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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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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.

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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 []
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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.

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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 []
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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.

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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 []
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