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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Nutrition Bytes

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Probiotics, beneficial bacteria, and inflammatory bowel disease – What do we actually know?

Despite the common use of probiotics in bowel disorders, little is known about the mechanisms by which probiotics produce a beneficial effect. The clear identification of antigens and the immune cells that they interact with still remain to be discovered. The recent discovery of the anti-inflammatory effects of Bacteriodes fragilis has revealed a new concept of polysaccharide antigen presentation on antigen presenting cells. It has been found that polysaccharide A (PSA), produced by B. fragilis, interacts with antigen presenting cells and T-cells to modulate a potent anti-inflammatory response. The aim of this paper is to briefly summarize the mechanisms by which a specific probiotic organism, Lactobacilus rhamnosus GG, and the bacterium B. fragilis exert their beneficial effects while elucidating areas that need more study.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation – a Potential Treatment for Autism?

Autism is a complex disorder with both genetic and environmental components. It is characterized by three distinctive behaviors: inappropriate or inadequate social interactions, impaired language and communication, and repetitive patterns of restricted activities and interests. The causes and cures of autism still remain a mystery at the present time. In recent years, increasing evidence has emerged indicating a possible association between omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies and the development of autism. Several clinical studies looked into omega-3 fatty acid supplementation as a potential treatment for autism. Their results indicated a beneficial role of omega-3 supplementation in reducing the autistic behaviors in children but not in adults. However, these findings were not yet strong enough to support a definitive recommendation regarding this practice. Therefore, more clinical studies are needed to further investigate the role of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation as a treatment for autism.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Parkinson’s Away

Current knowledge on the mechanism of Parkinson’s disease (PD) has led to the development of extensive pharmacological and surgical interventions; nevertheless PD remains idiopathic and progressive. A series of recent studies suggests that low plasma level of uric acid is a risk factor for both the incidence and progression of the disease. A diet high in fructose has been correlated with the development of protective high uric acid plasma levels. While dietary intervention may be warranted to halt PD progression, the benefits will have to be weighed against the risks of high uric acids levels, which include gout and cardiovascular disease.

What is the Lipid Raising Cost of Ketogenic Diets in Epileptic Children?

The use of a ketogenic diet to treat epilepsy is commonly used to treat intractable pediatric epilepsy. Several studies have assessed the efficacy of treating epilepsy in pediatric patients through a ketogenic diet and shown it effective in reducing seizures. Less attention has been given to the effects of the ketogenic diet on lipid levels in children. The purpose of this review is to compile evidence relating to increased lipid levels to make physicians aware of those risks when treating epilepsy with a ketogenic diet.