Thursday, August 28, 2014

If You Know What's Good For You ... (Part 19)

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High Blood Sugar Levels Linked to Memory Loss By Dr. Mercola
December 24, 2014
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/12/24/high-blood-sugar-level.aspx?e_cid=20141224Z1-USCanada_DNL_art_2&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art2&utm_campaign=20141224Z1-USCanada&et_cid=DM62886&et_rid=777049214
Many people now associate elevated blood sugar levels with diabetes or even pre-diabetes, but new research has highlighted a little-known adverse effect of higher blood sugar levels that can impair your brain – even if your levels are technically still within a ‘normal’ range.
The study – an extremely important one considering the epidemic of people with out-of-control blood sugar metabolism – showed that lower blood sugar levels are associated with better brain function and may even help you avoid age-related declines in memory.
Higher ‘Normal’ Blood Sugar Levels Linked to Memory Loss
It’s already known that people with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing cognitive impairment, including dementia. However, the new study involved people (with an average age of 63) who were free from diabetes and pre-diabetes (or impaired glucose intolerance).
Still, even among this group, those with higher blood sugar levels scored lower on memory tests.
For each 7-mmol/mol increase in HbA1c (a measure of damage caused by elevated blood glucose), participants recalled two fewer words on memory tests. Those with higher blood sugar levels also had lower volume of the hippocampus, a brain region essential for the faculty of memory. As one of the study’s authors said:
"Clinically, even if your blood sugar levels are 'normal,' lower blood sugar levels are better for your brain in the long run with regard to memory functions as well as memory-relevant brain structures like the hippocampus.
Scientifically, we were able to shed further light on the mechanisms mediating these effects. DTI-based (diffusion tensor imaging) measurements demonstrated that not only volume of the hippocampus, but also microstructural integrity is lower if blood sugar levels are higher."
They concluded that even if you don’t have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, higher blood sugar levels appear to have a negative influence on cognition. Most likely, this effect has to do with disrupted insulin and leptin levels and signaling in the brain …
The Insulin Connection to Your Brain Health
Most adults have about one gallon of blood in their bodies and are quite surprised to learn that in that gallon, there is only one teaspoon of sugar! In other words, your body is designed to have just one teaspoon of sugar in your blood at all times -- if that. If your blood sugar level were to rise to one tablespoon of sugar you would run the risk of going into a hyperglycemic coma and even dying.
Your body works very hard to prevent this from happening by producing insulin to keep your blood sugar at the appropriate level. Any meal or snack high in grain and sugar carbohydrates typically generates a rapid rise in blood glucose. To compensate for this your pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream, which lowers your blood sugar to keep you from dying. Insulin, however, is also very efficient at lowering your blood sugar by turning it into fat – so the more you secrete, the fatter you become.
Also, insulin quickly drops blood sugar levels, which threatens to cause your brain to go through an acute deficiency state; this vicious cycle often causes a roller coaster of intense cravings for more of the same endocrine disruptive carb rich foods.
Unfortunately, If you consume a diet consistently high in sugar and grains, your blood glucose levels will be correspondingly high and over time your body becomes "desensitized" to insulin and requires more and more of it to get the job done.
Eventually, you become insulin resistant, and then full-blown diabetic. But as the new study showed, health effects of this elevated blood sugar/insulin cycle begin to occur even before insulin resistance sets in.
Poor Diet Linked to Dementia, Including Alzheimer’s Disease
While insulin is usually associated with its role in keeping your blood sugar levels in a healthy range, it also plays a role in brain signaling. In one animal study, when researchers disrupted the proper signaling of insulin in the brain, they were able to induce many of the characteristic brain changes seen with Alzheimer's disease (disorientation, confusion, inability to learn and remember).
It's becoming increasingly clear that the same pathological process that leads to insulin and leptin resistance and type 2 diabetes may also hold true for your brain.
As you over-indulge on sugar and grains, your brain becomes overwhelmed by the consistently high levels of insulin and eventually insulin and leptin levels and signaling becomes profoundly disrupted, leading to impairments in your thinking and memory abilities, and eventually causing permanent brain damage, among other health issues.

Research has even shown that higher glucose levels are associated with a higher perceived age; in other words, the higher your glucose levels, the older you’ll tend to look!
Get Your Fasting Insulin Level Checked
Your fasting insulin level reflects how healthy your blood glucose levels are over time. Your fasting insulin level can be determined by a simple, inexpensive blood test. A normal fasting blood insulin level is below 5, but ideally you'll want it below 3. If your insulin level is higher than 3 to 5, the most effective way to optimize it is to reduce or eliminate all forms of dietary sugar, particularly fructose.
There is also indication that a wide range of chemicals and foods and/or food additives can contribute to insulin resistance, such as MSG, trans fats, gluten, cow’s milk and artificial sweeteners.
You can also use a simple glucose test to check your fasting glucose level. Just realize that it's possible to have low fasting glucose but still have significantly elevated insulin levels. Generally speaking, a fasting glucose under 100 mg/dl suggests you're not insulin resistant, while a level between 100 and 125 suggests you're either mildly insulin resistant or have impaired glucose tolerance (sometimes referred to as pre-diabetes).
Limiting Excess Sugar, is Crucial to Protecting Your Brain Health
There is no question in my mind that regularly consuming excessive sugar will dramatically increase your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, as consuming too much fructose will inevitably wreak havoc on your body's ability to regulate proper insulin levels.
Although refined fructose is relatively "low glycemic" on the front end, it reduces the affinity for insulin for its receptor leading to chronic insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar on the back end. So, while you may not notice a steep increase in blood sugar immediately following fructose consumption, it is likely changing your entire endocrine system's ability to function properly behind the scenes.
Additionally, refined fructose has other modes of neurotoxicity, including causing damage to the circulatory system upon which the health of your nervous system depends, as well as profoundly changing your brain's craving mechanism, often resulting in excessive hunger and subsequent consumption of additional empty carbohydrate-based calories.
In one study from UCLA, researchers found that rats fed a fructose-rich and omega-3 fat deficient diet (similar to what is consumed by many Americans) developed both insulin resistance and impaired brain function in just six weeks. Furthermore, the amount of experimental and clinical research that has piled up over the past 10 years linking fructose to over 70 disease conditions is nothing short of astounding.
Since the average American diet is heavy in fructose, sugars and grains that will wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, this is a pervasive and serious issue. I view significantly reducing fructose consumption as one of the most important steps you can take to protect your brain function as you age.
About 85% of Americans are insulin and leptin resistant and are likely best served by limiting fructose intake, including that from fruit, to 15 and no more than 25 grams per day. If you are not insulin and leptin resistant and are well adapted to burning fat as your primary fuel then you could likely consume larger amounts of fruit, especially if you ate them immediately before or after a workout so the sugar would be burned as fuel.
5 Memory-Boosting Tips to Try Now
In the long run, making sure you’re eating a healthful diet is the key to stellar brain health. In terms of fructose, you’ll want to limit your intake to 25 grams per day (or less), and 15 grams or less if you are overweight or have diabetes, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Embracing the strategies that follow may also give a hearty boost to your brainpower, help keep you mentally healthy and ultimately even make you smarter.
1. Exercise
Exercise encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by stimulating nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections and protecting them from damage. During exercise nerve cells release proteins known as neurotrophic factors. One in particular, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health, and directly benefits cognitive functions, including learning. Also, exercise happens to be one of the only ways you can enhance your utilization of fructose, as the depletion of your glycogen stores opens up a role for fructose for replenishment if used post-workout.
To get the most out of your workouts, I recommend a comprehensive program that includes Peak Fitness high-intensity exercise, strength training, stretching and core work.
2. Proper Sleep
The process of growth, known as plasticity, is believed to underlie the brain's capacity to control behavior, including learning and memory. Plasticity occurs when neurons are stimulated by events, or information, from the environment. However, sleep and sleep loss modify the expression of several genes and gene products that may be important for synaptic plasticity. Furthermore, certain forms of long-term potentiation, a neural process associated with the laying down of learning and memory, can be elicited in sleep, suggesting synaptic connections are strengthened while you slumber.
If you want a quick brain boost, a mid-day nap has been found to dramatically boost and restore brainpower among adults.7 You can also find 33 tips to help you get the shut-eye you need here.
3. Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
Activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain, and researchers have also located metabolic pathways for vitamin D in the hippocampus and cerebellum of the brain, areas that are involved in planning, processing of information, and the formation of new memories. In older adults, research has shown that low vitamin D levels are associated with poorer brain function, and increasing levels may help keep older adults mentally fit.
Appropriate sun exposure is all it takes to keep your levels where they need to be for healthy brain function. If this is not an option, a safe tanning bed is the next best alternative, followed by a vitamin D3 supplement. What's important is your serum level, so you need to get your vitamin D levels tested to make sure you're staying within the optimal and therapeutic ranges as indicated below.
4. Vitamin B12
Mental fogginess and problems with memory are two of the top warning signs that you have vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12, or rather a lack thereof, has been called the "canary in the cobalamine" for your future brain health, and recent research has bolstered the importance of this vitamin in keeping your mind sharp as you age.
5. Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats
Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, an omega-3 fat, is an essential structural component of both your brain and retina. Minus the water content, approximately 60 percent of your brain is composed of fats—25 percent of which is DHA (assuming you have adequate levels in your diet). DHA is found in high levels in your neurons -- the cells of your central nervous system, where it provides structural support. When your omega-3 intake is inadequate, your nerve cells become stiff and more prone to inflammation as the missing omega-3 fats are substituted with cholesterol and inflammation-feeding omega-6 instead. Once your nerve cells become rigid and inflamed, proper neurotransmission from cell to cell and within cells become compromised.
To compensate for our inherently low omega-3 diet, a high quality animal-based omega-3 supplement is something that I recommend for virtually everyone, especially if you're pregnant.
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Plantain, a common driveway weed, is one of nature's most powerful medicines
by: Ethan A. Huff
(NaturalNews) It's known to pop up as a persistent weed in gardens, on lawns and even in driveway cracks. But plantain is one of the most medicinally powerful "nuisance" plants that you probably aren't taking advantage of for your health, perhaps to your own detriment.
Those bushy green leaves and small, stalk-like buds bear unique nutritive potential that could help you overcome difficult menstrual cycles, clear up skin acne and even treat painful arthritis. For hundreds of years, plantain has been used as one of nature's most powerful medicines, and for very good reason.
Plantain works topically as a wound-healer
One of its uses is as an astringent for wounds and bug bites. Simply chewing plantain leaf or crushing and grinding it makes an effective poultice to draw out poisons from the skin and prevent infections and scarring.
"Because it draws toxins from the body with its astringent nature, plantain may be crushed (or chewed) and placed as a poultice directly over the site of bee stings, bug bites, acne, slivers, glass splinters, or rashes," explains Life Advancer.
Plantain aids in healthy digestion
If you suffer from constant digestive problems due to antibiotics, food allergies or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), plantain might be a simple cure. Many have reported that the leaves and seeds of the plant aid in reducing inflammation and help repair damage to the gut lining.
The seeds of plantain are also useful in maintaining a clean digestive tract, acting similarly to psyllium husk in absorbing toxins and creating firmer stools. When steeped, plantain leaves can be turned into an extract for use as a gut healer.
Plantain helps treat congestion, respiratory problems
Since it is rich in the mineral silica, plantain also makes an excellent expectorant. This means that it helps clear up congestion and mucus, effectively treating coughs, colds and various other respiratory ailments.
"Plantain acts as a gentle expectorant while soothing inflamed and sore membranes, making it ideal for coughs and mild bronchitis," wrote David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG, in his book Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine.
Plantain helps treat hemorrhoids
The same astringent properties that make plantain an effective wound-healer also make it an effective remedy for hemorrhoids. When processed and turned into a lotion or ointment, plantain can be applied to hemorrhoids to stop the flow of blood, which is also useful in the treatment of cystitis accompanied by bleeding.
"Plantain is one of Western herbalism's primary topical healing agents, used as a lotion, ointment, compress, or poultice for cuts and bruises," adds Hoffmann in his book. "It may be applied topically for hemorrhoids and skin ulcerations."
Plantain treats all blood diseases, and nearly all other diseases
Truth be told, there seems to be very few health conditions that plantain can't treat. According to The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, written by Dr. Finley Ellingwood, MD, in 1919, plantain is effective against virtually all blood diseases, many glandular diseases, mercury poisoning, diarrheal conditions, female disorders, and injuries, bites and rashes on the skin.
"Plantain is almost a panacea for the human body, treating everything from all menstrual difficulties, all digestive issues, to nearly all skin complaints, and even arthritis," adds Life Advancer about the amazing healing potential of plantain.
"Add to salads, chew to ease thirst, or enjoy in stir fries. This versatile wild vegetable will keep you in good health for years to come!"
To learn more, be sure to read Dr. Ellingworth's plantain entry as it was published in his 1919 book:
Henriettes-Herb.com.
Sources:
http://www.lifeadvancer.com
http://wellnessmama.com
https://books.google.com
http://www.henriettes-herb.com
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How Do You Know if You’re Drinking Enough Water?
By Dr. Mercola
December 15, 2014
Throughout each day, your body loses water through your urine and sweat glands—even when you’re not purposely working up a sweat. As a result, you have to constantly replenish this fluid, and soft drinks do not count toward this requirement...
Coffee and soda are typically high in caffeine, which acts as a diuretic that can dehydrate you. Worse yet, sodas, fruit juices, and other sweetened beverages are primary sources of fructose, which will only deteriorate your health.
Ditto for artificially sweetened beverages. So the key is to drink pure water. But just how much water do you need each day? While an oft-repeated guideline says you should drink eight glasses of water a day, this may be too much for some, and not enough for others.
Your water requirement can also vary wildly from day to day depending on a number of factors, such as your activity level and weather conditions.
Fortunately, your body is equipped with a mechanism that tells you when you need to replenish your water supply. It’s called thirst. And there’s also a simple way to gauge whether or not you need to drink more water even though you may not be feeling thirsty.
How to Read the Signs for Your Body’s Water Needs
Once your body has lost between one to two percent of its total water content, it will signal its needs by making you feel thirsty. Using thirst as a guide to how much water you need to drink is a good way to ensure your individual needs are met, day-by-day.
However, by the time your thirst mechanism kicks in you may already be a bit dehydrated. Most studies show that about 2/3 of us are dehydrated and need to drink more water.
This is particularly true for the elderly. Therefore, it’s also wise to learn some of the other, more subtle, signals your body sends, indicating you need to drink more water. As noted in the featured article,1 this includes:
Fatigue and/or mood swings
Hunger even though you’ve recently eaten
Back or joint aches
Dull, dry skin and/or pronounced wrinkles
Infrequent urination; dark, concentrated urine, and/or constipation
The Color of Your Urine Is an Important Marker
Besides listening to your thirst, a good rule of thumb is to look at the color of your urine. You should be drinking enough water to turn your urine a light-colored yellow.
Dark-colored urine is a sign that your kidneys are retaining fluids in order to maintain your bodily functions, which includes detoxification. As a result, your urine will seem highly concentrated and dark in color. You may also urinate less frequently, for the same reason.
Since your thirst mechanism tends to become less efficient with age, older adults need to pay more careful attention to the color of their urine to ensure adequate water intake.
Bear in mind that riboflavin (vitamin B2, which is also found in most multi-vitamins) will turn your urine a bright, almost fluorescent yellow. So if you’re taking supplements containing B2, it may be more difficult to judge by the color of your urine.
Frequency of urination can also be used to judge your water intake. A healthy person urinates on average about seven or eight times a day. If your urine is scant or if you haven’t urinated in several hours, that too is an indication that you’re not drinking enough.
Symptoms of Chronic Dehydration
The primary symptoms of dehydration are: thirst, dry skin, dark colored urine, and fatigue. But there are also a number of commonly overlooked symptoms that may suggest you’re suffering from more or less chronic dehydration. Such symptoms include:
Digestive disturbances such as heartburn and constipation
Confusion and/or anxiety
Urinary tract infections
Premature aging
High cholesterol
Dehydration Is a Common Problem Among the Elderly
According to recent research, one in five seniors does not get enough water on a daily basis. Among those who do not have a caretaker, that number is even higher—one in four. And seniors with dementia are six times more likely to be dehydrated.
Dehydration also tends to be more common among people taking more medication. According to BBC News:HYPERLINK \l "_edn2"2
"A 2013 analysis of death certificates by the [UK] Office for National Statistics had shown that 1,158 care home residents suffered dehydration-related deaths between 2003 and 2012.
But Dr. [Lee] Hooper said those figures were not clear-cut as patients often stopped eating or drinking towards the end of life. She also stressed that while care homes could sometimes do better, it was important to point out that identifying dehydration and solving its causes was complex.
’The reasons older people do not drink enough are that as we age we lose our sense of thirst so they may not be thirsty. [Or they] decide not to drink because of continence issues, because they don't have as much social contact or because of frailty or forgetfulness.’"
Why I Do Not Recommend Bottled Water
While drinking water will help flush out toxins, the more unfiltered water you drink, the more pollutants you’re consuming… Most tap water contains an array of harmful contaminants, including fluoride, disinfection byproducts, chemicals, radiation, heavy metals, and pharmaceutical drugs. Additionally, be careful about bathing in unfiltered water as you can easily absorb more toxins by breathing in a hot shower than you can by drinking tap water all day long.
Last year, federal scientists reported finding traces of 18 unregulated contaminants in one-third of the water samples collected from 25 municipal utilities across the US, including perfluorinated compounds like PFOA. So besides making sure you’re drinking enough, another very important consideration is the type of water you drink.
Many instinctively reach for bottled water, but there are many reasons to avoid this option. Drinking from plastic water bottles can pose serious health risks from industrial chemicals like bisphenol-A and bisphenol-S (BPA/BPS), as well as phthalates, which leach from the plastic itself into the contents of the bottle. BPA and BPS are estrogen-mimicking chemicals linked to reproductive defects, learning and behavioral problems, immune dysfunction, and prostate and breast cancer. Phthalates are also endocrine disruptors, and have been linked to a wide range of developmental and reproductive effects, as well as liver cancer.
Bottled water also costs about 1,900 times the price of regular tap water, and may or may not have received any additional treatment. Studies have shown that 40 percent of bottled water is actually regular tap water with possibly no additional filtering treatment. While the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires large public water supplies to test for contaminants several times a day, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires private bottlers to test for contaminants only once a week, once a year, or once every four years, depending on the contaminant.
One independent test performed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in 2011 revealed 38 low-level contaminants in bottled water. Each of the 10 tested brands contained an average of eight chemicals. Disinfection byproducts (DBPs), caffeine, Tylenol, nitrate, industrial chemicals, arsenic, and bacteria were all detected. Fluoride is also usually present in both tap water and filtered bottled water.
Many bottled waters actually make a point of adding fluoride back into the water, so if you are drinking bottled water, make sure it’s fluoride-free. Last but not least, plastic bottles also cause enormous environmental problems because of the sheer volume of plastic waste they create; the lack of adequate recycling capability for plastics; and the amount of oil required to manufacture them.
The Health Benefits of ‘Living Water’
The answer to all these health- and environmental issues is to minimize or eliminate your use of plastic water bottles. The most economical and environmentally sound choice you can make is to purchase and install a water filter for your home. And, in lieu of plastic bottles, use reusable glass water bottles instead, which have a much smaller ecological footprint.
The very best water, however, comes from a natural gravity-fed spring. I do not recommend drinking distilled water on a regular basis. It’s too acidic, and is not recommended for extended use, although it can be beneficial for temporary detoxification purposes. The ideal pH of your water should be between 6.5 to 7.5, which is neutral. What you want is pure water that is clean, pH balanced, and "alive."
Mountain spring water is ideal. Not only does it have a healthy pH, but it’s also "structured" in a way that is not well understood. I’ve previously interviewed Dr. Gerald Pollack on this subject. He’s one of the leading research scientists in the world when it comes to understanding the physics of water, and what it means to your health. His book, The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor, clearly explains the theory of the fourth phase of water, which is nothing short of ground-breaking.
The fourth phase of water is, in a nutshell, living water. It’s referred to as EZ water—EZ standing for "exclusion zone"—which has a negative charge. This water can hold energy, much like a battery, and can deliver energy, too. This is the kind of water your cells contain; even your extracellular tissues are filled with EZ water, which is why he believes it’s so important to drink structured water for optimal health.
I drink vortexed water nearly exclusively as I became a big fan of Viktor Schauberger, who did much pioneering work on vortexing about a century ago. Dr. Pollack confirms that by creating a vortex in a glass of water, you’re putting more energy into it, thereby increasing EZ. Water from deep sources, such as deep spring water, is an excellent choice as EZ water is also created under pressure. FindaSpring.com5 is an excellent resource that can help you find a natural spring nearby. As an added boon, collecting spring water is usually free—you just need to bring your own jugs. I recommend using glass jugs instead of plastic, for all the reasons discussed earlier.

Healthy Additives for a Touch of Flavor
As more people are becoming aware of the health dangers of soda, the beverage industry has created a whole new breed of "healthy" beverages—so called "functional" and enhanced waters, fortified with everything from vitamins and minerals to electrolytes, oxygen, fiber, and even protein. But if you take a closer look at the labels, you’ll discover they’re spiking your punch with a lot of unsavory ingredients, many capable of wreaking havoc on your metabolism, hormones, and other physiological processes. Many contain loads of sugar, making them no better than soda...
For occasions when you do want a dash of flavor, simply add some fresh lemon or lime juice to your water. As noted in a previous Huffington Post article, lemon water has over a dozen health benefits, from easing constipation and urinary tract infections, to boosting your immune system, cleansing your liver, and improving your skin.
Sliced cucumbers can also add a refreshing twist. If you want a touch of sweetness, add some natural Stevia or Luo Han Guo, which are among the safest sugar substitutes. Alternatively, simply add a drop or two of natural peppermint extract or a few crushed mint leaves from your herb garden. If you want an electrolyte type "sports drink," try coconut water, which is a rich natural source of potassium and electrolytes. Look for one that has no additives. Or choose a fresh, young coconut and harvest it yourself.
For Optimal Health, You Need Pure Water, and Enough of It
There’s no doubt that you need pure water for optimal health. Simply swapping out all the sweetened, bottled beverages you indulge in for pure water can go a long way toward improving your health—and your weight. The amount, however, is something you need to fine tune based on your individual circumstances.
Remember to listen to your body. Thirst is an obvious signal that it’s high time to replenish your fluids. Fatigue and moodiness can also indicate you need to drink more water. Probably the best way to gauge your water needs however, is to observe the color of your urine, and how frequently you urinate. On average, a healthy number of bathroom visits is around seven or eight per day, and you want the color of your urine to be a light, pale yellow.
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Your Health Is the Result of a Symbiotic Relationship with 100 Trillion Bacteria
By Dr. Mercola
August 28, 2014
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/28/microbiome-gut-health.aspx?e_cid=20140828Z1_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20140828Z1&et_cid=DM56211&et_rid=639517268
The truth of the old adage that “you are what you eat” is becoming increasingly clear, the more we learn about the microbiome—the colonies of microbes living in your gut, and indeed all over your body.
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It is well established that your gut is your second brain providing more input to your brain than the brain provides to it. This is why your gut health is largely reflected in your gut bacteria, including your mental health and emotional well-being.
Your microbiome is essentially a historical accumulative composition of where you’ve been, who your parents are, who you spend intimate time with, what you eat, how you live, whether or not you’re interacting with the earth (gardening, for example), and much more.
As noted by Pat Schloss (a microbiologist with The Human Microbiome Project) in the video above, your microbiome is much like a fingerprint—it’s unique to you. Researcher Jeroen Raes has also suggested we might belong to one of a few “microflora types,” which are similar to blood types.
Your gut microbiome activity influences your immune responses, nervous system functioning, and plays a role in the development of any number of diseases, including obesity, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, just to name a few that I’ll address in this article.
How Intestinal Bacteria Can Induce Food Cravings
The bacteria in your body outnumber your cells by 100 to 1, and different bacteria have different nutritional needs.
According to recent research,1, 2 the nutritional preferences of your gut bacteria can influence your food cravings by releasing chemical signals through the vagus nerve, which connects your gut to your brain. According to one of the study’s co-authors, Carlo Maley, PhD:3
“Bacteria within the gut are manipulative... There is a diversity of interests represented in the microbiome, some aligned with our own dietary goals, and others not...
Our diets have a huge impact on microbial populations in the gut. It’s a whole ecosystem, and it’s evolving on the time scale of minutes.”
It’s already been well-documented that obese individuals have different bacteria dominating their microbiome than leaner individuals.
Research4 also suggests that as much as 20 percent of the substantial weight loss achieved from gastric bypass, a popular weight loss surgery, is due to shifts in the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract. With regards to the featured research, Forbes5 reports:
“‘Microbes have the capacity to manipulate behavior and mood through altering the neural signals in the vagus nerve, changing taste receptors, producing toxins to make us feel bad, and releasing chemical rewards to make us feel good,’ said study co-author Athena Aktipis, PhD.
The good news, the researchers tell us, is that we can influence changes in our gut dwellers through dietary choices.
‘Because microbiota are easily manipulatable by prebiotics, probiotics, antibiotics…and dietary changes, altering our microbiota offers a tractable approach to otherwise intractable problems of obesity and unhealthy eating.’”
Diet Can Rapidly Alter Gut Bacteria
Indeed, another recent study6, 7 highlights the speed with which you can alter the balance of your gut bacteria. Here, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) monitored two people over the course of one year; collecting daily stool samples and correlating the gut bacteria from day to day with diet and other lifestyle factors such as sleep, mood, and exercise.
One of the participants developed diarrhea during a two-week trip to another country, which resulted in significant changes in the balance of gut bacteria.
A case of Salmonella food poisoning struck the other participant, which resulted in a drastic change in gut bacteria. Salmonella bacteria rose from 10 percent to nearly 30 percent, and the colonies of beneficial bacteria were nearly wiped out.
Once the individual recovered, beneficial bacteria quickly rebounded to about 40 percent of the total microbiome, but most of the strains were different from the original strains. According to senior author Eric Alm:8
"On any given day, the amount of one species could change manyfold, but after a year, that species would still be at the same median level. To a large extent, the main factor we found that explained a lot of that variance was the diet.”
The most prominent changes correlated with the individuals’ fiber intake. Greater amounts of fiber affected about 15 percent of the gut bacteria, resulting in greater proliferation of them.
Gut Bacteria May Reveal Colon Cancer, and Might Play a Role in MS
Your microbiome may even reveal your risk for, or presence of, colon cancer. A total of 90 people participated in this study;9, 10 thirty were healthy; 30 had precancerous intestinal polyps; and 30 had been diagnosed with advanced colon or rectal cancer. After assessing the composition of each person’s microbiome, it became apparent that microbiome analysis (using a fecal test) might be a viable way to screen for precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer.
According to their findings, adding microbiome analysis to other known risk factors for precancerous polyps resulted in a 4.5-fold improved prediction for the condition. Adding microbiome analysis to risk factors for invasive colorectal cancer resulted in a five-fold improvement in their ability to predict cancer.
In related news, researchers have also linked certain gut microbes to the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), and/or improvement of the condition. The paper, published in the Journal of Interferon and Cytokine Research,11 describes three immunological factors associated with the gut microbiome that relates to inflammatory responses in MS patients:
1.T helper cell polarization
2.T regulatory cell function
3.B cell activity
Previous research has suggested that altering the gut microbiome by adding bacteria such as Lactobacillus, and/or worm-type organisms like Schistosoma and Trichura, can be helpful in reducing MS symptoms. Apparently, these microorganisms have a beneficial effect on cytokine production throughout the body, thereby reducing systemic inflammation. Cytokines are cellular messengers that regulate inflammatory responses. According to the authors: "Whether future therapeutic approaches to MS will employ commensal-based products depends on nuanced understanding of these underlying mechanisms.”
When It Comes to Inflammation, Your Microbiome Rule
MS certainly is not the only disease caused by chronic inflammation in your body. In fact, most chronic disease has inflammation as an underlying factor. It’s important to realize that your gut is the starting point for inflammation—it’s actually the gatekeeper for your inflammatory response. As suggested above, various gut microorganisms can either trigger or subdue the production of inflammatory cytokines. Most of the signals between your gut and your brain travel along your vagus nerve—about 90 percent of them.12 (Vagus is Latin for “wandering,” aptly named as this long nerve travels from your skull down through your chest and abdomen, branching to multiple organs.13)
Cytokine messengers produced in your gut cruise up to your brain along the “vagus nerve highway.” Once in your brain, the cytokines tell your microglia (the immune cells in your brain) to perform certain functions, such as producing neurochemicals. Besides influencing your hunger and cravings for certain foods, as discussed earlier, these chemical messages can also affect your mitochondria, impacting energy production and apoptosis (cell death). They can also affect the very sensitive feedback system that controls your stress hormones, including cortisol, for better or worse.
So, an inflammatory response can begin in your gut, travel to your brain, which then builds on it and sends signals to the rest of your body in a complex feedback loop. It isn’t important that you understand all of the physiology here, but the take-away is that your gut flora significantly affects and controls the health of your entire body.
Your Gut Flora Is Perpetually Under Attack
Your microbiome—and therefore your physical and mental health—are continuously affected by your environment, and by your diet and lifestyle choices. If your gut bacteria are harmed and thrown out of balance (dysbiosis), all sorts of illnesses can result, both acute and chronic. Unfortunately, your fragile internal ecosystem is under nearly constant assault today. Some of the factors posing the gravest dangers to your microbiome are outlined in the following table.
Refined sugar, especially processed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)  Genetically engineered (GE) foods (extremely abundant in processed foods and beverages) Agricultural chemicals, such as herbicides and pesticides. Glyphosate appears to be among the worst
Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products; CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics and GE livestock feed Gluten Antibiotics (use only if absolutely necessary, and make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a good probiotic supplement)
NSAIDS (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) damage cell membranes and disrupt energy production by mitochondria Proton pump inhibitors (drugs that block the production of acid in your stomach, typically prescribed for GERD, such as Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium)  Antibacterial soap Chlorinated and/or fluoridated water Stress Pollution
Your Diet Is the Most Effective Way to Alter Your Microbiome
The best way to optimize your gut flora is through your diet. A good place to start is by drastically reducing grains and sugar, and avoiding genetically engineered ingredients, processed foods, pasteurized foods, and chlorinated tap water. Pasteurized foods can harm your good bacteria, and sugar promotes the growth of pathogenic yeast and other fungi. Grains containing gluten are particularly damaging to your microflora and overall health.14, 15 A gut-healthy diet is one rich in whole, unprocessed, unsweetened foods, along with traditionally fermented or cultured foods. Chlorine in your tap water not only kills pathogenic bacteria in the water but also beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Fermented foods are also a key component of the GAPS protocol, a diet designed to heal and seal your gut. Your goal should be to consume one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented veggies with each meal, but you may need to work up to it. Consider starting with just a teaspoon or two a few times a day, and increase as tolerated. If that is too much (perhaps your body is severely compromised), you can even begin by drinking a teaspoon of the brine from the fermented veggies, which is rich in the same beneficial microbes.
You may also want to consider a high-potency probiotic supplement, but realize that there is no substitute for the real food. A previous article in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology16 makes the case that properly controlled fermentation amplifies the specific nutrient and phytochemical content of foods, thereby improving brain health, both physical and mental. According to the authors:
“The consumption of fermented foods may be particularly relevant to the emerging research linking traditional dietary practices and positive mental health. The extent to which traditional dietary items may mitigate inflammation and oxidative stress may be controlled, at least to some degree, by microbiota.”
They go on to say that the microbes associated with fermented foods (for example, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species) may also influence your brain health via direct and indirect pathways, which paves the way for new scientific investigations in the area of “nutritional psychiatry.”
Your Body Is a Conglomerate of Bacterial Colonies
You’re not only surrounded by bacteria in your environment; in a very real way, you are them. Your body is in fact a complex ecosystem made up of more than 100 trillion microbes that must be properly balanced and cared for if you are to be healthy. Pamela Weintraub skillfully describes the symbiotic relationship between humans and microorganisms in her June 2013 article in Experience Life magazine.17 This system of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa living on your skin and in your mouth, nose, throat, lungs, gut, and urogenital tract, is unique to you.
It varies from person to person based on factors such as diet, lifestyle, health history, geographic location, and even ancestry. Your microbiome is one of the most complex ecosystems on the planet as for every bacteria you have, there are 10 bacteriophages or viruses. So not only do you have 100 trillion bacteria, you have one quadrillion bacteriophages.
All of these organisms perform a multitude of functions in key biological systems, from supplying critical vitamins to fighting pathogens, modulating weight and metabolism, and much more, and when your microbiome falls out of balance, you can become ill. Your microbiome also helps control how your genes express themselves. So by optimizing your native flora, you are actually controlling your genes! All of this is great news, because while your microbiome may control your health, you can control which bacteria have the upper hand—health-promoting ones, or disease-causing ones—through your diet and lifestyle.
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Russia taking McDonald's to court, threatens countrywide shutdown
(NaturalNews) The scary-looking clown named Ronald McDonald and his minions are going to court.
Russia, which has already denounced genetically modified food earlier this year, is now taking McDonald's to court. A Moscow court recently announced that the fast food chain has violated Russia's nutrition and safety codes for many of its burger and ice cream products.
The case is set to be heard at Tverskoi District Court. Russian health officials are already threatening to place a temporary ban on McDonald's ice cream, milkshakes, cheeseburgers, and Filet-O-Fish and chicken sandwiches. A hearing is scheduled for August 13.
Safety of the entire McDonald's fast food chain called into question by Russian health officials
The Interfax news agency reported that Russia's consumer protection agency has identified several product quality violations that have called into question the safety and integrity of the entire McDonald's food chain. The McDonald's products under question contain more fats and carbohydrates than are allowed by Russia's health-conscious regulations.
Inspections at two McDonald's restaurants in Novgorod found that caloric values of milk shakes, fish sandwiches and Royal Cheeseburgers (the Russian equivalent of Quarter Pounders) exceeded safety standards, harboring two to three times more calories per serving than legally allowed.
This means that the court could temporarily shut down all of McDonald's operations in Russia. A spokesperson for the Tverskoi District Court, Yekaterina Korotova, didn't comment on the matter but relayed that the consumer protection agency is demanding that the court "halt
McDonald's illegal activity."
Will Russia push McDonald's out of their country for good?
Big Mac bun is nothing close to real bread

While calorie, fat and carbohydrate levels of McDonald's food measure through the roof, it's what the food is made out of that should be most troubling to consumers.
For example, a Big Mac bun is not real bread but, instead, a mixture of bleached wheat, malted barley flour, thiamin mononitrate and fake vitamin enrichments. This enriched flour is mixed with the biotech industry's usual flavor science of high-fructose corn syrup and soybean and canola oil. A couple of ammonia compounds like ammonium sulfate and ammonium chloride are added along with dangerous conditioners like azodicarbonamide, which is outlawed in some countries. McDonald's also preserves its buns using sorbic acid, calcium propionate and sodium propionate, while conditioning the dough further by using ingredients like sodium stearoyl lactylate, DATEM and mono- and diglycerides. To finish it off, the bread concoction is riddled with salt, sugar, wheat gluten and soy lecithin.
And this is only the McDonald's buns.
Sources for this article include:
http://www.mcdonalds.com
http://www.nytimes.com
http://money.msn.com
http://science.naturalnews.com
About the author:
Lance Johnson is a passionate learner, researcher, writer, and entre-health-leader. He and his wife have launched a clean products movement from the ground up at
www.allnaturalfreespirit.com.
The Johnson's are inspired by natural healing and the lifestyle changes that have awoken their spirit and given them quality of life.
Stay updated and discuss ideas exclusively with Lance on their FB community page at
https://HYPERLINK "http://www.facebook.com/allnaturalfreespirit?ref=hl"www.facebook.com/allnaturalfreespirit?ref=hl

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Also See:
If You Know What's Good For You ...
(Part 1)
19 February 2009
and
(Part 2)
01 August 2009
and
(Part 3)
02 March 2010
and
(Part 4)
28 September 2010
and
(Part 5)
15 March 2011
and
(Part 6)
20 July 2011
and
(Part 7)
09 October 2011
and
(Part 8)
12 December 2011
and
(Part 9)
09 March 2012
and
(Part 10)
12 July 2012
and
(Part 11)
30 October 2012
and
(Part 12)
11 February 2013
and
(Part 13)
11 May 2013
and
(Part 14)
01 August 2013
and
(Part 15)
14 December 2013
and
(Part 16)
13 February 2014
and
(Part 17)
14 April 2014
and
Vitamins, Genetic Food, Health
03 April 2007
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2007/04/vitamins-genetic-food-health.html
and
FDA - Drugs, Vaccines & Vitamin Supplements
(Part 1)
07 July 2008
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2008/07/marching-towards-police-state.html
and
How Safe Is Our Food?
(Part 1)
06 December 2008
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2008/12/food-how-safe-is-it.html
and
(Part 2)
26 March 2009
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2009/03/how-safe-is-our-food-part-2.html
and
Losing Weight - Are Diets Detrimental to Health?
16 September 2010
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2010/09/too-much-too-young-teen-body-obsession.html
and
No More Fluoride in the Water - Waterloo, Ontario
08 November 2010
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2010/11/no-more-floride-in-water-waterloo.html
and
No More Fluoride in the Water - Portland, Oregon
05 June 2013
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2013/06/major-victory-as-portland-oregon-votes.html
and
Why is Fluoride in Our Water?
09 January 2011
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-is-fluoride-in-our-water.html
and
Medication Errors are a Major Killer!
(Part 1)
04 February 2011
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2011/02/medication-errors-are-major-killer.html
and
Can't Sleep? There is Help!
08 February 2011
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2011/02/cant-sleep-there-is-help.html
and
Avoid Chemotherapy and Radiation!
19 November 2011
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2011/11/chemotherapy-and-radiation.html