PROS AND CONS OF TAKING PROBIOTICS

Probiotics and or prebiotics seem to be the hot new nutrition topic. Every supplement company and the yogurt industry is offering their own proprietary probiotic guaranteed to “fix “your microbiome. We don’t know why we have “sick” microbes, but we often do. Processed foods can be suspect – antibiotics, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, hormones, preservatives for long shelf lives are not ideal environments for keeping them healthy and happy. Just read an ingredient label and you will find a plethora of other candidates.

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Species of bacteria found in Culturelle: Lactobacillus rhamnosus plus inulin (a prebiotic – not an bacteria)

Species of bacteria found in Align: Bifidobacterium longum

Also can find species on most yogurt products.

Warning; These products are quite expensive and as all dietary supplements have not met any regulation standards from the FDA. Please consult your physician before taking any probiotic or any other dietary supplement. Often, they are not what they claim.

All About Probiotics

SHOULD YOU TAKE A PROBIOTIC?

Lately there’s a lot of buzz about taking probiotics that is becoming a household word on food labels; everyone wants to get in on the claims made to benefit them and the microbiome with a simple pill.

First of all what is the microbiome ? Everyone has one that is individual to them. It refers to our personal colony of micro -organisms, mostly bacteria, in our body that outnumbers our human cells. It is crucial to our digestion and integrity of the intestinal lining; it determines how and when and where things are absorbed into the bloodstream, participates in our metabolism and plays a role in our immune defenses. In the gastrointestinal tract the bacteria in the microbiome digest things we couldn’t digest otherwise like high fiber foods.

Mark Bittman and David L. Katz, MD – How to Eat: All Your Food and Diet Questions Answered. 2020 

Eat probiotic foods along with prebiotic foods since rebiotics are the food that bacteria eat and what sustains good bacteria long-term. They include foods like oatmeal, bananas, berries, asparagus and beans.

Carrie Daniel-MacDougall, Ph.D, M.P.H., a nutritional epidemiologist at MD Anderson who studies diet and the microbiome says:

“Unless your doctor is prescribing probiotics for a specific person purpose, stick to getting them from foods like yogurt that may have other nutrients like calcium.”

In some cases, probiotics from food or supplements may help individuals with irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease. There is also potential for harm if used improperly or in combination with other medications. Your doctor or a certified nutritionist can help you find the one that’s right for you. Sometimes the probiotic could even disrupt or displaced some of the good bacteria you already have. McDougall says.

The Mind-Gut Connection

The Mind-Gut Connection teaches us how to make simple changes to diet and lifestyle to achieve balance that can help us achieve optimal health.

The gut is a large storage area for specialized cells and signaling systems. It functions as a large sensory organ that when spread out fills the size of a basketball court. Its job is to communicate between the gut and the brain using hormones, bidirectional nerve communication channels, and inflammatory signaling molecules. When this communication channel is not functioning or suffers from dysbiosis, major health problems can occur in both the mind and body that can result in food sensitivities, allergies, digestive disorders, obesity, depression and anxiety.

“The gut and the brain are closely linked through pathways that include nerves, hormones, and inflammatory molecules. Rich sensory information generated in the gut reaches the brain (gut sensations) and the brain sends signals back to the gut to adjust its function (gut reactions). The close interactions of these pathways play a critical role in the generation of emotions and in optimal gut function. The two are intricately linked.”

Emeran Mayer, MD. The Mind-Gut Connection, How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts ouor Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Healh. 2016. This book is highly recommended.

What is Nutrigenomics? What is epigenetics?

Nutrigenomics is the scientific study of the way specific genes and bioactive food components interact. It provides a basis for understanding how the health consequences of eating behaviors may vary across individuals. This information is key to a personalized approach to nutrition in a clinical environment. Because epigenetic events such as methylation can be changed, they offer another explanation for how environmental factors such as diet, can influence biological processes and phenotypes. Search Food,FactsandFads for more on Epigenetics.

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What is epigenetics? “Think of this way: Epigenetics is the on-off switch to the dimmer on your dining-room chandelier. The gene is the lightbulb, the epigene is the

light switch. If the lightbulb is defunct or the switch is frozen in the “off” position, the dimmer function is useless. Likewise, epigenes control the effect to which the gene turns on.

Altered nutrition also appears to be the primary driver of altered epigenetics. For example, the vitamin, folate is a necessary cofactor for the enzymes called DNA methyltransferases, which add a methyl group to DNA to alter whether genes are being activated. Folic acid is so important to normal fetal development in order to prevent the occurrence of spina bifida that the FDA and mandated to be added to store – bought bread.

Other nutrients at work here – vitamin B12, B complex vitamins, retinoic acid (vitamin A). circumin, sulforaphane, and polyphenols and others that moderate this process.”

Source: Lustig, Robert, H. MD. Metabolical, 2021, Page 120.

The Gut-Brain Connection: A New Concept?

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In the Mind-Gut Connection, Dr. Emeran Mayer, executive director of the Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience at UCLA, offers the cutting edge into this developing science, showing the full impact and complexity of how the brain, gut, and microbiome that lives inside the digestive tract communicate with one another. As he explains, the connection between the mind and the gut is bidirectional: the gut talks to the brain and the brain talks to the gut. When this communication is out of whack, major health problems can crop up in both the mind and the body, including food sensitivities and allergies, digestive disorders, obesity, depression, anxiety, and fatigue.”

Source: Emeran Mayer, MD. The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies impacts our Mood, Our Choices, and our Overall Health, 2016.

 

All About Whole Grains: 101

Glossary:

Legumes: plants in the pea or bean family, which produce an elongated pod containing large starchy seeds. Examples: green peas, kidney beans, and peanuts.

Whole Grain: The entire kernel of grain including the bran layers, the germ, and the endosperm.

Bran: The protective outer layers of whole grains. It is a concentrated source of dietary fiber.

Germ: The embryo or sprouting portion of a kernel of grain. It contains oil, protein, fiber, and vitamins

Endosperm: The largest portion of a kernel of grain. It is primarily starch and serves as a food supply for the sprouting seed.

Added Sugar: Sugars and syrups that have been added to foods during processing or preparation

Fiber: A mixture of indigestible cabohydrates and lignins that is found in plants.

During refining and processing steps, many of the nutrients and other healthy components (phytochemicals) of the kernel are lost. The whole grain includes the bran, the germ, and the endosperm (starch). In the body during digestion and absorption all sources of foods containing sugars and starches are converted eventually to glucose, thereby affecting blood glucose. Fiber is not digested for the most part thereby providing no energy source for the cells. The current theory is that some fibers can be digested by the bacteria found in the microbiome.

Note: If the bran and germ are removed during processing, look how much fiber is removed from the whole grain (about 18.3 grams). That leaves 4 grams in the endosperm.

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, probiotics and prebiotics(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.

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Source:

The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood. Emeran Mayer, M.D. 2016

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?

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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.