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Relationship between modern nutrition and lifestyle diseases
Are we eating sick? A Kiel research team is using a new hypothesis to question the entire modern diet. The researchers blame the constant oversupply of food for many chronic intestinal inflammations, which have increased suddenly since the end of the Second World War. According to their hypothesis, intestinal bacteria move away from their original tasks by overfeeding and thus promote the development of diseases.
All animals and plants are colonized by microorganisms that perform numerous tasks in the body. The interaction of the microbes is becoming increasingly clear through current research. It has long been clear that the microbiome plays a crucial role in human health. The Collaborative Research Center 1182 at the Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel researches the formation and functioning of meta-organisms. In a current study, which was presented in the journal “mBio”, the researchers establish a connection between modern nutrition and the development of various inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
Overfeeding in the intestine
Inflammatory diseases are caused by an oversupply of food and the associated disruption of the natural bacterial colonization of the intestine. This is the hypothesis of the Kiel research team. Over the past few decades, humans have changed their diet to an unbalanced, high-energy and low-fiber manner that offers a permanently high and at the same time easy-to-use supply of nutrients. According to the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 1182, this means that some intestinal bacteria no longer feed on the intermediates of the metabolism (metabolites), but make direct use of the excess supply of nutrients. This decouples the intestinal bacteria from the host. There are no longer any interactions and the original task of the organisms is eliminated.
What are the consequences of such a decoupling?
"This overfeeding of the bacteria promotes their overall growth, in addition certain types of bacteria multiply to the disadvantage of other members of the microbiome, in an uncontrolled manner," summarizes Professor Thomas Bosch of the SFB 1182 in a press release. This changes the composition of the bacterial colonization and the interactions between bacteria and the host organism. This could lead to serious disturbances in the intestinal flora and cause a so-called dysbiosis, i.e. a harmful imbalance in the intestinal microbiome.
Influencing the microbiome makes people sick
Other research approaches have already shown similarly fatal effects if the human microbiome is adversely affected. Previous studies have shown that excessive hygiene and intensive antibiotic use permanently disturb the microbiome and make people more susceptible to diseases. The latest findings show more and more clearly that the microorganisms play a crucial role in human and animal health. For more information read the article: Not just antibiotics - every fourth medicine destroys our intestinal flora.
The origin is in the sea
The starting point of the hypothesis is current research on corals. The Kiel research group showed how bacteria decouple from corals when the nutrient conditions in sea water increase. The coral microbiome gets out of balance due to migration. The result: the corals get sick. "In this connection between the availability of nutrients and the balance of the host-bacteria relationship, we see a universal principle that goes far beyond the very specific example of corals," emphasizes the first author of the study Dr. Tim Lachnit. The team was also able to confirm this connection in fresh model polyps in further model tests. The researchers come to the conclusion: "It is very likely that the knowledge gained in the experiment can also be transferred to human health."
Can a disturbed intestinal flora be cured?
So far, medicine has been trying to treat a disturbed microbiome, for example by giving probiotics or also by stool transplants. The new hypothesis now opens up further approaches for research work and therapies. It is now important to find out whether the microbiome can readjust itself through a certain diet and restore a healthy composition.
Researchers see potential in therapeutic fasting
The Kiel research team now wants to investigate the therapeutic potential of this hypothesis in further studies. Because the bacteria are overfeeded, the researchers see therapeutic potential in therapeutic fasting. "In the future, for example, in addition to the known health-promoting effects of fasting, we will also look at its effects on the composition and function of the microbiome and thus on the course of inflammatory diseases," says Lachnit. (vb)