The gut microbiota and inflammation: An overview

The gut microbiota and inflammation: An overview

The understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the human gut bacteria and the overall functioning of the body has significantly deepened and broadened, with acceleration in research output concerning this area.


The gut microbiota encompasses a diverse community of bacteria that carry out various functions influencing the overall health of the host. These comprise nutrient metabolism, immune system regulation and natural defence against infection.

The presence of certain bacteria is associated with inflammatory molecules that may bring about inflammation in various body tissues. Inflammation underlies many chronic multisystem conditions including obesity, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes mellitus and inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammation may be triggered by structural components of the bacteria which can result in a cascade of inflammatory pathways involving interleukins and other cytokines. Similarly, by-products of metabolic processes in bacteria, including some short-chain fatty acids, can play a role in inhibiting inflammatory processes.

In this review, we aimed to provide an overview of the relationship between the gut microbiota and inflammatory molecules and to highlight relevant knowledge gaps in this field. Based on the current literature, it appears that as the gut microbiota composition differs between individuals and is contingent on a variety of factors like diet and genetics, some individuals may possess bacteria associated with pro-inflammatory effects whilst others may harbour those with anti-inflammatory effects.

Recent technological advancements have allowed for better methods of characterising the gut microbiota. Further research to continually improve our understanding of the inflammatory pathways that interact with bacteria may elucidate reasons behind varying presentations of the same disease and varied responses to the same treatment in different individuals. Furthermore, it can inform clinical practice as anti-inflammatory microbes can be employed in probiotic therapies or used to identify suitable prebiotic therapies.

Read research here.

Messylette (omelette with veggies)

This omelette is a simple, tasty and UC friendly meal.


  • 1-2 eggs
  • Pumpkin
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • fresh ginger (optional)
  • cheese (hard cheese like edam) you can add other vegetables, but i like to keep it simple and avoid certain veggies like onion, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, and beans because they upset my uc.


Peel and slice pumpkin into small pieces.

Bake it in the oven, or microwave if you want to speed things up

Peel and grate the zucchini and carrots.

Another option is to turn them into zoodles if you have a spiral-vege tool.

Combine the zucchini and carrots in a pan and cook in water until soft.

Drain the water. Add the baked pumpkin.

Add the eggs and stir well on medium heat – watch for when they turn into a

scrambled egg style texture.


Optional: add a slice of fresh ginger or cheese and wait for it to melt.

Submitted by MaryJane

Prep time

10-15 mins

Cooking time

Less then 15 minutes


This recipe serves up to 1 but can add more for larger quantieies

Vegetarian Lasagne

A really delicious Vegetarian Lasagne. Full of healthy vegetables and fresh ingredients, this will be a meal that everyone will enoy.


  • 800g butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 1cm-thick slices
  • 1-1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 medium red capsicum, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchinis, halved, sliced
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • 200g button mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 400g can diced tomatoes with oregano and basil
  • 80g baby spinach
  • 30g butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 cups reduced- fat milk
  • 1 cup reduced fat grated mozzarella cheese
  • 125g dried lasagna pasta sheets


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees/160 degrees fan forced.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Arrange pumpkin, in a single layer, on tray. Drizzle with 2 tsp oil.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
  5. Heat remaining oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat.
  6. Add onion, garlic, capsicum, zucchini, eggplant and mushroom.
  7. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until eggplant is just tender.
  8. Stir in tomato. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
  9. Remove from heat. Stir in spinach. Cover
  10. Set aside for 2 minutes or until spinach has wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add flour. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 1 minute or until bubbling.
  12. Remove from heat.
  13. Gradually add milk, stirring to prevent lumps forming. Return pan to heat.
  14. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until sauce boils and thickens. Remove pan from heat.
  15. Stir in half the cheese. Set aside.
  16. Lightly grease a 7cm deep, 25cm (base) square baking dish. Spoon half the onion mixture into the dish.
  17. Arrange half the pumpkin over the onion mixture. Place half the lasagne sheets over the pumpkin, breaking sheets to fit.
  18. Repeat layers.
  19. Spoon sauce over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  20. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and pasta tender.
  21. Stand for 10 minutes. Serve.

This recipe is versatile – add any veggies you like!

Submitted by Jessica

Prep time

30 minutes

Cooking time

75-85 mins


This recipe serves 6

Super Easy Vegie Frittata

A really easy and gluten-free frittata


Any veggies you can tolerate

I stick to

  • Zucchinis
  • Pumpkin
  • Carrots
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • 8 eggs
  • Cheese: edam/tasty plus parmesan
  • Quark (optional)


  1. Peel all veggies and thinly slice.

2. Preheat oven to 180 C

3. Get a shallow baking dish (porcelain) and line with baking paper

4. Layer all veggies in a pan.

5. Start with one full layer of each veggie.

6. Once the first layer of each is complete, top with a layer of cheese. Then repeal with veggies until you get near the top of the dish.

7. Beat the 8 eggs and mix with quark (a few tbsp should do).

8. Add Himalayan sea salt and pepper.

9. Pour mixture over the veggies, it should sit near the top, nice and level.

10. Top with more cheese and sprinkle grated parmesan to finish.

11. Bake for approx 30 minutes.

12. Time will vary depending on ovens, so watch for cheese going nice and brown

The longer you cook this dish, the softer the veggies will be.

Submitted by MaryJane

Prep time

Less than 15 minutes

Cooking time

50-60 mins


This recipe serves 2

Pumpkin Soup

My very easy pumpkin soup recipe.


  • Butternut pumpkin
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chili (optional)


  1. Chop pumpkin into small chunks
  2. Boil in your pot with fresh garlic and spice (salt, pepper, chili if desired) until soft.
  3. Vitamise and then serve with butter or cream.
  4. Parsley can be added for a garnish

Submitted by Peter Le Gallou

Prep time

Less than 15 minutes

Cooking time

35-45 minutes


Serves you decide based on the size of the pumpkin, or the crowd invited!

Dealing With Fatigue

It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon and your day has been like any other – working, studying, meeting friends, spending time with your family – when that all-too-familiar wave of exhaustion washes over you. Perhaps you could feel it coming, or perhaps it hits you out of the blue. Either way, any plans you had for the rest of the day are well and truly off the table.

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms experienced by people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, with around three quarters of IBD patients experiencing fatigue during a flare-up. For some, that fatigue is a constant companion even in between flares – it is a brick wall that can rise up at any time.

Complications such as anaemia, poor sleep due to medication, or pain levels can also contribute to feelings of exhaustion.

Finding ways to manage fatigue can be a useful tool for Crohn’s and colitis patients, to ensure that the impact of sudden changes in plans due to flagging energy is limited as much as possible.

Tips for managing fatigue

And if all else fails? A cup of coffee, a hug from a loved one, or a couple of episodes of your favourite television show can sometimes make all the difference.

The Spoon Theory – Explaining IBD

Finding a way to explain a chronic illness to people can be a frustrating process. From the outside, you can look perfectly healthy as you get on with your daily tasks, or be laughing along with everyone else. But inside, you might have the feeling of a thousand tiny knives stabbing away at you, or be mentally keeping a tally of any public bathroom you see.

For IBD patients, and people with other chronic ‘invisible’ diseases, there is another level of thought that has to happen as you consider what your body is capable of that day.

Christine Miserando, an American writer and Lupus patient advocate, found a unique way of explaining just what it felt like to have a chronic illness to someone who may never have experienced it – spoons.

Faced with a friend asking what it was like to live with Lupus, Christine started explaining the aches, pains and other symptoms she dealt with on a daily basis. But she soon realised just explaining was not enough; her friend needed to experience it.

“How do I explain every detail of every day being affected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity? I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand?

“At that moment the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell, I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “here you go, you have Lupus.”

The spoon theory, which you can read in full here, uses a handful of spoons to explain how every action taken by someone facing a chronic illness represents a ‘spoon’. While a healthy person may have an unlimited number of spoons, the chronically ill only get a certain number of spoons per day, and once they are all gone then that’s it – no more spoons (or energy) for the rest of the day.

“I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon.”

Some days you might have more spoons than others and be able to achieve more. But on others you might have to borrow tomorrow’s spoons, knowing that you’ll be left with less for the next day. You might have to choose between making dinner and getting the household chores done, or between seeing a friend and making it to an evening class.

“It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count spoons.”

Figuring out what you want to spend your spoons on means sufferers of chronic illness are all too aware of the importance of time. IBD sufferers try to make the most of every opportunity because spoons are precious.

Christine told her friend she had learnt to always keep one spoon in reserve for when she really needs it. When she chooses to spend that spoon on someone, they know she really values them because spoons are not that easy to come across.

How many spoons do you have today, and what are you going to spend them on?