Health Problems & Solutions

Q. I get frequent headaches at work. I got my eyes checked. I don’t need glasses.

Ans: A headache may be due to the air conditioning in the office causing blocked sinuses, room fresheners causing allergies or lack of ventilation. It can also be because of dehydration or hunger, especially if you are so involved with your work that you forget to eat and drink. Take steam inhalations before leaving for work and after reaching home. Keep a bottle of water and a fruit or two as a snack at your desk. (Samosas, biscuits and other high-calorie foods are not a good idea as they lead to weight gain.)

Q: I am very scared because my neighbour developed flu, had to be admitted in the ICU and died.

Ans:You can take a flu vaccine to prevent the disease. And if you get the flu despite immunisation, the attack is usually mild. The vaccine has to be taken every year, preferably from October to March (the flu season). It needs to be administered to all children and older adults, especially those with diabetes or other chronic illnesses. Frequent handwashing decreases the likelihood of contracting the flu as does taking steam inhalations once a day and gargling with warm, salted water.

Q: I was told that I need to breastfeed my baby for only six months as she would get all the immunity she requires in that time. I was also told that the newer milk formulas are equally effective, if not superior, as they contain trace elements and essential amino acids. Is this true?

Ans: Breastfeeding protects the baby from infectious diseases and provides easily digestible food. It offers a wealth of benefits for the mother too. It protects against breast and ovarian cancer, delays the onset of type 2 diabetes as well as some forms of arthritis. If possible, a baby should be breastfed for at least a year.

The writer is a paediatrician with a family practice at Vellore and author of Staying Healthy in Modern India.

Source: The Telegraph, Kolkata (India)

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Bariatric Surgery to reduce obesity


Description:
Bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) includes a variety of procedures performed on people who have obesity. Weight loss is achieved by reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric band or through removal of a portion of the stomach (sleeve gastrectomy or biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch) or by resecting and re-routing the small intestine to a small stomach pouch (gastric bypass surgery).

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Long-term studies show the procedures cause significant long-term loss of weight, recovery from diabetes, improvement in cardiovascular risk factors, and a mortality reduction from 40% to 23%. The U.S. National Institutes of Health recommends bariatric surgery for obese people with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40, and for people with BMI of at least 35 and serious coexisting medical conditions such as diabetes. However, research is emerging that suggests bariatric surgery could be appropriate for those with a BMI of 35 to 40 with no comorbidities or a BMI of 30 to 35 with significant comorbidities. The most recent American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery guidelines suggest the position statement on consensus for BMI as an indication for bariatric surgery. The recent guidelines suggest that any patient with a BMI of more than 30 with comorbidities is a candidate for bariatric surgery.

A National Institute of Health symposium held in 2013 that summarized available evidence found a 29% mortality reduction, a 10-year remission rate of Type 2 Diabetes of 36%, fewer cardiovascular events, and a lower rate of diabetes-related complications in a long-term, non-randomized, matched intervention 15-20 year follow-up study, the Swedish Obese Subjects Study. The symposium also found similar results from a Utah study using more modern gastric bypass techniques, though the follow-up periods of the Utah studies are only up to 7 years. While randomized controlled trials of bariatric surgery exist, they are limited by short follow-up periods.

Types:
Procedures can be grouped in three main categories: blocking, restricting, and mixed. Standard of care in the United States and most of the industrialized world in 2009 is for laparoscopic as opposed to open procedures. Future trends are attempting to achieve similar or better results via endoscopic procedures.

Blocking procedures:
Some procedures block absorption of food, although they also reduce stomach size.

Biliopancreatic diversion:
This operation is termed biliopancreatic diversion (BPD) or the Scopinaro procedure. The original form of this procedure is now rarely performed because of problems with. It has been replaced with a modification known as duodenal switch (BPD/DS). Part of the stomach is resected, creating a smaller stomach (however the patient can eat a free diet as there is no restrictive component). The distal part of the small intestine is then connected to the pouch, bypassing the duodenum and jejunum.

In around 2% of patients there is severe malabsorption and nutritional deficiency that requires restoration of the normal absorption. The malabsorptive effect of BPD is so potent that, as in most restrictive procedures, those who undergo the procedure must take vitamin and dietary minerals above and beyond that of the normal population. Without these supplements, there is risk of serious deficiency diseases such as anemia and osteoporosis.

Because gallstones are a common complication of the rapid weight loss following any type of bariatric surgery, some surgeons remove the gallbladder as a preventive measure during BPD. Others prefer to prescribe medications to reduce the risk of post-operative gallstones.

Far fewer surgeons perform BPD compared to other weight loss surgeries, in part because of the need for long-term nutritional follow-up and monitoring of BPD patients.

Jejunoileal bypass:
This procedure is no longer performed. It was a surgical weight-loss procedure performed for the relief of morbid obesity from the 1950s through the 1970s in which all but 30 cm (12 in) to 45 cm (18 in) of the small bowel was detached and set to the side.

Endoluminal sleeve:
A study on humans was done in Chile using the same technique however the results were not conclusive and the device had issues with migration and slipping. A study recently done in the Netherlands found a decrease of 5.5 BMI points in 3 months with an endoluminal sleeve.

Restrictive procedures:
Procedures that are restrictive shrink the size of the stomach or take up space inside the stomach, making people feel more full when they eat less.

Vertical banded gastroplasty:
In the vertical banded gastroplasty, also called the Mason procedure or stomach stapling, a part of the stomach is permanently stapled to create a smaller pre-stomach pouch, which serves as the new stomach.

Adjustable gastric band:
The restriction of the stomach also can be created using a silicone band, which can be adjusted by addition or removal of saline through a port placed just under the skin. This operation can be performed laparoscopically, and is commonly referred to as a “lap band”. Weight loss is predominantly due to the restriction of nutrient intake that is created by the small gastric pouch and the narrow outlet. It is considered one of the safest procedures performed today with a mortality rate of 0.05%.

Sleeve gastrectomy:
Sleeve gastrectomy, or gastric sleeve, is a surgical weight-loss procedure in which the stomach is reduced to about 15% of its original size, by surgical removal of a large portion of the stomach, following the major curve. The open edges are then attached together (typically with surgical staples, sutures, or both) to leave the stomach shaped more like a tube, or a sleeve, with a banana shape. The procedure permanently reduces the size of the stomach. The procedure is performed laparoscopically and is not reversible. It has been found to be comparable in effectiveness to Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

Intragastric balloon:
Intragastric balloon involves placing a deflated balloon into the stomach, and then filling it to decrease the amount of gastric space. The balloon can be left in the stomach for a maximum of 6 months and results in an average weight loss of 5–9 BMI over half a year. The intragastric balloon is approved in Australia, Canada, Mexico, India, United States (received FDA approval in 2015) and several European and South American countries. The intragastric balloon may be used prior to another bariatric surgery in order to assist the patient to reach a weight which is suitable for surgery, further it can also be used on several occasions if necessary.

Stomach folding:
Basically, the procedure can best be understood as a version of the more popular gastric sleeve or gastrectomy surgery where a sleeve is created by suturing rather than removing stomach tissue thus preserving its natural nutrient absorption capabilities. Gastric plication significantly reduces the volume of the patient’s stomach, so smaller amounts of food provide a feeling of satiety. The procedure is producing some significant results that were published in a recent study in Bariatric Times and are based on post-operative outcomes for 66 patients (44 female) who had the gastric sleeve plication procedure between January 2007 and March 2010. Mean patient age was 34, with a mean BMI of 35. Follow-up visits for the assessment of safety and weight loss were scheduled at regular intervals in the postoperative period. No major complications were reported among the 66 patients. Weight loss outcomes are comparable to gastric bypass.

Mixed procedures:       Mixed procedures apply block and restrict at the same time.

Gastric bypass surgery:
A common form of gastric bypass surgery is the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, designed to reduce the amount of food a person is able to eat by cutting away a part of the stomach. Gastric bypass is a permanent procedure that helps patients by changing how the stomach and small intestine handle the food that is eaten to achieve and maintain weight loss goals. After the surgery, the stomach will be smaller. A patient will feel full with less food.

A factor in the success of any bariatric surgery is strict post-surgical adherence to a healthy pattern of eating.

There are certain patients who cannot tolerate the malabsorption and dumping syndrome associated with gastric bypass. In such patients, although earlier considered to be an irreversible procedure, there are instances where gastric bypass procedure can be partially reversed.

Sleeve gastrectomy with duodenal switch:
A variation of the biliopancreatic diversion includes a duodenal switch. The part of the stomach along its greater curve is resected. The stomach is “tubulized” with a residual volume of about 150 ml. This volume reduction provides the food intake restriction component of this operation. This type of gastric resection is anatomically and functionally irreversible. The stomach is then disconnected from the duodenum and connected to the distal part of the small intestine. The duodenum and the upper part of the small intestine are reattached to the rest at about 75–100 cm from the colon.

Implantable gastric stimulation:
This procedure where a device similar to a heart pacemaker is implanted by a surgeon, with the electrical leads stimulating the external surface of the stomach, is being studied in the USA. Electrical stimulation is thought to modify the activity of the enteric nervous system of the stomach, which is interpreted by the brain to give a sense of satiety, or fullness. Early evidence suggests that it is less effective than other forms of bariatric surgery.

Eating after bariatric surgery:
Immediately after bariatric surgery, the patient is restricted to a clear liquid diet, which includes foods such as clear broth, diluted fruit juices or sugar-free drinks and gelatin desserts. This diet is continued until the gastrointestinal tract has recovered somewhat from the surgery. The next stage provides a blended or pureed sugar-free diet for at least two weeks. This may consist of high protein, liquid or soft foods such as protein shakes, soft meats, and dairy products. Foods high in carbohydrates are usually avoided when possible during the initial weight loss period.

Post-surgery, overeating is curbed because exceeding the capacity of the stomach causes nausea and vomiting. Diet restrictions after recovery from surgery depend in part on the type of surgery. Many patients will need to take a daily multivitamin pill for life to compensate for reduced absorption of essential nutrients. Because patients cannot eat a large quantity of food, physicians typically recommend a diet that is relatively high in protein and low in fats and alcohol.

Benefits of Bariatric Surgery:
Gastric bypass surgery is done to help you lose excess weight and reduce your risk of potentially life-threatening weight-related health problems, including:

* Gastroesophageal reflux disease

* Heart disease

* High blood pressure

* Severe sleep apnea

* Type 2 diabetes

* Stroke

Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries are typically done only after you’ve tried to lose weight by improving your diet and exercise habits.

Risk Factors:
As with any major surgery, gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries pose potential health risks, both in the short term and long term.

Risks associated with the surgical procedure can include:

* Excessive bleeding

* Infection

* Adverse reactions to anesthesia

* Blood clots

* Lung or breathing problems

* Leaks in your gastrointestinal system

* Death (rare)

Longer term risks and complications of weight-loss surgery vary depending on the type of surgery. They can include:

* Bowel obstruction

* Dumping syndrome, causing diarrhea, nausea or vomiting

* Gallstones

* Hernias

* Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

* Malnutrition

* Stomach perforation

* Ulcers

* Vomiting

* Death (rare)

When weight-loss surgery doesn’t work:

Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries don’t always work as well as you might have hoped. For one thing, although rare, something during or after the procedure itself may go wrong. For instance, the adjustable band may fail to work properly. If a weight-loss procedure doesn’t work right or stops working, you may not lose weight and you may develop serious health problems. Keep all of your scheduled follow-up appointments after weight-loss surgery. If you notice that you aren’t losing weight or you develop complications, see your doctor immediately. Your weight loss can be monitored and factors potentially contributing to your lack of weight loss evaluated.

It’s also possible to not lose enough weight or to regain weight after any type of weight-loss surgery, even if the procedure itself works correctly. This weight gain can happen if you don’t follow the recommended lifestyle changes. To help avoid regaining weight, you must make permanent healthy changes in your diet and get regular physical activity and exercise. If you frequently snack on high-calorie foods, for instance, you may have inadequate weight loss.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bariatric_surgery
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/bariatric-surgery/about/pac-20394258

Diarrhea

Description:

Diarrhea is one of the most common health complaints. It can range from a mild, temporary condition, to a potentially life-threatening one.

Globally, an estimated 2 billion cases of diarrheal disease occur each year, and 1.9 million children under the age of 5 years, mostly in developing countries, die from diarrhea.

Diarrhea occurs when a person suffers from repeated bowel movements which are loose and watery. It’s a very common condition and is not considered to be serious.Many people get diarrhea once or twice each year. It normally lasts 2 to 3 days, and you can treat it with over-the-counter medicines.

Some people frequently pass stools, but they are of normal consistency. This is not diarrhea. Similarly, breastfed babies often pass loose, pasty stools. This is normal. It is not diarrhea.

* Most cases of diarrhea are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites

* Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause chronic diarrhea

* Antidiarrheal medications can reduce diarrheal output and zinc supplement is effective in children

* Some nutritional and probiotic interventions may help prevent diarrhea.

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Symptoms:

Some common symptoms of diarrhea include:

* Bloated stomach

* Cramps

* Thin or watery stools

* The constant feeling that you need to have a bowel movement

* Nausea

* Vomiting

More serious symptoms include:

* Blood or mucus in your stool

* Weight loss

* Fever

Causes:

Usually, diarrhea is caused by a virus that infects your gut. Diarrhea is also known as intestinal flu or stomach flu.

Some common causes of diarrhea include:

* Viruses. Viruses that can cause diarrhea include Norwalk virus, cytomegalovirus and viral hepatitis. Rotavirus is a common cause of acute childhood diarrhea.

* Contaminated food

* Alcohol abuse

* Diseases of the intestines (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)

* Eating foods that upset the digestive system

* Infection by bacteria (the cause of most types of food poisoning) or other organisms

* Laxative abuse

* Medications

* Allergies to certain foods

* Diabetes Mellitus Type 2

* Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

* Radiation therapy

* Some cancers

* Undergoing any surgery related to the digestive system

* Trouble absorbing certain nutrients also called “malabsorption”

* Diarrhea may also follow constipation, especially for people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Who is prone to diarrhea?

Some people could be more prone to diarrhea than others, such as:

* People suffering from illnesses like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Diabetes Mellitus Type 2

* People undergoing cancer treatments

* People who take certain medications such as laxatives, antacids, drugs that contain magnesium, NSAIDs (like aspirin and ibuprofen)* People who suffer from an intolerance of dairy products

* People suffering from gluten intolerance

* People who often take greasy fatty foods

* Older people (above 65 years) who suffer from several digestive disorders.

Diagnosis:

Besides conducting a physical exam and reviewing your medications, your doctor might order tests to determine what’s causing your diarrhea. They include:

* Blood test. A complete blood count test can help determine what’s causing your diarrhea.

* Stool test. Your doctor might recommend a stool test to determine whether a bacterium or parasite is causing your diarrhea.

* Flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Your doctor might recommend one of these procedures to look at the lining of your colon and provide biopsies if no cause is evident for persistent diarrhea.

* Both procedures involve using a thin, lighted tube with a lens on the end to look inside your colon.

Treatment:

In most normal cases no extra treatment is requred.The doctor may advice you to increase fluid intake and adjust food for one or two days and it goes away.

Water is a good way to replace fluids, but it doesn’t contain the salts and electrolytes — minerals such as sodium and potassium — you need to maintain the electric currents that keep your heart beating. You can help maintain your electrolyte levels by drinking fruit juices for potassium or eating soups for sodium. Certain fruit juices, such as apple juice, might make diarrhea worse.

For children, ask your doctor about using an oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte, to prevent dehydration or replace lost fluids.

Antibiotics:

Antibiotics might help treat diarrhea caused by bacteria or parasites. If a virus is causing your diarrhea, antibiotics won’t help.

Adjusting medications you’re taking:

If your doctor determines that an antibiotic caused your diarrhea, your doctor might lower your dose or switch to another medication.

Treating underlying conditions:

If your diarrhea is caused by a more serious condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease, your doctor will work to control that condition. You might be referred to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist, who can help devise a treatment plan for you.

Lifestyle and home remedies:

Most diarrhea cases clear up on their own within a few days. To help you cope with your signs and symptoms until the diarrhea goes away, try to:

* Drink plenty of clear liquids, including water, broths and juices. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

* Add semisolid and low-fiber foods gradually as your bowel movements return to normal. Try soda crackers, toast, eggs, rice or chicken.

* Avoid certain foods such as dairy products, fatty foods, high-fiber foods or highly seasoned foods for a few days.

* Ask about anti-diarrheal medications. Over-the-counter (OTC) anti-diarrheal medications, such as loperamide (Imodium A-D) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), might help reduce the number of watery bowel movements and control severe symptoms.

* Certain medical conditions and infections — bacterial and parasitic — can be worsened by these medications because they prevent your body from getting rid of what’s causing the diarrhea. Also, these drugs aren’t always safe for children. Check with your doctor before taking these medications or giving them to a child.

* Consider taking probiotics. These microorganisms help restore a healthy balance to the intestinal tract by boosting the level of good bacteria. Probiotics are available in capsule or liquid form and are also added to some foods, such as certain brands of yogurt.

Studies confirm that some probiotics might be helpful in treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea and infectious diarrhea. However, further research is needed to better understand which strains of bacteria are most helpful or what doses are needed.

Prevention:

Preventing viral diarrhea:

Wash your hands to prevent the spread of viral diarrhea. To ensure adequate hand-washing:

* Wash frequently. Wash your hands before and after preparing food. Wash your hands after handling uncooked meat, using the toilet, changing diapers, sneezing, coughing and blowing your nose.

* Lather with soap for at least 20 seconds. After putting soap on your hands, rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. This is about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice through.

* Use hand sanitizer when washing isn’t possible. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you can’t get to a sink. Apply the hand sanitizer as you would hand lotion, making sure to cover the fronts and backs of both hands. Use a product that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Vaccination:

You can help protect your infant from rotavirus, the most common cause of viral diarrhea in children, with one of two approved vaccines. Ask your baby’s doctor about having your baby vaccinated.

Preventing traveler’s diarrhea:

Diarrhea commonly affects people who travel to countries where there’s inadequate sanitation and contaminated food. To reduce your risk:

* Watch what you eat. Eat hot, well-cooked foods. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables unless you can peel them yourself. Also avoid raw or undercooked meats and dairy foods.

* Watch what you drink. Drink bottled water, soda, beer or wine served in its original container. Avoid tap water and ice cubes. Use bottled water even for brushing your teeth. Keep your mouth closed while you shower.

* Beverages made with boiled water, such as coffee and tea, are probably safe. Remember that alcohol and caffeine can aggravate diarrhea and dehydration.

* Ask your doctor about antibiotics. If you’re traveling to a developing country for an extended time, ask your doctor about starting antibiotics before you go, especially if you have a weakened immune system. In certain cases, taking an antibiotic might reduce your risk of traveler’s diarrhea.

* Check for travel warnings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a travelers’ health website where disease warnings are posted for various countries. If you’re planning to travel outside of the United States, check there for warnings and tips for reducing your risk.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:

https://www.practo.com/health-wiki/diarrhea-meaning-treatment-and-symptoms/69/article

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/158634.php

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diarrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20352241 and 20352246

Obesity Enhances Cancer Risk

Fat-clogged cells explain why obesity can cause cancer. A new discovery could explain why obese people are more likely to develop cancer, scientists say.

A type of cell the body uses to destroy cancerous tissue gets clogged by fat and stops working, the team, from Trinity College Dublin, found.

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Obesity is the biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking, Cancer Research UK says.

And more than one in 20 cancer cases – about 22,800 cases each year in the UK – are caused by excess body weight.

Experts already suspected fat sent signals to the body that could both damage cells, leading to cancer, and increase the number of them.

Now, the Trinity scientists have been able to show, in Nature Immunology journal, how the body’s cancer-fighting cells get clogged by fat.

And they hope to be able to find drug treatments that could restore these “natural killer” cells’ fighting abilities.

‘Lose some weight’
Prof Lydia Lynch said: “A compound that can block the fat uptake by natural killer cells might help.

“We tried it in the lab and found it allowed them to kill again.

But arguably a better way would be to lose some weight – because that is healthier for you anyway.”

Dr Leo Carlin, from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, said: “Although we know that obesity increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer, we still don’t fully understand the mechanisms underlying the link.

“This study reveals how fat molecules prevent immune cells from properly positioning their tumour-killing machinery, and provides new avenues to investigate treatments.

“A lot of research focuses on how tumours grow in order to find metabolic targets to stop them, so this is a reminder that we should consider the metabolism of immune cells too.”

To reduce risk:

*Keep a healthy weight
*Stop smoking totally
*Eat a healthy diet
*Cut back on alcohol
*Avoid sunburn

Sources: BBC News

A gut bacterium as a fountain of youth

Move over Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. There’s a new health-promoting gut bacterium, and it’s called Akkermansia muciniphila.

You will not find its benefits at the bottom of a yogurt cup. But a new study has identified more than one way to nurture its growth in the gut, and offered evidence that it may maintain — and even restore — health as we age.

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Published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the new research found that in mice and monkeys whose metabolisms had grown cranky with age, taking steps to boost A. muciniphila in the gut reduced the animals’ insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is the gradual impairment of the body’s ability to efficiently use food for fuel. It is best known as a way station on a patient’s path to developing type 2 diabetes.

But insulin resistance is also linked to a rogue’s gallery of ills, from obesity and inflammation to the sagging immunity and frailty that comes with advancing age. If a readily available means of slowing or reversing insulin resistance could be identified, it might have broad and powerful anti-aging effects (in addition to protecting some of the world’s 650 million adults who are obese against developing type 2 diabetes).

First identified in 2004, Akkermansia muciniphila inhabits the large intestine and is thought to account for between 1% and 5% of all intestinal bacteria in adults. Scientists suspect it helps preserve the coat of mucus that lines the walls of our intestines. It may also play a role in making the polyphenols we eat in plant-based foods more available to our cells.

Evidence is mounting that A. muciniphila is involved in obesity, glucose metabolism and intestinal immunity.

For instance, a 2018 study of cancer patients suggests that it plays a role in immune response. Compared to patients who failed to be helped by a new generation of immunotherapy, those who did had a greater abundance of Akkermansia in their guts. When researchers took the stool of a patient who responded positively to the cancer-fighting therapy and transplanted it into lab animals with human cancers, the recipients became more likely to respond positively to the same treatment.

In the new research, a team from the National Institute on Aging examined the molecular chain of events that appears to result from A. muciniphila’s depletion in mice and macaque monkeys. And they assessed the effects of restoring this gut microbe to elderly animals.

First, they documented that the guts of older animals had markedly smaller populations of A. muciniphila than the guts of young animals, and that as A. muciniphila became more scarce, so did butyrate, one of the gut’s key protectors.

The deficiency of these two substances caused the mucous walls of the of the aged animals’ intestines to thin and grow leaky. That corrosive process unleashed a chain of events that touched off inflammation, prompted an immune response and, in a final step, increased insulin resistance.

Key to that final step was the accumulation in the gut of a specific kind of immune cell called 4BL cells. If the detrimental chain of events was to be disrupted, the accumulation of those 4BL cells probably had to be stopped, the researchers surmised.

The researchers also documented what appeared to be a role for A. muciniphila in fostering healthy diversity among the garden of other microbes that colonize the gut. In animals with scant populations of A. muciniphila, a host of other common gut bacteria — as well as their beneficial byproducts, particularly butyrate — also suffered.

When the researchers gave aged mice butyrate, the result was higher A. muciniphila levels and levels of insulin resistance that approached those seen in the younger animals.

They got the same results when they gave aged mice and macaque monkeys the antibiotic enrofloxacin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic used in veterinary medicine. In both animals, enrofloxacin — which is not considered safe for use in humans — routinely wiped out the 4BL cells that were thought to be a key link in the chain leading to insulin resistance. With them out of the picture, A. muciniphila levels rose and insulin resistance largely disappeared, demonstrating their pivotal role.

The results suggest “that the insulin resistance and other pathologies associated with aging and even frailty can be ameliorated by targeting” the cascade of events that flow from the depletion of of Akkermansia muciniphila, the study authors wrote.

Belgian researcher Patrice Cani, who is exploring a probiotic form of Akkermansia that could increase its presence in the human gut, said the new findings are “perfectly in line” with studies that have shown the bacteria’s impact on insulin sensitivity.

Finding the power of this gut bacteria in macaque monkeys is a particularly important step forward that supports “even more the need for future research in humans,” added Cani, who is based at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

Cani and his colleagues have just finished a small study in humans to investigate the safety and the feasibility of taking Akkermansia in a form that will boost its populations in the gut — a first. The results to date have been encouraging, he said.

Sources: The Los Angeles Times