With the warmer temperatures approaching, Canadians will once again look towards fresh fruits and vegetables to supplement their daily diets. But, over the last few years, enjoying raw food has come with the risk for infection. While several reasons for the increase in plant-related troubles exist, one particular reason has escaped the public perspective.
If you were to take a microscope to your intestines, you would see tens of trillions of microbes moving around doing what they do best: eating and multiplying. Yet, while this may appear to be a utopic environment, what's happening is exactly the opposite. There's a microbial war happening and your health depends on which side wins.
Exposure to bacteria and viruses along with mental and physical stressors can take a toll on our bodies, making us susceptible to illness. While we cannot always prevent the cold and flu, having a strong immune system is one of the best protections against these pathogens, and get us back to feeling ourselves quicker.
There are only two routes to go forward to ensure public safety. The first is to examine how the bug grows in the lab and identify any possible differences from E. coli. There are a few but they could take time to detect and may not be valuable should an outbreak occur. The other is to use genetic methods to identify the bacterium based on its DNA.
The premise of using bacteria to combat bacteria isn't new. It has shown promise to combat the potentially lethal Clostridium difficile and also has helped to resolve other gastrointestinal disorders, particularly in children. The concept of transplantation appeared to be transferrable to the mouth.
All you have to do is bring Mather Nature indoors in the form of plants. For many Canadians, this isn't entirely a new concept. For decades, plants have been brought into the home and office to brighten up the mood and add some colour to an otherwise drab atmosphere. But the benefits are far greater than aesthetics.
Twenty years ago, heart disease was the number one killer of Canadians. That number has dropped over the years thanks in part to research examining the causes of heart attacks and recommendations for better preventative behaviours. Despite this drop, there is still much to be learned about how heart attacks happen. One of the most studied causes is the atherosclerotic lesion, better known as plaque. This accumulation of cells, fats, minerals, and other organic material tend to accumulate in the arteries as we age. If buildup happens to occur in the coronary artery, cardiac arrest may inevitably happen.
Medically speaking, the condition is called chronic rhinosinusitis and for decades, it has been a mystery. What starts off as the signs of a cold or allergy soon becomes a rather complicated problem for which there are few treatments and even less cures. Most of the time, medications are prescribed but some cases become so dire surgery is needed to help a person finally breathe clear. What makes this ailment so frustrating is the lack of a proper cause. The list of suspects includes genetics, cigarette smoke, and allergies.
Controlling obesity is never an easy prospect and for some, the best option is to undergo bariatric surgery. The practice has been around since the 1960s and involves restricting the volume of the stomach either with a band or through surgical removal of a large part of the stomach organ. There's also another factor in determining the benefit of this surgery: the microbes living in the gut. The tens of trillions of bacteria can also be affected by the change. Although this was known hypothetically for years, in 2010, it was shown for the first time.
The overwhelming majority of these incredibly common infections are caused by viruses -- that is, they will not respond to antibiotics -- so I don't routinely offer antibiotic treatments. When patients hear they won't be getting an antibiotic many become surprised and often upset. I then spend time counselling them about why antibiotics are, in most cases, the wrong treatment choice.
Last week, an Israeli team of researchers revealed how a bacterial species can become a "zombie" and then spread it to others causing an apocalypse. Making this observation even more interesting was what they used to trigger the outbreak. It wasn't a living organism. Instead, it was a chemical: silver.
Within your feces is a species of bacteria that may one day be able to help prevent inflammatory disorders including colitis, inflammatory bowel disease and possibly even Crohn's disease. It's known as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and has the potential to become one of the next generation probiotics.
The question has plagued dental professionals for years. Is chewing gum good or bad for your teeth? Last week, an international team of researchers provided the first comprehensive look at the impact of gum on oral health. It seems a few minutes of gum chewing might be an excellent way to keep a healthy mouth.
If a person continued to supplement bacteria with our health in its best interests, such as probiotics, mutiny may be prevented or at least belayed. With more research, we may be able to prove this point and find a means to offer the elderly, the sick and even the brokenhearted a way to prevent the onslaught of virulence and live a happier, longer life.
As the Spice Girls proclaim, spicing up your food can definitely spice up your life and offer joy both emotionally and physiologically. Whether you choose the bitterness of garlic, the sweetness of cinnamon or the umami and heat of a kimchi, you can ensure the time is filled with joy rather than pain.
A closer inspection of the bacterial species revealed only few pathogenic species. Of those, most were unable to survive over long periods of time. There was little to no risk for infection. As to the majority of bacteria found, they were common, and harmless, fecal and skin bacteria. Even high frequency use of a toilet could not develop pathogens in high enough levels to cause infection.
It's been a rather tough year for artificial sweeteners. In that time, three new studies have been released suggesting they are poor substitutes for sugar. In the spring, an investigation into their use revealed a disconcerting association with the onset of depression. Then, a long-term analysis of their use revealed they may contribute to overall weight gain.
Antibiotics were the first and still are the go-to means of microbial distraction. However, in light of the continuing rise of antibiotic resistance, their usefulness is limited and we need to explore other options. One such ally is a living organism known to have just as much of a hatred for infectious bacteria: the bacteriophage.