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News

Sustainable health – the GI perspective

Posted on 06 February 2019 by in News

Earlier this month after 2 years of consideration the EAT-Lancet Commission published its report in the medical journal the Lancet. The project set out with admirable aims, to pull together the thoughts and evidence base from a large group of experts to see if they could identify a ‘healthy diet from sustainable food systems’. General media opinion since publication has been positive and there are many commendable aspects to the report, but as with many big data driven reports some of the underlying subtleties have been missed out or glossed over.

One in particular relates to the geographic variability in the potential for crop and livestock rearing and the other key point and linked to these is the denuded state of the soil in terms of its phytobiome – the soils equivalent to our microbiome named by Nobel prize winner Joshua Lederberg to describe our ecological community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms found on our mucosal surfaces, including the eye, mouth, lungs, and the gut.

The phytobiome consist of plants, their environment, and their associated communities of organisms embedded in the soil. Interactions within phytobiome’s have profound effects on soil, plant and agroecosystem health. i.e in much the same way that our microbiome has direct effects on our function and health, so does the plants – and if plants are not supported, their nutrient content and ability to transfer healthful elements to animals and to us will also be poor.

Soil health, also referred to as soil quality, is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. Sound familiar? Our microbiome fulfils a similar job and, in both cases, they need to be fed appropriate, nutrient dense material. A failure to manage soils and allied phytobiome will also reflect in a failure to manage gut diversity, microbial redundancy and functionally in humans.

It has already been proposed based on studies exploring the microbiome of our nearest living hunter gatherers and comparing them to western urban dwellers that we may have lost as much as 50% of our diversity. Research indicates that gut microbial community diversity is positively associated with diet diversity and the proportion of calories derived from plant material and that increases in both should increase the number of available nutritional niches. However, whilst it is very likely that loss of diversity will influence functionality, its not yet completely clear that ‘more is better’.

However, the industrialisation of agriculture over the last 100 years has also seen a change in soil and human bacterial populations – effectively changing our and the soils microbial heritage to which we and plants have been exposed through millions of years of evolution. Industrialisation is substantially correlated with reduced human microbiota diversity. The gut diversity of South American Amerindians is ∼2-fold that of healthy people in the United States and likely the UK also.

Learning how to manage the microbial communities in our digestive tract and elsewhere is the challenge for many people and represents an ongoing clinical challenge. People in industrialised and developing countries from across the world can be classified into two overall groups: low and high intestinal bacterial diversity, respectively. Industrialisation encompasses many influences on the microbiota, including a highly processed water supply, refined diets, and altered environmental exposure—which may affect the microbiota through bi directional effects on the immune system—and the presence of medical care, including pre-, peri-, and postnatal antibiotics; caesarean section delivery; and bottle-feeding—all of which reduce the transmitted and maintained microbial diversity, especially during the critical window of early-life development.

But there are many other opportunities for loss and restoration of the microbiota – despite the challenges of soil depletion. Its one of your challenges to find the most effective way to heal your soil and your gut.

 

A Quarter Life Crisis?

Posted on 22 January 2019 by in News

The start of anything new, including a new year brings change and disruption. For many this feeling is also attached to defined age-related landmarks, typically at the end of different decades.

But…. change occurs at any age and managing the related transition can be challenging, raising stress responses, which if not adequately countered may generate disadvantageous and unexpected outcomes. The period – in many people’s mid-twenties – has attracted attention as a typical time for just such a transitional crisis. Read the rest of this entry »

Crazy Cat Lady – The Cat Fights Back!

Posted on 11 December 2018 by in News

We discussed earlier in 2018 that certain traits in behaviour, risk taking, and emotive decision making may be adversely affected by the associated infection of a common feline protozoa called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii). You may have nodded your head with a knowing smile reviewing the list of related symptoms and the known behaviour of certain others – not yourself obviously! Read the rest of this entry »

Belief

Posted on 27 November 2018 by in News

How much of your decision and thoughts depend on belief? Do you consider belief a strong enough position to make clinical decisions on? How should belief be seen in terms of responsibility and clinical competency?  Here we muse on this very question and trust you find it of interest. Read the rest of this entry »

Meat or Legumes; Protein needs

Posted on 13 November 2018 by in News


Despite health and environmental concerns, global consumption of animal flesh has according to the document on sustainability by Impossible Foods grown fourfold in the past 50 years, and Americans, rather amazingly consume some 50bn burgers a year, with developing countries catching up. Surely, they are getting enough protein, but how much is actually needed for health and what source is best? Read the rest of this entry »

Lifestyle Medicine, Revolution or Revelation?

Posted on 30 October 2018 by in News

In the British Medical Journal on the 25th October 2018 an article was published exploring the development of a new diploma in ‘lifestyle medicine’, and asked if this is a new medical speciality? To many clinician’s ‘lifestyle’ is not simply a new speciality, but an unknown and misunderstood one. For many decades the significant role of changes in lifestyle in the prevention and recovery of non-communicable illness has been ignored or subjugated to a role of such insignificance that it has withered away from regular use in primary and secondary care. Read the rest of this entry »

Interprofessional relationships and the building of teams

Posted on 17 October 2018 by in News

The 5th AFMCP™-UK event in London, in which the education is provided by the Institute of Functional Medicine and the conference organised by Clinical Education has just recently concluded. Over 300 delegates attended the 5-day course and were either introduced, refreshed or reassured about the practical approaches to using the principals and practices of functional medicine to mediate, prevent and reverse non-communicable diseases. Read the rest of this entry »

Curcumin A Ubiquitous Spice

Posted on 01 October 2018 by in News

Turmeric is obtained from the dried Curcumin longa L. (ginger family) and is well recognised as a curry spice. Curcumin is widely consumed as a food ingredient and has a long history as a spice with medicinal purposes in China and Southeast Asia. Turmeric is comprised of 3 curcuminoids (curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin), sugars, proteins, volatile oils (natlantone, tumerone and zingiberone) and resins. Of the 3 curcuminoids, curcumin is the most active lipophilic polyphenol compound which is quite stable in the acidic pH of the stomach. Read the rest of this entry »

The Gut-Liver Axis

Posted on 17 September 2018 by in News

The relationship between the contents, metabolites, barrier and immune response of the gut and organs and function in the body are becoming well understood, albeit there are many nuances yet to be quantified.

One area in which the dynamic interaction between the gut and organs is rapidly rising up the knowledge tree is the ‘liver and gut axis’. In large part this is due to the increase in the prevalence of liver related inflammation, of which non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming a global problem. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Loss’ and its management

Posted on 06 September 2018 by in News

Loss – what does it mean to you, what does it mean to the people you are helping? It likely means many things, because loss will be contextual and personal, but what happens when love, health, companionship, career or opportunity whatever their category and classification, dissolves under the interminable forces of time and change, be it by acts of sabotage, obfuscation, entropy, death or by some other, obscure or deliberate demise? Read the rest of this entry »

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