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News for Now: Microbiome, Sugar, & Immune System
Today’s news items cover the importance of a healthy microbiome, how dietary guidelines have (and have not) changed, and the special way that the immune system adapts to threats.
A Healthy Microbiome Builds a Strong Immune System
- The type of bacteria that live in the gut can regulate the body’s inflammation levels. In some cases, a lack of certain strains of “good” bacteria can result in greater susceptibility to infection, whether it is the flu, rotavirus, or COVID-19.
- Promoting gut health is always an essential part of wellness, not just during a pandemic. Nutrition for gut health means eating foods that are fermented, consuming prebiotics that nourish the existing gut bacteria, avoiding processed foods, and limiting/eliminating white flour and all types of sugar.
- Read more at The Conversation
Kids Under 2 Shouldn’t Have Cake or Candy
- The US releases updated dietary guidelines every 5 years. The new ones included recommendations for no added sugars for kids under age 2, but still disregarded evidence-based recommendations from experts to cut added sugars for all adults (to less than 6% of caloric intake). It also ignored expert advice to limit alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink per day for men.
- Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases are rampant in the US. It’s clear that the US Dietary Guidelines never go far enough to truly advocate for or change the trajectory of public health. While the guidelines demonize cholesterol and real foods like butter and red meat, they advocate for high grain and low-fat dairy intakes, which are consistently proven to be problematic for metabolic disorders, cancer, and heart disease.
- Until public health starts markedly improving in response to the recommendations of the US Dietary Guidelines, they should not be relied upon for effective nutrition advice.
- Read more at the LA Times
Immune System Has Sensors to Detect & Covertly Combat Viral Invaders
- New research from the University of California San Diego has found that the immune system can subtly detect invading pathogens without tipping the virus off. The protein that does this, NLRP1, is so important because defending the body against viral infections relies on the immune system striking a fine balance. If it overreacts, it will also damage the body’s tissues while it addresses the virus. If the immune system underreacts, it will not contain the virus and alert it that the body knows it’s there, giving the virus time to mutate to evade being destroyed.
- Viruses and immune cells are in a constant tug of war to outsmart the other, but that’s why human immunity is so amazing—it keeps learning, adapting its defense and offense to the needs of the moment.
- Read more at eLife