Dr. Sanda Crecoiu is a Doctor of Molecular Biology, Nutritional Consultant and Food Safety Specialist who focuses on the impact of gut flora on overall health.
After several decades when it seemed that technology and alternative therapies were ideologically separated, now the medical world is combining several methods that put innovation and tradition at the service of treating diseases and patients. What do you think about it?
Dr. Sanda Crecoiu: Medical innovations have appeared throughout history, constantly increasing our ability to treat complex diseases. The 21st century has brought amazing progress: new technologies have revolutionized the healthcare sector. These new technologies have significantly increased the chances of diagnosing rare diseases and offer a real opportunity to practice personalized medicine. And over time, this is likely to improve our understanding and treatment of complex diseases, which are also associated with a number of problems.
We are all genetically unique, subject to various environmental factors and lead certain lifestyles.
There is currently a strong trend to use the concept functional medicine. We are all unique individuals, and quite often we find that there is no magic cure that will heal every patient the same. Functional medicine is a scientifically based field of medicine with a systems biology based approach that addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms, and focuses on the optimal functioning of the body. It means helping the body to function at its best by understanding that each person is different, from genetics to biochemistry. There are certain core principles to this concept that include nutrition, stress management, exercise, and sleep.
Functional medicine is suitable for the treatment of chronic diseases because it does not treat symptoms, but integrates all information related to the patient, from the nutrigenomic profile to microbiome analysis. The result is a complex treatment plan that simultaneously applies many forms of therapy, ranging from allopathic therapy to alternative therapies and psychological approaches, requiring a multidisciplinary team.
Functional medicine builds on the technological advances of traditional medicine but prefers to avoid overuse of pharmaceuticals and treatment options that a patient may receive. Functional medicine includes diet, exercise and lifestyle modification or counseling, as well as natural supplements. The patient may receive medications prescribed by traditional medicine, but together the patient and doctor will comprehensively manage any side effects.
Now that discussions are taking place at the level of micro- and nanobiology, to what extent can we consider natural solutions as valid for the therapy of the future?
Dr. Sanda Crecoiu: At present, the integration of nanotechnologies is becoming more widespread in physics, chemistry, biology, materials science and medicine. However, the era of industrialization and the pronounced urbanization of communities were accompanied by a significant violation of people’s health, both physical and mental. Remoteness from the natural environment has led to an increase in obesity, changes in birth weight, significant disturbances in the behavioral development of children, and an increase in the prevalence of mental illness.
Studies show that increasing contact with nature can lead to a decrease in the prevalence of cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory and other diseases. Nature is our ally and can help us solve many of the problems we face today.
Climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss now threaten our existence, affecting our health, economic and social well-being. We need actions to create, restore, protect and manage ecosystems that enable an integrated approach to sustainable and sustainable development.
Reducing the general concept to the characteristics of the human being, I would say that at the individual level, we are strongly affected by the disruption of our own ecosystem, that is, the symbiotic relationship that we have with the microbiome specific to each body region. In this entire ecosystem, the most important is the gut microbiome, which is responsible for metabolism and mental well-being. In the context discussed above, a significant reduction in the diversity of bacteria that normally inhabit our intestines has been found. This has been made possible by the quality of food, which is increasingly being processed, added and preserved.
Raw or minimally processed food sources become scarce and expensive, resulting in an insidious population disease. To this I would add the fact that people have greatly changed their eating habits, many believe that the time devoted to eating is being wasted at the expense of work.
Our food has changed, as have our eating habits and daily eating habits. We eat more not from the garden, but from the supermarket. In the current state of things, to what extent is the adage still true: we are what we eat?
Dr. Sanda Crecoiu: The saying is perfectly true regardless of the era in which we live. The relationship between enjoyment of life, the food we eat, and health has been known for centuries. Perhaps the relationship was best summed up by the French gastronome Antelme Brillat-Savarin, who wrote in 1825: “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are.”
Food is fuel for our body. Not only does it give us energy, but it can also affect our mood. The foods we eat are determined by a complex set of factors, including personal preferences, cultural and religious traditions, comorbidities, food availability and affordability, agricultural practices, and government policies.
The nutritional value of what we eat determines the composition of cell membranes, bone marrow, blood, hormones, tissues, organs, skin and hair. Our body replaces billions of cells daily and uses the food we eat as a source of renewal. Our diet can even influence the structure of our genes, as organisms build their DNA using the “building blocks” they get from food.
The results of modern research have revealed a direct link between cellular metabolism and evolution and have provided new insights into how DNA sequences can be affected by adaptation to different diets. You can even predict a person’s diet by analyzing the DNA sequence of their genes.
Our gastrointestinal tract is home to billions of bacteria. The foods we eat directly affect our gut health (or the balance of good and bad bacteria) and affect the production of neurotransmitters (our body’s chemical messengers that constantly relay messages from the gut to the brain). Paying attention to how much we eat is another very important aspect of a healthy diet that naturally affects all of us. What we eat and how much we eat is very important, but how we process it is perhaps even more important. With the help of these billions of little sensors, the gut has the enormous task of managing all the information contained in the food we eat.
Food alone does not promise intestinal prosperity. If you are eating a nutritious and tasty meal with a friend but suddenly start arguing with each other, your stomach will close and you will probably feel indigestion, pain or nausea. Even when we eat alone, most of us have a constant internal dialogue going on in our brains. We are full of countless thoughts and emotions that distract us from the food in front of us. We also eat while talking on the phone, with the TV on, and at the table. There is reason to believe that eating in a state of excitement, confusion, or simply distraction can slow down or stop digestion.
When we strongly feel emotions such as stress or anxiety, our digestive process, which operates largely independently, will be affected and altered. Stress hormones such as adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol interact with gut cells to keep us alert and ready to fight or flee. By paying attention to our state of mind when we eat, we can improve our food processing. All parts of our body are connected to our emotions, but the gut sends the strongest signal to the emotional centers of our brain. Because different foods evoke different moods, we can strategically choose foods that evoke a good mood. To maintain an even and balanced mood, especially in a work environment, we can eat foods that promote the development of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
So, as a conclusion, I would say that we should try to eat quality food without worrying too much about orthorexia (concern about natural and healthy eating has turned into a mania). While eating, it is important to maintain peace of mind and be in a pleasant environment. Here I am referring to the field of social genomics, which focuses on the mechanisms by which social experience regulates genetic activity. Many inflammatory diseases are associated with changes in the gut ecosystem or microbiome. Stress, pollution, and processed foods can upset the bacterial balance, causing the immune system to release chemicals that cause inflammation and can lead to disease. If communication is bidirectional, stress-related changes in the microbiome can affect brain function and behavior.