I wrote about the connection between gut bacterial symbionts and Autism in The Symbiont Factor (you’ve read my book, right? 🙂 and often come across studies confirming this connection.
The most dramatic way to quickly alter a patient’s microbiome is FMT, or Fecal Microbial Transplant-yep, that’s a poop transplant- and that is what this study looked at.
While it wasn’t a huge study, the results were pretty clear cut-improvements both in gut function as well as in autism-related behaviors. Check it out! link is below. Enjoy 😉
The Symbiont Factor on Amazon
So, like many of you, I like to snack. Because I swim, bike, do Crossfit, (and even run sometimes!) I try to keep my protein intake high enough to help my body recover and improve from the exercise. If I don’t, then I also don’t improve as much, and I hurt more, which…bugs me. Like many of you, I’m gluten sensitive, so my bars have to be gluten-free. I’ve found that they also have to be made of something that doesn’t melt and become inedible if it gets warm in the car or the gym bag, because that bugs me too! That usually narrows it down to Lara Bars. However, Lara bars only have 4g of protein for 30g of carbs. While the carbs are from dried fruit, which does help recover from exercise, that’s really not a significant amount of protein. Then I discovered Exo bars, which have 10g of protein and as little as 23g of carbs-a much better ratio. Where does the protein come from? we’ll get back to that in a moment LOL. First, let’s cover the “why” of it. Jerky has great protein, but no carbs, and I need some of both to recover from exercise. While I do eat meat, many of you don’t, either for health or ethical reasons. And even if you do eat meat like me, you might still enjoy a better snack bar. So what if your new source of snack protein was produced in a way that resulted in 12 times the protein for the same amount of feed, and 2000 times the protein for the same amount of water, compared to beef? What if the protein production emitted 1% of the greenhouse gases that beef production does? For those of you that aren’t interested in that train of thought, what if it tasted great and had 2.5x the protein of a Lara Bar?
So, why not give it a try? They make great snacks and generate interesting conversations too. You can order a sample pack using this link: http://mbsy.co/hSdVq
Be sure to let me know if you like them as much as I do!
Many of you reading this are familiar with the concept of “leaky gut”. For the benefit of those that are new to the subject, our intestinal epithelium lining strictly controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream and what does not pass. This function is known as intestinal barrier function, and the columnar cells making up the gut lining include “gates” that are modulated by the molecules Zonulin and Occludin, which alter gate function. When the gut is inflamed and the microbiome is imbalanced, the gut becomes more permeable, allowing the absorption of food molecules (triggering food sensitivity immune reactions) and pieces of bacterial proteins known as LipoPolySaccharides (LPS, which triggers systemic inflammation ).
This most recently published research study found that Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus organisms produced secretions that prevent this process quite directly!
What should you do to help grow more Bifido and Lacto?
Meditate and practice Yoga or something similar, or learn Wim Hof’s breathing and autonomic exercises (go ahead, Google it…very interesting individual!)
Fermented foods, such as http://astonesthrowtohealth.com or coconut Kefir, fermented oatmeal which are earlier in this Blog
Work at sleeping better, preferably 9 hours a night (really)
Prebiotics: Arabinogalactan (available here:
Here’s some quick food for thought: isn’t it funny that we consider MSG a bad thing (due to it being monosodium glutamate, and glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter), and many people have problems with it-yet the two most beneficial gut symbionts we know of actually consume MSG and metabolize it into GABA, which is the brain neurotransmitter that is calming and inhibitory…almost like MSG sensitivity could be a marker for poor levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, isn’t it? And, people sensitive to MSG often have problems with excitotoxicity, where the brain is overstimulated by the MSG. Almost like? yes, not enough inhibitory GABA. hmmm.
It appears that the microbiome’s ability to help fight cancer is being recognized. This study identifies weaknesses in current cancer care protocols, pointing out that chemotherapy and antibiotics diminish the microbiome, and that the microbiome increases immune response to cancer cells. So, really, part of cancer care should be building up the microbiome. Just an example of one of those times that the most advanced science proved the need for ancient practices 🙂 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24832470
Branched Chain Amino Acids, BCAA’s, are a common addition to the diet for bodybuilders and athletes. Here’s a new research study, published this month, that shows BCAA’s help change your gut bacteria. Specifically, the encourage more Bifidobacteria (which boosts immune function but lowers inflammation) and Akkermansia (which helps build lean muscle mass and reduce fat). As there is much research now connecting aging with inflammation, even calling it “inflammaging”, these are both great things. It’s also somewhat of a departure from the thought of usng probiotics and prebiotics to modulate the gut bacteria, adding amino acids to our microbiome toolbox!
Most of us should be familiar with the disease known as Parkinson’s Disease, which ruins countless lives by creating a movement disorder characterized by shaking type of movements. It leads to difficulty moving at all, and in late stages the most common treatments lead to dyskinesthia which is a type of writhing uncontrolled movement. Without detailing the actual nerve pathways, part of the problem is neurodegeneration in a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, in an area known as the Substantia Nigra. When this area is overtaxed and inflamed, a process known as oxidative stress occurs, damaging neurons and created neurofibrous “tangles” known as α-synuclein aggregations.
There is a great deal of research that has been done to detail some natural ingredients that can be used to either prevent, or help treat Parkinson’s. These can sometimes reduce the amount of medication needed, and postpone the onset of dyskinesthia. In some cases successful treatment has occurred and symptoms are gone. The major “theme” of treatment with natural products is to reduce inflammation, block oxidative stress, and promote healthy metabolism in those neuronal cells.
Curcumin is an extract of turmeric, and contains 95% curcuminoids-the active ingredient. This makes it 19 times stronger than turmeric, which only contains 5%. Curcumin has been found to block inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, rescue nerve cells that have been affected, and even to reverse the accumulation of α-synuclein in the brain. I’ve attached a little over two dozen peer-reviewed studies about curcumin and Parkinson’s in the Bibliography. Curcumin is best taken before a meal, and with a tablespoon of coconut oil which boosts absorption and is good for the brain as well.
Another useful herb is Skullcap, Scuttelaria baikalensis, which contains the ingredient Baicalein. This has also been extensively studied for use in treating and reversing some of the effects of Parkinson’s, and is a very promising herb. Note that there aren’t any studies that look at what would happen if you use this AND curcumin, but you can imagine that it should work even better as they do not function through the same mechanisms.
The last strategy I’d like to mention is gut bacteria optimization. As I wrote an entire book about gut bacteria (The Symbiont Factor) I’ll try to be brief. Our gut bacteria wield a big influence on brain and immune function, helping to both tone and control immune function and regulate both the production of neurotransmitters and the sensitivity of neurotransmitter receptor sites in the brain. An imbalance of gut bacteria, which can be assessed with a uBiome.com gut bacteria census, can create functional changes that make the brain less efficient and more inflamed. This sets the stage for Parkinson’s, as neuroinflammation is a required building block of this disease.
Now, you might ask yourselves why this information is not more well known in the Parkinson’s world…it doesn’t actually even appear on the National Parkinson’s Foundation website although many less effective interventions are mentioned. This is because, simply, much of the research is done in search of new drugs to create by copying the action of useful herbs and natural processes. This is one way that companies explore for new drugs that can be patented. The real question is why we would wait for that, when the research shows these natural substances to be quite effective in lab and animal models. Of course, double-blind trials on humans will not be performed until drug candidates are created…so don’t look for the final proof of natural substances, because these trials are very expensive and are only carried out when a candidate drug ($$$) is being evaluated. In other words, follow the money!
The Symbiont Factor: http://tinyurl.com/z5568ct
Baicalein inhibits α-synuclein oligomer formation and prevents progression of α-synuclein accumulation in a rotenone mouse model of Parkinson’s disease.
Hu Q, Uversky VN, Huang M, Kang H, Xu F, Liu X, Lian L, Liang Q, Jiang H, Liu A, Zhang C, Zhu S.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Jul 14. pii: S0925-4439(16)30168-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2016.07.008. [Epub ahead of print]