GOING GLUTEN-FREE

Gluten is a particular kind of protein that is not found in eggs or meat but is in barley, rye, wheat and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Going gluten-free means avoiding these grains. A gluten-free diet is essential for those who have celiac disease, a condition that causes inflammation in the small intestines, or gluten allergies.  Symptoms of celiac disease include anemia, constipation or diarrhea, bloating, gas, headaches, skin rashes, joint pain and fatigue.

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A DIET FOR HEALTH & WEIGHT LOSS

Have you noticed? Look around and you’ll see a majority of Americans who are either overweight or obese. Look in supermarkets and you’ll see a plethora of food products, many of them processed or high-fat and/or sweet laden.  Consuming such a diet often leads to poor health and weight gain. It is not surprising that the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. A number of diseases, including pre-diabetes, diabetes, stroke and depression, are linked to how we eat .....

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ANTIBIOTICS IN OUR FOOD

Just what is in the food we eat? Considering the food chain, did you know adding antibiotics to food dates back to the 1940s? Antibiotic use has led to a dramatic reduction in illness and death from infectious diseases, yet there is a downside to this practice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others encourage health care professionals and patients to use antibiotics more wisely and seek education and understanding about both the risks and benefits of using them.

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interaction, largely because the brain is somewhat protected,” he said. His study added to the growing evidence that signals from beneficial bacteria nonetheless find a way through the barrier. The 2011 research could not pinpoint exactly how the barrier is traversed. It appears micro-organisms in the gut tickle a sensory nerve ending in the fingerlike protrusions lining the intestine and carry that electrical impulse up the vagus nerve and into the deep-brain structures thought to be responsible for elemental emotions such as anxiety. Cryan and co-author Ten Dinan published a theory paper in the journal Biological Psychiatry, calling these potentially mind-altering microbes “psychobiotics.”


It has long been known that much of the body’s supply of neurochemicals, an estimated 50 percent of its dopamine, for example, and a vast majority of its serotonin, originate in the intestines, where these chemical signals regulate appetite, feelings of fullness and digestion. But only in recent years has mainstream psychiatric research given serious consideration to the role microbes might play in creating those chemicals. Although the exact mechanism that breaks the barriers are not yet known, it seems safe to assert there is a proven link to gut bacteria and mental health.

In 2007, scientists announced plans for a Human Microbiome Project to catalog the micro-organisms living in the body. The profound influence of these organisms has grown rapidly with each passing year.


Bacteria in the gut produce vitamins and break down food. Their presence or absence has been linked to obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and the toxic side effect of prescription drugs. Biologists now believe much of what makes us human depends on microbial activity. The 2 million unique bacterial genes found in each human microbiome can make the 23,000 genes in the cells seem insignificant in comparison.


“It has enormous implications for the sense of self,” said Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “We are, at least from the standpoint of DNA, more microbial than human. That’s a phenomenal insight and one we have to take seriously when we think about human development.”


Considering the extent to which bacteria influence human physiology, scientists are interested in learning how bacteria may affect the brain. Micro-organisms in the gut secrete a profound number of chemicals, some of which are the same substances used by neurons to communicate and regulate mood, such as dopamine, serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These, in turn, appear to play

GUT BACTERIA CAN AFFECT YOUR MOOD

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

more articles by Angela s. hoover

a function in intestinal disorders, coinciding with high levels of major depression and anxiety. Norwegian researchers examined the feces from 55 people in 2014 and found certain bacteria were more likely to be associated with depressive patients. Overall, researchers have linked anxiety, depression and several pediatric disorders, such as autism and hyperactivity, to gastrointestinal abnormalities.


Research conducted by scientists at the University College Cork in Ireland and McMaster University in Ontario, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in 2011, has become one of the best-known experiments linking gut bacteria to the brain. Ten years before designing this study, neuroscientist John Cryan thought about microbiology in terms of pathology: The brain is anatomically isolated and guarded by a blood-brain barrier that allows nutrients in but keeps out pathogens and inflammation, the immune system’s typical response to germs. This led Cryan to believe there are certain fields that just don’t seem to interact well.


“Microbiology and neuroscience, as whole disciplines, don’t tend to have had much