Monthly Archives: July 2014

Exercise, Bodybuilding, Testosterone and Probiotics!

Testosterone is central to growing muscle and getting in shape, for both men and women. Now before you think I’m endorsing injecting testosterone, understand that what I’m talking about is getting your body’s natural production and usage of testosterone up to where it should be. After all, if you could grow muscle or get in shape more like you did as a teenager, you would get more out of exercise, right?

There are many factors affecting testosterone, such as sleep (or lack thereof), inflammation, and gut bacteria. Yes, those microscopic organisms who outnumber human cells 10:1 and whose gene count dwarfs our human DNA! They don’t just help digestion, but also help manage our endocrine system which produces our hormones-including testosterone!

The bodybuilding community is beginning to catch on to the fact that gut health and probiotic bacteria can play a big role in muscle growth. Here is a great article about this very thing: A very well written and entertaining article, by the way!

It isn’t quite as simple as just taking probiotics, of course, although that is a great start. To establish and improve gut bacterial colonies, you should also learn about how mood and behavior impact gut bacterial health, and what steps can be taken to optimize diet and chemical exposure for maximum gut bacterial benefit. The result can be reduced inflammation (which permits harder workouts!) and better testosterone levels (which maximizes the benefits of the exercise!).

More information about how to accomplish these goals, as well as preventing health problems related to gut bacterial imbalances, can be found by reading The Symbiont Factor. You can check it out here:


A Good Guide to Breathing Exercises to Help your Gut Bacteria

In The Symbiont Factor (, I explain that one of the most important variables that we can influence to improve our gut bacteria is autonomic tone. When we are stressed, we become sympathetic (think “fight or flight”) dominant and this functional pattern inhibits digestion and gut mobility. This inhibition is also very harmful to beneficial gut bacteria! So, what can be done short-term to reverse this pattern? Breathing exercises. When under stress, most people suppress their breathing, contributing to sympathetic autonomic tone. When you take deep breaths instead, it stimulates your parasympathetic system, and this is the system that makes your gut function improve. Gut bacteria thrive in this functional pattern!  Now the only question is how to learn to improve breathing dynamics and build a “better-breathing” habit. One resource that I found tremendously helpful in learning this came from one of the sports I participate in: Freediving.  There is a great book called Breatheology, written by Stig Severinsen, which deals with specifically that: how to improve our breathing. You can find the book here: FYI-as I’m in Arkansas, I earn nothing from that link/referral; I’m listing it purely because I think it is that good! Of course, it makes a nice complement to the book I wrote…

How Women can Reduce their Susceptibility to Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Including HIV Infection!

Did you know that a woman’s microbiome, her resident population of symbiont bacteria, plays a critical role in her susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection? How could bacteria protect a person from disease? If you would like answers to questions like this one, check out my newly released book, The Symbiont Factor. Find it here:

The Symbiont Factor is now Published!! Live on Amazon!

Today is the day I finally got to click on the “submit” button and make my book available on Amazon. After a year of hard work writing and making edit corrections, it’s done!  A print copy will be available soon-for now only the e-book version is available.

Here is the link to the book on Amazon:

Nauseous,Vomiting Dog + Goat Milk Kefir=Happy Dog!

Ok, so most of what I’ve written in regards to probiotics and gut bacteria is about humans-but much of it applies to other species as well! Yesterday, my kids informed me that Jill, our oldest dog, had been nibbling grass for a couple of days and had thrown up all of her food in the morning. I made the suggestion to give her about 3/4 cup of goat milk kefir, surmising that it would help settle her stomach the same way it does a human’s. I found out when I got home that it worked, and really well! Not only did she love it, but she perked up completely, ate all of her food, and had no nausea. Another victory for kefir!

Is it possible to have gluten sensitivity reactions from eating meat? Yes…and here’s why:

If you have been following my blog posts and tweets, you know that I’m really against gluten in the diet. Many people have antibodies to gluten itself, resulting in gut inflammation, systemic inflammation, discomfort and a whole host of cascading health problems. Some people do not have antibodies to gluten, but have a type of autoantibody: antibodies to transglutaminase, the enzyme that breaks down gluten in the digestive process. And, some people have antibodies to gliadin, a protein that is one of the by-products of the breakdown of gluten. We perform blood tests for gluten sensitivity in our office (well, we obtain the sample and mail it to the lab!) as well as salivary tests for transglutaminase and gliadin. But, once you suspect or know you have a sensitivity, how do you avoid it? Traditionally, that answer is straightforward: avoid wheat and most grain products. Meat should be safe, right? The Paleo diet is considered a gluten free diet, and yet…what if some meats contained transglutaminase? How could that be, you ask? It is apparently used as a “glue” to bind smaller pieces of meat together to make a bigger piece of meat. Think…cold cuts. Many brands of cold cuts are not shaped like normal meat! When I was a teenager and worked in a deli, a big roast beef was tied together with string. Today, it’s just…a big piece of unnaturally shaped meat. Transglutaminase is used to glue these together. Here’s an article about it: plus a research article on antibodies:

The moral of the story? If it doesn’t look like a normal piece of meat…it probably isn’t. Ironic that people avoiding gluten could still have similar reactions while eating meat, isn’t it?

And now for something unexpected and a little funny! Faces of Scoby


One of my large containers of kombucha had grown such a thick scoby (probably close to 3″ thick!) that I decided to peel off the bottom layers and leave the nice clean top layers. The other reason is that the original bottom layer had some spots where the scoby growth had been inhibited by a competing organism-this did not continue through the top, so peeling off this layer made it like new again. I placed the layer of scoby on a plate for examination, and this was what I found looking back at me!

The entire scoby looked like this:


Not a very happy scoby, is it? They never look too pretty…but are rarely this expressive!

This image does clearly show three or four areas of inhibited growth, a good reason to peel away the affected layers. You should occasionally give your scoby a once-over; a quick physical exam. It should smell like kombucha and not have holes or discolorations other than the light to dark seen here. The bottom left shows two areas that are too dark-some other microoganism is trying to take root there! The scoby appears to have successfully prevented its further growth but peeling off the layer keeps things on the safe and less-unattractive side.

I continue to share scobys with local contacts, but run out of people and always have more scoby than I can give away. Maybe these could be made into some type of food! I have seen some recipes for how to eat them but have yet to try it. My kids are daring me…I will keep you posted!