ulcerative colitis

What is Colitis?

Often, this kind of infection occurs when certain bacteria, typically C. diff, outgrow and dominate other bacteria in the gut.

Sadly, the over-prescribing of antibiotics — think ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin and amoxicillin — to patients by doctors for unnecessary reasons, especially in hospitals, has created opportunities for drug-resistant infections to harm greater numbers of Americans and trigger C. diff infections. And, this exposure to antibiotics doesn’t include those contained in the flesh foods we eat either. Colitis is an inflammation of the inner lining of the colon, but that’s as simple a definition as you’ll get for this intestinal condition. Its symptoms include cramping, bloating, diarrhea (sometime bloody) and abdominal pain.

Defining it and naming its common symptoms are the easy parts, however.

Unfortunately, people use colitis as a catchall term to describe a lot of different conditions. Plus, colitis comes in many types, including ulcerative colitis, ischemic colitis, microscopic colitis and chemical colitis.

Interestingly, a common kind of colitis that you may already be pretty familiar with — but call it something else like food poisoning — is infectious colitis.

Infectious colitis can come from having person-to-person contact (usually dirty hands), consuming foods and water contaminated with E Coli, Salmonella or parasites or having indirect contact with common items you may handle that are unclean (think toothbrushes, eating utensils and clothing).

Another form of colitis — pseudeomembraneous colitis — has risen greatly in popularity over the last decade or so, but you’ve likely heard it called by the name of the bacteria, specifically Clostridium difficile or C. diff infections.

Other factors cited by the Mayo Clinic that may make you more vulnerable to pseudomembranous colitis apart from too many antibiotics:

  • Receiving chemotherapy
  • Suffering from colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Living in a nursing home
  • Staying in a hospital

Probiotics to the rescue

The good news about these kinds of infections: Studies have shown how probiotics can dramatically reduce the incidence of diarrhea, among of the key symptoms associated with C. diff infections.

In fact, an extensive 2013 review of 31 studies by the Cochrane Library concluded probiotics significantly reduced the risk of diarrhea associated with C. diff infections by an amazing 64 percent.

So, how do you choose the right probiotic? Cheaper brands of probiotics tend to restrict their blends of beneficial bacteria to one or a few, yet small amounts don’t do much to cultivate the diversity your gut needs to reduce your risk of infections or their symptoms and promote better immune health.

If you’ve been looking for a proven probiotic, consider a product that contains multiple species of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria already living in your gut, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic or EndoMune Junior (for kids).

 

 

More And More Research Affirms The Benefits Of Healthy Bacteria

Dear EndoMune subscribers,

This month’s newsletter looks at some of the recent research on the positive effects healthy bacteria can have on the digestive system.

When I went into medicine, we spent a long time studying how bacteria caused serious infectious diseases. We learned about the importance of antibiotics and when to use them.

We never had a lecture on how certain bacteria (microflora) have co-evolved with us and how they help maintain our health.

No one really knew much about these healthy bacteria. But it turns out that they are essential for human life. We need them in our gut to digest food, synthesize certain vitamins and form a barricade against disease-causing bacteria.

But what do they look like in healthy people, and how much do they vary from person to person?

“Studies have found that the healthy bacteria can inhibit intestinal immune system from producing immune reactions against food protein lessening the risk of asthma, eczema and other allergies.”

Human Microbiome Project

The National Institute of Medicine launched the Human Microbiome Project1 (HMP) in 2008. It’s a five-year program to better understand how the bacterial communities (microbiome) that live on and in the human body protect our health.

The HMP involves 200 scientists at 80 institutions. Using the latest genetic techniques, they collect samples of bacterial genetic material from 242 healthy people.

The samples have been collected from five areas of the body: the digestive tract, the mouth, the skin, the nose and the vagina.

The projects reveal some of the ways in which invisible or microscopic bacteria shape our lives from birth to death. The ultimate goal is to test whether changes in the human microbiome are associated with human health or disease.

Benefits of a Healthy Microbiome

For example, researchers2 at Baylor College of Medicine have found that the vaginal bacterial flora or microbiomes change during pregnancy. Particular species, like Lactobacillus johnsonii, become dominant. This bacteria is usually found in the human intestinal tract where it produces enzymes that promote digestion of milk and substances that destroy harmful bacteria.

These findings have implications for the newborn. Before birth, the infant is in a sterile environment. The initial exposure to the world of bacteria is during the passage through the birth canal. It has been speculated that the baby will ingest some of the Lactobacillus johnsonii which will aid in digesting breast milk.

Babies born by Caesarean section start out with different microbiomes, but it is not yet known whether their microbiomes remain different after they mature.

During infancy, the baby’s intestinal microbiome expands and is impacted by breastfeeding. A study of 16 lactating women3 found that human breast milk had up to 600 bacterial species and resistant starches. Breast milk helps to promote the healthy intestinal bacteria which aid in digestion, immune function and protection from harmful bacteria.

Studies have found that the healthy bacteria can inhibit intestinal immune systems from producing immune reactions against food protein lessening the risk of asthma, eczema and other allergies.

Future Research Projects

In addition to the above studies, the HMP is doing research on the how the skin microbiome may play a role in skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema.

Other research projects are evaluating the intestinal microbiome in obese versus normal weight individuals. Previous studies have found that there is a difference in the bacterial flora in obese and thin animals and humans. Hopefully, the flora can be manipulated to lessen obesity and the associated disorders of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

The point of this newsletter is that the scientific community now recognizes the importance of maintaining a healthy microbiome. The concern is that antibiotics can upset the healthy microbiome and can contribute to chronic disorders like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and allergies.

Take Home Message

Consider taking a high quality probiotic like EndoMune to maintain a healthy microbiome balance.

Remember, EndoMune contains 10 strains of bacteria, and it is the only probiotic on the market developed by a board certified gastroenterologist.

Eat healthy, exercise and live well!!!
Best Wishes,
Dr. Hoberman

 

1) Structure, function and diversity of the healthy human microbiome. Human Microbiome Project Consortium.Nature. 2012 Jun 13;486(7402):207-14. doi: 10.1038/nature11234.

2) A metagenomic approach to characterization of the vaginal microbiome signature in pregnancy. Aagaard K, Riehle K, Ma J, Segata N, Mistretta TA, Coarfa C, Raza S, Rosenbaum S, Van den Veyver I, Milosavljevic A, Gevers D, Huttenhower C, Petrosino J, Versalovic J. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e36466. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

3) Characterization of the diversity and temporal stability of bacterial communities in human milk.Hunt KM, Foster JA, Forney LJ, Schütte UM, Beck DL, Abdo Z, Fox LK, Williams JE, McGuire MK, McGuire MA.PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e21313. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

Study Links Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis to Antibiotic Use

Many physicians are hesitant to prescribe antibiotics for many reasons. In fact, it’s not uncommon for physicians to use antibiotics as a last option for treatment. Those who are hesitant to prescribe antibiotics now have one more reason – Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (Here is more information on “What Is Colitis?“).

A new study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology has found that people who are prescribed larger amounts of antibiotics have a higher risk for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Crohn’s Diease and Colitis are the most common forms of IBD and can cause inflammation in the intestines, which then can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and weight loss.

The article can be found at length at the American College of Gastroenterology website.

Yale Workshop on Probiotics Presents New Research

I just returned from the 3rd Yale Workshop on “Advances in Probiotic Use” and am pleased to report there is a large amount of active research in the area of the intestinal bacteria. Namely, research is examining how bacteria impact human health and disease.

Among various findings, researchers presented new information about how probiotic bacteria can modulate the intestinal immune system. They have discovered how probiotic bacteria interact with the intestinal lining cells to improve the inflammatory conditions that occur due to infection colitis and ulcerative colitis.

In addition, there were a number of discussions about how the healthy intestinal bacteria can break down or ferment indigestible dietary starches. The breakdown products (short chain fatty acids) enhance the intestinal function, improve intestinal motility and lessen the risk of colon cancer. This is called a symbiotic relationship – mutually beneficial for the human host and the bacteria.

The conclusions from the various presentations are that probiotics can:

  • Lessen irritable bowel syndrome symptoms
  • Shorten the duration of infectious diarrhea in children
  • Aid in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  • Aid in the management of ulcerative colitis
  • Aid in the prevention of childhood allergies like eczema


Transplantation Therapy to Improve Bacteria Balance

An infection with a bacterium called Clostridia difficile can cause life-threatening colitis. The infection occurs when the healthy intestinal bacteria are reduced as a result of taking an antibiotic for something like a sinus infection.

There are special antibiotics that can destroy the Clostridia difficile infection. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for the infection to recur multiple times in the same person despite taking appropriate antibiotics to kill the Clostridia difficile organisms.

In an attempt to treat Clostridia difficile, a new innovative form of therapy was also discussed. The therapy involves the transplantation of stool from healthy individuals into patients as a means to re-establish a healthy intestinal bacterial balance.

There have been a few published case reports dating back to 1958 of transplanting healthy stool into patients who had recurrent Clostridia infections, and the results were very promising. Larger trials of infusing suspensions of healthy stool into ill patients have been recently done. The results have shown a cure rate of more than 90% within two days!!

This presentation was very thought provoking. To have this type of cure rate certainly indicates the importance of the healthy intestinal bacteria. The procedure is aesthetically unpleasing, but the alternative is to give the healthy bacteria in capsule form – accomplished when probiotics are prescribed.


Take Home Message

All of the presentations at the Yale Workshop provide further evidence of the importance of a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria. In addition, the studies confirm that probiotic bacteria have many beneficial benefits in helping to improve and maintain normal intestinal immune and digestive functions.

Please consider taking a high quality probiotic like EndoMune if you are going to take antibiotics or if you are struggling with ongoing GI symptoms despite medical evaluation.

Scroll to Top