Researchers at the University of Chicago say the gut flora of an allergy sufferer is significantly different from that of a non-allergic person, suggesting that differences in the composition of the bacterial community in the gut influence the development of allergies. In a test of infants with cow’s milk allergy, those given the probiotic showed no biomarkers of the allergy in their stool samples compared with those not taking the probiotic.
Food allergies have increased by 20 per cent in the developed countries over the past decade. The increase has mainly been the result of overuse of antibiotics, a high-fat/low-fibre diet and low exposure to infectious diseases, as well as formula feeding, say the researchers (ISME J., 2015).
The benefits of vitamin C seem to be endless. It appears that taking the supplement every day can reduce your risk of heart disease if you are overweight and could be as beneficial as exercise.
However, to get the real benefits, you need to be taking an amount that is more than 10 times greater than the recommended daily allowance. Health officials tell us we only need to be taking 40mg/day of the vitamin. However, researchers estimate that overweight people require at least 500mg/day to even begin to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
The researchers at the University of Colorado measured levels of endothelin (ET)-1 protein in the blood of 20 overweight volunteers and matched their progress against a group of 15 volunteers who carried out regular aerobic exercise instead.
Levels of ET-1 are an indicator of likely constriction or narrowing of small blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease and heart attack. While exercise has been shown to lower ET-1 levels, it is often difficult to get the overweight to exercise regularly.
In this study, the researchers discovered that the vitamin supplement was as successful as exercise at lowering levels of ET-1.
Elderly people who are housebound should be taking vitamin D supplements to compensate for lack of sunshine. The vitamin plays a key role in maintaining muscle strength and so could help reduce the risk of falls, researchers believe.
Although doctors are advised to prescribe cholesterol-lowering statins to anyone they believe has at least a 10 per cent chance of suffering a stroke during the next 10 years, they would probably be better off advising them to follow the Mediterranean diet (rich in extra virgin olive oil). This is the advice of a leading heart specialist.
The diet, coupled with exercise and not smoking, could be as effective as taking statins and without the side effects, says Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist at the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust.