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Herbsprout is a webblog and podcast dedicated to sharing the health benefits of herbs, food, innovations related to our gut microbiome. Herbsprout seeks to bridge the vast chasm dividing the mainstream medical community and alternative medicine.

Gut inflammation caused by one species of gut microbe, cured by another

Gut inflammation caused by on...
Generally, Blastocystis, the world’s most common protist–a form of unicellular microscopic organism, can lead to a healthy gut for some individuals, and be problematic for others.
Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) studied the biology of Blastocystis (ST7), Professors Yong Loo Lin and Kevin Tan from the school’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and found that this rare subtype weakens the gut and immune system. Blastocystis ST7, an intestinal bacteria more common among Asian people, produces indole-3-acetyldehyde (I3AA) which which blocks healthy bacteria in our gut when it metabolizes, according to a September 29, 2023 article in Medical Express (1).
In a mouse study on the topic, scientists saw a reduction of anti‐inflammatory Treg cells and simultaneous expansion of pro‐inflammatory Th17 responders, according to (2). Blastocystis ST7 effectively degrades tryptophan, an essential amino acid needed for normal human growth, especially in babies (3).
Researchers also discovered that lactobacillus—commonly found in foods like yogurt, cottage cheese, sourdough bread, could aid in curing patients from Blastocystis ST7-associated diarrhea.

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Gut microbe series 2: Lactobacillus, the tangy taste; false beliefs about lactic acid

Gut microbe series 2: Lactobac...
Lactobacillus, a type of bacteria found in some fermented foods and supplements, offers several potential health benefits. Lactobacillus aids in digestion, supporting the immune system, promoting gut health by balancing the intestinal microbiota. It is believed to reduce the risk of certain gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some research suggests that certain strains of lactobacillus may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, though more studies are needed to confirm these effects. They protect humans against potential invasions by pathogens, and in turn, we provides a source of nutrients for lactobacillus.

Lactobacillus is a genus of gram-positive, aerotolerant anaerobes or microaerophilic, rod-shaped, non-spore-forming bacteria. The genus Lactobacillus comprised over 260 phylogenetically, ecologically, and metabolically diverse species; a taxonomic revision of the genus assigned lactobacilli to 25 genera, according to Wikipedia.
Lactobacilli metabolise carbohydrates to produce lactic acid. Lactic acid is fuel for your cells during intense exercise. It’s created when your body breaks down glucose and other carbohydrates. Contrary to common belief, “lactic acid build up” is a misnomer; it does not cause muscle soreness nor does it build up in your muscles, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Certain foods contain lactobacillus because they undergo a fermentation process where lactobacillus bacteria naturally occur or are added as starter cultures. During fermentation, these bacteria convert sugars into lactic acid, which not only helps preserve the food but also gives it its characteristic tangy flavor. As a result, these foods become rich sources of probiotics, beneficial bacteria that can support digestive health and overall well-being when consumed.
Foods that contain lactobacillus include:
1. Yogurt: Particularly those labeled as containing live and active cultures.
2. Kefir: A fermented milk drink made with kefir grains containing lactobacillus bacteria.
3. Sauerkraut: Fermented cabbage that can contain various strains of lactobacillus.
4. Kimchi: A traditional Korean fermented vegetable dish usually made with cabbage and radishes, which contains lactobacillus bacteria.
5. Miso: A traditional Japanese seasoning made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji (a type of fungus), often containing lactobacillus.
6. Tempeh: A fermented soybean product that contains lactobacillus bacteria.
7. Pickles: Fermented cucumbers can contain lactobacillus depending on the fermentation process.
These foods can be part of a balanced diet and contribute to gut health due to their probiotic content.

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Gut microbe series 1: Role of Bifidobacteria to our gut health

Bifidobacteria are a type of beneficial bacteria found in the gut, known for their probiotic properties. They help maintain a healthy digestive system and support overall immune function.
Bifidobacteria supports the balance of gut microbiota, which plays a crucial role in immune function. They can stimulate the production of certain immune cells, regulate inflammation, and enhance the gut barrier function, thereby reducing the risk of infections and promoting overall immune health.
Bifidobacteria can stimulate various immune cells, including certain types of T cells, such as regulatory T cells (Tregs), which help maintain immune tolerance and prevent excessive inflammation. They can also promote the production of immunoglobulins, such as IgA, which play a key role in mucosal immunity, protecting against pathogens in the gut and respiratory tract.
Foods that commonly contain Bifidobacteria include yogurt, kefir, certain types of cheese (like Gouda and cheddar), fermented vegetables (such as sauerkraut and kimchi), and some types of sourdough bread. These foods can help promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
Author: Chris Kenji Beer, with help from ChatGPT

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Gut friendly combinations when making a meal

Gut friendly combinations whe...
While Glamour magazine featured the most common fermented healthy foods in a January 25 2024 article (top 5 are Greek yogurt, kefir, miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut)(1), Eating Well (January 27 2024 issue) recommends roasted salmon (omega-3 fatty acids), smokey chickpea, greens (antioxidants) with quinoa, wild rice or barley (prebiotic fiber), as the ideal gut friendly meal combination, according to Diana Mesa, RD, CDCES, founder and owner of En La Mesa Nutrition (2).
However, keeping a sugar-free diet is the key to staying healthy in the sugar-intensive diet of the U.S.
Stevia is believed to be among the healthiest non-sugar sweeteners primarily because it is derived from a common plant you can grow in your backyard.
Stevia is a non- nutritive sweetener (NNS) that has demonstrated beneficial effects on appetite and energy intake. A January 18 2024 clinical study of 28 participants published in Nutrients found no significant effects on our gut microbiome when consuming the natural sweetener Stevia (3).
The study showed a decrease in Akkermansia (gut lining) and an increase in Faecalibacterium. However, the only genus significantly different at 12 weeks was Butyricoccus, another gut-lining, butyrate-producing species (4). For people with gut lining/ intestinal disorders such as IBS and obesity, this may be cause for caution.

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