Intestinal Bacteria do not like Salt!

Salt flavors your food nicely – but at the same time it also provides valuable minerals and plays an important role in regulating the water balance in the human organism. Sodium chloride, a component of salt, is also needed for the nervous system, digestion and bone formation – but you should use it sparingly. It has long been known that an excess of table salt in foosalt-1778597_1920d can cause high blood pressure – but what very few of us know is that the course of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease, can also be negatively influenced by salt.
The normal daily requirement is two to three grams, but this is often exceeded, since most people not only use salt to season their food, they also consume it in many salty processed products.
A team of researchers led by Dominik Müller at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin investigated the effect of high salt consumption on the intestinal flora. The composition of the intestinal flora is becoming more and more important in a wide range of diseases – and is increasingly becoming the focus of research.
The intestinal mucosa is the main habitat of the immune cells, which produce a large army of antibodies, neurotransmitters and defense & scavenger cells to protect the body from foreign substances. Earlier studies have shown that too much table salt in food increases the number of immune cells called “Th17 helper cells”. These cells then produce increased levels of the Interleukin-17 messenger substance, which triggers inflammatory reactions in the blood vessels. Blood pressure increases, and the development of autoimmune diseases can be stimulated as a result.

In the Berlin study, the research team investigated the extent to which the intestinal flora changes due to excessive salt consumption. For two weeks, mice were given 0.3 grams of table salt every day with their food. Examination of the feces samples for the composition of the bacterial species showed that the number of some bacterial species was reduced and that some of them had disappeared completely from the digestive tract – the intestinal bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus, for example, could no longer be detected after 14 days of increased salt intake.

So, to what extent is this result transferable to humans? In a pilot study with twelve healthy men, the researchers tested the composition of bacteria in the digestive tract. The men were given six grams of table salt for 14 days in addition to their normal food. They consumed an average of 12-14 grams of table salt per day. The intestinal bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus also reacted in the test persons – and could not be detected at the end of the test.

Another interesting result of the study was that significantly fewer Th17 helper cells were formed in mice that had been fed a salt-rich diet and probiotic lactobacilli – and their blood pressure also decreased. It is not clear whether lactobacilli, which are mainly found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt and cheese, have an effect like that of the probiotic lactobacilli that were added to the food – particularly since the researchers cannot rule out the possibility that there are other salt-sensitive bacterial species that have an important influence on health.

Further studies are necessary to shed more light on this – and the results of these studies may enable us to counteract autoimmune diseases with an individually-adapted probiotic therapy. This is something to look forward to!

Silvia Bürkle
Metabolic Balance

Rose Hip – more than just Tea!

Everyone knows the rose-hip! As an “itchy powder”, it made life difficult for many kids! In Germany, they even sing about the rose-hip: August Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote a nursery rhyme about it, which goes, “A little man stands in the woods, with a black cap on and clothed in beautiful orange-red, who can it be? Ah, it must be a rose-hip” and so on (very freely translated). However, scirose-hip-2687207_960_720ence today knows better than ever that the rose-hip has much more to offer. The rose-hip is known to be one of the native plants that’s richest in vitamin C – only the acerola cherry or the exotic Camu fruit have a higher content. Our ancestors also appreciated the rose-hip and its ingredients – it was considered to be a medicinal plant for various illnesses in ancient times. It usually has a permanent place in the kitchen too, because its refreshing taste makes it ideal for the preparation of jams and liqueurs, but our best-known form of the fruit is rose-hip tea.

This little reddish fruit, often referred to as wild rose, is usually found in bushes and hedges. The rose-hip variety Rosa Canina was used in the monastic medicine of the Middle Ages, when it was considered useful for treating colds and complaints in the gastrointestinal tract. Its ingredients, such as vitamin C, pro-vitamin A, B vitamins, minerals, trace elements, secondary plant substances and galactolipid, which are all present in significant quantities in the fruit, are at the root of its healing effects.

Clinical studies conducted by the Danish physician and biochemist Dr. med. Kay Winther, have proven the effects that wild rosehip ingredients can have. In their research, the scientists focused on the ingredient galactolipid. Galactolipid is composed of fatty acids and sugars and is an important substance for relieving joint pain. It mitigates inflammatory joint diseases by inhibiting the migration of the white blood corpuscles into the inflamed region, preventing more cartilage tissue damage. Galactolipid is also capable of blocking inflammatory parameters, such as the CRP (C-reactive protein), which promotes inflammation.

As a further positive side effect, the scientists were also able to prove that LDL cholesterol, which is responsible for the formation of deposits in blood vessels, was significantly reduced by the regular intake of rosehip powder.

To obtain enough of the active ingredients, especially galactolipid, the whole rose hip must be carefully processed, i.e. the fruits must be dried at a maximum of 40° C. But rosehip tea or jam alone can’t improve inflammatory symptoms – the whole fruit, with skin and kernel, must be ground up. This is the only way to obtain a high-quality rosehip powder with a high galactolipid content. Picking and eating the rosehip raw straight from the shrub won’t taste too great either, because the rosehip has a very high proportion of tannins. It’s best to mix up the rosehip powder with your muesli and take it in juices, yoghurts or smoothies. The daily recommended intake is between 5 and 10 grams.

Rose-hip powder isn’t the only rose-hip product that has a pronounced positive effect on our health – rose-hip seed oil is also very healthy for us. It’s a popular oil in the cosmetics sector, because it can be easily incorporated into creams, soaps and ointments. The oil of the rose-hip seeds also stimulates the healing process of skin injuries, and it can even provide fast relief for itchy, cracked and brittle skin. Transretionary fruit acid in the oil is responsible for this healing property. It stimulates the skin to regenerate itself and builds up new collagen at the same time.

Silvia Bürkle