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Adjust Your Circadian Rhythm to Sleep Better

1 November 2017 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Sleep betterSleep is just as important for our health as nutrition and exercise. Culturally we tend value work over sleep. However, quality sleep can make a huge difference in the quality of the work you produce. Sleep affects every aspect of our lives and should be taken more seriously. Lack of sleep affects our mental health, our emotions, and our physical performance as well.

During the summer we get plenty of sunshine, and sunshine helps to produce quality melatonin, a hormone that helps to induce sleep. During the long days of summer we fall into a “summer rhythm” with our sleep. Come fall, the days start getting shorter and we get less daylight. So how can we adjust our internal clock to ease into the darkness and still get sound, quality sleep?

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Benefits of Unprotected Sun Exposure

12 July 2017 - Posted by Leah Nicolo

Healthy Sun Exposure

Moderate Sun Exposure Is Healthy

Mainstream media and the medical community warn to avoid the sun, and to use sunscreen, to protect us from skin cancer. However, research shows that vitamin D synthesized through sun exposure, protects us from many forms of cancer.1 Moderate sun exposure is imperative to our health. Sunscreen use, especially higher SPF, blocks the production of Vitamin D synthesis from sunlight2 and many contain neurotoxins and hormone disruptors. There are many reasons why we need some sun exposure, and should stop fearing the sun all together. Women with active sunlight exposure habits experience a lower mortality rate than women who avoid sun exposure.3

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References:
  1. Feldman D, Krishnan AV, & Swami S et al. (2014). The role of vitamin D in reducing cancer risk and progression. Nature Reviews Cancer. 14, 342-357. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nrc3691 Accessed July 1, 2017 []
  2. Grigalavicius M, Iani, V & Juseniene A. (2016). Layer Thickness of SPF 30 Sunscreen and Formation of Pre-vitamin D. International Journal of Cancer Research and Treatment. Vol. 36 no. 3, 1409-1415. []
  3. Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Nielsen K, et al. (2016). Avoidance of sun exposure as a risk factor for major causes of death: a competing risk analysis of the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. J Intern Med; 280: 375–387. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joim.12496 Accessed July 1, 2017 []
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Early Childhood Behavior and Gut Health

12 June 2017 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Childhood Behavior and Gut Health

Gut Microbiota, Neurodevelopment, and Childhood Behavior

Our gastrointestinal tracts harbor complex communities of microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiome. These microbes inhabit the gut through vaginal birth, breastfeeding, diet, and lifestyle. The microbiome contributes to epithelial barrier function, gut homeostasis, and immune system function.1 Recent research is showing that the state of the microbiome has a much larger effect on the body than any other system. Brain development, mood, and behavior are all impacted by the microbiome. In this piece, we are discussing how disturbances within the microbiome can influence children’s mood and behavior, specifically addressing research pertaining to attention deficit disorder and autism.

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References:
  1. Diaz Heijtz, R. (2016). Fetal, neonatal, and infant microbiome: Perturbations and subsequent effects on brain development and behavior. Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal. Volume 21, Issue 6, Pages 410–417. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0057431 Accessed June 1, 2017 []
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Healthy Reading: Bugs, Bowels, and Behavior–

12 June 2017 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Wired to Eat

The Groundbreaking Story of the Gut-Brain Connection

Edited by Teri Arranga, Claire I. Viadro, MPH, PhD, Lauren Underwood, PhD, this book gives us a thorough understanding of the microbiome and the connection it has to our immune system function. The authors discuss how having a healthy gut flora balance facilitates detoxification, digestion, elimination, immunity, as well as metabolic effects. They also get into disease conditions associated with gut inflammation, and the connection between the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis.

More and more you hear a great deal about the gut-brain connection, and how our digestion impacts our brain health. These authors delve into the science behind how the gut and brain are connected, and the influence our gut microbiome has on behavior and brain health. This book is a must-read for parents or caregivers who are dealing with autism, ADHD, ADD, and food allergies.

Though written in a scholarly format— dry, and very direct, if the reader can move past this, the content is backed by some sound and significant, scientific research. The authors cite hundreds of current scientific studies, giving the book significant credibility.

We learn how lifestyle factors such as diet, antibiotic use, and other factors can lead to a leaky gut. These pathogenic invaders or foreign proteins that are not digested are able to pass through the gut, and contribute to inflammation, including brain inflammation. The authors cover how this delicate relationship between the gut and brain can easily be disrupted, and lead to chronic brain conditions such as autism and ADHD.

There is a chapter on gluten and immune dysregulation, as well as modern dairy and other dietary issues that can contribute to GI dysfunction associated with brain health. Finally, the book discusses the dire need for probiotics as well as dietary changes to help heal the gut and decrease inflammatory responses affecting brain health. In the summary of the book, the authors suggest,

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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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