Emma Nutrition

Simplifying the science through cooking and education. When I'm not on Mummy duties…


E. coli linked to Colon Cancer


Scientists have discovered a link between high numbers of E. coli bacteria and colon cancer as well as the inflammatory bowel diseases Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Not only are E. coli levels high but they encode a toxin that damages the DNA in the cells of the gut lining. Approximately 66% of people with inflammatory bowel diseases and colon cancer carry E. coli compared to 20% in those who have a healthy colon. This isnt just any old E. coli though. Its E. coli that contains pks genes.

Dr Barry Campbell, co-author of the research at the University of Liverpool, said: “The research suggests that E. Coli has a much wider involvement in the development of colon cancer than previously thought. It is important to build on these findings to understand why this type of bacteria, containing the pks genes, is present in some people and not others.”

What is really fascinating is that these researchers also discovered that processed food actually encourages the movement of E. coli bacteria through cells. If E. coli bacteria moves through cells it will have a more detrimental affect. On the other hand plantain and broccoli prevent the uptake and transport of E. coli bacteria through cells. This is due to their particular soluble plant fibres (leeks and apples didn’t have the same effects). The chemicals in processed food that were researched in this study were polysorbate 60 & 80. 80 being the detrimental one in this case.

Polysorbate 80 is an emulsifier – a chemical that surrounds a substance so that it is stable and can balance inside another substance. It is often used in ice cream to surround and keep the milk proteins separate from the fat globules but allowing them to balance in air, so it’s all one lovely creamy texture (See D in the image to the right). The opposite to how olive oil and balsamic vinegar separate when you combine them (See A in the image to the right).

So if you want to have a healthy colon it appears sensible to reduce your processed food intake and increase your vegetable intake.

Do you find it difficult to reduce your processed food intake? I’ve just started using a spiralizer that I find helps replace processed pasta with vegetables. That’s just one way I manage it. How about you?

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REVIEW: Optibac probiotics

“For a flat stomach!”…….Intriguing huh? Is it possible to take a supplement that will give you a flat stomach? If your non-flat stomach is due to bloating, it certainly is.

I’ve known Jalal from Wren Laboratories for around 6 years now. He runs the family company who make OptiBac products. They are seriously passionate about probiotics and gut health. It’s all they do and they are a reputable ‘go to’ resource for me. I was proud to be asked to give my opinion on their bloating product.

What is it?
A packet containing 7 sachets, one for each day of the week. It’s a one week course or perhaps a little longer dependent on the severity of your symptoms. They’ve now (as of Nov 2013) added larger pack sizes which is fantastic and should last a month or longer.

How much is it?
£8.69 per 7 sachets or £21.99 per 80 capsules

Who should take it?
If you suffer from bloating you would probably benefit from taking a probiotic. Most bloating is caused by dysbiosis, an imbalance of probiotic (good) bacteria and pathogenic (bad) bacteria. The bad outweighs the good or the good outweighs the bad. We are aiming for the latter. If the pathogenic outweighs the probiotic we tend to suffer from bloating, a build up of gas, where the organs of the digestive system stretch. This can be extremely uncomfortable and painful.

What are probiotics?
Most of us have probably heard of Acidophilus but it is only one of many probiotics. Probiotics are actual bacteria, prebiotics are foods that feed the probiotics. Fermented foods and vegetables are very good prebiotics so increasing these in our diets will be beneficial for bloating or digestive upsets.

What is the science?
Lactococcus lactis – lactis helps to prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria and fungi in the small and large intestines

Lactobacillus casei – resisting stomach acids and bile casei supports the small and large intestine to grow bifidobacterium

Lactobacillus acidophilus – adheres to the gut wall, pushing out space for the pathogenic bacteria and increasing immune function. It survives stomach acid and bile.

Bifidobacterium bifidum – this is the large intestine bacteria of choice. It helps immunity by increasing antibodies and supports detoxification by pushing out pathogenic bacteria in the colon

Fructo oligo saccharides (FOS) – FOS is a prebiotic that stimulates the growth of probiotics.

Using a combination of bacteria enables the body to utilise the necessary ones and work synergistically to combat its own needs.

If you have a bloating problem I would highly recommend checking out this product. It would be useful to consult a practitioner to rule out food intolerances, gut wall damage, IBS, abnormal stool, Crohn’s Disease etc. Probiotics are very well researched though and have not been known to cause any damage or ‘overdose’. The body will simply and easily excrete unnecessary bacteria. Where there is damage caused by antibiotics and aspirin intake probiotics can be very helpful if you are trying to heal the gut wall.

I’ve found these useful for my patients who suffer from PMS related bloating, post running bloating as well as IBS related bloating.

Have you ever taken probiotics for anything? Let me know your thoughts!