Part 3 – What health effects, and signs and symptoms, come from a damaged microbiome and how is that affecting our children?
✴️ We learnt in my last post about: some of the factors that contribute to a damaged gut microbiome (the garden in our gut) – including antibiotics, processed foods, some medications (Gonzalez et al., 2011), chemicals, and psychological and physical stress (Hawrelak and Meyers, 2004).
✴️ We also discovered that a dis-ordered or damaged microbiome is called DYSBIOSIS and it occurs when our good or healthy gut microbes are damaged, providing space for the not so good microbes (weeds) to dominate ( Hawrelak and Meyers, 2004).
✴️ Interestingly – this idea is not new – over 2000 years ago Hippocrates apparently claimed that ‘All disease begins in the gut’ (Lyon, 2018) and Nobel laureate Eli Metchnikoff who lived in the 19th and early 20th centuries, (1845–1916) had this to say… “the majority of diseases begin in the digestive tract when “good” bacteria are no more able to control “bad” bacteria”, calling this condition dysbiosis” (Gagliardi et. al., 2018).
Today I want to touch on how a damaged gut microbiome, with too many ‘weeds’, is now linked to almost every modern disease state known to humans (Virgin & Todd, 2011), what signs and symptoms it can produce and most importantly how that is affecting our children.
A look at research, world-wide over the last 10 years, shows many conditions (disease states), signs and symptoms that have links to dysbiosis. The following is a list of just some of those:
– Heart disease (Cui, et.al., 2018);
- Strokes and recovery potential after a stroke (Xia, et. a., 2019);
- Cancers (Weiss & Hennet, 2017);
- neurological disorders like parkinsons and dementia (Sun, et. al., 2018; Bostanciklioğlu, 2019);
- Autoimmune conditions like MS, psoriasis, hashimoto’s, Graves, type 1 diabetes; celiac disease and Crohns (Levy & Kolodziejczyk, 2017);
- Skin conditions – dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis (Lee et al., 2018);
- Gut issues – celiac, irritable bowel, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea (Gagliardi et. al., 2018);
- Food allergies and intolerances, lactose and/or fructose intolerance (De Palma, 2014; Vitellio, et. al., 2019; Zhao et. al. 2019; );
- Asthma (Gagliardi et. al., 2018);
- Obesity/weight issues/type 2 diabetes (Gagliardi et. al., 2018; Weiss & Hennet, 2017); and
– Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, ADHD (De Angelis, 2015);
– Autism (De Angelis, 2015; Srikantha et. al., 2019),
– Even a child’s temperament (Mayer & Hsiao, 2017).
It really is starting to appear that it might be true that “the majority of diseases begin in the digestive tract” or at least that the health of the gut plays a major part in the development of these conditions.
Source: Huffington Post.
And here’s the kicker – these issues are showing up in our children in greater numbers than ever before.
I remember sitting at my first MINDD Foundation International Forum back in 2013 and being absolutely gobsmacked when I heard the following statistics for our children here in Australia. These stats came in a keynote message from Dr Martha Herbert – a Paediatric Neurologist from Harvard University.
Today, 1 in 4 young Australians has a mental health condition (ABS, 2008). Allergies affect one in three children (Hill, 2003), Asthma – one in four (Australia has the 3rd highest prevalence in the world), ADHD – one in ten (Sawyer, 2001) and Autism one in 100 (Autism Spectrum Australia – please note this has since been increased to 1 in 63 (A4 Advocacy, 2012). Eczema now effects 1 in three Australians (https://www.eczema.org.au ), worldwide around 18% of children are affected up from 2% a few decades ago (Miraglia del Giudice et.al., 2002). Childhood cancer, diabetes, obesity and depression have all doubled over the past two decades (Cosgrove, 2013).
It broke my heart to hear this and to realise that it really hasn’t always been that way. It was probably one of the key moments that led me to a complete change in the direction of my life’s work – to taking a stand for Children’s health.
As I listened to the speakers (world renowned doctors, researchers and therapists) over the weekend I heard time and again that many of our ‘modern’ ways of living may well be contributing to these statistics. And that one of the absolute keys is the health (or lack of) of our gut microbiomes which is consistent with the research presented above.
I was at the Mindd Foundation International Forum as a mum who had young children who were struggling with a number of the issues I mention above. So this is all very close to my heart. In addition, it is always important to remember that behind these statistics are real families and real children.
But the great news is that there are some answers, there are solutions. There are lots of things we can do to reduce the likelihood of dysbiosis (too many weeds & not enough ‘good’ microbes) or if it is already a problem, heal the gut and restore some balance and therefore bring improvements to health.
So that’s where we will move to next……
Part 4 of our series on Gut Health for Children will look at:
“What can we do to reduce the likelihood of dysbiosis or re-balance a damaged microbiome?”
Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing.
Bostanciklioğlu M. (2019). The role of gut microbiota in pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of applied microbiology, 127(4), 954–967.
De Angelis, M., Francavilla, R., Piccolo, M., De Giacomo, A., & Gobbetti, M. (2015). Autism spectrum disorders and intestinal microbiota. Gut microbes, 6(3), 207–213.
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Cosgrove, R. (2013). Patterns of Modern Disease – lecture.
Cui, X., Ye, L., Li, J., Jin, L., Wang, W., Li, S., Bao, M., Wu, S., Li, L., Geng, B., Zhou, X., Zhang, J., & Cai, J. (2018). Metagenomic and metabolomic analyses unveil dysbiosis of gut microbiota in chronic heart failure patients. Scientific reports, 8(1), 635.
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