Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Healthy Gut Microbes May Prevent Celiac?

Intestinal Microbes Health Help YOUR Health

Those Beneficial "Bugs" In the News Again

I was just reading an article discussing studies by Oregon State University researchers into how gut microbes are closely linked to proper immune system function and other health issues. This may not be "news" to many readers, but it is further confirmation of the importance of maintaining a healthy GI tract — and it sure makes me wonder even more about the potential ill effects of using antibiotics to treat conditions, especially when not needed (since, antibiotics kill off the "good" bacteria in your gut as well as the "bad" bacteria in your body).
[Note: my next closely-related article is about Probiotic Levels in Yogurt and Kefir (billions and trillions of those beneficial bugs!)]
I have written here in the past about other studies connecting antibiotics and celiac disease, and this latest study deepens my concern. As quoted from the article I am referring to,
"In a healthy person, these microbes in the gut stimulate the immune system as needed, and it in turn talks back," Shulzhenko said. "There's an increasing disruption of these microbes from modern lifestyle, diet, overuse of antibiotics and other issues. With that disruption, the conversation [the "crosstalk" between gut microbes and our immune system and metabolic processes] is breaking down."
And, it is not just antibiotics that are brought into question in this study.  How about dirt... or, should I say our lack of exposure to dirt?  Yes, we (modern humans) are probably making things worse by being TOO "clean":
"Appropriate sanitation such as clean water and sewers are good. But some erroneous lessons in health care may need to be unlearned -- leaving behind the fear of dirt, the love of antimicrobial cleansers, and the outdated notion that an antibiotic is always a good idea. We live in a world of "germs" and many of them are good for us."
Our immune systems have developed over the course of human history to function optimally by adapting to natural exposures to varied bacteria (in things like dirt) that modern sanitizing products wipe out (externally).  And, antibiotics are essentially "sanitizers" that wipe out internally-present bacteria (including the plethora of "good" ones that we need to function properly).

Celiac and Other Conditions : the Role of Gut Microbes

The article mentioned Celiac Disease (i.e., autoimmune gluten allergy that requires us to be on a gluten-free diet) as well as other conditions where there is an interplay of gut-microbe-crosstalk and our bodies:
"An explosion of research in the field of genomic sequencing is for the first time allowing researchers to understand some of this conversation [between gut microbes and our immune / metabolic systems] and appreciate its significance, Shulzhenko said. The results are surprising, with links that lead to a range of diseases, including celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Obesity may be related. And some studies have found relevance to depression, late-onset autism, allergies, asthma and cancer."
Seems like more and more evidence is piling up that should make us want to avoid things that destroy the optimal natural internal gut-microbe balance.  And, perhaps (my opinion), we can improve things in the near-term by introducing probiotics into our gluten-free diets and avoiding anything that will further negatively impact our systems.

I like how the article concludes with forward-looking thoughts about probiotics and such:
Once researchers have a better idea of what constitutes healthy microbiota in the gut, they may be able to personalize therapies to restore that balance. It should also be possible to identify and use new types of probiotics to mitigate the impact of antibiotics, when such drugs are necessary and must be used. 
Such approaches are "an exciting target for therapeutic interventions" to treat health problems in the future, the researchers concluded.
Sounds like a good course of research to me!  And, while these people study their "bugs", I will personally continue to avoid antibiotics and antimicrobial products while at the same time enjoying my "bug-filled" (probiotics) in things like kefir, yogurt, etc.  In addition, I think my beneficial bugs much prefer a highly vegetable-laden diet :)

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

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