University of Lethbridge researcher recognized for gut health study – Lethbridge


Canada has one of the highest prevalence rates of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the world, with more than 300,000 people affected, including 35,000 Albertans, according to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

« By 2030, 1% of Canadians, including Albertans, will be living with the disease, » says Kate Lee, vice president of research and patient programs at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

Lee explains that IBD are progressive autoimmune diseases that affect an individual’s gastrointestinal tract, causing inflammation in the gut and leading to pain and scarring.

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« It’s very unpredictable saddles, » Lee said. « They are adults who as adults are unable to control and predict when they are going to have a bowel movement, so it is something that causes a lot of anxiety and stress, especially when they leave their residence. »

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In most cases, people diagnosed with the disease are between 20 and 30 years old.

« So really the prime of life when they go independent, » Lee said. « Then they have to deal with this devastating disease. »

Lee says scientists have discovered that the industrialization of a nation contributes to the increase in the number of cases.

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Research into these diseases has led scientists to discover the importance of the gut microbiota to our health.

Chelsea Matisz researched gut health at the University of Lethbridge for five years. She is one of three women recently recognized by the Royal Society of Canada for the Alice Wilson Prize for her work studying how gut health affects the brain and mental health using mouse models. .

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« People think, well, sure, you’re anxious or depressed because you have these chronic conditions, but it’s actually not just the psychological burden of the disease, » Matisz said. « But rather changes in your brain resulting from gut inflammation that can lead to these mood disorders. »

Matisz’s research extends to changes that occur in the brain after short-term gut inflammation and potentially uses psilocybin, cannabinoids, or vitamin D to help anxiety and depression associated with chronic gut inflammation.

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Jody Ginther was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and colitis in 1998. He says the initial impact on his life was significant, having only minutes to find and use the toilet.

« I’m trying to stop my vehicle and hope I can get to a facility that has restrooms, » Ginther said. « It was extremely difficult. »

Ginther said his flare-ups got so bad he had to have his large intestine surgically removed.

Ginther says doing research like this in southern Alberta is impressive, and he hopes his work will bring us closer to a cure.

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