Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All health care starts with diet. My recommendations for a healthy diet are here:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
There are over 190 articles on diet, inflammation and disease on this blog
(find topics using search [upper left] or index [lower right]), and
more articles by Prof. Ayers on Suite101 .

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Food Poisoning and Manmade E. coli

Bacteria on food is a problem for diet-compromised people.   
Gut Flora are Required for a Healthy Immune System
Healthy people don't get sick from food poisoning, because their gut flora provide protection.  Gut bacteria control the development of the human immune system by producing interesting compounds, including short chain fatty acids and vitamins.  In response to the gut bacteria, the healthy immune system produces white blood cells that can effectively attack bacteria, and also control this aggressive behavior to spare human cells and avoid unnecessary attacks on beneficial bacteria.
Disrupted Gut Flora Lead to Susceptibility to Disease/Infection
Gut flora can be compromised by what we eat and antibiotics.  Those normally affected by food poisoning are the very young (on formula), the old (constipated) and those treated with antibiotics.  Each of these groups have abnormal gut flora.  Food poisoning is rarely observed in exclusively breastfed babies being introduced to foods, because human milk contains potent antimicrobial polysaccharides (human milk oligosaccharides) that only permit the growth of a few species of Bifidobacteria.  Formula (in any amount) disrupts the normal development of the gut and immune system by stimulating an inflammatory growth of adult gut bacteria, making these babies more susceptible to intestinal and respiratory diseases, including food poisoning.
Constipation, which is more common in older people, reflects a disruption of the gut flora and decreases the effectiveness of the immune system in these individuals.  In most cases the compromised gut flora results from a long history of a restricted diet and  reduced access to environmental sources of bacteria.
Antibiotics are usually ignored as major corruptors of the immune system, even though they are known to produce diarrhea and constipation.  Doctors reluctantly suggest that people taking antibiotics should just eat some yogurt.  This is a silly oversight that severely compromises future health, because probiotics supply only a tiny fraction of the 150 different species of bacteria needed for a healthy body and immune system.
Pathogenic E. coli is Made by Antibiotic Use in Cattle
E. coli is a common and essential resident of the human gut and the best studied bacterium.  This bacterium is not normally resistant to antibiotics nor does it produce deadly toxins.  Antibiotic resistance and toxin production results from treating cattle with antibiotics to increase fat production prior to butchering.
Antibiotics Select for E. coli that Stick to Rectal Surface of Cattle
Pathogenic E. coli are not found throughout cattle fecal material, but rather they are only in the outermost surface layer.  This outer layer of material contains bacteria from the surface of the rectum just as the cow pies are deposited.  E. coli does not normally stick to this surface, because it lacks a protein, such as a hemagglutinin capable of binding to the surface polysaccharides, heparan sulfate.  Antibiotics kill off the bacteria normally residing on the surface.  As a member of the intestinal biofilm community, E. coli continually exchanges DNA/genes with other bacteria in the gut and picks up three useful genes, to become a pathogen:
  1. Antibiotic resistance
  2. Hemagglutinin for sticking to surfaces
  3. Toxin to release nutrients from the intestinal walls.
E. coli with these three genes can colonize the rectal tissue of cattle in feed lots.
Pathogenic E. coli Can be Easily Avoided
We have to work hard as a society to have problems with E. coli.  Pathogenic E. coli results from absurd use of huge quantities of antibiotics just to disrupt the normal gut flora of cattle so that they become unhealthy and store fat in their tissues, i.e. prime beef.  The same effect can also be achieved just by feeding the cattle some short chain fatty acids, or better still avoiding this step by feeding exclusively on grass.  It would also be easy to treat the few cattle that have pathogenic E. coli, so that it doesn't become a problem.  Proper treatment of manure and meat processing would also block transmission of pathogenic E. coli to agricultural crops or meat.  Finally, an Anti-inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle would provide a healthy gut flora and immune system that would make people less susceptible to the pathogen.


Kor said...

Dr. Ayers,

Always fascinated by your posts on gut flora. Have been attempting for a couple years now to restore healthy gut function after numerous, lengthy antibiotic treatments in my youth probably wiped out my flora (antibiotics first for recurring strep throat, later for acne, others here and there). As per your recommendations, recently I have been trying to introduce a variety of straight-from-the-garden organic vegetables.

My question is, would it be counterproductive to ferment these vegetables submerged in a simple brine similar to making sauerkraut? I've basically just been shredding a variety of veggies and fermenting them this way and have noticed some improvements, but curious if I may be limiting or only selectively culturing certain bacterial species by doing this. Clearly the typical few species available in probiotics, yogurt etc. will not cut it if we want comprehensive gut flora restoration, so wondering if I'm on the right track to a broader exposure. Hopefully as research in this area continues to be done, more treatment options will become available for people with compromised flora. Fecal transplant seems to be reserved as a last resort for c. dif. infections etc.?

Thanks for the great blog

Tony said...

One more aspect with regards to E. coli: Grain-fed cattle:
Grain feeding seems to promote the growth and acid resistance of Escherichia coli in fattening beef cattle, and acid-resistant E. coli are more likely to survive the human gastric stomach. When cattle were fed hay for only five days, the number and acid resistance of E. coli decreased dramatically.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I think that any kind of culturing of vegetables will select for a series of different bacteria and fungi as the fermentation proceeds. Some of the products of the various bacteria may be more palatable than others. My approach would be to eat as many different sources as possible.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I think that many researchers make the mistake of assuming that cattle have just one type of E. coli or that E. coli even exists as an actual species, as opposed to a population of bacteria that meet the metabolic definition of E. coli, but have many other genes that are fluidly exchanged with other gut species.

I doubt that feeding hay would alter the population of toxin-producing E. coli, since they don't reside in the same place as the more traditional E. coli.

Thanks for the comments.

ZDub said...

Hey Dr. Ayers,

I am amazed at the amount of information you have on this site. You are a scientific rockstar!

Over a year ago, I set out on a conquest to eliminate my Acne, and after some experimentation I found that ingesting dairy products was the primary culprit (I was heavily lactose intolerant as a youth, less-so now adays at 20).

My only concern is that I'm still getting minor inflections on my face. I have dandruff as well and my stool isn't too super either. After reading your information and some stuff of Dr. Monastyrsky I think the culprit is a less-than appropriate gut flora.

Do note that I was not breast fed, unfortunately.

So my question is, how detrimental is my lack of breast-feeding 20 years later? I'm curious if I'm destined to a poor flora or if I can make an effort to rehabilitate my gut.

I will be trying the yogurt thing you talk about (to "cure" lactose intolerance) if I can somehow find a way to stomach it. Doesn't really please my palate haha.

Keep on rockin,

Dr. Art Ayers said...

It is always possible to reconstruct gut flora, but the gut and its bacteria communicate by complex exchange of signal molecules. That means that the gut/flora communication must develop over time and persistence with diet is important. Equally important is to establish a good source of bacteria to supply the species that are missing or subsequently lost from the 150 species in your gut.

Food intolerances (except gluten intolerance) are usually readily overcome by persist eating of small amounts of the problem food, e.g. yogurt, and also providing a source for bacteria to supply the missing species, e.g. probiotics for lactose intolerance.

Tell me of your gut progress.

ZDub said...

Dr. Ayers,

Thanks for the response. I recently picked up some cultured coconut milk yogurt, acidophile cultured yogurt, and cultured butter. Considering that butter is mostly Fat and that the yogurt has bacteria already in it, I see these as safe bets to start with.

I have seen no adverse reactions minus a little uneasiness that I can't explain. Must be from lack of eating dairy for almost 2 years.

As for diet persistence, I couldn't be more persistent. I eat a Paleolithic diet with a typical meal being meat and choice veggies. I occasionally eat some berries.

Will update further within the following week.


P.S. Butter tastes great

Anonymous said...

I have a question about the safety of systemic antifungal medications, such as Lamisil or Loprox, and their effects on the gut flora.

Several decades ago I developed fungal infection in most of my toenails, I realize now, whether coincidentally or not, that this was about the time I was being “treated” for acne with long-term tetracycline (which didn’t really help the acne). Anyhow, it took over a decade to recover from the effects of the tetracycline, and I’m very leery of any medication that might affect my gut health.

For the past three years I’ve eaten the sort of diet you’d recommend, with great benefits to my health.

About a year ago one fingernail became infected with fungus, so now I’m thinking seriously about one of the systemic antifungal treatments, to deal with both the toenails and the fingernail. I’ve tried some of the alternative approaches, but with no success. What do you know of the side effects of these drugs? I know that liver function must be closely monitored during treatment with them, but do you know if they have any effects on the gut flora? If they do, I’ll pass on them, as I don’t want to go there again!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ayers. Thank you for coming back to us and posting regularly again. I can't express how much this means to me and others who have already benefited from your advice.

I was wondering what your thoughts were on other species that inhabit the GI tract and how they play a role in overall health. Specifically I am talking about fungi and viruses.

If you are on antifungals, is it also necessary to repopulate the gut with fungi?

Asim said...

Hey Dr. AYers,

Just would like your comments on the following link:

It obviously accords with your general views, but I have a specific question related to the following:

"A healthy gut flora at an early stage appears to play a part in children's wellbeing later in life. This is a conclusion in a further study, where Caroline Karlsson showed that children with allergic eczema at the age of 18 months had a lower diversity in the gut flora when they were just one week old compared with the children who did not develop allergic eczema."

We discussed previously that it is your view that the baby gut flora cannot handle the DIVERSITY of gut flora, thus the need to breastfeed. This seems to be arguing the exact opposite, i.e. it was the diversity of gut flora that allowed them to 'prevent eczema'.

Do you think this has more to do with degrees of diversity of the gut flora of the babies AS A RESULT OF THEIR DIET, than the issue of diversity in general? It would seem that both groups of babies were fed a diverse diet (maybe formula) even at 1 week, not that the baby with less diversity may have been exclusively breast-fed until say 18months, meaning...

the diversity of the babies diets at 18 months for those that did not develop the allergy were counter-balancing the negative effects of the already diverse diet established by week 1?

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