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Eating too much fat and sugar as a child can alter your microbiome for life, even if you later learn to eat healthier, a new study suggests. The microbiome refers to all the bacteria as well as fungi, parasites, and viruses that live on and inside a human or animal.
Most of these micro-organisms are found in the intestines, and most of them are helpful, stimulating the immune system, breaking down food, and helping synthesize key vitamins, the researchers said in the mice-based study.
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“We studied mice, but the effect we observed is equivalent to kids having a Western diet, high in fat and sugar and their gut microbiome still being affected up to six years after puberty,” said researcher Theodore Garland from the University of California, Riverside, US.
For the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, the team looked for impact on the microbiome after dividing the mice into four groups — half fed the standard, ‘healthy’ diet, half-fed the less healthy ‘Western’ diet, half with access to a running wheel for exercise, and a half without.
After three weeks spent on these diets, all mice were returned to a standard diet and no exercise, which is normally how mice are kept in a laboratory. At the 14-week mark, the team examined the diversity and abundance of bacteria in the animals.
They found that the number of bacteria such as the Muribaculum intestine was significantly reduced in the Western diet group. This type of bacteria is involved in carbohydrate metabolism. The analysis also showed that the gut bacteria are sensitive to the amount of exercise the mice got. Muribaculum bacteria increased in mice fed a standard diet who had access to a running wheel and decreased in mice on a high-fat diet whether they had exercise or not.
Researchers believe this species of bacteria and the family of bacteria that it belongs to might influence the amount of energy available to its host. One other effect of note was the increase in a highly similar bacteria species that were enriched after five weeks of treadmill training in a study by other researchers, suggesting that exercise alone may increase its presence. Overall, the researchers found that early life Western diet had more long-lasting effects on the microbiome than did early life exercise. (IANS)
Gut microbes have immense benefit and now, new research reports that promoting a healthy gut microbiome could protect travelers from the rigours of long space travel.
If humans are to ever walk on Mars, they will need to endure a long space flight, but space travel can have negative impacts on health, potentially limiting how far we can go.
The microgravity environment can result in muscle breakdown and reduced bone mass.
It can cause nausea, meaning that sometimes space travelers struggle to eat enough (space food isn’t all that nice either). The change in diet aboard a spaceship can disrupt the gut microbiome, leading to further health issues.
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“Changes in the microbiome are likely to lead to the breakdown of the balanced and complex relationship between microbes and their human host, with potentially severe repercussions on the functionality of body systems,” said Professor Silvia Turroni from the University of Bologna.
The review, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Physiology, discussed a variety of studies suggesting that disruptions in the gut microbiome occur during space travel. For instance, one study found that the microbiomes of space travelers on the same mission became more similar to each other during the journey.
There was also an increase in bacteria associated with intestinal inflammation and a decrease in those with anti-inflammatory properties. However, the research review revealed that manipulating the gut microbiome may be a powerful way to maintain health on board a spacecraft. “The literature suggests that nutritional countermeasures based on prebiotics and probiotics hold great promise to protect space travelers,” said Turroni.
What would these microbial treatments involve?
They may be as simple as nutritionally balanced meals, with lots of fibre to kickstart microbial metabolism in the gut. Other options could be more targeted, including microbial supplements, such as bacteria that secrete immune-boosting substances, or those that synthesize vitamins required for bone growth.
“The well-being of the gut microbiome of space travelers should be among the primary goals of long-duration exploratory missions,” said Professor Martina Heer of the University of Bonn.
“To ensure the success of the mission, we must not overlook the myriad of microorganisms that reside in our gastrointestinal tract and make sure they are in balance.”
While future missions to Mars will undoubtedly look for evidence of microbial life on the red planet, this review suggests that it may be our homegrown microbes that get us there, the authors wrote. (IANS)
Parents, according to a latest health news if your kids throw attitude and do not listen to you despite repeated warnings at home, it is time to check the quality of their food as microbiome in the gut plays a key role in deciding kids’ behaviour, a novel study has found.
The study of early school-aged children (in the age group of 5-7) showed a connection between the bacteria in their gut and their behaviour, said researchers, adding that parents play a key role in their kids’ microbiome beyond the food they provide.
“Childhood is a formative period of behavioural and biological development that can be modified, for better or worse, by caregivers and the environments they help determine,” said microbiology and statistics researcher Tom Sharpton Oregon State University.
The gut microbiota features more than 10 trillion microbial cells from about 1,000 different bacterial species.
The researchers, which included scientists from Stanford University and University of Manitoba, surveyed the gut microbiomes of 40 school-aged children.
The scientists collected stool from the children and parents filled out questionnaires on socioeconomic risk, behavioural dysregulation, caregiver behavior, demography, gut-related history (like antibiotic use) and a week-long diet journal.
They used a technique known as shotgun metagenomics to apply whole-genome sequencing to all of the organisms found in the subjects’ stool.
The technique gives insight into which microbes live in the gut and their functions.
“One of the novel associations we found was between Type VI secretion systems and behaviour,” said Keaton Stagaman of the OSU College of Science.
The findings, published in the journal mBio, are important because microbiome can shed light on which children are heading toward mental health challenges.
“Future studies will hopefully show whether these secretion systems have direct or indirect effects on the gut-brain axis and which organisms carry these systems,” Sharpton said.
The gut-brain axis, the reciprocal communication between the enteric nervous system and mood or behaviour, is a rapidly growing and exciting body of research.
The researchers said that future work should also take a close look at the impacts of diet on the microbiome and behaviour. (IANS)