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Does Your Gut Bacteria Affect Weight Loss? Simplifying The Science

Researchers have learnt so much about our gut bacteria in the last decade.

The potential effects they have on health is quite extraordinary.

Some suspect they may have a strong influence on metabolic diseases, including obesity.

This article looks at how gut bacteria may affect weight, as well as what you can do about it.

The potential effects they have on health is quite extraordinary.

Some suspect they may have a strong influence on metabolic diseases, including obesity.

This article looks at how gut bacteria may affect weight, as well as what you can do about it.

What Are Gut Bacteria?

What are gut bacteria?Gut bacteria refers to the community of micro-organisms that permanently reside inside our intestinal tract (1).

These bacteria are also commonly referred to as gut microflora, gut microbiota, or the gut microbiome.

Studies over the past decade have begun to reveal just how influential these bacteria are on our immune function, metabolism, nutrient absorption, and risk of numerous metabolic diseases.

In fact, the gut microbiome is often considered a hidden or extra “organ” due to the way they can positively or negatively influence our health (34).

Summary: Your gut bacteria is a community of micro-organisms that live in your intestines. They can positively or negatively influence many aspects of health.

Can Gut Bacteria Affect Weight Loss?

If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.

While this is fundamentally true of a positive energy balance, gut bacteria transplant studies indicate it’s not nearly as simple as “calories in calories out”.

The class or type of bacteria in your gut also appears to influence energy balance to some degree.

Studies on rodents found that transplanting the gut bacteria of obese mice into lean mice (fecal transplants) caused the lean mice to gain fat cells rapidly (5).

Since then researchers have found striking differences between the gut bacteria of lean and obese individuals (678).

Faecal sample analyses indicate that relative proportions of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes – both “classes” of bacteria in the gut – can influence energy balance to some degree (5910).

Specifically, human studies found that the ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes was decreased in obese individuals, as was overall diversity of gut bacteria (1112).

In other words, more Firmicutes and fewer Bacteroidetes is not ideal.

Researchers hypothesize that this “obese microbiota” may enhance signals that trigger the amount of energy we harvest from food. This in turn increases the amount of calories absorbed, and therefore weight gain (312).

Summary: Early research suggests the types and proportions of bacteria in our gut may influence likelihood of weight loss or weight gain. This may be due to its influence on mechanisms that affect energy storage and energy balance.

probiotics-prebiotics

Probiotics and Weight Loss

Probiotics are bacteria that we eat specifically for health benefits.

They enter the digestive tract to alter and improve the current makeup of our gut bacterial community.

Researchers are now looking to see if regular probiotic supplementation can influence weight. So far only a handful of human clinical trials have been published, but findings do support the idea that gut bacteria affects weight loss.

From the weight of evidence currently available, Lactobacillus gasseri appears to be the probiotic strain that can best assist weight loss in humans.

Note that some strains of bacteria appear to “protect” from gaining more fat, while others are linked to weight gain (131415).

Summary: Some clinical studies have found that certain probiotic strains can influence weight gain. This supports the idea that our gut bacteria environment influences weight management.

Diet Recommendations to Improve Gut Health

It’s unclear what specific strains of bacteria we need more or less exposure to for improved gut health.

The same goes for promoting weight loss.

Unfortunately, this means specific dietary recommendations are limited.

What we do know is that consuming more probiotic-rich food, as well as nourishing our existing gut bacteria, are fundamental for overall health.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods naturally contain lots of beneficial bacteria and should become a regular addition to your diet.

Think of them as a kind of natural probiotic supplement that “top up” the bacteria in your gut.

Fermented foods are actually very common in our diet, but healthier options include quark, plain yogurt or kefir, sauerkraut, and other non-pasteurized pickled vegetables.

Prebiotics

In order to nourish existing bacteria, you must regularly eat prebiotic foods (not to be confused with probiotics).

Prebiotics are a form of carbohydrate (mostly fiber) that humans can’t digest. It acts as “food” for the beneficial bacteria in your gut to grow and thrive.

Foods rich in prebiotic fiber include:

  • Oats
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Beans and legumes.
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus

As though we needed additional reasons to eat more legumes and berries!

Limit Junk Foods

Not only are junk foods high in calories, but high sugar foods appear to promote the growth of potentially harmful bacterial species (1617).

Feeding the wrong bacteria enables them to colonize and grow more rapidly, without as many beneficial bacteria to prevent them from thriving (181920).

The growth of this harmful bacteria may indirectly influence many aspects of health, including weight gain. Individuals who eat a high calorie diet appear to have a poorer ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes, which is associated with absorbing more calories (21).

Summary: To maintain a diverse gut bacteria that promotes health, ensure your diet includes lots of prebiotic foods and fermented foods, and limit junk foods.

Conclusion

Current evidence suggests the balance and diversity of our gut bacteria can influence how easily an individual gains or loses weight.

Until we learn more, the best way to nurture a healthy gut bacteria is by eating a diverse diet rich in prebiotic foods and fermented foods. If this is not possible, probiotic supplementation may be a good option.

It’s also a good idea to limit junk foods, but you knew that already.

 


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7 Foods to Boost Your Good Gut Bacteria (That Aren’t Yogurt)

One of the most astonishing recent health discoveries is how much our gut microbiome impacts our health. But when it comes to growing good gut bacteria you have plenty of delicious probiotic foods to choose from.

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen

Cold potatoes
Cold potatoes—that is, taters that have been washed, cooked, and cooled—are one of the best sources of resistant starch. Resistant starch is a prebiotic, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that acts like food for gut bacteria, encouraging the good bugs to grow and flourish. While resistant starch has many health benefits, one of its most promising aspects is its ability to increase insulin sensitivity, helping people reduce diabetes risk and even lose weight.

Kefir
Think of kefir as yogurt’s tangier but more powerful cousin. The drink is made by seeding milk with kefir “grains,” which are tiny bundles of yeast and bacteria, and letting it sit. Over time the grains ferment the milk, producing a tart drink full of probiotics, or healthy bacteria. A 2013 study found that Kefir can help relieve gastrointestinal problems, allergies, and may even have a positive effect on heart health. One caveat however: Many commercial kefir drinks contain very high amounts of added sugar, which feeds bad bacteria in your gut, so make sure you’re reading the label and ingredient list before buying. These are sneaky signs you might be eating too much sugar.

Green bananas
Most people go out of their way to avoid green bananas but there’s good news for people who just can’t wait until they’re fully ripe. Green bananas are a rich source of prebiotics, particularly resistant starch. They also have a healthy dose of both soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The combo provides a feast for good gut bacteria and helps protect your heart and bones. Can’t get past the taste? Try them boiled or fried or sub some green banana flour in place of regular flour. Here’s how sniffing bananas could help you lose weight.

Kimchi
Don’t let the name throw you—this Korean dish is not only tasty but a health superstar. Kimchi is made by fermenting vegetables with probiotic lactic acid bacteria, which gives it the same boost of healthy bacteria as other fermented foods, like yogurt. Plus, since it’s made from cruciferous veggies like bok choy and cabbage along with healthy spices like garlic and peppers, it’s provides a mega dose of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. One study found that kimchi helps protect against cancer, obesity, and constipation while lowering cholesterol, boosting brain and immune function and even providing some anti-aging benefits. Here are other proven cancer-fighting foods.

Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is kimchi’s German cousin, a lacto-fermented brine filled with cabbage, carrots, and spices—not to mention plenty of healthy bacteria for your gut. And not only does it have similar benefits as other fermented veggies but a study done by William & Mary college found that eating a daily serving of sauerkraut helped significantly reduce social anxiety. The researchers believe it’s because more than 80 percent of the calming hormone, serotonin, is manufactured in our guts (not our brains!) and the good bacteria boosted serotonin production.

Chocolate
Yes, it’s true! Chocolate can help encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria. A study published in the International Journal of Food Biology found that combining chocolate with probiotics magnified the benefits of both. The chocolate protected the bacteria as it passed through the stomach, making sure it was absorbed in the small intestine while the bacteria helped the body properly digest the chocolate, enabling it to extract all the micronutrients and antioxidants. Talk about a win/win! Here are more healthy reasons to eat chocolate.

Garlic

Garlic
Everyone’s favorite way to get bad breath also has powerful gut-bacteria boosting properties. Garlic is not only Americans’ number-one favorite spice (after salt) but is also beloved by bacteria thanks to its rich supply of prebiotics, their preferred food. Raw garlic is the best source but for those who don’t like the burn (or who feel like kissing someone later), cooked garlic also works well—so well in fact that a study published in Food Science and Human Wellness found that eating it is an effective way to prevent many gastrointestinal illnesses.

source: www.rd.com


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The Everyday Foods Which Reduce Social Anxiety

People who are particularly neurotic may benefit from this group of common foods — plus exercise.

People who eat more fermented foods have lower social anxiety, a new study finds.

The benefit is particularly noticeable amongst people who are highly neurotic.

Neurotic people are prone to anxiety.

Fermented foods that are a regular part of the Western diet include milk, cheese, yogurt and bread.

They typically contain probiotics, which are likely behind the benefit.

Professor Matthew Hilimire, one of the study’s authors, said:

“It is likely that the probiotics in the fermented foods are favorably changing the environment in the gut, and changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety.
I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind.”

The study asked around 700 young adults to keep track of what they ate over a month.

The researchers controlled for how much exercise people did and how healthily they ate.

Dr DeVylder explained the results:

“The main finding was that individuals who had consumed more fermented foods had reduced social anxiety but that was qualified by an interaction by neuroticism.
What that means is that that relationship was strongest amongst people that were high in neuroticism.”

The study also found that the more exercise people did, the lower their social anxiety.

The researchers are planning an experiment to back up the results of this survey.

Dr DeVylder said:

“However, if we rely on the animal models that have come before us and the human experimental work that has come before us in other anxiety and depression studies, it does seem that there is a causative mechanism.
Assuming similar findings in the experimental follow-up, what it would suggest is that you could augment more traditional therapies (like medications, psychotherapy or a combination of the two) with fermented foods — dietary changes — and exercise, as well.”

Dr Jordan DeVylder, another of the study’s authors, said:

“This study shows that young adults who are prone towards anxiety report less social anxiety if they frequently consume fermented foods with probiotics.
These initial results highlight the possibility that social anxiety may be alleviated through low-risk nutritional interventions, although further research is needed to determine whether increasing probiotic consumption directly causes a reduction in social anxiety.”

The study is to be published in the journal Psychiatry Research (Hilimire et al., 2015)

source: PsyBlog


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How Your Microbiome Controls Your Health

May 17, 2014     By Dr. Mercola

The interconnectedness of your gut, brain, immune, and hormonal systems is impossible to unwind. The past few years has brought a scientific flurry of information about how crucial your microflora is to your genetic expression, immune system, body weight and composition, mental health, memory, and minimizing your risk for numerous diseases, from diabetes to cancer.

Researcher Jeroen Raes, featured in the TED Talk, discovered that you might even belong to one of a few “microflora types”—which are similar to blood types. Research into the human microbiome is in its infancy, and there is much we do not yet understand.

That said, there are some facts of which we are already certain. It is becoming increasingly clear that destroying your gut flora with pharmaceutical drugs, harsh environmental chemicals, and toxic foods is a primary factor in rising disease rates.

Recent research suggests intestinal inflammation may play a critical role in the development of certain cancers. Until we begin to appreciate this complex relationship, we will not be able to prevent or intervene effectively in many of the diseases that are devastating people’s lives today.

In order for true healing and meaningful prevention to occur, you must continuously send your body messages that it is safe, not under attack, and that it is well nourished, supported, and calm. This article will focus on exactly how you can send your body these messages and why caring for your personal microbiome is so critical to every aspect of your health.

How Can You Feel Lonely with 100 Trillion Constant Companions?

The idea that microorganisms are to be “divided and conquered” is now an outdated view of our world. We not only live with them and are surrounded by them, but we depend on them for our very existence. Pamela Weintraub skillfully describes the symbiosis between humans and microorganisms in her June 2013 article in Experience Life magazine.1

Your body is 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.

This system of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa living on your skin and in your mouth, nose, throat, lungs, gut, and urogenital tract, is referred to as the “human microbiome.” It varies from person to person based on factors such as diet, health history, geographic location, and even ancestry.

When your microbiome falls out of balance, you can become ill. Those organisms perform a multitude of functions in key biological systems, from supplying critical vitamins to fighting pathogens, modulating weight and metabolism.

This army of organisms also makes up 70 percent of your immune system, “talking” directly to your body’s natural killer T-cells so that they can tell apart your “friendlies” from dangerous invaders. Your microbiome also helps control how your genes express themselves. So by optimizing your native flora, you are actually controlling your genes.

microbiome

 

Gut Instincts—Your Second Brain Talking

Your microbiome is closely intertwined with both of your brains—yes, you have TWO! In addition to the brain in your head, embedded in the wall of your gut is your enteric nervous system (ENS), which works both independently of and in conjunction with the brain in your head. According to New Scientist:2, 3

“The ENS is part of the autonomic nervous system, the network of peripheral nerves that control visceral functions. It is also the original nervous system, emerging in the first vertebrates over 500 million years ago and becoming more complex as vertebrates evolved—possibly even giving rise to the brain itself.”

Your ENS is thought to be largely responsible for your “gut instincts,” responding to environmental threats and sending information to your brain that affects your well-being.

I’m sure you’ve experienced various sensations in your gut that accompany strong emotions such as fear, excitement, and stress. Feeling “butterflies” in your stomach is actually the result of blood being diverted away from your gut to your muscles, as part of the fight or flight response.

These gut reactions happen outside of your conscious awareness because they are part of your autonomic nervous system, just like the beating of your heart. Your ENS contains 500 million neurons. Why so many? Because eating is fraught with danger:4

“Like the skin, the gut must stop potentially dangerous invaders, such as bacteria and viruses, from getting inside the body.
If a pathogen should cross the gut lining, immune cells in the gut wall secrete inflammatory substances including histamine, which are detected by neurons in the ENS. The gut brain then either triggers diarrhea or alerts the brain in the head, which may decide to initiate vomiting, or both.”

We now know that this communication between your “two brains” runs both ways and is the pathway for how foods affect your mood. For example, fatty foods make you feel good because fatty acids are detected by cell receptors in the lining of your gut, which then send warm and fuzzy nerve signals to your brain.

Knowing this, you can begin to understand how not only your physical health but also your mental health is deeply influenced by the health of your gut and the microbial zoo that lives there. Your gut microbes affect your overall brain function, from basic mood swings to the development of serious illnesses like autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia.

When It Comes to Inflammation, Your Microbiome Rules

Your gut is the starting point for inflammation—it’s actually the gatekeeper for your inflammatory response. According to Psychoneuroimmunologist Kelly Brogan, your gut’s microorganisms trigger the production of cytokines. Cytokines are involved in regulating your immune system’s response to inflammation and infection. Much like hormones, cytokines are signaling molecules that aid cell-to-cell communication, telling your cells where to go when your inflammatory response is initiated.

Most of the signals between your gut and your brain travel along your vagus nerve—about 90 percent of them.5 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.6

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. Some of these have negative effects on your mitochondria, which can impact energy production and apoptosis (cell death), as well as adversely impacting the very sensitive feedback system that controls your stress hormones, including cortisol.

So, this inflammatory response that started in your gut travels 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’s influence is far from local! It significantly affects and controls the health of your entire body.

sources:
1 Experience Life June 2013

2 New Scientist December 17, 2012
3 Neurosciencestuff December 18, 2012
4 New Scientist December 17, 2012
5 American Journal of Physiology December 2002
6 WiseGeek Vagus Nerve


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8 Probiotic Foods That Aren’t Yogurt

Here’s a quick guide to the foods you need for a healthier gut.

LAMBETH HOCHWALD     November 12, 2015

When we think of probiotics, which work to restore the body’s microbial balance, we usually think about yogurt.

Truth is, there plenty of other foods you can eat to stay healthy.

“Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that we all contain in our digestive tract, and prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics, helping them to grow,” says Dr. Roshini Raj, a gastroenterologist in New York City. “Probiotics and prebiotics help maintain a healthy digestive system by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria and aiding in digestion. Thanks to their ability to reduce the harmful bacteria, probiotics and prebiotics can prevent infections in the digestive tract and reduce inflammation.”

love-your-gut

Choosing the right probiotic foods

So what should we add to our diets to keep our guts healthy? There are a number of fermented foods (dairy and non-dairy) that provide probiotics as well as prebiotics. Let’s start with the top probiotic foods:

  • Kombucha is an ancient Chinese drink made of sweetened tea that’s been fermented using a colony of bacteria and yeast. It’s said to help prevent arthritis and other diseases.
  • Kefir is a dairy-based yogurt-like drink that has its origins in the mountainous Caucasus region of Russia. Millennia ago, pastoralists discovered the process of fermentation and the practice spread widely throughout the Mediterranean as a way to preserve grapes and dairy products beyond the growing season.
  • Sauerkraut is a finely diced sour cabbage dish that has been fermented by a wide variety of bacteria.
  • Kimchi is a Korean dish that’s a spicy, pickled or fermented blend of cabbage, onions and sometimes fish. It can be seasoned with garlic, horseradish, red peppers and ginger.
  • Miso soup originated in Japan and is typically made from fermented soybeans. It can contain up to 160 bacteria strains.
  • Kvass is a traditional Eastern European fermentemted beverage that’s made using black or regular rye bread. It’s often flavored with strawberries or mint.
  • Tempeh is made by fermenting cooked soybeans with a mold. It tends to be firm and chewy and has a slightly earthy taste.
  • Aged cheeses are generally cheeses that have been cured for longer than six months. These cheeses tend to have a full, sharper flavor.

These foods tend to be more popular outside the United States, but the trend has caught on in a big way, says Madeline Given, a certified holistic nutritionist in Santa Barbara, California.

“You can also add cultured dairy, such as creme fraiche or even raw and cultured sour creams and butters,” Given says. “All are a great source of this good bacteria.”

In addition to probiotic foods are prebiotic foods, which include whole grains, asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, soybeans, dandelion root or Jerusalem artichoke, Raj adds.

What about supplements?

“Both diet and supplements are a good way to increase your daily intake of probiotics and prebiotics,” Raj says. “However, if you want to add a supplement, it’s always best to check with your doctor regarding the dosage and brands she recommends.”

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has a useful resource file on probiotic supplements that explains the pros, cons and unknowns.

A host of other benefits

And there are more reasons than your gut to reach for probiotic foods.

“Truly, a variety of differing good bacteria in the gut is great for one’s immunity,” says Susan Schenck, a licensed acupuncturist and author of “The Live Food Factor: The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet.”

They’re good for your brain, too.

“After all, 90 percent of the ‘feel-good’ serotonin originates in our gut,” Schenck says.

In fact, we have 100 billion brain cells in our gut, says Lori Shemek, Ph.D., a fat cell researcher. “This is why our gut is considered our ‘second brain,'” she says. “Our weight is directly linked to specific types of gut bacteria.”

To get what you need, consider eating at least one prebiotic- or probiotic-containing food daily. “It doesn’t take much,” Shemek says. “Just one tablespoon of sauerkraut every day is all that is needed. Also, it only takes a couple of days to change gut health from unhealthy to healthy. Additionally, I recommend one daily probiotic, 15 billion and multi-strained.”

source: www.mnn.com


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How Probiotics May Save Us from Superbugs

We’ve been engaging in a warfare of sorts lately, against bacteria that are quickly learning to outsmart our weapons of choice—antibiotics. Consider that more than 70 percent of all bacterial infections in hospitals are resistant to at least one of the antibiotics used to treat them, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But there is an interesting plot twist in this war: new players have emerged in the form of probiotics. While we more often consider probiotics for gut health and to prevent antibiotic-induced diarrhea, a growing body of research now points to probiotics as potentially beneficial against superbugs.

First, let’s compare antibiotics and probiotics. “Antibiotics,” literally translates to mean “against life” because these drugs indiscriminately kill bacteria, both pathogenic and beneficial ones, albeit fewer and fewer disease-causing bacteria as they become increasingly resistant to the drugs. By comparison, “probiotics” means “in favor of life” or “promotes life,” since these beneficial bacteria encourage health. But, that’s not all they do.

Exciting new research shows that some strains of probiotics are killing superbugs even when antibiotics stop working. Even better, research demonstrates that superbugs do not develop resistance to probiotics in the way they learn to resist antibiotics. That’s good news as more and more bacterial infections are no longer responding to antibiotic drugs.

In the case of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, a primary cause of gut disorders like ulcers, the bacteria has been found resistant to multiple drugs. However studies show that the probiotic known as Bifidobacteria bifiform is helpful against H. pylori infections.

sick

Perhaps one of the most widely reported cases of antibiotic resistance can be found in an infection known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, a serious infectious disease that many people contract after a hospital stay. Antibiotics only work against MRSA in one way—attempting to kill the bacteria. But, according to research in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus have been found to work on MRSA infections in three ways:

1) The probiotics compete with S. aureus infectious bacteria for nutrients and attachment to the mucous membranes of the body;

2) The probiotics secrete compounds known as bacteriocins that actively kill the infectious bacteria; and

3) L. acidophilus inhibits S. aureus from producing a coating known as a “biofilm” that protects the disease-causing bacteria from being discovered by the body’s immune system.

And, that’s just the beginning. Probiotics are even showing promise against viruses, something antibiotics have never been able to do. Antibiotics have only ever worked against bacterial infections.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook     November 27, 2015     Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook

To learn more about probiotics in the prevention and treatment of superbugs and infections,
check out  The Probiotic Promise: Simple Steps to Heal Your Body from the Inside Out (DaCapo, 2015).


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The Fermented Food that Helps Protect against Dementia

Michelle Schoffro Cook   November 7, 2015

When we think of dementia—or the loss of memory we typically associate with aging—it’s unlikely that most of us think of fermented foods. But probiotic-rich foods, which are foods that contain naturally-beneficial microorganisms like bacteria and certain yeasts, may have an important role in the prevention, and even treatment, of this brain disease.

For many years, science led us to believe that we had little control over our brain health and its functioning. Dementia was thought to be the inevitable result of aging. But, there is a growing body of research linking what we eat, how we live, how stressed we are and how much we challenge ourselves intellectually, to our brain health and memory.

While many people may be aware that purple grapes, blueberries, walnuts or flax seeds are brain-boosting foods, few are aware that one particular fermented food is standing out from the crowd as a brain health superfood. No, it’s not yogurt, although yogurt with live probiotic cultures may be beneficial to the brain as well. The brain-booster extraordinaire may come as a surprise: kimchi. Kimchi is a fermented blend of cabbage, garlic, onions or scallions, ginger, red pepper or chili peppers and is eaten as an appetizer or condiment.

Scientists have identified a whopping 970 different bacterial strains in kimchi. Compare that to the one or two, or occasionally three, strains of probiotics found in most brands of yogurt. Of course, not all kimchi has that many different strains. One strain in particular, Lactobacillus plantarum, which is found in kimchi, is a research-proven antioxidant. The brain is quite vulnerable to free radical damage that occurs as we age, as we eat harmful foods or beverages, as we are exposed to harmful substances in the air we breathe or if we experience a traumatic brain injury. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage healthy cells and tissues while antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals thereby preventing them from damaging healthy cells in the brain. In a study published in the online medical journal PLoS One, the probiotic, Lactobacillus plantarum, demonstrated antioxidant activity stronger than other probiotics.

kimchi

In a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers tested probiotics that were extracted from kimchi to determine whether they may have any ability to protect against memory loss. One of the probiotics found in kimchi, known as Lactobacillus pentosus var. plantarum C29 showed potent ability to protect the brain against memory loss. And, fortunately you don’t have to remember its name to benefit from its memory-protective effects. Kimchi is the only source of this particular probiotic strain I am aware of. The scientists concluded that kimchi and this probiotic “may be beneficial for dementia.”

Obviously more research needs to be conducted, but considering that there are no known side effects other than additional health benefits of eating kimchi, I consider it a great dietary addition, especially if you are experiencing memory issues or are trying to prevent them. In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, kimchi was shown to reduce cholesterol levels and obesity and have anti-cancer effects, among other benefits.

Not all kimchi is created equally. Be sure to choose one that contains “live cultures” and has not been pasteurized. You should find it in the refrigerator section of your health food or grocery store. Organic options are best as pesticides used in the growing of vegetables significantly reduces the beneficial bacterial counts in fermented foods.

 


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Probiotics May Ease Hay Fever Symptoms

By Peter Russell    WebMD Health News Reviewed by Farah Ahmed, MD     May 7, 2015

The so-called “friendly bacteria” known as probiotics may help take some of the misery out of hay fever, or seasonal allergies, according to a new review of studies. But the doctors who did the review say more research is needed before they’d be able to recommend probiotics as a treatment option.

Some scientists think the rise in allergies may be caused by a lack of bacteria in the gut due to cleaner living conditions. Living in a super-clean environment that doesn’t put you in contact often enough with microscopic living things called microbes might make your immune systems go haywire when it has to deal with harmless allergens, their theory goes.

Probiotics are live microbes that can increase the amount of good bacteria in the intestines.

Probiotics

Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center examined 23 studies involving a total of 1,919 people. The quality of the studies varied, but two were “randomized controlled studies,” which are considered the gold standard by scientists.

The researchers say 17 of the studies showed that people with seasonal allergies who took probiotics had some improvement in at least one aspect – such as milder symptoms or better quality of life – compared to people who had allergies but were given a “fake” treatment called a placebo.

Six studies showed probiotics didn’t improve symptoms of hay fever, the researchers report in the International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology journal.

The review shows promise, but one of the reasons the researchers can’t yet recommend probiotics to treat seasonal allergies is because the studies used different probiotic strains and different study groups.

source: www.webmd.com


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7 Ways Probiotics DetoxifyYour Body

By Sayer Ji        Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

You’ve probably heard the buzz already about the many health benefits of probiotics, a word which literally translates to: pro- “for” + biotics “life” — FOR LIFE.  But did you know that these remarkable commensal microorganisms, which outnumber our bodily cells 10 to 1, and contribute over 95% of our body’s total genetic information, also break down highly toxic manmade chemicals which your body is either incapable, or only partially capable, of defending itself from?

Learn about some of the amazing ways in which ‘good bacteria’ help to detoxify chemicals within our body:

Bisphenol A:

This ubiquitous toxicant — linked to over 40 diseases — found in anything from thermal printer receipts, paper money, canned food liners, dental composites, and of course plastics, is a powerful endocrine disrupter now found in everyone’s bodies. Remarkably, two common probiotic strains, Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei, have been found in animal research to help the body detoxify it by reducing the intestinal absorption of bisphenol A through facilitating increased excretion.[i] The animals receiving probiotic treatment were found to have 2.4 times higher excretion of Bisphenol A in their feces, suggesting probiotic supplementation could be of significant benefit to humans as well.

Pesticides

Probiotic strains from the traditional Korean fermented cabbage dish known as kimchi have been identified to degrade a variety of organophosphorous pesticides such as chlorpyrifos, coumaphos, diazinon, methylparathion, and parathion.[ii] These nifty organisms actually use these exceedingly hard to break down chemicals as sources of carbon and phosphorous – ‘food’! – and were found to break down the pesticide 83.3% after 3 days and degraded it completely by day 9.[iii]  While this test tube study likely does not reflect exactly what happens in our gut when we ingest both chlorpyrifos and Kimchi, it is provocative, and may indicate there is some protective effects in the gut, and certainly cabbage tainted with organophosphorous pesticide which is subsequently fermented as an ingredient in Kimchi would certainly reduce the burden of this chemical in the diet.

Heavy Metals 

Lactobacillus bacteria found in food have been looked at as a potential adjunct agent for reducing metal toxicity in humans. According to one study, “This is because they have resistance mechanisms which are effective in preventing damage to their cells and they can bind and sequester heavy metals to their cell surfaces, thus removing them through subsequent defecation.” [iv] The study differentiates between detoxification and detoxication, the former of which is described as “the ability to remove drugs, mutagens, and other harmful agents from the body,” and the latter of which is the mechanism through which ‘good bacteria’ prevent “of damaging compounds into the body.” Because there is a large body of research on probiotics preventing and/or healing up intestinal permeability, this may be another way in which toxic stomach contents are preventing from doing harm to the body as a whole.

Cancerous Food Preservatives 

Another imchi study found it contained a strain of bacteria capable of breaking down sodium nitrate, a naturally and artificially occurring chemical (used from anything to rocket fuel and gunpowder) linked to a variety of chronic degenerative diseases, including cancer.[v] The study found a depletion of sodium nitrate by up to 90.0% after 5 days. Sodium nitrate becomes toxic when it is converted in food products, and even our intestines via microbiota, to N-nitrosodimethylamine. A study found that four lactobacillus strains where capable of breaking this toxic byproduct down by up to 50%.[vi]

Perchlorate

Perchlorate is an ingredient in jet fuel and fireworks that widely contaminates the environment and our food. Sadly, even organic food has been found concentrate high levels of this toxicant, making it exceedingly difficult to avoid exposure. It is now found in disturbing concentrations in breast milk and urine, and is a well-known endocrine disrupter capable of blocking the iodine receptor in the thyroid, resulting in hypothyroidism and concomitant neurological dysfunction.  A study found that the beneficial bacterial strain known as Bifidobacterium Bifidum is capable of degrading perchlorate, and that breast fed infants appear to have lower levels than infant formula fed babies due to the breast milk bacteria’s ability to degrade perchlorate through the perchlorate reductase pathway.[vii]

Yogurt

Heterocylic Amines

Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HCA) are compounds formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures of 150-300 degrees C, and are extremely mutagenic (damage the DNA). Lactobacillus strains have been identified that significantly reduce the genotoxicity of theses compounds.[viii]

Toxic Foods

While not normally considered a ‘toxin,’ wheat contains a series of proteins that we do not have the genomic capability to produce enzymes to degrade. When these undigested proteins – and there are over 23,000 that have been identified in the wheat proteome – enter into the blood, they can wreak havoc on our health. Research has found that our body has dozens of strains of bacteria that are capable of breaking down glutinous proteins and therefore reduce its antigenicity and toxicity.

While the role of probiotics in degrading gluten proteins sounds great, a word of caution is in order. Since modern wheat is not a biologically compatible food for our species – having been introduced only recently in biological time, and having been hybridized to contain far more protein that our ancient ancestors were ever exposed to – it would be best to remove it entirely from the diet. Also, the aforementioned research showing bacteria in the human gut are capable of breaking some of these wheat proteins revealed that some of the species that were capable of doing this for us are intrinsically pathogenic, e.g. Clostidium botulinum and Klebsiella. So, relying on the help of bacteria to do the job of digesting a ‘food’ we are not capable of utilizing on our own, is a double-edged sword. Again, the best move is to remove it entirely from the diet as a precuationary step.

What Probiotic Should I Take?

While plenty of probiotic pills and liquids exist on the market, and many of which have significant health benefits, it is important to choose one that is either shelf stable, or has been refrigerated from the place of manufacture all the way to the place you are purchasing it from. Moreover, many probiotics are centrifugally extracted or filtered, leaving the nourishing food medium within which it was cultured behind. This is a problem in two ways: 1)  without sustenance, the probiotics are in ‘suspended animation’ and may either die or not properly ‘root’ into your gastrointestinal tract when you take them.  2) the ‘food matrix’ within probiotics are grown provides a protective medium of essential co-factors that help them survive the difficult journey down your gastointestinal tract.

With that said, another option is to consume a traditionally fermented, living probiotic food like sauerkraut, kimchi, or yogurt (focusing on non-cow’s milk varieties, unless you are lucky enough to find a source that has the beta-casein A2 producing cows). There is always goat’s milk which is relatively hypoallergenic.

Finally, the reality is that the probiotics in our bodies and in cultured foods ultimately derive from the soil, where an unimaginably vast reservoir of ‘good bacteria’ reside – assuming your soil is natural and not saturated with petrochemical inputs and other environmental toxicants.  And really fresh, organically produced – preferably biodynamically grown – raw food is an excellent way to continually replenish your probiotic stores. Food is always going to be the best way to support your health, probiotic health included.

Updated October 2014

Article References
[i] Kenji Oishi, Tadashi Sato, Wakae Yokoi, Yasuto Yoshida, Masahiko Ito, Haruji Sawada. Effect of probiotics, Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei, on bisphenol A exposure in rats. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2008 Jun;72(6):1409-15. Epub 2008 Jun 7. PMID: 18540113
[ii] Shah Md Asraful Islam, Renukaradhya K Math, Kye Man Cho, Woo Jin Lim, Su Young Hong, Jong Min Kim, Myoung Geun Yun, Ji Joong Cho, Han Dae Yun. Organophosphorus hydrolase (OpdB) of Lactobacillus brevis WCP902 from kimchi is able to degrade organophosphorus pesticides. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 May 12;58(9):5380-6. PMID: 20405842
[iii] Kye Man Cho, Reukaradhya K Math, Shah Md Asraful Islam, Woo Jin Lim, Su Young Hong, Jong Min Kim, Myoung Geun Yun, Ji Joong Cho, Han Dae Yun. Biodegradation of chlorpyrifos by lactic acid bacteria during kimchi fermentation. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Mar 11;57(5):1882-9. PMID: 19199784
[iv] Marc Monachese, Jeremy P Burton, Gregor Reid. Bioremediation and tolerance of humans to heavy metals through microbial processes: a potential role for probiotics? Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Sep ;78(18):6397-404. Epub 2012 Jul 13. PMID: 22798364
[v] Chang-Kyung Oh, Myung-Chul Oh, Soo-Hyun Kim. The depletion of sodium nitrite by lactic acid bacteria isolated from kimchi. J Med Food. 2004;7(1):38-44. PMID: 15117551
[vi] Adriana Nowak, Sławomir Kuberski, Zdzisława Libudzisz. Probiotic lactic acid bacteria detoxify N-nitrosodimethylamine. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2014 Jul 10. Epub 2014 Jul 10. PMID: 25010287
[vii] C Phillip Shelor, Andrea B Kirk, Purnendu K Dasgupta, Martina Kroll, Catrina A Campbell, Pankaj K Choudhary. Breastfed infants metabolize perchlorate. Environ Sci Technol. 2012 May 1 ;46(9):5151-9. Epub 2012 Apr 20. PMID: 22497505
[viii] Adriana Nowak, Zdzislawa Libudzisz. Ability of probiotic Lactobacillus casei DN 114001 to bind or/and metabolise heterocyclic aromatic amines in vitro. Eur J Nutr. 2009 Oct ;48(7):419-27. Epub 2009 May 16. PMID: 19448966


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Top 10 Probiotic Foods to Add to Your Diet

By Dr. Edward F. Group     Guest Writer for Wake Up World

Probiotics are beneficial forms of gut bacteria that help stimulate the natural digestive juices and enzymes that keep our digestive organs functioning properly. In addition to taking a probiotic supplement, you can also support your probiotic intake through eating foods that are hosts to these live bacterium.

We all know of the great health benefits of probiotics, however, not all of us know how to take advantage of these health benefits. Below is a list I put together to outline the best probiotic foods for you to add to your diet. I would also recommend buying the organic version of all these probiotic foods.

1. Yogurt

One of the best probiotic foods is live-cultured yogurt, especially handmade. Look for brands made from goat milk that has been infused with extra forms of probiotics like lactobacillus or acidophilus. Goat’s milk and cheese are particularly high in probiotics like thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. Be sure to read the ingredients list, as not all yogurts are made equally. Many popular brands are filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup, artificial sweeteners and artifical flavors.

2. Kefir

Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of goat milk and fermented kefir grains. High in lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria, kefir is also rich in antioxidants. Look for a good, organic version at your local health food shop.

3. Sauerkraut

Made from fermented cabbage (as well as other vegetables), sauerkraut is not only extremely rich in healthy live cultures, but also aids in reducing allergy symptoms. Sauerkraut is also rich in vitamins B, A, E and C.

4. Dark Chocolate

Probiotics can be added to high-quality dark chocolate, up to four times the amount of probiotics as many forms of dairy. This is only one of the health benefits of chocolate.

dark chocolate

5. Microalgae

This refers to super-food ocean-based plants such as spirulina, chorella, and blue-green algae. These probiotic foods have been shown to increase the amount of both Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in the digestive tract. They also offer the most amount of energetic return, per ounce, for the human system.

6. Miso Soup

Miso is one the main-stays of Japanese traditional medicine, and is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator. Made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, adding a tablespoon of miso to some hot water makes an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup, full of lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria.

Beyond its important live cultures, miso is extremely nutrient-dense and is believed to help neutralize the effects of environmental pollution, alkalinize the body and stop the effects of carcinogens in the system.

7. Pickles

Believe it or not, the common green pickle is an excellent food source of probiotics. Try making your own home-made pickles in the sun. Here’s a great set of instructions for making your own probiotic-rich dill pickles.

8. Tempeh

A great substitute for meat or tofu, tempeh is a fermented, probiotic-rich grain made from soy beans. A great source of vitamin B12, this vegetarian food can be sautéed, baked or eaten crumbled on salads. If prepared correctly, tempeh is also very low in salt, which makes it an ideal choice for those on a low-sodium diet.

9. Kimchi

An Asian form of pickled sauerkraut, kimchi is an extremely spicy and sour fermented cabbage, typically served alongside most meals in Korea. Besides from beneficial bacteria, Kimchi is also a great source of beta-carotene, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, B1 & B2. Kimchi is one of the best probiotic foods you can add to your diet, assuming you can handle the spice, of course.

10. Kombucha Tea

This is a form of fermented tea high in healthy gut bacteria. This probiotic drink has been used for centuries and is believed to help increase your energy, enhance your wellbeing and maybe even help you lose weight. However, kombucha tea may not be the best fit for everyone, especially those that already have a problem with candida.

Other Sources of Probiotics

Besides from the list of probiotic foods above, you can also get plenty of beneficial bacteria by taking a probiotic supplement.