Creepy Crawly Health News Updates
The past few weeks for me have been a bit of a whirlwind with my moving out of state and closing my consulting practice in NYS. It has been a bittersweet time between saying sad goodbyes to my beloved and amazing clients, getting excited about upcoming projects and educational opportunities with my new position, and packing up all my belongings.
Due to all of these partings and happenings, I definitely hit some major points on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, but thankfully nothing at the top of the list! Even though these broad checklists have some potential reliability and validity issues, they are still useful in determining stressors. Therefore, I’ve been implementing (very imperfect) attempts to keep my mind-body calm and I’m even more thankful for the support of loved ones and for the solace of some of my favorite essential oils!
One of my favorite things to do to make chores more enjoyable, such as cooking, cleaning, sorting, driving, and moving, is to listen to podcasts and webinars. This week, along with my usual list of must-listen-to podcasts, I was tuned into the Healthy Gut Summit. Along with some of my favorite doc geniuses, I also heard some amazing researchers and scientists! Topics included leaky gut, microbiome diversity, microbiome analysis, the impact of our gut metabolism, and the role of stress on our gut physiology. Amazing stuff!
So, why are all the top docs and researchers paying such close attention to the critters that live in our insides? More and more we are learning if our inside buggy communities (termed our microbiota) are happy and healthy, we will be too. The impact of our microbiome is vast, including its role in calming our mood, quieting inflammation, modulating our immune response, assisting in assimilation, impacting our weight, and aiding our digestive woes… amongst many other functions.
In fact, our gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to over 70% of our immune system. (It’s termed the gut-associated lymphoid tissue or GALT). It is also the major site of our neurotransmitter production (the enteric nervous system, or ENS). So, it’s no wonder that our society is paying so much attention to the little buggy bacteria that reside in our colon and other mucosa surfaces!
In fact the National Institute of Health’s Human Microbiome Project is currently undertaking a massive research initiative with a focus on the study of these trillions of microbes that inhabit our insides. One goal was to discover the genetic population of microbes that makeup a healthy human cohort and to see if there is a core similarity in populations of critters amongst humans. The project has many other initiatives as well including: the relationship to gut bug populations and human health, development of new technologies, data analysis, and research techniques to study the microbiome, and societal implications of this research.
Therefore, I was psyched to have over a full week to learn from some of the top experts on the latest updates. Here are some highlights I took away from the summit:
- Researchers are finding that gut microbes differ in various populations, across age groups, and even amongst gender. These differences in populations may be an intricate interaction between environmental exposures, food, and ethnic variations based on location.
- Some people’s reaction to drugs may be modulated by their health and population of gut bugs. For example, some research has explored side effects to a common painkiller, acetaminophen, may be due to how our microbes break down a certain protein which can result in inhibiting this drug’s metabolism in the body.
- More evidence that babies aren’t born sterile. (See “Holobiont” in this link)
- The difference between mice findings and human studies. For example, it may take longer than one day to change our microbiome with food, but it can happen with persistence!
- To be careful of labeling what constituent’s “good bug populations.” (See number 1)
- The American Gut Project– An opportunity for the public to get involved with microbiome research and to compare the microbes in your gut to those in the guts of thousands of other people in the US and around the world. The website states:
Our data are for the good of understanding and will be shared both with participants and with other scientists. Our experience has been that our best ideas and work come when we involve people in as many steps of our work as possible, be they scientists, educators, roofers, ultra-marathon runners or corporate leaders. Everyone has something to offer, whether their sample, their hypotheses, their analyses or their dog (yes, their dog, we will get back to that). The more we can understand the complex microbial ecosystems on which we depend, the more everyone will benefit.
During all this wonderful learning, I was also looking into some of the latest research on our gut bugs to share with you.
Check them out here.
Sources & References:
- Dohrenwend BP. Inventorying Stressful Life Events as Risk Factors for Psychopathology: Toward Resolution of the Problem of Intracategory Variability. Psychological bulletin. 2006;132(3):477-495. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.132.3.477.
- Mishra B, Mehta S, Sinha ND, Shukla SK, Ahmed N, Kawatra A. Evaluation of Work Place Stress in Health University Workers: A Study from Rural India. Indian Journal of Community Medicine?: Official Publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine 2011;36(1):39-44. doi:10.4103/0970-0218.80792.
- National Institute of Health (NIH). The Human Microbiome Project: Project Initiatives. August 27, 2013. http://commonfund.nih.gov/hmp/initiatives#analysis
- Clayton TA, Bakerb D, Lindona JC, Everettc JR, Nicholsona JK. Pharmacometabonomic identification of a significant host-microbiome metabolic interaction affecting human drug metabolism. PNAS. 2009. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0904489106
- American Gut Project: http://americangut.org/