Everyday nutrients promote gastrointestinal health
Vitamin D protects against cancer
People eating the refined diet typical of developed countries may have greater chances for colorectal cancer, with low levels of vitamin D raising chances further. As this study revealed, Black populations in the U.S. are more likely than any other domestic racial or ethnic group to have these issues, and are also more likely to be low in vitamin D.
In this study, doctors gave food questionnaires every two years to 49,534 Black women between 1995 and 2017, predicting vitamin D scores, and then measuring chances for developing colorectal cancer.
Overall during the 22-year follow-up, women with the lowest vitamin D scores were 41 percent more likely to have developed colorectal cancer compared to those with the highest vitamin D scores.
Reference: Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; 2021, 1055-9965.EPI-21-0675
Probiotics reduce infectious diarrhea
Hospitals typically use antibiotics, which weaken the microbiome and raise chances for infection such as Clostridioides difficile (C. diff). Symptoms include disabling diarrhea, and can be more severe. This study had a unique twist that enabled doctors to compare hospital infection rates with antibiotics alone and after adding probiotics.
Two Montreal hospitals merged, with the larger hospital using probiotics together with antibiotics as standard treatment. The smaller, 335-bed community hospital used antibiotics alone, and hospital-acquired C. diff was common in this facility.
After the merger, at the smaller hospital, doctors began giving a 50-billion colony-forming-unit combination of L. acidophilus, L. casei, and L. rhamnosus, per day to all adults taking antibiotics for two or more days. Compared to the prior 12 months without probiotics, rates of hospital-wide C. diff were 39 percent lower after probiotics. Protection was even greater in those taking multiple antibiotics, with probiotics reducing C. diff more than 50 percent.
Reference: Clinical Infectious Diseases; 2021, Vol. 73, No. 8, 1524-7
Curcumin & Vitamin A Linked to Better Gut Health
Curcumin reduced gut complaints
Studies are beginning to find digestive benefits for curcumin. In this study, 77 adults with digestive complaints who also reported on mood, anxiety, and quality of life, took a placebo or 500 mg of curcumin per day.
After eight weeks, while there were no differences in the gut microbiome between the curcumin and placebo groups, those taking curcumin saw a 28 percent improvement in gut symptom scores including reflux, abdominal pain, indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation, compared to 18 percent for placebo. The curcumin group also reported 52 percent less anxiety vs. 16 percent less for placebo.
Reference: BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies; 2021, Vol. 21, Article No. 40
Vitamin A and gut effects in autism
Many people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) also report gut symptoms. In this study, doctors compared 323 children with ASD to 180 kids without.
Children with ASD and gut symptoms had lower levels of vitamin A compared to kids with ASD but no gut symptoms. In children with both ASD and gut impairments, core ASD symptoms were more serious than in kids without gut complaints, including relating to people, emotional response, body use, adaptation to change, listening responses, taste, smell, and touch response, and verbal and non-verbal communication.
Discussing the findings, doctors said kids with autism may tend to develop gastrointestinal symptoms due to eating only a few foods, preferring highly processed foods, and eating fewer fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Kids with ASD may therefore have nutritionally poor diets, raising chances for vitamin A deficiency.
Reference: Pediatric Research; 2021, Vol. 89, 211-6
Probiotics and oat beta-glucan strengthen the gut
Probiotics protect the gut in NAFLD
The job of the small intestine is to digest and absorb nutrients through its mucosal membrane lining, and to act as a first line of defense against pathogens. When the lining functions properly, bacteria and toxins can’t pass through and leak into the bloodstream, while beneficial nutrients can. Since the liver accepts blood directly from the gut, doctors wanted to examine the role the small intestine may play in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
In this study, 39 people with NAFLD took a placebo or a daily probiotic combination including strains of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. After six months, while the probiotics hadn’t altered symptoms of NAFLD, they had stabilized the mucosal immune function in the small intestine, strengthening its impermeability to bacteria and toxins.
Reference: Nutrients; 2021, Vol. 13, No. 9, nu13093192
Oat beta-glucan reduced gastritis damage
The stomach has a mucosal barrier that keeps digestive juices from inflaming and damaging its walls. Stress, age, excessive alcohol, regularly using pain relievers such as aspirin and other NSAIDS, and bacterial infection with H-pylori may all contribute to this condition, called gastritis.
In this study, 48 people with gastritis took a placebo, or 3 grams of high- or low-molar mass oat beta-glucan per day. After 30 days, those in the high-molar mass oat beta-glucan group had less mucosal damage, better intestinal barrier function, improved metabolism, and greater antioxidant capacity. Doctors said the findings suggest oat beta-glucan is a new nutritional treatment for gastritis.
Reference: Nutrients; 2021, Vol. 13, No. 8, nu13082791