Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The importance of gut health for the mind





The gut transports and digests ingested material to supply nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes to the body. The gut might be an even more complex organ than previously thought. A double fold of peritoneum (called the mesentery) - the lining of the abdominal cavity - holds our intestine to the wall of our abdomen. It contains all internal other organs in place, and it keeps the gastrointestinal tract and other organs from twisting up around. 

The gut is seeded with microbiotas right after birth. Although the composition is influenced by both host genetics and environmental factors, the gut microbiome can be remodeled throughout life. The formation of the microbial community depends on ecological factors such as dietary nutrients, fiber, use of antibiotics, gastrointestinal disease and the genetic background of the host. Fecal transplants from obese to lean mice have also triggered well recognizable neurologic complications of obesity in the receiver animals. There are indications that this causal relationship is valid in humans as well.

The composition of the microbiota has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Alterations in the intestinal microbiota show a clear link to metabolic diseases [type-2 diabetes], autoimmune arthritis, and psychiatric disorders. Obese subjects also show deficits in memory, learning, and executive functions. Epidemiological studies also indicate that obesity is associated with a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety, and vice versa. Obesity-associated microbiota may contribute to the endocrine, neurochemical and inflammatory alterations. Understanding the full set of metabolites will open new insights into how changes in the gut microbiome affect systemic metabolism and its alterations in diabetes and obesity. 

Gut microbes play a role in human physiology through several mechanisms, such as synthesis of vitamins, digestion of complex compounds, like polysaccharides, drugs, and others. In the past years over 800 different peptides have been identified that affect brain function and your psychology in a variety of ways. Gut microbiota is a mediating factor between environmental pressures (e.g., diet, lifestyle) and human physiology. These findings indicate an existing cross-link between energy metabolism, mood and cognitive function. Gut microbes also play a role in immune cell development and protect from colonization by pathogenic bacteria.



In mice, the Ketogenic Diet (high levels of fat and low levels of carbohydrates) has shown positive cognitive outcome in epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and autism patients. Detailed studies have shown that the microbiome in the gut had improved, and the blood glucose levels and the body weight decreased. The most exciting finding has been a reduction of amyloid-beta, a known hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, from the brain. Other studies found that consumption of raw foods might also be beneficial for mental health.

Bacteria in your gut (the microbiome) are more important than you ever suspected. This gives new meaning to the old adage, you are what you eat. Read more...

Picture credit: Tvanbr


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Friday, June 8, 2018

Working memory is based on the brain's energy cycle







Although the brain can store a whole lifetime of knowledge in its trillions of connections, the number of items that humans can actively hold in their conscious awareness at once is limited, on average, to four or five things. After active attention ceases, they’re stored elsewhere or forgotten. Working memory is the part of short-term memory that is concerned with immediate conscious perceptual and linguistic processing. Retention in working memory is short-lived and bounded. However, the reason for the seemingly low threshold of working memory has been elusive. 

Sensory information transforms into the language of oscillations in the limbic brain and flows toward the sensory cortex. The activation extinguishes the energy of the stimulus. However, in cases of excellent information value, such as novel stimulus or short-term memory, the energy of the stimulus flows toward the associative areas, which triggers conscious decision making. 

However, at a certain limit, short-term memory overburdens the frontal cortex and breaks down timely processing. Excessive information load changes the normal rhythm of oscillations, which lead to short-term memory degradation. In patients who have been diagnosed with neurological disorders, such as schizophrenia, even a smaller number of items disturbs memory.


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Antibiotic treatment can make virus infection more dangerous




Antibiotics are drugs used in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections. They may either kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses such as the common cold or influenza. Antiviral drugs or antivirals can be used to treat or inhibit virus infections.
Recent work has shown that antibiotics can impair the development of antiviral T cell responses, which occurs as soon as 3 days after taking the drug in an oral form.


Although the outcome of flavivirus infection can vary from asymptomatic to lethal, environmental factors can significantly modulate the severity of the disease. Treatment with oral antibiotics can greatly deplete the gut microbiota and impair the development of optimal T cell responses. This leads to increased infection and immunopathology. The changes in the overall structure of the gut bacterial community can occur after only three days of treatment. This indicates that damages to the gut microbiota may increase susceptibility to virus infections. Combined antibiotic treatment dramatically reduced virus infection survival rate in mice.

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Oral Antibiotic Treatment of Mice Exacerbates the Disease Severity of Multiple Flavivirus Infections




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