Your Gut Can Help Fight Depression and High Blood Pressure


By Dr. Mercola

Trillions of bacteria live in your gut, influencing your body’s homeostasis daily. Far from being restricted to the confines of your intestinal tract, your gut microbiota is intricately tied to other body systems via a number of complex pathways, including the gut-brain axis and a recently revealed gut-brain-bone marrow axis, the latter of which may influence your blood pressure, mood and more.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that your brain, your immune system and your gut microbes are intricately linked, so it’s not a stretch to add bone marrow to the list of connections. Immune cells stem from bone marrow, and bone marrow inflammation, which may result from high blood pressure, is known to be caused by a signal from the brain. In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, researchers further revealed that immune cells in bone marrow play an important role in signaling between the brain and gut.1,2

Gut-Brain-Bone Marrow Connection Revealed

In an animal study, researchers replaced natural bone marrow in mice with bone marrow cells from genetically engineered (GE) mice. The marrow had been modified to be deficient in adrenergic receptor beta, making it less responsive to messages from the brain.

“In this way,” researchers wrote in The Conversation, “we could investigate how the host brain-immune communication will modify gut microbiota. Indeed, by studying this new mouse model, we determined that our nervous system — directed by our brain — can modify the composition of gut microbiota by communicating directly with the bone marrow immune cells. The brain, therefore, can change our gut microbiota indirectly by talking to the bone.”3

In short, when bone marrow was less able to communicate with the brain, a “muted inflammatory response” was observed in the gut, which in turn led to a more diverse (i.e., healthier) microbiome. The study shed light on one of the complex ways your gut health may be implicated in that of your heart and brain, with researchers noting:4

“In the context of cardiovascular disease, this muted inflammatory response appears to be beneficial, as it leads to beneficial lowering of blood pressure in our experimental mice.

Most interestingly, a link between gut microbiota and our mental health has recently become clearer. In particular, some have suggested that gut microbiota influence the stress and anxiety pathways in the brain in a way that can alter mood and behavior both positively and negatively, giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘gut feeling.'”

Imbalanced Gut Microbes Play a Role in High Blood Pressure

Imbalanced gut microbes, known as gut dysbiosis, have been previously linked to heart disease and high blood pressure, but a recent animal study shed further light on the unique connection.5 Researchers gave rats antibiotics for 10 days to wipe out their natural microbiota, then transplanted hypertensive microbiota into rats with normal blood pressure. Rats with high blood pressure, in turn, were transplanted with normal microbiota.6

The results were surprising in that the rats treated with hypertensive microbiota developed high blood pressure, while the transplantation of normal microbiota led to only a slight reduction in blood pressure among the hypertensive rats. “We conclude that gut dysbiosis can directly affect SBP [systolic blood pressure],” the researchers wrote, adding that manipulating gut microbiota, such as via the use of probiotics or eating fermented foods, may be an “innovative treatment for hypertension.”7

However, it’s not the first time such a link has been revealed. A systematic review and meta-analysis of nine randomized, controlled studies found significant benefits among people with high blood pressure who consumed probiotics in products like yogurt and milk.8 On average, compared to a placebo, the probiotic consumption lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 3.56 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 2.38 mm Hg.

It appeared that at least 100 billion colony-forming units of probiotics a day were necessary to trigger such improvements, and the benefit was only seen in those who consumed probiotics for eight weeks or more. In 2015, meanwhile, certain gut microbes, namely firmicutes and bacteroidetes, were associated with increased blood pressure in rats.

“Products of the fermentation of nutrients by gut microbiota can influence blood pressure by regulating expenditure of energy, intestinal metabolism of catecholamines, and gastrointestinal and renal ion transport, and thus, salt sensitivity,” according to research published in the journal Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension.9

Probiotics Found to Benefit Gut Diseases, Mental Health

The addition of beneficial microbes has been found to benefit people struggling with serious gut diseases, including necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which often occurs in premature infants and can be fatal. An Australian study revealed that probiotic supplementation significantly reduced NEC risk and mortality in preterm neonates, lowering the incidence of NEC in premature babies by at least 30 percent.10

Probiotics have also been found to benefit irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), of which disturbances in the gut microbiota are often seen.11Compared to placebo, probiotic therapy was found to reduce pain and symptom severity among people with IBS,12 and probiotics are also known to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children.13

On the mental front, a small study involving adults diagnosed with IBS and depression found the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum provided depression relief. At six weeks, 64 percent of the treatment group had reduced depression scores compared to 32 percent of the control group that received a placebo.14

Those receiving the probiotic also reported fewer symptoms of IBS and improved overall quality of life. At the end of 10 weeks, approximately twice as many in the treatment group were still reporting lower levels of depression.

Interestingly, functional MRI scans revealed a link between reductions in depression score and actual changes in brain activity, specifically in areas involved in mood regulation, such as the amygdala. As noted by Dr. Roger McIntyre, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto, who was not involved in the study:15

“We know that one part of the brain, the amygdala, tends to be red-hot in people with depression, and it seemed to cool down with this intervention. It provides more scientific believability that something in the brain, at a very biological level, seems to be affected by this probiotic.”

Are Personalized Probiotics the Answer?

As for which strains of probiotic are best, the answer may be harder to come by. Emma Allen-Vercoe, a microbiologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, told Scientific American, “Bacterial strains are so genetically different from one another, and everybody has a different gut microbiota … There will probably never be a one-size-fits-all probiotic.”16

Studies suggest, for instance, that some people may benefit more from probiotics than others if they’re “low” in a certain variety that is then added to their diet. As Scientific American reported:17

“In other words, their gut ecosystems had a vacancy that the probiotic filled. That is exactly the kind of insight that clinicians need to create and recommend more effective probiotics. If a doctor knows that an individual with severe diarrhea has an undersized population of a particular beneficial microbe, for example, then prescribing the missing strain should increase the chance of a successful treatment.”

Other research has looked into the benefits of certain strains of bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria, which tend to be abundant in babies’ intestines but typically make up less than 10 percent of the gut microbiome bacteria in adults.18 Low levels of Bifidobacteria, in turn, are linked to chronic diseases like celiac disease, diabetes, allergic asthma and even obesity, while supplementing with them has been found to benefit IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, psoriasis, depression and more.19

Another type of bacteria, lactobacillus, has been shown to reduce anxiety in animal studies,20 while taking a probiotic with eight different bacterial strains reduced aggressive and ruminative thoughts in a study of adult volunteers.21,22

The Lectin Connection and How Leaky Gut Can Destroy Your Health

It’s important to be aware that gut dysbiosis, also known as leaky gut, is not only a major gut disrupter linked to digestive disorders, but may also contribute to other chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s and possibly cancer. If your gut is leaky, your blood-brain barrier is also leaky, which means toxins can go right into your brain, affecting your cognitive and mental health.

Further, leaky gut can be triggered by a number of factors, including imbalanced gut microbiota that result from dietary factors, such as the consumption of sugar as well as lectins. This latter component is very important. Lectins are plant proteins, sometimes called sticky proteins or glycan-binding proteins, because they seek out and bind to certain sugar molecules on the surface of cells. There are many types of lectins, and the main difference between them is the type of sugar each prefers and binds to.

Some — including wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), found in wheat and other grass-family seeds — bind to specific receptor sites on your intestinal mucosal cells and interfere with the absorption of nutrients across your intestinal wall.

As such, they act as “antinutrients,” and can have a detrimental effect on your gut microbiome by shifting the balance of your bacterial flora — a common precursor to leaky gut. Dr. Steven Gundry, author of “The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in ‘Healthy’ Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain,” makes a strong case for a lectin-free diet, stating:

“Our microbiome is, I think, our early warning system, because about 99 percent of all the genes that make up [the human body] are actually nonhuman, they’re bacterial, viral and fungal … [from which] we’ve uploaded most of the information about interacting with our environment … because the microbiome is capable of almost instantaneous changing and information processing that we actually don’t have the ability to do.

We’re beginning to realize … that the microbiome is not only how we interact with plant materials … like lectins, but probably more importantly, our microbiome teaches our immune system whether a particular plant compound is a friend or foe [based on] how long we’ve known that plant compound. There are lectins in everything.

But the longer we’ve interacted with lectins and the longer our microbiome has interacted with them, the more our microbiome kind of tells our immune system, ‘Hey, guys, it’s cool. We’ve known these guys for 40 million years. Chill out. They’re a pain, but we can handle them.’

From an evolutionary perspective, if you look at modern foods — say the grains and the beans, which we started interacting with 10,000 years ago, which is a blink of time — our microbiome [regards them as] foreign substances … [T]here’s no lectin speed dating in evolution.”

Lectins are strongly associated with autoimmune disorders of all kinds, primarily by triggering leaky gut. They’re found in many of our most cherished foods, such as:

Potatoes Eggplants Tomatoes Peppers Goji berries Lima beans
Cashews Peanuts Sunflower seeds Chia seeds Pumpkin seeds Kidney beans
Squash Corn Quinoa Soybeans Wheat Lentils

In addition, according to Gundry, glyphosate, which is not only sprayed on GE crops via Roundup but also is used to desiccate wheat in the U.S., is also highly problematic, decimating your microbiome and increasing leaky gut. It’s yet another reason to eat organic as much as possible.

To learn more, I highly recommend picking up a copy of “The Plant Paradox,” especially if you’ve already cleaned up your diet and still struggle with excess weight and/or health problems. Certainly, anyone with an autoimmune disorder would also be wise to take a closer look at lectins.

How to Support a Healthy Microbiota

Supporting your microbiome isn’t very complicated, but you do need to take proactive steps to encourage its health while avoiding factors known to cause harm. In addition to the lectin information above, consider the following recommendations to optimize your microbiome:

Do Avoid
Eat plenty of fermented foods. Healthy choices include lassi, fermented grass fed kefir, natto (fermented soy) and fermented vegetables. Antibiotics, unless absolutely necessary, and when you do, make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Take a probiotic supplement. Although I’m not a major proponent of taking many supplements (as I believe the majority of your nutrients need to come from food), probiotics are an exception if you don’t eat fermented foods on a regular basis Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products, as CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics plus GE grains loaded with glyphosate, which is widely known to kill many bacteria.
Boost your soluble and insoluble fiber intake, focusing on vegetables, nuts and seeds, including sprouted seeds. Chlorinated and/or fluoridated water. Especially in your bathing such as showers, which are worse than drinking it.
Get your hands dirty in the garden. Exposure to bacteria and viruses can help to strengthen your immune system and provide long-lasting immunity against disease.

Getting your hands dirty in the garden can help reacquaint your immune system with beneficial microorganisms on the plants and in the soil.

Processed foods. Excessive sugars, along with otherwise “dead” nutrients, feed pathogenic bacteria.

Food emulsifiers such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols and xanthan gum also appear to have an adverse effect on your gut flora.

Unless 100 percent organic, they may also contain GMOs that tend to be heavily contaminated with pesticides such as glyphosate. Artificial sweeteners have also been found to alter gut bacteria in adverse ways.23

Open your windows. For the vast majority of human history, the outside was always part of the inside, and at no moment during our day were we ever really separated from nature.

Today, we spend 90 percent of our lives indoors. And, although keeping the outside out does have its advantages it has also changed the microbiome of your home.

Research shows that opening a window and increasing natural airflow can improve the diversity and health of the microbes in your home, which in turn benefit you.24

Agricultural chemicals, glyphosate (Roundup) in particular is a known antibiotic and will actively kill many of your beneficial gut microbes if you eat foods contaminated with it.
Wash your dishes by hand instead of in the dishwasher. Research has shown that washing your dishes by hand leaves more bacteria on the dishes than dishwashers do, and eating off these less-than-sterile dishes may actually decrease your risk of allergies by stimulating your immune system. Antibacterial soap, as it too kills off both good and bad bacteria and contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance.


U bestaat voor de helft uit microben, en dat is goed nieuws


Ze zitten met triljoenen op en in ons, beschermen ons tegen ziektes, sturen ons gedrag, en zetten zelfs onze definitie van menselijk leven op zijn kop. Microben zijn niet langer boosdoeners in de wetenschappelijke wereld. Ze kunnen miljoenen mensenlevens redden. Daarom springt ook Bill Gates op de kar.

Dieren – wij dus ook – zijn zelfstandige wezens die in de darwiniaanse strijd om te overleven af en toe worden aangevallen door vieze kleine beestjes die ons ziek maken en dreigen te doden. Zo keken wetenschappers jarenlang tegen microben aan. Maar ze moeten hun opvatting dringend bijschaven.
Want, zo stelt de Britse wetenschapsjournalist Ed Yong, er raast een revolutie door de biologie, de gezondheidszorg, de farmasector, de ontwikkelingssamenwerking, de architectuur en misschien zelfs de filosofie. Want hoe kunnen wij als mens beweren dat we onafhankelijke wezens zijn als de helft van de cellen in ons lichaam niet van ons zijn, maar van microben, die met miljarden op onze huid, onder onze oksels en in onze darmen leven? Ze sturen ons immuunsysteem aan, ze breken giftige stoffen af, ze helpen ons voedsel in te nemen, en meer zelfs: ze sturen volgens sommige onderzoeken ook ons gedrag.
‘De nieuwe wetenschappelijke inzichten over microben zijn de belangrijkste revolutie sinds Darwin,’ zegt Yong via Skype vanuit zijn kantoor in Washington D.C. Het boek dat hij erover schreef, ‘I contain multitudes’, net in het Nederlands vertaald als ‘De microben in ons’, werd in de Verenigde Staten een bestseller. Yong, een gerenommeerde wetenschapsschrijver die onder meer voor The Atlantic en National Geographic werkt, kaapte er de belangstelling van Bill Gates mee weg. In een onlinegesprek met Yong stak de stichter van Microsoft zijn bewondering niet onder stoelen of banken: ‘Ik ben overweldigd door het feit hoeveel van zulke micro-organismes er bestaan en hoe ze ons leven beïnvloeden.’

Mannelijke pissebedden

U en ik bezitten elk zo’n 40 triljoen microben. De verzameling van die piepkleine eencellige wezens – op de breedte van een mensenhaar passen er een paar tientallen – wordt het microbioom genoemd. Ze leven in alle mogelijke delen van ons lichaam, van de tandplak in onze mond tot zelfs in onze cellen. In onze darmen alleen al leven er meer dan er sterren in de Melkweg zijn. ‘Als wij eten, doen zij dat ook,’ schrijft Yong. ‘Als we op reis gaan, gaan ze mee. Als we dood gaan, eten ze ons op. Ieder van ons is een dierentuin op zich, een kolonie omsloten door één enkel lichaam. Een collectief van een veelvoud aan soorten. Een hele wereld.’

Het zou één jaar duren voor onze samenleving ineenstort, mochten de microben verdwijnen. Ze helpen planten aan stikstof en vormen zo de basis van heel onze voedselketen.

Het was de Nederlandse amateurbioloog Antoni van Leeuwenhoek die 350 jaar geleden de eerste microben ontdekte, door onder meer zijn tandplak onder zijn zelfgebouwde microscopen te leggen. Toch bleven microbes jaren in de obscuriteit, of werden ze enkel beschouwd als overbrengers van ziekten.

Met zijn ademhaling brengt een mens elk uur ongeveer 37 miljoen bacteriën in de lucht.

Onze microben beïnvloeden ook onze woningen. 24 uur na de verhuizing naar een nieuwe plek overschrijven we de daar aanwezige microben met onze eigen micro-organismen.

Bacteriën blijven in sommige gevallen heel verwoestende wezens. Door een alliantie aan te gaan met een dennenkever hebben ze in de VS sinds 1999 16.000 vierkante kilometer naaldwoud vernietigd.

Door muggen met de wolbachia-bacterie te injecteren zouden wetenschappers het dengue- virus over 10 tot 15 jaar een aanzienlijke slag kunnen toebrengen.

Uw rechterhand heeft slechts een zesde van de bacteriesoorten gemeen met uw linkerhand.

Die microben bestaan al miljarden jaren langer dan de planten en de dieren. ‘Dieren mogen de kers op de taart zijn, maar bacteriën zijn de taart zelf’, zei de paleontoloog Andrew Knoll ooit. Ze hebben de meest onmogelijke plekken op aarde gekoloniseerd: barre vulkanische bronnen kilometers diep in de oceaan, waterdampen in hoge wolken, kokende warmwaterbronnen, en radioactief afval.

Volgens de razendsnel evoluerende wetenschappelijke inzichten kunnen ze veel mensenlevens redden. Neem de wolbachia, een van de succesvolste bacteriën die vooral in insecten leeft. Het is een fascinerend wezen: hij manipuleert het seksleven van zijn gastheer voor zijn eigen voortbestaan. Omdat hij zich enkel in eitjes kan voortplanten, verandert hij het geslacht van mannelijke pissebedden en zorgt hij ervoor dat bepaalde wespensoorten enkel nog uit vrouwtjes bestaan die zichzelf voortplanten door te klonen.

Maar dezelfde wolbachia zou wel eens miljoenen levens kunnen redden. Door de bacterie in muggen te injecteren zijn wetenschappers erin geslaagd het virus te onderdrukken waarmee die muggen dengue of knokkelkoorts overbrengen, een ziekte die jaarlijks 400 miljoen mensen treft. In Australië werden zo al meer dan 300.000 muggen uitgezet. Voor het eerst in de geschiedenis hebben wetenschappers er een populatie insecten in het wild zo getransformeerd dat ze geen ziekten voor de mens meer verspreiden. De uitdaging bestaat er nu in dezelfde techniek in andere, meer getroffen delen van de wereld toe te passen. Wolbachia zou ook kunnen helpen om het zikavirus en de parasiet die malaria overbrengt te dwarsbomen.

Daarom is een filantroop als Gates zo geïnteresseerd in het boek van Yong. ‘De Gates Foundation investeert miljoenen in onderzoek naar het effect van bacteriën op tropische ziekten’, zegt de wetenschapsjournalist. ‘Mijn boek trekt niet alleen zo veel belangstelling omdat de nieuwe inzichten over microben de definitie van ons leven op zijn kop zetten, maar ook omdat ze de wereld enorm kunnen helpen.’

Ontregelde thermostaat

Bacteriën sturen als een soort managers onze immuniteit en gezondheid aan, schrijft Yong. Ze hebben er misschien zelfs voor gezorgd dat we als mens geworden zijn wie we zijn.

Hij maakt dat hard aan de hand van de werking van moedermelk. Die zit vol complexe suikers, maar baby’s kunnen die vreemd genoeg niet afbreken. Gelukkig zit hun buik vol met bepaalde bacteriën die dat in hun plaats doen: ze zetten de suikers om in vetzuren die de baby wel opneemt. Moeders die zogen, voeden dus hun baby niet, maar wel de bacteriën die de baby voeden. Wellicht dankzij die bacteriën heeft de mens zulke grote hersenen kunnen ontwikkelen. Want andere zoogdieren hebben ze niet, of toch niet in zo’n grote hoeveelheid.

Yong vergelijkt onze bacteriën met een thermostaat die ons immuunsysteem regelt. Maar de jongste jaren loopt het vaak fout, getuige de opmars van allergieën en auto-immuunziekten. Door het feit dat we in steeds kleinere gezinnen opgroeien, verhuisd zijn van de stad naar het platteland, vooral bewerkt voedsel eten, is die thermostaat ontregeld geraakt.

We worden te weinig blootgesteld aan microben, waardoor ons immuunsysteem grillig en onervaren wordt. De ziekenhuisbacterie, die in de Verenigde Staten jaarlijks verantwoordelijk is voor 1,7 miljoen infecties en 90.000 sterfgevallen, zouden we daarom niet alleen moeten bestrijden door dure bacterieresistente vloeren te leggen. Volgens Yong moeten we net de vensters opengooien en extra bacteriën naar binnen laten stromen, die de schadelijke kunnen verdringen.

Microben zouden zelfs onze architectuur kunnen veranderen. Door planten in ventilatiesystemen van gebouwen te zetten of bolletjes op te hangen die bepaalde bacteriën verspreiden, zou je het microbioomsysteem van hele steden kunnen aanpassen in ons voordeel. Zo is Luke Leung, de toparchitect die de wolkenkrabber Burj Khalifa in Dubai heeft gebouwd, een microbioomfanaat geworden.

Kankercellen elimineren

De meest veelbelovende doorbraken vinden wellicht in de gezondheidszorg plaats. Door de bacteriën van muizen te manipuleren zijn in labo’s over de hele wereld al talloze onderzoeken gevoerd die zouden kunnen leiden tot nieuwe therapieën tegen obesitas, allergieën, darmkanker, diabetes, multiple sclerose en ondervoeding. Maar Yong tempert al te luid hoerageroep. ‘Hebben microbiële veranderingen buiten de gereguleerde omgeving van laboratoria en het atypische lichaam van laboratoriummuizen werkelijk een effect op onze dagelijkse gezondheidstoestand?’

Veel wetenschappers blijven sceptisch over de groeiende hype rond de genezende kracht van microben, maar farmagiganten als Johnson & Johnson zijn alvast op de kar gesprongen en pompen miljoenen in onderzoek naar het microbioom. Probiotica, vaak in yoghurt zoals bij Yakult, zijn al een miljardenbusiness, maar de effecten op onze gezondheid zijn nog altijd niet bewezen. Dat zou in de toekomst kunnen veranderen.
Het is niet ondenkbaar dat de dokter van de toekomst u een gepersonaliseerde pil voorschrijft met daarin bacteriën die een ziekte genezen, uw immuunsysteem herstellen, kankercellen elimineren of zelfs gifstoffen in medicijnen omzetten. ‘Pas sinds kort weten we genoeg over de microbiële wereld om met het manipuleren ervan te beginnen. Onze pogingen staan nog in de kinderschoenen en ons zelfvertrouwen is soms overdreven, maar het potentieel is enorm’, zegt Yong.


Wat ons wereldbeeld helemaal ondersteboven gooit, zijn de studies die suggereren dat microben ons gedrag kunnen aansturen. Yong geeft het voorbeeld van de hersenparasiet Toxoplasmose gondii, die zich alleen kan voortplanten in katten. Als hij in een rat terechtkomt, stuurt hij via het aanmaken van dopamine de hersenen van die rat aan, zodat die in plaats van weg te lopen plots wordt aangetrokken door katten en ernaartoe loopt. Weg rat, kat blij en de Toxoplasmose gondii kan zich weer voortplanten.

‘Waarom zouden bacteriën in onze darmen niet op dezelfde manier ons gedrag kunnen aansturen?’, vraagt Yong zich af. Onderzoek bij muizen toont een verband tussen darmmicroben en symptomen van autisme en schizofrenie aan. De fysieke connectie bestaat in elk geval: de nervus vagus is een lange, vertakkende zenuw die prikkels overdraagt tussen de hersenen en de darmen.

Je kan de redenering nog verder drijven. Voelt u zich ook schuldig dat u honger krijgt telkens als u een frituur passeert? Wel, sommige bacteriën in uw lichaam gedijen op vet. Andere op planten- vezels. Welke maaltijd u kiest, bepaalt dus welke wezens in uw darmen worden gevoed. Dat brengt Yong tot de vraag: ‘Als de microben bij het eten van de ‘juiste’ dingen dopamine vrijmaken, een stof die tot genot leidt, krijgen ze dan zo inspraak in uw menukeuze?’
Met andere woorden: u hebt zelf geen zin in friet, het zijn uw bacteriën. Yong: ‘In welke mate het gebeurt, weten we niet zeker. Maar dat bacteriën onze hersenen kunnen veranderen, is bijna zeker. Dat is een verontrustende gedachte.’


Gut Hack


This short film is, in many ways, a happy accident. It started with a chance meeting, as a former NASA scientist running a lab out of his apartment started talking to us about an experiment: Would it be possible, he wondered, to completely eradicate the ecosystem of bacteria living in and on his body and replace it with someone else’s?

This biohacker was Josiah Zayner, and what he proposed was an extreme version of a fecal transplant. Josiah had long suffered from digestive issues and hoped the transplant might provide relief. Also, he was curious about what would happen. Fecal transplants are becoming more common but are still usually reserved for the life-threatening infection Clostridium difficile, and are performed only in medical facilities. Josiah’s plan was to check himself into a hotel and do the whole thing himself. He would take antibiotics, then use bacterial samples from a donor (including saliva, skin cultures and feces) to recolonize his body with the new ecosystem of microorganisms. When we asked if we could film the experiment, Josiah said yes. And then we had to make this film.

An undertaking like this raises some questions: Taking large amounts of antibiotics can put one at risk of dangerous infections, and ingesting feces that had not been screened for pathogens can lead to serious illnesses. We wanted to make sure the story we told communicated the risks and did not present this individual effort as some sort of miracle cure. But there were compelling reasons to explore it.

Humans tend to think of themselves as individuals, but their lives are profoundly shaped by the huge collections of microorganisms that live on and in them. Research has suggested that the microbiome affects our digestion, skin health, perhaps even our mood. There is so much we do not know about the fascinating ways that bacteria work with us, on us and in us. This is the story of one person wading into his own teeming, messy microbial ecosystem.

Healthier gut bacteria and weight loss achieved through magnetic brain stimulation


For several years now, researchers have been building on a series of studies that have displayed links between non-invasive, deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS) and reduced food cravings. Now, for the first time, research has shown that dTMS can fundamentally alter the composition of gut microbiota, resulting in both weight loss and general improvements in other metabolic and hormonal factors.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has shown promise in recent years for a variety of applications, from boosting memory function to treating migraines. The technique involves firing magnetic pulses into particular regions of the brain to alter the activity of certain neurons. The process is currently approved for use in the United States to treat major depression.

Following on from studies that showed how an imbalance in gut bacteria altered the brain signals for appetite, a team at the IRCCS Policlinico San Donato and University of Milan set out to examine how dTMS could effect the composition of a subject’s gut microbiota.

The study involved 14 subjects split into two groups. One group received 15 dTMS sessions over five weeks, targeting the insula and prefrontal cortex, while the other group was the control, receiving a sham simulation.

As well as analyzing the subjects’ gut microbiota through stool samples both before and after the trial, the team measured blood levels of insulin, pituitary gland hormones, glucose and a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine, which is known to affect microbiota composition.

The research team noted significant differences between the dTMS subjects and the control group after five weeks, with the dTMS subjects losing more than three percent of their total body weight and more than four percent of their fat.

Most interestingly, the stool samples showed that the dTMS subjects had greatly altered gut microbiota composition, including higher levels of several beneficial bacteria associated with anti-inflammatory properties and a general improvement in certain hormonal parameters. The control group receiving the sham stimulations were noted as having no clinically relevant changes in any of these areas.

“These changes suggest a beneficial effect of dTMS on both weight loss and change in microbiota composition,” says Professor Livio Luzi, head of the research. “Our research shows the innovative ability of dTMS in exerting anti-obesity effects through alteration of the gut-brain axis.”

The “gut-brain axis” is hot area of research at the moment, with scientists discovering the degree of interaction between brain function and gut bacteria to be significantly more complex and comprehensive than previously known. This is the first time researchers have shown that the gut microbiota can be altered through magnetic brain stimulation and it paves the way for fascinating new therapeutic interventions to battle obesity in the future.

The research will be presented on Sunday April 9th at ENDO 2017, the Endocrine Society’s 99th annual meeting.

Source: The Endocrine Society

Onze bron:

De microbioomoplossing | Een totaal nieuwe manier om je lichaam van binnenuit te genezen


(Succesboeken | Dr. Robynne Chutkan) Het microbioom – de verzamelnaam voor de ‘niet-te-tellen’ bacteriën die in ons spijsverteringskanaal wonen – is het recentste medische nieuwsonderwerp. Maar wat betekent dit baanbrekende onderzoek nu eigenlijk voor onze dagelijkse gezondheid?

Dr. Robynne Chutkan, voegt de nieuwste bevindingen samen en legt uit dat door het standaard westerse voedingspatroon en onze supersteriele leefwijze onze microben uitgehongerd raken. Hierbij worden de ‘goede bacteriën’ uitgedund die cruciaal zijn voor onze gezondheid en wordt woekering van precies de verkeerde soorten bacteriën aangemoedigd. De verstoorde balans die hiervan het gevolg is maakt ons vatbaar voor talloze auto-immuunziekten en chronische aandoeningen. We kunnen effectieve veranderingen aanbrengen in onze leef- en eetwijze om deze schade ongedaan te maken.

Dr. Chutkan heeft duizenden patiënten geholpen die leden aan een verstoord microbioom met haar uitgebreide Leef vies, eet schoon plan, dat is ontworpen om schadelijke medicaties en voedingsmiddelen uit te bannen en weer gezond te worden. In dit boek biedt ze haar indrukwekkende programma aan om lezers overal ter wereld te helpen herstellen en genezen. Met praktisch advies.

In dit boek vind je o.a.:

  • Een overzicht van de ‘moderne microbiële verstoorders’ die ons lichaam ontdoen van de natuurlijke beschermingssystemen.
  • Heerlijke, voedzame recepten die de groei van goede bacteriën stimuleren.
  • Een lijst met belangrijke vragen die je je arts kunt stellen als je antibiotica krijgt voorgeschreven en advies over hoe je je darmen tijdens een behandelingskuur kunt beschermen.
  • Een leidraad voor het kiezen van de juiste probiotica en supplementen.
  • Essentiële informatie over hoe je aandoeningen als eczeem, het chronischevermoeidheidssyndroom, de ziekte van Crohn, colitis, het prikkelbaredarmsyndroom en meer kunt voorkomen en ervan kunt herstellen.
  • Een introductie in de ontlastingstransplantatie, het allernieuwste op het gebied van het herstellen van een ernstig verstoord microbioom.

Overige productinformatie:
320 pagina’s
ISBN: 9789079872992
Uitvoering: Softcover
Auteur: Dr. Robynne Chutkan
Uitgeverij: Succesboeken
Prijs: € 24,50
Om te bestellen klik hier

Wie is dokter Chutkan?
Robynne Chutkan, arts, FASGE (Fellow of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy), is oprichter van het Digestive Center for Woman en sinds 1997 faculteitslid van het Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC, en een van de toonaangevende gastro-enterologen (maag-darm-leverspecialist) van de wereld. Ze is opgeleid in Yale en Columbia en enthousiast snowboarder, marathonloper en vinyasa-yogabeoefenaar. Ze helpt op onverzettelijke wijze haar patiënten een langer, maar vooral beter leven te krijgen.

De redactie van Earth Matters maakt een keuze uit pas uitgekomen boeken die voor haar lezers interessant kunnen zijn. Als u bij Succesboeken een boek bestelt, ontvangt Earth Matters een gedeelte van de verkoopprijs. Hiermee ondersteunt u Earth Matters en haar visie. Onze dank daarvoor!

Bron: Succesboeken

Onze bron:

Salmon Sperm and Bee Venom in Your Eye?


Excuse us, you have something in your eye: bacteria.

Pop quiz. Which part of your body is just about the same size now as it was on the day you were born?

In fact, you’re almost certainly making use of it right now.

Yup, an eyeball remains around one inch in diameter from the minute we’re born until the day we die, and it’s why the small head of an infant can make us believe that babies have big eyes. It’s actually a matter of scale.

Unless you’re reading this via some kind of whizzy text-to-speech gizmo, you’re now using your eyes, and reading our words through a thin biofilm that contains bacteria. That could explain the fuzziness.

Welcome to your ocular microbiome.

Until pretty recently, it was widely believed that, unless they were infected, our eyes were bacteria-free. But studies now show that a healthy eye does indeed contain its own ecosystem of microorganisms that remain in place despite tears and the approximately twelve times a minute that we blink.

It was in 2009 that scientist Valery Shestopalov, from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami, founded the Ocular Microbiome Project, an initiative that now has twelve collaborators in five universities.

Dr. Shestopalov’s early work showed that the surfaces of what he termed the “exposed mucosal epithelium” in the eye are densely populated with microorganisms.

In the eye, the mucosal epithelium is the wet membrane that forms the surface of the eye, and the insides of the eyelids.

Around a dozen bacterial genera dominate the eye’s conjunctiva, which is the white of the eye (the “sclera”) and the eyelids.

Interestingly, on the corneal surface (the transparent part of your eye, which covers your iris and pupil) there’s likely to be a slightly different microbial community, although again with about twelve predominant genera.

You see? Even when you’re healthy, there’s a barn load of bacteria in your eye.

But what happens when you get an infection, though?

Well, the two most common eye infections are styes and conjunctivitis (sometimes called “pink eye”).

Styes are those pesky little bumps that can form on the eyelid, generally the result of skin bacteria getting into the hair follicle of an eyelash.

Conjunctivitis can indeed be caused by bacteria, but it’s also possible that a virus or allergy could be the culprit.

Other causes can be substances that cause irritation, contact lens products, eye-drops, or eye ointments.

More on contact lenses in a moment, but first some intriguing findings about infections of the cornea, which are known as keratitis (the eye is a complicated space when it comes to naming infections).

Research has shown that during keratitis, bacterial diversity on the cornea actually reduces rather than increases, and these changes typically occur before eye infections are diagnosed, making it possible that monitoring of the ocular microbiome might form some kind of future diagnostic tool.

But what of contact lenses, then?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that around 30 million Americans wear them, so does this affect the bacteria in their eyes?

Yes indeedy.

A study at New York University School of Medicine (NYU) compared the ocular microbiomes of lens-wearers with those of non-wearers, and found considerable differences.

In fact, contact lens wearers tend to have an ocular microbiome which is more like their skin microbiome.

It’s tempting to jump to the conclusion that this is simply because contact lens wearers are frequently poking their fingers into their eyes (an idea many non-wearers probably flinch at), but although the NYU researchers acknowledge that this could indeed be the reason, they say it’s actually too early to be sure.

It is, however, a good time to remind all lens-wearers of the importance of thorough hand-washing before dealing with contacts.

Dr. Shestopalov’s team sequenced bacteria from contact lenses used for one day, finding relatively little diversity on their surfaces, as well as further evidence that contact lens wearers have an ocular microbiome that differs from those who don’t wear contacts.

Wearing lenses can, in and of itself, be a cause of eye problems, and estimates suggest that anywhere between 7% and 25% of contact lens wearers experience irritation and redness.

Actually, some researchers hypothesize that contact lenses make it easier for pathogens to colonize the eye by giving bacteria something to adhere to.

However, if this gives you a lightbulb moment, and makes you think about inventing an antimicrobial contact lens – well, sorry to tell you this – someone else got there first.

A medical microbiologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia is heading a team of scientists who are developing antimicrobial contact lenses by coating them with a synthetic peptide called melimine.

That’s melimine with an “i,” rather than Melamine with an “a.”

One’s an antimicrobial agent, while the other is, well, the stuff that unbreakable tableware is made from, and you wouldn’t want picnic plates in your eyes.

Although, when you read the following, you may well think the same about melimine (with an i.)

You see, melimine is a combination of two other substances – protomine, and milletin – hence its portmanteau name.

And somewhat unbelievably, protomine was originally isolated from salmon sperm, while mellitin is the principal active component of bee venom.

Quite honestly, two stranger substances to place in your eye are difficult to imagine.

Despite the thoroughly odd provenance of this antimicrobial agent, early tests on humans by the Australian scientists suggest that the melimine-coated contacts are as safe as regular lenses, and seem to be effective as an antimicrobial against two major pathogens – Pseudonymous aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.

What do you get if you cross salmon sperm and bee venom?

There’s probably one heck of a good one-liner answer to that (and we’d love to hear your suggestions) but the real truth is that it’s antimicrobial contact lenses.




What comes to your mind when bacteria are mentioned? For most people, bacteria and microbes suggest disease. However, there are billions of very important bacteria that literally share the human body and help it function. These microorganisms are collectively known as the microbiome.

Microbes are found living in various parts of the human body. Although there has been limited research on the microbiome, scientists have begun to appreciate its role in human health. According to the United States National Library of medicine, there are more than 1 trillion microbes living in the body, with the largest colonies being harboured in the gastrointestinal tract. These microbes are associated with regulation of digestion, protection from disease-causing organisms, and the development of a strong immune response.

Why the Human Microbiome Is So Important

The microbiome is linked to a person’s genetic footprint and hence plays a role in the determination of our unique DNA, predisposition to pathogens, hereditary traits, body type, and much more. In fact, up to 90% of all human maladies are linked to the health of the gut and the overall condition of our microbiome.

  • Obesity: A healthy microbiome helps to reduce accumulation of fat and inflammation. An alteration of gut microbiome triggers metabolic changes that can lead to obesity. The four species of bacteria involved are Candidatus arthromitus, Allobacullum, Lactobacillus, and Rikenelleceae.
  • Autism: Studies have revealed that the microbiome present in autistic children differs vastly from that of their healthy counterparts. In particular, autistic children lack highly beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium, which is known for reinforcing the immune systemAccording to the study, if a person has a leaky gut, some compounds produced by gut bacteria can find their way out of the intestines. These compounds proceed to alter the normal functioning of the brain, leading to characteristics associated with autism, particularly repetitive behaviour.
  • Immune Response: Medical practitioners contend that improper regulation of immunologic mechanisms causes most non-infectious conditions such as cancer, allergies, and even autoimmunity. A different study suggests that intestinal bacteria can influence inflammatory immune reactions that start in the gut. These responses and are then transmitted to the brain and other body organs, effectively triggering immunologic dysregulation. Some research suggests autoimmune problems could be at the root cause of male pattern hair loss, where our own hormone, DHT, actually starts attacking the hair follicles.
  • Diabetes: According to the American Diabetes Association, type 2 diabetes is usually accompanied by a notable change in gut bacteria. Further research has also found that certain microbes may help prevent type 1 diabetes. The studies highlight the role played by the microbiome in diabetes.

It is clear that microbes are good for the human body, but only in their natural, unmodified state. It is actually alterations to the natural microbiome composition that lead to poor health. A person’s lifestyle has a major bearing on their microbiome. It is therefore no coincidence that cases of the above-mentioned conditions are consistently on the rise, as modern life and many of the lifestyle choices we make in it all negatively impact our microbiome.

Things That Damage the Human Microbiome

1. Cesarean Section

Few people know this, but our first dose of good bacteria comes from our mothers during birth. As an infant slides through the birth canal, the bacteria infiltrate the body through the mouth, eyes, nose, and lips. The bacteria assemble in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, forming colonies that immediately begin to multiply. A good number of mothers are increasingly depriving their babies of this initial inoculation by embracing the cesarean section. In fact, the United States Centres for Disease Control reported that in 2015, an astonishing 32.2% of all deliveries took the form of cesarean sections.

2. Antibiotics

A 2016 study gives evidence that suggests long term use of antibiotics can cause collateral damage to our microbiome. Although antibiotics can be lifesavers, their use is currently at an all-time high. In fact, research carried out over a 10 year period from 2000 to 2010 revealed that although antibiotic use is continually declining, as many as 2.27 antibiotics per person-year were prescribed to babies less than 24 months old. Overuse of antibiotics is associated with massive disruption of the microbiome, thereby impacting the immune system, the capacity to process food, and our ability to resist infections. For this reason, prudent use of antibiotics is important.

3. Over-the-Counter Medications

Medications sold over the counter such as painkillers, mouthwashes, antacids, and laxatives can destroy the microbiome, promote intestinal bleeding, and make the gut more permeable. As a result, larger proteins, bacteria, and a host of toxic substances can find their way into the bloodstream, leading to food allergies, overworking of the immune system, and widespread distribution of toxic elements throughout the body. According to a press release courtesy of the U.S.A Centers for Disease Control, there is evidence that 1 in 3 prescribed antibiotics are usually unnecessary. It is therefore wise to discuss the use of such medications with a doctor and also avoid taking them for longer than necessary.

4. Diet

Diet plays an important role in maintaining a good balance of good bacteria in the gut and other parts of the body. A major source of good bacteria is milk. However, when milk is sterilized by heating it to over 160 degrees, some bacteria are destroyed or their levels significantly reduced. In addition, artificial food colouring compounds have been found to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. In the attempt to make food products more presentable, we run the risk of altering the microflora in our bodies. Furthermore, artificial fats found in baked foods like cakes, biscuits, pizza, and crackers can lead to permeable cell walls. For the cell walls to become permeable, it means that the microbial organisms lining the surface have to be destroyed.

4. Chlorinated Drinking Water

It is almost impossible to maintain an ideal concentration of microbiome in the body, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, if we frequently consume chlorinated water. Chlorine automatically kills both good and bad bacteria.

Other things that can damage the microbiome include:

  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Surgeries and chemotherapy
  • Heavy exposure to pollutants like mercury
  • Antibacterial soaps and shampoos
  • Anti-cholesterol drugs

From the above information, it is clearly evident that altering the microbiome in our bodies can bring about serious long term health issues. It is therefore imperative to retain normal microbiome levels by regulating the usage of antibiotics, food colours, agricultural chemicals, chlorine, and the other items that we have mentioned. It is also very important to restore microbiome levels by:

  • Eating plenty of fermented foods like fermented milk, soy, and vegetables
  • Taking a probiotic supplement
  • Exposure to outdoor bacteria through working on your garden and keeping the windows open. Research shows that increasing the natural airflow can blow healthy microbes your way.