Tag Archives: anxiety

New book cover, and ebook price is cut to $6.99!

Hi Rez Cover ebook gut brain

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

http://www.amazon.com/Symbiont-Factor-Bacteria-Microbiome-Redefines-ebook/dp/B00LV6H1UY/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1443640302&sr=8-6

Mood: Does it affect gut symbiont health and intestinal function?

flow chart stress intestinal function inflammation

What are the causes of dysbiosis and resultant dysfunction/disease? One cause that seems to be greatly underestimated may be simply our mood! Human beings, having been gifted with large frontal lobes, are capable of experiencing and expressing a variety of moods. Our bodies respond to these moods with different functional states, some of which have been categorized. These are “fight or flight (or sometimes, fight/flee/fortify)” or “wine and dine”.  There are many more physiological functional arousal states that we could elaborate on, but many of them could make this blog post NSFW. We’ll just assume that your imagination can fill in the blanks with how the body responds to the mind! With the brain-gut connection in mind, and being also cognizant that it’s a two-way street since the gut influences the brain, what would be the influence of stress? One that comes to mind right away is a reduction in gut motility. This changes the environment in which the microbiome exists, and will change the demographics of the microorganisms. What about the effects of peristalsis on the small intestine? If there is less peristalsis, wouldn’t it make it easier for colonic organisms to migrate to the small intestine? If transit times increase, different stages of food digestion could release different nutrients, feeding different organisms. When do we cross from fermentative to putrefactive dominance? Using one of the concepts in The Symbiont Factor, this two-way function of gut/brain/gut axis can cause a positive feedback loop. If gut organisms that flourish during emotional stress can also alter neurotransmitter function at the brain, wouldn’t that predispose the brain to perceive stress following stressful events? What if that is why sometimes after a stressful day we just have more stress, no matter what happens? It is as if our very perception of our environment is vulnerable to plasticity. If this is allowed to happen without our conscious intervention (things like deciding to meditate or do some yoga even though you’re angry) the combination of evoked brain plasticity with gut symbiont evolution could be what makes it hard to shake off stress! Ironically, this same plasticity is probably an evolutionary advantage, allowing genetic selection of the microbiome on an ongoing real-time basis to adapt to circumstances. The problem is that our modern circumstances provide constant chemical and emotional pressure to this system, resulting in “learned dysfunction” of both the gut and the brain!  This highlights the importance of “mental housekeeping” and lifestyle choices in determining our “perceptual future”. If you don’t want the world to seem as stressful, start taking care of mind, body, and symbiont health!

The Problem with RoundUp and its health effects

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The Problem with RoundUp and its health effects
Sometimes during a debate it becomes obvious that one side is simply not telling the truth. Such seems to be the case when considering RoundUp, currently still promoted as the safest herbicide ever produced. It is also the most commonly used, with a recorded 187 million pounds used by US farmers in 2007. More current usage is not known, but estimated at over 200 million pounds in the US. The maker of RoundUp, Monsanto, continues to maintain that it is nontoxic and completely safe. This belief permeates to those who use it, with readers offering comments at the end of the article defending its safety. Most homeowners use RoundUp to control weeds, and most farmers use it liberally on crops. This is possible because of genetic modification of crops to permit resistance to glyphosate, permitting the killing of weeds without killing the crop. Recently articles have been published online suggesting that the problem with wheat causing celiac disease or gluten sensitivity has more to do with residual levels of glyphosate than with gluten content. The suggestion that pre-harvest spraying of crops with glyphosate to reduce weed content, promote dessication and improve yield is typically met with a hailstorm of accusations of “pseudoscience” and “fearmongering.” There are usually some vehement denials that pre-harvest spraying is ever carried out. An example of one such article can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/n9rtzpn

With this in mind let us consider two questions: Is glyphosate toxic, and are crops really sprayed prior to harvest?

The reason that glyphosate is “considered safe” is that it inhibits a metabolic pathway in plants known as the Shikimate pathway. This inhibition interrupts the plant’s metabolism and kills it. Humans and other eukaryotic species do not have a Shikimate pathway, and so the claim of safety appears to be scientifically sound…or is it? All eukaryotic organisms including humans have cellular power-producing structures known as mitochondria. These structures are where energy is produced so that the cell and the organism have fuel. Mitochondria, however, are really not of human origin. Thought to be the end result of ancient indwelling symbionts (endosymbiont theory if you’d like to look that up) mitochondria are more similar to bacteria than human cells. Their DNA is circular, just as bacterial DNA is circular. This isn’t some new discovery as geneticists have been using this mitochondrial DNA to track the human family tree for years. You see, mitochondrial DNA is matrilineal-it is only inherited from the mother, not from the father. This provides a unique opportunity to track one side of the family tree more accurately than is possible with human DNA. It’s also the first clue to glyphosate’s toxicity, as bacteria have a Shikimate pathway! Predictably mitochondria also have a Shikimate pathway. There is already a research paper stating this (Mesnage, Seneff). There is also an effect in the microbiome, as glyphosate is more toxic to some microorganisms than to others, causing an imbalance in this critical ecosystem. Kruger found that glyphosate reduced the inhibition of Clostridium (a pathogen) by Enterococcus species, causing imbalance and disease. A differential toxic effect was found in chickens by Shehata, who showed the glyphosate inibited beneficial microbial species yet did not inhibit pathogenic ones. Changes in gut bacteria in humans can alter serotonin levels, affecting behavior, mood and susceptibility to brain trauma (Morley). The microbiome living in our intestines are critical to our health and are vulnerable to changes in intestinal function (Matthews). It has been found that at very dilute concentrations, far less than commercial farming uses, glyphosate reduces intestinal motility (Chlopecka). This would result in more constipation, dramatic shifts in population dynamics and an increased risk of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) due to reduced motility allowing contents of the colon to move into the small intestine. Glyphosate has been found to trigger pathways producing cellular apoptosis (think cell sepuku) and increased reactive oxygen species producing damaging oxidation (Chaufan).
There is always someone who, in the comments following an article critical of Roundup, offers to drink a glass of it to prove its safety. This is ill advised, as glyphosate is far from nontoxic. Instead, it has been found to produce respiratory depression, bradycardia (so, you can’t breathe and your heart slows), acidosis, hyperkalemia, cardiac block or arrythmia and death. Hemodialysis and intubation are required to help the patient survive, as there is no antidote to glyphosate poisoning (Garlich, Gress).

Okay, so Roundup is definitely toxic in many ways even at small doses. What about all of the people who argue that it is not recommended for use before harvest? Doing a basic search on the internet looking for pre-harvest advice as a farmer provides some insight into this! Monsanto itself provides a “Pre-Harvest Staging Guide” for using RoundUp: http://tinyurl.com/q2o8f96. North Dakota State University published “Glyphosate as a Pre-Harvest Aid in Small Grains” July 2014: http://tinyurl.com/ll98tfj. Michigan State University published something similar for soybeans: http://tinyurl.com/o6f5dqy. University of Arizona Extension also got in on the game, publishing a guide to pre-harvest spraying of wheat to kill broad-leaf weeds: http://tinyurl.com/ljs6547. Similar publishing can be found at http://tinyurl.com/l69bdzc, http://tinyurl.com/kbem9ht, http://tinyurl.com/k6o4lwf, and http://tinyurl.com/m7nxm6a.

You might notice that many of these organizations providing pre-harvest spraying guidelines are university agricultural programs. If you’re not familiar with ag programs, you might even wonder why they would recommend such a practice in light of the research information on glyphosate’s biologic effects (and there are many more articles showing its effects; I didn’t even scratch the surface really!). The old adage of “follow the money” could never be more accurate: http://tinyurl.com/mhyvwzy, http://tinyurl.com/ctw2aq7 as the codependent relationship that has evolved between Monsanto and institutes of higher education is both diabolically brilliant and nauseatingly common.

If you needed more reasons to shop for organically grown fruits and vegetables or use grains other than wheat, you now have them. If you think just avoiding wheat will solve the problem, consider that the same recommendations exist for barley, oats, flax, canola, peas, lentils, soybeans and dried beans (page 31 of http://tinyurl.com/q2o8f96 lists all of these as recommendations for pre-harvest spraying in Canada, and others list ‘small grains’ in the guidelines: http://tinyurl.com/o994mk2).

We have arrived at a time in history when the business interests of corporate entities often take precedence over the health needs of society’s human members. When we allow large corporations to control what is taught in schools and what guidelines are imposed by government, we can count on one thing-being counted out of the deal.

References quoted:
1: Shaw CA, Seneff S, Kette SD, Tomljenovic L, Oller JW Jr, Davidson RM.
Aluminum-induced entropy in biological systems: implications for neurological
disease. J Toxicol. 2014;2014:491316. doi: 10.1155/2014/491316. Epub 2014 Oct 2.
Review. PubMed PMID: 25349607; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4202242.
2: Gress S, Lemoine S, Séralini GE, Puddu PE. Glyphosate-Based Herbicides
Potently Affect Cardiovascular System in Mammals: Review of the Literature.
Cardiovasc Toxicol. 2014 Sep 23. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25245870.
3: Chłopecka M, Mendel M, Dziekan N, Karlik W. Glyphosate affects the spontaneous
motoric activity of intestine at very low doses – in vitro study. Pestic Biochem
Physiol. 2014 Jul;113:25-30. doi: 10.1016/j.pestbp.2014.06.005. Epub 2014 Jun 24.
PubMed PMID: 25052523.
4: Morley WA, Seneff S. Diminished brain resilience syndrome: A modern day
neurological pathology of increased susceptibility to mild brain trauma,
concussion, and downstream neurodegeneration. Surg Neurol Int. 2014 Jun 18;5:97.
doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.134731. eCollection 2014. Review. PubMed PMID: 25024897;
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4093745.
5: Mahendrakar K, Venkategowda PM, Rao SM, Mutkule DP. Glyphosate surfactant
herbicide poisoning and management. Indian J Crit Care Med. 2014
May;18(5):328-30. doi: 10.4103/0972-5229.132508. PubMed PMID: 24914265; PubMed
Central PMCID: PMC4047698.
6: Schinasi L, Leon ME. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and occupational exposure to
agricultural pesticide chemical groups and active ingredients: a systematic
review and meta-analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Apr
23;11(4):4449-527. doi: 10.3390/ijerph110404449. Review. PubMed PMID: 24762670;
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4025008.
7: Mesnage R, Defarge N, Spiroux de Vendômois J, Séralini GE. Major pesticides
are more toxic to human cells than their declared active principles. Biomed Res
Int. 2014;2014:179691. doi: 10.1155/2014/179691. Epub 2014 Feb 26. PubMed PMID:
24719846; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3955666.
8: Samsel A, Seneff S. Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue
and gluten intolerance. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2013 Dec;6(4):159-84. doi:
10.2478/intox-2013-0026. Review. PubMed PMID: 24678255; PubMed Central PMCID:
PMC3945755.
9: Chaufan G, Coalova I, Ríos de Molina Mdel C. Glyphosate commercial formulation
causes cytotoxicity, oxidative effects, and apoptosis on human cells: differences
with its active ingredient. Int J Toxicol. 2014 Jan-Feb;33(1):29-38. doi:
10.1177/1091581813517906. Epub 2014 Jan 16. PubMed PMID: 24434723.
10: Garlich FM, Goldman M, Pepe J, Nelson LS, Allan MJ, Goldstein DA, Goldfarb
DS, Hoffman RS. Hemodialysis clearance of glyphosate following a life-threatening
ingestion of glyphosate-surfactant herbicide. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2014
Jan;52(1):66-71. doi: 10.3109/15563650.2013.870344. PubMed PMID: 24400933.
11: Krüger M, Shehata AA, Schrödl W, Rodloff A. Glyphosate suppresses the
antagonistic effect of Enterococcus spp. on Clostridium botulinum. Anaerobe. 2013
Apr;20:74-8. doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2013.01.005. Epub 2013 Feb 6. PubMed PMID:
23396248.
12: Shehata AA, Schrödl W, Aldin AA, Hafez HM, Krüger M. The effect of glyphosate
on potential pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota in vitro.
Curr Microbiol. 2013 Apr;66(4):350-8. doi: 10.1007/s00284-012-0277-2. Epub 2012
Dec 9. PubMed PMID: 23224412.

The Symbiont Factor is now a paperback, available on Amazon!

After a year and a half of having a second job as a new author, my first book is finally available in print! A comprehensive, thoroughly referenced guide to how our gut bacteria influence physical and mental health: The Symbiont Factor is now available on Amazon as a paperback! If you ever wondered if and why probiotics are healthy you should read this book. Please share with your contacts 🙂     http://tinyurl.com/pe2g4xt

Brain/Gut/Symbiont function seen as Rock-Paper-Scissors. Or, why you crave french fries and can’t lose weight!

Rock-Paper-Scissors is an ancient Chinese game, often used in modern society instead of flipping a coin. The concept is that each player, on que, puts his hand out flat (paper) or in a Vulcan-like “V” (scissors), or a fist (rock). Each beats the next: scissors cut paper, paper covers rock, rock crushes scissors. It occurred to me that this is quite similar to how symbiont bacteria, the brain, and the gut interact! I’ll explain the short version, then explain more about it. The symbiont bacteria influence the brain, the brain controls the gut (intestines) and the intestines provide a habitat/home for the symbionts. Imbalances in any of these three can therefore affect the next item in the functional triad: Imbalanced symbionts (dysbiosis) can alter brain neurotransmitters, mood, pain perception, cognition, sense of smell, appetite for specific foods and behaviors. Alterations of this type in the brain result in, amongst other things, cravings for specific foods that would benefit the dominant genera of gut symbionts combined with discomfort/lack of satisfaction if those cravings are not met. Here’s a very common example: one pattern of gut bacteria imbalance results in what researchers have termed “obesogens”, dominant populations of bacteria that cause obesity. How do they do that? In part, by altering appetite, olfaction (sense of smell), and frontal lobe processing to create food cravings and increased appetite, specifically for foods that benefit the bacteria-in this case greasy/sweet and fattening foods. Along with this dietary predilection there are behavioral changes that result in lower energy levels, less ambition, and a preference for a sedentary lifestyle that does not burn calories. These behavioral changes have been evaluated in laboratory animals by taking a sterile (no bacteria) animal of normal weight and transferring the gut bacteria from an obese animal to it. The result is a behavioral and appetite/food preference change similar to that which the obese animal had! In other words, the behavior goes with the bacteria. So, what do you do if you want more energy, want to lose weight and get more done? try to work on improving your gut bacteria! Pre and probiotics as well as exercise and dietary changes provide some ways to accomplish this.

Here’s another example of this triad at work: a stressful lifestyle affects the brain’s control of the gut, by altering autonomic function and causing sympathetic (fight-or-flight) dominance. This suppresses the gut digestive process and causes more putrefaction, altering the balance of symbiont populations. Damage to the mucous lining of the intestines and sloughing off of microvilli that normally improve nutrient absorption and house gut bacteria reduce beneficial symbiont populations. What’s the result? As above, weight gain and a cascade of health problems.

The changes to the symbiont bacteria can alter brain function sufficiently to cause depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, autism, ASD, and altered brain function, personality and pain perception. These are deeply fundamental changes to “who we are” and are representative of the level of influence that the gut symbionts have on our function.

The “rock paper scissors” explanation should also illustrate why researching specific cause-effect/double blind mechanisms are so challenging in this system, as unless the third variable is controlled for (and it often cannot be) the results may be more inconsistent that they would be in a simpler system.

This functional trifecta is one of the reasons why in my clinic, if I recommend an exercise and a dietary change and the patient immediately becomes resistant and “whiney” about making the changes, I record the resistance as a symptom and try to show the patient how their feelings are in fact potential confirmation of this functional system at work!

References:

Modulation of Intestinal Microbiota by the Probiotic VSL#3 Resets Brain Gene Expression and Ameliorates the Age-Related Deficit in LTP.

Distrutti E, O’Reilly JA, McDonald C, Cipriani S, Renga B, Lynch MA, Fiorucci S.

PLoS One. 2014 Sep 9;9(9):e106503. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0106503. eCollection 2014.

PMID:
25202975
[PubMed – in process]

Free Article

2.

Gut microbiota, the pharmabiotics they produce and host health.

Patterson E, Cryan JF, Fitzgerald GF, Ross RP, Dinan TG, Stanton C.

Proc Nutr Soc. 2014 Sep 8:1-13. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID:
25196939
[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
3.

Probiotics normalize the gut-brain-microbiota axis in immunodeficient mice.

Smith CJ, Emge JR, Berzins K, Lung L, Khamishon R, Shah P, Rodrigues DM, Sousa AJ, Reardon C, Sherman PM, Barrett KE, Gareau MG.

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2014 Sep 4. pii: ajpgi.00238.2014. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID:
25190473
[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
4.

Obese-type Gut Microbiota Induce Neurobehavioral Changes in the Absence of Obesity.

Bruce-Keller AJ, Salbaum JM, Luo M, Blanchard E 4th, Taylor CM, Welsh DA, Berthoud HR.

Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Jul 18. pii: S0006-3223(14)00520-4. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.07.012. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID:
25173628
[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
5.

Enteric Bacterial Metabolites Propionic and Butyric Acid Modulate Gene Expression, Including CREB-Dependent Catecholaminergic Neurotransmission, in PC12 Cells – Possible Relevance to Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Nankova BB, Agarwal R, MacFabe DF, La Gamma EF.

PLoS One. 2014 Aug 29;9(8):e103740. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103740. eCollection 2014.

PMID:
25170769
[PubMed – in process]

Free PMC Article

6.

Altered brain-gut axis in autism: Comorbidity or causative mechanisms?

Mayer EA, Padua D, Tillisch K.

Bioessays. 2014 Oct;36(10):933-9. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400075. Epub 2014 Aug 22.

PMID:
25145752
[PubMed – in process]
7.

Is eating behavior manipulated by the gastrointestinal microbiota? Evolutionary pressures and potential mechanisms.

Alcock J, Maley CC, Aktipis CA.

Bioessays. 2014 Oct;36(10):940-9. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400071. Epub 2014 Aug 8.

PMID:
25103109
[PubMed – in process]
8.

Microbiota-host interactions in irritable bowel syndrome: epithelial barrier, immune regulation and brain-gut interactions.

Hyland NP, Quigley EM, Brint E.

World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Jul 21;20(27):8859-66. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i27.8859.

PMID:
25083059
[PubMed – in process]

Free PMC Article

9.

Serotonin, tryptophan metabolism and the brain-gut-microbiome axis.

O’Mahony SM, Clarke G, Borre YE, Dinan TG, Cryan JF.

Behav Brain Res. 2014 Jul 29. pii: S0166-4328(14)00476-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2014.07.027. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID:
25078296
[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
10.

Digesting the emerging role for the gut microbiome in central nervous system demyelination.

Joscelyn J, Kasper LH.

Mult Scler. 2014 Jul 28. pii: 1352458514541579. [Epub ahead of print] Review.

PMID:
25070675
[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
11.

The impact of microbiota on brain and behavior: mechanisms & therapeutic potential.

Borre YE, Moloney RD, Clarke G, Dinan TG, Cryan JF.

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;817:373-403. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-0897-4_17.

PMID:
24997043
[PubMed – in process]
12.

Microbiota-gut-brain axis and cognitive function.

Gareau MG.

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;817:357-71. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-0897-4_16.

PMID:
24997042
[PubMed – in process]

Autism, Gut Bacteria and the HPA Axis-What is the connection?

The HPA axis is not a part of the body that is often discussed. It is a functional “axis” that is used to describe the relationship between three parts of the body: the Hypothalamus, the Pituitary gland, and the Adrenal glands. All three of these organs have critical functions with far-reaching implications for physical and mental health. Many psychiatric drugs have been found to affect the HPA axis, resulting in the therapeutic benefit of the drug. Imbalances in HPA function have been implicated in a wide array of neuropsychiatric conditions including in autism. The gut microbiome, gut bacteria, exert control over the development and function of the endocrine hormone system, in particular the HPA axis. Why does this matter? Because imbalances in gut bacteria can therefore result in imbalances in HPA axis development in early life-and this imbalance has the potential to make the person develop autism (as well as other problems in different individuals). It is important because the gut bacteria are so vulnerable to birth practices (c-section vs. natural), antibiotic use, antibiotics in food, pesticides, herbicides such as RoundUp, and even stress levels perceived by the individual. Higher stress is harmful to the gut bacteria through alterations of the digestive functions, secondary to autonomic nervous system imbalance (more sympathetic, or “fight-or-flight”, function).  Many of these are factors under our influence if not control! Gut bacterial populations are one of the most variable factors in human health, and yet one of the most neglected. My work on The Symbiont Factor is my contribution to spreading knowledge about the gut microbiome, so that more people can take control of their health and more conditions like autism can hopefully be prevented or successfully treated. The book is being configured/edited/reconfigured/formatted so that it works well on all Kindle download platforms, a task that is keeping me quite busy the last two weeks! Almost there, almost there…It will be so exciting when it is finally published! The book will also be available as a print format following its release as an e-book. Until then, stay tuned in and take care of your gut bacteria!

References:

http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2013/12/19/research-linking-autism-symptoms-gut-microbes-called-%E2%80%98groundbreaking%E2%80%99-cu

http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/05/the-microbiome-could-it-be-the-epicenter-of-autism.html

http://www.jwatch.org/na33305/2014/01/28/more-evidence-links-gut-microbiome-autism

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24882156

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24715565

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24892638

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3985034/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24636517

And, best of all, a slide show from one of the head researchers in the field, Ted Dinan: http://www.genome.gov/Multimedia/Slides/HumanMicrobiomeScience2013/33_Dinan.pdf

 

Kefir: How to make your own! Plus, some of its health benefits proven by research.

Kefir is a fermented milk product with at least a two millenium history of human use. Native people such as the Maasai have used fermentation to preserve their milk products. Kefir is the most popular fermented dairy product in Russia and is thought to have originated in the Caucasus mountain region. Milk that is fermented into kefir has been found to last at least six weeks in refrigeration with no spoilage or loss of probiotic organisms! This is significantly longer than pasteurized and unfermented milk, and works the same way whether with camel, cow, goat or sheep’s milk. Kefir has been found to have many health benefits, among them:

-Kills drug-resistant myeloid leukemia cells

-Slows the progression of kidney disease

-Improves fatty liver disease

-Reduces obesity/body fat content

So, how do you make your own? It’s really simple, actually! All you need is milk, a starter culture, and a jar. Starter cultures can be obtained from someone else who is making kefir, or started from commercially available packets:

IMG1330

The culture that ferments kefir is known as a SCOBY, or symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Over time, this culture will grow until it looks a bit like soggy cauliflower:

IMG1316

If making kefir for the first time using a package mix, it is best to follow the directions provided with the kefir grains. When you strain out the grains as shown above, they will grow over time and form a bigger SCOBY. This SCOBY is fairly advanced-it’s a good time to share with someone else! This one can ferment a quart of milk into kefir in 24 hours.

The first step to making kefir from a SCOBY is to add the SCOBY to the fermenting vessel (fancy word for quart mason jar in this case!)

IMG1318

IMG1319

The next step is to add the milk:

IMG1323

Then cover the top with a coffee filter or paper towel, to keep dust and insects from contaminating your kefir culture.

IMG1326

and use either a rubber band or one of the threaded rings (since this is a canning jar) to keep the filter attached tightly:

IMG1327

At this point, I place the jar on top of my refrigerator.

IMG1328

It works best if you take it down and stir it lightly 2-3x/day, or at least give it a good swirling-about, to distribute the bacteria more evenly in the milk. If you prefer a lighter fermentation, 24 hours may be sufficient. I prefer a thicker, stronger fermentation, and often leave it 48 hours or place it in the refrigerator the last 24 hours before removing the SCOBY. The next step is to strain out the SCOBY:

IMG1312

IMG1316

The SCOBY culture can then be put into a smaller glass jar with some fresh milk and stored in the refrigerator, or the process can be repeated to start the next batch of kefir. Using this information, you can create your own healthy kefir at home! We use goat milk obtained from a local farm, but it will work with other types of milk or store-bought goat milk also. Fermentation of milk in this manner preserves the milk, as the bacterial culture will actively inhibit or kill any invading bacteria that might cause spoilage or disease. It has been shown to last at least six weeks, as mentioned above. Will pasteurized milk last six weeks if not fermented? Hardly-it would be a horrid stinking mess! In the same manner, unfermented milk that is fermented is safer for consumption than pasteurized milk that is unfermented. Once finished, kefir can be enjoyed as-is, blended with fruit to make smoothies, or added to other drinks and dishes. So get started and enjoy this healthy probiotic beverage!

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24215695

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24264228

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24294220

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24335764

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24406684

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3928472/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24485676

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kefir