Good Food = Good Mood: The Nutrition and Mental Health Connection

(Ocean Robbins) As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are also experiencing another health challenge: an assault on our mental health. Anxiety is high, and many people are cooped up at home and knocked off their normal routines. Plus, many of us face a loss of control, financial stress, increased social isolation, or even the specter of too much time with family members or roommates, who may be easier to get along with when we have more breathing room.

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The Gut’s Role in Food Allergies: Scientists Identify Changes in Gut Microbiota That May Prevent or Even Reverse Food Allergies

(Franz Walker) The effects of food allergies can range from simply being annoying or inconvenient, preventing you from eating your favorite food, to life-threatening, like difficulty breathing. While medical means of combating food allergies do exist, a recent study has found a more natural, and potentially more effective, method of fighting food allergies – adjusting gut bacteria.

The post The Gut’s Role in Food Allergies: Scientists Identify Changes in Gut Microbiota That May Prevent or Even Reverse Food Allergies appeared on Stillness in the Storm.

Doesn’t Stomach Acid Eat Bacteria? Researchers Successfully Identify the Hiding Place of H. Pylori, a Bacteria Linked to Stomach Ulcers, Cancer

(Evangelyn Rodriguez) The bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori is notorious for its ability to colonize humans and cause stomach ulcers. While an H. pylori infection rarely causes any symptoms, there are some cases where the bacterium causes open sores to form in the stomach or triggers severe inflammation — an event that could eventually lead to gastric cancer.

The post Doesn’t Stomach Acid Eat Bacteria? Researchers Successfully Identify the Hiding Place of H. Pylori, a Bacteria Linked to Stomach Ulcers, Cancer appeared on Stillness in the Storm.

Humic Acid Benefits: Heal the Gut, Stop Virus Replication and Aid Detoxification?

(Michael Wright) Humic acid is a substance that is extracted from nutrient rich soil that has profound health benefits, including reports of it being able to heal the gut, studies showing that it can stop virus replication as well as it being able to aid significantly with detoxification.

The post Humic Acid Benefits: Heal the Gut, Stop Virus Replication and Aid Detoxification? appeared on Stillness in the Storm.

This Common Food Additive Harms Gut Health, Could Trigger Disease

(Natural Blaze) A food additive found in more than 900 food products such as chewing gum and mayonnaise has an impact on the gut microbiota which could trigger diseases. University of Sydney research provides new evidence that nanoparticles, which are present in many food items, may have a substantial and harmful influence on human health.

The post This Common Food Additive Harms Gut Health, Could Trigger Disease appeared on Stillness in the Storm.

DITCH Artificial Sweeteners: Study Shows They’re Toxic to the Gut

A new study confirms that artificial sweeteners are bad for you, with research showing that products like sucralose (Splenda) are toxic to the gut.

Scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore looked at the effects of FDA-approved artificial sweeteners and sports supplements on E. coli bacteria and found that they could have toxic effects on the bug, and therefore human health.

Ariel Kushmaro, a professor at Ben-Gurion University and author of the study, said:

“Artificial sweeteners have become increasingly controversial due to their questionable influence on consumers’ health. They are found in most foods, and many consume this added ingredient without their knowledge.”

Analyzing These 6 Artificial Sweeteners

In the study, 6 artificial sweeteners went under the team’s microscope:

  • Aspartame
  • Sucralose
  • Saccharine
  • Neotame
  • Advantame
  • Acesulfame potassium-k

In addition, Kushmaro and her colleagues analyzed 10 sports supplements containing the sweeteners to determine if they had toxic effects on E. coli.

Read: Consumer Group Warns Against Consuming Splenda

Even if you purposefully avoid artificial sweeteners, chances are you’re consuming them without realizing it. Some brands of whole wheat bread sold in the supermarket are sweetened with sucralose, the main ingredient in Splenda. Pedialyte contains acesulfame potassium-k, meaning you could be unknowingly damaging your children’s microbiome. And “diet” sodas often contain aspartame or sucralose.

Artificial sweeteners have also been found to be polluting U.S. waterways.

And don’t be fooled by the term “natural sweeteners” on food labels. The researchers also found artificial sweeteners in products like microwave popcorn, fruit juice, yogurt, and numerous other items with “natural sweeteners” on their labels. It’s easy for food manufacturers to sneak artificial sweeteners into your food, because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t have a legal definition of the word “natural.”

The authors write in the journal Molecules that the gut microbiome “plays a key role in human metabolism,” and artificial sweeteners can “affect host health, such as inducing glucose intolerance.” [2]

Glucose intolerance is an umbrella term that refers to the metabolic conditions which result in higher-than-normal blood glucose. [3]

How Artificial Sweeteners Affect Gut Bacteria

The team wanted to know how consumption of these foods affected E. coli for a specific reason. [1]

Kushmaro explained:

“E. coli is an indigenous gastrointestinal microorganism and serves as a model for the gut bacteria. The indigenous gastrointestinal tract microflora has profound effects on the anatomical, physiological, and immunological development of the host.”

All of the sweeteners had a toxic effect on E. coli, and just 1 milligram per milliliter of the sugar substitutes was all it took to see the changes. Sucralose was found to be the most toxic of the 6 products. [1] [2]

Other previously-published studies have suggested that artificial sweeteners can lead to obesity and diabetes in mice, and may worsen gut issues stemming from Crohn’s disease. [1]

The study showed that the mice treated with neotame, found in NutraSweet, had different metabolic patterns than the untreated rodents. Furthermore, the scientists noted a decrease in several important genes found in the human gut. [2]

What’s more, concentrations of several fatty acids, lipids, and cholesterol were higher in mice treated with neotame than in those not.

In light of the findings, Kushmaro warned:

People should significantly reduce or avoid consumption of artificial sweeteners.” [1]

Read: How to Give up Artificial Sweeteners

That’s good advice. Artificial sweeteners have been linked in the past to weight gain, preterm delivery, and, yes, negative effects on gut microbes. There is even limited evidence that artificial sweeteners can cause cancer.

Sources:

[1] Newsweek

[2] U.S. News & World Report

[3] Diabetes.co.uk

FlexibleDietingLifestyle (photo credit, edited)

Overuse of Antibiotics Linked to Precancerous Colon Polyps

Taking antibiotics for an extended period of time in early and middle adulthood may increase your risk of developing precancerous growths called polyps in your colon, a large study suggests. [1]

The research, published in the journal Gutadds to a growing collection of evidence that the type and diversity of gut microbes may play a significant role in the development of cancer.

Many people develop diarrhea when they take antibiotics. This is because the drug kills some of the normal gut bacteria, thus allowing an overgrowth of abnormal bacteria to dominate.

Read: Gut Health is Directly Linked to Chronic Illness, Overall Health

For the study, researchers in the U.S. tracked the health of over 120,000 nurses between the ages of 30 and 55 who took part in the Nurses Health Study that launched in 1976. The team found that between 2004 and 2010, 1,194 nurses were diagnosed with abnormal growths in the colon and rectum.

Participants who had taken antibiotics for two months or more between the ages of 20 and 39 were 36% more likely to be diagnosed with a polyp, called an adenoma, compared with those who hadn’t taken a prolonged course of antibiotics during their 20s and 30s.

Women who had taken antibiotics for two months or more during their 40’s or 50’s were 69% more likely to be diagnosed with a polyp.

Similarly, women who took antibiotics for 15 days or more between ages 20 and 39, and between ages 40 and 59, were 73% more likely to be diagnosed with an adenoma.

Source: Your Health Blog

Read: Why Probiotics are Essential if You are Taking Antibiotics

Associate Professor Graham Newstead, the head of the colorectal unit at the Prince of Wales private hospital and director of Bowel Cancer Australia, said:

“It does seem to indicate that people who have too many antibiotics might be at more risk of [sic] getting polyps than people who have less of them.

And, remembering that not all polyps turn to cancer but the cancer comes from the polyps. If you have more polyps or tendency to get polyps then maybe you are slightly more at risk of getting cancer.” [1]

The researchers wrote in the report:

“Antibiotics fundamentally alter the gut microbiome, by curbing the diversity and number of bacteria, and reducing the resistance to hostile bugs.

This might all have a crucial role in the development of bowel cancer, added to which the bugs that require antibiotics may induce inflammation, which is a known risk for the development of bowel cancer.

The findings if confirmed by other studies, suggest the potential need to limit the use of antibiotics and sources of inflammation that may drive tumor formation.” [2]

Other Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

Occurrence of polyps in the gastrointestinal tract.

Dr. Andrew Chan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said the study doesn’t prove that antibiotics cause polyps, only that there is a connection. [3]

And while the study looked at women, Chan said the study likely also holds true for men.

“More research needs to be done to understand the interaction between alterations in one’s gut bacteria and future risk of colorectal cancer.” [3]

There are several known risk factors for bowel cancer besides polyps, including:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Diets that are high in red meat and processed meats
  • Cooking meats at very high temperatures (frying, boiling, or grilling)
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Being age 50 or older
  • A personal history of colorectal cancer
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • A family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Certain inherited syndromes
  • Being African-American or a Jew of Eastern European descent
  • Having type 2 diabetes [4]

There is even some research that suggests that working a night shift regularly may increase your risk for colorectal cancer, possibly due to changes in levels of melatonin.

Sources:

[1] The Guardian

[2] BBC News

[3] WebMD

[4] American Cancer Society

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