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According to Dr. Sadeghi, fiber-rich foods are generally enough to boost and maintain a healthy gut biome. While companies claim to have packaged the secret to digestion via fermented foods—such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, wine, and cheese—the truth is there is no recognized scientific evidence to support these claims. Dr. Sadeghi stated, “There are no studies which have actually looked at whether these probiotics get incorporated into the gut mucosa or get discarded into the stool. In fact, we don’t even know for sure they aren’t harmful. In a recent study published in Cell, researchers looked at whether probiotics get incorporated into the mucosa post antibiotic therapy to restore gut health. They did colonoscopies on two groups of individuals and samples their biome. Both groups received antibiotics. One group received probiotics and the other group did not receive probiotics. They wanted to know whether taking probiotics restored the health of the gut faster. To their surprise, the group that didn’t get probiotics recovered the biome faster!”
Conclusions This nationwide, unselected, cohort study shows a significant association between IBD and later occurrence of PD, which is consistent with recent basic scientific findings of a potential role of GI inflammation in development of parkinsonian disorders.
The full study in PDF is available here.
The researchers identified patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease between the years 1964 and 2014 via the Swedish patient register. Using these data, they compared mortality rates in about 9,400 children who developed IBD with those of other children.
Their results show that children who developed IBD before the age of 18 have a three to five-fold higher mortality rate than people without IBD, both during childhood and into adulthood. This translates to a 2.2-year reduction in life expectancy in individuals monitored up to the age of 65.
The study was published online October 31 in Gut.
The researchers point out, however, that this was an observational study, which can’t prove cause and effect.
A strength of the study is its use of data from a large population-based database with complete information on subsequent diagnoses and drug prescriptions, which minimizes selection, information, and recall biases, the researchers say. Use of strict exclusion criteria as well as propensity score adjustment to control for potential confounders and restricting the sample to patients with successful H pylori eradication are other strengths.
In terms of study weaknesses, the researchers lacked information on some risk factors, such as diet, family history, and socioeconomic status. And despite the large sample of more than 63,000 H pylori–infected patients, the small number of gastric cancer cases did not allow for any “meaningful evaluation of the dosage effect and role of different PPIs,” the researchers say.
When compared to patients who took the traditional reflux medication, proton pump inhibitors (PPI), those patients who consumed a 90-95% whole food, plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet paired with alkaline water had the same if not better reduction in reflux symptoms. 62.6 percent of patients treated with a plant-based diet and alkaline water saw a six point reduction in their Reflux Symptom Index (RSI — a measurement for the severity of reflux symptoms), compared to 54.1 percent reduction in patients taking PPI’s. Though this research only focused on those with laryngopharyngeal reflux, this same diet regimen has implications to help patients with gastro-esophageal acid reflux (also known as GERD).
The diet suggested by Dr. Zalvan consists of mostly fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts with near complete cessation of dairy and meats including beef, chicken, fish, eggs and pork. This is in addition to standard reflux diet precautions like avoiding coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, greasy and fried food, spicy foods, fatty foods and alcohol. Along with relieving reflux symptoms, Dr. Zalvan noted that many of his patients who were treated with a plant-based diet also experienced some weight loss and a reduction of symptoms and medication use from other medical conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Dr. Zalvan said that a plant-based diet approach with alkaline water and standard reflux precautions should either be attempted prior to the use of medication or with the short-term use of medication for more severe needs.