Stanford: microbiome as a second immune system

When you caught flu you know - you can get antibiotics or support your immune system with vitamins. Same thing with food-borne diseases. Here is how:

1. Oligosaccharides (fiber) is the food for our microbiome.
2. Microbiome is the second immune system for food-borne diseases.
3. When you have enough fiber, you’re healthy regardless how bad is your food.

Dr. Justin Sonnenburg, head of The Center for Human Microbiome Studies at Stanford - made a powerful argument for viewing our microbiome as the control center for human biology—that our microbiota are not just impacting digestion and absorption, but having systemic impacts on our immune system, our metabolism, and our brain chemistry. 

Water-soluble fiber helps decrease blood cholesterol levels: 
Low blood cholesterol levels (below 200 mg/dl) have been associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. The body eliminates cholesterol through the excretion of bile acids. Water-soluble fiber, such as pectin and gum found inside plant cells, binds bile acids, suggesting that a high-fiber diet may result in an increased excretion of cholesterol. Some types of fiber, however, appear to have a greater effect than others. The fiber found in rolled oats is more effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels than the fiber found in wheat. Pectin has a similar effect in that it, too, can lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood. 

A high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of some cancers: 
Dietary fiber may help reduce the risk of some cancers, especially colon cancer, but this claim requires more scientific evidence to state with certainty. The concept that a high-fiber diet reduces colon cancer risk is based on information that insoluble fiber increases the rate at which wastes are removed from the body. This means the body may have less exposure to toxic substances produced during digestion. A diet high in animal fat and protein also may play a role in the development of colon cancer. 

A high-fiber diet may be useful for weight management: 
High-fiber diets may be useful for people who wish to lose weight. Fiber itself has no calories, yet provides a “full” feeling because of its water-absorbing ability. For example, an apple is more filling than a half cup of apple juice that contains about the same calories. Foods high in fiber often require more chewing, so a person is unable to eat a large number of calories in a short amount of time.

When you stop feeding your bugs, bugs start eating you”- says Dr. Justin Sonnenburg in his lecture. Watch it now, and be well.


References:
Diet-microbiota interactions as moderators of human metabolism.
Sonnenburg JL1, Bäckhed F2,3.

Host-Microbiota Interactions in the Pathogenesis of Antibiotic-Associated Diseases.
Lichtman JS1, Ferreyra JA2, Ng KM2, Smits SA2, Sonnenburg JL2, Elias JE3.

Dietary Fiber Intake in Young Adults and Breast Cancer Risk
Maryam S. Farvid, A. Heather Eliassen, Eunyoung Cho, Xiaomei Liao, Wendy Y. Chen, Walter C. Willett