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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


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.

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  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 []

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

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  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. []

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.  


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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