Digestive Health Archive


Putting a stop to leaky gut

What can you do about this mysterious ailment?

 Image: © SasinParaksa/Getty Images

Leaky gut has not received the attention it deserves, in large part because it remains a medical mystery.

"Part of the reason is that the gut is such a complex system, and science continues to find new ways that the gut can influence everything from heart health to keeping our brains young," says Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. "There is much we know about leaky gut in terms of how it affects people's health, but there is still so much that is unknown."

Are eating disorders just a teen problem?

Ask the doctors

Q. My sister, who is in her 50s, has always been very weight-conscious, but she recently went through a divorce and now seems unnaturally fixated on her weight and dieting. She's lost a substantial amount of weight. I've always thought of eating disorders as something that affects teenagers, but is it possible that she has one?

A. It is possible that your sister is suffering from an eating disorder, because they can affect people of any age, including older women, according to the American Psychiatric Association. They may be prompted by stress or a life change, such as a divorce. Signs that may indicate that a person has an eating disorder are

Drinking alcohol may increase levels of harmful mouth bacteria

Research we're watching

There's a lot of buzz these days about how gut bacteria affect your health, but those might not be the only body microbes that matter. The population of bacteria in your mouth may also play a role in your risk of various diseases. And researchers recently found that alcohol consumption could influence your oral bacteria.

A study published online April 23 by Microbiome found that people who had one or more alcoholic drinks a day had more harmful bacteria in their mouths than nondrinkers. The researchers found types of bacteria that have been linked to gum disease, cancer, and heart disease.

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