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Healthy Reading: Wired to Eat, by Robb Wolf

26 April 2017 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Wired to Eat

Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf is a groundbreaking, scientific, easy to read approach to nutrition that teaches us how to figure out our own biochemistry, and consume a variety of amazing dishes without feeling restricted. Robb Wolf takes his approach to ancestral eating to the next level, by teaching the reader how to customize an eating plan that will help with balancing blood sugars, reverse insulin resistance, and find the right amount and type of carbs to consume without it being a guessing game.

Robb Wolf begins the book by opening up about his own health journey from being very sick, to being a very active and strong 40-something year old. He discusses all the hurdles “the Paleo diet” advocates have had to overcome, due to mainstream paradigms painting a picture of Paleo as a fad, and ‘pseudoscience’ way of eating. He also discusses how many in the paleo community became dogmatic with their approach, and how this has also set us back in our ability to move forward. Robb states,

The Ancestral diet or Paleo diet model I talked about in my first book is incredibly powerful, but these concepts are tools and starting points, not final destinations.

Robb Wolf introduces a refreshing shift in this paradigm, based on bio-individuality. He teaches us how different amounts of carbohydrates work differently for different people, and how our genetics wire us to crave certain foods, and digest a certain way. It is his hope that with this book, people will not assume they are failures at eating healthy. They will understand the factors at play, and be able to change their health, through gaining this understanding.

Robb Wolf supplies all the tools needed to help people heal their digestion, balance blood sugar, rewire appetite, and improve sleep and movement. The book is broken down into three phases, so that the reader can take the process step by step, rather than just try to make blind changes overnight and thus feeling like a failure. Throughout the book Robb offers sound tidbits of advice on calories, neuroregulation, sex (and the relation to indulgent eating), hygiene hypothesis, sleep, community, movement, stress, and so much more!

The first phase of the book contains a beautifully laid out, easy to follow, 30 day reset plan, that includes a plan of attack and a menu. For those struggling with autoimmune conditions, he offers a meal plan for that as well! There are recipes in the book to help with the meal planning, and he offers sound advice on how to make the plan work for you. The second phase of the book is a 7-Day carbohydrate test, and information to help the reader determine the amount and right kind of carbohydrates that work best for their own bio-individuality needs. In the third phase, Robb gives the reader many different tools to help with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Overall, this book teaches us that the Paleo paradigm is a great starting point, but that healthy eating is customizable depending on so many factors, which Robb Wolf details. This book really does teach the reader how to rewire their personal relationship with food, as well as offer sound advice on many other lifestyle factors, containing solid scientific advice, yet it is easy to understand and follow. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to bring their health to the next level!

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Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

14 February 2017 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

The Power of Mushrooms

In recent years, traditional plant-based medicines are gaining more and more attention with medical practitioners. Mushrooms being at the top of the list for their many amazing health benefits. Many forms of mushrooms have been used throughout the centuries in Ancient Chinese herbal medicine, with well over 200 different species used in therapeutic capacities throughout the years. There is a great deal of recent research surrounding mushrooms and their potential therapeutic benefits for a variety of conditions such as cancer, digestive health conditions, liver conditions, and autoimmune issues.

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Healthy Reading: Chaga Mushrooms Medical Benefits, by Doc Goodman

14 February 2017 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Welcome to the Microbiome

One of the oldest recorded mushrooms used in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the Reishi mushroom, also known as Ling Zhi. In his book, Chaga Mushroom Medical Benefits, Goodman discusses the use of medicinal mushrooms, with a focus on components of the Reishi mushroom, traditionally used for a variety of medical conditions. Goodman starts by discussing the history of the Chaga mushroom in ancient and traditional cultures. These mushrooms were considered ‘royal’ due to their medicinal value, and therefore very few afforded them.

Goodman goes on to discuss psilocybin, the component of Chaga mushrooms that boosts and regulates the immune system.

Mushrooms that contain psilocybin are known to bolster the immune system where they stimulate production of killer T-cells, macrophages, T-lymphocytes, and the production of killer cells

This helps the body in fighting off many diseases, infections, bacteria, and viruses. Psilocybin also helps with blood pressure and stabilizing blood sugar.

The reader learns where Chaga grows, its appearance, and the fungal family from which it originated. This section was quite interesting as many are unaware that fungi are classified this way, each belonging to a different family. Chaga is a parasite found primarily in birch. Per Goodman, Chaga is irregularly formed, and has a burnt appearance due to massive amounts of melanin absorbed from the birch tree.

Goodman touches upon all the characteristics of the Chaga mushroom, such as necessary growing conditions, as well as the phytochemicals Chaga manufactures, to heal and strengthen the tree it grows on. According to Goodman, the trees with a Chaga-symbiotic relationship live much longer. This was quite fascinating!

Some have been known to live as long as 10,000 years or even more; making them the most powerful living thing in the world. The fungus contains an array of B-vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phenols, and flavonoids.

The author reviews research done covering the safety of consuming the Chaga mushroom. Most of the research done shows Chaga to be 100% safe with no harmful side effects! According to Goodman, Chaga was found to fight diseases and stress without side effects, and was concluded to be the most potent adaptive known. It is the health benefits that helps explain the long life expectancy of many tribes of men and women of Siberia, and the ancient Chinese.

Goodman concludes by discussing availability of Chaga, how to make Chaga mushroom tea, and he shares what he labels “the best Chaga mushroom tea recipe”, which does look amazing! At the end of the book Goodman also touches upon some of the health benefits of the Reishi mushroom, and how to make Reishi mushroom tea as well. This is another popular medicinal mushroom with great health benefits as well.

This book is short, simple, and to the point. It helps the novice person looking to explore uses of medicinal mushrooms, and incorporate them into their daily routines through tea drinking. It gives a great overview of the history and health benefits to consuming Chaga and Reishi, and can get people exploring some amazing ways to bring their health to the next level. Overall this was a great, easy, and informative read!

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Healthy Reading: Missing Microbes, by Martin J Blaser

18 November 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Welcome to the Microbiome

How the overuse of antibiotics is fueling our modern plagues.

The premise of this book is to teach the reader about the impact over prescribing antibiotics has on human health. Blaser discusses the evidence showing antibiotic overuse causes resistance in microbes, as well as an increase in many diseases related to microbiome imbalance. Blaser starts the book off by discussing some of the modern plagues such as obesity and autoimmune conditions, asthma, eczema, etc that are attributed to antibiotic overuse, and a decrease in beneficial microbes.

The idea is that modern plagues are happening because we have made our world too clean. The result is that our children’s immune systems have become quiescent, and are therefore prone to false alarms and friendly fire. A lot of parents try to ramp up their kids’ immune systems by exposing them to pets, farm animals, or barn yards, or better yet, allowing them to eat dirt.

Blaser explains some basic microbiology and discusses the necessary role microbes have in the human body. He tries to help the reader grasp the concept of how vast the microbiome is, encompassing all parts of the world around us. He explains how millions of microbes can fit into just the eye of needled. He reviews many of the different types of bacteria that make up the human microbiome, and some of the roles each type of bacteria play within various parts of the human body.

Without microbes we could not eat or breathe. Without us, most microbes would do just fine.

We learn how early and frequent antibiotic use disrupts the balance of good bacteria, and thus contributes to many of these modern health issues related to gut bacteria. He discusses many of the different ways we establish our microbiome, such as through the vaginal canal at birth, and during breastfeeding and being handled by mother, skin to skin. Overuse of antibiotics by both mother and infant offset this delicate balance of microbes and disrupts normal biological processes.

The reader gains an understanding of the link between the rise of pathogenic diseases and microbiome health. He talks about parasites, plagues, and the rise of health issues that took place during the Industrial Revolution, and from that time period until present.

Blaser discussed the link to gut microbiome imbalance and GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux, obesity and other modern day disease processes. He focuses on antibiotics and their effect on the entire microbiome. He wants the reader to understand the magnitude that common use of antibiotics are having on us. He discusses not only antibiotics prescribed by Doctors, but all covers the impact of modern farming practices compared to the lifestyle of our early ancestors.

Missing Microbes is well written for the common layperson to understand the concepts presented. The information is interesting and compelling, and there is an emphasis on the urgency there is for us to address these issues, and restore the microbiome balance both within ourselves and in the environment. Blaser shares many fascinating statistics! This book is important read for everyone concerned with our current state of health.

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Germ Theory

18 November 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Is All Bacteria Bad?

Popular belief is that the correct way to strengthen your immune system is to ‘kill off all of the germs.’ However, a bit of medical history reveals a very different story. A French biologist named Antoine Bechamp was a prominent teacher in the 1800’s who studied and taught cell biology. He would be much more of a recognized figure today, had Louis Pasteur not introduced ‘germ theories.’ Pasteur researched information on the germ theory of disease and is known for developing what is known as pasteurization, the process of removing bacteria from food and drink. Louis Pasteur went so far as to claim he “discovered” germs.

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Magnesium and Brain Health

26 September 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Magnesium and The Brain

The exploration of the gut-brain axis is top of mind these days, however, research is now finding that nutritional deficiencies (common in our culture) can also affect our brain health and contribute to inflammatory conditions within the brain such as; depression, anxiety, alzheimer’s, other memory issues, insomnia, and certain brain related conditions. Recent research focuses on various forms of magnesium supplementation as an adjunct therapy for brain health. According to Dr Emily Deans in her piece Magnesium and The Brain: The Original Chill Pill,

When you start to untangle the effects of magnesium in the nervous system, you touch upon nearly every single biological mechanism for depression.

Although often viewed as such, the brain is not some separate entity within our body, it is connected to our entire system and works synergistically with the nutrients we consume. In his book The Oscillating Brain: ‘How Our Brain Works’ By Timothy D. Sheehan, M.D.1 , Sheehan explains the structure and function of the brain, and breaks down thoroughly how the brain actually works. Sheehan states, “we’ve traditionally viewed the brain as a black box- a system that can be approached only in terms of input and output without actually understanding how it works.”

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References:
  1. Sheehan, Timothy (2016). The Oscillating Brain: How Our Brain Works. Bloomington, Indiana. Lifeworks Publishing []
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Did You Know? Magnesium and Migraines

26 September 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Topical Magnesium May Help with your Migraine Symptoms

For those who experience migraine headaches, the pain can be debilitating, often taking the individual days to recover from the pain and symptoms. However, an often overlooked deficiency in magnesium can be a big contributing factor. Magnesium deficiency may play a role in the sequence of events that trigger the onset of a migraine. A very recent study looked at the serum concentration levels of magnesium between healthy individuals and those with migraine headaches during the migraine attacks and between attacks. These researchers found that the serum level of magnesium is an independent factor for migraine headaches. They found that patients who experience migraines had a lower serum levels of magnesium during the migraine attacks, and between the attacks compared with healthy individuals.1

Dr Carolyn Dean, author of the book The Magnesium Miracle2 , Revised and Updated Edition listed several of the  biochemical events involving low magnesium, which have been identified in migraine sufferers, and may set the stage for a migraine attack.

  • In non-menopausal women, estrogen rises before the period, causing a shift of blood magnesium into bone and muscles. As a result, magnesium levels in the brain are lowered.
  • When magnesium is low, it is unable to do its job to counteract the clotting action calcium exerts on the blood. Micro blood clots are thought to clog up the brain’s tiny blood vessels, leading to migraines. Several other substances that help create blood clots are increased when magnesium is too low.
  • Low brain magnesium promotes neurotransmitter hyperactivity and nerve excitation that can lead to headaches.

Dr Dean discusses the mechanisms by which magnesium works with migraine headaches. Magnesium helps by relaxing blood vessels so they are allowed to dilate. This reduces the spasms and constrictions that can lead to a migraine headache. Magnesium also regulates the action of brain neurotransmitters and inflammatory substances, and inhibits excess platelet aggregation, thus preventing the formation of tiny clots that can block the blood vessels. Magnesium also helps to relax the muscles, preventing the buildup of lactic acid which contributes to pain. It is suggested that magnesium plays a multifaceted role in the prevention of migraine headaches; That deficiencies in magnesium may play an important role in the pathogenesis of migraine headaches by promoting cortical spreading depression, alteration of neurotransmitter release and the hyperaggregation of platelets.3

Given this multifaceted role of magnesium in migraines, the use of magnesium in both acute and preventive headache treatment has been researched as a potentially simple, inexpensive, safe and well-tolerated option.3

Dr. Dean suggests topical magnesium as an excellent option to help increase magnesium levels in the body. ‘Magnesium oil can be rubbed on the body and is readily absorbed through the skin. It helps to greatly increase the amount of ionic magnesium in body tissues and to overcome the problem some people have with loose stools when they take regular magnesium supplements.’2

If you struggle with migraine headaches, supporting your magnesium levels through the use of topical magnesium, may be a great first step in the right direction!




References:
  1. Assarzadegan F, Asgarzadeh S & Hatamabadi HR (2016). Serum concentration of magnesium as an independent risk factor in migraine attacks: a matched case-control study and review of the literature. International Clinical Psychopharmacology. Vol 31 (5). pp 287-92. DOI: 10.1097/YIC.0000000000000130 []
  2. Dean, Carolyn MD (2006) The Magnesium Miracle Revised and Updated Edition. New York, New York. Ballantine Books. [] []
  3. Edelstein S & Mauskop A (2009). Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine. Expert Rev Neurotherapy. Vol. 9(3): pp 369-79. doi: 10.1586/14737175.9.3.369. [] []
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Healthy Reading: Magnificent Magnesium by Dennis Goodman, MD

26 September 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Welcome to the MicrobiomeDr. Goodman specializes in Cardiology, and wrote this book to address many of the heart health issues that he feels magnesium deficiency is associated with.

Goodman also discusses many of the other health conditions that can be addressed by supplementing with magnesium. Magnesium synergistically balances with various nutrients, elements and enzymes in order for our body to function properly. Magnesium has a powerful effect on immunity, metabolism, and energy. Goodman gives us all the reasons why it’s important to take this necessary nutrient in order to be the healthiest we can be.

Dr. Goodman starts the book off by discussing many very chilling heart disease statistics.

Each year an estimated 785,000 people have a heart attack, and 470,000 more have a repeat attack.

Goodman discusses all the different types of heart disease that exist, and the signs and symptoms for each type. He writes in great detail and with a strong medical knowledge, but easy for people who are not medical professionals to follow and understand. He discusses how magnesium is often overlooked as a necessary mineral. Goodman details all the important roles magnesium plays in our body, such as activating enzymes so the body can carry out hundreds of vital chemical processes, like producing energy, and converting nutrients into energy.

Goodman covers our body’s response to stress, and how this stress response depletes our body of this essential mineral. He details many of the reasons why we are typically deficient in magnesium, such as the decline in the nutritional content of our food and soil.

Depleted mineral supplies in cropland means reduced levels of all nutrients in the crops that are grown on land.

There are other factors contributing to our magnesium deficiency which Goodman touches upon, such as the standard American diet (SAD), typically high in processed grains which bind our nutrients, poor food absorption, and poor food preparation methods. Therefore, even with a high magnesium diet, it might not all be bioavailable, or utilized by our body. Goodman also addresses high calcium intake, pharmaceuticals, GI issues, and sweaty all as contributing factors to magnesium deficiency.

Goodman breaks down every detail of the heart and cardiovascular system, and then focuses on all the ways in which magnesium plays a vital role in each of these processes. Although Goodman focuses primarily on heart disease, he also covers many other important areas of health related to magnesium deficiency, such as; diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, depression, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, migraines, heavy metal toxicity, GI issues, PMS, sleep issues, and even asthma.

Finally, Goodman discusses magnesium rich foods, how to supplement with magnesium, as well as all the various forms of magnesium that are available and how to properly use them.

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Annual Microbiome Issue Book Review: The Human Super-Organism by Rodney Dietert, PhD.

25 August 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Human Super OrganismThe Human Super-Organism is an eye opening, thought provoking, and paradigm-shifting book! Dietert does an amazing job describing how we’ve been destroying our microbiome (the beneficial organisms that keep us healthy) through the heavy use of antibiotics, the belief that we need to be pure organisms, “free of microbes”, and the concept of the human genome being the most important factor in creating a better life for humans. He reveals how flawed the medical science paradigm is in terms of seeing modern diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancer and depression as “normal”, and challenges us to view ourselves as delicate ecosystems that are being disrupted through modern lifestyle. This book helps to guide the reader down the best possible path to self-healing, through nurturing our beneficial bacteria.

Dietert challenges everything we have been taught about biology. Our very “instructions” from teachers, preachers, communities, and government organizations have formed how we see being human, from a genetic and gene standpoint. However, Dietert teaches us that we are really only one percent genome.

Your genes only account for 1 percent of what is guiding cells in and on your body. The problem is that every time we think we know what is going on in biology, someone discovers something that we are missing, and sometimes it is something really big.

Dietert argues that we more accurately are “microbial storage machines” designed to pass our microbes on to future generations. Our microbial genes, aka “the second genome” is now known to drive behavior that supports the bacterial genes. He goes on to discuss the intricate relationship between microbes and ourselves. We are intermixed as an organism, even at the cellular and molecular levels. Saying that many of our present-day genes were not ours to begin with. They were donated by past microbial partners. You are not what you and I were taught. You are more than that. You are a reflective microcosm of the world in which you live.

The author goes on to discuss how our modern world is destroying our delicate balanced ecosystem. He covers everything humans are doing now, such as deforestation and the effect it has on biodiversity-including our own biodiversity! We are a layered ecosystem all tied together. Deitert explains this beautifully- discussing coral reefs, gardens, rain forests, other animals and what happens when the microbiome is degraded, damaged, and even lost. The world’s microbial ecosystems are all connected and entwined.

The first part of the book introduced the reader to a new paradigm regarding biology in general, and human biology in particular. The second half of the book is about revolutionizing and redirecting how we view health care and medicine, with this paradigm shift in mind. Deitert discusses how we need to close the gap between between human biology and how human health is managed in our western culture. He focuses on the immune system and immune health in relation to microbiota. He covers all the different patterns of non-communicable diseases, which is quite fascinating to learn about! He then details the six causes of epidemic, including chemicals and drugs.

Deitert discusses ways in which western medicine can evolve to close this gap in how we typically manage our health. He covers ways to help fix our own healthy microbial balance, including the use of diverse probiotics. He details “your brain on microbes” and how neuroactive metabolites of gut microbes increase serotonin, dopamine, and other important neurotransmitters in the brain.

Finally, Deitert discusses ways in which we can improve our own microbiome and he includes ten specific initiatives or wide-range healthy choices we can make now that can make a marked difference in our health and the health of our children, including vaginal birth or vaginal seeding, breastfeeding, having pets etc. He then digs even deeper and makes suggestions on other things we can do, such as consuming probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented foods, as well as exercising.

Although most health-minded individuals are now quite familiar with the term “microbiome”, this book takes how we view our collective microbes to a whole new level! Dietert composed a well-written, easy to read and understand, and extremely eye-opening book. This book will change how you view life, biology, and disease, nutrition, and medicine. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is concerned about their health, their children’s health, and the health of our world (a complex ecosystem of microbes) in general. Enjoy!

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Annual Microbiome Issue: Microbiome Immune Response

25 August 2016 - Posted by Dr. Chris Oswald

Microbial Diversity Supports Health Immune Response and Healthy Skin in Infants1

Summary

Maintaining healthy skin in infants has become a higher priority in recent years with a strong assertion that a higher biodiversity of early gut microbiota promotes appropriate immune responses regarding skin health and integrity. This study examines the patterns of microbial diversity which support healthy T-cell function during immune response.

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References:
  1. West CE, Rydén P, Lundin D, Engstrand L, Tulic MK, Prescott SL. (2015). Gut microbiome and innate immune response patterns in IgE-associated eczema.45(9):1419-1429. doi:10.1111/cea.12566. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25944283 Accessed August 25, 2016 []
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