Some time ago, it was a common practice in some countries to bring candy and cakes to celebrate birthdays at school with friends and classmates, and there was no problem. Everyone ate and enjoyed the food, and went home happy with chocolate stains all over their clothes. A generation or two after, that has become an unthinkable tradition for kids. The reason: the recent rise of food allergies.
According to Allergy UK, rates of allergy are rising all over the world, affecting 30 to 35% of people at some stage of their lives. Initially, asthma and allergic rhinitis were the most common problems; but recent studies have shown a significant increase in the incidence of food allergies, especially among infants. In fact, since 1997 there has been an estimated 50% more children suffering from food allergies. The reasons explaining this rise are not clearly known, although some previous studies have hinted that our 21st century lifestyle and diet may play a role.
Cathryn Nagler is a Professor at the University of Chicago, in Illinois. For years, she has been studying whether there is a link between the immune system, the intestinal bacteria and the onset of allergies. In 2004, she found that wiping out gut microbiota in mice led to the onset of food allergies. She has now gone one step further. Read more
Pain or irritation in the lower part of the abdomen, bloating, or changes in stool frequency and consistency are some of the symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a chronic functional disorder whose origins are unknown, and which does not have any known treatment, only recommendations to keep symptoms at bay. In western countries, IBS is the main motivation behind gastroenterology consultations, as it affects about fifteen per cent of the population, especially females, negatively affecting their quality of life.
A recent study carried out by a team of researchers of the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) has shed some light on this condition and opens the door to possible treatments. “We’ve discovered that patients diagnosed with IBS have more immunity activity in their small intestine than healthy people do,” said to our blog Dr. María Vicario, one of the main researchers taking part in the study, which was published a few days ago in Gut magazine and highlighted in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
This finding is particularly important, the experts believe. Knowing that the immune system is also affected by IBA is important in order to conduct better diagnoses and find new treatment options.
There are an endless number of differences between men and women and one of those differences is that eating exactly the same diet affects the gut microbiota composition of men and women differently, as a new study has recently showed.
As we have already explained in this blog, it’s a well-known fact that the food we eat and our lifestyles can alter the bacteria living inside our digestive systems, especially those responsible for warding off diseases and helping us digest food, among other important tasks.
Now, for the first time, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin (USA) and six other institutions have also taken into account the impact that gender and nutrition have on our gut flora. The researchers found a surprising result: eating the same food has a significant different effect in gut microbiota of males and females.
We are more bacteria than we are human: for every cell in our body, we host no fewer than ten microbes, most of them in our gut (our gut microbiota or gut flora). Just recently, scientists have only begun to get a better understanding of the role that these hundreds of trillion of bacteria play inside us, mainly in our digestive tract. Now scientists know, for instance, that these bacteria are important to be in good health and that we can influence this fragile ecosystem with our diet and daily habits.
Proof of this is with a new, controversial studysuggesting that artificially sweetened food may have a negative impact on the gut microbiota, leading to higher blood sugar levels, a condition that can be a precursor to diabetes. The animal study, published in Nature by researchers at the Weizmann Institute for Science in Revohot, Israel, concludes that artificial sweeteners such as saccharine or aspartame (frequently used in coffee, beverages and prepared food as a substitute for sugar) could, paradoxically, exacerbate the exact problems they are meant to solve: diabetes and obesity.