How much do we really know about intestinal microbiota? This week in Science for Holistic Health – 26Dec2016


Table of Contents

Welcome to This Week in Science for Holistic Health!

I scour the science news for interesting and relevant holistic health information.


Inclusion Criteria:

  • Studies must be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal or highly credible website (e.g. within the last few weeks,
  • Articles must be relevant to a holistic approach to health (specifically nutrition & lifestyle factors),
  • Studies must have been done on people (animal and tissue studies have unknown relevance to people),
  • I also include new science-based books that look interesting (’cause I LOVE reading!).
  • None of the above applies if it’s a response to something in the media. 😉
  • P.S. – The titles are hyperlinked to the actual studies, so feel free to “geek out”. 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂

This issue:

  • Food and Eating – Breastmilk *may* not provide enough B12 for low birth weight infants past 4 months of age.

  • Disease Prevention – How much do we really know about the many roles of the intestinal microbiota?

  • Supplements – Vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for certain thyroid diseases.


Food and Eating

Motor development related to duration of exclusive breastfeeding, B vitamin status and B12 supplementation in infants with a birth weight between 2000-3000 g, results from a randomized intervention trial

Small single-blind study done on low birth weight children in Norway who were exclusively breastfed.  Figure #1 shows that “those who were mainly formula fed from birth had significantly higher levels of cobalamin, PLP and riboflavin and lower levels of the metabolic markers, tHcy and MMA,”.  The study also showed that formula fed babies had better “gross motor development at 6 months compared to infants who were exclusively breastfed for more than 1 month”.  Also, those infants with cobalamin deficiency who were given cobalamin supplementation had improved cobalamin levels, as well as improved motor skills.  The authors suggest introducing solid animal food at age 4 months for children with low birth weight.

NOTE: Of course this one study has not changed any official WHO recommendations for infant feeding; but it is interesting to me that:

  • low birth weight children may have nutrition needs that are beyond what breastmilk can offer after they are 4 months old, and
  • it is specifically B12 that is a concern, which is available in animal-based foods.

In this study, duration of exclusive breastfeeding was associated with lower B vitamin status and poorer gross motor development at 6 months in infants with BW 2000-3000 g. In infants with biochemical signs of mild cobalamin deficiency at 6 months, cobalamin treatment resulted in significant improvement in cobalamin status and motor function. These results indicate that the observed impairment in motor function associated with long-term exclusive breastfeeding, may be due to cobalamin deficiency. In order to obtain an adequate cobalamin status to ensure normal neurodevelopment, we suggest that introduction of solid animal food should start from age 4 months in infants with a subnormal BW.

Food structure is critical for optimal health

Food “structure” is affected by cooking and other processing, and the authors of this study suggests that food structure should be taken into account for future dietary recommendations.

… Cooking itself has health-promoting characteristics. Even with identical chemistry, food structure makes a major difference to biological and health outcomes. With evidence that food structure contributes to the matrix that food provides for nutrient delivery, and also to gut microbiomic profile and integrity, concern has grown about overly-processed food and health outcomes. …

A faster, cheaper water filter, thanks to sugar

And who exactly would NOT want a better, less expensive water filtration option?

A new filter material may be better at straining contaminants from water than the activated carbon in your faucet filter—and may be cheaper and easier to clean, to boot. If it can be developed into a successful technology, the new material might help remove from the water supply small organic molecules such as Bisphenol A (BPA), a byproduct of some plastic manufacturing that has been linked to environmental damage and health risks.


Which water filter do you recommend and why?  Feel free to add it to the comments below.  🙂

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Diseases/Conditions and Prevention/Treatments

Antioxidant Intake and Antitumor Therapy: Toward Nutritional Recommendations for Optimal Results

This study says that ideally, each patient’s unique situation (type of cancer, type of treatment, type of antioxidant, patient’s diet & lifestyle, etc.) should be taken into account when considering use of antioxidants in combination with their cancer therapy.  At this point, there is not enough research to make these specific recommendations, and that is why the administration of antioxidants alongside cancer treatment is still controversial.

Considering all the results exposed above, we conclude that antioxidant intake seems to influence the effectiveness of antitumor therapy and its adverse effects. However, we believe that at the moment it cannot be possible to give a general recommendation on whether or not to take antioxidants during treatment. This is because the final effect will depend on the type of cancer, the mechanism of action of the drug or drugs used in the treatment, and the type of antioxidants.

The Microbiome and Musculoskeletal Conditions of Ageing: A Review of Evidence for Impact and Potential Therapeutics

Science is just starting to scratch the surface of the links between the microbiome, inflammation, and diseases.  There are a lot of theories being researched, however the results are not yet conclusive.

… Inflammatory states characterize many bone and joint diseases of ageing. This prompts a thesis that the gut microbiome could alter the inflammatory state of the individual and directly influence the development of these common and burdensome clinical problems. … This perspective discusses evidence to date on the role of the microbiome and the highly prevalent age-related disorders of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcopenia and frailty. It also reviews data on the effects of probiotics and prebiotic interventions in animal and human models. Despite suggestive findings, research to date is not conclusive, and we identify priorities for research to substantiate and translate findings.

Intestinal Microbiota as Modulators of the Immune System and Neuroimmune System: Impact on the Host Health and Homeostasis

The role of the intestinal microbiota is becoming more clear, but the more we know, the more we realize how much more there actually is to know!  Some of the known links of the intestinal microbiota are with: regulation of digestion, absorption of nutrients, immune modulation of the mucosa, production of toxins, interaction with the autonomous nervous system(2) and nervous development.  We still need to learn more about its interaction with the neuroimmune system(3) and the endocrine system.

The intestinal microbiota has drawn progressively more attention from the scientific community due to the association of its role in the human physiology and in the development of diseases following dysbiosis. It is known to be associated with regulation of digestion, absorption of nutrients, biochemistry processes, immune modulation of the mucosa, and the production of toxins substances, autonomous nervous system interaction, and nervous development. In order to advance in the understanding of this complex interaction, the screening of the possible interactions of metabolic pathways is made necessary. … Further studies are still needed in order to clarify the interaction between gut microbiota and neuroimmune system, as well as with endocrine system, so as to create nutrigenetic profiles that may aid in reaching individual homeostasis.

The gut microbiota is associated with digestion, absorption of nutrients, immune and nervous systems. Click To Tweet

Reducing the volume, exposure and negative impacts of advertising for foods high in fat, sugar and salt to children: A systematic review of the evidence from statutory and self-regulatory actions and educational measures

Yes, we should all be concerned with advertising junk food to children! (Of course!)


•There are concerns over children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertising.

•Statutory, self-regulatory and educational measures are proposed to curb its impact.

•Review findings suggest statutory regulation can be successful.

•Evidence is less strong for self-regulatory and educational measures.

•Evidence is limited by varying study quality, outcomes and nutrient criteria.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Autism Part 1: Evidence-Supported Treatments

Many “CAM” treatments for autism are evidence-based, and have been shown to benefit patients.  Evidence-based treatments should be considered in addition to behavioural interventions.

The use of CAM treatments for autism has been based upon the premise that there are physiological abnormalities in autism, and that if these can be corrected or improved, symptoms may also improve. This is sound reasoning, … Physiological abnormalities have been shown to be present in autism, and preliminary evidence suggests that correcting them may produce important benefits. Whether one calls them CAM therapies or biomedical therapies, we support the further rigorous, evidence-based investigation of treatments that address physiological abnormalities.  It is ethical for physicians to support families considering plausible CAM treatments after a thorough exploration and discussion of potential mechanisms of action, benefits and harms, safety, expense, and how use of these CAM treatments might compete for time and resources with other behavioral interventions. Clearly, we must be cautious not to prematurely recommend therapies that have no or limited evidence, but, when they are held to evidence-based standards, there’s really nothing all that “alternative” about CAM treatments.

How much do we really know about the many roles of the intestinal microbiota? #gut #bacteria #health Click To Tweet


Vitamin D and Thyroid Diseases

Vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for certain thyroid diseases.

It may be concluded from the available data that vitamin D deficiency, particularly levels below 12.5 ng/ml should be considered as an additional, but important risk factor for development of thyroid autoimmunity, both chronic autoimmune thyroiditis and Graves´ disease.

Vitamin D deficiency may be an important risk factor for developing thyroid diseases. #vitamind #thyroid #vitamin #vitd Click To Tweet

Can Vitamin D Supplementation in Addition to Asthma Controllers Improve Clinical Outcomes in Patients With Asthma?: A Meta-Analysis.

A total of seven clinical trials (including 903 patients with asthma) were included in this meta-analysis(4) of vitamin D and asthma.  Bottom line: There was no difference in certain asthma symptoms between groups that used vitamin D and those that did not use vitamin D; BUT the use of vitamin D seemed to not only increase people’s vitamin D levels, but also seemed to be safe.

Vitamin D supplementation in addition to asthma controllers cannot decrease asthma exacerbation and FeNO, nor improve lung function and asthma symptoms, although it can be safely applied to increase serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.

Effects of Vitamin D and Exercise on the Wellbeing of Older Community-Dwelling Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial

In this study neither vitamin D supplementation nor exercise improved quality of life (QoL), fear of falling (FoF), or mental wellbeing.

Neither vitamin D nor exercise contributes to better QoL, FoF or mental wellbeing in community-dwelling healthy older women with sufficient vitamin D levels.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation for 12 Weeks Increases Resting and Exercise Metabolic Rate in Healthy Community-Dwelling Older Females

In this study, fish oil (FO) supplements improved many physical and metabolic changes in healthy older females.

The results demonstrated that FO supplementation significantly increased resting metabolic rate by 14%, energy expenditure during exercise by 10%, and the rate of fat oxidation during rest by 19% and during exercise by 27%. In addition, FO consumption lowered triglyceride levels by 29% and increased lean mass by 4% and functional capacity by 7%, while no changes occurred in the PL group. In conclusion, FO may be a strategy to improve age-related physical and metabolic changes in healthy older females.

Krill oil reduces plasma triacylglycerol level and improves related lipoprotein particle concentration, fatty acid composition and redox status in healthy young adults – a pilot study

This study showed that krill oil (KO) decreased heart disease risk factors without certain adverse effects.

Krill oil consumption is considered health beneficial as it decreases cardiovascular disease risk parameters through effects on plasma TAGs, lipoprotein particles, fatty acid profile, redox status and possible inflammation. Noteworthy, no adverse effects on plasma levels of TMAO and carnitine were found.

Did you want a copy of the food-supplement-alcohol interactions with the top 100 prescribed drugs? You’ll want to sign up here to download a free copy when I finish it…before I start selling it!

Have you picked up your copy of “How Not to Die”? It just made the New York Time’s Bestseller List!

I love this site, and it’s definitely one of my “go-to’s” when it comes to nutrition and health information
How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger, MD
Part 1 includes chapters for “How not to die from:” heart/lung/brain, etc. diseases with almost 3,000 scientific references; Part 2 has Dr. Greger’s favourite recipes, kitchen gadgets, brands, etc.. I’m looking forward to reading this!

Watch the trailer here:

Buy the book here:

(affiliate link image above)


Did I miss any amazing and relevant science-based holistic health news? Share in the comments below. 🙂

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Leesa Klich lives at the intersection of science and holistic health (it’s really, really interesting here!) 🙂 At NutritionInteractions she helps holistic-minded people taking medications maximize the benefits of good nutrition. She also helps holistic health professionals find and understand science-based health information. She has a Master of Science degree in Toxicology and Nutrition and is currently studying to be a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. For a list of free health resources, click here.

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(1) Compound Interest – Rough Guide to Types of Scientific Evidence





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