Sunday, April 24, 2022

Gut and Brain Conversations

 Your gut and your brain are in constant communication. This is not really surprising, as essentially everything in your body is connected, as I've noted before. But some connections are stronger than others.

Your gut contains zillions (really scientific term) of bacteria, which are not only helping you to digest what you eat but are also releasing what to them are waste products but may be active compounds that will get into your circulation and affect your physiology.

In other words, you should be kind to your gut bacteria as much as you can because if you are, they will help you. This means if you have killer bacteria in your gut, it makes sense to take an antibiotic that will kill these bacteria. Then it makes sense to repopulate your gut with good bacteria, for example, by eating foods like yogurt that contain a lot of microorganisms.

But it doesn't make sense to take antibiotics when you don't need them, for example for a viral infection that isn't affected by antibiotics.

This recent research shows that your gut bacteria can affect your appetite, which is very relevant to type 2 diabetes. If you have a ravenous appetite it's difficult to limit what you eat, and limiting what you eat along with getting exercise is the best way to control type 2 diabetes. 

Not everyone can do this if the disease has progressed with time either before or after you were diagnosed, and then drugs, including insulin, may be necessary. But it doesn't hurt to try.

I used to have a huge appetite. Someone once remarked that they'd never seen anyone so small eat so much. But with time, I don't know if mostly because of increased age or habit, my appetite has decreased so I now find the portions you get in restaurants to be too large. As I can't stand to waste food (some ancestors were Scottish) I now, when I go out, carry my own doggy bag, a plastic thing with dividers that fits inside a purselike bag. I can put the extra food in that and avoid juggling those big Styrofoam containers restaurants usually give you with leftovers. And walking down the street, I don't let everyone know that I'm carrying food. 

Dogs aren't fooled, however.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Short- and Long-Term Effects

Sometimes the short-term (acute) effects of some stimulus are different from the long-term (chronic) effects. One well-known example of this is the effect of free fatty acids on insulin release. In the short term, they stimulate insulin release, but in the long term they inhibit it.

Now it has been found that the effects of prednisone depend on how often you take it.  Daily prednisone promotes obesity, but weekly prednisone promotes increased lean body mass. The researchers also found that the weekly prednisone caused an increase in adiponectin, a hormone that protects against insulin resistance.

And another study shows that ceramide, a lipid, reduces stress in cells in the short term, but in long-term metabolic diseases like diabetes, the ceramide may kill the cells. 

What this means is that when you read about some study, notice how long the study lasted. If a new drug reduces blood glucose levels after a week or a month, will that effect last 6 months or a year or even longer? The same holds for some nondrug treatment.

The body is constantly adapting to its environment, including drugs as well as diet and exercise patterns and stress. Research papers don't always control for that, and such control would sometimes be difficult. For instance, researchers can't really measure how much stress the subjects have had during the course of the study, or if the subjects have started getting groceries from a different place, maybe a farmers market instead of a grocery store or vice versa as the seasons change.

But it's good to be aware of the possible effects of time.