Could Probiotics Restore Microbiome Imbalance Linked to Auto-Immune Disorder?

Probiotics and ImmuneA new study finds that probiotics may aid in restoring imbalances in gut bacterial in patients with the auto-immune disorder systemic sclerosis.  Systemic sclerosis affects connective tissue in the body.  It is not a common condition, but results in the skin thickening and becoming hard.  Occasionally this condition creates problems with blood vessels and internal organs.

17 adults with systemic sclerosis from UCLA, 17 adults with systemic sclerosis from Oslo University Hospital and 17 healthy adults participated in this trial.  Stool specimens were used to determine the amount and types of bacteria present.  Participants with systemic sclerosis had significantly lower amounts of gut bacteria believed to protect against inflammation like Bacteroides.  Additionally the participants with systemic sclerosis were found to have higher amounts of bacteria, like Fusobacterium, which actually promote inflammation when compared to those without this auto-immune disorder.

Researchers believe that probiotics are helpful in restoring the bacterial balance in the gut in individuals suffering from systemic sclerosis and play a role in improving these patients quality of life.

Further testing is planned using larger patient groups.


Cranberry Effective Against Recurrent UTIs

Cranberry and UTIsA new meta-analysis of seven clinical trials shows daily cranberry intake might reduce the risk of recurrent urinary tract infections (rUTI) significantly.

After reviewing scientific literature, researchers chose seven relevant randomized controlled trials for this meta-analysis.  In general the studies were fairly small with only 2 of the studies having over 300 participants.  Data from almost 1500 women showed a 23% reduction in the risk of rUTI in women with daily cranberry intake.  Limited data from various subgroup analyses found supplementation of cranberry capsules or tablets were more effective forms of cranberry intake.

In one specific randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multi center clinical trial, over 370 women who experienced a recent history of UTIs were randomly assigned to receive either a 240 ml/day beverage of either cranberry or a placebo.  This study lasted 24 weeks.  There was a significant reduction seen in investigator-diagnosed episodes of clinical UTI’s in the cranberry group (39) when compared to the placebo group (66).

Women have a 50% risk of having a UTI within her lifetime.  It has been estimated that between 20% – 30%of these women will experience recurrent UTIs (rUTIs).  The annual healthcare cost of UTIs in women is estimated to be over $2.6 billion.



Omega-3 and Perinatal Depression

Omega-3 Peri Natal DepressionA new meta-analysis has found a critical role for Omega-3 in decreasing pre and post-natal depression (perinatal).  This meta-analysis also found cases of depression might be associated with a higher Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio.  This translates into a potential new way to treat perinatal depression (PND) because of Omega-3’s neuroplastic, anti-inflammatory and safety effects.

12 eligible studies which became available in December of 2016 were analyzed.  Researchers found a significant reduction in the total of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids and a significant increase in the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios in the women who were experiencing PND.  Researchers concluded that the results of this meta-analysis emphasize how important Essential Fatty Acids are in clinical depression.  They pointed out that the brain is enriched with Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids which regulate many biological processes like neuroinflammation, Neuroplasticity and neurotransmission and hence also regulate mood as well as cognitive function.  They further pointed out that both EPA and DHA and their benefits for reducing depression have been studied and recognized for many years, the imbalance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 as seen in this meta-analysis need to be examined more fully as a possible prediction of metal health in women during and after pregnancy.  Modern diets often show a profound imbalance between Omega-6 and Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids, as much as 10-20:1.  Anthropological studies indicate humans evolved with a dietary ratio of Omega-6’s/Omega-3’s of 1:1.

Clinical trials are needed to test the therapeutic effects of Omega-3’s in the treatment of PND.


Study Sheds “New Light” on Role of Omega-3 in Type 1 Diabetes Protection

Omega-3 DiabetesA new research paper suggests that Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids may reduce children’s risk of Type 1 Diabetes.  This research looked at whether childhood serum Fatty Acid levels were linked to the development of autoimmunity in children genetically predisposed to developing Type 1 Diabetes.

Over 7,700 children who had an increased genetic risk of developing Type 1 Diabetes participated in this research which occurred between 1997 and 2004.  The children’s blood samples were taken at regular intervals until they reached 15 years of age.  The children were monitored for islet autoimmunity.  Type 1 Diabetes results from the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the islets of the pancreas by the body’s immune system. Before Type 1 Diabetes presents with symptoms, underlying autoimmunity to the insulin-producing cells can be detected by measuring antibodies in the blood stream. These antibodies are known as islet autoantibodies and the condition is known as islet autoimmunity.

This study found the Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids could play a role in Type 1 Diabetes development and that these Omega 3 might be protective against this disease, especially during infancy.  Higher serum blood levels of fatty acids consumed during breastfeeding were associated with a lower risk of islet autoimmunity and Type 1 Diabetes.

Further studies are needed.


Prenatal Folic Acid Could Benefit Children’s Psychological Development

Prenatal Folic AcidA new study finds that supplementation with Folic Acid has beneficial effects on the psychological development of children if taken during the first trimester and beyond.

39 women participated in this randomized controlled trial.  22 of the participating mothers supplemented with folic acid throughout their pregnancy while the remaining 17 only supplemented with folic acid for the first three months of their pregnancy.  At age 7 the 39 children were monitored by asking the parents to answer a questionnaire.  This questionnaire asked questions about the children’s personalities, relationship with others, levels of resilience and abilities to express emotion.  The study results showed that the children of the mothers who supplemented with the Folic Acid throughout their full pregnancy had a higher level of emotional resilience and intelligence.

Folic Acid supplementation during the first trimester of pregnancy has been shown, and is well established, as being important to a baby’s spinal development.  Researchers concluded this study shows the potential psychological benefits achieved through Folic Acid supplementation throughout a women’s full pregnancy.

Further research is planned.


Vitamin D Blunts Negative Impact of Statins in Diabetes Patients Post Exercise

Vitamin DA new study shows patients with Type 2 Diabetes who are taking statin drugs and supplementing with Vitamin D improves their cardio respiratory fitness as well as muscle mitochondria.

28 individuals participated in this randomized controlled trial.  Data from the participants upon completion of the trial showed that participants cardio respiratory fitness decreased by 8.4% after 12 weeks of simvastatin therapy. These individuals also experienced a 3.6% decrease in mitochondrial content.   Participants who were taking the simvastatin therapy but were also supplementing with Vitamin D however showed a decrease in cardio respiratory fitness of only .6% and a 12.1% improvement in mitochondrial content.  Participants who only took Vitamin D without the simvastatin therapy saw an increase in cardio respiratory fitness of 7.1% and a 16.7% increase in mitochondrial content.

Researchers believe that the statin simvastatin in inclined to cause a decline in exercise-mediated cardio respiratory fitness in adults with Type 2 Diabetes by interrupting the synthesis of CoEnzyme Q10.


Digestive Health Digest

Digestive HealthIn the past, when discussing digestive health, products targeting the prevention of gas and bloating, indigestion, diarrhea and constipation were in the forefront.  Specific conditions usually addressed were Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Colon Cancer prevention and general support for healthy elimination.  Products like Fiber and Oat Bran were touted as providing cardiovascular support as well as reducing the risks of colon cancer and promoting increased regular elimination.  Today people are beginning to understand that there is a connection between overall wellness and digestive health. They are taking a more proactive role in searching for products that support this health connection without looking to necessarily treat a specific condition.

Probiotics have taken the center stage as more studies show the connection between digestive health and overall wellness.  Ensuring that the Probiotics available contain the correct strains and a proper transport system are keys to realizing the benefits Probiotics are able to provide.  Up and coming interest in digestive health support supplements are in the areas of Prebiotics and Digestive Enzymes.

Prebiotics help the body produce its own friendly bacteria while Probiotics involve introducing foreign strains of friendly bacteria into the digestive tract.  Prebiotics basically insure success of the Probiotic strains in the gut.  They are synergistic in that taken together they provide the maximum benefits available for digestive health.

While not as well known as Probiotics, Digestive Enzymes are also critical for optimal digestive health.  As we age our body natural slows down its production of Digestive Enzymes.  Additionally stressful situations as well as over processing of our food sources may cause a lack of Digestive Enzyme production in our intestinal system.  Without adequate Digestive Enzymes feelings of bloating and increased gas production may be experienced.  A reduction in nutrient absorption also occurs which may lead to a reduction in overall immunity and health as well as digestive disturbances.

According to the National Digestive Disease Clearinghouse approximately 60 to 70 million people are affected by digestive conditions every year.  Taking a proactive role to supporting healthier digestive health seems to be a step in the right direction.