Dr Dingle's Blog
Ultra-processed foods and drinks, which come in packets and no longer look or taste like traditional foods, are one major hallmark of the Western diet. In high-income countries, ultra-processed foods are now dominating the food supply, and they are rapidly gaining ground in growing economies.
Ultra-processed foods have devastating effects on the microbiota. Everything we eat determines the type of species and the balance in our microbiome. Studies comparing populations on a long-time Western diet, versus a rural African or agrarian diet, have reported very large differences in bacterial profiles, with significantly lower microbiota diversity and lower production of SCFAs in the Western diet. African children had bacterial species associated with fermentation of plant-based fibres and were completely deficient in Bifidobacterium.
The “Western diet,” rich in sugar, animal protein, processed fats and artificial additives, lacking in fibre, beneficial microbes, plant phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, does not support our co-evolved microbe partnership and drives gut dysbiosis.
Even short-term consumption of a mostly animal or mostly plant diet can alter the microbiota composition and function as quickly as 24 hours. The changes appear to be significant and rapid, but the magnitude of the changes is usually small and dependant upon the degree of dietary changes, taking an average of 3.5 days for each diet-responsive bacterial group to reach a new steady state. However, repeated dietary shifts demonstrate that most changes to the microbiome appear to be reversible, while the abundance of certain bacteria depends on prior consumption of certain foods. In rats either continuously fed chow or a palatable cafeteria diet to a “cycled” group switched between the two diets, the microbiota of cycled rats was nearly indistinguishable from rats on the constant cafeteria diet, and both groups were significantly different than the chow group. This suggests that any small shifts in diet quality are not likely to make a big difference over time.
The good news is that shifting to healthier, more plant-based, non-processed based diets has repeatedly shown improvements in microbiota diversity and health outcomes. Shifting to a diet rich in fibre, polyphenols, a healthy ratio of omega 6:omega 3 fatty acids, and vegetable protein has repeatedly been shown to improve health outcomes including carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, gut microbiota and cognitive function. The change to the healthier diet decreased the glucose intolerance and the biochemical abnormalities caused by obesity as well as decreasing the oxidative stress and modifying the gut microbiota.
The added good news is that eliminating processed foods from your diet stops feeding many of the opportunistic, nasty bacteria and fungi. So the best way to control them is to starve them by eating healthy foods and avoiding the processed ones.
Bon a petit and health
In a recent study of 104 980 participants for every 10% increase in processed food lead to a 12% increase in the risk of overall cancer and an 11% increase for the risk of breast cancer.
I see people, particularly young people who eat processed food 3 or more times a day. Junk breakfast cereals like nutrigrain, and take-aways or packet food for dinner and lunch. This is not food. These same people have a myriad of adverse health conditions and wonder why they are sick. Then later they develop cancer and wonder why. No person wants to die of cancer however with the exception of smoking, what we eat has a huge impact on our risk of cancer and of course every other form of chronic illness. Processed foods often have a higher content of processed and saturated fat, added sugar and salt, along with a lower fibre and low nutrient density, with low vitamin, minerals and plant based nutrients. They contribute to inflammation, oxidation and acidosis which what feeds cancers and other chronic illness (see my book “Overcoming illness”).
In addition, it has newly created carcinogenic contaminants such as acrylamide, heterocyclic amines, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as a result of heat treating the food. Packaged processed foods might also contain contaminants from the wrapping including phthalates and bisphenol A or food additives sodium nitrite in processed meat, titanium dioxide (TiO2, white food pigment) or emulsifiers now linked with gut illness and thought to cause cancer.
Not to mention the impact processed foods can have on your gut health.
How much processed foods are you eating this week?
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a scary, relentlessly progressive neurodegenerative disease which is now showing up in more people and younger populations than ever before. It is believed to be a consequence of both genetic susceptibility and a number of environmental factors including gut health, resulting in increasing neuronal oxidative stress.
A large amount of evidence now shows the involvement of the gastrointestinal tract in PD, including alterations in the microbiome, intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and more recently, the role of beneficial metabolites of the microbiome, such as short chain fatty acids (SCFA) in PD.
The fermentation of dietary fiber in the large intestine by specialist microbes in the gut leads to the formation of a variety of gases and metabolites. SCFAs including acetate, propionate, and butyrate comprise 90–95% of all microbiota metabolites produced in the colon. Although there are no studies evaluating acetate and propionate singly in PD, butyrate has been studied and the majority of preclinical evidence suggests that it could be beneficial in many aspects and even the treatment of PD.
Apart from being the preferred energy source for the gut cells and its role in gut health, butyrate is involved in anti-inflammatory, gut hormone and epigenetic mechanisms that influence many aspects of our health, including brain function. A few studies using oral administration of butyrate have even shown a beneficial effect in PD animal studies; however, prebiotic fibers that generate butyrate locally in the gut may be more effective suggesting that the use of prebiotic fibers that lead to the production of butyrate could stop its development. It is likely that the action of butyrate on maintaining gut health through the gut barrier and inflammatory pathways are important in maintaining gut homeostasis. Reports also show increased blood levels of circulating butyrate in healthy subjects consuming more dietary fiber that can reach the brain.
Therefore, promoting increases in butyrate produced in the large intestine, the gut, is a promising and simple approach in preventing and treating PD that could have implications for many people. However not all fibers and prebiotics are the same and fiber features such as the differences in solubility degree, and chemical and physical structures are important factors in allowing the right type of bacteria to grow and produce butyrate in the right locations in the gut. Increasing one type of fiber like psyllium that acts in one part of the colon is not likely to show major results.
It is best to get your fiber form a diversity of plant based foods especially your nuts and seeds as well as supplementing with whole gut fiber foods like Kfibre that are fermented all the way along the large intestine to produce butyrate and the other SCFA’s.
Front Neurol. 2019; 10: 663. Published online 2019 Jun 20. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2019.00663. PMID: 31281287 Potential of Prebiotic Butyrogenic Fibers in Parkinson's Disease Thaisa M. Cantu-Jungles,1 Heather E. Rasmussen,2,* and Bruce R. Hamaker1
Read more at kfbire.com
Seaweed has grown increasingly popular in the Western diet but in addition to the food value of seaweed, several health benefits have also been reported to be present in this valuable food source. It is presumed that the unique features of the marine environment, where the seaweeds are grown, are mainly responsible for most of its properties. Among the functional effects of the seaweed, nutritional and health-related benefits have been widely studied. Compared to the terrestrial plants and animal-based foods, seaweed is rich in some health-promoting molecules and materials such as, dietary fiber, ω-3 fatty acids, essential amino acids, and vitamins A, B, C, and E.
Recently, some studies have focused on the association between diet and depressive symptoms and indicated that a healthy Japanese dietary pattern, characterized by a high intake of vegetables, mushrooms, soy products, and seaweeds, was associated with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms. Among these food items of the traditional Japanese dietary pattern, which includes traditional sea vegetables, seaweed has been considered as a nutrient-rich dietary source of minerals, vitamins, and dietary fiber. Moreover, seaweed is also a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. In a prospective study of 500 Japanese aged 20–74 years found a higher seaweed intake and a lower incidence of depressive symptoms. While in an earlier study they reported higher seaweed consumption was independently associated with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms during pregnancy
It is hypothesized that the inverse association between changes in seaweed intake and depressive symptoms may be explained by many nutrients contained in seaweed, including folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
Time to eat more seaweed.
Dietary seaweed intake and depressive symptoms in Japanese adults: a prospective cohort study Feng Guo, Cong Huang, Yufei Cui, Haruki Momma, Kaijun Niu Ryoichi Nagatomi Nutrition Journal volume 18, Article number: 58 (2019).
The different compartments of the gastrointestinal tract are inhabited by diverse populations of microorganisms often governed by the pH of that environment. By far the most important predominant populations are in the colon, primarily the large intestine.
It was originally believed that the composition of the intestinal microbiota was relatively stable from early childhood; however, overwhelming evidence now shows that diet, environmental and lifestyle factors have a large influence on your gut microbes. Some bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) can double their numbers in 20 minutes.
More than 99% of bacteria are found in the intestines, with as many as 500 to 1,000 different species, as well as yeasts (moulds), viruses and parasites. We have some 100 trillion bacteria in our gut, they aid in the digestion of food, provide a constant supply of nutrients such as B vitamins and amino acids, produce important substances such as vitamin K, improve mineral absorption and help the body fight off harmful bacteria. These good bacteria are essential for a healthy gut and crucial to our overall health and wellbeing.
Association between fungi and the GI tract has been documented since the eighteenth century, particularly candida and more recently much evidence has shown that fungi and their communities may be involved in many gut health problems. More than 50% of patients with gastric ulcers present with gastric fungal colonisation, which often appears among the elderly population with low gastric acid.
Understanding some basics of chronic illness is the key to fixing the problem. The simplest place to start is with the underlying conditions that lead to chronic illness.
This is what I call the “Illness Triad” or “Disease Triad”—inflammation, oxidation and acidosis.
These three conditions are present in every form of chronic illness and prevent the body from healing and recovering. If we reduce them or even stop them from being out of control, then we can allow the body to heal and stop the progression of chronic illness.
But the more advanced chronic illness is, the more we have to do in order to slow down and stop the triad. By the time modern medicine recognises that you have diabetes, blocked arteries or cancer, you have already had potentially decades of high inflammation, oxidation and acidosis.
Although inflammation, oxidation and acidosis (IOA) are natural and essential for a healthy body, they can be seriously problematic if they become chronic and reoccurring as a result of our body being out of balance.
Recent studies have established that the three conditions combined are a leading pathogenic force in the development of chronic diseases—including diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases (including asthma and arthritis), osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, dementia and even depression, obesity and premature ageing.
A cancer or CVD does not just happen; it occurs because these conditions prevail in the body over a long period of time and create the preconditions for disease states.
This does not mean that all these states of disease are caused by IOA, but they will manifest in the body along with these conditions. Depression, for example, may be created initially by a combination of some negative life events and poor nutrition.
Hit will manifest in the body with elevated IOA, so any treatment, like cognitive behavior therapy, should also take into account processes to lower IOA. That is why anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrition, exercise and sunlight have shown positive results in reducing the incidence of depression.
These three conditions occur in every stage of chronic illness and are directly related to and influence each other. Oxidation leads to increased acidosis and inflammation, while increased acidosis leads to increased inflammation and oxidation, and so on. The processes are interlinked. For example, a slight increase in acidity (lower pH) increases the formation of free radicals such as perhydroxyl radical, a highly reactive and damaging free radical, and increases the levels of inflammation.
The pH directly influences the “redox,” or the balance of free radicals and antioxidants. When one goes up, so do the others. If your body isn’t able to stop the free radical chain reaction, oxidative stress follows, causing damage to cells, cell membranes, tissues and organs. In an attempt to repair such damages, the body calls for an immune response, which in turn initiates inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can likewise lead to free radical generation.
While antibiotics have been lifesaving, the over-prescription of antibiotics has sparked the evolution of drug-resistant strains of life threatening bacteria, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths each year. The US Centers for Disease Control estimate that up to 50% of antibiotics prescribed in the US are unnecessary. Unfortunately, the use of antibiotics is often prescribed for those groups who are more vulnerable to dysbiosis, including infants born via C-section and in those born preterm, compared to term infants born vaginally, potentially compounding the problems. Micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites cause many of the world’s diseases, yet only bacterial infections are usually susceptible to treatment with commonly prescribed antibiotics.
However, more subtle side effects of antibiotics on the gut microbiome are only just beginning to be discovered. Broad-spectrum antibiotics can impact up to 30% of the bacteria among the human microbiota, resulting in severe loss of species and function and begins immediately following antibiotic administration. The effects can sometimes last for years after its cessation, and may also lead to the total extinction of some beneficial microbial species. As few as three days of treatment with the most commonly prescribed antibiotics can result in sustained reductions in microbiota diversity. A typical two-week course of high-dose antibiotic treatment, as might be used for an ear infection, can wipe out most of the beneficial gut microbes.
These antibiotic-induced changes in the microbiota have been linked to many disease states including increased infections, metabolic disturbances, obesity, autoimmunity, and mental health conditions. Common outcomes of antibiotics the antibiotic-disturbed gut microbiota are diarrhea and infections with Clostridium difficile, particularly in infants.
Early life exposure
Early life exposure to antibiotics presents the greatest risk of long-term damage to the gut microbiota and the more you take, the worse it is. In young children, antibiotics may change the development of the “adult” microbiota, and not allow its normal maturation. It has also been hypothesized to cause a delay in microbial maturation from six to 12 months after birth. Early life exposure is also associated with numerous diseases later in life including IBD, obesity, and asthma, as well as the development of immune-mediated metabolic and neurological diseases.
Allergies and asthma
In a meta-analysis of eight studies including 12,082 subjects, antibiotic use in the first year of life was significantly associated with two-fold (200%) increased chance of the child having asthma. One study reported the use of antibiotics in newborns increased the risk of developing asthma by 24 times. Probiotics during the neonatal period were protective and reduced the risk by as much as 86% for childhood asthma for kids at risk. Studies of mice treated with antibiotics in early life revealed altered microbial populations within the gut microbiota and consequently increased the susceptibility of these mice to asthma.
Antibiotic use has also been shown to have long-term effects on brain neurochemistry and behavior. Such use is known to alter the intestinal microbiome with subsequent changes in microbiota to gut-brain axis and result in poorer neuro-cognitive outcomes later in life.
Even treatment with a single antibiotic course was associated with a 25% higher risk for depression and the risk increased with recurrent antibiotic exposures to 40% for two to five courses and 56% for more than five courses of antibiotics. The higher the rates of antibiotic use, the higher the rates of depression. Animal studies have shown that high doses of a cocktail of antibiotics induced lasting changes in gut microbiota associated with behavioural alterations.
Animal studies of early life exposure to antibiotics show lasting immune and metabolic consequences. Administration of low doses of penicillin to mice early in life increases the risk of weight gain and obesity and promotes lipid accumulation by altering the gut microbiota. Mice treated continuously with low-dose penicillin from one week before birth until weaning exhibited higher body weight and fat mass in adulthood, although the microbial structure returned to normal after four weeks of antibiotics cessation. There is also evidence of antibiotics playing a role in the development of IBD in children and that antibiotic usage during the first year of life was more common in those diagnosed with IBD later in life.
Antibiotics and pregnancy
In human studies, mother’s use of antibiotics during pregnancy is consistently associated with cow’s milk allergy, wheeze, asthma, and atopic dermatitis, with the strongest association for antibiotic use in the third trimester of pregnancy. A study of 306 children with asthma showed that mother’s use of antibiotics during pregnancy increased the risk by a whopping four times (390%). Low-dose penicillin in late pregnancy and early postnatal life in the offspring of mice resulted in lasting effects on gut microbiota, increased brain inflammation, and resulted in anxiety-like behaviours and displays of aggression. Similar results have been shown for antibiotic exposure through breastfeeding.
A large number of pharmaceutical agents including many over the counter and prescription drugs are linked with weight gain and obesity especially antibiotics. The growth (fat) promoting effects of antibiotics were first discovered in the 1940s. Since then, antibiotics administered in low doses have been widely used as growth promoters in the agricultural industry worldwide. As a result the largest use of antibiotics and related antimicrobial substances is within farms, with low doses fed to large numbers of animals used for food production to increase weight gain by as much as 15%. If anitibiotics are so effective in causing weight gain in farm animals similar results are likely to occur in human populations. Unfortunately, antibiotic use in humans has increased markedly often for the wrong reason, now approximating one antibiotic course per year in the average child.
One of the mechanisms of their action is by altering the population structure of the gut microbiome as well as its metabolic capabilities. In animal studies administration of antibiotic therapy increased adiposity (fat gain) in young mice and increased hormones related to metabolism. In a study of (strong) antibiotic treatment resulted in post meal ghrelin (feeling hungry) levels nearly six-fold higher than pretreatment, and median integrated leptin levels also increased 20%. The BMI significantly increased by 5 kg over 18 months but not in controls. Another mechanism by which antibiotics may lead to weight gain is that certain antibiotics cause mammalian mitochondria to fail.
Mitochondria, the organelles responsible for energy production in the cell, have bacteria-like DNA and other molecules, and that “drugs targeted to [bacterial] physiology might also impinge on mitochondrial biology. While antibiotics can cause many problems and we do over use them. If a person has a bacterial, not viral, infection always listen to you health professional. The gut microbiome can be rebuilt after the treatment finishes.
Antibiotics can be lifesaving but when they are not used appropriately they can cause a lot more health problems than benefits.
If I were to say to you I can provide you with something at a price of around 50 cents a day which is going to
- reduce your risk and symptoms of diabetes and metabolic syndrome,
- lower your risk of high blood pressure and reduce the plaque in your arteries,
- reduce your risk of heart attacks and stroke
- reduce the risk of more than a dozen types of cancer including colorectal, breast and prostate cancer and improve the survival rates if you have cancer,
- as well as helping you live longer
Would you be interested? No it is not a miracle drug it is a superfood that has largely been overlooked
While there are no firm answers on how many of these conditions fibre will reduce, just because the studies have not been done so far, we do know is that increasing you fibre amount and diversity can have a dramatic reduction in all of the conditions above and more. And up to a limit the more you have the better it is for you.
However, what we do know is that an additional 7–10 g of fibre per day reduces in cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes by around 9%, colorectal cancer by around 10% and all cause mortality by 11%.
There is nothing else you can do for your health other than drinking water and continuing to breathe that has the potential to improve your health at virtually no cost. I call this “Fibre Medicine”.
Even though we have known for more than 50 years that fibre was important for so many health conditions. It has been the very small brother of probiotics simply because there is not much money in fibre. It is natural, it cannot be patented, although synthetic versions are being made and tested, and it is abundant in nature. More importantly it along with polyphenol is the main food for the gut microbiome. They run on fibre
But not all fibres are equal and function the same. The ideal fibre or combination of fibres is one that ferments the whole length of the large intestine like Kfibre. https://www.kfibre.com/