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Super-saturated gut bacteria bring our gut flora out of balance

Connection between modern nutritional and civilization diseases

Are we getting sick? A Kiel research team uses a new hypothesis, the whole modern diet in question. The researchers attribute the continuing excess supply of food to many chronic inflammatory bowel diseases that have skyrocketed since the end of World War II. According to their hypothesis, intestinal bacteria remove their original tasks through 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-Universität Kiel investigates the emergence and functioning of meta-organisms. In a recent study presented in the journal "mBio", the researchers make a connection between modern nutrition and the development of various chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

Our persistent over-supply of food is, according to a recent study, responsible for more and more people suffering from bowel inflammation. (Image: contrastwerkstatt / fotolia.com)

Overfeeding in the gut

Inflammatory diseases are caused by a food overload and the associated disruption of the natural bacterial colonization of the intestine. This is the Kiel research team's hypothesis. People have changed their diet in the past decades in an unbalanced, high-energy and low-fiber way, which provides 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 metabolites (metabolites), but benefit directly from the surplus supply of nutrients. As a result, the intestinal bacteria disconnect from the host. There are no more interactions and the original task of the organisms has been eliminated.

What are the consequences of such a disconnection?

"This bacterial overfeed promotes their overall growth, to increase certain bacterial species at the expense of other members of the microbiome boosted and uncontrolled," SFB 1182 professor Thomas Bosch summarizes in a press release. This changes the composition of bacterial colonization and the interactions between bacteria and the host organism. This can lead to serious disturbances of the intestinal flora and cause a so-called dysbiosis, that is, a harmful imbalance in the intestinal microbiome.

Influencing the microbiome causes people to fall ill

Other research approaches have shown just as fatal effects when the human microbiome is adversely affected. Previous studies have shown that excessive hygiene and intensive use of antibiotics permanently disrupt the microbiome and make people more susceptible to diseases. The recent findings show more and more clearly that microorganisms play a crucial role in human and animal health. For more information, read the article: Not just antibiotics – every fourth remedy destroys our intestinal flora.

The origin lies in the sea

The hypothesis is based on current research into corals. The Kiel research group showed how bacteria detach themselves from corals when the nutritional conditions in the seawater rise. The coral microbiome is out of balance due to the migration. The result: the corals get sick. "In this connection between the availability of nutrients and the balance between the relationships between host and bacteria, we see a universal principle that goes far beyond the very specific example of corals," says the lead author of the study. Tim Lachnite. In other model experiments, the team was also able to confirm this association in freshwater polyps. The researchers conclude: "The insights gained in the experiment will most likely also be transferred to human health."

Can a disturbed intestinal flora be cured?

So far, medicine has tried to treat a disturbed microbiome, for example by administering probiotics or bowel transplants. The new hypothesis now opens further approaches to research and therapies. We must now examine whether the microbiome can adapt itself and restore a healthy composition through a certain diet.

Researchers see potential in fasting

The Kiel research team now wants to investigate the therapeutic potential of this hypothesis in further studies. Because the bacteria are literally overfed, the researchers see therapeutic potential in fasting. "In the future, 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 thereby the course of inflammatory diseases," Lachnit says. (Ex)

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