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Westernization has profoundly changed our microbiome

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Lifestyle can change the intestinal microbiome, a sort of ecosystem of bacteria existing in our intestine that can have various roles and that can also be a support for our immune system. This is confirmed by a new study, which appeared in Cell Host & Microbe and was conducted by researchers from the University of Trento and Eurac of Bolzano, who made up above all the analysis of the remains of Ötzi, human remains found in 1991 in the Alps belonging to a man lived between 3300 and 3100 BC.

By examining the intestine specimens of Ötzi’s remains, the researchers confirmed that there is a connection between the microbiome bacteria and the lifestyle change that today distinguishes the Western world above all. In particular, the connection exists between the bacteria and the increase of conditions such as obesity, autoimmune and gastrointestinal diseases, allergies and other complex conditions. In the press release that presents the study, they talk about a “Westernization process” that has brought about profound changes in our diet and that has meant that today foods are much richer in fat and poorer in fiber. This, combined with a more sedentary lifestyle and the development of new hygiene habits as well as medical products of various kinds, while making our lives safer has profoundly affected our microbiome.

In particular, the researchers analyzed the Prevotella copri, an intestinal bacterium. Nicola Segata, one of the main authors of the study together with Adrian Tett of the CIBio of the University of Trento, explains that they first discovered that it is not a single species. In fact, the bacterium is part of four different species. They later discovered that three of them had always been found in the microbiomes of non-westernized populations rather than in westernized ones. When the bacterium is found in the intestines of westernized populations, it is usually of a single species, which of course goes to the detriment of diversification.

The researchers, therefore, thought that the same phenomenon of “westernization” of our habits, above all food habits, caused the decrease of the diversification of this bacterium in our intestines, which probably happened also for other species of bacteria not analyzed by researchers. This same hypothesis, according to Segata, is supported by the analyzes that the same researchers carried out on ancient DNA, which was possible with a collaboration with the Institute for the study of mummies of Eurac Research. In particular, analyzing Ötzi’s intestines, the researchers noticed that three of the species of this bacterium were present in his intestine.

This multiple presence can also be identified in various fossilized stool samples dating back over a thousand years ago and found in Mexico. Now the only thing to understand is to what consequences this decrease in the diversification of our intestine bacteria and in general the changes of our intestinal biome that are taking place over the last few centuries can bring, considering also that the human body itself has never substantially changed to genetic level during the same period.

William Stiff

A graduate of Georgia State University and a registered practitioner with the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia, William has held a long career as a physical therapist and has maintained a life-long interest in medical research and discovery. He writes for Health Shiner during his spare time, submitting a story whenever he comes across research that he feels is worth reporting. Outside of his career, William is also a passionate woodworker and painter.

3286 Heavner Avenue, Conyers Georgia, 30207
Ph: 770-785-5619
Email: [email protected]
William Stiff
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Medical Research

Tobacco also linked to worse mental health according to a new study

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Often, when reference is made to the damage of cigarette smoking, mental health is hardly ever thought about, and yet cigarettes are also bad for you. This is suggested by a study by Professor Hagai Levine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem published in PLOS ONE.

Levine and colleagues carried out a survey of 2000 Serbian university students from different social and economic backgrounds. The researchers found that students who smoked showed higher rates of clinical depression than their non-smoking peers, two to three times.

Taking into consideration only the students of the University of Pristina, the researchers found that 14% of the smoking students suffered from depression compared to 4% of the non-smoking peers, while for the University of Belgrade the percentages were 19% compared to 11% respectively.

The same students who smoked also showed lower mental health scores than non-smokers. According to Levine, this study adds further evidence that smoking and depression may be linked; although there is no direct evidence yet that smoking causes depression, it can be said that tobacco seems to have a non-positive effect on mental health.

William Stiff

A graduate of Georgia State University and a registered practitioner with the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia, William has held a long career as a physical therapist and has maintained a life-long interest in medical research and discovery. He writes for Health Shiner during his spare time, submitting a story whenever he comes across research that he feels is worth reporting. Outside of his career, William is also a passionate woodworker and painter.

3286 Heavner Avenue, Conyers Georgia, 30207
Ph: 770-785-5619
Email: [email protected]
William Stiff
Continue Reading

Medical Research

One can evaluate hearing quality by analyzing pupil dilation according to researchers

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It may prove to be a new and effective hearing test developed by a team of neuroscientists at the University of Oregon. According to a statement on the university’s website, it is possible to assess a person’s hearing level by measuring pupil dilation.

According to the same statement, this approach could be useful to understand the quality of hearing in infants, young adults with disabilities and adults with stroke or other diseases and in general in those people for whom direct responses are not possible. The researchers performed experiments on 31 adults by monitoring the size of their pupils with eye detection technology. The detection took place while the same people performed a hearing test and while staring at an object at a monitor.

The study, published in the Journal of the Association for Research in Otorhinolaryngology, explains that this system is inspired by a discovery made by the main author of the study, Avinash Singh Bala, 10 years ago when he noticed changes in the pupils of barn owls in response to unexpected noises in their natural environment.

“What we discovered was that pupil dilation was as sensitive as the button-press method,” Bala explains. “We had presented the first data analyses at the conferences and there was a lot of resistance to the idea that by using an involuntary response we could get results as good as the button-pressing data.”

William Stiff

A graduate of Georgia State University and a registered practitioner with the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia, William has held a long career as a physical therapist and has maintained a life-long interest in medical research and discovery. He writes for Health Shiner during his spare time, submitting a story whenever he comes across research that he feels is worth reporting. Outside of his career, William is also a passionate woodworker and painter.

3286 Heavner Avenue, Conyers Georgia, 30207
Ph: 770-785-5619
Email: [email protected]
William Stiff
Continue Reading

Medical Research

New peanut butter with probiotics developed by scientist

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A new peanut butter that allows you to acquire probiotic positives was developed by researcher Dan Perlman. Probiotics are microorganisms that live in the digestive system that help to promote digestion, produce important hormones and vitamins and generally strengthen the immune system.

For years, Perlman has been looking for new ways to “pack” probiotics into food to allow people to acquire them without using pills or third-party capsules. Probiotics need to be ingested alive to take advantage of their positive characteristics but if there is not enough water or other energy sources in the food to support these bacteria, they die quickly and are therefore useless once ingested.

Walnut butters seem to be unsuitable for cramming live probiotics as they contain very little water. However, the researcher noted that when freeze-dried peanut butter bacteria come in, the bacteria themselves remain “suspended” in a sort of deep sleep, still alive but ready to get back to work and “wake up” once they are ingested by people.

This is because they remain trapped in the structure of the fat matrix of these foods, a rather crystalline fat.

In the new peanut butter developed by the researcher, there are 500 million to one billion bacteria in a two-spoon portion, the amount of a probiotic pill.

Now the researcher himself is looking for a way to make this new peanut butter with probiotics for commercial use.

William Stiff

A graduate of Georgia State University and a registered practitioner with the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia, William has held a long career as a physical therapist and has maintained a life-long interest in medical research and discovery. He writes for Health Shiner during his spare time, submitting a story whenever he comes across research that he feels is worth reporting. Outside of his career, William is also a passionate woodworker and painter.

3286 Heavner Avenue, Conyers Georgia, 30207
Ph: 770-785-5619
Email: [email protected]
William Stiff
Continue Reading
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