Home » Blog

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!

Comments

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.

Read full entry »



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 []
Comments

Annual Microbiome Issue: Gut-Brain Axis

25 August 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Diet and the Effect on Memory, Gut Microbiota and Markers of Brain Inflammation and Plasticity1

Summary

Researchers look at the long-term effects of a high saturated fat and sugar diet on gut microbiota, neuroinflammation and neuroplasticity markers. Rats were given a 2 week diet of either a control, sugar, saturated fatty acid, or polyunsaturated fatty acid diet. There were group differences in the amount of energy derived from protein, fat complex, and simple carbohydrates.

Read full entry »



References:
  1. Beilharz, J, Kaakoush, NO, & Manium J et al. (2016). The effect of short-term exposure to energy-matched diets enriched in fat or sugar on memory, gut microbiota and markers of brain inflammation and plasticity. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. pii: S0889-1591(16)30345-2. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2016.07.151. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159116303452 Accessed August 25, 2016 []
Comments

Annual Microbiome Issue: Inflammation and Microbial Diversity

25 August 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Healthy Diet Rich in Non-Digestible Carbohydrates Supports Healthy Weight in Children1

Summary

Significant correlations are made between gut microbiota and obesity in children. However, these researchers wanted to determine if this implication also plays a role in the development of obesity in the genetic disease population. Researchers look to determine if a diet rich in non-digestible, yet fermentable carbohydrates would contribute to the alleviation of metabolic issues within this population.

Read full entry »



References:
  1. Zhang C, Yin A, Li H et al. (2015). Dietary Modulation of Gut Microbiota Contributes to Alleviation of Both Genetic and Simple Obesity in Children. Ebio Medicine.2(8): 968-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2015.07.007. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26425705 []
Comments

Annual Microbiome Issue: Metabolic Health and Weight Maintenance

25 August 2016 - Posted by Dr. Chris Oswald

Dietary Polyphenols and Water-Soluble Fibers Support Healthy Microbiome Balance and Immune Response.1

Summary

The use of bariatric surgery has proven to be highly effective in the treatment of obesity. The changes seen in the gut microbiota are seen to mediate some of the beneficial effects of the bariatric surgery. This study seeks to identify the durability of the microbiome changes associated with both Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) and vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG). The authors also sought to identify a causal relationship between the microbiome changes seen and weight loss in humans.

Read full entry »



References:
  1. Tremaroli V, Karlsson F, Werling M, et al. (2015). Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass and Vertical Banded Gastroplasty Induce Long-Term Changes on the Human Gut Microbiome Contributing to Fat Mass Regulation. Cell Metab. 22(2):228-238. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2015.07.009. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26244932 []
Comments

Annual Microbiome Issue: External Factors to Microbiome Health

25 August 2016 - Posted by Dr. Chris Oswald

Stress Affects the Ability to Efficiently Absorb Nutrients in the Digestive Tract1

Summary

When fermentable carbohydrates are passing through the small intestine, not fully digested, they are rapidly fermented by the colon, by susceptible subjects. This malabsorption may be exacerbated by stress.

Read full entry »



References:
  1. Murray KA, Lam C, Rehman S, et al. (2016). Corticotropin-releasing factor increases ascending colon volume after a fructose test meal in healthy humans: a randomized controlled trial. 103(5):1318-1326. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.125047. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27099247 []
Comments

Physiological and Environmental Benefits of Seaweed

26 July 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

The New Superfood

Seaweed is one of the most primitive life forms and has been consumed and utilized by humans for many centuries. Hundreds of species of seaweed exist and are consumed worldwide. Seaweed has many important health benefits, and we as a culture should be consuming much more of it! In this piece we discuss the components of seaweed that make it a functional food, as well as the many physiological and biological benefits to consuming seaweed as a regular part of the diet. Another important aspect we touch on is the sustainability and minimal environmental impact to farming seaweed.

What are the components of seaweed that make it a functional food?

Seaweed is rich in several important nutrients that help with facilitating many biological functions within the body. Seaweed contains specific bioactive proteins, peptides, and amino acids. Some of the proteins in seaweed have the ability to take part in cell-to-cell communication, recognizing metastatic (cancer) cells, and can have an anti-inflammatory effect. Other proteins have an antiviral, anti-tumor, and anti-atherosclerosis, effect. One free amino acid found in seaweed is Taurine. Taurine works as an antioxidant, and prevents against toxicity of various heavy metals by preventing absorption in the stomach.1

Read full entry »



References:
  1. Eresha Mendis & Se Kwon, Kim (2011). Marine Medicinal Foods: Implications and Applications, Macro and Micro Algae. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research. Vol 64. Pp 6-13. []
Comments

Healthy Reading: Superfood Seagreens; A Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Seaweed by Barton Seaver

26 July 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Welcome to the MicrobiomeSuperfood Seagreens is an informational guide that teaches the reader all about the health benefits and sustainability of integrating seaweed into the diet. This book also contains over 75 seaweed recipes, teaching the reader how to prepare seaweed into some amazing healthy dishes. Seaver teaches us about the nutrients in seaweed, how to choose, buy and store seaweed, and even discusses safety with regard to potential metal and iodine toxicity.

The first chapter of the book focuses on the history and uses of seaweed, as well as the production and sustainability of sea farming. Seaver talks about getting comfortable with the idea of seaweed, and finding creative ways to incorporate it into the diet. He talks about how seaweed can bring different flavors to dishes like lasagna and even guacamole.

If you have any doubts, just think about the first time someone offered you kale. Well, my friend, I’m here to tell you that kelp is the new kale. So here’s to your health!

Seaver discusses the global industry of sea farming, and how seaweed sustains itself on nutrients in the water, without requiring any additional sources of energy or nutrients. Seaweed is a necessary part of the ecosystem, that also happens to support our health.

In chapter two Seaver teaches us what seaweed is; and talks about the many different varieties that exist, such as kelp, kombu, and algae. In this book Seaver explores a few species, even though most seaweed are edible. He focuses on seaweed that he knows will be available to consumers in marketplaces, vs types that would be difficult to find.

In chapter three Seaver reviews all the nutritional components to seaweed. Seaweed contains several important vitamins, minerals, proteins, and sterols. It contains many times more minerals than land plants. Seaver goes into detail on each of the nutrient components found in seaweed, and how they benefit our health. He discusses what tools to equip the kitchen with in order to prepare seaweed, as well as what foods to stock the pantry with as a complement. Recipes include soups, salads, sauces, side dishes, and even baked goods.

Seaver concludes the book by answering some frequently asked questions such as: Does seaweed taste fishy? and Can seaweed interfere with my blood thinning medication?

Overall, this was a great beginners guide to fully understanding all the health benefits to consuming seaweed, as well as a great recipe book for incorporating it into the diet. I’m excited to try out all these great recipes, and reap the amazing health benefits. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in bettering their health and the environment through consuming seaweed.  

Comments

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

Read full entry »



References:
  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. []
Comments

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

Read full entry »



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