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Crohn’s Disease: Understanding the Gut Biome and its Implications in Patients with Crohn’s Disease

abdomen-1698565_640As we now know, every person’s digestive system has a unique combination of fungus, bacteria, viruses and protozoa. In a small study* researchers compared bacteria and the fungus Candida tropicalis in the digestive tracts of people with Crohn’s disease and their findings to first degree relatives in northern France and Belgium. The results were also compared with four families in same area who did not have Crohn’s disease.

In addition to the Candida tropicalis, two type of bacteria, E. coli and Serratia marcescens, was present in the individuals with Crohn’s disease. The presence of the fungus and bacteria was also higher in family members of the patient. Test-tube research results showed that the three micro-organisms work together to form a biofilm that sticks to parts of the intestines causing inflammation producing Crohn’s disease symptoms.

Professor Mahmoud Ghannoum commented, “Furthermore, we found strong similarities in

the ‘gut profiles’ of the Crohn’s affected families which were strikingly different from the Crohn’s free families. Of course, other factors such as shared diet and environment contribute to these similarities as well.”

Dr. Wendy Edwards, research manager at Crohn’s and Colitis, UK, stated “Although the sample size was small in this study, it highlighted an interesting area for further research.” In my own practice, the recommendation for probiotics was often found to help most people who suffered from digestive issues. With all the new knowledge being published, it’s clear that a healthy biome with a properly balanced environment of fungus, bacteria, viruses and protozoa leads to a happier gut improving many other bodily functions.

*journal mBio. Study led by a team from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Reported in Medscape.com Peter Russell: 9/29/2016

Aging and the Role Vitamin B12 Plays

 

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Recently the National Academy of Medicine has been researching how levels of vitamin B12 protects the aging brain. Vitamin B12 only occurs naturally in animal protein foods. Our ability to absorb B12 depends on adequate stomach acid and digestive enzymes. These substances work to release the vitamin from the food protein. As we age our acid production decreases and over age 50 our digestive enzyme production starts to decline.

Current research on the elderly is focusing on the relationship between depression, dementia and mental impairment and their association with a B12 deficiency and folate, another B vitamin. (When I was in graduate school 20 years ago, we read a study that male vegans were more susceptible to depression.)

Dr. Rajerethinam, psychiatrist at Wayne State University School of Medicine recounted how “a 66 year old woman hospitalized with severe depression, psychosis and loss of interest in life was almost entirely reversed by injections of vitamin B12”. In Naturopathic medicine, Meyers cocktails include vitamin B12.

European researchers gave vitamin B12 to people with Alzheimer disease and found it helped to protect the areas of the brain that weren’t damaged by the disease. University of Oxford did a two year study of people older than 70 with mild impairment and lowered levels of B12. The people were given high doses of the vitamin (which is water soluble) and found this protocol reduced cerebral atrophy.

BOTTOM LINES:

  1. B12 deficiency is more common in elderly who live alone and don’t eat a balanced diet.
  2. 30% of people older than 50 produce too little stomach acid.
  3. People who are on acid reducing medications are at higher risk of B12 deficiency.
  4. Foods supplemented with B12 are very important for vegans.
  5. People with Crohn’s disease, Celiac, surgical weight loss, cancer treatment and colitis should check with their doctors about taking a vitamin B complex supplement.

*This article was based on information from Jane Brody, New York Times Science section, 9/6/16.

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