8 things I learned from EB 2018 (and my favorite eats in San Diego)

I am fortunate to get to attend a few scientific conferences every year as part of my graduate studies. It’s a great opportunity to share some of my research, meet experts in the field, and get out of the lab!

Last week, I traveled to San Diego for Experimental Biology 2018. This was the third year that I have attended EB, a five-day conference that brings in over 14,000 attendees from around the world to share their research in physiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, nutrition, and kinesiology. It’s hard not to learn something new every day! So, I thought I’d share my top 8 insights from EB 2018, and some of my favorite restaurants and places in San Diego.

1) Secondary bile acids are important for gut barrier function

Bile acids are produced in the liver and released from the gallbladder to aid in the digestion of fats. These primary bile acids can be converted to secondary bile acids by bacteria in the colon. Secondary bile acids have really gotten a bad rap because of their associations with colon cancer.1 However, new research indicates that secondary bile acids are crucial for gut barrier function, increasing cellular migration and healing of epithelial wounds. In fact, for centuries, traditional cultures used bear bile soup for healing maladies of the eyes, skin, and intestines. Research presented at EB suggests that the secondary bile acid UDCA may be a promising treatment for intestinal inflammation in conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.

2) Butyrate improves recovery following spinal cord injury

Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid produced from the bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber. I’ve discussed the many benefits of butyrate previously, and I’m always looking for ways to learn more. A group from Italy has now shown that, in a mouse model, small doses of oral butyrate reduces inflammation and improves recovery following spinal cord injury.

3) But, too much butyrate can cause kidney dysfunction

I’ve also highlighted that excess butyrate can potentially be toxic. A research group has found that giving 5% butyrate in the diet over a period of four weeks caused severe kidney damage and enlargement of the kidney tissue. This may be because butyrate and niacin bind to the same receptor and butyrate outcompetes niacin.

4) SIBO may lead to choline deficiency and high TMAO production

I also had the opportunity to listen to microbiome researcher Dr. Federico Rey present some of his recently published research on how gut microbes compete for host choline. While I had read this paper when it was first published, the light bulb went off for me when I heard Dr. Rey speak – this choline-consuming microbe used in this study colonizes the small intestine! This suggests that SIBO patients may be at high risk for choline deficiency, with potentially negative effects on liver health, neurological health, and epigenetics. I will be discussing this concept in detail in an upcoming guest post on Chriskresser.com!

5) A ketogenic diet increases voluntary exercise in mice

Several research groups were looking at the interactions of diet and exercise. One research group found that both a high-sugar, high-fat “Western” diet and a ketogenic diet increased voluntary wheel running in mice. While mice on the Western diet likely just had increased energy to burn, those that were on the ketogenic diet may have exercised more because they got greater pleasure from running. Ketogenic-fed mice had significantly increased expression of the opioid receptor OprK1 and the dopamine receptor Drd1, indicating that the ketogenic diet may boost the “runner’s high”.

6) Metformin blunts the exercise-induced improvements to mitochondrial function

While the type 2 diabetes drug Metformin has been highlighted for its ability to beneficially alter the microbiota and improve insulin sensitivity, there does appear to be a downside: Metformin may blunt exercise-induced improvements in mitochondrial function, and reduce gains in overall aerobic fitness from an exercise training program. In other words, both metformin and exercise independently tend to improve insulin sensitivity, but the two together is not an additive effect.

7) Biofilms are associated with colon cancer

Biofilms are a collective group of microbes in which cells tend to stick to each other and often, to a surface, such as the epithelium. Intriguing research now suggests that biofilms are closely associated with cancerous colon tumors. More research is needed to elucidate exactly what the triggering events are and whether biofilm formation actually precedes the development of cancer.

8) Consumption of pectin fiber increases bacterially-derived formate

Formate plays an important role in the methylation cycle. Dr. John Brosnan in Newfoundland has found that pectin-fed rats have very high levels of formate production in the small intestine. When mice fasted or were given a seven-day course of broad-spectrum antibiotics, circulating formate levels dropped significantly. Overall, this suggests yet another way that the microbiome may be influencing one-carbon metabolism and the methylation cycle, with important epigenetic implications. I’m looking forward to collaborating with Dr. Brosnan to assess formate levels in some of our samples from our recent human exercise trial.

(9) I definitely need to live in California someday!

Here were some of my favorite healthy restaurants, places, and things to do around San Diego:

Vitality Tap: my favorite stop between conference talks for high-quality cold-brew coffee, real food smoothies, or kombucha. I loved their outdoor patio seating with free wifi, and made a point to return here every day!

To the Point Café & Eatery: I stopped here on my way to Ocean Beach and loved their smoked salmon salad and berry medley herbal iced tea. The staff were very friendly, and let me hang out there for a few hours.

Ocean Beach: a beautiful beach. The dog beach is quite entertaining, too!

Sadaf Restaurant: some of the best Middle Eastern food I’ve ever had, and incredible service. The owner offered me a free salad and wine tasting while I was waiting for my takeout! The chicken kababs and barberry sauce were superb.

Coronado Island Farmer’s Market: despite only having a few farmers, this market did not disappoint! I got everything I needed for a delicious salad, including mizuna, red leaf lettuce, microgreens, avocado, and some fresh California strawberries.

Coronado Beach: absolutely worth the ferry trip from downtown and the 25-minute walk across the island! I wish I could have had more time here – the scenery is beautiful. Don’t bring any food to the beach, though or you will quickly be surrounded by pushy seagulls!

Little Italy Mercado Farmer’s Market: one of the largest farmer’s markets I’ve ever been to, with everything you can possibly imagine. I got a wonderful green smoothie drink and some authentic Middle Eastern garlic sauce.

Sushi Lounge on Market: really nice outdoor seating and delicious giant sushi hand wraps. I got the yellowtail and salmon, and asked for no soy sauce.

Jimbo’s Naturally: a grocery store with great produce and a hot bar that lists all of the ingredients in each of their dishes. I had some really good citrus chicken, saffron rice, and bone broth.

LimeBike: a great way to get around the city and get some exercise!

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8 things I learned from EB 2018 (and my favorite eats in San Diego)

I am fortunate to get to attend a few scientific conferences every year as part of my graduate studies. It’s a great opportunity to share some of my research, meet experts in the field, and get out of the lab!

Last week, I traveled to San Diego for Experimental Biology 2018. This was the third year that I have attended EB, a five-day conference that brings in over 14,000 attendees from around the world to share their research in physiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, nutrition, and kinesiology. It’s hard not to learn something new every day! So, I thought I’d share my top 8 insights from EB 2018, and some of my favorite restaurants and places in San Diego.

1) Secondary bile acids are important for gut barrier function

Bile acids are produced in the liver and released from the gallbladder to aid in the digestion of fats. These primary bile acids can be converted to secondary bile acids by bacteria in the colon. Secondary bile acids have really gotten a bad rap because of their associations with colon cancer.1 However, new research indicates that secondary bile acids are crucial for gut barrier function, increasing cellular migration and healing of epithelial wounds. In fact, for centuries, traditional cultures used bear bile soup for healing maladies of the eyes, skin, and intestines. Research presented at EB suggests that the secondary bile acid UDCA may be a promising treatment for intestinal inflammation in conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.

2) Butyrate improves recovery following spinal cord injury

Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid produced from the bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber. I’ve discussed the many benefits of butyrate previously, and I’m always looking for ways to learn more. A group from Italy has now shown that, in a mouse model, small doses of oral butyrate reduces inflammation and improves recovery following spinal cord injury.

3) But, too much butyrate can cause kidney dysfunction

I’ve also highlighted that excess butyrate can potentially be toxic. A research group has found that giving 5% butyrate in the diet over a period of four weeks caused severe kidney damage and enlargement of the kidney tissue. This may be because butyrate and niacin bind to the same receptor and butyrate outcompetes niacin.

4) SIBO may lead to choline deficiency and high TMAO production

I also had the opportunity to listen to microbiome researcher Dr. Federico Rey present some of his recently published research on how gut microbes compete for host choline. While I had read this paper when it was first published, the light bulb went off for me when I heard Dr. Rey speak – this choline-consuming microbe used in this study colonizes the small intestine! This suggests that SIBO patients may be at high risk for choline deficiency, with potentially negative effects on liver health, neurological health, and epigenetics. I will be discussing this concept in detail in an upcoming guest post on Chriskresser.com!

5) A ketogenic diet increases voluntary exercise in mice

Several research groups were looking at the interactions of diet and exercise. One research group found that both a high-sugar, high-fat “Western” diet and a ketogenic diet increased voluntary wheel running in mice. While mice on the Western diet likely just had increased energy to burn, those that were on the ketogenic diet may have exercised more because they got greater pleasure from running. Ketogenic-fed mice had significantly increased expression of the opioid receptor OprK1 and the dopamine receptor Drd1, indicating that the ketogenic diet may boost the “runner’s high”.

6) Metformin blunts the exercise-induced improvements to mitochondrial function

While the type 2 diabetes drug Metformin has been highlighted for its ability to beneficially alter the microbiota and improve insulin sensitivity, there does appear to be a downside: Metformin may blunt exercise-induced improvements in mitochondrial function, and reduce gains in overall aerobic fitness from an exercise training program. In other words, both metformin and exercise independently tend to improve insulin sensitivity, but the two together is not an additive effect.

7) Biofilms are associated with colon cancer

Biofilms are a collective group of microbes in which cells tend to stick to each other and often, to a surface, such as the epithelium. Intriguing research now suggests that biofilms are closely associated with cancerous colon tumors. More research is needed to elucidate exactly what the triggering events are and whether biofilm formation actually precedes the development of cancer.

8) Consumption of pectin fiber increases bacterially-derived formate

Formate plays an important role in the methylation cycle. Dr. John Brosnan in Newfoundland has found that pectin-fed rats have very high levels of formate production in the small intestine. When mice fasted or were given a seven-day course of broad-spectrum antibiotics, circulating formate levels dropped significantly. Overall, this suggests yet another way that the microbiome may be influencing one-carbon metabolism and the methylation cycle, with important epigenetic implications. I’m looking forward to collaborating with Dr. Brosnan to assess formate levels in some of our samples from our recent human exercise trial.

(9) I definitely need to live in California someday!

Here were some of my favorite healthy restaurants, places, and things to do around San Diego:

Vitality Tap: my favorite stop between conference talks for high-quality cold-brew coffee, real food smoothies, or kombucha. I loved their outdoor patio seating with free wifi, and made a point to return here every day!

To the Point Café & Eatery: I stopped here on my way to Ocean Beach and loved their smoked salmon salad and berry medley herbal iced tea. The staff were very friendly, and let me hang out there for a few hours.

Ocean Beach: a beautiful beach. The dog beach is quite entertaining, too!

Sadaf Restaurant: some of the best Middle Eastern food I’ve ever had, and incredible service. The owner offered me a free salad and wine tasting while I was waiting for my takeout! The chicken kababs and barberry sauce were superb.

Coronado Island Farmer’s Market: despite only having a few farmers, this market did not disappoint! I got everything I needed for a delicious salad, including mizuna, red leaf lettuce, microgreens, avocado, and some fresh California strawberries.

Coronado Beach: absolutely worth the ferry trip from downtown and the 25-minute walk across the island! I wish I could have had more time here – the scenery is beautiful. Don’t bring any food to the beach, though or you will quickly be surrounded by pushy seagulls!

Little Italy Mercado Farmer’s Market: one of the largest farmer’s markets I’ve ever been to, with everything you can possibly imagine. I got a wonderful green smoothie drink and some authentic Middle Eastern garlic sauce.

Sushi Lounge on Market: really nice outdoor seating and delicious giant sushi hand wraps. I got the yellowtail and salmon, and asked for no soy sauce.

Jimbo’s Naturally: a grocery store with great produce and a hot bar that lists all of the ingredients in each of their dishes. I had some really good citrus chicken, saffron rice, and bone broth.

LimeBike: a great way to get around the city and get some exercise!

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By |2018-04-27T18:57:40+00:00April 27th, 2018|