The Mind-Gut Connection

A new developing science states: The connection between the mind and gut is bidirectional; the gut talks to the brain and the brain talks to the gut. Major health problems can appear when this system is disturbed; One way to minimize this is to keep your microbial “self” happy and working properly. The connection can affect mood and overall health.

HOW TO FEED YOUR GUT MICROBES

Try to maintain a variety of diverse gut microbes by maximizing your consumption of naturally fermented food and probiotics (these foods “feed” your own intestinal microbes.)

For reduction of gut inflammation, try these:

Cut down on animal fat in your diet.

Avoid when possible, mass-produced ultra-processed foods.

Reduce stress and practice mindfulness of what you’re eating..

Avoid eating when you are stressed, angry or sad.

Enjoy foods and eat with family and friends.

Listen to your gut feelings and signals.

CLICK HERE.

Food Additives and Obesity

“Artificial preservatives used in many processed foods could increase the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases and metabolic disorders, according to research published on 25 February in Nature1. In a study done in mice, chemicals known as emulsifiers were found to alter the make-up of bacteria in the colon — the first time that these additives have been shown to affect health directly.”

The search continues for what factors in the Standard American diet (SAD) can be implicated beyond the amount alone that people consume, that are causative of the current obesity/diabesity epidemic.

Researchers continue to look at the lengthy ingredient lists on ultra-processed foods. As Western-type diet are utilized more and more globally, their obesity rates continue to rise. Is there a connection?

CLICK HERE.

UNHEALTHY PROCESSED FOOD AND SNACKS CAN LEAD TO OBESITY

What the Heck is the Microbiome?

 

What the Heck is the Microbiome?

Much attention has been spent lately describing the health contributions of the microbiome defined as “non-human cells that outnumber human cells and consists of our microbe residents in the human gut, skin, eyes and nasal passages.” These bacterial cells collectively can weigh as much as six pounds.

Another term for the microbiome is the microbiota.  The composition of the microbiota plays an important role during pregnancy and in early life and may affect our metabolic and immune functions later in life. The gut microbiota helps our digestive system efficiency, improves nutrient availability and absorption, and limits the presence of pathogens through competition for nutrients and space.

From the moment of birth, the newborn is exposed to microorganisms obtained from the birth canal of the mother or by exposure to the mother’s skin during a C-section delivery. This colonization is influenced by many factors such as genetics, breast-feeding or formula feeding and weaning to solid food as well as the presence of antibiotic therapy. It is thought that by 2 years of age, the young infant will have established its own stable microbiota. Recently stress and the mother’s diet during late pregnancy may play a role in this initial colonization of the young child.

From studies, it was shown that differences in the gut microbiome during the first year of life may later lead to the onset of obesity. In one study, the numbers of Bifidobacterium species (considered beneficial) were higher and the numbers of Staphylococcus aureus (potentially pathogenic) were lower in children who maintained a normal weight than in children who became overweight at 4 years of age suggesting this pattern may be protective against obesity. In other studies, it was observed that there is a link between the composition of the microbiome during pregnancy and body weight. More specifically, the presence of Staphylococcus and E. coli numbers were higher in women with excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Fecal transplant of an obese microbiome to germ-free mice resulted in a greater increase in total body fat than did colonization with a “lean microbiome” suggesting that the change in the intestinal microbiome environment can promote obesity and other metabolic diseases later in life.

How can we control the content of the microbiome? Guess what – eating more fruits and vegetables have a prebiotic effect on the microbiome.  Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that reach the colon intact and are known to help the growth and activity of healthy (friendly) bacteria in the gut like Bifidobacterium species.

Increase your intake of unpasteurized fermented foods like fermented dairy products such as yogurt or kefir that contain probiotics. Probiotics are defined as live microbes that offer a health benefit to humans. Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species are the most common bacteria groups used.

Probiotics are found in foods such as yogurt, while prebiotics are found in whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, honey and artichoke. In addition, probiotics and prebiotics are added to some foods and available as dietary supplements. So simply, the prebiotic foods help feed the probiotics.

Use more herbs such as garlic and leeks which contain the prebiotic inulin. Inulin is  a fermentable carbohydrate that is found in some fiber or protein bars. Inulin can cause digestive trouble or aggravate irritable bowel syndrome for some people as there is a threshold of tolerance for their intake. Look on ingredient labels for inulin or chickory root extract.

The study of the microbiome continues to fascinate scientists and its presence may be more involved in our health than previously thought.  But the research is still in its infancy and caution should be stressed so that people do not rush to buy probiotics or attempt self-treatment.  The transplants are experimental and should only be performed by professionals.  A limited number of studies have shown it to be an effective treatment for patients suffering from Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). CDI is a serious and difficult to treat infection causing inflammation of the lining of the abdomen; it is mostly found in  hospitalized elderly patients after excessive use of antibiotics but can affect an estimated 3% of healthy people.

 

The Microbiome: What We Know

Friendly Bacteria

The microbiome is one of the hot topics in the world of diet and nutrition science. Many claims are being made that attempt to associate “healthy” and “unheathy” microbes in the gut with certain diseases, e.g. Parkinson’s,  depression and even autism.

Here are some facts:

The gut microbiome is the most complex ecosystem in the world.

Diversity in the microbiome leads to health and is governed by our diet.

Seventy percent of Americans have digestive related symptoms or disease.

Diets can change the biome in 24 hours; however, usually this change is temporary.

Probiotics are not the only answer. Prebiotics may play more of a  role in feeding the microbiome and keeping it healthy. Short chain fatty acids called butyrate and other metabolites can be  the fuel for intestinal bacteria. It may be protective against the dangerous low-grade inflammation thought to be caused by a high-fat /high sugar diet or artificial sweeteners.

Prebiotic Foods: 

Jerusalem artichokes Sauerkraut
Onions Maple Syrup
Chickory root (inulin) Peas
Garlic Legumes
Leeks Eggplant
Bananas Honey
Fruit Green Tea
Soybeans Yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir

Best Advice: EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!

The composition of the microbiome can help to shape a healthy immune system.

In my opinion, we still are in the infancy stage in knowing just what microbes are helpful or harmful and how they affect our health.  We do know that treatment with fecal transplants can help to treat a persistent condition called Clostridium difficle or C. diff that can occur after using antibiotics or being in the hospital. Just recently, a friend of mine says she had the disease without taking antibiotics or being hospitalized; therefore, it may occur in the community as well.

The following article provides some common sense knowledge about this topic with some advice on dealing with the issue of diet, prebiotics and probiotics for our health.

CLICK HERE.