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      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.

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      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.

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      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 .

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      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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Gut Bacteria in Children with Autism Are Different

Filed in Autism, Children, Human Microbiome | Posted by Brenda Watson on 07/04/2014


There is a distinct connection between changes in gut bacteria and autism, a topic I have written and blogged about before. A recent study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology found that children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have different concentrations of bacterial metabolites, or chemicals produced by bacteria, in their stool when compared to children without ASD.

“Most of the seven metabolites could play a role in the brain, working as neurotransmitters or controlling neurotransmitter biosynthesis,” said Kang. “We suspect that gut microbes may alter levels of neurotransmitter-related metabolites affecting gut-to-brain communication and/or altering brain function.”

Of the 50 different metabolites they tested, seven were found to differ between those children with ASD and those without.

“Most of the seven metabolites could play a role in the brain, working as neurotransmitters or controlling neurotransmitter biosynthesis,” said Kang. “We suspect that gut microbes may alter levels of neurotransmitter-related metabolites affecting gut-to-brain communication and/or altering brain function.”

In a nutshell, they think that the bacterial metabolites are altering brain function. The next step would be to determine whether these altered metabolites might be a cause or confounder of the disorder. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised.

In addition, the scientists confirmed that children with ASD had a distinct and less diverse bacterial composition than children without ASD. A lack of gut bacterial diversity has been found in people with a range of health conditions and generally indicates a state of impaired digestive health. That they found less diversity in children with autism is not surprising, given that digestive disruptions are a common finding in these children.

It is my hope that this research leads to a more clear understanding of just what is happening in these children so that we can take more measures to prevent the condition in the first place and even reverse it in certain children. In the meantime, promoting good digestive health in these children is a must. Children with ASDs often do well by taking probiotics, digestive enzymes, and omega-3 fish oils, and by following a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. The Autism Research Institute is an excellent resource for finding a physician who understands how to treat autism by taking into consideration a range of possible contributing factors.