Immigrating to US Can Drastically Change Your Gut Microbiome, Says Study
When immigrants arrive in the United States, their gut microbiomes start to change. The native strains of bacteria that they bring from other continents are replaced by those found more commonly in Westernised bodies and the overall diversity is lost. This fascinating discovery was made by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Somali, Latino and Hmong Partnership for Health and Wellness. It was published in the scientific journal Cell
 
According to the study, moving to the US can seriously mess with immigrants’ microbiomes. “We found that immigrants begin losing their native microbes almost immediately after arriving in the U.S. and then acquire alien microbes that are more common in European-American people,” says lead author Dr Dan Knights, a computer scientist and quantitative biologist at the University of Minnesota. Some of the strains they lose are the ones that help them break down and glean nutrients from fibres found in Southeast Asian staples like wild greens, coconut and tamarind.
 
The researchers began the study with the assistance and inspiration from Minnesota’s large community of refugees and immigrants from Southeast Asia, particularly the Hmong and Karen peoples, ethnic minorities that were originally from China and Burma and that, today, have communities in Thailand. They adopted a novel community-based participatory research method wherein members of the Hmong and Karen communities in Minnesota and Thailand were involved in designing the study, recruiting participants and educating their communities about the findings. 
 
The team of researchers compared gut microbiota of Hmong and Karen people still living in Thailand; Hmong and Karen people who had immigrated to the US; the children of those immigrants; and Caucasian American controls. Much to their advantage, they were also able to follow a group of 19 Karen refugees as they relocated from Thailand to the US, allowing them to track how the refugees’ gut microbiomes changed longitudinally in their first six to nine months in the US.
 
The researchers were surprised to find that significant changes happened fast. In the first six to nine months, the Western strain Bacteriodes began to displace the non-Western bacteria strain Prevotella. This Westernisation also continued to happen over the course of the first decade in the US, and overall mircobiome diversity decreased, the longer the immigrants had been in the US. Analysing the participants’ food logs suggested that eating a more Western diet played a role in perturbing the microbiome but could not entirely explain all the changes.
 
Other studies have shown that people in developing nations have a much greater diversity of bacteria in their gut microbiome, the population of beneficial microbes living in humans’ intestines, than people living in the US. “But it was striking to see this loss of diversity actually happening in people who were changing countries or migrating from a developing nation to the US,” says Dr Knights. Lead author, Dr Pajau Vangay, added, “Obesity was a concern that was coming up a lot for the Hmong and Karen communities here. In other studies, the microbiome had been related to obesity, so we wanted to know if there was potentially a relationship in immigrants and make any findings relevant and available to the communities.” 
 
The researchers also learnt that changes in the microbiome were even more pronounced in the children of immigrants. “We don’t know for sure why this is happening. It could be that this has to do with actually being born in the USA or growing up in the context of a more typical US diet. But it was clear that the loss of diversity was compounded across generations. And that’s something that has been seen in animal models before but not in humans,” explained Dr Knights. It should be noted that the research was not able to establish a cause and effect relationship between micrbiome changes in immigrants and the immigrant obesity epidemic. However, it did show a correlation that greater Westernisation of the microbiome was associated with greater obesity. 
 
Dr Knights is of the belief that this research conveys a lot about our health. “When you move to a new country, you pick up a new microbiome. And that’s changing not just what species of microbes you have, but also what enzymes they carry, which may affect what kinds of food you can digest and how your diet interacts with your health,” he said. “This might not always be a bad thing, but we do see that Westernisation of the microbiome is associated with obesity in immigrants, so this could be an interesting avenue for future research into treatment of obesity, both in immigrants and potentially in the broader population.”
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    J&J Faulty Hip Implant Victims Unhappy with Government's Compensation Formula
    A group of patients who became victims of faulty hip implant by Johnson and Johnson (J&J) has written to Union Health Minister JP Nadda, rejecting the compensation formula accepted by the government stating that it was done without consulting the stakeholders.
     
    "We would like to clarify that in spite of repeated requests, to date not a single consultation has taken place regarding the compensation process or the formula for determining the quantum of compensation with affected patients or civil society groups," said the Hip Implant Patients Support Group in a statement, a copy of which IANS has viewed.
     
    The patients' letter came a week after the health ministry approved compensations between Rs30 lakh and Rs1.23 crore for such patients on the recommendations of an expert committee.
     
    "We have repeatedly said that transparency in the proceedings of the committees entrusted to carry out the compensation and in the implementation of the compensation mechanism is paramount. Yet, compounding the injustices of many years, patients are being completely sidelined and reduced to more spectators even in the government led process of compensating victims," it stated.
     
    The patients also stated the proposed formula has got various shortcomings as well as limitations in its applicability.
     
    "The formula has multiple gaps that may have easily been avoided if the process of consultation with victims and civil society groups was done. The formula unjustly denies compensation to many patients," Vijay Vojhala, one of the affected patients, said in the letter, made available on Thursday.
     
    The patients have also highlighted that medical management has also been ignored both by the Expert Committee and Central Expert Committee.
     
    The group has also alleged that a committee set up to decide the compensation exclusively consulted with J&J during the process and sidelined patients.
     
    In 2010, J&J globally recalled hip implants because more patients were found to require revision surgeries than normally reported for such devices.
     
    Last month, the victims had written three letters complaining lack of transparency and patient consultation in the compensation process, including lack of information being made available regarding the process of compensation, deliberations of the Arya Committee and the formulation of compensation norms.
     
    A four-member panel is currently headed by RK Arya, Director, Sports Injury Centre, Safdarjung Hospital, which also includes health secretary Preeti Sudan, additional secretary RK Vats, drug controller general of India (DCGI) S Eswara Reddy.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    COMMENTS

    Ramesh Poapt

    9 months ago

    if there are thousand such cases,it will be millions after ayushyaman Bharat scheme.

    Amit Kumar

    9 months ago

    Are these ministers only for big companies?

    By Sleeping Late, Are You Risking Your Health?
    There is growing evidence that people who stay up late have an increased risk of poor health as they are more likely to have erratic eating patterns and consume unhealthy foods. According to a new review of studies, sleeping habits could have a very real impact on one’s health, by increasing the risk of conditions like heart disease and type-2 diabetes. 
     
    The study, published in...
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