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If Your Poo Could Talk

5 July 2016 - Posted by Dr. Chris Oswald

Welcome to the Microbiome

What Does Your Poo Say About You?

The topic of bowel movements and bowel habits is one that is not talked about nearly enough. The first time I ask my patients about their bowel habits they act shy and elusive, thinking the answers are gross or embarrassing. The problem is the answers are a bit gross, but even just a simple discussion, let alone an in-depth analysis, can uncover some of the most valuable information about one’s health.

Stools are the end result of how well your digestive tract processes food, from the time you place food into your mouth to the time it makes its way to the toilet. The shape, consistency, color, smell, frequency and even the buoyancy each provide valuable insights about the functionality of the entire digestive tract. And if you don’t already know how critical gut health is, you can read more about that here.

Shape and consistency:
The Bristol stool scale, or chart, provides a standardized methodology in which to classify the stool form. 7 types exist between type 1 and type 7. Each type of stool form points to a functional level of the digestive tract. Type 1 and 2 point towards varying levels of constipation, while type 3 and 4 are seen as normal. Type 5 points to the fact that not enough fiber is being ingested. Type 6 and 7 are seen in the case of an inflamed digestive tract from any number of causes.1

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  1. Amarenco G.(2014). Progrès en Urol J l’Association Fr d’urologie la Société Fr d’urologie. 24(11):708-713. doi:10.1016/j.purol.2014.06.008. []

Fecal Microbiota Transplants

5 July 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

What is a Fecal Microbiota Transplant?

Did you know that Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT) are now being explored as a way to cure IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and other Autoimmune related health conditions associated with gut imbalances?

According to The Fecal Transplant foundation, Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) is a procedure in which fecal matter, or stool, is collected from a tested donor, mixed with a saline or other solution, strained, and placed in a patient, by colonoscopy, endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or enema. The purpose of fecal transplant is to replace good bacteria that has been killed or suppressed, usually by the use of antibiotics, causing bad bacteria to over-populate the colon, creating a severe infection. This infection causes a condition called C. diff. colitis, resulting in often debilitating, sometimes fatal diarrhea. The FMT procedure has proved to be an effective treatment for C-Diff infections.1

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  1. The Fecal Transplant Foundation. What is FMT? Available at: http://thefecaltransplantfoundation.org/what-is-fecal-transplant/. Accessed June 30, 2016 []

Healthy Reading: Brain Maker, The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain for Life

5 July 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Welcome to the MicrobiomeBrain Maker is such a valuable and important book to read if you want to understand the human microbiome, and the affect our gut health has on our overall mental health. Our current medical paradigm separates and compartmentalizes each body system. Each individual system, has a specific medical discipline. Many medical experts believe that what goes on in the gut, stays in the gut. Dr. Perlmutter challenges this paradigm, and teaches us just how much our gut health profoundly affects our brain health and all other areas of health. Dr. Perlmutter suggests the gut has everything to do with our general wellbeing, and our mental health.

What’s taking place in your intestines today, is determining your risk for any number of neurological conditions.

Dr. Perlmutter starts the book by introducing us to the microbiome. He discusses the germ theory and how we as a culture tend to view bacteria as a bad thing. Perlmutter teaches the reader how we have evolved to have a symbiotic relationship with our bacteria, and the essential role it plays in the health of our body. Perlmutter suggests that our gut bacteria affect our immune functions, detox, inflammation, neurotransmitter and vitamin production, nutrient absorption, and even signaling of hungry and full.

Dr. Permutter also discusses what makes for a healthy microbiome, and what makes a microbiome go “bad.” He discusses risk factors for having a microbiome imbalance, such as taking antibiotics while pregnant, being born via c-section, being diagnosed with autoimmune issues, and many more. He goes on to detail the function beneficial microbes carry out, such as creating a barrier against foreign pathogens, and aiding with digestion and nutrient absorption.

Perlmutter goes on to detail the gut-brain connection, and just how profoundly our gut health affects the health of the brain. He discusses the impact of stress and immune health in relation to the health of the brain.

The neurons in the gut are so innumerable that many scientists are now calling the totality of them the “second brain.”

Perlmutter details the three strongest forces that impact microbiome health, as well as details potential triggers and causes of a “sick” microbiome. He goes into depth about inflammation in relation to brain health, and the profound affect our modern diet has on the health of the brain. He educates the reader about the impact of gut health on depression and anxiety, two disease processes that are very common in modern culture. He also addresses dementia, autism, and other brain related conditions associated with a gut microbiome imbalance. Perlmutter details important dietary changes to make, as well as other lifestyle changes to address our gut and brain health.

The book portrays amazing passion, teaching the reader about their own gut bacteria and the impact this has on brain health. Perlmutter possesses an amazing ability to explain medical terms in a way that can be easily understood by anyone. I highly recommend this book to both practitioners and laymen alike. It is eye opening, easy to read, and life-changing in terms of understanding brain health.


Collagen: What is it, What is it used for, What are the benefits? Attributes of a better quality collagen.

7 June 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

What is collagen?

What holds complex organisms together? One of the principal answers is the rough, fibrous material known as collagen.1 Collagen consists of polypeptide chains of protein (Glycine, Proline, Hydroxyproline and Arginine), folded into a triple-helical conformation. It makes up 30% of the protein in the body, and up to 70% of the protein in the skin. Collagen ensures cohesion, elasticity, and regeneration of all our connective tissue. Collagen is like the ‘glue’ that holds us together.

Although once regarded as a more or less passive scaffold serving mainly to provide support for extracellular matrices, collagen is now acknowledged to have several additional physiologic roles. These include a role in morphogenesis and development, chemotaxis, platelet adhesion and aggregation, and cell attachment. Regardless of these and other potential subsidiary roles, the classic and most prominent function of collagen is the provision and maintenance of physical support for extracellular matrices.2

There are several types of collagen structure formations and five major types of collagen, each fulfilling a different role within the body. As we age, mutations in collagen can alter the expression or primary structure and function. As a result, this decline in collagen affects our connective tissue such as joints, ligaments, bones, skin, and even affects our gut health! Our modern eating habits and lack of movement also contribute to this collagen decline. Finally, cortisol released during stress also increases the breakdown of collagen. Decreased collagen can put us at risk for a number of health issues.

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  1. Prockop, D. (1998). What holds us together? Why do some of us fall apart? What can we do about it?. Matrix Biology Volume 16, Issue 9, March 1998, Pages 519–528. []
  2. Steffen Gay & Edward J. Miller (2009). What is collagen, What is Not, Ultrastructural Pathology 4:4. 365-377, DOI: 10.3109/01913128309140589. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0945053X98900646 Accessed June 2, 2016 []

Top 7 Benefits of Collagen

7 June 2016 - Posted by Leah Nicolo

Did you know collagen benefits go far beyond skin and joint health?

Most people have heard of collagen, which is commonly used in lotions for the skin, and supplements for joint health, but many don’t realize the powerful and broad support collagen can provide. Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins within the body; accounting for about 30% of the body’s entire protein content. It is because of this broad dispersion throughout the body that increasing dietary or supplemental collagen may have dramatic health-supporting benefits.1

Scientists have identified at least 28 different types of collagen throughout the body, with the most abundant being type I, II, and III. Each type of collagen provides tissue specific benefits. The five most common types are:

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  1. MacIntosh J Webberley D. (2016). What is Collagen? What Does Collagen Do?. Medical News Today. 2015. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0945053X98900646 Accessed June 3, 2016 []

Healthy Reading: The Bone Broth Miracle, by Ariane Resnick, CNC

6 June 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

The Bone Broth Miracle is a compelling book about the benefits of consuming bone broth, and it covers everything you need to know! As an avid bone broth consumer, I was already aware of many of the health benefits. However, I learned many new things about it. The author discusses the history of bone broth, the nutritional benefits of consuming it, and shares a bunch of great recipes. All of the information is provided in a very relatable manner.

The first part of the book gives an introduction to bone broth, and explains the history behind it. Resnick discusses where to source the bones from, and explains the difference between grass-fed, free-range, pasture-raised, wild-caught and organic. She then discusses collagen and gelatin;

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The Ancestral Health, Functional Medicine Connection

21 April 2016 - Posted by Dr. Chris Oswald

Respecting Genetics Through Ancestral Health and Functional Medicine

Ancestral health and functional medicine are movements in healthcare rapidly increasing in acceptance and popularity among both patients and clinicians. Mounting research provides powerful support for each approach, but are the approaches really all that different? Each relies on a specific set of principles to guide the clinician through a healthcare decision-making process that recognizes the body’s ability to self-heal, while also providing interventions to support its efficient biochemical function.

Our modern lifestyles don’t necessarily honor how the human body prefers to be treated. Determining what might be the most appropriate lifestyle requires an understanding of genetic predisposition, environmental influences at play, and one’s current state of health. These are the keys to taking either the ancestral health or functional medicine approach. With each model, once you have gained insight into an individual’s goals and predispositions, one can derive a plan with a foundation that caters to each person’s biochemical individuality.

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Did You Know? Eat Seasonally for Optimal Health

21 April 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Our Ancestors Ate Seasonally for Health and Survival

Our early ancestors were not eating strawberries imported from another country during the winter-time. They were forced to eat what was available to them both seasonally and locally. Perhaps this is the way we all should be eating! Those who follow a paleo eating philosophy, want to mimic the diet of our early ancestors within the context of a modern culture. The idea is to ensure sustainable health for both ourselves and for the environment by accessing fresh local food, with the highest bioavailable nutrient content.

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Healthy Reading: The Paleo Manifesto – Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health by John Durant

21 April 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Welcome to the MicrobiomeThere are many paleo-diet books out there, explaining how to eat for optimal health. However, this book is very different. In fact, it isn’t a recipe or nutrition book. Durant actually shares the science and history behind the paleo lifestyle, and why it makes the most sense from a biological standpoint. Durant explains how following this lifestyle (all aspects of it, not just eating), can help with many modern health issues we face.

In the first section of the book Durant gives us an overview of the history behind the human diet. He discusses life in a zoo for animals, and the behavior changes the animals exhibit when removed from their natural habitat. This gives us an understanding of how important it is to know our roots as human animals!

To understand human health we have to study our own species, the human animal. We start by looking at how we lived as hunter-gatherers on the African savannah.

Durant details how early hunter-gatherer tribes typically went about their day, divided labor, how they dressed, and what they typically ate. Unlike our modern day diet staples, heavily comprised of gluten and dairy, the hunter-gatherers diet was very diverse.

Over the course of a year a diet might have included hundreds of wild plant species, dozens of wild mammals, fish, reptiles, and insects. Almost the entire animal could be eaten or put to use, including bones, organs and marrow. Roots and tubers were an important food source. The wild predecessors to grains, like wheat, corn or rice were negligible until late in the Paleolithic era, though some wild grasses were consumed.

In the second section of the book Durant describes how a paleo lifestyle can be incorporated in a modern world. He goes over every aspect of primal living, not just diet. Durant discusses principles for a healthy diet, fasting, movement, standing and walking, barefoot running, thermoregulation, sleep, and circadian rhythm. He takes ancient principles and describes how to incorporate this into your current lifestyle.

In the last part of the book, Durant discusses some of the more “taboo” aspects of the paleo lifestyle, such as actually hunting down, and fishing for your own food. He discusses vegetarianism and other ethical issues surrounding agriculture and the industrial food system.

Our industrial food system currently feeds the world, but has some serious health, ethical, and environmental drawbacks.

Durant concludes that our planet will be here for a very long time, even after we are gone. We are not destroying the planet, it’s a self correcting system. If we screw up, we destroy ourselves, not the earth.

The Paleo Manifesto covers history, archaeology, sociology of food, and throughout he carries a sense of humor that really keeps the reader engaged. This book gives readers an honest look at the Paleo Lifestyle. Durant doesn’t make it all about paleo eating, as many other authors do. He really delves into all the components of this lifestyle! Rather than listing out paleo “do’s” and “don’ts” Durant discusses the overall purpose of the paleo lifestyle, which is living for optimal health!


History and Benefits of Clay

24 March 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

History of Clay

Minerals are the main source of life on our planet, and are imperative to our survival. Minerals are necessary for all processes in the body, including the assimilation of vitamins, fats, proteins, and carbs as well as biochemical functions that occur. Minerals help with everything from muscle contractions to the production of hormones. A natural source of all the minerals used and consumed by humans, for a variety of purposes, is clay.

Dating back to the prehistoric era, the earliest humans used clay to treat minor ailments such as food poisoning, aches and pains, infections, and mineral deficiencies. They even turned to clay for spa and beauty treatments.1

There are indications that homo erectus and homo neanderthalensis used ochres mixed with water and different types of mud to cure wounds, to soothe irritations, as a method of skin cleaning, etc. This might be due to their mimicking animals, many of which instinctively use minerals for such purposes.2

The first written reference known to exist upon the use of ‘‘stones,” and a description of their mineral benefits, dates to Rome, 60 BC. Throughout ancient history, clay has been used topically for soothing the skin, as well as internally for gastrointestinal issues. Aristotle (384–322 BC) made the first reference to the deliberate eating of earth, soil, or clay by humans (for therapeutic and religious purposes). Later, Marco Polo described how in his travels he saw Muslim pilgrims cure fevers by ingesting ‘‘pink earth’’. This practice is still followed in certain countries and communities for therapeutic purposes, or even to relieve famine.2

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