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 using probiotics and prebiotics to modulate the gut bacteria, adding amino acids to our microbiome toolbox!
I’ve been working on rewriting my book description, as I’ve never liked the one I used. So, today’s post is all about updates on TSF. I’m working on the next book too, and it’s all about applying the information from TSF to everyday life! So, here’s the update so far, with a linky at the bottom:
What if many of the things you thought you knew about being human did not actually work the way you were taught?
What if scientific research into gut bacteria had revealed huge amounts of information about their role in human function, health, emotions and appetite and healthcare hadn’t caught up at all?
What if you could find out the key to controlling your weight without starving yourself or undergoing dangerous surgery?
What if the book you’re looking at could teach you about the explosion of scientific research on the microbiome, without you having to read a few thousand studies to understand it?
You’ve probably heard that our gut bacteria vastly outnumber our human cells, and our gut bacteria’s gene pool includes more than one hundred times the gene count as our human cells. What does that mean and how does it work?
If you’re interested in knowing more about “what makes us tick” physically and emotionally, how to hurt less and age more gracefully, then this book is for you!
If you’re tired of books that state the author’s opinion or make broad claims without scientific backing or support, this book includes about 1300 peer-reviewed research studies, and the e-book has links to those studies on the National Library of Health/National Library of Medicine.
One of the inspirations for this book was research published by the late Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob, a brilliant Israeli researcher. I was able to share this book with him before he passed away, and this is what he said about it:
“This excellent and long needed book presents in a clear and sound manner the recent dramatic findings about our gut bacteria. These thousands of trillions microorganisms living inside us play a crucial role in regulating our well-being throughout life. The new message is of great importance to the entire medical community, life sciences researchers, as well as the general public. Realizing the role of gut bacteria can help each of us to better understand the effect of nutrients, as mediated by the gut bacteria, on our body in health, in disease and in special times, such as pregnancy, nursing or periods of high stress. For example, we now understand that the massive use of antibiotics in children, adults and agriculture has endangered our vital microbiome and is liable to cause diseases such as Type 2 diabetes on a global scale. The gut microbiome is emerging as a vital part of humanity, without which health and happiness are severely compromised. The time has come for this knowledge to be widely understood!”
Professor Eshel Ben-Jacob, International member of the American Philosophical Society
Professor of Physics
The Maguy-Glass Professor
in Physics of Complex Systems
School of Physics and Astronomy
Tel Aviv University, 69978 Tel Aviv, Israel
Thanks for visiting my blog! First, a brief bit of news: In the next series of blog posts, I will be focusing less on theory and more on practical information about what to do. This signifies a shift that goes along with my working on my next book! And, now you know more about the next book-it will be quite a bit more how-to, still backed up by peer reviewed research but of a more practical nature than The Symbiont Factor is.
Ok, the first thing to cover? There is apparently no perfect universal microbiome. There is, however, an optimum microbiome for each particular individual, at least in theory. There are patterns that researchers have revealed, however, and these can serve as a guide to improving our own microbiome and health.
Last week a research study was published indicating that pomegranate consumption boosted the levels of Akkermansia mucinophilia, one of the (usually) beneficial healthy bacteria. Akkermansia has been the subject of many recent articles, as it has been found to reduce body fat accumulation and helps build more lean muscle while reducing inflammation. Using prebiotics to preferentially nourish desirable organisms can be a vital part of your symbiont strategy.
Pomegranate is available in many forms; it is available as a juice, it is available in capsule form and of course as a pomegranate fruit. For long-term use I recommend capsules. The study was 4 weeks in length, and resulted in a 47-fold increase in Akkermansia so it is important to consume it regularly for best results.
Of course, Pomegranate has many other health benefits, but its prebiotic tendency to improve the microbiome is very significant. The microbial by-products of metabolizing pomegranate have powerful anti-cancer effects as well!
(remember to register as a patient on Progressive Labs, and specify me, Dr. Richard Matthews, as the person who referred you there. Thanks!)
One of the central concepts of The Symbiont Factor is that there are times in nature that organisms can take control of another organism’s nervous system, rendering it “a zombie”. This isn’t a zombie in the Hollywood sense, just a host organism that no longer is singularly in control of itself due to the effects of other organisms that “hijack” its nervous system.
In this case, a new organism has been discovered, a fearsome looking wasp in Thailand. This wasp hunts cockroaches, and injects a neurotoxin into them. This makes the cockroach lose active control of its legs so that it cannot escape, and the wasp can eat it slowly while it is still alive. Nature really has some gruesome stories, doesn’t it?
In our own bodies, we have a colony of trillions of bacteria. The late Prof Eshel Ben-Jacob performed experiments and wrote articles documenting how large bacterial colonies were able to act with logic, more as multicellular organisms. Like multicellular organisms, their activities have a goal: survival. In the case of our microbiome, it is beginning to appear that their ability to alter our nervous system function and our brain activity is not randomized. There is a bi-directional influence at work: as an example, the bacteria that thrive on a fatty diet make us crave fatty foods, and those that thrive on sweets make us crave sweets. If we eat the fatty foods or sweets, it of course preferentially benefits the organisms that thrive on it. This is why there seems to be a “tipping point” in gaining weight such that our energy level drops and our appetite changes, facilitating weight gain. The actual organisms that help us lose weight and stay lean have been identified (Akkermansia mucinophilia is one example), as have those that make us gain weight. Their effect is significant enough that they have been called “obesogens”. It isn’t a single organism but a pattern of demographic shift-more of these/less of those-that results in weight gain or loss.
The changes to brain function, sensory sensitivity (ie what smells tasty to you), mood and behavior shift (a stress microbiome!) make us just a little like a zombie too in some cases. Certainly our behavior and our function is the result of the activity of trillions of symbiont organisms as well as our own decision-making. In effect “we” are composed of many organisms!
Relevant links (many are in the bibliography of The Symbiont Factor: http://tinyurl.com/p3b9o9d):
Ok, so I still drink coffee, and from the statistics I’ve read, most of you readers probably drink coffee too! I decided to try to make the coffee as healthy as possible, stacking some other health benefits along with reduction of Parkinson’s probability/severity and making the world seem like a happier place. Coffee has also been found to inhibit some types of cancer. Cocoa also has cancer-preventive properties. Cayenne pepper reduces the effects of high cholesterol, helping prevent oxidative stress to heart cells. I’ve read that the Aztecs used coffee, and cocoa and of course cayenne pepper-so why not combine the three? I know I’m not the first to do this, but it certainly does have a particular taste and kick to it! Especially (espressoly?) when made with espresso.
Recently I have been reading quite a bit about Yacon syrup and its health benefits. It turns out that yacon, which is a South American root vegetable, is processed into a molasses-like syrup that is a natural sweetener. If that wasn’t good enough, most of the carbohydrates in the syrup are not digestible, so it is a low-calorie sweetener that isn’t poisonous like Splenda. Yacon is also a prebiotic, with fiber that some of our gut bacteria just love. The species that thrive on it include Bifido and Akkermansia. Why, you ask, is that significant? Bifido is a “colonizer” species that helps to heal gut wall damage, and Akkermansia makes us burn up fat faster-increasing lean mass and lowering BMI. Akkermansia is also helpful in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes and immune system regulation.
Since Yacon is also from the same continent (and possibly region) as the Aztecs were, I reasoned that it should be good in coffee! Now, to a double shot of espresso or a mug of normal coffee, I add a teaspoon of cocoa powder and a tablespoon of yacon syrup, and a couple of sprinkles of cayenne pepper. On occasion, I’ve also added half a teaspoon of powdered inulin (another beneficial prebiotic; this one is from Jerusalem Artichoke). The inulin seems to disappear and not add any particular flavor, but the yacon gives the coffee a slight sweetness and the molasses-like flavor complements the cocoa/coffee/cayenne trinity quite nicely! Some who have tried it say that it’s too strong a taste, while many have adopted it as a coffee drink. Our local coffee shop, the Jitterbug, will make an Aztec espresso if asked, though I have yet to introduce them to yacon as a sweetener.
So there you have it-a new coffee drink has been invented and it has some powerful health benefits!