Broccoli protects your gut from chemical toxins

Broccoli is much more than a  great source of nutrients. It contains phytochemicals that help protect your gut from damage by toxic chemicals.

A recent study proved that Broccoli activates  a protective ligand called AHR. AHR protect cells in the intestinal tract from fibrosis and helps suppress inflammation.

It would be very hard to avoid in-digesting any traces of harmful chemicals so it’s good to know that eating broccoli , other cruciferous vegetables  and fruits  help protect our gastrointestinal tract from the toxins in our environment.

In contrast eating junk food provides no protection of your gastrointestinal lining, it causes inflammation,  delivers toxins into your gut and a heap of empty calories that usually end up as fat.

 

Source

Troy D. Hubbard, Iain A. Murray, Robert G. Nichols, Kaitlyn Cassel, Michael Podolsky, Guray Kuzu, Yuan Tian, Phillip Smith, Mary J. Kennett, Andrew D. Patterson, Gary H. Perdew, Dietary broccoli impacts microbial community structure and attenuates chemically induced colitis in mice in an Ah receptor dependent manner, In Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 37, 2017, Pages 685-698, ISSN 1756-4646, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2017.08.038.
(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464617305029)

Consumption of broccoli mediates numerous chemo-protective benefits through the intake of phytochemicals, some of which modulate aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) activity. Whether AHR activation is a critical aspect of the therapeutic potential of dietary broccoli is not known. Here we administered isocaloric diets, with or without supplementation of whole broccoli (15% w/w), to congenic mice expressing the high-affinity Ahrb/b or low-affinity Ahrd/d alleles,for 24 days and examined the effects on AHR activity, intestinal microbial community structure, inflammatory status, and response to chemically induced colitis. Cecal microbial community structure and metabolic potential were segregated according to host dietary and AHR status. Dietary broccoli associated with heightened intestinal AHR activity, decreased microbial abundance of the family Erysipelotrichaceae, and attenuation of colitis. In summary, broccoli consumption elicited an enhanced response in ligand-sensitive Ahrb/b mice, demonstrating that in part the beneficial aspects of dietary broccoli upon intestinal health are associated with heightened AHR activity.


There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all nutrition.

Diets are fads. None work as they claim to do. Diets are the  snakes oil cure for a post war problem. The consumption of high calorie high sugar processed foods that lead us to becoming overweight and the obesity epidemic.

There are so many myths about food and diets that go unquestioned we’ve forgotten to listen to our body and remember what people used to eat before processed foods were mass produced and fruit and vegetables were imported.  Today we can eat our favourite fruit all year round. Unfortunately  non-organic food is produced on such a massive scale that their nutritional value has dropped considerably since post war era.

People used to only eat what was available during the seasons. They ate whole foods and hormone and antibiotic free meat. Now we eat whatever we want when we want and without question. We put on weight, become unhappy with our body shape and decide to choose a diet. The diet usually fails.  But there is another diet that may work and that is your diet. The one that works for you. Of course all humans need certain nutrients and we know that vegetables and fruits, nuts and source of EFAs, and some meats are an important part of any diet.

We also know that too much of one type of food can be detrimental to our health. Perhaps the most important thing is eating the infamous “balanced diet” and also being aware of our needs throughout life and as the seasons change. You are usually going to better off ignoring your afternoon craving for mars bars but craving red meat or leafy greens is useful information and a  clue we are in need of nutrients from these food sources. Once you stop the junk , return to home cooking and whole foods you will crave healthy foods not empty calories that leave you feeling unsatisfied.

Ever our bacteria in our gut influences what we crave and how we metabolise food. So don’t believe the hyperbole , follow you gut instinct. Your little friends may be trying to tell you something .

Here’s a short article below that explains how the composition of our gut microbiota can determine whether we are better off on brown or white bread.

Author:  posted on http://www.GutMicrobiotaforhealth.com

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all nutrition. In 2015, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel laid the foundation for this statement with an article that proved that each of us metabolises food differently due, in part, to gut microbiota.

Researcher Niv Zmora explained to Gut Microbiota for Health the main results of that study during the GMFH World Summit held in Paris in March 2017.

Now, this same team has focused on bread, one of the most frequently consumed foods worldwide. And they have shed some light on one of the eternal questions in nutrition: is it healthier to eat white bread or brown bread? Until now, nutrition experts often shunned white bread because of its low fibre content and potential to spike the blood sugar.

For the study, published in Cell Metabolism, Israeli researchers recruited 20 healthy people; half ate whole-wheat sourdough bread and the other half white bread for a week. Then both groups took a two-week break and switched bread diets.

Researchers measured 20 health markers and focused on blood sugar levels after eating, what is known as the glycaemic response, a biological measurement of how quickly the body can process glucose consumed in the food.

The scientists found that on average, neither of the breads emerged as less likely to affect blood sugar.

For first author Eran Elinav, “The findings of this study are not only fascinating but potentially very important, because they point toward a new paradigm: different people react differently, even to the same foods”.

So, according to the results of the study, individuals can differ in their response to the same food, in this case bread, due to individual differences in the gut microbiota. So there is no good or bad bread, but it depends on each person’s gut microbiota.

The findings of this new research are linked with other current research from the Weizmann Institute of Science and to a series of earlier studies that suggested diets should be tailored to each person’s gut microbiota in order to maximize health benefits.

 

SOURCE

http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/brown-bread-healthier-white-answer-depend-gut-microbiota/?utm_source=Gut+Microbiota+For+Health+-+NW+%28EN%29&utm_campaign=b2e05ad4ef-NW29_EN_CAMPAIGN_2017_09_05&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_36413f3333-b2e05ad4ef-128301553

 

Reference:

Korem T, Zeevi D, Zmora N, et al. Bread affects clinical parameters and induces gut microbiome-associated personal glycemic responsesCell Metabolism. 2017. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2017.05.002


Chinese herbs help clear antibiotic resistant Heliobacter pylori infection after failure of triplet therapy with vonaprazan

Heliobacter pylori is a bacteria that is found in many patients with stomach ulcers and gastritis. Almost 50% of the world’s population are believed to have H.pylori in their stomach , but  many do not have any of the unpleasant symptoms that are associated with gastritis and do not develop ulcers. However for the people suffering from these health problems the eradication of H.Pylori is a critical part of the treatment.

Like many other strains of bacteria. Some strains of H.Pylori are becoming extremely resistant to antibiotics. This limits conventional treatment options for some patients.

Chinese herbs are powerful antibacterial weapons and viable alternatives to current antibiotic protocols . Chinese Herbs also can be used in conjunction with antibiotics to help overcome the drug resistance.

A recent journal article published in Journal of Digestive diseases, reported that a traditional formulation of Wu Zhu Yu Tang has helped eradicate a drug resistant H.Pylori infection when used on combination with antibiotic drugs.

We desperately need more research in using Chinese botanicals for antibiotic resistant bacteria. Drug resistant bacteria infections are on the increase and like climate change it is a global problem that requires us to think outside the box and beyond our own biases . We must work together for solutions for our future and not be solely be influenced  by politics and profit.

ABSTRACT

Vonoprazan, a potassium-competitive acid blocker, is used as a substitute drug for conventional proton pump inhibitors. Recently, vonoprazan has been applied for eradication of H. pylori (HP) infection, and the efficacies of vonoprazan-based triple therapy against HP infection have already been reported. However, treatment sometimes fails in the primary and/or secondary triplet eradication therapy, including with the use of vonoprazan for HP infection. We experienced three cases of refractory HP infection. They were treated with eradication therapy for HP infection with chronic gastritis. After primary triplet therapy with amoxicillin, clarithromycin, and rabeprazole (Case 1) or vonoprazan (Case 2, 3), their urea breath test were positive. Subsequently, patients received secondary eradication therapy with amoxicillin, metronidazole, and vonoprazan (Case 1, 2) or rabeprazole (Case 3), but their urea breath test was still positive. Thereafter, they consulted Kampo treatment. Kampo eradication therapy was given consisting of goshuyuto 2.5 g three-times daily plus rabeprazole 10 mg twice daily for 28 days. Finally, their urea breath test became negative. We successfully treated these cases with goshuyuto and rabeprazole. Goshuyuto treatment is worth trying as another therapeutic option.

Source

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1751-2980.12537/abstract?campaign=wolacceptedarticle

 

References

Nagata, Y., Nagasaka, K., Koyama, S., Murase, M., Saito, M., Yazaki, T., Komatsu, N., Murase, T., Uehara, T. and Taniuchi, N. (), Successful eradication of Helicobacter pylori with a herbal medicine, goshuyuto (Wu Zhu Yu Tang), plus rabeprazole after failure of triplet therapy with vonoprazan: a report of three cases. Journal of Digestive Diseases. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/1751-2980.12537

 

 


Your guide to the difference between fermented foods and probiotics

A useful article from Gut Microbiota New Watch

Introduction

For many years, humans have known that bacteria and other microorganisms are capable of transforming food substratesmaking them both tasty and nutritious. More and more, chefs and other food-makers are putting bacteria to work to produce fermented foods. With delicious results.

Besides flavour, though, are there other reasons to seek out fermented foods? Scientists around the world are trying to answer this question by studying the possible health benefits of consuming live cultures.

Robert (Bob) Hutkins, Professor of Food Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (USA), studies bacteria in fermented foods and factors that affect their survival in the gastrointestinal tract. In untangling the health benefits we can attribute to fermented foods, he says, it’s important to address the common misconception that fermented foods are the same thing as “probiotics”—the latter being live bacteria that confer health benefits when consumed in adequate numbers, according to the definition set by an international panel of experts in both 2001 and 2014.

“Not all fermented foods contain live organisms,” Hutkins tells GMFH editors. “Beer and wine, for example, undergo steps that remove the organisms [like yeasts that allow fermentation]. Other fermented foods are heat-treated and the organisms are inactivated. Bread is baked and sauerkraut is often canned. So while these foods may be nutritious, they do not have probiotic activity.”

He continues, “That being said, there are still lots of fermented foods that do contain live organisms, including yogurt and other [fermented] dairy foods, most cheeses, non-heated sauerkraut and kimchi, even many of the European-style dry fermented sausages.”

So then, can the term probiotic be applied to the subset of fermented foods that do contain live microorganisms when consumed? Hutkins says it cannot: “The live organisms present in these products are there for one main reason – to perform the fermentation (i.e., convert milk into yogurt or cheese, or cabbage into kimchi). These cultures do not necessarily have any probiotic functions. By definition, probiotics must ‘confer a health benefit’. That means the probiotic must have been characterized and have clinical evidence of a health benefit. Cultures are not probiotic unless they have met this requirement.”

Click on link to read the full article 

Gut Microbiota News Watch

About the Author

Kristina Campbell
Science writer Kristina Campbell (M.Sc.), from British Columbia (Canada), specializes in communicating about the gut microbiota, digestive health, and nutrition. Author of the best selling Well-Fed Microbiome Cookbook, her freelance work has appeared in publications around the world. Kristina joined the Gut Microbiota for Health publishing team in 2014


What are Prebiotics and why we need them

Prebiotics are a very specific type of food. While many of the food ingredients we consume are digested immediately, prebiotics are a healthy non-digestible food ingredient. When the non-digestible ingredient reaches our large intestines, it allows for growth of bio-cultures . This can provide good digestive health. The positive effects prebiotics have by reaching the intestine in an unaltered form is known as the prebiotic effect.

 

Prebiotic Effect

A prebiotic effect occurs when there is an increase in the activity of healthy bacteria in the human intestine. The prebiotics stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the gut and increase resistance to invading pathogens. These foods induce metabolic activity, leading to health improvements. Healthy bacteria in the intestine can combat unwanted bacteria, which are associated  with many diseases and gut complaints.

Prebiotic sources

An example of some prebiotic sources you will find in your local store or supermarket are: –

  • raw Jerusalem artichoke.
  • raw garlic.
  • raw leeks.
  • raw or cooked onions.

However not all prebiotics sources are the same and often prebiotic powders with high concentrations of  more potent prebiotics can be useful as part of a treatment plan for many gut problems and also just for supplementation. For example a good source of chicory Root (containing inulin ) will help the bacteria  in your gut to produce large amounts of short chain fatty acids, a vital nutrient for gut cells and for metabolism of fats and glucose.

Some Health Benefits of Prebiotics

A recent study reported

 

  • The gut microbiota influences metabolic syndrome-associated alterations.
  • Prebiotics reduces peripheral and brain inflammation in obese db/db mice.
  • Link between prebiotics, hippocampal neurogenesis and spatial memory.

Abstract

Mounting evidence shows that the gut microbiota, an important player within the gut-brain communication axis, can affect metabolism, inflammation, brain function and behavior. Interestingly, gut microbiota composition is known to be altered in patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS), who also often display neuropsychiatric symptoms. The use of prebiotics, which beneficially alters the microbiota, may therefore be a promising way to potentially improve physical and mental health in MetS patients.

This hypothesis was tested in a mouse model of MetS, namely the obese and type-2 diabetic db/db mice, which display emotional and cognitive alterations associated with changes in gut microbiota composition and hippocampal inflammation compared to their lean db/+ littermates. We assessed the impact of chronic administration (8 weeks) of prebiotics (oligofructose) on both metabolic (body weight, food intake, glucose homeostasis) and behavioral (increased anxiety-like behavior and impaired spatial memory) alterations characterizing db/db mice, as well as related neurobiological correlates, with particular attention to neuroinflammatory processes.

Prebiotic administration improved excessive food intake and glycemic dysregulations (glucose tolerance and insulin resistance) in db/db mice. This was accompanied by an increase of plasma anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 levels and hypothalamic mRNA expression of the anorexigenic cytokine IL-1β, whereas unbalanced mRNA expression of hypothalamic orexigenic (NPY) and anorexigenic (CART, POMC) peptides was unchanged. We also detected signs of improved blood-brain-barrier integrity in the hypothalamus of oligofructose-treated db/dbmice (normalized expression of tight junction proteins ZO-1 and occludin). On the contrary, prebiotic administration did not improve behavioral alterations and associated reduction of hippocampal neurogenesis displayed by db/db mice, despite normalization of increased hippocampal IL-6 mRNA expression. Of note, we found a relationship between the effect of treatment on dentate gyrus neurons and spatial memory. These findings may prove valuable for introducing novel approaches to treat some of the comorbidities associated with MetS.

 

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159116305682?_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_origin=gateway&_docanchor=&md5=b8429449ccfc9c30159a5f9aeaa92ffb&dgcid=raven_sd_via_email

 

 


Could probiotics each day keep antibiotic prescriptions at bay?

28 FEB 2017 |

Let’s say you have a cold—and it’s a bad one. Your head constantly aches, your nose runs, and you cough until you almost choke. You can’t get warm, no matter how many blankets you wrap around yourself. Five days into this misery you’re exhausted and just want to resume your normal life.

A massive temptation exists at this stage: to visit your doctor and ask for a prescription for antibiotics. In fact, the common cold—officially diagnosed as an upper respiratory tract infection (URTI)—is one of the top reasons for doctors’ visits in the US.

But here’s the problem: antibiotics are ineffective against the common cold. Despite the fact that patients with a URTI frequently ask doctors for antibiotics, and the fact that doctors frequently prescribe them, the common cold is caused by a virus and cannot be cured with drugs that target bacteria. (If the antibiotics appear to work in the end, it might be due to the placebo effect.)

Antibiotics for the common cold account for some of the estimated 30% of all antibiotic prescriptions in US clinics and hospitals that are given inappropriately. Excessive antibiotic use is considered a major threat to global public health, contributing the problem of antibiotic resistance: microorganisms developing the ability to withstand the effects of drugs that are supposed to kill them. Furthermore, antibiotics may affect individuals’ gut microbiota in a way that poses risks to long-term health.

Can all of this be avoided? Ideally, you wouldn’t get a cold in the first place. But it seems impossible to avoid harmful viral exposure in a world that includes regular encounters with public transit, elevator buttons, ATM keypads, or even regular old doorknobs.

A group of scientists and experts are starting to investigate a tool that might solve this tricky problem: probiotics as a preventative measure against the common cold.

A 2015 scientific analysis showed growing evidence for probiotics as a way to improve outcomes related to the common cold. The analysis, which compared groups of adults that used probiotics to those not using probiotics, found 11 fewer people out of 100 developed a cold when probiotics were in the picture. The length of the illness was shorter for those who consumed probiotics, by an average of 2 days. And most importantly: those who took probiotics preventatively had fewer antibiotic prescriptions.

The real-life benefits of using probiotics to prevent the common cold were illustrated by some number-crunching on the populations of France and Canada. Analyses published in 2015 and 2016 showed that widespread consumption of probiotics might save thousands of antibiotic prescriptions per year in each country—between 291,000 and 473,000 in France and between 52,000 and 84,000 in Canada. As a bonus, it could also lead to significant savings on healthcare costs.

Experts from the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) say they are planning to follow up on this work by systematically investigating the question of whether antibiotic use is reduced when people are given probiotics to prevent or treat infections like the common cold.

Reducing misuse and overuse of antibiotics is an urgent mandate in healthcare, according to the World Health Organization. With more and more evidence, healthcare professionals will understand the most effective way to leverage probiotics for addressing this problem. Because it would be mighty nice to find a way of stopping the shivering, sniffling misery of the person standing next to you in the elevator before it even begins.

http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/probiotics-day-keep-antibiotic-prescriptions-bay/?utm_source=Newsletter+Gut+Microbiota+for+Health+-+News+Watch+-+English&utm_campaign=5279ce8a58-NW+NL+%2323&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_36413f3333-5279ce8a58-128301553

 


Stress alters our gut microbiome leading to increased colonic inflammation during infections.

The mutualistic (friendly) bacteria in our gut is vital for defences against infections because it works in concert our immune system to kill and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.

For sometime it has been proposed stress can alter the populations of friendly bacteria leading to vulnerability to acute or chronic infections and inflammation. People with  Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis have significantly different bacteria populations to healthy people , but scientists are still not sure how much the alterations of gut bacteria has to do with the progression of these diseases. This study below might help find the answer.

The commensal microbiota exacerbate infectious colitis in stressor-exposed mice

• Germfree mice were colonized with microbiota from stressor-exposed or control mice.
• Newly colonized mice were infected with the colonic pathogen Citrobacter rodentium.
• Colonization with microbiota from stressed donors increased colonic inflammation.
• Stressor-induced effects on the microbiota directly affect mucosal immunity.

ABSTRACT HERE  – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159116304196?dgcid=raven_sd_via_email

Study conclusion: This study demonstrates that the commensal microbiota directly contribute to excessive inflammatory responses to C. rodentium during stressor exposure, and may help to explain why gastrointestinal disorders are worsened during stressful experiences.

Comments

This study revealed the stressed mice guts did not have an important species of friendly bacteria called Bifidobacterium,  but in mice not exposed to stress there was bifidobacterium present. It is is suggest that the absence of  bifidobacterium caused a more severe inflammatory response.

Bifidobacterium coevolved with us. It is important for immunity, energy, metabolic process and mood. Studies like this help us understand the benefits of maintaining a healthy gut microbiome and perhaps they will help us develop more effective treatments for gastrointestinal complaints.


The Pros and cons of PPIs (Anti-acid drugs)

Christmas is over and for some it was time to enjoy the food and drink in plenty! Unfortunately it may have left you with  some digestion problems and you may find yourself reaching in your pocket to use your new prescription of PPIs or an over-the-counter brand. The Christmas holidays is a common time to experience reflux , heartburn and indigestion. Many people will choose  this class of drug to provide fast relief.

However PPIs were never intended to be taken long term or for mild reflux. The OTC drugs were originally designed for short term relief and  prescribed medication is intended for severe symptoms and a clinical diagnosis of GERD or conditions like esophagitis.  If you have just started taking PPIs or find yourself crunching on a few anti-acid tablets a day then take a minute to know the pro’s and con’s of these drugs.

Pro’s

  • Fast short term relief from heartburn and reflux / GERD
  • Easy to take
  • Available OTC

Con’s

  • PPIs treat the symptoms not the cause.
  • Long term use increases risk of osteoporosis ,  low bone density and hip fractures in elderly
  • May lower calcium absorption
  • Increases risk of B12 and Iron deficiency because your stomach acid production is impaired and this also increases risk of small intestinal bacteria overgrowth
  • Can be difficult to stop taking PPIs due to a “rebound acid hypersecretion response” causing severe heartburn and reflux soon after after withdrawal. Studies that this is  withdrawal symptoms and not just the return of the original disease.
  • Can cause the symptoms it is supposed to treat. Refer to Proton-Pump Inhibitor Therapy Induces Acid-Related Symptoms in Healthy Volunteers After Withdrawal of Therapy 13 April 2009 Christina Reimer, Bo Sondergaard, Linda Hilsted, Peter Bytzer
    Gastroenterology July 2009 (Vol. 137, Issue 1, Pages 80-87.e1) or http://www.natap.org/2009/HIV/070409_02.htm
  • Long term use has been associated with causing Gastritis

 

Remember stomach acid is good for you. It protects you from nasty bacteria and it is essential for B12 and Iron synthesis.

 

 

 


Bacteria is everywhere does that make the “five second rule” nonsense? This MD thinks so

Melbourne is the Allergy capital of the world. Some Australian health experts say this is because of an obsession with hygiene and food allergies. The FDA recently banned antibacterial soap products and we need to ban them here too. These useless products provide no benefit and cause harm to our microbiome.

Unfortunately product marketing has  played on a fear of bacteria without providing a scientific context and instead making us believe we need to protect ourselves from bacteria. In reality bacteria is everywhere and only a few percent are harmful.

This article from the New York Times remind us we are never far away from our tiny allies and enemies.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/11/upshot/im-a-doctor-if-i-drop-food-on-the-kitchen-floor-i-still-eat-it.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_up_20161012&nl=upshot&nl_art=5&nlid=59638583&ref=headline&te=1

You may have read or heard about the study debunking the five-second rule. It said that no matter how fast you pick up food that falls on the floor, you will pick up bacteria with it.

Our continued focus on this threat has long baffled me. Why are we so worried about the floor? So many other things are more dangerous than that.

I first became interested in the five-second rule years ago, when I was a co-author of a book on medical myths. We cited a number of studiesshowing that food that touched household surfaces — even for brief periods of time — could pick up bacteria or other harmful substances.

This most recent study was similar in that it tested a variety of foods, a variety of substances, for various periods. And, like those other studies, this one found that food touching the floor, even for a very short amount of time, could pick up bacteria.

There’s no magic period of time that prevents transmission. But even though I know bacteria can accumulate in less than five seconds, I will still eat food that has fallen on my kitchen floor. Why? Because my kitchen floor isn’t really that dirty.

Our metric shouldn’t be whether there are more than zero bacteria on the floor. It should be how many bacteria are on the floor compared with other household surfaces. And in that respect, there are so many places in your house that pose more of a concern than the floor.

Perhaps no one in the United States has spent more time investigating the occurrence of bacteria on public surfaces than Charles Gerba. He’s a professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, and he has published many papers on the subject.

In 1998, he and his colleagues investigated how well cleaning products could reduce coliform bacteria counts on household surfaces. As part of that research, they measured various locations in the house before any cleaning.

They found that the kitchen floor was likely to harbor, on average, about three colonies per square inch of coliform bacteria (2.75 to be exact). So there are some. But here’s the thing — that’s cleaner than both the refrigerator handle (5.37 colonies per square inch) and the kitchen counter (5.75 colonies per square inch).

We spend so much time worrying about what food might have picked up from the floor, but we don’t worry about touching the refrigerator. We also don’t seem as worried about food that touches the counter. But the counter is just as dirty, if not dirtier.

The same thing happens in the bathroom. I know a lot of people who are worried about the toilet seat, but it’s cleaner than all the things in the kitchen I just mentioned (0.68 colonies per square inch). What’s dirtier in the bathroom? Almost everything. The flush handle (34.65 colonies per square inch), the sink faucet (15.84 colonies per square inch) and the counter (1.32 colonies per square inch).

Things get dirty when lots of hands touch them and when we don’t think about it. We worry about the floor and the toilet seat, so we clean them more. We don’t think about the refrigerator handle or the faucet handle as much.

If we carry this logic out further, there are things we handle a lot and never really clean. One study, for instance, found that about 95 percent of mobile phones carried by health care workers were contaminated with nosocomial bacteria. Of those contaminated with staph aureus, more than half were contaminated with methicillin resistant bacteria (MRSA).

Think about how many people have handled the money in your wallet. A study of one-dollar bills found that 94 percent were colonized by bacteria, 7 percent of which were pathogenic to healthy people and 87 percent of which were pathogenic to people who were hospitalized or who had compromised immune systems. Where do you keep your money? In a wallet or purse? When did you last clean it? It’s probably filthy.

I see people pay for food every day and then eat what they’re handed with no concern that the food might have been contaminated. And the money and the hands that just held it could be much dirtier than the floor.

There are so many studies out there showing that things we touch every day are so, so dirty. Gas pump handles. A.T.M. buttons. Remote controls. Light switches. Computer keyboards.

The dirtiest thing in your kitchen, by far, is likely to be the sponge you keep near the sink. Most people almost never wash or disinfect those sponges. Mr. Gerba found they had, on average, more than 20 million colonies per square inch.

All of this should remind you that it’s always a good idea to wash your hands before you eat. Hand-washing is still one of the best ways to prevent illness.

People react to news like this in one of two ways. One is to become paranoid about everything. Such people start to clean compulsively, worry about all the things they’re touching, and use hand sanitizer obsessively.

 

The alternative is to realize that for most of us, our immune systems are pretty hardy. We’ve all been touching this dirty stuff for a long time, without knowing it, and doing just fine.

I clearly fall into the latter group. If I drop food on the floor, I still eat it. I do that because the harm I might get from the floor is not worth my concern compared with many, many other things. You may feel differently. Either way, make an informed judgment based on relative risks, not on any arbitrary span of time that one thing has been touching another

Aaron E. Carroll is a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine who blogs on health research and policy at The Incidental Economist and makes videos atHealthcare Triage. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronecarroll.


Gluten Sensitivity is not a disease it is a result of changes in your gut

It seems the idea that gluten is bad for us has become so mainstream that it is just accepted as a fact when it is not. Celiac disease is the only disease caused by intolerance of gluten and it involves  a severe immune reaction to any gluten that reaches the intestines. There are specific tests for this disease and there is a genetic component.

Here in Australia celiac affects 1 in 70 people ,which is less than 2% of the population. However it is believed many people remained undiagnosed.   For people with celiac a strict gluten free diet will help them live mostly symptom free.

For the rest of us we have the capacity to breakdown gluten and enjoy all our favourite wheat based snacks and meals. Yet gluten is the now often the first reason people think is causing their gut problems. Gluten is blamed for  bloating, diarrhea , abdominal cramps and even brain fog, fatigue and a myriad of other symptoms you can easily find online. In many cases people test this assumption by switching to a gluten free diet and find that there symptoms have greatly improved.

There is no doubt that people can develop a sensitivity to gluten because the gut is unable to breakdown the protein.  But this neither proves  gluten  is the problem or eradicates the cause.

For non-celiacs the problem is changes in your gut including alterations to  your delicately balanced gut micro-biome, the presence of chronic inflammation in the gut lining and in some more developed cases the permeability , also known as “leaky gut” , becomes loose allowing large molecules and bad bacteria to find their way into your blood stream leading to skin rashes and sometimes autoimmune disease. All of these changes in your gut can be a result of  many health conditions that are have been found to  alter your gut function , micro-biome and causing food sensitivities. For example IBS,  SIBO, Crohns   and UC are all associated with killing off healthy bacteria and causing inflammation in your gut mucosa (lining).

Gluten sensitivity is not a life-sentence. It is reservable when you find and treat the cause. If you suspect you are feeling lousy due to gluten then consult a doctor or health practitioner for a diagnosis including appropriate tests.