotics)

“It’s just as important to eat a diet rich in prebiotics, which are the foods that fuel the good bacteria in the gut.” Prebiotic foods include high-fiber plants, such as artichokes, asparagus, bananas, raisins, onions, garlic, leeks, and oats.

 

Read the entire post here

 

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January 26, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | 2 Comments

   

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