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Category Archives: gut health

Human Hosts Transplants Promote Health (2/2)

 Image result for image microbiota transplant

Last week in “Human Hosts” part 1, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/human-hosts-transplants-promote-health-12/, I described the safety and efficacy of fecal microbiota transplantation.  But poop is not the only place healthy microbiota bacteria live. Microbiota transplants (MT) from different body regions have  proven equally helpful.

Scientists are studying the relationship between diseases and balancing “good” and “bad” bacteria from different body regions based on 2 simple theories.

  1. “bad” bugs cause inflammation
  2. “good” bugs support the immune system

Consider the emerging evidence:

  • Patrice Cani at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Brussels fed a high-fat, “junk food” diet to mice, the community of microbes in their guts changed much as it does in humans on a fast-food diet. But Cani also found the junk-food diet made the animals’ gut barriers notably more permeable, allowing endotoxins to leak into the bloodstream. This produced a low-grade inflammation that eventually led to metabolic syndrome. Cani concludes that, at least in mice, “gut bacteria can initiate the inflammatory processes associated with obesity and insulin resistance” by increasing gut permeability,” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html.

In other words, no matter what your weight is, even for those who are thin, no matter what your age, even a child, male or female,  American or not, no matter who you are and where you are from,  junk food can actually cause inflammation that makes unhealthy changes to your gut.  And in turn, you become ill…heart disease, diabetes, obese…

  • ” When gut microbes from easygoing, adventurous mice are transplanted into the guts of anxious and timid mice, they become more adventurous. The expression “thinking with your gut” may contain a larger kernel of truth than we thought. Our gut bacteria also play a role in the manufacture of substances like neurotransmitters (including serotonin); enzymes and vitamins (notably B vitamins and vitamin K) and other essential nutrients (including important amino acid and short-chain fatty acids); and a suite of other signaling molecules that talk to, and influence, the immune and the metabolic systems. Some of these compounds may play a role in regulating our stress levels and even temperament.”

There is also emerging evidence linking colic, allergies/asthma, eczema, type 1 diabetes, obesity and celiac disease with differences between the microbiota of infants delivered vaginally and those that come into this world through C-section. It seems that Lactobacillius (“good” bugs that help digest milk) in the vagina increases prior to birth. Newborns pass through the vagina and absorb the bacteria. C-section babies are lacking the gut flora and are more prone to colic. So it should not be surprising that in the United States with a 32.7 percent c-section rate in 2013 (well above the “medically necessary” target of 10 percent to 15 percent that WHO says is ideal), that the medical conditions mentioned above are on the rise. 

From birth to near death,  all over the body microbiota transplants that live in healthy humans can help unhealthy humans live healthy lives!

Who would have thought that medical strides would include using human hosts as a treatment options for undesirable temperment and stress, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, allergies/asthma, eczema, celiac disease,  obesity and probably much much more.

 As hosts to trillions of microbes, both good and bad, we may find that the answer to good health and longevity truly rests within ourselves.

 

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Human Hosts Transplants Promote Health (1/2)

Image result for image fecal transplant

Photo credit: Cleveland.com

Heart, kidney and liver transplants can save lives. But…transplanting beneficial bacterial cells from one healthy human to another unhealthy human sounds preposterous; doesn’t it? Yet, so far bacterial transplants seem to produce favorable health outcomes without the adverse effects of many common conventional medical treatments.

You may just be the perfect solution to your family, friends or neighbors medical ills.

Considering  bacterial cells outnumber human cells 10 to 1 and we are hosts to an estimated 8 million non-human genes from bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that are dwelling inside us. This should come as no surprise; but I must admit, I’m surprised.

As we start to understand more about bacteria or “bugs” (otherwise known as our microbiome or microbiota that are living inside us), that inhabit our bodies and their tie in with the immune system, the brain, the gut, unexplained fevers in children, acne etc…medical science is making huge strides in utilizing these bacteria for medical treatments from human hosts.

For example, fecal transplant or fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), http://thefecaltransplantfoundation.org/what-is-fecal-transplant/, also known as “yellow soup” in traditional Chinese medicine is a procedure that has been in practice since the 4th century in China; and for the last few hundred years this same technique has been used in veterinary medicine. During this FMT process, stool is collected from a healthy host “donor” and transferred inside the colon of an unhealthy patient via a colonoscopy.

One purpose of transferring poop from a healthy person into a person who suffers from intestinal issues is to replace healthy bacteria that has been suppressed (typically due to overuse of antibiotics) causing colonization and overgrowth of “bad” bacteria.

Successful transplants have been experienced with those diagnosed with Clostridium difficile (otherwise known as C. diff. an intestinal pathogen normally found in the gut that causes diarrhea and life-threatening inflammation of the colon). “The annual burden of Clostridium difficile infections in the United States is 453,000 cases per year, with 29,300 associated deaths,” http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2015/02/cdc-puts-c-difficile-burden-453000-cases-29000-deaths.”

But because of its winning track record, uses for FMT has expanded and now used for those suffering from digestive or auto-immune diseases (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis) and more findings suggest links between other physical and mental disorders,  like metabolic diseases, neuropsychiatric disorders and autism via the gut brain axis, allergic disorders, and tumors, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4284325/.

Have not heard of  FMT? Let’s be honest not exactly a topic you might want to discuss at the dinner table. But, as disgusting as it sounds and despite the repulsive thoughts, IT WORKS!

Fecal transplants are safe. Since the 4th century, there have been no reports of any serious side effects and it has a 90% success rate, http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/digestive-diseases/fmt-demonstrates-consistently-high-success-rates-for-recurrent-cdi.

I’m not just talking sh*t, microbial transplants (MT) from various body regions, and not just the colon, are gaining in popularity. This discovery has expanded the breadth of people bacterial bug transplants are helping.

Next week you can read more about which specific body parts have been studied and learn how body bugs can influence health far beyond conditions related to the gut. In the meantime you may want to meander into some of these links:

 

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Trust Your Gut Instinct: Leading to Mind & Body Wellness

 

Credit: Shutterstock

” Always trust your first gut instinct. If you feel something is wrong it usually is”. Getting in touch with your “inner gut feeling” can be a matter for survival in more ways than just one.  It can be a an innate sense of a good or an evil action and your gut is also at the center of your health and well-being.

What we are finding today is significant evidence that supports eastern medicine philosophy which focuses on a whole body balanced approach (mind and body coming from the same energy (Qi) source vs. western medicine which treats the mind and body, even body systems, separately.  As we learn, we now have a better understanding of the intricate role your mid-section and its micro flora (bacteria that inhabit the small and large intestines/gut) or “landscaping” play in weight and wellness.

Gastrointestinal (GI) health is not just about digestion and absorption of nutrients there are 100 trillion microorganisms living in your intestines and research links gut health with:

brain function

appetite/weight gain

metabolic function/dysfunction

moods/depression

immune system

neural function

hormonal regulation

allergies

headaches

autoimmune disease

ADD

arthritis

acne

and yes even autism, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20337404

Starting at the time of birth, your gut health is programmed by the type of delivery at birth, diet (formula vs. breast milk), antibiotics/medications and even activity level.

Recent research published in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology, suggests engaging in exercise at a young age “can alter (gut health) that microbial community for the better, promoting healthier brain and metabolic activity over the course of a lifetime.” http://www.nature.com/icb/journal/vaop/naam/abs/icb2015113a.html.

While exercise seems to have a positive effect on the gut, consuming “pumped up” foods that contain additives can be detrimental. You think eating seemingly “healthier” sugarless food options are good for you. Yet, foods that contain maltodextrin seem to precipitate ill gut health, such as Chron’s disease . And, maltodextrin is not the only food additive causing stomach distress, “xanthan gum was also linked to feeding intolerance, increased gastric residuals, abdominal distension and bloody stools in premature infants”. There are more food additives that are guilty of wreaking havoc on  your gut and immune system, http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2015/04/no-sugar-foods-with-maltodextrin-mess.html?spref=fb&m=1

So my point to this is, while you are trying to stay healthy by improving on what you eat, be proactive eat to strengthen your gut.  Avoid sugar, processed foods, antibiotics, anti-acid blockers and anti-inflammatory medications when possible. There are natural alternatives.

Consume

  • lactic acid-fermented foods to boost healthy gut bacteria: real Greek yogurt, real sauerkraut, kefir, Korean kimchi, miso, buttermilk more examples can be found here: http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/traditional-fermented-foods-examples/. Nourished kitchen is a great website for gut friendly foods recipes or shopping guide, http://nourishedkitchen.com/where-to-buy/.
  • Cruciferous vegetables broccoli kale, cabbage, and cauliflower contain glucosinolates which are broken down by microbes to release substances that reduce gut inflammation and cancer risk

·      Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, leeks are considered a prebiotic because inulin ferments in the colon into good bacteria

·      Blueberries may help to diversify gut bacteria and build immunity

·      Probiotics. If you’re not sure what to buy, this may interest you, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/beneficial-body-bugs-health-and-exercise-performance/

Your gut is an important piece of the whole health puzzle. Eat real food as part of a daily health care routine, not commercially created additives, to nourish your gut, strengthen healthy gut bacteria and to maintain an effective immune system.

 

 

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Beat The Battle of The Perfect “Sick” Storm (The Gut, Thymus and Bone Marrow- Part 3)

Boosting the immune system during the cold and flu season entails taking care of all body organs involved in fending off illness. I’ve already spoken about the skin and  spleen, in the first two blogs in this immune system series, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2014/11/18/beat-the-battle-of-the-perfect-sick-storm-the-spleen/, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/beat-the-battle-of-the-perfect-sick-storm-skin-deep-part-1/. Now we tie-in the rest of the immune system: the thymus, gut, lymph nodes and bone marrow.

Thymus

The thymus gland is named after the thyme leaf because of its shape. It is located in front of the heart and under the breast bone. The bone marrow sends T- cells (white blood cells (WBC), or stem cells)  to the thymus for them to develop into fighter cells which are then sent to the spleen and lymph (Lymph nodes located at the neck and other areas of your body also contain WBC)  where they help identify and then destroy unhealthy germ invaders. The thymus also helps to prevent abnormal cancer cell growth.

Once puberty hits and immunity during childhood has been established, the thymus isn’t working as hard and it’s all downhill for the thymus from there. Just like when you do not use or exercise your body, it changes and it can get fat, the same thing happens to the thymus, it slowly starts to shrink and  then  turns  fatty.

What Causes Damage to the Thymus?

  • adrenal stress
  • emotional stress
  • poor diet (refined foods, excess sugar and coffee, trans fats)
  • smoking
  • excess alcohol consumption
  • exposure to x-rays and EMF (electromagnetic fields)
  • toxins (pesticides and herbicides residing in fruits and veggies)
  • allergy medications
  • free radical damage (excess sun exposure, exercise or alcohol, smoking)

Potential Symptoms Indicating The Thymus Is Not Well:

  • chronic infections and allergies
  • a feeling of puffiness in the throat or swollen glands
  • candida or yeast overgrowth
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • excess sweating

While all these may be signs of many underlying causes, it is worthwhile to support the thymus and keep it functioning optimally for as long as possible.

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, collard greens, cabbage, cauliflower and those that are high in carotenoids such as yellow-orange and dark green vegetables help reduce free radical damage to the thymus.

Bone Marrow

Bone marrow is a fatty Jello like substance found inside bones (skull, ribs, breastbones, spine, hip and shoulders) that creates T-cells, platelets and red blood cells  and helps carry oxygen to the cells as part of its role in immunity.

Build bone marrow with vitamin B6 (fish, poultry, eggs), folic acid (cruciferous vegetables) and iron (red meat is the best absorbable source of iron or any animal meat. Plant sources of iron are not as readily absorbable).

Consuming bone marrow itself is a powerhouse when it comes to boosting the immune system. Marrow is filled with vitamins (A and K2), minerals (calcium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, selenium, magnesium, manganese) and essential fats (Omega 3, Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), alkylglycerols: help produce white blood cells) that keep your immune system strong, helping to maintain healthy bones and repair bone injuries).

When purchasing animal products, keep in mind, toxins are stored in the fat and bone. Grass fed free range livestock are the most healthy to buy

Try these bone marrow recipes:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/16/bone-broth-benefits.aspx

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/bone-marrow-recipe/#axzz3JnUADtQM

The Gut

And let’s not forget about the gut, more attention has been focused on the gut and its role in immunity compared to the rest of these organs. According to my blog, “Beneficial Body Bugs”, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/?s=gut+health, We know that 70% of the immune system is found in the gut. So, keeping the gut healthy will make a substantial contribution to keeping you healthy.

  1. Stick with natural foods (animals, plants) that contain nutrients the body is equipped to digest, absorb and utilize. Convenient processed foods are filled with ingredients that confuses the body and can affect its work ability.
  2. Get 6-8 hours of sleep each night.
  3. Supplement the gut with a probiotic.

Interested in learning more? Read this, http://breakingmuscle.com/health-medicine/5-quick-tips-healthy-guts-and-healthier-immune-system.

After reading this immune system series, I hope you appreciate the intricate and complex system in place that prevents you from getting sick and helps with illness recovery. Live healthy, support the organs that keep you healthy, be healthy!

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in good health, gut health, health, immune sytem

 

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Yeast Yields Metabolic Overdrive

Candida albicans

Candida albicans (Photo credit: AJC1)

There are more organisms living in your gut than there are cells in your body. Many of these organisms are good guys that synthesize vitamins and fatty acids, neutralize toxins, and make hormones. Others aren’t. One of the most problematic of these organisms is Candida Albicans (a.k.a. yeast overgrowth).  Candida normally lives in your mouth and gut (small and large intestines). As they ferment the food you eat, yeast secretes toxins that weaken the immune system and cause the following symptoms: gas, diarrhea/constipation, bloating, gastric reflux, post-nasal drip, brain fog, fatigue, increased appetite, headaches, rashes, and food allergies.

Taking antibiotics (or eating meat laced with antibiotics), eating too little fiber, or even consuming too much sugar can throw off the delicate balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. In fact anything that lowers stomach acidity or compromises the immune system can cause the yeast to overgrow.

Yeast overgrowth (YO) can put the body into a “starvation mode” because food is not being metabolized effectively. When this happens, the body switches into metabolic overdrive to counteract “starvation mode” and repair the metabolic chaos.

Despite popular belief, yeast overgrowth isn’t something that only affects women. Plenty of men have it, too.

What are symptoms of “yeast overgrowth”?

1. Do you experience gas, especially after eating sugar, foods than contain vinegar, cured foods, pickled foods, sun-dried tomatoes, moldy cheeses (i.e. blue cheese), and mushrooms?

2. Does your abdomen fill up with air (bloating) after you eat, at night, or periodically throughout the day?

3. Have you been diagnosed with ulcers, gastritis, or irritable bowel syndrome?

4. Do you frequently experience indigestion or a “nervous stomach”?

5. Is diarrhea or constipation a daily concern?

6. Do you regularly experience brain fog (the sensation that you can’t concentrate or think clearly), despite adequate sleep?

7. Is your lack of focus affecting your ability to accomplish minor tasks?

8. Have you been sick frequently or taken antibiotics more than three times in a year?

9. Do you ever develop hives, acne, or rosacea?

10. Does your tongue have a white coating?

11. Do you have seasonal allergies, food allergies, or allergies to medications?

12. Are your sinuses frequently stuffy or infected?

13. Do you have asthma?

14. Have you been diagnosed with an ulcer or gastric reflux?

If you have answered yes to two or more questions, yeast may have infiltrated your digestive tract.

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If candida has taken control of your digestive tract, regain your ground. Use “The Stubborn Fat Fix”, http://www.amazon.com/The-Stubborn-Fat-Fix-Metabolic/dp/159486828X, as a  guide to help re-build the good bacteria . If you have just 5 to 10 pounds to lose, use the Level 2 eating plan until you reach your goal. If you have more weight to lose, use Level 1.

*Regardless of the plan, anyone with YO should avoid the following yeast-promoting foods: fermented, pickled, and moldy (blue cheese) foods; soy sauce; vinegar; mushrooms; sour cream; sauerkraut; some nuts (cashews, peanuts, pistachios); pickles; breads that contain yeast; and all cheese except mozzarella and cream cheese. It’s also particularly important for you to maximize your 3 to 7 cups of green leafy vegetables and 2 cups of other vegetables every day. Vegetables contain fiber, and fiber nourishes the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract. Finally, you will need to take supplements to help kill YO and to help the good bacteria flourish. Suggestions are outlined in Chapter 9.

 

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Listen To Your Gut

Well, well, well looks like science is talking about the great advances it is making with the “new” discovery linking gut health to mental health.

We understand that the signals of emotions and stress coming from the brain can affect your stomach. For example, if you lose a loved one you may not have much of an appetite or if you are stressed at work you eat too much.

Now there seems to be reason to believe that there are mutual signals that relay from brain to gut and gut to brain. A recent study measured brain activity in three groups of women who either ate: 1) yogurt with a probiotic  2) no yogurt or 3) yogurt without a probiotic twice a day for one month. Functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI, (a picture that shows metabolic activity within the brain) revealed changes in emotions and sensations (in the brain) in the groups that ate the yogurt. The pictures of the brain indicate responses to messages that are being sent from the gut after food is consumed.

Although the study was funded by a company in the yogurt business, the gut-brain connection can be groundbreaking if the results can be replicated by other researchers. Already,  interestingly enough, there are studies linking poor gut health with depression.

Dr. Mercola, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/20/gut-brain-connection.aspx,  makes a good point, as he describes the physiology of the nervous system. The gut, like the brain, actually contains hormones (like serotonin) that impact the way we feel. These hormones may be the link between the two. Dr. Mercola describes how medications like serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI‘s) that focus on the brain are often not effective because they only work on the brain and not the gut. He also mentions ties between the flora of the gut and obesity, diabetes, gene-expression, autism and the immune system. For more specific information make sure you watch the video.

However, the breakthroughs of today may not seem so current for those who practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/bringing-eastern-medicine-to-the-table/, and Ayurvedic medicine( from the 4th-5th century).  For centuries, the Indian and Chinese cultures have focused on a holistic approach to wellness. Health systems that are based on an understanding that body systems are all interconnected. Harmony amongst all systems are necessary for balance and optimal health. A concept that seems to be supported with this “advanced” research.

There is still so much we do not know about how the body functions but why re-create the wheel. Instead we can learn from the past using Indian and eastern medicine philosophies  to broaden our understanding and develop cutting edge health solutions that will help foster better health care.

There is much to learn about the past. Embrace and build upon it. I believe we will get answers to our health questions much faster and with an enhanced view of the (health) puzzle.

 

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