• Gut Health
  • Heart Health
    • Heart Health

      The stats tell it all: The number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease. That’s right, more than any other disease – even cancer (a close second) – heart disease is the most likely to kill you. The United States is currently facing a “diabesity” epidemic, or a substantial increase in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome leading to diabetes and obesity, all serious risk factors for heart disease.

      According to the American Heart Association, every 34 seconds someone in the US dies of a heart attack. By the time you finish reading this paragraph, another person will have lost their life. Sadly, many people do not even know they have heart disease until they experience a heart attack. These facts alone make Heart Health a critical topic to understand.

  • Skin Health
    • Skin Health

      The gut-skin connection is very significant. Inflammatory processes present in the gut may manifest on the skin. Toxins are expelled with sweat, and can cause the skin to react. Like the inside of the digestive tract, the skin is covered in microbes which can be neutral, protective or pathogenic. Skin reaction may reflect what is going on inside the body. Therefore treating skin conditions only from the outside will often be ineffective and lead to other chronic issues.

  • Brain Health
    • Brain Health

      The gut-brain connection occurs in two directions—from the brain to the gut, and from the gut to the brain. When a person has a “gut feeling,” or an emotional upset causes a stomachache or loss of appetite, they experience examples of the first, most familiar direction. When the gut is out of balance, inflammation results leading to a condition commonly known as leaky gut. A leaky gut will allow undigested food particles and toxins to enter into the bloodstream. Some may cross into the brain, setting the stage for diseases like Alzheimers and dementia. Recognizing the underlying contributing factors that created the gut imbalance in the first place is the first step to achieving optimal brain function .

  • Diet & Health
    • Diet & Health

      Healthy pH levels, whether in the colon or systemic, are found when you eat a high-fiber diet, high in vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins, and healthy fats. Complement this with foods and supplements high in beneficial bacteria, omega-3 fatty acids, and digestive enzymes, and you will be supporting optimal health (which begins in the digestive system).

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My Own Colon Awareness Story

Filed in Adults, Antibiotics, Cancer, Digestive Health, Immune System, Preventable Issues, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 03/07/2017


Colon Cancer Awareness Day - brendawatson.com

Since March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month I thought I would offer a series of posts this month focused on colon health. Initially, I would like to share with you some personal challenges that led me to the conclusion that your gut is the core of your health. As the truth of this concept became more and more clear to me, I became passionate about educating people on the importance of colon health. I’ve dedicated my whole career to this path, which has spanned over 25 years.

There are two occurrences I believe shaped my desire to first learn, and then teach that the colon is the reason you experience health or ultimately, disease.

The first was when I was in my mother’s womb she lost her son (my brother) at 1 year old to a colon problem. He died when his colon kinked and the doctors did not “catch it” in time. This was devastating to say the least for my mother. I believe that in many ways we absorb whatever is going on with our mother during pregnancy. I feel this made a big imprint on my thoughts even though I didn’t put this together until much later in life.

The other is that I was an unhealthy child from the start of my life. I was given an abundance of antibiotics early, which destroyed my good bacteria, impacting my digestive and immune system, leading to many health problems.

By the time I was born in 1953, antibiotics were already being widely prescribed for children. Of course there is a time and place for these prescriptions in our world. However, having multiple throat and ear infections as many children do I lived on the “pink stuff”. I am convinced those antibiotics instigated the health decline that continued well into my adult life.

By the time I was in elementary school I began to experience migraine headaches, and my hair fell out in patches all over my head. Quite embarrassing to say the least. Of course none of this was thought to have anything to do with my colon. My health conditions continued with chronic fatigue in high school and in my 20’s, hormonal issues and kidney problems.

You may say – well how was this related to your colon? I didn’t realize until I started looking into natural solutions in my 20’s that I had been severely constipated my whole life! In my family we never talked about bowel movements. No one mentioned (or knew) or that it was healthy (and important) to have at least one every day.

Screening helps to prevent colorectal cancer.

As I embarked on a path to change my diet, began to detoxify my digestive system and focus on daily elimination I began to feel better and better. This was in the 1980’s. At that time it was still considered weird to even talk about bowel movements. But as my health and vitality began to return I was convinced even back then, with little supporting scientific research, that my out of balance colon was at the core of my health issues. This proved to be true as my health continued to improve at a remarkable pace.

As a result of my own healing path, I became more aware of how many people might also enjoy better health if only they could cleanse their digestive system, restore and maintain good bacteria in their gut, and support healthy elimination. I realized that colon problems and cancer could be greatly reduced if more education and attention were put on this simple process.

My point is this – the gut is clearly the core of our health. After all, we extract the nutrients from our food that feed the cells, tissues and organs of our body in our digestive system. Think about it – every bite of food we eat, every sip of liquid we drink, goes to the gut first.

The critical question is – how do we keep our guts healthy so they continue to nourish us? No one wants to end up with colon disease!

There are a variety of tools necessary to accomplish this task. In the next few blogs I intend to arm you with simple tools that are absolutely essential to keeping your digestive system healthy.

Since March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month – what better time to do this?

Type 1 Diabetes On The Rise

Filed in Antibiotics, Autoimmune Disease, Children, Gluten Sensitivity, Immune System, Teens, Type 1 Diabetes, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 09/02/2016


Type 1 Diabetes - brendawatson.com

Parents, please listen up! I have some important research to share with you right now! It has to do with the possibility of preventing the development of type 1 diabetes in your children!

When I read the results of this recent study in Science Daily, my heart fell. In a nutshell, it informs us that repeated antibiotic exposure greatly increases the risk for type 1 diabetes.

My own nephew was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at around 13 years old, along with severe gluten sensitivity. Just last week my dear friend’s daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 14. I can tell you that both of these young people had round after round of antibiotics as children.

The article states that the average American child currently receives 10 courses of antibiotics by age 10. Of course, when given, the doctors are very convincing and assert that the antibiotics are very necessary. That’s why it’s so important that you, the parents, are well-informed.

Type 1 diabetes is no fun, period. It used to be called juvenile diabetes and was quite rare. However as children’s exposure to antibiotics has increased in recent years, the diversity and density of good gut bacteria, responsible for strong immunity, has dramatically shifted. Along with that shift in the gut environment, the occurrence of auto-immune diseases like type 1 diabetes has more than doubled.

Our immune systems are designed to protect us from harm. In the case of a person with an auto-immune disease, their immune system mistakenly attacks their healthy tissues or organs. With type 1 diabetes, the misguided immune system destroys the islet cells in the pancreas where insulin is produced. Islet cells don’t grow back. Insulin is essential to control blood sugar levels. Without insulin, excess sugar builds up and will ultimately damage nerves and blood vessels. The unfortunate person with this condition will need to be closely monitored and remain on medication daily for the rest of their life. As I said, no fun.

The summary of the clinical trial I mentioned above, which was conducted by well-known researcher Dr. Martin Blaser at NYU Langone Medical Center, reads “In doses equivalent to those used regularly in human children, antibiotics changed the mix of gut microbes in young mice to dramatically increase their risk for type 1 diabetes.” I find that to be a very frightening statement.

Jessica Dunne, director of Discovery Research at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, puts it this way. “This is the first study of its kind suggesting that antibiotic use can alter the microbiota and have lasting effects on immunological and metabolic development, resulting in autoimmunity.”

So I say to you, please, please consider all other options before allowing antibiotics to be administered to your beloved young son or daughter (or yourself!). During cold and flu season, antibiotics are often prescribed for common respiratory issues. In the case of a viral infection, antibiotics are absolutely ineffective as I shared in this recent blog. Here’s a short list of natural products known for their anti-viral and in most cases, also antibacterial properties. These can be found in your local health food store and may be wise to keep on hand:

  • Monolaurin
  • Biocidin
  • Colostrum
  • Bee propolis
  • Grapefruit seed extract
  • Reishi mushrooms
  • Oregano oil

It’s always a good idea to consult a trusted health practitioner to determine which might be the best fit for you and your family.

I’ve blogged often about antibiotics and their consequences. It’s a crusade I will not surrender, as I know that through education and awareness, all of our immune systems – both of our children and ourselves – have the best chance for a healthy tomorrow!

Bacteria or Virus? Express Yourself!

Filed in Adults, Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotics, Children, Cold and Flu, Common Cold, Digestive Health, Human Microbiome, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Respiratory issues | Posted by Brenda Watson on 03/11/2016


As this year’s flu and cold season wanes down a bit, I found it heartening to read that science is focusing on a way to distinguish between bacterial and viral infections to help limit over-prescribing of antibiotics. Over the last decades doctors have been far too willing to offer a sad and miserable patient antibiotics, resulting in killing off many of the body’s good bacteria and creating serious bacterial imbalance in their gut!

Antibiotic overuse has also created a global issue termed “antibiotic resistance” where the bad bugs appear to get stronger the more often they are exposed to antibiotics. Research shows these “superbugs” become invulnerable to our current antibiotics creating the potential for more virulent diseases – and that’s another story.

This article from the Wall Street Journal states that nearly 75% of acute respiratory illnesses are viral in nature – and there’s currently no prescribed treatment for a viral infection. Dr Ganiats, a family physician and professor at the University of Miami states “Its often hard to get a person who doesn’t need an antibiotic to accept that.” He believes testing that differentiates bacteria from virus would be very helpful.

The Duke University research is doing just that. It’s designing a blood test to determine whether a respiratory infection is viral or bacterial in nature. At this point, it’s only a research tool, and has an 8-10 hour turn-around time. The hope is to develop a 1-hour blood test that could be used in the doctor’s office. However that test is still 2-3 years away from arriving on the market.

The research focuses on how our body’s genes respond differently to bacteria or viruses. This response called gene expression will turn genes on or off depending on the type of infection present. The study follows how the genes express in the absence of infection as well. Testing genes is believed to offer more dependable results than other types of tests currently available.

In a study using a cohort of 273 that was published last month in the journal Science Translational Medicine, this test was found to be 87% accurate. It was able to differentiate whether the patient had a viral or bacterial infection, or actually was ill due to something other than an infection.

Interesting point to note, sinus issues very commonly indicate an underlying yeast/Candida infection.

Honestly, at the first onset of respiratory symptoms, I would be inclined to max out on probiotics, Vitamin C, along with immune stimulating herbs and ride it out as long as possible and appropriate.

And I realize not everyone has the health convictions I do. No matter what direction your personal choice for healing may lead you, it’s always helpful to understand the underlying issues so we can address them effectively. I’m looking forward to more of this type of testing to be available for all of us.

Please do me a favor – think twice, maybe three times before you decide on an antibiotic. Your gut and also the rest of the world will appreciate your consideration.

Bacteria and the Elderly – Better Days Ahead

Filed in Adults, Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotics, C. difficile, Conditions, Dementia, Diet, Digestive Health, Environmental Toxins, General, Human Microbiome, Immune System, Mental Health, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Road to Perfect Health, Urinary Tract Infections | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/23/2015


Recently I was pleased to come across an article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed the very positive shift away from overuse of antibiotics in nursing homes.

Being the defender of the microbiome that I am, when I read that up to 70% of nursing home residents receive one or more courses of antibiotics every year and up to 75% of those prescriptions are given incorrectly – well that information had the hair all over my body on end! It was reported that the prescriptions were written for the wrong drug, dose, or duration – and this information is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oh my!

Apparently, one of the biggest antibiotic misdiagnoses is for treatment of suspected urinary tract infections. Believe it or not, antibiotics to treat supposed UTIs are being given to the elderly for vague symptoms like confusion, the discovery of bacteria in just one urine sample, or even in the case of a random misstep resulting in a fall.

Sadly, since women are much more likely to develop UTIs then men, many of us ladies have experienced the misery of a UTI. Although it’s possible to have a UTI and not experience obvious symptoms, that is much more the exception than the rule. In the companion book to the public television special The Road to Perfect Health, I list symptoms for UTIs. A few are a persistent urge to urinate, painful or burning urination, frequent urination, and the list continues with other very clear indicators. Finding bacteria in the urine is just one piece of a diagnosis. “Confusion” wasn’t even on my list. So does this mean that confusion is only a symptom of UTIs in elderly people? How can this be?

Dr. Christopher Crnich, an infectious disease specialist and researcher at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health states that generally 50% of women and 25% of men in nursing homes have bacteria in their urine. He then emphasized that didn’t automatically indicate a UTI. Bacteria can develop for many other reasons – immune system and hormonal issues for example. I’ll include an imbalanced gut here, resulting from a diet containing too many sugars. By the way, this is true for people of all ages.

This article really got me thinking as I approached the end. According to Dr. Diane Kane, chief medical officer for St. Ann’s Community, a not-for-profit health-care system in Rochester, NY, who is a passionate critic of UTI over-diagnosis, “When you have dementia, you’re going to have good days and you’re going to have bad days. When you have dementia and you have a bad day, please don’t send a urine, because it’s going to be positive.”

As I interpret Dr. Kane’s statement, “bad days” of dementia (more confusion) will physically manifest as an increase of pathogenic bacteria in a person’s urinary system. Following that line of thought, a decrease in the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the body could potentially alleviate some symptoms of dementia or confusion. That could certainly explain why a patient’s confused mental state may seem to improve while on a round of antibiotics.

Unfortunately, if no effort is made to repopulate the gut with good bacteria after antibiotics, research has shown that bad bacteria and yeast readily re-establish. Upon the return of a confused mental state, further urine testing would reveal more bacteria, perpetuating another misdiagnosis of UTI and laying the groundwork for additional antibiotic treatment. Round and round we go.

In my mind, a much better and more logical step toward improved daily function and cognition for the elderly in nursing homes might be to dramatically increase the amount of good bacteria provided to the gut on a daily basis. The good bacteria will displace the bad, supporting and maintaining the integrity of all the organs of elimination, bladder included. And perhaps positively impact confusion and dementia. I’d love to see more research studies created that look at these parameters. Are you with me?

I’ve blogged often on how declining gut health, toxicity and dementia seem to go hand in hand. I’ve also shared research highlighting how probiotics can be effective treatment for that dreaded C. difficile infection that occurs most often in hospitals and long term care facilities, haunting the weak and elderly.

Let’s all envision a day when antibiotics are the last resort should a person be confused, perhaps has fallen, or mild amounts of bacteria are found in their urine. Instead let’s picture a standard of care designed to increase the good bacteria in the body through daily probiotics, kefir, fermented veggies and/or kombucha. Now that’s HEALTH care!

The Lowdown on How the Guts of our Pets Mimic their Human Owners!!!

Filed in Adults, Antibiotics, Cleansing, Diabetes, Dogs - Pets, Environmental Toxins, General, Human Microbiome, Immune System, Mental Health, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Supplements | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/02/2015


For many years I have written about the benefit of probiotics on our health. In my early years, working in a Natural Health Clinic that offered total health solutions, I experienced first hand the great effects probiotics have on people. I worked one on one with many who were trying to reverse health conditions naturally or in conjunction with traditional medicine. In my own practice as well as throughout the clinic our goal was to assist people in detoxification of their bodies. These cleansing practices were found effective in prevention of disease, as well as in supporting the healing of many conditions that traditional medicine had not been able to solve.

In our Clinic this was accomplished with modalities like massage, sauna, herbs, colon hydrotherapy, juice fasting and nutrition. During this period of time probiotics were a vital part of my practice. My specialty was the digestive system (I’ll bet you might have guessed!) and I was performing colonics as well as suggesting herbal remedies and teaching good nutrition. So in this way very early on, through practical application, I observed over and over how probiotics could greatly improve people’s health.

Now let’s fast forward to today – many years later! We have entered the age of the study of the Human Microbiome (fancy name for gut population) and its effects on human health and disease. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported this so scientists can have the funding to study all aspects of bacteria, both in and on our bodies. Almost daily we can read more research studies touting the benefits of probiotics on everything from GI problems to anxiety and depression. As new studies have come forth, we have even offered many of them to you on this blog.

Since we have trillions of bacteria and over 180 different strains of bacteria in our guts, we now fully realize two important things – how critical it is to replenish our good bacteria if we want to be healthy, and also just what type of probiotic supplement our bodies need most – one that is high potency (meaning a high culture count) and that also contains many different good bacterial strains.

BUT – have we forgotten about the digestive systems of our babies? Those wonderful animals that keep us company, are always excited to see us and never criticize us for our shortcomings? Gosh I hope not.

Come to find out these guys (dogs and cats) need probiotics just like we do. In fact their digestive systems take a beating from antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and toxins just like ours do. Actually they are finding that the gut bacteria of the animals we live with actually mimic ours, having many of the same bacteria – even though there are certain strains that are specific to animals.

I interviewed Dr. Rob Knight who is a scientist studying the gut microbiome and founded The American Gut Project. These scientists actually analyze stool samples (for a fee) from anyone, and they will accept your animal’s sample as well. Dr. Knight explained to me that he can take samples from humans and match them to their dog by simply comparing their bacterial composition, without knowing anything else about them. He can literally match owners with their dogs through their similarities of bacteria!

Even though “official” research is beginning to demonstrate that dogs and cats derive many health benefits from probiotics, Stan and I and countless other dog owners and vets have already experienced that high dose, multi-strain probiotics can help pets with digestive upsets like vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation, skin issues – the list goes on. For cats and dogs, a healthy population of gut bacteria is vital for gut health, and just like with their humans, plays a critical role in removing toxins, enhancing digestion and out-competing many strains of disease causing microorganisms.

In conclusion, I know I am going to make sure my animals have the benefit of quality probiotics – ones made especially for cats and dogs – with at least 20 billion cultures per capsule and 10 different probiotic strains.

In this simple way we can provide our animals a much better chance of keeping their health on the right track — so that we have them around longer to love!!! YEA!!!

Antibiotics During Pregnancy Increase Risk for Childhood Obesity

Filed in Antibiotics, Children, Infancy, Obesity, Pregnant women, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/12/2015


Antibiotic overuse is a problem that I discuss on a regular basis. One of the most detrimental effects of antibiotic overuse is the increase in obesity it is thought to contribute to. Dr. Smith recently blogged about the use of antibiotics during early infancy and its link to obesity later in life. A recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity adds to this research, finding that children who were exposed to antibiotics during the second or third trimester of pregnancy were at a higher risk of being obese at age seven. Infants born to mothers who delivered by Cesarean section were also at increased risk for obesity during childhood.

Of 727 mothers enrolled in the study, 436 were followed until the children reached age seven. Sixteen percent of the mothers used antibiotics during the second or third trimesters, which put them at an 84 percent increased risk for obesity compared with those children who were not exposed.

“Our findings should not discourage antibiotic use when they are medically needed, but it is important to recognize that antibiotics are currently overprescribed,” noted Noel Mueller, PhD. “Our findings provide new evidence in support of the hypothesis that Cesarean section independently contributes to the risk of childhood obesity.”

I wrote about the effects of antibiotics on the development of obesity in my latest book, The Skinny Gut Diet. Antibiotics alter the gut microbes in ways that lead to the development of obesity. Researchers are discovering that the type of bacteria you have in your gut determines whether or not you will be more likely to gain weight.

Setting up a healthy balance of gut bacteria early in life—and maintaining it throughout life—looks to be one of the best ways to avoid the weight gain trap that currently plagues two-thirds of the United States. Vaginal birth, breastfeeding, antibiotic use only when absolutely necessary, and a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables will go a long way toward establishing a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Probiotic supplementation can also help to support this balance.

Childhood Obesity Linked to Early and Frequent Antibiotic Use

Filed in Antibiotics, Children, Human Microbiome, Obesity | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/24/2014


Antibiotic overuse during childhood is rampant. Most physicians, often at the parent’s urging, will prescribe an antibiotic for colds, flu, and ear infections even though antibiotic prescription is not indicated in such cases. Antibiotics are unnecessary for these common childhood ailments, and their overuse has far-reaching negative effects.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, researchers studied the medical records of almost 65,000 babies and children in the Philadelphia area. They discovered that babies who received wide-spectrum antibiotics (including amoxicillin, tetracycline, streptomycin, moxifloxacin, and ciprofloxacin) during their first two years of life were 11 percent more likely to be obese between ages 2 and 5 than those who did not receive the drugs. And the earlier the exposure to the drugs, the more likely the child was to be obese between age 3 and 5.

“Because the first 24 months of life comprise major shifts in diet, growth, and the establishment of intestinal microbiome, this interval may comprise a window of particular susceptibility to antibiotic effects,” noted the researchers.

Martin Blaser, a prominent researcher who is currently studying the effects of antibiotics on the human gut microbiome has said, “Antibiotic perturbation may cause a shift to an alternative stable state, the full consequences of which remain unknown.” His studies have found that gut bacteria may never fully recover after antibiotic use.

Antibiotic use has been linked to obesity in adults and children in previous studies, so this new study in children only adds to the evidence that gut bacterial balance is essential for weight management. Truly there is more to the story than calories in, calories out, a topic that I cover in depth in my new book, The Skinny Gut Diet.

“This really gives strong evidence that, often, obesity really is not a personal choice,” noted Stephen Cook, MD, MPH, lead researcher. He said that childhood obesity “is a much more complicated issue than ‘move more and eat less.’”

Even the authors of the study are skeptical that physicians will give up using antibiotics for these conditions, so they suggest using narrow-spectrum antibiotics instead, which target a smaller group of bacteria and have less of a negative impact on the beneficial gut bacteria. This is a step in the right direction, but judicious use of antibiotics is really imperative if we are to stop the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Ultra-Low Diversity of Gut Microbes During Critical Illness

Filed in Antibiotics, Human Microbiome, Prebiotics, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by lsmith on 10/29/2014


The intestinal tract is a main source of health-care associated pathogenic infections, not surprisingly due to the high concentration of microbes residing there.1 The GI tract is also considered to the primary reservoir for the emergence of antibiotic resistance of such infections.2 In patients with prolonged critical illness, the risk of developing a gut-derived sepsis (blood infection) is increased.

In a recent study published in the journal mBio, researchers analyzed the gut microbial composition of 14 critically ill patients under prolonged stay in an intensive care unit.3 They found ultra-low-diversity communities of bacteria consisting of only one to four species in 30 percent of the patients. This ultra-low diversity is the result of harsh conditions in the gut during critical illness, including multiple antibiotic exposure, reduced nutrition, physiological stress, and additional medications, some of which also affect gut microbes (acid-suppressors and opioids, in particular).

The most common bacteria in these patients detected by 16S rRNA sequencing were Enterococcus and Streptococcus as well as microbes under the family Enterobacteriaceae. Culture-based analyses also revealed the presence of Candida albicans and Candida glabrata in about 75 percent of the ICU patients. Four patients harbored a 2-member pathogen community consisting of one Candida and one bacterial organism.

“Here we demonstrate that the intestinal microbiome in critically ill patients can be considered a “damaged organ” given that its main cellular mass, the normal microbiota, is disrupted and dominated by pathobiota which may be an ever-threatening source for disseminating pathogens,” concluded the researchers.

In further experiments, the researchers determined that the ultra-low-diversity communities showed low virulence (pathogenicity) when they were grouped together, or living commensally as “friendly” organisms. The bacteria were able to keep the fungal Candida species in check, reducing their ability to become pathogenic. The researchers also tested the use of phosphate-polyethylene glycol (an anti-virulence compound) and found that it helped to reduce the pathogenicity of the microbes, suggesting that it might be a useful compound for critically ill patients with an ultra-low diversity of antibiotic-resistant gut microbes.

“A major challenge in treating critically ill patients is the overuse of antibiotics, a practice that is often unavoidable with patients exposed to multiple invasive procedures and extreme physiologic stress,” noted the researchers.

Further study of compounds that positively affect gut microbe composition in this vulnerable population is needed.

Many critically ill patients are now getting a slow, continuous drip of liquid food fortified with gut supportive supplements such as zinc, glutamine, arginine, vitamin C, omega-3s, and many more. These feedings are administered either via a thin nasogastric tube or an endoscopically placed gastric feeding tube.

I personally think it is high time that prebiotics and probiotics be added to the feeding tube line. Many of these tubes have an extra opening to administer meds. The prebiotics could be administered with the continuous liquid feedings and the probiotics be injected via side port, ideally between antibiotic dosages. This allows for maintenance of microbial diversity and repopulation of probiotic species that diminish with chronic stress, which allows pathogenic bacteria and fungi to multiply out of control.

It has been well documented that probiotics ingest prebiotic fibers, creating short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate, acetate, and propionate. All three of these have been shown to bind to GPR43, and GPR41 receptors in the gut lining and on the surface of white blood cells. This action majorly helps to balance the immune system so that it can appropriately deal with pathogenic bacteria and fungi without overdoing it and leading to autoimmune disease.

This is only one action of SCFAs, and only one of many ways immunity is balanced when supported by good nutrition and beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, and fungi such as Saccharomyces boulardii, signaling through many different pathways. The optimum situation is to provide the nutrients, supplements, and probiotics that support our “damaged organ”—the gut lining and beneficial microbes.

This article provides a good picture of what happens when our normal microbiome, which normally consists of several hundred microbial species, is reduced to 2 to 4 pathogenic bacteria and fungi while everything else has been starved or killed by antimicrobials. It makes perfect sense to replenish that which has been lost, a practice that should be, and is slowly becoming, standard of care today.

References

  1. Alverdy JC and Chang EB, “The re-emerging role of the intestinal microflora in critical illness and inflammation: why the gut hypothesis of sepsis syndrome will not go away.” J Leukoc Biol. 2008 Mar;83(3):461-6.
  2. Salyers AA, Gupta A, and Wang Y, “Human intestinal bacteria as reservoirs for antibiotic resistance genes.” Trends Microbiol. 2004 Sep;12(9):412-6.
  3. Zaborin A, Smith D, Garfield K, et al., “Membership and behavior of ultra-low-diversity pathogen communities present in the gut of humans during prolonged critical illness.” mBio. 23 2014 Sep;5(5):e01361–14.

Antibiotics in Agriculture Impacting Microbes in Soil

Filed in Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotics, General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/26/2014


The use of antibiotics in raising livestock is widespread, so much so that it’s added as a growth promoter to the drinking water of many animals. As a result of overuse, the antibiotics are excreted from these animals in manure and urine, which results in the deposit of antibiotics into the soil. A recent study published in the Public Library of Sciences ONE journal revealed that the repeated application of one particular antibiotic, sulfadiazine, resulted in a decrease in the diversity of soil microbes along with an increase in harmful microbes.

“This means a loss of fertility and, thus, in the long run, a decline in crop yields,” noted Michael Schloter, PhD, lead researcher. He also commented on the increase in harmful bacteria, saying “The increase in human pathogenic microorganisms in the environment has wide-reaching consequences for human health.”

It is crystal clear that antibiotics are being overused, and that overuse has grave implications for our health. Antibiotics in personal care products, antibiotics in agriculture, antibiotic prescriptions for every little sniffle—all of these uses for antibiotics contribute to the development of pathogens more dangerous than the original bugs we sought treat in the first place. Schloter summed it up nicely when he said, “We must therefore urgently develop a new mindset as regards the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry.”

In the meantime, if you eat meat or dairy, opt for those brands that do not use antibiotics to help keep antibiotics out of our soils.

 

Gut Microbes Help Develop Immune Cells

Filed in Antibiotics, Digestive Health, General, Immune System, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/28/2014


Our gut microbes play a crucial role in the development of immune cells that help fight infection, according to a recent study by researchers from the California Institute of Technology and published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe. They began the study by comparing innate immune cells—white blood cells that act as the body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders—in mice both with and without gut microbes. In the germ-free mice, there were less innate immune cells than in mice with gut microbes, which suggests that gut microbes play an important role in the development of these cells.

Next, they investigated whether the difference in number of innate immune cells played a role on protection against infection with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, a food-borne pathogen that causes serious infection. As it turns out, the mice with more innate immune cells were better protected against Listeria infection than those mice with fewer immune cells (as a result of a lack of gut bacteria).

In addition, the researchers tested another set of healthy mice (with gut bacteria) by giving them a dose of antibiotics. These mice also had difficulty fighting the Listeria infection. Antibiotics tend to destroy gut bacteria, so the antibiotic treatment may have been enough to alter immune cell function in a similar way as occurred in the germ-free mice.

“Evidence that depletion of the microbiota leads to transient immune suppression suggests factors that disrupt commensal microbes, including clinical antibiotic use, may, paradoxically, be a risk factor for susceptibility to opportunistic pathogens,” noted the researchers. The authors noted the far-reaching effects of gut bacteria, stating, “It’s interesting to see that these microbes are having an immune effect beyond where they live in the gut. They’re affecting places like your blood, spleen, and bone marrow—places where there shouldn’t be any bacteria.”

Our gut bacteria are turning out to be one of the most amazing players in our overall health.