Dr Dingle's Blog / wellness

Acid and your gut

Acid and your gut

After initial breakdown by chewing, food is churned by the smooth muscles of the stomach and is broken down by hyrdochlooric acid and stomach juices (enzymes). The pH of the stomach is highly acidic, around 1.5 (1.0-2.5) due to the hydrochloric acid which helps to kill harmful microorganisms, denature protein for digestion, and help create favorable conditions for the enzymes in the stomach juices such as pepsinogen (Adbi. 1976, Martinsen et al 2005). Not to mention sending messages along the GI tract that everything is working well in the stomach. If the pH is too high, say 3 or 4 (more alkaline) then the system does not work and you end up with digestive and health complications.

The small intestine is more alkaline as the acid contents from the stomach are neutralised so that digestion and adsorption of carbohydrates, proteins and fats can occur. As the mixed juices (chime) from the stomach moves into the small intestine, the pancreas secretes sodium bi carbonate and the gallbladder releases bile which is produced in the liver, to make it slightly alkali to a pH of 7 to 8. Bile salts play an important role in the balance of the gut microbiota and like the pH in the stomach are important in controlling disease microorganisms entry into our system.

Further breakdown of protein and fat takes place, and absorption of nutrients through the use of enzymes which break down complex molecules into simpler ones. However, all enzymes need certain conditions, including pH to work. At pH's that are not optimum, the enzyme becomes less efficient until it cannot work at all. In the small intestine, the enzymes that "work" there need an alkaline pH in order to have optimum working conditions. Inadequate acid neutralization in the small intestine likely interferes with nutrient absorption by diminishing further digestive enzyme activity (Borowitz et al 2015).

The more alkaline pH also favours the non-acid loving bifidobactria which produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA) such as acetic, propionic, and butyric acid, and hydrogen ions (Vernia et al 1988) which lower the pH of the food as it moves through to make it more acid, again for the more acid loving bacteria including lactobacilis species further down the large intestine. The large intestine absorbs water and salts, and stores the leftover material ready for excretion out of the anus is a little more acidic and favours the acidopholus species. The pH of the large intestine might go as low as 3.

The pH of the gut, right from the mouth to the anus is incredible important in determining the type of gut microbiota, gut health and your own health. In the stomach if it is not acid enough (no not too much acid) it sets of a chain of events that favours the wrong type of microbiota including helicobacteror and candida species known for causing stomach ulcers and other gut health problems as well as an overgrowth of lactobacillus which should not be there and lead to Stomach Bacterial Overgrowth (SBO). So optimal functioning of the gut relies on the optimal pH for that part of the GI tract. Even in the mouth if it is too acidic it favours lactobacteria, acid loving bacteria, which in the large intestine are really beneficial, but in the mouth contribute to tooth decay and periodontal disease. Similarly, if the pH in the small intestine is out of balance it contributes to an overgrowth of lactobacillus and a condition called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). It all comes down to the pH and getting it right from the start.

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Do plants really clean the office air?

Do plants really clean the office air?

Here is a little paper I wrote many years ago showing that plants are not effective at cleaning the indoor air.
Formaldehyde is a toxic substance with adverse health effects detectable at low concentrations. Formaldehyde causes irritation of the eyes, skin and respiratory tract, wheezing, nausea, coughing, diarrhoea, vomiting, dizziness and lethargy at levels as low as 50 parts per billion (ppb) (0.05 ppm). Formaldehyde has also been associated with aggravation of asthma, emphysema, hayfever and allergy problems at low levels (EPA, 1987). Formaldehyde is currently considered a potential carcinogen to humans (EPA, 1987). Formaldehyde is a ubiquitous gas found in elevated concentrations in indoor environments. Concentrations of formaldehyde are typically an order of magnitude greater inside buildings compared to outdoor air. Formaldehyde concentrations are particularly high in portable buildings due to the presence of more formaldehyde emitting materials and the relatively smaller interior volumes of air. Major sources of formaldehyde indoors are pressed wood products, such as particle board and plywood, and urea formaldehyde foam insulation. Other sources include carpets, curtains, floor linings, paper products, cosmetics and soaps, tobacco smoke and gas combustion. Methods to reduce indoor formaldehyde include source removal or use of non- polluting materials, emission reduction through physical or chemical treatments and dilution through ventilation and air purification. While most solutions involve dilution through ventilation, increased interest in the scientific literature as well as in the popular media has been given to the use of plants to purify air in buildings . Most studies however, have been conducted in the laboratory and are difficult to extrapolate to real life situations.
Reducing Formaldehyde Exposure in Office Environments Using Plants
  • March 2000
  • Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 64(2):302-8
  • DOI:
  • 10.1007/s001289910044
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Probiotics can reduce pain

Probiotics can reduce pain

Treatments for obesity have been shown to reduce pain secondary to weight loss. Intestinal microbiota has been shown to influence obesity and pain sensitivity.
Physiological pain plays a life-essential protective role, while acute or chronic pathological pain indicates a medical problem that needs treatment and imposes a medical challenge. Neurotransmitters, immune cells, and hormones have been demonstrated to contribute in pathogenesis of chronic pain.
Pain threshold is influenced by several factors, including obesity, which alters adipose tissue metabolic and endocrine functions leading to alterations in systemic physiology including an increased release of fatty acids, hormones, and proinflammatory molecules that contribute to obesity associated complications. Studies have demonstrated that obese humans and rats are more sensitive to pain stimuli than normal weighted ones.
Previous studies have demonstrated a relationship between intestinal microbiota and diseases including pain disorders with probiotics having a positive effect.
In this study the mice taking probiotics had a significantly lower sensitivity to mechanical stimulation compared to their corresponding control. The results of this study suggest a protective effect of probiotics on nociception circuits, which propose a direct result of the weight reduction or an indirect result of anti-inflammatory properties of the probiotics.

source

Potential Nociceptive Regulatory Effect of Probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus PB01 (DSM 14870) on Mechanical Sensitivity in Diet-Induced Obesity Model

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/prm/2016/5080438/

 

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Mothers milk mycobiome (fungi) - not microbiome

Mothers milk mycobiome (fungi) - not microbiome

Compared to bacterial communities, the human gut mycobiome (fungi) is low in diversity and dominated by yeast including Saccharomyces, Malassezia, and Candida.Studies show they also vary substantially over time and even mice in the same or different cages in the same facility receiving the same feed and treatment also varied in their dominant fungal lineage. Similar results have been shown with humans.

During the last years, human breast milk has been documented as a potential source of bacteria for the newborn. Recently, we have reported the presence of fungi in breast milk from healthy mothers. It is well-known that environmental and perinatal factors could affect milk bacteria; however, the impact on milk fungi is still unknown.

Recent studies report the presence of fungal species in breast milk of healthy mothers, suggesting a potential role on infant mycobiome development. In the present work, we aimed to determine whether the healthy human breast milk mycobiota is influenced by geographical location and mode of delivery, as well as investigate its interaction with bacterial profiles in the same samples. A total of 80 mature breast milk samples from 4 different countries

This study found fungal communities (mycobiota) in breast milk samples across different geographic locations and the influence of mode of delivery. They identified a core of four genera shared across locations, constituted by Malassezia, Davidiella, Sistotrema and Penicillium which have been reported to be present in the infant gut. Our data confirm the presence of fungi in breastmilk across continents and support the potential role of breast milk on the initial seeding of fungal species to the infant gut.

Analysis of bacteria and fungi showed complex interactions that were influenced by geographical location, mode of delivery, maternal age and pre-gestational Body Mass Index. The presence of a breast milk mycobiome was confirmed in all the samples analysed, regardless of the geographic origin.

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Mothers milk mycobiome (fungi) - not microbiome

Mothers milk mycobiome (fungi) - not microbiome

Compared to bacterial communities, the human gut mycobiome (fungi) is low in diversity and dominated by yeast including Saccharomyces, Malassezia, and Candida.Studies show they also vary substantially over time and even mice in the same or different cages in the same facility receiving the same feed and treatment also varied in their dominant fungal lineage. Similar results have been shown with humans.

During the last years, human breast milk has been documented as a potential source of bacteria for the newborn. Recently, we have reported the presence of fungi in breast milk from healthy mothers. It is well-known that environmental and perinatal factors could affect milk bacteria; however, the impact on milk fungi is still unknown.

Recent studies report the presence of fungal species in breast milk of healthy mothers, suggesting a potential role on infant mycobiome development. In the present work, we aimed to determine whether the healthy human breast milk mycobiota is influenced by geographical location and mode of delivery, as well as investigate its interaction with bacterial profiles in the same samples. A total of 80 mature breast milk samples from 4 different countries

This study found fungal communities (mycobiota) in breast milk samples across different geographic locations and the influence of mode of delivery. They identified a core of four genera shared across locations, constituted by Malassezia, Davidiella, Sistotrema and Penicillium which have been reported to be present in the infant gut. Our data confirm the presence of fungi in breastmilk across continents and support the potential role of breast milk on the initial seeding of fungal species to the infant gut.

Analysis of bacteria and fungi showed complex interactions that were influenced by geographical location, mode of delivery, maternal age and pre-gestational Body Mass Index. The presence of a breast milk mycobiome was confirmed in all the samples analysed, regardless of the geographic origin.

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Our Acid Stomach

Our Acid Stomach

The intestinal microbiome is a plastic ecosystem that is shaped by environmental and genetic factors, interacting with virtually all of our organs, tissues and cells. One of the most important factors in regulating and controlling our microbiome is the pH or acid level.

While often mentioned in terms of the stomach the pH has a controlling role to play in the health of the whole GI tract from the mouth to the anus and changes in the normalpH anywhere in the gut can have large implications on the rest of the GI tract. The pH scale goes from 1 being very acidic to 14 being very alkaline. The level in our blood and tissues should be constantly around 7.36, neutral and the level in our GI trace varies from 1 to 8. We cover this a lot more in our book Overcoming Illnesswhich focuses on the role of inflammation, oxidation and acidosis in illness.

After initial breakdown by chewing, food is churned by the smooth muscles of the stomach and is broken down by hydrochloric acid and stomach juices (enzymes). The pH of the stomach is highly acidic, around 1.5 (1.0-2.5) due to the hydrochloric acid which helps to kill harmful microorganisms, denature protein for digestion, and help create favorable conditions for the enzymes in the stomach juices such as pepsinogen.[1] Not to mention sending messages along the GI tract that everything is working well in the stomach. If the pH is too high, say 3 or 4 (more alkaline) then the system does not work and you end up with digestive and health complications. For example, premature infants have less acidic stomachs (pH more than 4) and as a result are susceptible to increased gut infections.[2] Similarly, the elderly show relatively low stomach acidity and a large number of people, more than 30%, over the age of 60 have very little or no Hydrochloric Acid in their stomachs.[3]

Similarly, in gastric bypass weight loss surgery, roughly 60 percent of the stomach is removed. A consequence of this procedure is an increase in gastric pH levels that range from 5.7 to 6.8 (not 1.5) to making it more alkaline and as a result are more likely to experience microbial overgrowth.[4] We see similar patterns in other clinical cases such as acid reflux in which treatment involves the use of proton-pump inhibitors[5] and celiac disease[6] where delayed gastric emptying is associated with reduced acidity and increased disease.

Unfortunately, acid reflux is often wrongly treated as a condition which involves the production of too much acid. It is in fact, the stomach finding it difficult to digest the foods, most commonly as a result not having enough acid to complete digestion and why medications (see later) which further reduce stomach acid have serious and deadly side effects on health, the digestive process and the gut microbiota. Acid reflux affects about 20% of the adult population and is much higher in older people which is consistent with the studies showing lower stomach acid as we age.

[1] Adbi. 1976; Martinsen et al., 2005.

[2] Carrion and Egan, 1990.

[3] Husebye et al., 1992.

[4] Machado et al., 2008.

[5] Amir et al., 2013.

[6] Usai et al., 1995.

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A brief history of Gut Health

A brief history of Gut Health

Research into the gut microbiome has ramped up over the past decade thanks to high investments over 100 million dollars by the US Governments in the Human Microbiome Project in 2007 as well as large sums from companies and private sources not wanting to be left behind as its importance for our health has become more widely recognised and understood by the mainstream. There is now a tsunami wave of information coming through on the gut microbiome, literally thousands of new studies and increasing each year.

Until recently the positive effects of the gut microbiome on our digestive system and health has been severely under rated. Wisdom of Chinese doctors from centuries ago, who somehow knew that the intestines were not merely a digestive organ, but the centre of health and well being. Hippocrates was recoded as saying that all illness begins in the gut. Throughout history from the Egyptians till around 80 years ago medicine and the bowels were frequently mentioned in the same sentence.

Even today the nomadic Maasai tribes in Africa attribute most illnesses to the effect of “pollutants” that block or inhibit digestion. In these communities the plants are used to cure diseases served mainly as strong purgatives and emetics; they "cleanse" the body and digestive system from polluting substances.[1] While studies of the great apes show they self-medication to control intestinal parasite infections and gut problems across Africa.[2] Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) for example, swallow the leaves of certain plant species whole, without chewing to aid expulsion of certain parasites. Swallowing rough or bristly leaves increases gut motility causing expulsion of adult worms, which disrupts the nematodes life cycle and likely reduces worm burdens.[3] Even carnivores first eat the guts of their kill and get all the intestinal bacteria. We seem to be the only ones who have forgotten the importance of the gut.

We now know the gut is the cornerstone of health and inflammation in the body. The first theory to explain the link between the gut and inflammation, which underlies all the chronic diseases we suffer from, was put forward in 1907, when Elie Metchnikoff proposed that tissue destruction (disease) and senescence (ageing) throughout the body were consequences of chronic systemic inflammation, which occurred as a result of increased permeability in the colon and the escape of bacteria and their products into the blood. He believed that these bacterial products activated our immune response (macrophages) and that the resulting inflammatory response caused deterioration of surrounding tissues and that this macrophage “intoxification” had systemic effects and led to deterioration of even distant tissues. And he was right.

[1] Bussmann et al., 2006.

[2] MCLennan and Huffman, 2012.

[3] Huffman and Caton, 2001.

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The Health Benefits of Green Spaces

The Health Benefits of Green Spaces

Growing up as a child in the 60’s there was lots of space to play on the street, in the big back yards, nearby parks, creeks, the beach and lots of green spaces. While we we have lost a lot of these spaces research is showing that the more “green” we are surrounded with the the healthier it is for us. We exhibit more than just a preference for natural scenes and settings; we suffer health problems when we lose contact with our green surrounds. Increasing evidence indicates that nature provides restorative experiences that directly affect people's physical, social and mental well-being and health in a positive way including decreased mortality.

A recent study found that living in more densely vegetated areas was associated with fewer deaths from causes other than accidents. Using data from the Nurses’ Health Study researchers estimated a 12% lower rate of non-accidental death between women who lived in the most densely versus least densely vegetated areas. When looking at specific causes of death, the researchers estimated a 41% lower rate of kidney disease mortality, a 34% lower rate of respiratory disease mortality, and a 13% lower rate of cancer mortality in the women who lived in the greenest areas, compared with those in the least green areas. A study in the Netherlands found a lower prevalence of diseases in areas with more green space, including coronary heart disease and diabetes. In a cross-sectional study of 11,404 adults in Australia the odds of hospitalization for heart disease or stroke was 37% lower, and the odds of self-reported heart disease or stroke was 16% lower, among adults with highly variable greenness around their home, compared to those in neighborhoods with low variability in greenness. The odds of heart disease or stroke decreased by 7% per unit with every 25% increase in the level of greenness. In an interesting experiment where 14 children undertook two, 15 min bouts of cycling at a moderate exercise intensity while in one situation viewing a film of cycling in a forest setting and another with no visual stimulus. The systolic blood pressure (the top or higher number) 15 minutes after exercise was significantly lower following green exercise compared to the control condition. So if it works for kids it should also work for us we get older.

The rise in obesity is well documented and while there are many contributing factors a systematic review of green space research from sixty studies reported the majority (68%) of papers found a positive association between green spaces and obesity-related health indicators. One study found that increased vegetation was associated with reduced weight among young people living in high population densities and across eight European cities, people were 40% less likely to be obese in the greenest areas. Overall, the majority of studies found some evidence of a relationship with weight and green space. The lower rates of obesity, adverse health and improved health outcomes may be attributable to higher levels of physical activity, such as neighborhood walking which is positively influenced by the natural environment. Walking is the most popular physical activity particularly as we age, and levels of recreational walking have been linked the distance to and attractiveness of local parks and ovals.  Many studies have reported that adults with access to a large high-quality park within walking distance (within 1600 m) from home have elevated levels of walking and and in general live longer. In a review of 50 studies twenty studies (40%) reported a positive association between green space and physical activity, including older adults.

Being around vegetation can lead to better mental health and less stress, positive emotions, focus and attention, as well as reduced stress. While walking itself can reduce stress, walking in a natural setting provides greater stress-relieving benefits. Accessible green spaces are ‘escape facilities’, and lack of access to green space contributes to poor mental health. Some of the more potent restorative effects of nature relate to being able to ‘get away’ from everyday settings and immerse oneself in an extensive natural setting that creates a sense of being in a ‘whole other world’.

Perhaps as we decide to age healthier we need to spend more time near green spaces.

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The healing power of raw cabbage

The healing power of raw cabbage

Another reason to add some of the cabbage family to your daily diet, preferably raw is because of their gut healing properties and how they promote gut health through the gut microbiome. The Brassica family including cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, arugula (rocket), bok choy, cauliflower, collard greens, radish, turnip and others have been recognized for their gut healing and gut health properties for hundreds of years and modern epidemiologic studies have shown a frequent consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with lower risk of cancer, especially cancers of the digestive tract, bladder, breast, prostate, and lung. However, only now are we recognizing that many of these benefits are mediated through the microbiome and that their frequent consumption alters the composition of the microbiome.

Cruciferous vegetables are a rich source of glucosinolates a precursor to the Isothiocyanates (ITC), which exhibit powerful biological functions in fighting cancers, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative diseases and gut healing. The Isothiocyanates are a by product of specific plant enzymes (myrosinase) active during chewing or crushing when broccoli is consumed raw or lightly steamed, however, like all enzymes myrosinase is deactivated by cooking and ingestion of cooked broccoli typically provides only about one tenth the amount of isothiocyanates as that from raw broccoli. So to maximize the gut healing, gut health and overall benefits of these foods they are best eaten raw or just lightly steamed.

Instead when cooked cruciferous vegetables are consumed, gut bacteria are mainly responsible for ITC production in the gut. This is highlighted after taking oral antibiotics, the ITCs availability and uptake decreases after eating cooked cruciferous vegetable. It also appears that there is considerable difference in the ability of individuals, due to individual differences in gut microbial community, to produce the isothiocyanates. Although, the gut communitys ability is altered over just 4 days. In one study feeding raw or cooked broccoli for four days or longer both changed the microbiota composition and caused a greater production of isothiocyanates. Interestingly, a three-day withdrawal from broccoli reversed the increased microbial metabolites suggesting that the microbiota requires four or more days of broccoli consumption and is reversible.

The lactic acid bacteria appear to have myrosinase-like activity and the fermented Brassica food products, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, are particularly rich in Lactobacillus, and a diet rich in Brassica may promote Lactobacillus growth in the colon.

 

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Curcumin (turmeric)stops age and diet relted arterial damage

Curcumin (turmeric)stops age and diet relted arterial damage

Curcumin, a main component of natural turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn, Turmeric), is a type of polyphenol, which has long been used for curry spice, Chinese traditional herbal medicine, or in Japan, as food coloring for Japanese confectioneries.
Recent studies have shown that curcumin has different beneficial physiological activities in the body. Curcumin is known to have anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory actions and anticancer action through multiple actions (cytostasis, induction of apoptosis, and anti-angiogenesis, anti-virus action, and cytoprotective).
Furthermore, curcumin is known to lower blood lipid (fat) levles, affecting various transcription factors that control gene expression involved in glucose and fat metabolism, and curcumin intake is expected to reduce different disorders caused by a high-fat diet (HFD).
In this study, they examined the effects of long-term administration of curcumin on artery aging and chronic inflammation—the causes of arteriosclerotic disease. in the high fat diet group oxidative stress increased with cell regulation in the arteries followed by increased dying cells and enhanced inflammation. While the group with curcumin added had suppression of oxidative stress and the arteries of mice at 80 weeks (old age) were the equivalent of those of the 8 week old mice in the experiment.
It seems curcumin has anti-ageing effects on our arteries which is why I supplement with it every day
Source. Curcumin Inhibits Age-Related Vascular Changes in Aged Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet.
https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/10/1476/htm
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