gut microbiota

Your Gut Bacteria Have a 24-Hour Routine

Messing up your body’s circadian rhythms — the behavioral, mental and physical changes that follow a 24-hour cycle — can have a huge effect on your health and gut.

Merely traveling on an airplane across multiple time zones can trigger jet lag, a temporary sleep problem when your body’s internal rhythms and biological clock are out of sync.

Apparently, your gut bacteria have a circadian schedule too, and a pair of studies shows how they affect your health for better and worse.

Following a schedule

Research by scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science on mice in a study appearing in Cell demonstrated how gut bacteria follow a schedule, adapting to changes in light and dark, metabolic fluctuations and even the timing of our meals, says Dr. Eran Segel.

In fact, your microbiome moves around within the gut and are exposed to different species and varying numbers of species over the course of a 24-hour day.

Moreover, those changes brought on by circadian rhythms affect not only the physiology of the body but tissues and organs like the liver. Those rhythms can even govern how your body may metabolize and detoxify a drug as basic as acetaminophen.

Scientists also learned how the circadian rhythms of the bodies of little mice (and perhaps humans too) are very dependent on the workings of the microbiome. Surprisingly, genes that show no signs of circadian rhythms take over when these microbial rhythms are disrupted too.

These findings were observed when researchers gave mice antibiotics that removed much of their gut bacteria and even when their feeding times were changed.

Circadian rhythms and obesity

This inter-dependence between the gut and the body’s circadian rhythms could play a role behind the scenes in promoting the accumulation of body fat that leads to obesity, according to a recent study conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern and published in the journal, Science.

Based on tests that compared the health of germ-free, conventionally raised and genetically modified mice, scientists learned how the microbiome controls fat uptake and storage by “hacking into” and altering the functions of the circadian clocks within cells that line the gut.

They identified the mechanism by which gut bacteria regulate the composition of body fat and use a chemical (circadian transcription factor NFIL3) to establish a critical molecular link between the microbiota, circadian clock and metabolism, says Dr. Lora Hooper, lead author of the study, according to a press release.

So how does the microbiota hack into the lining of the gut?

A body’s circadian clock senses those day and night cycles, which are linked closely to feeding times, and transmits that information to the gut to turn on and off the metabolism (the uptake of lipids) when necessary.

More specifically, the circadian rhythms of the gut control the expression of NFIL3 and the production of lipids that are governed by this chemical in the intestinal lining.

“So what you have is a really fascinating system where two signals from the environment come in – the microbiome and the day-night changes in light – and converge on the gut lining to regulate how much lipid you take up from your diet and store as fat,” says Dr. Hooper.

How does this affect you?

Our go-go-GO! lifestyles create all sorts of havoc with our sleep schedules and often distract us from eating healthy meals on a timely basis, creating an environment for all sorts of health problems down the line.

Eating a balanced diet and getting the right amount of sleep your body needs every night really matters. And, we’ve learned in these studies, so does the health of the human gut, especially if you do a lot of traveling or work a crazy schedule that mixes daytime and nighttime hours.

That’s why it’s so important to give the health of your gut an added boost by taking a multi-species probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, that features 10 proven and protective strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic that feeds the good bugs and may improve your sleep too!

Could poor gut health trigger Alzheimer’s?

Recently, we discussed how the brain health of Alzheimer’s patients may benefit by taking a probiotic blend of beneficial bacteria without explaining “the why.”

A recent study targeting the balance of the human gut microbiome may be at the heart of accelerating the development of Alzheimer’s, according to Scientific Reports.

Researchers discovered the link between poor gut health and Alzheimer’s while comparing the composition of gut microbiota taken from diseased and healthy mice.

Overall, at least two major kinds of gut bacteria (Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes) were found in much greater quantities in animals suffering from Alzheimer’s versus healthy mice.

The germ-free discovery

The link solidified when scientists studied the brain health of germ-free mice born without gut bacteria that received transplants of gut bacteria from animals with Alzheimer’s.

Before those transplants, germ-free mice had significantly smaller amounts of beta-amyloid plaque, protein fragments that build up between neurons in the brain. After the transplants, even those “clean” animals were vulnerable to the growth of brain-killing beta-amyloid plaque.

Typically, the healthy brain breaks down those fragments and sheds them. As beta-amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles accumulate in the brain, however, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin to present themselves.

“Our study is unique as it shows a direct causal link between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Frida Fåk Hållenius, according to a press release. “The results mean that we can now begin researchers ways to prevent the disease and delay the onset.”

Take these steps to avoid Alzheimer’s disease

Although you can’t prevent Alzheimer’s disease at this juncture, there’s lots of things you do to reduce your risks just by taking better charge of your health.

The results of this study could drive attention away from antiretroviral drugs that merely treat symptoms to a wider scope of weapons related to preserving a balance of gut bacteria that could do more good, including probiotics.

Since as much as 90 percent of your body’s serotonin (the chemical that transmits messages from one side of your brain to another) is produced in your gut, it’s no surprise that scientists would target more therapies there.

All the more reason, you should include taking a multi-species probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic with 10 proven strains of bacteria, every day to that list of steps you take to avoid Alzheimer’s disease.

Moms: Stressing out may affect your new baby’s brain, gut health

A number of variables affect the health of newborn babies, from preeclampsia to caesarean (C-section) births, which have a direct connection to a mother’s gut health.

The vaginal microbiota of an expectant mom experiencing stress may be affected during her first trimester. Some emotions could trigger changes in the way her baby’s gut health and brain develop, according to a recent study appearing in the medical journal Endocrinology.

“As the [newborn’s] gut is initially populated by the maternal vaginal microbiota, changes produced by maternal stress can alter this initial microbial population as well as determine many aspects of the host’s immune system that are also established during this early period,” says Dr. Tracy Bale, senior author of the study and a professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and its School of Veterinary Medicine, via a press release.

Researchers tested their theory by exposing pregnant mice to various stressors, including unique noises, odors of established predators and restraints, during the animal’s equivalent of their first trimester.

Shortly after giving birth, scientists examined the vaginal microbiota of the mothers along with the gut microbiota from their offspring. Additionally, they examined how amino acids travel in the brains of pups to measure development and metabolism.

Exposure to stressors had lasting effects on the vaginal microbiota of pregnant mice that were observed, not only in the gut microbiota, but in the metabolism and neurodevelopment of their babies too.

Neurodevelopment issues were most pronounced among males, a finding Dr. Bale and her colleagues discovered in a prior study. These alterations could be a sign of serious neurological disorders to come like schizophrenia and autism, conditions that affect males far more often.

Scientists also conducted a supplemental experiment that showed how important it is for moms to deliver their babies vaginally. Baby mice born via C-section had their gut microbiomes restored to those of vaginally-delivered offspring only after receiving transplants from the vaginal microbiomes of female mice.

Despite the challenges new moms face by delivering their babies via C-section, there’s growing evidence that giving newborns a probiotic could enhance their developing gut health and lessen problems with colic.

When shopping for the right probiotic for your young child, consider EndoMune Junior, which contains important building blocks such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Gut bacteria can change very quickly

If you read our blog regularly, you appreciate how good gut health, supported by taking a multi-species probiotic, affects the overall quality of your bodily health, from lowering your blood pressure to obesity.

However, an important part of treating any health condition is knowing how long it will take before your health returns to normal.

A pair of American studies published this year have concluded the human gut microbiome is uniquely flexible and may change in as little as a single day, a good thing to know when monitoring health problems like inflammatory bowel disease.

The microbial shift between diets is fast!

In one study published in Nature, Harvard University scientists tested the composition of gut bacteria on humans after discovering how flexible and responsive the microbiomes of mice were each day.

Researchers tested their premise on nine human volunteers who were prescribed radically different diets for five days with a break in between them. (The gut health of the nine patients was tested before, during and after each diet.)

The first diet centered on meats and cheeses—ribs, eggs and bacon—then followed after a break by a high-fiber diet focused on plant-based foods—granola, lentils, fruits, rice and vegetables.

“The relative abundance of various bacteria species looked like it shifted within a day after the food hit the gut,” Duke University researcher Lawrence David told

After three days on each diet, the collective behavior of human microbiota had changed along with the way gut bacteria behaved.

Checking your microbiota easy as checking out an iPhone app

MIT researchers came up with similar findings, published in Genome Biology, and were helped with the use of an iPhone app.

The two study participants were monitored for a full year via the collection of daily stool samples and tracking various health measures (sleep, exercise, emotions, diet) using an iPhone app.

“On any given day, the amount of one species could change manyfold, but after a year, that species would still be at the same median level,” explained Eric Alm, MIT associate professor and senior author of the paper. “To a large extent, the main factor we found that explained a lot of that variance was the diet.”

For example, increases in dietary fiber matched boosts in Roseburia, Eubacterium rectale and Bifidobacterium (one of the species contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Advanced Junior).

During the yearlong study period, both subjects became sickened, which changed their gut bacteria considerably. In both cases, the relationship between specific groups of bacteria and diet occurred in one day.

While living in a developing country, one patient experienced a two-week bout of diarrhea and severe problems with his microbiota. However, once he returned stateside, his microbiota recovered and returned to its original composition.

Interestingly, the second patient experienced food poisoning fueled by Salmonella. During that time, Salmonella levels tripled to 30 percent of the gut microbiome while the Firmicutes phylum of beneficial bacteria almost vanished.

Beneficial levels of Firmicutes bacteria increased with the patient’s recovery to some 40 percent, but the strains were different from those present at the start.

The long-term goal of this research, said Dr. Alm, is to ease the data collection process so patients suffering from inflammatory bowel syndrome or other diseases could be fitted with a personalized monitoring system that warns them ahead of a flare-up so it can be avoided.

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