Monthly Archives: June 2016

Link Between Bacteria And Chronic Disease

Chronic diseases are complex and may arise from a number of different triggers. But one common factor seems to be the development of long term inflammation. This shift in immunity has drastic effects on the body and may increase the risk for diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and neurological conditions.

One of the most common triggers of inflammation is a toxin known as lipopolysaccharide, or LPS. It’s produced by a large number of bacterial species and acts as an outer coating for the organism. However, when the immune system comes into contact with this molecule, the local area goes into an immediate defensive posture. While infection hasn’t initiated, the immune forces ready themselves for an attack. If LPS is sensed for an extended period of time, the effects may become systemic and affect the body as a whole.

The most common place to find LPS is the gastrointestinal tract. Here, hundreds of microbial species can be found, many of which produce the toxin. However, the gut is prepared for this type of antagonism and has mechanisms in place to avoid widespread inflammation. Yet, at times, there are cracks in the system and LPS-carrying bacteria may be able to find its way into the bloodstream.

But while the potential for bacteria in blood appears to exist, there has not been much evidence to suggest this occurs, other than in sepsis. However, back in 2015, a duo of researchers from Great Britain and South Africa attempted to investigate whether LPS could be found in the blood. They attempted to review articles examining LPS in blood in the hopes of learning more about the phenomenon.

The team found several examples of the toxin in blood. Even more interesting was the fact numerous studies revealed higher LPS levels in those suffering from certain diseases such as HIV infection, liver disease, and diabetes. This provided the basis of a postulate proposing LPS may be partly responsible for chronic disease onset.

Yet, even with this information, the duo could not describe an actual mechanism. They had some ideas including another hallmark of inflammatory diseases, a phenomenon known as hypercoagulability. The term refers to a tendency for blood to clot. The condition does have a genetic basis but also can be triggered by LPS. For the duo, this appeared to be the best path to evidence. The results of this investigation from the duo and a larger team of colleagues were published last week.

The group required several different procedures to visualize the process of clotting. They used electron and confocal microscopy, calorimetry, and thromboelastography, which determined the viscosity of whole blood. In each case, the experiments were performed on the target of LPS-induced clotting, the protein fibrinogen, as well as blood samples from either healthy individuals or those with platelet-poor plasma. The latter choice was made as these individuals tend to have higher concentrations of fibrinogen. The actual experiments involved adding LPS from one of two species of Escherichia coli to the samples and then observing clotting over time.

When the results came back, there was little doubt LPS was causing hypercoagulability. In each case, the toxin caused clotting of the fibrinogen. While this was expected, there were some surprises in store.

The first was the nature of the clots in the presence of LPS. They were not homogeneous but seemed to be netted in appearance with both dense and light areas. The LPS molecules were having a significant effect on the natural process of clotting and as such, led to this strange formation. For the authors, this observation seemed to parallel the same types of clots seen in those with diabetes and stroke.

While this information was beneficial to the postulate, another result of the experiments was even more valuable. The actual concentration of LPS used was similar to that found in the human body. These levels, which are in the billionths of a gram range, could be reached with less than 10,000 bacteria. This number is normally found in a in the lining of the gut and could easily make its way past the intestinal barrier in the event of a leaky gut event.

The results of the study provide solid evidence to suggest LPS plays a role in the development of chronic diseases. For the authors, the incredibly small amount of the molecule needed to cause a reaction makes this postulate more likely to be true. Yet, this will need to be tested in a more clinical manner in order to prove the culpability of the toxin beyond a reasonable doubt. In the meantime, public health officials may want to consider looking for bacteria and LPS in the blood to determine whether this factor may be playing a role in numerous chronic diseases.

What is the advantages of water

Did you know that your body weight is approximately 60 percent water? Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. The amount of water you need depends on a variety of factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are, and whether you’re experiencing an illness or have any other health problems.

Water Protects Your Tissues, Spinal Cord, and Joints

Water does more than just quench your thirst and regulate your body‘s temperature; it also keeps the tissues in your body moist. You know how it feels when your eyes, nose, or mouth gets dry? Keeping your body hydrated helps it retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive areas, as well as in the blood, bones, and the brain. In addition, water helps protect the spinal cord, and it acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints.

Water Helps Your Body Remove Waste

Adequate water intake enables your body to excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation. The kidneys and liver use it to help flush out waste, as do your intestines. Water can also keep you from getting constipated by softening your stools and helping move the food you’ve eaten through your intestinal tract. However, it should be noted that there is no evidence to prove that increasing your fluid intake will cure constipation.

Water Aids in Digestion

Digestion starts with saliva, the basis of which is water. Digestion relies on enzymes that are found in saliva to help break down food and liquid and to dissolve minerals and other nutrients. Proper digestion makes minerals and nutrients more accessible to the body. Water is also necessary to help you digest soluble fiber. With the help of water, this fiber dissolves easily and benefits your bowel health by making well-formed, soft stools that are easy to pass.

Water Prevents You From Becoming Dehydrated

Your body loses fluids when you engage in vigorous exercise, sweat in high heat, or come down with a fever or contract an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. If you’re losing fluids for any of these reasons, it’s important to increase your fluid intake so that you can restore your body’s natural hydration levels. Your doctor may also recommend that you drink more fluids to help treat other health conditions, like bladder infections and urinary tract stones. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you may want to consult with your physician about your fluid intake because your body will be using more fluids than usual, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

How to Make The Water Taste Better

Not everybody has a taste for water, but we all need it to ensure that our bodies continue functioning properly. If you want to drink more water, but aren’t crazy about the taste (or lack thereof), here are some tips that can make it more enjoyable:

1. Add fresh fruit. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, are classic water enhancers, but other fruit flavors might also tempt your taste buds. Try crushing fresh raspberries or watermelon into your water, or adding strawberry slices. Cucumber and fresh mint are refreshing flavors as well — especially in summer.

2. Use juice. Any fruit juice can be a good base flavor for water, but tart juices, like cranberry, pomegranate, grape, and apple, are especially delicious. Go for juices that are all natural, with no added sugars. And remember: Fruits and their juices don’t just taste good — they contain vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health too.

3. Make it bubbly. Many people prefer sparkling to still water. If plain old water isn’t inspiring to you, try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. Or try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh fruit or natural juice flavors to your seltzer, as suggested above, or look for naturally flavored seltzers at your local market. If you become a seltzer devotee, you might want to consider getting a seltzer maker for your home.

4. Get creative with ice. Some say that ice water tastes better than water served at room temperature. If that’s so, flavored ice cubes may make an even better drink. Use some of the flavoring suggestions above and start experimenting with fresh fruit, mint, or cucumber ice cubes. Simply chop your additive of choice, add it to your ice cube tray along with water, then freeze. You may also consider juice, tea, or coffee cubes. If you want to be more creative, use ice cube trays that come in fun shapes, like stars, circles, or even fish.

The Reason That Always Get Sick While Traveling

Last weekend, bystanders watched as Hillary Clinton unsteadily left a Sept. 11 memorial service in New York City, stumbling as aides helped her into her waiting vehicle. Shortly thereafter, Clinton’s physician released a statement explaining that the Democratic presidential nominee had recently been diagnosed with pneumonia.

But it’s not just Clinton who’s been sick, subsequent reports suggest. People reported on Monday that multiple other members of her campaign team have also recently been struck with illnesses ranging from dehydration to respiratory infections.

The reason for the wave of sickness could be plain bad luck — but it’s also not out of the question that lots of traveling and long hours had a little something to do with it.

“I would imagine that being chronically sleep deprived and overworked and stressed would lower anyone’s resistance to infection,” said Christopher Sanford, an associate professor of family medicine and global health at the University of Washington.

In fact, travel in general may expose people to all kinds of conditions that could make them more susceptible to illness, whether or not they’re running for president of the United States.

“The things that put you at risk for infections are things that do one of two things,” said Catherine Forest, a family medicine doctor at Stanford Health Care. “They either increase your exposure to viruses and bacteria or parasites, or they increase your susceptibility to those things.”

According to Sanford, close proximity to other passengers while traveling can expose travelers to a variety of harmful bugs.

“Folks who go through jets and airports do have a little higher risk of infectious things, including head colds and influenza, and the reason is just exposure to more people,” Sanford said. “Just as people who work at daycares get head colds more often, people who go through crowds get coughed on more and are at slightly higher risk.”

And research appears to support this idea. One oft-cited 2002 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for instance, suggested that an average of 20 percent of plane passengers surveyed reported respiratory infections within five to seven days of flying.

Additionally, certain behaviors linked to being on the road can make us more vulnerable to infection. Losing sleep may be among the most common. Traveling overnight, crossing time zones or even just changing one’s schedule while on the go can all disrupt a traveler’s normal sleep patterns.

“I think you could say fairly that sleep deprivation will slightly weaken your immune system, could make you a little more prone to get things like a head cold,” Sanford said.

One 2009 study found that participants who reported getting less than seven hours of sleep per night over the course of a 14-day period were nearly three times more likely to fall ill when exposed to the common cold virus than those who got at least eight hours. And a 2015 study came to similar conclusions. Participants who reported getting less than six hours of sleep a night over the course of just one week were more than four times more likely to come down with the common cold than those who slept more than seven hours — and those who slept less than five hours were even more susceptible.

Flying across time zones can be especially hard on travelers, particularly when they’re traveling from west to east, said Akram Khan, a specialist in pulmonary diseases, sleep medicine and critical care at Oregon Health & Science University.

“There is this issue of traveling through multiple time zones that can increase the [body’s] level of stress, and it can change your circadian rhythm cycle,” Khan said.

Stress in general tends to weaken the immune system, he added. This means that rushing to catch flights and dealing with hectic travel schedules can also play a role in the body’s susceptibility to infection.

Luckily, there are plenty of steps travelers can take to protect themselves. Some of these are fairly standard, Sanford noted, like washing your hands regularly with soap and water.

“Getting a flu shot is a good idea,” he also suggested. And for people older than 65, there are now two pneumonia vaccines available as well.

Rule Is Still Not Real

News flash flippant food hygiene folks: that potato chip you dropped on the floor, picked up and proceeded to eat was not protected from dirt, bacteria and other contaminations by your quick hands. Again, don’t shoot the messenger, but the 5-second rule is dead.

A recent study from researchers at Rutgers built on three previous studies about the 5-second rule by testing additional foods (“Maybe watermelon creates a liquid barrier that protects it, right?” No.) and testing additional surfaces (“Well my pizza fell on carpet so—” No.).

They found, as did all previous studies, that it takes less than half a second for some bacteria to transfer to food dropped on the ground.

Yes unsanitary people who are currently looking for new loopholes: the study found that carpet has a lower transfer rate, and there are subtle differences between foods, surfaces, and bacteria.

And yes, same gross people, it’s entirely possible that you may drop something, enact the 5-second rule, and not get sick. But that doesn’t mean the rule works, okay? We’ve been over this.

And hey, here’s a free bit of social science research conducted by me: if you drop your avocado toast face down in the break room, pick it up and eat it, it doesn’t matter what goofy thing you say before putting it in your mouth. That’s gross. No exceptions. Additionally, this study didn’t test college students with pizza in frat houses to figure out if one can sterilize the pizza if you rinse it in beer. More research is needed.

Sugar Helps The Bacteria Go Down

kilThere has never been a better time to replenish your gut flora–also known as the living microorganisms stationed in our digestive tracts. You can take your bacteria in a pill, eat them in your “buttery spread”, drink them through a blue straw, or have a doctor stick them directly inside you. But since most people don’t like that last option, researchers have been working on better ways to deliver helpful flora orally and make sure they reach your intestines.

The problem is that many of the bacteria in today’s probiotics don’t actually make it to your gut. Our stomach acid kills all but the most resistant strains of bacteria, and that’s assuming that they’re even alive to begin with. Over-the-counter probiotics aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so they’re not held to their claims about how many live bacteria are inside the pill. Not that that’s stopped almost four million people from using them in 2012.

In principle, though, getting helpful bacteria into intestinal tracts could help a lot of people. Multiple gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, and liver disease are all on the list of ailments that probiotics could help. Fecal transplants have already been used to treat nasty GI infections of a bacterium called Clostridium difficile.

Now MIT researchers have devised a new way to protect bacteria from the onslaught of the human body’s defense system, published this week in the journal Advanced Materials. The scientists used layers of two different polysaccharides, or sugars, to coat individual cells of Bacillus coagulans, which is used to treat irritable bowel syndrome. The end result is a patina of gel enveloping the bacteria in a protective sheath, helping them to get through the stomach and stick to the intestinal lining.

This method allows six times more bacteria to survive than they would without a coating, and the researchers say it could replace fecal transplants–the sugary layers can be used to make a pill or a powder to dissolve in a beverage of your choosing.

Once we figure out which bacteria are actually helpful, this could open up a whole new (possibly terrible) wave of probiotic versions of food. We already have probiotic burritos. How much further can we go?