Is fasting a free health fix – or is it just a fad? | Life and style | The Guardian

Restricting the amount you eat is said to fight disease, extend lifespan and improve wellbeing. As well as dieters, people with diabetes and MS could benefit

Source: Is fasting a free health fix – or is it just a fad? | Life and style | The Guardian

Gut Bacteria swap is alternative to Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric-SurgeryA bacterial cocktail could soon offer a knifeless alternative to gastric bypass surgery.

The gastric bypass limits a person’s food intake by, in effect, reducing the size of the stomach – often to the size of a walnut. The procedure is an effective treatment for obesity and associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes, and typically leads to a loss in excess body weight of between 65 and 75 per cent. However, it carries a high mortality risk, especially in severely obese individuals.

Lee Kaplan at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and colleagues may have discovered an alternative to surgery. The team performed a gastric bypass on mice and then fed microbes from their lower intestine to other healthy mice. The mice fed the bacterial cocktail lost five per cent of their body weight in two weeks, compared with mice on the same diet who had not been fed the bacteria. Continue reading Gut Bacteria swap is alternative to Gastric Bypass Surgery

Abnormal gut bacteria linked to severe malnutrition

MalnutritionThere’s more to malnutrition than poor diet. Two complementary studies suggest that microbes have an important role to play in both the onset and treatment of a poorly understood form of malnutrition called kwashiorkor.

Malnutrition, the leading cause of death among children worldwide, remains something of a puzzle. It is unclear, for instance, why some children are especially prone to becoming malnourished when siblings they live with appear to fare better.

Now Jeffrey Gordon at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, and his colleagues have found that a child’s risk of malnutrition may come down to the microbes in his or her guts. Continue reading Abnormal gut bacteria linked to severe malnutrition

Milk fats – clue to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

MILKConcentrated milk fats, a common ingredient of processed foods and confectionery, trigger blooms of otherwise rare gut bacteria in mice that may contribute to inflammatory gut diseases.

The discovery coincides with release of the “microbiome” – the most comprehensive census yet of the species of bacteria that live in and on the human body. By providing an inventory of bugs that live in 18 sites on the body in healthy people, the Human Microbiome Project should enable researchers to explore how disease might result from perturbations to the microbes, similar to those observed in the mice fed milk fat.

Eugene Chang at the University of Chicago and colleagues gave mice milk fat, lard or safflower oil to see how it would alter the spectrum of bugs living in the gut. The mice were genetically engineered to mimic inflammatory bowel disease, unable to make a protein called interleukin 10 which normally damps down inflammation. Continue reading Milk fats – clue to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Autism & Gut Bacteria

Children with autism appear to have a characteristic chemical signature in their urine which might form the basis of an early diagnostic test for the condition.

The finding also adds weight the hypothesis that substances released by gut bacteria are contributing to the onset of the condition.

Autism has previously been linked to metabolic abnormalities and gastrointestinal problems such as gut pain and diarrhoea. Several studies have also hinted at changes in gut bacteria in the faeces of children with autism.

To investigate whether signs of these metabolic changes might be detectable in children’s urine, Jeremy Nicholson and colleagues at Imperial College London investigated 39 children with autism, 28 of their non-autistic siblings and 34 unrelated children. Continue reading Autism & Gut Bacteria

Michael Mosley on intermittent Fasting

Scientists are uncovering evidence that short periods of fasting, if properly controlled, could achieve a number of health benefits, as well as potentially helping the overweight, as Michael Mosley discovered.

I’d always thought of fasting as something unpleasant, with no obvious long term benefits. So when I was asked to make a documentary that would involve me going without food, I was not keen as I was sure I would not enjoy it.

But the Horizon editor assured me there was great new science and that I might see some dramatic improvements to my body. So, of course, I said, “yes”.

I am not strong-willed enough to diet over the long term, but I am extremely interested in the reasons why eating less might lead to increased life span, particularly as scientists think it may be possible to get the benefits without the pain.

How you age is powerfully shaped by your genes. But there’s not much you can do about that.

Calorie restriction, eating well but not much, is one of the few things that has been shown to extend life expectancy, at least in animals. We’ve known since the 1930s that mice put on a low-calorie, nutrient-rich diet live far longer. There is mounting evidence that the same is true in monkeys. Continue reading Michael Mosley on intermittent Fasting