Tag Archives: healthy

16 people died at Ont. nursing home before sick residents were separated from healthy

An Ontario nursing home besieged by COVID-19 didn’t separate healthy from sick residents or staff until after 16 people had died, and two weeks after the home declared a respiratory outbreak, CBC News has learned.

The disease has claimed the lives of more than a third of the residents at Pinecrest, located in Bobcaygeon, Ont., about 150 kilometres northeast of Toronto. A note last month from the home’s administrator said residents had been “isolated into separate areas,” but that didn’t happen until last week.

Efforts to move people to isolated parts of the nursing home were hampered by space constraints, and private rooms only became available after some of the residents with COVID-19 died, a nurse at the home said.

“That’s the reason why we actually have the space now. Because we’ve lost … residents,” said Sarah Gardiner, who has worked at the Pinecrest Nursing Home for 12 years.

“But before, there really was not the space to do that. It would have been an impossibility, I think.”

Changes implemented

The facility houses 65 residents.

CBC News has learned that Pinecrest Nursing Home administrator Mary Carr sent an email on April 3 to staff and to members of residents’ families stating the facility had implemented changes in the previous three days.

Those changes included moving all the residents who were ill to one section of the home to distance them from healthy residents and mitigate any potential spread of the virus.

By April 3, the death toll at the nursing home had risen to 16. As of Monday, 26 residents had died, and so had one volunteer whose husband is a resident.

Pinecrest officials did not respond to questions from CBC News.


Nurses from Pinecrest wave to hundreds of residents driving by the nursing home honking their horns in support last week. (Fred Thornhill/Canadian Press)

Gardiner said she doesn’t believe implementing stronger infection control measures earlier would have made much difference because of the logistical issues of trying to move healthy residents, their beds and their belongings.

“Because of the layout of our home and the way it’s set up, that would have been really difficult to facilitate that many changes when we had that many people living there, because we were full when this started,” Gardiner said.

The deaths of some residents has opened up some private rooms where residents who have no symptoms can now reside.

“Now, unfortunately … there is more space. We have more spaces and more ability to move people around.”

‘Only curtains in between’

Pinecrest has a mix of private, semi-private and ward rooms — four people to a room. Before the new infection control measures were implemented, patients who were healthy could have been sharing a room with patients who were sick “with only curtains in between to provide isolation,” Gardiner said.

“That was an untenable situation.”

By last Thursday, new isolation measures were being put into place at Pinecrest, with the goal of moving all healthy residents to one end and all sick residents to the other, Gardiner said.


The disease has claimed the lives of more than a third of the residents at Pinecrest, located in Bobcaygeon, Ont., about 150 kilometres northeast of Toronto (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Staff who had been ill and recovered and returned to work were all moved to the end with the sick residents. Staff who were healthy and had not been ill were to take care of the healthy residents. And they weren’t to mix, Gardiner said.

A Mar. 20 news release from the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit stated that three residents at Pinecrest had tested positive for COVID-19, and that a respiratory outbreak had been declared at the home two days earlier. 

Carr, the home’s administrator, was quoted in the release saying that residents “have all been isolated into separate areas.”

But in another news release sent almost a week later, the HKPR health unit said that residents “were isolated as best they could in the smaller facility.”

“Pinecrest Nursing Home faces some unique challenges in an outbreak situation. The residents share rooms and there is not a lot of extra room within the facility to isolate or separate residents and staff work assignments,” it said in the news release.

“Larger facilities have more ability to isolate to a wing or separate building; unlike Pinecrest.”

Virus ‘a different beast’

Stephen Oldridge, one of two attending physicians at Pinecrest and the former medical director at the home, said with what is now known about COVID-19, there should have been a greater attempt to separate residents who were asymptomatic with those who were sick.

But, he says, Pinecrest may not have acted sooner because the process of isolating patients in safe wings and safe rooms is not the usual practice and hasn’t been necessary for most diseases. 

“As I say, in hindsight, it’s not the way we’ve had to treat other viruses — that may be part of the problem. This is a different beast we’re dealing with.”

WATCH | Pinecrest Nursing Home doctor Stephen Oldridge spoke with CBC’s Rosemary Barton last week about why COVID-19 has hit the facility so hard:

‘It’s a home — we’re not set up as a hospital,’ says Pinecrest Nursing Home doctor Stephen Oldridge about why COVID-19 has hit so hard and killed so many residents at the seniors facility in southeastern Ontario. 9:27

Ian Hanscomb, whose father Bill is a resident of Pinecrest, said  with a staff so small, it would have been a huge undertaking to move patients around and would have disrupted them.

“I can see this staff not wanting to all of a sudden pick everything up and move them around when they’re really trying to deal with the care of the patients within the facility,” Hanscomb said.

Hanscomb suggested that second-guessing actions taken to combat the pandemic is now a regular part of life.

“This is the whole disease or the virus: Could we? Should we? It’s so new to us all. And I really think the staff was in a very hard position.”

Gardiner said containment would certainly have been easier if all the residents had their own space.

But she doesn’t believe there was any glaring oversight at Pinecrest.

“I think this just caught us all off-guard,” she said.


Ian Handscomb, right, his mother Carol Handscomb, left, and his father Bill Handscomb, a resident at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon. (Submitted by Ian Handscomb )

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From smoking to pizza:  When hockey players were not so healthy

Sports·Video

Players in the NHL are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever, but that wasn’t always the case. Rob Pizzo asked some former players about some unhealthy habits of the past that they witnessed.

Players in the NHL are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever, but that wasn’t always the case. Rob Pizzo asked some former players about some unhealthy habits of the past that they witnessed. 2:05

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Ariel Winter Talks Getting Healthy ‘Mentally and Physically’ (Exclusive)

Ariel Winter Talks Getting Healthy ‘Mentally and Physically’ (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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Are food politics defeating Canada’s healthy eating strategy?


This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of eclectic and under-the-radar health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.


It’s been a tough few months for the Trudeau government’s signature healthy eating strategy — a series of legislative initiatives aimed at improving public health through better food choices.

The first casualty was the law to limit advertising of unhealthy food to kids. It died on the Senate order paper last month after heavy last-minute lobbying from industry.

Now another key part of the strategy appears headed for a cliff. Time is running out for proposed new rules that would require symbols on the front of food packages to alert consumers when a food product is high in salt, sugar or saturated fat.

“It’s a big concern for us that the two key pillars from the healthy eating strategy haven’t been completed,” said Manuel Arango, director of policy advocacy and engagement with Heart and Stroke.

I think the issue is heavy industry lobbying and, as a result, political will.​– Manuel Arango, of Heart and Stroke

His organization is one of the groups in the Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada, which last month sent a letter urging the federal government to finalize the front-of-packaging labelling rules.

What is taking so long?

“I think the issue is heavy industry lobbying and, as a result, political will,” said Arango. “The only thing we can surmise is the breadth and extent of the lobbying from the food and beverage processors has caused this delay.”

Canada’s Food Guide still under fire

At this point, the Canada Food Guide is the only major part of the Trudeau government’s ambitious food policy promises to be implemented. The food guide lacks any legislative force, but it is an influential public policy document for schools, hospitals and other facilities.

Yet it’s clear that it’s still a political flash point. 

This week, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told the Dairy Farmers of Canada — which objected to the Canada Food Guide’s reduced emphasis on dairy products — that if he wins the upcoming election, he would revise the guide.

The prime minister quickly hit back.


Canada’s food policy got political this week as leaders trade barbs over the country’s new food guide. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

It’s evidence that food policy is a deeply political issue in Canada. 

There’s more proof here, in a three-year public database listing more than 300 meetings and correspondence between Health Canada and the various stakeholders jostling for influence as bureaucrats drafted the new laws around the healthy eating strategy.

Mary L’Abbé, a nutrition expert at the University of Toronto, searched that database last month to see who was talking to the government about front-of-label packaging.

“Three-quarters of the comments and meetings that the government had were with food industry members,” L’Abbé said. “So that just says three-quarters of the people that they’re hearing from — who’ve been in and out of ministers’ offices and with senior officials — are with the food industry.”

As a food policy researcher, L’Abbé attended several stakeholder meetings with Health Canada and made a written submission in support of the legislation. 

“I’m still hopeful that it’s not dead,” said L’Abbé. “A huge amount of work went into it, a huge amount of consultation.”

‘It’s in the hands of the politicians’

There’s been no official word from Health Canada on the status of the rules. But one food industry lobbyist said Health Canada officials told her that it’s now up to the politicians.

“I’m in regular contact with them; I did meet with them last month,” said Michi Furuya Chang, senior vice-president of public policy and regulatory affairs for the Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC). 

The FCPC, which represents food processors, is one of the industry groups that has been talking to Health Canada about the food-labelling legislation.

“What they said to me the last time is, ‘It’s out of our hands. The package is complete,'” said Furuya Chang. “They’re also in waiting mode. It’s really in the hands of the politicians and Treasury Board to sign off on publication.”


Nutrition policy expert Mary L’Abbé is concerned about the fate of new rules that would require symbols on the front of food packages to warn consumers about high levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat. (CBC)

There’s a risk that the whole process might have to start from scratch if the government doesn’t act soon.

Furuya Chang said that, according to government rules, the final regulations need to be published within 18 months of the first regulations. Those were published on Feb 10, 2018.

“Our understanding is that if Health Canada does not publish these final regulations by mid-August, so next month, Health Canada would be required to restart the entire consultation process,” said Furuya Chang.

A Health Canada spokesperson told CBC News in an email that the agency is still “considering all feedback and evidence” after “extensive consultations over the past several years.”

Front-of-package labels common around the world

For the last 30 years, many countries have passed front-of-package labelling rules using symbols, such as traffic lights or stop signs, to encourage consumers to purchase healthier food.

In Canada, processed food packages currently have a nutrition facts table on the back. But L’Abbé said some consumers are confused by that system. 

“It’s adding up that all of the symbols work better than the nutrition facts table for helping consumers understand the information and use it,” she said. “They actually purchase healthier foods.”

Health Canada released some prototypes of the labels in 2018, though the final design has not yet been released.


Health Canada previously released four proposed designs for a new front-of-package label for food and beverage packaging. The final designs have not yet been published. (Health Canada/CBC)

The label is one aspect that the FCPC lobbied to change, Furuya Chang said.

“The size of what they had proposed and the placement of it would have completely interrupted the branding of the product,” she said. “So some flexibility was the underlying message and theme throughout our feedback submissions.”

“We know that both of these measures — the front-of-pack labelling and the marketing to kids — are huge measures with a lot of teeth that would have a huge impact in terms of improving the health of kids over the long term and, in fact, helping all Canadians,” said Arango.

“Of course, it’s disappointing after all that effort that two of these big measures have not been done.”

Canada’s ban on trans fat, which took almost 15 years and three prime ministers to finally pass, was also included in the current government’s healthy eating strategy.


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Ben Affleck Making Sure He’s ‘Healthy’ Before Dating Again as Jennifer Garner Spends More Time With Boyfriend

Ben Affleck Making Sure He’s ‘Healthy’ Before Dating Again as Jennifer Garner Spends More Time With Boyfriend | Entertainment Tonight

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'People need access to healthy meals:' Inequality among Indigenous peoples may explain psychological distress

Improving the quality and availability of food could help reduce mental health issues among Indigenous populations in Canada, say researchers who analyzed survey responses from 14,000 Indigenous adults.

Suicide is a major cause of death among First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. Collectively, suicide rates among Indigenous peoples are two to three times higher than among non-Indigenous Canadians, according to previous responses.

Now, researchers have looked at how income-related inequalities relate to psychological distress and suicidal behaviours among Indigenous peoples living off-reserve in Canada.

The survey responses were originally filed with Statistics Canada in 2012, but the numbers had never been crunched this way until they were analyzed and published in Monday's issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

For the study, researchers looked at which financial factors affect psychological distress, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among Indigenous peoples living off-reserve.

Food insecurity — the uncertainty over having a regular, affordable source of nutritious food — seemed to be a major factor explaining the higher rates of mental health problems among low-income Indigenous peoples.

It's hoped the finding will help shape government policy, said Mohammad Hajizadeh, one of the authors of the study. He's with the School of Health Administration at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

"Let's say if you hypothetically cannot have a policy that affects income, but at least you have to have a policy that tries to address the food insecurity itself," Hajizadeh said.

The study's authors said a complex combination of biological, social and cultural factors contribute to mental health problems. Of these, food insecurity is considered a major contributor, with 28 per cent of off-reserve Indigenous households reporting some form of it in the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey.

"Based on our results, addressing food insecurity among low-income Indigenous peoples living off-reserve may potentially reduce a substantial proportion of the observed income-related inequalities in mental health outcomes," the study's authors wrote.

The idea of food insecurity being linked with psychological distress and mental health conditions makes a lot of sense, said Dr. Lisa Richardson, a strategic advisor in Indigenous health in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto and an Indigenous physician.

"In this era of reconciliation, what are specific, concrete measures that one can take? This paper has given us an opportunity to do it, because we need to address food security. People need access to healthy meals," Richardson said.

The data could draw more attention to the problem of food insecurity in Indigenous communities, she said. 

"What was really powerful for me was to show that specific, explicit link."

Richardson said in her work, she hears that modern scientific methodology doesn't necessarily capture the resilience and protective buffer from Indigenous culture, language and community connections. But those don't matter if someone is hungry, she added. 

The survey findings represent 600,750 Indigenous adults living off-reserve in Canada, the researchers said.

One of the limitations of the research was the survey doesn't collect information from individuals living in institutions such as prisons and hospitals, shelters and groups, where a disproportionate number of Indigenous people reside, the study's authors acknowledged.

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Healthy baby born to woman following uterus transplant from deceased donor

Brazilian doctors are reporting the world's first baby born to a woman who received a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor.

The case, published in The Lancet medical journal, involved connecting veins from the donor uterus with the recipient's veins, as well as linking arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals.

Eleven previous births have used a transplanted womb but from a living donor, usually a relative or friend.

Experts say using uteruses from women who have died could make more transplants possible. Ten previous attempts using deceased donors in the Czech Republic, Turkey and the U.S. have failed.

Baby almost a year old

The baby girl was delivered last December by a woman born without a uterus because of a rare syndrome. The woman — a 32-year-old psychologist — was initially apprehensive about the transplant, said Dr. Dani Ejzenberg, the transplant team's lead doctor at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine.

"This was the most important thing in her life," he said. "Now she comes in to show us the baby and she is so happy."

Doctors perform the womb transplant procedure at the hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil Dec. 15, 2017 in this picture handout obtained today. ( Hospital das Clinicas da FMUSP/via Reuters)

The woman became pregnant through in vitro fertilization seven months after the transplant. The donor was a 45-year-old woman who had three children and died of a stroke.

More transplants planned

The recipient, who was not identified, gave birth at 35 weeks and three days by cesarean section. The baby weighed nearly six pounds. Doctors also removed the womb, partly so the woman would no longer have to take anti-rejection medicines. Nearly a year later, mother and baby are both healthy.

Two more transplants are planned as part of the Brazilian study. 

Uterus transplantation was pioneered by Swedish doctor Mats Brannstrom, who has delivered eight children from women who got wombs from family members or friends. Two babies have been born at Baylor University Medical Center in Texas and one in Serbia, also from transplants from living donors.

Swedish doctor Mats Brannstrom pioneered uterus transplantation. (Adam Ihse/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2016, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio transplanted a uterus from a deceased donor, but it failed after an infection developed.

"The Brazilian group has proven that using deceased donors is a viable option," said the clinic's Dr. Tommaso Falcone, who was involved in the Ohio case. "It may give us a bigger supply of organs than we thought were possible."

The Cleveland program is continuing to use deceased donors. Falcone said the fact that the transplant was successful after the uterus was preserved in ice for nearly eight hours demonstrated how resilient the uterus is. Doctors try to keep the time an organ is without blood flow to a minimum.

The mysteries of pregnancy

Other experts said the knowledge gained from such procedures might also solve some lingering mysteries about pregnancies.

"There are still lots of things we don't understand about pregnancies, like how embryos implant," said Cesar Diaz, who co-authored an accompanying commentary in the journal. "These transplants will help us understand implantation and every stage of pregnancy."

Experts estimate that infertility affects around 10 to 15 per cent of couples of reproductive age worldwide. Of this group, around one in 500 women have uterine problems.

Before uterus transplants became possible, the only options to have a child were adoption or surrogacy.

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Shia LaBeouf Looks Healthy and Happy in Rare Appearance at Charity Event

Shia LaBeouf looked happy and healthy on Saturday during a rare appearance star-studded charity gala.

The American Honey actor turned out for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s 10th Anniversary Be Beautiful Be Yourself (BBBY) fashion show at Sheraton Hotel in Denver, Colorado, where he enjoyed the organization’s big night with a slew other stars.

The 32-year-old actor looked dapper — in a traditional black suit with a white button-down dress shirt and black tie — as he stood on-stage during the fashion show, cheering on Zack Gottsagen, an actor and friend of LaBeouf’s who has Down Syndrome.


Tom Cooper/Getty Images

LaBeouf — who stars with Gottsagen in the upcoming indie adventure dramedy The Peanut Butter Falcon — was joined by their co-star, Dakota Johnson.


Tom Cooper/Getty Images

LaBeouf was all smiles as he posed on the red carpet with Colin Farrell who, along with Gottsagen, was honored at the ceremony with the Quincy Jones Advocacy Award.

The trio shared the spotlight with DeOndra Dixon, a Global Down Syndrome Foundation ambassador, self-advocate and sister of Jamie Foxx, who was one of the night’s organizers and contributors.


Tom Cooper/Getty Images

LaBeouf seems to have come a long way since late last year, when he was sentenced to 12 months probation and court ordered rehab and anger management counseling following his arrest on charges of public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and obstruction in Savannah, Georgia.

The actor broke his silence in March, sitting down for an in-depth profile for Esquire magazine that examined his legal troubles and childhood traumas. Check out the video below to hear more about what the actor had to say post-rehab.

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Healthy seniors taking baby Aspirin may be doing more harm than good

In healthy elderly people who never had a heart attack, the widespread practice of taking a baby Aspirin every day may do more harm than good, according to a U.S.-Australian study of more than 19,000 volunteers.

The trial has "provided convincing evidence that Aspirin is ineffective in preserving good health in elderly people without a medical [reason] to be using it," chief author Dr. John J. McNeil of Monash University in Melbourne told Reuters Health in an email.

The results – which show that risks of major bleeding in low-dose Aspirin users overwhelm any heart benefits – were reported online in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented Sunday at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Paris.

The findings may upend a common practice.

The study 'could not identify any subgroup in whom aspirin was beneficial in preserving good health.' (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

For people trying to prevent a second heart attack or stroke, evidence in support of baby Aspirin therapy remains strong. But the new study, known as ASPREE, looked at the long-standing question of whether a first heart attack, stroke, or case of heart failure could be prevented with small amounts of the blood thinner in Aspirin.

Until now, the balance between risks and benefits in older individuals was unclear, said McNeil.

Most volunteers had to be at least 70 years old. Patients who were black or Hispanic and living in the U.S. – two groups that face a higher risk of heart disease or dementia – could be age 65 or older. At the start of the study, all were expected to survive for at least five years.

'Should set the record straight'

After about five years of treatment, the rate of heart disease was not significantly lower in the 9,525 volunteers taking 100 mg of Aspirin daily than in the 9,589 who took placebo tablets.

But the odds of a major bleeding episode were 38 per cent higher with aspirin. Problems like stroke and intestinal bleeding occurred in 8.6 per cent of Aspirin patients versus 6.2 per cent of placebo patients.

"This should set the record straight," said Dr. Vincent Bufalino of the Advocate Heart Institute in Chicago, who was not involved in the study. "There's a lot of folks on both sides of this but this study should end the question. There is no benefit for seniors who do not have vascular disease."

"I've spent the last five, six years trying to get all my seniors to stop taking Aspirin" based on the clear risks and unproven benefit, he told Reuters Health by phone. "If you look at the new findings, at best it's neutral and at worst it increases the bleeding risk."

And what about people with high blood pressure or high cholesterol who might be taking other medicines to mitigate a higher risk of heart attack or stroke? In the new study, most volunteers fell into that category and Aspirin didn't seem to help them.

"Essentially, we could not identify any subgroup in whom Aspirin was beneficial in preserving good health," Dr. McNeil said.

The ASPREE study was stopped early as it became clear that the "wonder drug" wasn't working wonders.

While there were 21.5 cases of death, dementia or disability per 1,000 patients each year in the Aspirin group, the rate was 21.2 with placebo. The difference wasn't statistically significant, meaning it could have been due to chance.

But the rate of major bleeding with daily Aspirin use was 3.8 per cent, versus 2.8 per cent with placebo.

When the McNeil team looked at death from any cause, Aspirin still made no difference statistically, with a rate of 12.7 per 1,000 patients each year with Aspirin and 11.1 with placebo.

Extra cases of cancer were the chief reason for the higher death rate, with 3.1 per cent of Aspirin users dying of cancer versus 2.3 per cent in the control group.

The higher pace of cancer deaths became apparent 3½ years after the study began, particularly death from stomach and intestinal tumours.

The cancer finding surprised researchers because in other studies, Aspirin protected against death from cancer.

Thus, the McNeil team said, the cancer results "should be interpreted with caution."

The study was coordinated at 34 sites in the U.S. and 16 in Australia.

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Probiotics might not help your gut microbiome and could prevent return to healthy state, studies say

Is there much benefit in the average person taking over-the-counter probiotics? Research released this week says no — and suggests that in some cases, it could even cause harm.

Our guts are home to colonies of bacteria, collectively known as a microbiome, that aid digestion and help keep us healthy. Probiotics are "good bacteria" taken in food or supplement form, that are thought to contribute to this gut microbiome.

But while over-the-counter probiotics are popularly viewed as enhancing health or helping protect against certain ailments, scientific evidence really only points to probiotics being effective for a few specific conditions.

Two studies published Thursday in the journal Cell looked at how well over-the-counter probiotics populated a healthy gut, and how well they helped a person's gut recover after antibiotics.

The first study took two small groups of people, surveyed their gut bacteria with upper endoscopies and colonoscopies, and gave them either commercial probiotics or a placebo.

Eran Elinav, who was an author on both studies, said the researchers were surprised to see the participants who took the probiotics could be divided into two groups.

In one group, which the researchers named "resisters," the bacteria simply moved from one end to the other without ever attaching to the gut.

Fundamentally what is indisputable is having a balanced diet rich in vegetables, which helps to foster a healthy microbiome. It's the cornerstone on which a healthy gut is built.– Dr. Daniel Worthley

"They were not doing anything to the human host. They were just failing to colonize," Elinav said.

The other group did see some changes to their microbiome, so the researchers called them persisters. And the researchers found they could predict whether someone would be a resister or a persister by looking at the measurements taken before the probiotics were given.

The second study looked at the role of probiotics in helping people return to a normal gut microbiome after taking antibiotics.

"It's very widely practised throughout the world, taking probiotics with antibiotics with the thought that they would protect against pathogenic infection after taking antibiotics," Elinav explained.


Probiotics are popular for aiding gut health, but there's really only evidence they benefit people in a small set of specific conditions. 

Three groups of people were given antibiotics. Then one group was given commercial probiotics, another was given transplants of their own gut bacteria from before the antibiotics were taken, and the third group was given no further treatment.

'Worse than not doing anything' after antibiotics

Compared to the first study, the commercial probiotics were much better at colonizing the gut after people had taken antibiotics. But Elinav and his team also found that the probiotics were now preventing the original microbiome from returning to its original, healthy state.

"This was worse than not doing anything. It was significantly bad, and persistent," he said.

In contrast, the people who were given back samples of their own gut bacteria returned to a normal microbiome within days.

"This tells us than rather than relying on the one-size-fits-all approach we need to move to a new paradigm: well-adjusted personal microbiome or signature combinations, tailored to the individual," Elinav said.

"I'm curious to see how the people coming from the probiotic industry will react …but if you look at the data, you have an opportunity to make it better for the consumers."

An extra, unexpected discovery of the research was that stool samples — which are usually used in this type of research — were a very poor indicator of what was actually going on inside the gut.

How doctors will put this to use

Adelaide gastroenterologist Daniel Worthley said the Cell studies showed exciting results, but how they could be incorporated into clinical practice was still unclear.

"What was interesting was that probiotic use seems to delay one's normal flora returning," Worthley said.

"The clinical relevance of that is unclear but it might suggest that maybe probiotics aren't ultimately beneficial."

He said probiotics did have their place for certain people with specific conditions, but there was scant evidence most people would benefit from them — saying "vague descriptions of the health benefits" from manufacturers were concerning.

"I think the use of the word 'may' on a lot of the packaging may confuse consumers. They probably associate greater health benefit than has been proven for probiotics.

"As a doctor you have to not only 'do no harm', but you also have to do benefit."

The best way of supporting a healthy gut microbiome, Worthley stressed, was with a good diet.

"Fundamentally what is indisputable is having a balanced diet rich in vegetables, which helps to foster a healthy microbiome. It's the cornerstone on which a healthy gut is built."

The findings came as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced new draft guidance for industry on labelling of live microbial ingredients in probiotics and other dietary supplements. The regulator said the guidance represents its current thinking on declaring the amount of microbes "in colony forming units."

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