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Probiotics: A drug-free way to treat Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most devastating health problems facing America today. Not only does this mind-robbing condition affect more than 5 million Americans today, with the Baby Boomer generation heading to retirement, that number is expected to triple by 2050.

Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, just a handful of FDA-approved drugs relieve symptoms, but only for the short-term. What’s more, they come with an array of side effects, including headaches, nausea, weight loss, diarrhea and constipation.

Fortunately, modern medicine has begun to embrace the gut-brain axis — the connection that links your brain to your intestines and emotions. Over time, probiotics have proven their value as a non-drug tool ideally equipped to maintain that important balance, and treat problems like depression.

One day very soon, neurologists may be using probiotics to treat Alzheimer’s, based on a recent clinical trial featured in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

 

Neurological testing

Over the course of the 12-week, double-blind clinical trial, Iranian researchers split 52 Alzheimer’s patients (between ages 60-95) into two groups. One received 200 milliliters of milk enriched with three strains of Lactobacillus (acidophilus, casei and fermentum) and Bifidobacterium bifidum, while a control group was given milk without beneficial bacteria.

(Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacterium bifidum are three important ingredients of EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.)

At the beginning and end of the trial, blood samples were taken and all patients were given Mini-Mental State Exams (MMSEs) that measured their cognitive ability on specific tasks like remembering dates, copying pictures, counting backwards and naming objects.

No surprise, patients who received the probiotic mixture improved on their previous MMSE results after 12 weeks, while those in the control group had lower scores.

Patients in the probiotic group also benefitted in other measurable ways, with lower levels of trigylcerides, high-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP) and Very Low Density Lipoproteins (VLDL) as well as drops in two common measures used to gauge insulin resistance and the production of insulin in the pancreas.

“These findings indicate that change in the metabolic adjustments might be a mechanism by which probiotics affect Alzheimer’s and possibly other neurological disorders,” said senior study author Dr. Mahmoud Salami, according to a press release.

 

Multi-species power

Arguably, the real benefits Alzheimer’s patients received in improved cognitive skills and healthier blood levels may stem from the multiple species of bacteria, not just one.

In fact, it’s possible giving Alzheimer’s patients a multi-species probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic with 10 proven strains of bacteria every day may have yielded even greater results.

A balanced gut may tame autism

Is medicine better able to spot signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or is the incidence of this challenging developmental disability actually growing?

It’s a question without a concrete answer…

Although the numbers remained stable from 2010 to 2012 according to the most recent CDC stats (2012), autism affects 1 in 68 children, and it’s some 450 percent more common among boys than girls.

Despite this lack of clarity, fortunately, researchers have identified a pretty common problem kids across the spectrum share: Gastrointestinal challenges that could be related to taking too many antibiotics, thus reducing their microbial diversity too early in their young lives.

A pair of recent studies highlighted the range of gut-based treatments that may soon tame the effects of autism.

 

Going the fecal transplant route

A research team from Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and Ohio State University experienced success treating a small group of 18 kids using fecal transplants, according to a study appearing in Microbiome.

Over 10 weeks, this young group of patients, ranging in age from 7-16, were treated with a bowel cleanse and two weeks of antibiotics, followed by daily fecal transplants for eight weeks.

The treatment regimen was effective, as it improved gastrointestinal symptoms by some 80 percent along with gut microbial diversity and calmed autistic behaviors by around 25 percent. And, that gut diversity held after treatments ended too.

But, there’s a couple of caveats to consider about this study too. For starters, there was no side-by-side placebo trial that would demonstrate if doing nothing made a difference too. That’s not a big deal.

The larger concerns, however, are the unintended consequences of having a fecal transplant in the first place, like receiving gut bacteria from someone who may be reasonably healthy but overweight then acquiring that same health problem.

Also, these risks can be especially tricky when patients attempt to take matters into their own hands by trying to replicate these treatments, a real problem researchers have acknowledged.

 

A dietary/probiotic solution?

The lack of diversity in the gut was important to another study, this time with mice bred to exhibit autism-like behaviors, according to a 2016 report by Baylor College of Medicine researchers appearing Cell.

Based on sequencing long strands of DNA, the offspring of mice moms fed high-fat diets were severely lacking in Lactobacillus reuteri in their guts by a factor of nine.

Restoring that balance lessened some autistic behaviors and boosted the production of oxytocin, a hormone that acts like a neurotransmitter in the brain and a facilitator of bonding

Researchers speculate this genus of Lactobacillus may provide a basis for treating human neurodevelopmental issues in the form of a probiotic.

Treating neurodevelopmental issues with a probiotic, ideally a product made of multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, certainly seems more ideal and much safer than taking drugs or undergoing treatments that may not yield the best results.

Probiotics: Can they replace migraine medication?

Anyone who experiences migraines on a regular basis knows how painful they can be, not to mention the harrowing side effects — vomiting, nausea, blurred vision and sensitivity to light and sound — that come with them.

Some 12 percent of all Americans suffer from migraines, conditions that can last for several days and are three times more common among women than men.

As our understanding of the human microbiome expands, science is discovering new connections that link the microbes in our bodies to all sorts of health conditions, even migraines, according to a recent study in MSystems (an open access journal published by the American Society For Microbiology).

The nitrate trigger

To understand the relation between migraines and the microbiome, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine discovered a link in nitrates, common food additives used to preserve cured meats — think hot dogs — that are also found naturally in vegetables and in some medicines (heart drugs) and wines.

First, bacterial gene sequencing was used to uncover differences in 172 oral samples and some 2,000 fecal samples from healthy donors supplied by the American Gut Project.

This initial sequencing process found differing amounts of bacterial species based on whether donors suffered from migraines or not, yet the bacterial composition of both groups varied little.

The real breakthrough came when scientists used PICRUSt, a bioinformatics software tool, to analyze which genes were more likely to appear in migraines sufferers versus healthy folks.

That was where they discovered an increase in the number of genes that encode nitrate, nitrite and nitric oxide-related enzymes in patients who struggle with migraines. Plus, those genes associated with migraines were far more prevalent in oral samples.

A probiotic solution?

Interestingly, this discovery may lead to more targeted migraine treatments like a mouthwash or probiotic to restore the proper balance, according to Dr. Embriette Hyde, a co-author of the study as told to CNN. Could it be possible that probiotics could become a go-to treatment instead of migraine medication? Maybe some day…

This suggestion makes good sense, based on previous research that found probiotic strains of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families were powerful enough to reduce tooth decay and thrush.

Protecting your microbiome and overall health is as simple as taking a probiotic, ideally with multiple strains of bacteria, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior.

Antibiotics and the C. Diff Superbug

American doctors wrote some 266 MILLION prescriptions for antibiotics in 2014, according to the most recent numbers reported by the CDC. Simply put, for every 1,000 Americans, 835 prescriptions for antibiotics were written.

Those are amazing and frightening numbers…

Hovering near the top of the list of most prescribed antibiotics is Ciprofloxacin (better known as Cipro), part of the fluoroquinolone class of synthetic broad-spectrum drugs.

If Cipro sounds familiar, your doctor may have prescribed it (or Levaquin) at some point to treat a urinary tract infection, bronchitis or sinus infection.

(You may have also missed a recent FDA advisory urging doctors to dial back prescribing fluoroquinolones due to reports of disabling and permanent side effects to the central nervous system as well as joints, tendons and muscles.)

Superbugs = super-damage to human health

This deluge of antibiotics has done unintentional but very serious damage to the collective health of Americans, contributing to the epidemic of superbugs like Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections in hospitals.

Fighting C. diff has been a real headache for health care facilities that have already scrambled to update their cleaning protocols to eliminate the use of chemicals containing antibacterial compounds like triclosan to prevent healthcare associated infections (HAIs) from doing harm to patients who just want to get well and go home.

For a long time, hospitals and medical professionals assumed dirt and germs were at the root of the superbug epidemic.

So, how much of an impact do antibiotics really have in a hospital setting? Based on a recent study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, it’s much more than you’d expect given all of the attention to superbugs.

  1. diff rates dropped by a dramatic 80 percent only when the use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Cipro was restricted and used in targeted ways, according to the study of hospitals in the UK.

“These findings are of international importance because other regions such as North America, where fluoroquinolone prescribing remains unrestricted, still suffer from epidemic numbers of C. difficile infections,” said Dr. Derrick Crook, co-study author and professor of microbiology at the University of Oxford in a press release.

“Similar C. diff bugs that affected the UK have spread around the world, and so it is plausible that targeted antibiotic control could help achieve large reductions in C. diff infections in other countries,” says co-author Dr. Mark Wilcox.

Protect your health from antibiotic-associated infections

Apart from dispensing too many antibiotics, physicians and hospitals have another tool upon which they can rely to reduce the rate of antibiotic-associated infections like C. diff., according to a 2016 survey of studies published in the International Journal of General Medicine.

Giving adults and children probiotics reduced the risks of developing a C. diff infection by some 60 percent, particularly among patients recovering in a hospital.

Among the beneficial bacteria cited as beneficial in halting the spread of C. diff: Lactobacillus, among the active strains contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior.

Could your gut be training your body to yo-yo diet?

Losing weight isn’t easy. It takes a lot of consistent effort in many areas — exercise, food choices, portion control, sleep, self-esteem are just a few — to do it the safe and right way.

Sadly, life often gets in the way and not every weight loss effort goes as planned. Sometimes, this can lead to weight cycling, better known as yo-yo dieting.

Although there’s no general consensus among medical experts whether repeatedly losing and regaining weight is bad, there are health consequences associated with yo-yo dieting, like coronary issues, extra stress and a slower metabolism.

A recent series of tests by a team of Israeli researchers pinpointed a potential cause for yo-yo dieting in a study appearing in Nature: A gut microbiome that changes when weight is lost, then exposed to high-fat foods again.

 

The experiments

As scientists studied mice, they discovered an important constant with yo-yo dieting: After one cycle of gaining and losing weight, every bodily system in their test subjects reverted to normal except for their microbiomes. For some six months after their weight loss, mice retained an “obese” microbiome.

“This persistent microbiome accelerated the regaining of weight when the mice were put back on a high-calorie diet or ate regular food in excessive amounts,” said lead researcher Dr. Eran Elinav of the Weizman Institute of Science in a press release.

No surprise, when researchers transplanted gut bacteria from obese mice into germ-free mice, they began to gain weight too when fed high-fat foods.

It was only when scientists bombarded obese mice with broad-spectrum antibiotics or gave them fecal samples from mice that had never been obese that the cycle stopped.

Those treatments may work for mice, but for humans, antibiotics have been a known enemy of gut health for a very long time and fecal transplants have unintended consequences that may do more harm than good.

However, scientists identified a pair of flavonoids, a diverse family of natural chemicals found in nearly all fruits and vegetables, that were in short supply among obese mice that would improve fat-burning.

When mice were fed flavonoids in their drinking water, their little bodies readjusted and didn’t experience accelerated weight gains, even when fed high-calorie diets.

 

Targeting the gut

Whether extra flavonoids will work on the guts of humans to prevent yo-yo weight gains is anyone’s guess. However, there’s one critical aspect of gut health that the Israeli study didn’t investigate.

Microbial diversity in the gut plays a vital role in protecting humans from all kinds of health issues, not to mention obesity. Unfortunately, our go-go-go lifestyles can make it difficult to eat at the right times, get enough exercise or follow a consistent sleep schedule.

That’s when taking a quality probiotic made with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic can make a big impact in protecting your health.

A diverse gut protects your health during immunotherapy treatments for cancer

For many cancer patients, undergoing chemotherapy or radiation are often a necessity, but they come with lots of risks depending on the severity and length of treatments.

Rather than bombarding tumors with chemo and radiation, however, some patients and their teams of doctors are choosing other cancer-fighting approaches like immunotherapy that work far differently.

Immunotherapy focuses on treating your body’s immune system to fight cancer either by supercharging a patient’s immune system or teaching his/her body how to spot cancer cells and eradicate them. Also, in some cases, immunotherapy can aid in a cancer patient’s recovery long after treatments have ended.

But not everyone responds well to immunotherapy, which has researchers scrambling for answers.

Over the years, cancer researchers have learned how good gut health plays a critical role in protecting cancer patients during chemo treatments.

A diverse gut microbiome may also be very important in how well the human body handles certain forms of immunotherapy, according to a study presented at a recent symposium sponsored by American Society of Clinical Oncology.

A team of researchers, led by senior study author Dr. Jennifer Wargo from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, studied the connections between a healthy gut and the benefits of immunotherapy by examining fecal and oral bacteria samples taken from more than 200 patients fighting metastatic melanoma, an advanced form of skin cancer.

Ninety-three patients received an anti-PD1 immune drug that blocked a pathway protecting tumor cells from a patient’s immune system equipped to fight it.

From that smaller group, scientists studied fecal samples provided by 30 patients who responded to immunotherapy and 13 more who didn’t.

No surprise, patients who responded to the anti-PD1 drug had greater diversity of gut bacteria and for a specific type of bacteria (Ruminococcaceae). Plus, an examination of their tumors uncovered a greater number of cancer-fighting immune system cells (CD8+T).

On the other hand, patients whose bodies didn’t react to immunotherapy drugs had much lower gut diversity and one specific family of gut bacteria (Bacteriodales).

“Meanwhile, we need concerted research efforts to better understand how the microbiome may influence immune responses, as well as an in depth view on how we can tweak the microbiome so that more patients can benefit from immunotherapy,” said Dr. Wargo, an associate professor of genomic medicine and surgical oncology, according to a press release.

Some of that tweaking may come from changing a patient’s dietary habits or boosting the diversity of their gut by recommending a probiotic, scientists said.

Although taking a probiotic is beneficial for your health, many believe eating a cup of yogurt or taking a cheap supplement containing one or two strains of bacteria is good enough.

The real value of taking a multi-strain probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic: Ten strains of beneficial bacteria plus the prebiotic FOS provide 20 billion allies that protect your health every day.

The gut-brain axis even works between mice and men

The importance of a healthy gut-brain axis — the connection that links your brain, intestines and emotions — is critical to protect your cognitive and physical well-being.

That connection seems pretty clear, considering as much as 90 percent of your body’s serotonin, a chemical neurotransmitter that sends message from one part of your brain to another, may be produced in your gut.

A recent study appearing in Science Translational Medicine takes the gut-brain axis connection to the next level, literally between mice and men, with the help of fecal transplants.

IBS and the gut-brain axis

Curious about the effect irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has on behavior and intestinal health, researchers from McMaster University and the University of Waterloo took an unconventional approach: Transplanting fecal samples from eight patients suffering from IBS with diarrhea for at least two years and five healthy people into germ-free mice.

Three weeks later, compared to mice that received healthy samples, animals that were given IBS-laced transplants experienced increased gut permeability, low-grade inflammation and faster gastrointestinal transit (how long it takes food to travel from the stomach and through the intestine).

Then, scientists tested anxiety-associated behaviors by measuring the time mice spent in the dark and how long it took them to step down from a platform to explore their environments, according to The Scientist.

Mice that were given fecal samples from human IBS patients who reported anxieties experienced similar emotional difficulties, compared to animals given fecal samples from healthy patients and those with IBS who reported no problems with anxieties.

Probiotics to the rescue

Researcher Dr. Giada De Palma called these findings a landmark “because it moves the field beyond a simple association and toward evidence that changes in the microbiota impact both intestinal and behavioral responses in IBS.”

These results also offer more evidence that human gut health may play a larger role in the range of brain disorders ranging from the emotional (mood or anxieties) to more serious problems, like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and autism, according to a press release.

The good news: Scientists believe treatments such as probiotics and prebiotics could be beneficial in treating, not only the physical aspects of IBS but the behavioral issues associated with it too.

Protecting the health of your gut by taking a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic is certainly much safer and more effective than taking a drug like mesalazine that merely treats symptoms but not the root cause of IBS: Restoring the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Take care of your aging gut health

Nearly 45 million Americans — slightly more than 14 percent of our nation’s population — are 65 years or older, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging (AOA). Over the next 45 years, the AOA estimates the number of American seniors will explode, more than doubling to 98 million by 2060.

With so many heading to retirement now and in record numbers over the long term, it will become more important than ever for seniors to take steps to safeguard their gut health.

Changes in gut health among the elderly, spurred by taking many more medications (think antibiotics), eating poorly and moving a lot less frequently than before, can create more serious problems, like inflammatory bowel disease, cancer and diabetes.

A pair of recent studies — both substituting fruit flies for humans — tracked the progress of the aging gut and came up with mixed results on how to protect the gut.

Free radicals

In one study conducted by the Buck Institute For Research on Aging, scientists took factors like inflammation, impaired immune response, oxidative stress and the overgrowth of stem cells into account.

When a stress response gene (FOXO) is activated, this suppresses the action of a single class of molecules (PGRP-SCs) that regulate the immune response to bacteria, promoting an imbalance.

In turn, this imbalance triggers inflammation, including the production of free radicals that causes stem cells in the gut to over-proliferate in the gut, setting the stage for a possible pre-cancerous condition.

The good news: Increasing the expression of PGRP-SC limits the growth of stem cells and restores a good gut health balance.

Treating gut health with antibiotics?

In previous research conducted by UCLA scientists, fruit flies developed signs of leaky gut, a serious health condition that occurs when unintended substances seep through the vulnerable intestinal barrier and into the bloodstream, about six days before dying.

When fruit flies experience leaky gut, their immune response revs up strongly and chronically, causing health problems just like it does in humans.

In their latest research, however, UCLA scientists detected bacterial changes before leaky gut occurred, and gave some fruit flies antibiotics that prevented the age-related increases of gut bacteria and improved their gut health.

Seniors don’t need antibiotics!

While it’s not surprising antibiotics would reduce the amount of gut bacteria in fruit flies, we live in a world where we’re over-exposed to antibiotics, from the flesh foods we eat to the antibacterial soaps we use to wash our hands.

The deadly result of this over-exposure: Creating superbugs that resist all drugs, causing serious and untreatable diseases that kill a growing amount of Americans every year.

For many reasons, the best and safest way to protect your gut health, old or young, from harm is to take a probiotic, ideally a multi-strain product like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic that contains 10 strains of beneficial bacteria.

The gut health mix of young babies may signal food allergies, asthma

The lack of diversity in the gut is a clear sign there are health problems looming, as we’ve seen in recent reports linked to obesity and heartburn drugs. Unfortunately, that reprogramming of human gut diversity may start much earlier, during the very early stages of childhood development before birth due to early exposure to antibiotics.

New research from Canadian scientists at the University of Alberta and University of Manitoba published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy has discovered that the lack of gut diversity among babies as young as three months old, may be a warning sign about the early development of asthma or food allergies.

Gut diversity matters

Researchers examined data collected from 166 infants enrolled in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study. This ambitious study is closely monitoring the health of more than 3,500 families and their newborn infants to provide more knowledge about the genetic and home environmental factors that trigger asthma and allergies.

Scientists used DNA techniques to classify the good bacteria in stool samples taken at three months and age one, then identified which bacteria were present when food allergies began to emerge later in life (based on a skin reaction test to foods).

Overall, only a dozen babies experienced sensitivities to foods. No surprise, infants with less diversity of specific types of gut bacteria—Enterobacteriaceae (too much) and Ruminococcaceae and Bacteroidaceae (not enough)—at three months were more likely to develop allergies to peanuts, eggs and other foods by the time they reached age one.

“It is something that one can measure which indicates increased risk of food sensitization by one year of age,” said Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta and senior author of the study in a press release.

Scientists hope to expand the sample size as data comes from other Canadian cities to some 2,500 children across the country, tracking them as they grow up, then re-examining the findings again at ages three and five.

Protect your baby’s gut health

The good news: Protecting and improving the diversity of your baby’s gut health can be as safe and convenient as giving him/her a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Junior, made from four different strains of beneficial bacteria plus the prebiotic fructooligosaccharide.

Each dose of Endomune Advanced Junior features 10 billion CFUs of good bacteria and contains no artificial colorings, dairy products, preservatives or sugar and is certified Kosher and gluten-free.

Jet lag may affect your gut health, increase obesity risks

Jet lag — a temporary sleep problem created when your body’s natural circadian rhythms are out of whack — is a common occurrence for people who regularly fly long distances and multiple time zones for business or pleasure (or do regular shift work).

You may be surprised to learn jet lag, long associated with symptoms including fatigue and sleeplessness, has become such a health problem that it’s now defined by experts as a disorder.

No wonder, considering a recent study from the Weizman Institute of Science (Israel) that compared the gut microbiota of mice at different times during a 24-hour cycle concluded jet lag may also affect your gut health and trigger more serious problems including obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

These differences between healthy and jet-lagged gut bacteria were most pronounced when comparing fecal samples from healthy mice and genetically engineered mice with disabled circadian clocks kept in normal 12-hour cycles of light and dark.

During the light phase, the healthy gut microbiomes of mice functioned normally, detoxifying their environments and building flagella that help microbes move, according to the journal Science. Bacteria were more active during the dark phase, digesting nutrients, growing and repairing DNA. During a 24-hour day, some 60 percent of bacterial types in normal mice fluctuated.

In genetically modified mice, however, their gut bacteria didn’t experience the same fluctuations of growth or activity, leading scientists to conclude an animal’s biological/circadian clock has a direct effect on gut health.

Another very noticeable and health-harming difference between both sets of mice was their eating habits. Genetically modified mice ate almost all of the time while normal mice ate only at night (when they’re very active). Additionally, the modified mice gained weight and exhibited other health complications related to diabetes (insulin resistance), according to Science.

Interestingly, this same shift in the composition of gut bacteria to unhealthy extremes was also observed during part of the study in which researchers compared the fecal bacteria of two humans who lived on a normal schedule to another pair who had travelled from America to Israel and endured jet lag.

The good news: Although the fecal samples of human subjects who were jet-lagged experienced an uptick in unhealthy bacteria linked to patients with diabetes and obesity, their microbiome returned to normal after their bodies adjusted to the distant time zone.

“Our inner microbial rhythm represents a new therapeutic target that may be exploited in future studies to normalize the microbiota in people whose lifestyle involves frequent alterations in sleep patterns, hopefully to reduce or even prevent their risk of developing obesity and its complications,” said Dr. Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute’s Immunology Department in a press release.

Dr. Elinav also believes populations harmed by jet lag or shift work may benefit from probiotics or other antimicrobial therapies that “may reduce or even prevent their risk of developing obesity and its complications.”

Just another of the many reasons travelers and swing-shift workers benefit from taking a multi-strain probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic or EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids) that contains multiple strains of beneficial bacteria to boost your immunity by maintaining a healthy balance of good gut bacteria.

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