Trending Clinical Topics for February 2019

Ryan Syrek

Disclosures

March 01, 2019

Trending Clinical Topic of the Week (February 16-22): Gut Bacteria

Studies establishing links to serious mental health, neurologic, diabetic, and sleep conditions helped drive searches for this week's top trending clinical topic. The first population-based study to show a link between gut bacteria and mental health was recently released. Different bacteria were associated with depression and affected quality of life across populations. Although clearly establishing a connection between the presence of these bacteria and mental health is an important step, researchers will now move toward identifying whether a causal relationship is present. This would allow potential interventions based on gut microbiome makeup.

A separate study found an association between depleted or elevated gut bacteria and increased risk for dementia. Although the study was limited by various factors, results suggest that investigations for the presence or absence of certain elements in the gut microbiome may help identify patients who should be closely watched for neurologic concerns. Likewise, a study from UCLA found that certain gut bacteria mediate the anticonvulsant effects of the ketogenic diet. The diet lost all anticonvulsant effects in mice without certain microbes. Further research is needed to establish this relationship in humans.

The gut microbiome may also be the key to predicting spikes in blood glucose. An algorithm based on individual gut microbiome information was found to more accurately predict these spikes compared with only knowing a food's calories or carbohydrate content. Researchers suggest that this is a first step toward personalized nutrition in certain patients. Individualized microbiome information may also be the key to better sleep. A new kit allows consumers to submit a feces sample for assessment of microbes in the gut. This information can then be used to make suggestions on how diet and lifestyle can change levels of bacteria related to better sleep. From serious conditions to simply getting some extra rest, gut bacteria is seemingly everywhere in the news these days, making it this week's top trending clinical topic.

Read more information on gut bacteria.

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