Online seminar recap | Gut Feelings: Expert insight on gastro-intestinal health

Presented by Dr. Linda Lee, Clinical Director of the Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center, Johns Hopkins Medicine

In this seminar, Dr. Linda Lee, Clinical Director of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, presented how evidence-based therapies and personalized medicine can address gastro-intestinal conditions including but not limited to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease.  After her in-depth presentation there was a extended Q&A period.

How precision medicine is being used today

With all the advances in the field, it is important to recognize that therapies are not individualized. How we each respond to disease and treatment can vary. This is where precision medicine comes along. Precision medicine promises the customization of healthcare, with medical decisions, practices or products being tailored to the individual patient. This occurs in the gut health filed most often by sequencing DNA and using genetic technology to predict the best choice of therapy, and the patient’s response to therapy.

Community of bacteria in your colon can be a determinant of your health

Microbiota refers to the different types of bacteria that are present in your colon. Microbiome refers to all the genes in the bacterial DNA. There are twice as many bacterial genes as there are human genes.

Gut bacteria are beneficial to you

The bacteria in our intestines are beneficial to us because they produce substances that protect us from bacteria that adhere or invade our bodies. These good gut bacteria improve the intestinal barrier by producing short-chain fatty acids and have a symbiotic relationships with our cells. They make products that influence the development and normal function of the body’s immune system. We need these bacteria for the proper development of a normal immune system. We have around one kilogram of bacteria living in our gut. Healthy gut communities are populated, diverse and productive.

Unhealthy gut bacterial communities have vacancies and lack of diversity

When our intestines are low on good bacteria, it is possible that not so good bacteria moves in to fill the void. This is called intestinal dysbiosis and it makes us sick. Intestinal dysbiosis has been linked to chronic gastro-intestinal disorders, obesity, psychiatric illnesses and cardiovascular disease to name a few.

There are four main ways to treat an unhealthy gut community

  • Antibiotics: avoid taking unless necessary
  • Probiotics: specific probiotic strains have been shown to improve the symptoms in some disorders. For general health though, there is no evidence that it is beneficial for longevity or cancer prevention.
  • Fecal transplant: (do not try it at home): the only clinical indication is to treat an infection in the colon caused by a harmful organism called clostridium difficile (C-difficile)
  • Diet: ingestion of a high fiber diet may be beneficial to your health. Keep red meat to once a week, Dr. Lee recommends.
Watch the full online seminar below.

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