Tag Archives: autism

Stress, Microbiome, Inflammation and the Pancreas & Liver

flow chart stress intestinal function inflammation

Sometimes things happen that seem to come out of nowhere. It happens to all of us, usually when we least expect it because we are busy taking care of others or life in general. So here’s a scenario: Imagine that one day your blood sugar suddenly skyrockets and your Medical physician informs you that your liver and pancreas are not functioning properly. What could cause this? Well, many things could, but the one thing in common is inflammation. If the pancreas is inflamed, the Islets of Langerhans sometimes stop producing insulin and blood sugar doesn’t get stored, so it jumps up. If the inflammation is early in life, the immune system may go to the point of forming antibodies to the Islets, destroying them and causing Type 1 diabetes. If the body becomes inflamed later in life, cells may not respond to insulin anymore, causing Type 2 diabetes. But if the pancreas is inflamed, it doesn’t work properly. The liver can be implicated too, as it stores extra energy (glucose) reserves for when you need them. Liver inflammation can also cause diabetes. While these changes are all known to occur in people that are obese and have an unhealthy diet, how is it possible for it to happen this quickly, and in someone who isn’t obese? The answer lies in the fact that the immune system is mostly controlled by our gut bacteria and GALT, or gut-associated lymphoid tissue, dendritic nerve endings, and other points of information exchange between the microbiome and the host immune system.

Research has shown that exposure to short-term social/emotional stress causes alteration of the gut microbiome. This altered microbiome in turn does not control the immune system approriately, resulting in increased systemic inflammation (which can make the social stress worse, as both the inflammation and the altered microbiome affect brain function and mood). See the illustration above, which is from my book The Symbiont Factor.

Another factor that can alter the microbiome and trigger widespread inflammation is short term dietary change, to a less beneficial diet. In research terminology, a diet that causes microbiome demise, inflammation and disease is called a Western Diet. It is used to produce a sick lab animal to study, and mimics what the average American consumer eats every day.

Sleep is absolutely necessary for a healthy microbiome, and disruptions of our circadian rhythms and sleep cycles has been shown to disrupt our microbiome and cause inflammation.

Exposure to air affects our microbiome too! Air is actually replete will huge numbers of human skin cells and bacteria from other people in the vicinity. The longer we are in a space with other people, the more we inhale parts of their microbiome combined with the microbiome of the space. These organisms then influence our own microbiome, so if the exposure was to unhealthy microbiomes, the result can be…inflammation once more.

Sometimes the scenario can revive imbalances and infections we’ve had before, such as chronic viral infections (shingles, for example, or herpes) or chronic bacterial infections such as Lyme disease-where the organism was in a dormant state due to good immune function-waiting for an opportunity.

Ok, so…can we picture a scenario where all of the above are combined? Stress, bad food, interrupted sleep with no real dark/light cycles, and lots of sick people/bad bacteria? Bingo-it’s the place where we send people to get well: a hospital.

What should we do to recover from this systemic inflammation?

  1. Regular sleep, hitting the bed and waking same time every day, preferably in a multiple of 90 minutes. So, 6 hours, 7.5 hours, 9 hours so that we don’t interrupt a sleep cycle. No lights, no devices at night. No bright little blue “charging” LEDs.
  2. Healthy food, and preferably some of it fermented. There is a great fermented oatmeal recipe earlier on this blog, and many areas have private individuals making fantastic fermented vegetables. Here in coastal Maine, “A Stone’s Throw to Health” is one such business, with handcrafted ferments by Sheila Perloff-Eddison.
  3. Avoid deep fried food, hydrogenated fats, sweets, gluten. Even if you’re not gluten sensitive, eating it when you’re inflamed raises the odds of you becoming gluten sensitive. No fast food. Real meat, vegetable, greens, fruit.
  4. Probiotic Bifidobacteria, in double the normal doses. Add prebiotic inulin, pectin, FOS, GOS supplements to help feed the newly introduced organisms.
  5. Curcumin is hugely effective for reducing inflammation, improving insulin sensitivity, healing liver and pancreas. Not turmeric, which is 5% curcumin, but 95% curcumin-the real stuff. I take 6-8 capsules a day, minimum, if I’m injured or inflamed. It works better than drugs-check out the Ghosh study in the bibliography below.
  6. Some other products, such as jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes, jicama, artichokes, asparagus, pomegranate, rhubarb, ginger have been shown to have fantastic prebiotic and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  7. Make a point of, several times per day, praying or meditating on peaceful/optimistic and loving thoughts while breathing deeply. The physiologic effects improve autonomic tone and gut function, helping to recolonize healthy bacteria while healing gut membranes.

 

Sources:

Fermented Vegetables: http://www.astonesthrowtohealth.com/

Curcumin: http://progressivelabs.com/product.php?productid=17110&cat=0&page=1

Inulin: http://www.amazon.com/Prebiotin-Prebiotic-Fiber-8-5-Powder/dp/B001RVFSFS/ref=sr_1_2_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1459361720&sr=8-2&keywords=prebiotic

For more info: http://www.amazon.com/Symbiont-Factor-Microbiome-Redefines-Humanity/dp/1500553948/

Fermented oatmeal recipe: https://thesymbiontfactorblog.com/2016/01/26/super-synbiotic-breakfast-improved/

 

Bibliography:

Rhubarb extract prevents hepatic inflammation induced by acute alcohol intake, an effect related to the modulation of the gut microbiota.

Neyrinck AM, Etxeberria U, Taminiau B, Daube G, Van Hul M, Everard A, Cani PD, Bindels LB, Delzenne NM.

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 Mar 18. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201500899. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID:26990039

Combination with Red ginseng and Polygoni Multiflori ameliorates highfructose diet induced metabolic syndrome.

Kho MC, Lee YJ, Park JH, Cha JD, Choi KM, Kang DG, Lee HS.

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016 Mar 9;16(1):98. doi: 10.1186/s12906-016-1063-7.

PMID:26961224

Free PMC Article

Chronic Psychological Stress Disrupted the Composition of the Murine Colonic Microbiota and Accelerated a Murine Model of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Watanabe Y, Arase S, Nagaoka N, Kawai M, Matsumoto S.

PLoS One. 2016 Mar 7;11(3):e0150559. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150559. eCollection 2016.

PMID:26950850

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Early Alterations in Glycemic Control and Pancreatic Endocrine Function in Nondiabetic Patients With Chronic Pancreatitis.

Lundberg R, Beilman GJ, Dunn TB, Pruett TL, Freeman ML, Ptacek PE, Berry KL, Robertson RP, Moran A, Bellin MD.

Pancreas. 2016 Apr;45(4):565-71. doi: 10.1097/MPA.0000000000000491.

PMID:26918872

Hepatoprotective Effect and Synergism of Bisdemethoycurcumin against MCD Diet-Induced Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Mice.

Kim SB, Kang OH, Lee YS, Han SH, Ahn YS, Cha SW, Seo YS, Kong R, Kwon DY.

PLoS One. 2016 Feb 16;11(2):e0147745. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0147745. eCollection 2016.

PMID:26881746

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Protective Role of Dietary Curcumin in the Prevention of the Oxidative Stress Induced by Chronic Alcohol with respect to Hepatic Injury and Antiatherogenic Markers.

Varatharajalu R, Garige M, Leckey LC, Reyes-Gordillo K, Shah R, Lakshman MR.

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:5017460. doi: 10.1155/2016/5017460. Epub 2016 Jan 5.

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Semin Cancer Biol. 2016 Feb 4. pii: S1044-579X(16)30003-7. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2016.02.001. [Epub ahead of print] Review.

PMID:26853158

Preventive effect of curcumin on inflammation, oxidative stress and insulin resistance in high-fat fed obese rats.

Maithilikarpagaselvi N, Sridhar MG, Swaminathan RP, Sripradha R.

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Curcumin Attenuates Oxidative Stress and Activation of Redox-Sensitive Kinases in High Fructose- and High-Fat-Fed Male Wistar Rats.

Maithili Karpaga Selvi N, Sridhar MG, Swaminathan RP, Sripradha R.

Sci Pharm. 2014 Nov 4;83(1):159-75. doi: 10.3797/scipharm.1408-16. eCollection 2015.

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Oral Probiotic VSL#3 Prevents Autoimmune Diabetes by Modulating Microbiota and Promoting Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase-Enriched Tolerogenic Intestinal Environment.

Dolpady J, Sorini C, Di Pietro C, Cosorich I, Ferrarese R, Saita D, Clementi M, Canducci F, Falcone M.

J Diabetes Res. 2016;2016:7569431. doi: 10.1155/2016/7569431. Epub 2015 Dec 8.

PMID:26779542

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J Pharm Pharmacol. 2016 Feb;68(2):245-56. doi: 10.1111/jphp.12501. Epub 2016 Jan 15.

PMID:26773315

Alternating or continuous exposure to cafeteria diet leads to similar shifts in gut microbiota compared to chow diet.

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PMID:26767716

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Maithilikarpagaselvi N, Sridhar MG, Swaminathan RP, Zachariah B.

Chem Biol Interact. 2016 Jan 25;244:187-94. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2015.12.012. Epub 2015 Dec 20.

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Abarikwu SO, Durojaiye M, Alabi A, Asonye B, Akiri O.

Ren Fail. 2016 Mar;38(2):321-9. doi: 10.3109/0886022X.2015.1127743. Epub 2015 Dec 27.

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Liu Z, Dou W, Zheng Y, Wen Q, Qin M, Wang X, Tang H, Zhang R, Lv D, Wang J, Zhao S.

Mol Med Rep. 2016 Feb;13(2):1717-24. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2015.4690. Epub 2015 Dec 17.

PMID:26676408

Curcumin Supplementation Decreases Intestinal Adiposity Accumulation, Serum Cholesterol Alterations, and Oxidative Stress in Ovariectomized Rats.

Morrone Mda S, Schnorr CE, Behr GA, Gasparotto J, Bortolin RC, da Boit Martinello K, Saldanha Henkin B, Rabello TK, Zanotto-Filho A, Gelain DP, Moreira JC.

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:5719291. doi: 10.1155/2016/5719291. Epub 2015 Nov 23.

PMID:26640615

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Perrone D, Ardito F, Giannatempo G, Dioguardi M, Troiano G, Lo Russo L, DE Lillo A, Laino L, Lo Muzio L.

Exp Ther Med. 2015 Nov;10(5):1615-1623. Epub 2015 Sep 17.

PMID:26640527

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Curcumin prevents the non-alcoholic fatty hepatitis via mitochondria protection and apoptosis reduction.

Wang L, Lv Y, Yao H, Yin L, Shang J.

Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2015 Sep 1;8(9):11503-9. eCollection 2015.

PMID:26617882

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Curcumin attenuates chronic ethanol-induced liver injury by inhibition of oxidative stress via mitogen-activated protein kinase/nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 pathway in mice.

Xiong ZE, Dong WG, Wang BY, Tong QY, Li ZY.

Pharmacogn Mag. 2015 Oct-Dec;11(44):707-15. doi: 10.4103/0973-1296.165556.

PMID:26600714

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Pancreas. 2016 Mar;45(3):434-42. doi: 10.1097/MPA.0000000000000479.

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Pancreas. 2016 Jan;45(1):101-9. doi: 10.1097/MPA.0000000000000411.

PMID:26348467

Curcumin inhibits lung cancer invasion and metastasis by attenuating GLUT1/MT1-MMP/MMP2 pathway.

Liao H, Wang Z, Deng Z, Ren H, Li X.

Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015 Jun 15;8(6):8948-57. eCollection 2015.

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Nutr Res. 2015 Sep;35(9):823-33. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.06.011. Epub 2015 Jul 2.

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Pancreatic β-Cells Limit Autoimmune Diabetes via an Immunoregulatory Antimicrobial Peptide Expressed under the Influence of the Gut Microbiota.

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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

RoundUp, Glyphosate create Imbalanced Microbiome (or, Microbial Game of Thrones!)

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Having just completed most of a 1700 mile epic family move, I have spent a great deal of time on the road driving…and thinking. One of the things I thought about a great deal was how come so many people experience an imbalanced microbiome, with not enough of some good bacteria and way too many of some toxic species. You see, the human body is an ecosystem (somewhat like a region or territory), with warring factions of bacterial species or sub-colonies, each striving to rise to the top and suppress its enemies to achieve a dominant role. It really is a bit more like a microbial Game of Thrones episode than a benign fireside chat!

In this bacterial jousting we have a number of “white knights” such as some Enterococcus species and some “black knights” such as many members of the Clostridium family. Remember that Clostridium is the bacterial clan whose progeny include Clostridium difficile, responsible for hospital-borne bloody life-threatening diarrhea, and Clostridium botulinum that produces the neurotoxin responsible for Botulism. Definitely more of a “black knight clan.”

Researchers (Ackermann et al) have found that glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp weedkiller, caused dysbiosis in the rumen of cows and resulted in increased production of Clostridium botulinum and botulin neurotoxin. This alone is significant, as these are meat animals for many non-vegan/vegetarian humans. Another study headed by Kruger suggests that glyphosate’s suppression of lactic acid and Enterococcus bacteria is probably responsible for the increase in botulin-related diseases in German cattle. This is because lactic acid bacteria and Enterococcus family bacteria are natural suppressors of the Clostridium family. When Clostridium loses its natural enemy, it is free to claim the throne of bacterial domination! Seriously though, you may be thinking this is only in cattle so why does it matter in humans?

Another research group described a case of glyphosate ingestion which resulted in a Clostridium overgrowth after suppression of Enterococcus family bacteria. While this case study was an attempted suicide and therefore a significant ingestion of the chemical, studies of low-level environmental intake have also show toxic effects to the liver and kidney (Mesnage) and a correlation between glyphosate use and hospital admissions for ADHD (Fluegge). These studies indicate that glyphosate’s biologic toxicity is maintained at very low concentrations. Normally, lactic acid bacteria (yes, part of the white knight microbial clan!) help prevent this liver and kidney damage (Bouhafs) but as glyphosate is toxic to this family of bacteria their guarding of the bacterial throne is hampered, allowing Clostridia to attain more power and toxicity.

What all this boils down to at the end of the melee and before the final credits is that RoundUp is toxic to many life forms including humans, but it is toxic in a back-handed, subversive manner that is not immediately obvious without much study. This ability to facilitate growth of toxic bacteria while suppressing protective ones and maintaining an appearance of feigned innocence is what reminded me of Game of Thrones. As this is real life, my hope is that more people will begin learning about the toxicity of RoundUp and the importance of a balanced microbiome. This knowledge can only help us to build a healthier life for ourselves and our planet despite those “dark forces” that would rob us of the “throne of power and health.”

Thanks for reading my attempts at fantasy medieval microbial humor! I hope the analogy and metaphor helps to make the subject just a bit clearer and perhaps even entertaining. For more on the subject of the microbiome and health, please check out my book The Symbiont Factor on Amazon, and stay tuned for the next book about how to apply these concepts to your everyday life so that you too can have a White Knight Microbiome!

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26287934

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26282372

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25407376

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23396248

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25577783

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26302742

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26287729

Why Diet and Gut Bacterial Symbionts may be the most important thing you learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism is a neurobehavioral condition that has been dramatically on the rise in the last decade. There are many factors that contribute to its causes, but none so pervasive as gut bacterial imbalance. To see the connections, you first have to realize that our brain development is heavily influenced by the interaction between our gut bacterial symbionts, our immune system, and those little cell organelles that produce energy-known as mitochondria. I explained at length how the gut bacteria influence brain development in The Symbiont Factor; in short there are many pathways for influence including gut bacterial alteration of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor or BDNF. This substance is necessary for proper nerve growth and development, and a deficiency or imbalance in gut bacteria results in a reduced level of BDNF. New research has shown another factor in brain development, Short Chain Fatty Acids or SCFA. This substance is produced by bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates (sweets, essentially!)  Eating too many carbohydrates results in increased populations of the gut bacteria that thrive on sugars, including Clostrida, desulfovibrio, and Bacteroides. When these bacteria ferment carbs, they produce high levels of SCFA including propionic acid which is one SCFA. Propionic acid is also a common food preservative in prepared foods, so read your ingredients and eat organic as much as possible. New research has shown that high propionic acid levels interfere with mitochondrial function, reducing the energy available for nerve cell function and producing ASD. It is important to understand that some of the organisms that produce propionic acid are not necessarily pathogens; more like “frenemies” in this case (see Jerry Seinfeld; friend + enemy, and a good laugh too) Establishing and maintaining a microbial balance is really a more accurate way to state the goal. The overuse of vaccines and antibiotics in children, combined with chemicals in packaged food and toxins in farm-raised food are all factors that conspire to imbalance our gut bacteria. It is worth noting that reduced mitochondrial function also results in elevated oxidative stress, which is the neuroinflammatory/degenerative process that drives many diseases from fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome to Parkinson’s, dementia, and aging in general. Significant variables that we can influence include diet (less sweets, more organic fruits and veggies and organic grassfed meat; organic Paleo diet essentially) and behavior. Pushing ourselves past the point of fatigue, or allowing small children to stay “in overdrive” too long with video games and sweets, causes more bacterial imbalance and neurologic dysfunction. Many supplements, from Curcumin and probiotics with Lactobacillus and Bifido species, to fermented foods and drinks such as GoodBelly and Lifeway Kefir, can help to build and maintain healthy levels of gut bacteria and give our kids the best chance possible of good health and function. The next time a stranger at the bank drive through offers your child “a sucker”, consider the potential effects of regular sugar ingestion on a child’s microbiome and brain function. Really!

For much more about the role of diet and gut symbiont bacteria on brain development, behavior and health, please check out my book The Symbiont Factor: http://tinyurl.com/qyg85t9

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26031685

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24466331

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26046240

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25956238

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25956237

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25852770

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25911232

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25852213

11 Easy Steps to Improving your Microbiome and Symbiont-healthy Lifestyle!

So today I thought I would share some simple practical microbiome advice!

Steps to a Healthy Microbiome
1. Start noticing how tense, stressed or up-tight you may have become. Dedicate a few minutes several times a day to taking an emotional census of this, then focus on deep breathing and refocusing your attention on a positive, healthy or loving thought and emotion. Notice how you feel afterward!

2. Be honest with yourself about what you eat or drink. I know many people who eat a great deal of sweets or fast food, making an excuse for each time “it’s a reward for such-and-such” or “it’s just a one-time treat” and my favorites “it’s just a little” and “gotta die from something”. All of these statements are simply our imbalanced gut microbiome craving something and then our mind making excuses for not eating healthier. Be honest with yourself and look at what you’re really eating!

3. Sleep is critical-if you’re not sleeping enough it is very challenging to build a healthy microbiome. We should sleep at least 7 1/2 hours per night and preferably 9 when possible. Notice these are both multiples of 90 minutes, which is the typical length of a sleep cycle that the brain goes through. Waking up halfway through one makes us feel sluggish and irritated-complete your sleep cycles by planning on it!

4. Learn to observe your mood, your bodily functions and their timing in relation to your diet. Did you get sleepy, sluggish and mildly irritated after lunch? You may have eaten something that triggered an inflammatory response in your gut, which then affects the brain. Do you cough or sneeze after eating certain foods? This can also be a clue. If you’re not having a daily bowel movement of normal consistency; not loose and not stone; then your gut bacteria/gut/immune system are imbalanced in function and you have homework to do.

5. Eating organic or wild meat or fish is much better than normal store-bought meat. The antibiotic residues in farmed meat that is not organic are sufficient to seriously imbalance your gut bacteria with long-term consequences. I believe this may be one reason that many people get healthier when they eliminate meat from their diet-no meat is better than unhealthy meat.

6. Eating homegrown or organic vegetables and produce helps also, because if it isn’t it probably has significant RoundUp glyphosate on or in it. These residues are very toxic to beneficial gut bacteria.

7. Limit your use of chemicals such as Roundup. It’s poisoning the planet’s microbiome, and it starts with your microbiome. Pesticides and solvents are also quite harmful so if you must use them, wear protection and use ventilation to avoid inhaling fumes.

8. Read and understand the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines for medical antibiotic use, and hold your doctor to them. It will help you to understand when you really do need them and when you actually don’t. I haven’t personally taken antibiotics in at least 28 years and intent to extend that as long as possible.

9. Drink filtered water or spring water. Sweet soft drinks are bad for gut bacteria, and so is chlorinated municipal water.

10. Eat or drink some fermented foods such as natural sauerkraut or kombucha tea, yogurt (if not dairy sensitive) or kefir. You can even make your own. Along with taking good probiotics (which should be selected specifically based on your microbiome profile) this can help maintain a good population of healthy gut bugs.

11. Learn more about the microbiome and its tremendous effect on health, both physical and emotional. One great starting point, if I might suggest it, is my book The Symbiont Factor which you can find on eBay. I put a crazy amount of work into making it the best referenced comprehensive scientifically based book on the subject.

I hope these simple suggestions help you to start your own journey toward a healthier and happier Symbiont lifestyle!

The Brain as a Puppet: Gut Bacterial Control of Human Development and Behavior

Human intelligence brain medical symbol represented by a close up of active neurons and organ cell activity related to neurotransmitters showing intelligence with memory and healthy cognitive thinking activity.

Human intelligence brain medical symbol represented by a close up of active neurons and organ cell activity related to neurotransmitters showing intelligence with memory and healthy cognitive thinking activity.

One of the most fascinating discoveries of the last decade is the extent of influence that our bacterial microbiome has on our brain. We are really quite used to thinking of “ourselves” as a singular identity and yet our very mind may be more of a chorus than a solo. Trillions of bacteria all compete to have their needs met and their voice heard, and all of them have the ability to alter the very function of our brain at the most fundamental level. Several research papers have documented this (see references below in case you feel I’m off my rocker for saying some of the things I’m going to say 🙂

Today’s researchers are examining the many ways that gut bacteria can communicate with the human brain, and have found many pathways. The symbionts can alter the sensitivity of our neurotransmitter receptors, can release molecules that mimic neurotransmitters, produce neurotransmitters and release them into blood circulation, inflict pain or stimulate pleasure. What is the motive and why would they do this? How did bacteria learn Pavlovian training and use it to manipulate our mood, behavior and activity? The answer goes back quite far, but comes down to one thing: survival. From the beginning of evolution, bacteria have influenced the development of the multicellular organism. In many ways, you could look at bacteria as the most basic unit of life although this is generally a title attributed to the cell. Cells themselves are composed of structures that may have originated as bacteria that learned/evolved cooperative relationships. Today’s robotics researchers are studying spontaneous collective functioning as well, a parallel interest of mine. We now are fairly certain that gut bacterial symbionts not only guide the development of the human brain after birth, but influence its development before birth as well. To take that thought a step further, previous generations of symbionts have guided and facilitated the evolution of the human brain itself. Their genetic reservoir of DNA “data” is orders of magnitude greater than that of the human host, and has the ability to evolve and adapt on-the-fly during a lifetime. This gives the potential for intragenerational evolution as well as intergenerational, allowing us to evolve a bit during our lifetime and then pass this on to our children (unless they are born by caesarian section or blasted with antibiotics and vaccinations at a young age, but…that is the subject of other posts!) During our lifetime, from our earliest moments, our symbiont organisms are constantly tweaking our behavior and senses to suit their needs. In a way, we are the machine that permits them to live as a multicellular organism in a far more advanced manner, and in a world that many of them cannot survive in without us. It’s as if we built a gigantic robot that could house the entire human population (except, well, there are more gut bacteria in one human than there are humans on the planet) and used this robot to live in places that we normally could not survive in. We would certainly guide the robot to find foods that we can benefit from and do things that aid our survival. Gut bacteria do exactly that, and very elegantly. It isn’t coincidence that obligate anaerobes cause us to be stressed, which makes us breathe shallowly, tense up our muscles so they burn up oxygen, and even begin to develop apnea during the daytime and at night. What is the result? less oxygen in the gut, and that is what an obligate anaerobe benefits from. Our eating behavior is controlled by gut symbionts, to the point that some can inflict pain directly if we don’t eat something they need or trigger euphoric feeling when we give in and eat what they need. This is the reason that “diets” are so challenging, and particularly so for the obese individual-we are Pavlov’s dog, and the trainer has a cattle prod in one hand and a direct brain pleasure stimulation in the other. What will be your choice today? Yes, we can overcome that and eat a diet of “our” choosing, but only successfully after that diet and behavior changes result in changes to the microbiome. You see, once the microbiome is fed a certain way, the organisms that survive on that diet are the ones that become dominant. You can “starve out” harmful/nonbeneficial organisms, but it isn’t easy or pleasant. During a recent podcast interview with the entertaining and brilliant Clint Paddison (The Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis) he explained to me that fasting is a primary step in recovery/healing from RA. So, you see, we are as much the puppet as the master-it’s a two way street and while the host influences the symbionts, it works both ways. Symbionts can change our very perception of our world, altering our senses to guide our behavior to their benefit.

Ok, so with these thoughts in “mind” consider what the true effect of our diet is. Every single thing you eat and drink or even breathe alters symbiont bacteria to favor those that thrive on the substances in question. Eat a lot of fast “food”? You’ve selectively feeding the organisms that thrive on that. The problem is that apparently most of them are not beneficial to host health! We should also consider that all of these changes to gut bacteria as a result of our eating/drinking/breathing have consequences to our mental function. Everything from mental clarity, intelligence, emotional stability, personality-our very potential as human beings-is influenced by the bacteria that live in our gut. So which do you want to feed, the ones that may make you feel ill mentally and physically or the ones that could help you reach your true potential and live as long and healthy a life as possible?

If you’re intrigued by this discussion even a bit, you should consider reading the reference articles below. If you’d like to understand the subject better but want to read it in English and not research-ese, then please read my book, The Symbiont Factor. You can find it on Amazon as an e-book or paperback at the following link: http://tinyurl.com/p7mx6hh

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25401092

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25772005

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25103109

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25974299

New Video about Gut Bacteria, Probiotics, Brain!

Well, I had some time between patients yesterday, and, having watched just enough cute cat videos and ignored enough political/religious arguments on Facebook-I decided to do something useful and create a video. This short video should help to make sense out of probiotics, gut bacteria, and how they affect us mentally/emotionally. Check out my new video about gut bacteria and probiotics! http://tinyurl.com/oyvvwt2