After a year and a half of having a second job as a new author, my first book is finally available in print! A comprehensive, thoroughly referenced guide to how our gut bacteria influence physical and mental health: The Symbiont Factor is now available on Amazon as a paperback! If you ever wondered if and why probiotics are healthy you should read this book. Please share with your contacts 🙂 http://tinyurl.com/pe2g4xt
These days it seems that every other person has high cholesterol, high triglycerides, fatty liver disease or is overweight. Many have combinations of these problems and are constantly on medications to try to control runaway cholesterol or triglycerides. Statin drugs, used to lower cholesterol, are plagued with serious side effects that keep many people from using them. Fatty liver disease results when the body does not manage the metabolism of fats properly and fats accumulate in the liver instead.
Why does the body sometimes do such a poor job of managing these factors? The answer may surprise you! Our human bodies do not function well at all without the population of symbiotic bacteria that live in the intestines. A recent research study showed that gut bacteria produce bile salts that help control host functions. Bile salts are used as a messenger in a “microbe-host dialog” to normalize the metabolism of fats. The bacteria are therefore able to control:
-Fat (lipid) metabolism of the host
-Circadian rhythms (when you naturally wake or sleep, and how much)
This is an example of the holobiont concept at work; the host does not function normally at all without the symbiont organisms. What are the factors that promote healthy gut bacteria? What are the factors that are harmful to gut bacteria? What do we need to do in order to grow healthy gut bacteria? These are just some of the questions that will be answered in The Symbiont Factor, due to be published next month!
Reference for this article:
Fatty Liver Disease is an increasingly common problem, estimated to affect up to 30% of the population at some point in their lives. Also called Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease or NAFLD (or initially steatohepatitis which means the same thing) this condition is considered to be a very significant liver disease. It can lead to liver failure or liver cancer, both of which can be fatal. If you drink alcohol or are exposed to elevated levels of chemicals (this can be everything from pesticides, parts cleaner, spray paint and solvents, to hair spray and nail polish then this information applies particularly to you as these chemicals are toxic to the liver!
NAFLD or fatty liver does not initially have any distinct symptoms; poor energy levels may be the single most noticeable symptom and is often attributed to either age or fitness level. This makes it a sneaky problem that can kill you!
Fatty liver is caused by several problems including liver inflammation, overactivity of natural killer immune T-cells (NK cells), sedentary lifestyle, high fat diet or high carbohydrate diet, weight gain or lack of exercise and alteration of the normal gut bacteria. These factors are in turn inter-related; sedentary lifestyles cause weight gain for example. High fat diets or diets with high levels of sugar alter the gut bacteria. Overall it could be said that this condition is a result of modern diet and lifestyle as its incidence is directly proportional to these factors.
Diets that are high in sweets or fats, weight gain, stress and antibiotics cause major shifts in the types of bacteria composing the gut bacterial colony and result in immune dysfunction. Many aspects of immunity are affected, but those that are significant to NAFLD include:
-loss of control of NK T-cells, resulting in liver inflammation
-increased permeability of intestinal lining membranes, resulting in bacterial translocation (ie they end up in the bloodstream), resulting in liver inflammation
-altered digestive processes, resulting in elevated fat levels in blood and deposition in the liver
-altered sense of smell and appetite, resulting in reduced satiety (ie harder to feel “full” after eating), resulting in overeating and weight gain
-lowered metabolism and altered hormonal levels, resulting in weight gain
-weight gain results in more systemic inflammation
-systemic inflammation results in liver inflammation
Regular aerobic exercise combined with a low carbohydrate diet has a beneficial effect on the gut bacteria, restoring populations to a more beneficial profile. Aerobic exercise will help to heal the liver from NAFLD! This improvement is thought to be in part because of the way that aerobic exercise improves the gut bacteria. Other factors that improve gut bacteria include using probiotics-a good combination with exercise. The use of probiotics to restore normal gut bacteria has also been shown to:
-protect the liver against NAFLD
-reduce liver inflammation
-aid in maintaining normal energy levels
-restores normal natural killer T-cell control
-restores normal immune function
-helps the liver to heal from NAFLD
This discussion adds to the body of evidence that shows gut bacteria to not only be a useful addition but in fact a necessary functional organ. Our bodies and our symbionts evolved together and neither can thrive without the other. So, remember to exercise, limit your carbohydrates and take your probiotics!