Nitrogen a key driver for gut health

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Sydney: The number of nitrogen microbes found in an individual’s gut play an important role in determining the type of diet strategy that can yield results, a new research has found. Though there are different ways by which a person can have a good diet, but the same diet does not work in a same way for every individual, according to the study. “There are many different diet strategies that claim to promote gut health, and until now it has been very difficult to establish clear causality between various types of diet and their effect on the host’s microbiome,” said lead author Andrew Holmes, Associate Professor from the University of Sydney in Australia.

“This is because there are many complex factors at play, including food composition, eating pattern and genetic background,” added Holmes.

For the study, researchers put 858 mice on 25 different diets composed of different amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fat. The results showed that there was a “tipping point” across all diets that related to how nutrients from the diet became available to nitrogen in the gut.

Despite the huge diversity of gut bacteria, two main response patterns emerged. Microbe species either increased or decreased in their abundance depending on the animal’s protein and carbohydrate intake.

“The largest nutrient requirements for our gut bacteria are carbon and nitrogen in the foods we eat. As carbohydrates contain no nitrogen but protein does, the bacterial community response to the host animal’s diet is strongly affected by this diets’ protein-carbohydrate ratio,” Holmes said.

The findings showed that the availability of intestinal nitrogen to microbes in the gut plays a key role in regulating interactions between gut microbes and their host animal.

The same pattern was seen across almost all groups of gut bacteria which indicated that the makeup of the microbial ecosystem is fundamentally shaped by a need to access nitrogen in the intestinal environment, according to the study.

The study aims to promote better dietary combinations to achieve maximum gut health and was published in the journal Cell Metabolism. (IANS)The Sentinel
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'Love hormone' has potential to make men more spiritual: Duke varsity researchers

New York: "Love hormone" oxytocin not only brings spark in your relationship but can also make men more spiritual, adopt meditation and connect to the higher self.

According to researchers from Duke University, oxytocin which is known for its role in promoting social bonding, altruism and more may also support spirituality.

In the study, men reported a greater sense of spirituality shortly after taking oxytocin and a week later.

Participants who took oxytocin also experienced more positive emotions during meditation, said lead author Patty Van Cappellen, social psychologist at Duke.

Spirituality and meditation have each been linked to health and well-being in previous research.

"We were interested in understanding biological factors that may enhance those spiritual experiences. Oxytocin appears to be part of the way our bodies support spiritual beliefs," Cappellen explained.

"Spirituality is complex and affected by many factors. However, oxytocin does seem to affect how we perceive the world and what we believe," he added.

Study participants were all male, and the findings apply only to men.

In general, oxytocin operates somewhat differently in men and women and its effects on women's spirituality still needs to be investigated.

Oxytocin occurs naturally in the body. Produced by the hypothalamus, it acts as a hormone and as a neurotransmitter, affecting many regions of the brain.

It is stimulated during sex, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Recent research has highlighted oxytocin's possible role in promoting empathy, trust, social bonding and altruism.

To test how oxytocin might influence spirituality, researchers administered the hormone to one group and a placebo to another.

Those who received oxytocin were more likely to say afterwards that spirituality was important in their lives and that life has meaning and purpose.

This was true after taking into account whether the participant reported belonging to an organised religion or not.

Participants who received oxytocin were also more inclined to view themselves as interconnected with other people and living things, giving higher ratings to statements such as "All life is interconnected" and "There is a higher plane of consciousness or spirituality that binds all people".

Study subjects also participated in a guided meditation.

Those who received oxytocin reported experiencing more positive emotions during meditation, including awe, gratitude, hope, inspiration, interest, love and serenity.

Oxytocin did not affect all participants equally, though.

"Its effect on spirituality was stronger among people with a particular variant of the CD38 gene, a gene that regulates the release of oxytocin from hypothalamic neurons in the brain," Cappellen noted in a paper published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.'Source:
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