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Duke University Study Finds Helminths are Beneficial to the Gut Biome Promoting More Good Bacteria and Less Bad

MicrobiomeFrom our sponsor Safeminds:

Durham, NC — The idea that loss of species diversity from the ecosystem of the human body is leading to inflammation and disease is gaining widespread acceptance. This loss of diversity, known as “biome depletion, is caused by a variety of factors in modern society and has an effect on every aspect of our body’s development and function, including our brain’s development and function. Most attention among scientists and the media alike has focused on the microbiome, the microorganisms or germs in our biome. However, a substantial body of experimental evidence points toward the presence or absence of larger organisms, helminths or worms, as having a generally more global effect on the body’s function, including alteration in the microbiome.

In a recent study funded in part by SafeMinds and published in the journal Gut Microbes , a team of investigators at Duke University asked what effect the addition of worms to a rat’s biome would have on the rat’s gut bacteria. Would the helminths affect the gut microbiome or would the microorganisms remain blissfully ignorant of the worm’s presence?

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Benedetta

So, is pica an attempt to to regain something "bigger" back into the microbiome?

So much is still so much unknowns though.

Benedetta

So this is what they found:

Colonization of the rats used in this study with Hymenolepis diminuta causes a substantial shift in the microbial community, primarily characterized by changes in the relative contributions from species within the Firmicutes phylum. Specifically, colonization with the helminth is associated with increased Clostridia and decreased Bacilli. The contribution of Bacilli to the microbiome is higher with a Western diet characterized by processed sugars and high fat content,17 whereas some species of Clostridia are known to tighten the epithelial barrier and decrease propensity for allergy

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