It's becoming clearer that gut flora, the microorganisms in the digestive tract, is key to pediatric health, according to Dr. Linda Muir, chief of pediatric gastroenterology at the Oregon Health and Science University. Muir said studies supporting fecal transplants for children with ulcerative colitis and enteral nutrition for those with Crohn's disease add to mounting evidence that "the bacteria we carry around in our bodies drive and determine a lot of our health and illness. A lot of autoimmune disorders may be related to [imbalances in our] gut microbiome," she said.
Preparing healthy meals using fresh produce does not have to be a budget-buster if consumers look for seasonal fruits and vegetables, buy in bulk, and select products that have a longer shelf life, says Kaiser Permanente registered dietitian Stasha Hornbeck. She recommends planning three healthy meals per week to start, buying larger quantities of meat to save money and exploring ethnic recipes to introduce more variety in the diet.
Digestive issues start to surface in middle age as people develop medical conditions and take medications that have gastrointestinal side effects, physicians say. Gastroenterologist Dr. Daniel Cohen at Memorial Hospital Pembroke in Florida says the main complaints he hears from patients involve constipation and acid reflux, both of which may be treated at least in part with dietary changes.
A diet designed to reduce food hypersensitivity may play a role in healing chronic anal fissures, Italian researchers reported in The American Journal of Gastroenterology. Sixty-nine percent of patients experienced healing on the study diet when added to other therapies, compared with 45% of controls. Researchers found some patients who went off the oligo-antigenic diet and consumed wheat and cow's milk had relapses, suggesting that anal fissures may be connected to food hypersensitivity.
The use of fecal transplant to cure recurrent Clostridium difficile infection may be paving the way for a super-probiotic to treat it, according to Dr. Leonard Smith, co-author of "The Road to Perfect Health." Smith says the condition is challenging because the typical treatment of antibiotics induces bacterial imbalance in the gut, but fecal transplants are believed to address the infection by restoring balance, and other health conditions are treated with such transplants, too. Smith notes that leading researcher Dr. Lawrence Brandt, writing in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, argues a paradigm shift is taking place in the understanding of health and disease treatment "and in its center is our microbiota."