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  • Writer's pictureM Barr, DAOM, IFMCPc

The Weight Of Evidence Continues To Mount

The Evidence Only Continues To Mount: How Health Of Your Gut Microbiome Affects Outcome & Risk Of Stroke

Previous studies have suggested that certain microbes may influence the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries. And now scientists have identified specific groups of gut microbes that could increase or decrease someone’s risk of suffering a stroke.

The research was presented this week at the European Stroke Organization Conference (ESOC) in Lyon, France.

The research team, from Barcelona, Spain, took stool samples from recent stroke sufferers and from healthy individuals to compare. They then performed DNA sequencing to identify the different microorganisms present in their guts, and whether certain groups of bacteria correlated with their functional recovery.

They identified six bacteria strains that appeared to affect stroke severity– as well as one other that related to poor functional recovery from stroke.

Head researcher, Dr. Miguel Lledos, of Catalonia’s Sant Pau Research Center, explained that their discovery “opens the exciting prospect that, in the future, we may be able to prevent strokes or improve neurological recovery by examining the gut microbiota.”

There are currently no specific neuroprotective treatments to prevent neurological worsening after stroke, and so the prospect that clinicians (and the public at large) might avail themselves of tools and methods both to gain insight on the health of their gut micro-ecosystems and to moderate them is quite empowering indeed.

The functional medicine world has been aware of much of this for some time with, perhaps evolutionarily rudimentary, home test kits like Genova Diagnostics GI Effects, Doctors Data GI360 and Diagnostic Solutions’ GI-MAP increasingly in demand.

And while it might be tempting to think that a probiotic or prebiotic daily supplement represents the obvious gut health quick fix tune-up, real and sustainable results are generally achieved from a “weed & feed”* program of 3-6 months duration– and a kind of Terry Wahls type lifetime commitment to getting mounds and mounds of dark leafy greens, tubers and seeds in one’s everyday eating. Yes, you guessed it, the future of healthy living can be found (with a few exceptions) in the past. So go till your crops!

*A typical "weed and feed" approach could look something like this:

1. Test: If you can (and it is highly recommended-- both because it provides you with potentially very useful detail, but also by actually "seeing" what's there it can help motivate you to stick with the program-- and also learn alot of cool stuff!) you would test first, an Organic Acids Test "OAT," which is done by urine collection and/or one of the aforementioned stool tests: GI Effects, GI360, GI-MAP. Ideally one would do both. If having to choose only one, the mental calculus goes like this: the OAT test can be more broadly sensitive for picking up patterns (especially with "anaerobic" microbes as well as microbes that tend to dwell higher up in the bowel than stool tests can report on; but the stool test is really cool, and teasing through the printed out report can keep you occupied for months and months. (It also might detect, for example, an H pylori or other occult infections linked to things like arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, ALS and others.)

2. Weed: a gentle but sustained (herbal) antimicrobial program to "prune back" overgrown bacteria and fungi.

3. Feed: nutrients to support the integrity of the gut lining (and even stomach) + a daily eating plan to support all the little critters (as Dr. Gundry likes to call them) living in your large and small intestines.


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