FREE E-MAIL SERIES (3 PARTS)
Science • Disease Prevention • Public Health
Microbiome & chronic diseases:
cause or correlation?
Current state of evidence
We are less “human” than we think. In fact, only about 40 percent of us consist of human cells, the rest are microbes. The renowned science magazine Nature remarked in 2008 that every human being should speak less of “I” and much more of himself as “we”.
Our bodies consist of at least 60% microbes. We owe them more respect.
Recently, the “microbiome” has received strong attention by research and even mainstream media, because of an unhealthy functional shift of the gut microbiome and the disappearance of certain bacterial species seem to be correlated to a variety of chronic diseases: the leading killers of humanity. This observation has long ceased to be merely correlative, as current research shows.
Gut microbial health is a prerequisite for the prevention of chronic diseases.
A certain microbiome signature may even serve as a predictive marker for determining the risk of developing certain diseases and cancer as first human studies confirm. Human health depends on the health of the human microbiome. But what causes the dramatic change in the microbiome and which evidence-based measures help to maintain the health of the microbiome and thus the health of ourselves? Can the recovery of a healthy microbiome eventually even cure disease?
The evidence is clear: we have the power to fight the rising trend of chronic disease by simple measures: our food choices determine our gut health.
Are probiotics really effective for chronic GI diseases?
Current scientific evidence
Already the ancient Egyptians are said to have consumed fermented foods 9000 years ago (mainly for reasons of preservation). Since Nobel laureate Ilya Metchnikov hypothesized over 100 years ago that lactic acid bacteria from fermented milk could prevent the growth of “harmful” bacteria in the intestine and “autointoxication” with potential toxins, the discussion about the actual benefits and effectiveness of probiotic bacteria, whether in food or now in the form of probiotic supplements, has flared up. For several years, intensive research has been taking place on the efficacy of probiotics in the treatment of various intestinal diseases to other chronic diseases and depression: with contradictory results and the growing realization that the microbiome may be more complex than we think.
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But who do probiotics really help and, if so, what factors count for the effectiveness of a probiotic? How do they act in the gut and systemically on the body? Does a healthy intestine need probiotics to possibly prevent chronic diseases – The findings from research keep raising new questions, but there are also already some answers.
Can the complex, natural ecosystem of microbes in the gut be manipulated by probiotics?
The current state of evidence on efficacy and side effects of probiotics and probiotic foods in digestive disorders.
Chronic digestive diseases & diet
Food safety and dietary habits determine our gut health
Inflammatory bowel diseases, other chronic digestive disorders and colorectal cancer are largely preventable by choosing the right diet, as current studies prove.
We need more trust in scientific facts than in industrial marketing promises or the latest food trends.
Risk factors are industrial foods as well as our modern diet lacking an abundance of natural unprocessed foods. How safe are our foods and what (molecular) risk factors for GI diseases and cancer are hidden in common foods?
How does our current industrialized diet affect gut health and that of the microbiome, namely artificial additives or dietary trends such as Paleo, Keto, Vegan & Co ?
From an evolutionarily perspective, the human digestive system and the gut microbiome is physiologically and anatomically designed to be able to digest certain foods particularly well, while at the same time these also prove to have the greatest benefit for digestion, overall health and longevity – plant-based, unprocessed foods.
Let's trust the power of diet more than the promises of pills.
How can we implement sustainable, healthy and delicious diets for everyone to truly prevent and oftentimes even treat effectively digestive diseases?
Unfortunately, the healthiest foods do not have an ad on tv.
Interesting facts and evidence on risk factors in food and the optimal diet for gut health.
No side effects guaranteed.
How stress & psyche influence microbiome and our gut health
Stress is the health epidemic of the 21st century (WHO)
The number of people affected by chronic psychological stress has increased dramatically in Germany over the last 10 years. As of 2018, every 2nd sick leave and inability to work is due to psychological causes . The consequence is not only a new, unpredictable form of an epidemic in society, but also exploding costs due to absenteeism from work and a high burden on the healthcare system.
Chronic stress affects all organs through its biochemical hormone cocktail. Especially digestion, the microbiome composition and the immune system suffer..
Due to the nervous as well as hormonal gut-brain connection, sufferers of chronic stress and depression often share the same symptoms with sufferers of functional digestive disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease: emotional instability, chronic digestive problems and a hypersensitive gut nervous system.
The brain in our belly feels what our brain in our head thinks.
Can building a healthy microbiome treat both the effects of stress on the psyche and digestive disorders? Do probiotics help depression and anxiety? Can mindfulness based stress reduction techniques and relaxation help with digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome?
Functional GI disorder: irritable bowel syndrome
Current research about risk factors & most effective treatment options
Almost 50% of Germans regularly suffer from chronic digestive disorders, irritable bowel syndrome or functional dyspepsia. Since on average only 30% of those affected talk to a doctor about it, the number of unreported cases is probably significantly higher.
Let's talk frankly about our digestive issues, there is no need to be embarrassed!
Only if we start to understand the root causes and risk factors of our digestive problems and also start to acknowledge the significant role our psyche and our diet plays in the etiology of the syndrome, we will be able to effectively face the condition and finally feel the immense improvement for our quality of life again.
What is truly effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome? Do probiotics, supplements, low FODMAP diet, gluten-free, a stool transplant or maybe stress reduction methods help?
Evidence based treatment options and effective, supportive strategies.
No side effects.
Diet as a risk factor & effective prevention
Nearly 80% of all colorectal cancers are preventable through a healthy lifestyle.
The world is witnessing a steadily increasing incidence of colorectal cancer especially in Western countries. The current forecast of the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) for the next 15 years until 2035 is a dramatic increase of cancer patients by 60% to 2.2 million cases worldwide, even considering the population growth of our planet.
Particularly shocking is that more and more young people under the age of 50 are affected.
Nearly 80% of all colorectal cancers are preventable through a healthy lifestyle
Over 50% of cancer cases can be attributed to diet: a high proportion of industrially processed foods, alcohol and products of animal origin at the expense of cancer-preventing plant-based foods are the main culprits.
In particular, animal proteins and saturated fats cause a toxic milieu change in the gut and alter the function of the gut microbiome to our health detriment: an ideal breeding ground for the development of chronic (subclinical) inflammation, mutations and eventually colon cancer.
In stark contrast, the risk of cancer in Africa is almost 20x lower than in Europe or America. This was already observed in the 1970s by “Fibre Man” Dr. Burkitt on his research trips to Africa: Colorectal cancer and digestive disorders were virtually non-existent among the Ugandan population.
What exactly do these populations do differently? Which factors in the western world are contributing the most to the epidemic of colorectal cancer development? What is the role of the gut microbiome and what exactly can we do to effectively prevent colorectal cancer?
The current evidence on colorectal cancer risk factors and effective prevention.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis
Evidence-based treatment & prevention
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has become a Western epidemic since the beginning of the 21st century and has also been on the rise for a few years in emerging countries with increasingly Western lifestyles. However, there are still significant, geographic differences in the incidences, especially compared to rural populations and indigenous tribes. What risk factors do promote the epidemic of inflammatory bowel disease and what is actually effective to prevent chronic inflammation and even treat it, without side effects?
Patients with inflammatory bowel disease can be in remission in more than 90% of the cases even after 3 years, given the right diet - no drug has been able to show comparable results.
IBD is not curable and is a major burden for affected people and for national healthcare systems. It is therefore of utmost importance to provide science based information about the risk factors and how to prevent these conditions.
What factors trigger an inflammatory episode in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease? How can a patient be kept in remission for as long as possible and spared the next painful relapse – ideally with as little medication as possible?
The current medication approach produces an average relapse rate of 16% – 41% in sufferers after just 1 year (16%: medication taken regularly. 41%: non-adherent patients) – not to mention medication-related side effects, reduced quality of life and the incredible costs for patients and the healthcare system. In contrast,an evidence-based strategy that can keep > 90% of patients in remission even after 3 years WITHOUT medication is a dietary approach.
Nutrition plays a completely underestimated and subordinate role in medical guidelines so far, but the evidence even for therapeutic purposes is available
The current state of evidence on therapeutic interventions & prevention.
What is the most effective and cost-effective strategy to address the epidemic of intestinal disease:
Lifestyle prevention or precision medicine?
At least 80% of all cancers can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle.
We face a dramatically increasing trend in chronic digestive disease cases worldwide. Approximately 40% of all cancer deaths are due to colorectal cancer. By 2040, the number of deaths from colorectal cancer will increase by another 40% in Germany alone.
As of today, personalized medicine cannot yet efficiently answer which drug works best for a given patient: of the currently 10 most financially successful new drug therapies, up to 25 patients need to be treated for one of them to experience a marginal improvement. The lack of treatment success is accompanied by side effects that further reduce the quality of life for the patient and at the same time cause massive additional costs for the entire system and the patient.
It is time for a paradigm shift in healthcare: we need much more focus on prevention measures instead of just more drug-based and “personalized” treatment.
Otherwise, we will never be able to address the root causes of this epidemic in our society and thus will not counteract the rising incidence and its costs.
The best prevention strategies are inexpensive, side-effect free & highly effective.
We need a more holistic, interdisciplinary approach for the prevention and treatment of chronic and digestive diseases, as the latest evidence proves already.
How can digital health and artificial intelligence link prevention measures and personalized medicine to support us in the fight against chronic digestive diseases?
Intriguing and promising facts about the future of medicine.