Those Probiotics May Actually Be Hurting Your ‘Gut Health’

A very readable article in the Wall Street Journal: Those Probiotics May Actually Be Your ‘Gut Health’ –may be behind a paywall. (Thanks to Ben Enav for sharing)

This study makes the following key points:

  • “In a landmark paper by my colleague Dr. Jennifer Wargo at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center that was published in Science last year, melanoma patients with the healthiest gut microbiomes—that is, the greatest diversity of microorganisms—showed enhanced systemic and antitumor immunity as well as significantly increased odds of responding to immunotherapy.”
  • “The preliminary results [from an MD Anderson Study] showed that patients who reported taking an over-the-counter probiotic supplement had a lower probability of responding to immunotherapy as well as lower microbiome biodiversity. But those eating a high-fiber diet were about five times more likely to respond to immunotherapy and had high gut bacteria diversity, including bacteria previously linked to a strong immunotherapy response.”
  • “The cheapest and safest way to improve our microbiome and gut health is to make simple dietary changes to feed the development of good bacteria and crowd out the bad. There is no pill, special food, unique diet or quick fix for what ails our health and diet. The key is simply to focus on eating a diverse, whole-food, plant-centered, high-fiber diet.”

More information on studies alluded to above:

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Georgia AAP Nutrition Symposium 2019: Food Allergy Immunotherapy

This year’s Georgia AAP Nutrition Symposium featured lectures targeting the NICU graduates (yesterday) and children with allergies. My notes from these lectures could contain errors of omission or transcription.

Luqman Seidu — Food Allergy Immunotherapy: it’ll drive you nutty

Key Points:

  • Currently, it is hard to quantitate food-related mortality/anaphylaxis. It is much more common to have anaphylaxis due to medications.
  • Immunotherapy –can establish tolerance but needs to be considered in terms of efficacy, safety, ease of compliance.   Goal is sustained unresponsiveness so that there is an end in sight to treatment.
  • Multiple modalities, SLIT (sublingual and then swallowed), OIT (oral), EPIT (Epicutaneous therapy), OIT with anti-IgE therapy
  • 1 peanut =250-300 mg (important number to keep in mind, as many studies aim for ~1000 mg, which is ability to ingest ~3 peanuts).
  • EPIT -peanut patch.  1-yr study –goal was 1000 mg or 10-fold increase in tolerance without reaction.  97% compliance with study. Safer approach and better adherence but takes longer to get response.  Lower response at 1 yr –takes ~2 yr to get similar response
  • OIT therapy allows more rapid attainment of tolerance but lower compliance and higher rates of systemic reactions compared to EPIT.  A standardized product will be available soon; an FDA advisory committee has approved a peanut product (Palforzia). (NPR has reported on this as well: Peanut Allergy Treatment Palforzia)
  • Anti-IgE therapy (eg. Xolair).  Can use to desensitize for multiple foods at the same time.

Though not discussed in this talk, it is important for GI physicians to recognize that oral immunotherapy has been shown to trigger new onset EoE in 2.7% (AJ Lucendo et al. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2014; 113: 624-9).

Related blog posts:


Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) and changes in diet should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.