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Unlocking the Gut Microbiome - interesting article


There is a very fascinating article in The Guardian this morning that explores the role of the Gut microbiome on general health. Ranging from depression to anxiety, inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune conditions, the article explains what is currently understood about the gut microbiome and how it is thought to affect our wider functioning. 

I found it very informative and a really useful summary of current thinking. It even suggests steps that can be taken to improve gut health.

Sunny Clouds:
I saw that as well. 

I first came across stuff about the microbiome in relation to obesity, but last year was fascinated with mentions in relation to long covid of some sort of links with the stomach.  (I don't recall whether there were mentions of other parts of the intestines.)  It was being suggested that you could see a distinct difference I'll characterise as short covid & recover, stomach not very covid-infested, long covid, stomach covid-infested. 

I believe the research into covid-19 will push forward the research.  Being blunt, I think the very large numbers of people developing long covid will push governments and insurers into researching how to limit the costs by treating it effectively.  They'll be in battle with drug companies wanting to maximise sales of anything they can manage to patent.

The long covid thing also mapped onto controversy in relation to mental illness and inflammation, which then overlaps back onto other sorts of post-viral fatigue.

Part of the difficulty with this is the complexity of it all, and I don't think most of medicine likes complexity.  There's that old doctor's saying, 'look for horses not zebras', isn't there?

Looking at the obesity angle of gut microbiome because it's the angle I've read up on most, there are a lot of powerful interests that it wouldn't suit to have emphasis on problems with the gut microbiome instead of counting calories, especially manufacturers who put calories-per-portion prominently and the rest of the info in tiny font, a 'portion' being something ridiculously small.

I don't recall which, but two South American countries abandoned the traditional count calories, carbs versus fat, fasting or whatever stuff in favour of avoiding junk food a little while back.

On the mental front, years ago, there was a bit of research that linked schizophrenia with close contact with cats in childhood.  The researchers thought it might be linked with some sort of long-term inflammatory effect on the brain of a cat disease.  I forget which - a worm?  Anyway, it was seen as a bit weird, then was put down to a theory that children who are more likely to come into contact with cat faeces would be those playing in dirty sandpits and dirty parks/streets, and living in cramped flats with cat litter not changed very often, which they then mapped onto the demographics of those more likely to develop schizophrenia.

Ah, but that's 'inflammation' not gut.  Ah, but long-covid postviral, stomach, inflammation.  

I have believed in what I'll call an 'inflammatory' link  between all sorts of long-term physical and mental conditions, and in recent years thought mostly in terms of leaky gut, but some of this now does say a lot more about the role of the microbiome in the function of our whole body and mind.

Oh dear, I've already been looking at videos, research papers, other publications etc. on this sort of thing and now I'll be following it even more avidly - microbiome, microbiome, microbiome...

That makes two of us following it closely then Sunny! I'm sure it's probably key to a lot of conditions and now it's just unlocking the intricacies of exactly what's happening.

Sunny Clouds:
Oh dear, I went onto Youtube today, and as I'd watched just before reading your news link a video about gut microbiome and long covid, today I've got various links to gut microbiome stuff popping up in my Youtube algorithms.

Today's offering was an interview with an American neurologist who reckons that the cause (or maybe just a frequent cause) of a range of severe neurological conditions, including some forms of dementia, is a problem with the gut, particularly, he theorises, with a sort of bacteria if it gets up from the lower intestine to the upper intestine.

He talks of links between heavy use of antibiotics in childhood and later neurological disorders.

Well, I daresay his theories will be investigated and varied, but again it ties in with the whole gut thing.

Incidentallly, I've been brooding over my childhood.  I took vast amounts of antibiotics, mostly provided by a close relative.  (I.e. no visit to surgery needed to get scrip.)

I also had a childhood plagued by allergy, I thought, being very, very catarrhal.  It was as an adult I compared how I'd been in various places I lived and first thought maybe it was dust mites, then when I moved to where I am, where I am 100% sure I have a problem with a particular type of tree mould, which I can map onto different places where I've lived, and onto problems others have had.

To begin with, I thought it was an allergy, then a couple of years ago, it dawned on me that it's not an allergy - that tree mould can grow on/in humans, but in terms of the body's inflammatory reaction, it probably makes little difference.

That's not to say I don't also get some hay fever.

But I then find myself wondering how much fungal infections (or as I think of them, infestations) are relevant to mental and physical health - surely the fungal content of our guts has to be relevant as well as bacterial content?  I wonder how different bacteria interact with different fungi?

As you can tell, I find this absorbing, but how on earth can scientists unravel it all?


--- Quote from: Sunny Clouds on 13 Jul 2021 02:29PM ---As you can tell, I find this absorbing, but how on earth can scientists unravel it all?

--- End quote ---
That is one of the biggest challenges ahead I think! 
As it is thought to affect so many different organs and multi system functioning, I can envisage many smaller research projects, each taking a specific interest in a particular area of the body/condition/microbe etc.

Its very much in the beginnings of scientific understanding and there is so much to learn. 

Like you, I had a lot of antibiotics as a child. I was a very 'sickly' child with long periods of illness and time off school. Much of it I'm now sure was probably due to comorbidities attributable to undiagnosed EDS, but at the time I was just given antibiotics for mystery illnesses and repeated complications that I doubt would happen today. There must be a lot of us who grew up around the same time when antibiotics were handed out without any concerns about resistance or overuse. I suppose we are now seeing some unintended consequences of that in regards to our gut health. 

I found the information about possible links to dementia with the gut microbiome intriguing. It could definitely be a contributory factor in some dementias and help account for the high rise in diagnosed instances of these terrible diseases. If relatively simple steps can be taken to improve gut health and reduce the risks of getting such diseases, that would be an absolute game changer. I'm sure it's not the only cause of dementias (and I'm grouping them together for simplicity here, even though we know some are genetic), and research will need to continue into these terrifying and awful conditions from many angles. 

I'm a great believer in doing whatever I can to manage my health, whether that's taking my meds, questioning my doctors about my treatment, or eating as well as I can. If I can tweak my gut health to improve my overall health and prevent future disease, then I will do that if I can. Disability sometimes gets in the way of that, but I do try.


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