MADRID, Spain — Healthy lifestyle habits are the most powerful weapon we have to protect ourselves against the damage to our microbiota that is increasingly common in our society. Metagenomic analysis and the use of probiotics complement treatment strategies for more and more diseases.
The Endocrinology and Nephrology Departments of the Jiménez Díaz Foundation Hospital in Madrid sponsored a conference entitled “The Microbiota in Modern Medicine” to share current knowledge and study changes in the microorganisms residing in our body , as well as to study some of the many common diseases. in which these microorganisms are involved. From scientific evidence to clinical practice, the event featured over 15 presentations and over 250 healthcare professionals attended.
When we use the term “microbiota”, we refer to the population of microorganisms that inhabit the human body, particularly the gastrointestinal tract, but also other places such as the skin, mouth and respiratory tract. The term includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, and a range of microorganisms that can play important roles in digestion, immunity, and different bodily functions.
“Advances in our understanding of the important role the microbiota plays in health and disease are extremely exciting, and there is an overwhelming amount of experimental scientific evidence. However, there is still a huge gap between our understanding and its translation into practice,” said Clotilde. Vázquez, MD, PhD, Head of Endocrinology and Nutrition at the Jiménez Díaz Foundation.
Protect our health
The first part of the conference focused on our understanding of the microbiota in a healthy individual: where it is located, how it is studied and measured, and how the products of the microbiota manipulate the host. The conclusion was that a healthy microbiota is our best ally against disease.
Vazquez adds Medscapethe spanish edition, “The metagenomic analysis we use at the foundation involves isolating the DNA of microorganisms that colonize, in this case, the small intestine, sequencing specific marker genes, and then performing taxonomic and functional analysis on the data with the support of bioinformatics This gives us a very clear picture of which families and strains of known positive or negative function are present in the small intestine, including their relative abundance, and which ones are missing or present in excessive amounts.
“From there, we can confirm that an excess of proteolytic bacteria impacts our health and generally reduces the number of species present or causes a deficit in beneficial intestinal bacteria. Once the situation is understood, a corrective strategy is proposed to cure gut microbiota and correct symptoms,” she explained.
The organizers of the event pointed out that several groups of the Jiménez Díaz Foundation are researching a healthy microbiota and how it changes during illness. Their objective is to understand its importance and above all how to manage it. “We incorporated metagenomic analysis and the use of specific probiotics in certain diseases in our hospital,” Vázquez said.
Dysbiosis in obesity
Vázquez added: “Regarding what we currently know about the microbiota and obesity, for many years a relationship has been observed between changes in two large families (Firmicutes And Bacteroidetes) and a reduction of a very important bacterium of the intestinal symbiont group, such as Akkermansia muciniphila And Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. There are now several studies whose results, although contradictory, are overall promising. However, nothing has been proven yet.
“Comprehensive changes in the microbiota (dysbiosis) are common in obesity and are caused by poor diet, medications or a pro-inflammatory lifestyle. This is why we need to focus on improving these aspects under and, if there are severe symptoms of dysbiosis, a metagenomic study should be performed and it should be treated accordingly,” she added.
Vázquez also commented on recent studies implicating the microbiota in other endocrine diseases. “There are many studies that link type 1 and type 2 diabetes to a different microbiota than the general population, and fewer studies in the case of the thyroid. But establishing a causal relationship has not yet been possible.
“The crucial message for the general population can be summed up as follows: we must keep our millions of micro-organisms in balance to maintain our health. We can achieve this by taking care of the environment (the most beneficial bacteria are the bacteria environment); adhering to a Mediterranean diet rich in legumes, fruits, and vegetables; avoiding processed foods; and living a lifestyle of adequate rest and physical activity as much as possible, with aerobic and strength activities “Vázquez said.
Mediterranean diet and prebiotics
The second group of presentations looked at potential methods of controlling dysbiosis. They emphasized diet, particularly the Mediterranean diet, and the use of prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics and postbiotics. Prebiotics are indigestible components of our diet that have a beneficial impact on the host, selectively promoting the growth and activity of one or a limited number of species of bacteria inhabiting the colon, thus improving the health of the host. Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when taken in appropriate amounts, confer health benefits. Symbiotics are mixtures of probiotics and prebiotics that improve the survival and implantation of food supplements composed of live microbes in the digestive system of the host. Postbiotics are food-grade bioactive compounds produced by microorganisms during the fermentation process, including microbial cells, cellular components, and metabolites.
The last series of presentations examined the main diseases related to the microbiota from the point of view of different specialties and included the participation of several experts who study these imbalances in various diseases.
Growing importance of probiotics
Presentations reviewed recent studies that have made notable contributions to our understanding of the relationship between dysbiosis and disease. Emilio González Parra, MD, PhD, Associate Department Head of Nephrology at the Jiménez Díaz Foundation and co-organizer of the conference, said, “The results with probiotics are difficult to analyze, but the experiences of each group in areas of specific knowledge are very promising, as evidenced by the presentations that have been made.”
Regarding the main benefits of probiotics, González said Medscape“Their benefits are confirmed but produce different results in many diseases, especially in gastrointestinal diseases. The problem is that the results are contradictory. Indeed, different types of strains are used for the same disease, and using an effective product for each condition is the key to a good result, but in daily practice the results in some patients are often spectacular when the right strain is chosen, however this is not a common treatment in hospital , except during prolonged hospitalizations. It is a therapy that must be used for a long period (more than a month) to provide adequate treatment.”
Reduce uremic toxins
González spoke about the kidney and urological diseases that could benefit from these treatments in the light of current knowledge. “In nephrology, my field of research, many promising results have been observed. For several reasons, the intestinal flora of patients with renal insufficiency is greatly altered, and the pathological products that this abnormal flora produces accumulate, because the patient does not a pas Thus, the use of probiotics to modify the flora has shown a marked reduction in toxic products (uremic toxins) and their harmful effects, in particular at the level of the kidneys and the heart.
“We have achieved our goal of taking the first step towards sharing multidisciplinary scientific knowledge in this new and vital field, in which we have acquired some experience”, he concluded.
This article was translated from the Spanish edition of Medscape.