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Household Cleaners May Alter Kids’ Gut Flora And Contribute To Being Overweight, Says Study

Commonly used household disinfectants could increase the risk of young children becoming overweight by altering the makeup of their gut bacteria during the first few months of life, a study suggests.

The study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, analyzed the gut flora of 757 infants at age three to four months and their body mass index, or BMI, at one and three years old, looking at exposure to disinfectants, detergents and eco-friendly products used in the home.

Anita Kozyrskyj, professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta, is shown in a handout photo. The high use of household disinfectant cleaners is changing the gut flora in babies, leading to them becoming overweight as three-year-olds.

“We found that infants living in households with disinfectants being used at least weekly were twice as likely to have higher levels of the gut microbes Lachnospiraceae at age three to four months,” said principal investigator Anita Kozyrskyj, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta.

Lachnospiraceae is one of many non-pathogenic bacteria that naturally inhabit the human gut.

“When they were three years old, their body mass index was higher than children not exposed to heavy home use of disinfectants as an infant,” she added.

Researchers from across Canada looked at data on microbes in infant fecal matter among children enrolled in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) birth cohort. They used World Health Organization growth charts for BMI scores.

Associations with altered gut flora in babies three to four months old were strongest for frequent use of household disinfectants such as multi-surface cleaners, which showed higher levels of Lachnospiraceae.

Kozyrskyj said researchers also found there was a greater increase in levels of those bacteria in children whose parents reported more frequent cleaning with disinfectants.

“As the microbiome develops over the first year of life, these microbes increase in their abundance. So it was a matter of dose,” she said in an interview, noting that studies of piglets have found similar changes in the animals’ gut microbiome when they were exposed to aerosol disinfectants in their enclosures.

However, the same association was not found with detergents or eco-friendly cleaners, the CHILD study found. Babies living in households that used eco-friendly cleaners had different microbiota and were less likely to be overweight as toddlers.

 

“Those infants growing up in households with heavy use of eco cleaners had much lower levels of the gut microbes Enterobacteriaceae (a family of bacteria that includes E. coli). However, we found no evidence that these gut microbiome changes caused the reduced obesity risk,” Kozyrskyj said.

One reason could be that the use of eco-friendly products may be linked to healthier overall maternal lifestyles and eating habits, contributing in turn to the healthier gut microbiomes and weight of infants.

“Antibacterial cleaning products have the capacity to change the environmental microbiome and alter risk for child overweight,” write the authors. “Our study provides novel information regarding the impact of these products on infant gut microbial composition and outcomes of overweight in the same population.”

There are many findings that point to a possible causative role for disinfectants in altering gut flora and subsequently leading to a higher childhood BMI, said Kozyrskyj, noting that in studies of mice, Lachnospiraceae has been shown to cause insulin resistance and increased fat storage.

“I would be comfortable in saying the high use of disinfectants had a contributory role … My advice would be to not overuse them,” she said.
“Some people might say maybe go for an alternative, go for the eco product instead of the disinfectants as a cleaning agent.”

In a related CMAJ commentary, epidemiologists Dr. Noel Mueller and Moira Differding of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health write: “There is biologic plausibility to the finding that early-life exposure to disinfectants may increase risk of childhood obesity through the alterations in bacteria within the Lachnospiraceae family.”

They call for further studies “to explore the intriguing possibility that use of household disinfectants might contribute to the complex causes of obesity through microbially mediated mechanisms.”

Kozyrskyj agreed, saying there is a need for further research that classifies cleaning products by their ingredients, with an analysis of their potential individual effects.

Mon., Sept. 17, 2018
 
By SHERYL UBELACKER     The Canadian Press
 
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Fun Fact Friday

  • Dark chocolate and cheese have antibacterial properties that inhibit tooth decay, according to experts.

  • Your body is actually designed to get 4 hours of sleep twice per day instead of 8 hours once.

 

  • Studies have found that smiling is 69% more attractive than wearing makeup.

  • Onions have been proven to lower cholesterol, reduce chances of a stroke, and reduce chances of various types of cancer.

Happy Friday!
source: @Fact


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Is Chronic Mouthwash Use Endangering Your Beneficial Bacteria?

New study out of the journal Nitric Oxide links mouthwash use to diabetes.

It sounds like one of those spurious correlations that show up whenever you sift through large piles of data, such as the supposed link between cheese consumption and death from bedsheet strangulation.

But the results of a new epidemiological study linking mouthwash use and diabetes risk are – to all appearances, at least – a real effect, with fascinating implications for our understanding of the complex links between health, athletic performance and the trillions of bacterial cells that inhabit our bodies. A cleaner mouth, it turns out, isn’t always better.

The new study, which appears in the December issue of the journal Nitric Oxide, analyzes data from a longitudinal study of 945 adults in Puerto Rico who were followed over a period of three years. Just less than half of the participants reported using mouthwash regularly, and those who gargled at least twice a day were roughly 50-per-cent more likely to develop prediabetes or diabetes than those who used it less frequently or not at all.

“Most over-the-counter mouthwashes contain antibacterial ingredients,” explains Dr. Kaumudi Joshipura, an epidemiologist at the University of Puerto Rico and Harvard University who led the study, “which could destroy or inhibit oral microbes, some of which may be beneficial for metabolic health.”

This is an idea that’s already familiar to elite endurance athletes. Over the past decade, beet juice has emerged as a powerful and ubiquitous performance enhancer, because it enables muscles to consume less oxygen during exercise. The key component of beet juice is nitrate, which is converted by bacteria in the mouth to nitrite, which is in turn converted to nitric oxide, a powerful signalling molecule with wide-ranging beneficial effects in the body.

Earlier studies had already shown that mouthwash, by killing the bacteria that convert nitrate to nitrite, breaks this chain reaction and negates the immediate performance benefits of beet juice. It also wipes out acute gains in blood pressure and insulin sensitivity. But the new Puerto Rican study is the first to extend these findings to chronic health effects measured outside the laboratory. Since nitric oxide plays a role in determining how muscles use glucose, Joshipura hypothesizes that it is loss of oral bacteria that convert nitrate to nitrite that leads to higher diabetes risk in heavy mouthwash users.

It’s tempting, then, to wonder how we can nurture the “good” nitrate-converting bacteria while suppressing the “bad” oral bacteria that contribute to gum disease, bad breath and tooth decay. But it’s not that simple, says Dr. Anni Vanhatalo, an exercise physiology researcher at the University of Exeter in Britain who studies dietary nitrate but wasn’t involved in the new study.

“It’s about a balance,” she says. “We have around 700 species of bacteria in our mouths, most or all of which have the potential to be pathogenic in large numbers. In that sense there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ bacteria.”

That’s similar to our emerging understanding of the complexity of gut bacteria, where greater diversity, rather than any particular superbug, is associated with better health. And chronic mouthwash use, Vanhatalo says, can be likened to the effect of antibiotics on gut bacteria. “Few would contemplate going on antibiotics permanently,” she says, “while more than 20 per cent of Americans use mouthwash daily.”

Where is the ideal balance? Vanhatalo suggests that brushing your teeth with toothpaste twice a day is about right. Joshipura notes that the people in her study who reported using mouthwash just once a day didn’t have any elevated risk of prediabetes or diabetes, but adds that further evidence is needed to make recommendations.

“People with specific oral conditions may need to use mouthwash as prescribed, usually for short duration,” Joshipura says. “However, we are concerned that mouthwash is often used routinely long-term in the absence of specific oral needs, without awareness of potential long-term effects.”

Finally, if all this sounds a little gloomy, it’s worth concluding on a more positive note. The negative effects of blocking nitrate conversion are, in a way, a reminder of all the benefits you can get from nitrate-rich foods – in addition to beets, leafy greens like arugula and spinach are very high in nitrates, as are rhubarb and celery – if you don’t block them.


Alex Hutchinson’s new book, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, will be published in February. Follow him on Twitter @sweatscience.

ALEX HUTCHINSON        SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL       JANUARY 14, 2018


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9 Health Benefits of Kefir

Kefir is all the rage in the natural health community.

It is high in nutrients and probiotics, and is incredibly beneficial for digestion and gut health.

Many people consider it to be a healthier and more powerful version of yogurt.

Here are 9 health benefits of kefir that are supported by research.

1. Kefir is a Fantastic Source of Many Nutrients

Kefir is a fermented drink, traditionally made using cow’s milk or goat’s milk.

It is made by adding kefir “grains” to milk.

These are not grains in the conventional sense, but cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria that resemble a cauliflower in appearance.

Over a period of 24 hours or so, the microorganisms in the kefir grains multiply and ferment the sugars in the milk, turning it into kefir.

Then the grains are removed from the liquid, and can be used again.

So basically, kefir is the drink, but kefir grains are the “starter kit” that you use to produce the drink.

Kefir originated from parts of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. The name is derived from the Turkish word keyif, which means “feeling good” after eating.

The lactic acid bacteria turn the lactose in the milk into lactic acid, so kefir tastes sour like yogurt, but has a thinner consistency.

A 175 ml (6 oz) serving of milk kefir contains:

  • Protein: 6 grams.
  • Calcium: 20% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 20% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B12: 14% of the RDA.
  • Riboflavin (B2): 19% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 5% of the RDA.
  • A decent amount of vitamin D.

This is coming with about 100 calories, 7-8 grams of carbs and 3-6 grams of fat, depending on the type of milk that is used.

Kefir also contains a wide variety of bioactive compounds, including organic acids and peptides that contribute to its health benefits.

Dairy-free versions of kefir can be made with coconut water, coconut milk or other sweet liquids. These will not have the same nutrient profile as dairy-based kefir.

Bottom Line: Kefir is a fermented milk drink, cultured from kefir grains. It is a rich source of calcium, protein and B-vitamins.

2. Kefir is a More Powerful Probiotic Than Yogurt

Some microorganisms can have beneficial effects on health when ingested.

Known as probiotics, these microorganisms can influence health in numerous ways, including digestion, weight management and mental health .

Yogurt is the best known probiotic food in the Western diet, but kefir is actually a much more potent source.

Kefir grains contain about 30 strains of bacteria and yeasts, making it a very rich and diverse probiotic source.

Other fermented dairy products are made from far fewer strains, and don’t contain any yeasts.

Bottom Line: Kefir contains about 30 different microorganisms, making it a much more potent source of probiotics than other fermented dairy products.

3. Kefir Has Potent Antibacterial Properties

Certain probiotics in kefir are believed to protect against infections.

This includes the probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri, which is unique to kefir.

Studies show that this probiotic can inhibit the growth of various harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, Helicobacter Pylori and E. coli.

Kefiran, a type of carbohydrate present in kefir, also has antibacterial properties.

Bottom Line: Kefir contains the probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri, and the carbohydrate kefiran, both of which can protect against harmful bacteria.

4. Kefir Can Improve Bone Health and Lower The Risk of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis (“porous” bones) is characterized by deterioration of bone tissue, and is a massive problem in Western countries.

It is especially common among elderly women, and dramatically raises the risk of fractures.

Ensuring an adequate calcium intake is one of the most effective ways to improve bone health, and slow the progression of osteoporosis.

Kefir made from full-fat dairy is not only a great source of calcium, but also vitamin K2. This nutrient plays a central role in calcium metabolism, and supplementing with it has been shown to reduce the risk of fractures by as much as 81% .

Recent animal studies have shown that kefir can increase calcium absorption by bone cells. This leads to improved bone density, which should help prevent fractures.

Bottom Line: Kefir made from dairy is an excellent source of calcium. In the case of full-fat dairy, it also contains vitamin K2. These nutrients have major benefits for bone health.

5. Kefir May be Protective Against Cancer

Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death.

It occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body, such as a tumor.

The probiotics in fermented dairy products are believed to inhibit tumor growth by reducing formation of carcinogenic compounds, as well as by stimulating the immune system.

This protective role has been demonstrated in several test tube studies.

One study found that kefir extract reduced the number of human breast cancer cells by 56%, compared with only 14% for yogurt extract.

However, take all of this with a grain of salt, as this is far from being proven in living, breathing humans.

Bottom Line: Some test tube and animal studies have shown that kefir can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. This has not been studied in people.

6. The Probiotics in it May Help With Various Digestive Problems

Probiotics such as kefir can help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in the gut.

This is why they are highly effective for many forms of diarrhea.

There is also a lot of evidence that probiotics and probiotic foods can help with all sorts of digestive problems

This includes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers caused by H. pylori infection, and various others.

For this reason, kefir may be useful if you have problems with digestion.

Bottom Line: Probiotics like kefir can treat several forms of diarrhea. They can also lead to major improvements in various digestive diseases.

7. Kefir is Generally Well Tolerated by People Who Are Lactose Intolerant

Regular dairy foods contain a natural sugar called lactose.

Many people, especially adults, are unable to break down and digest lactose properly. This condition is called lactose intolerance.

The lactic acid bacteria in fermented dairy foods (like kefir and yogurt) turn the lactose into lactic acid, so these foods are much lower in lactose than milk.

They also contain enzymes that can help break down the lactose even further.

Because of this, kefir is generally well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance, at least when compared to regular milk.

Also keep in mind that it is possible to make kefir that is 100% lactose free, by using coconut water, fruit juice or some other non-dairy fluid.

Bottom Line: The lactic acid bacteria have already pre-digested the lactose in kefir. People with lactose intolerance can often eat kefir without problems.

8. Kefir May Improve Symptoms of Allergy and Asthma

Allergic reactions are caused by inflammatory responses against harmless environmental substances.

People with an over-sensitive immune system are more prone to allergies, which can provoke conditions like asthma.

In animal studies, kefir has been shown to suppress inflammatory responses related to allergy and asthma.

Human studies are need to better explore these effects.

9. Kefir is Easy to Make at Home

The last one is not a health benefit, but important nonetheless.

If you are unsure about the quality of store-bought kefir, then you can easily make it at home yourself.

Combined with some fresh fruit, it makes one of the healthiest and tastiest desserts I have ever come across.

You can buy kefir grains in some health food stores and supermarkets, as well as online.

There are some good blog posts and videos on how to make kefir, but the process is very simple:

  • Put 1-2 tablespoons of kefir grains into a small jar. The more you use, the faster it will culture.
  • Add around 2 cups of milk, preferably organic or even raw. Milk from grass-fed cows is healthiest. Leave one inch of room at the top of the jar.
  • You can add some full-fat cream if you want the kefir to be thicker.
  • Put the lid on and leave it for 12-36 hours, at room temperature. That’s it.

Once it starts to look clumpy, it is ready. Then you gently strain out the liquid, which leaves behind the original kefir grains.

Now put the grains in a new jar with some milk, and the process starts all over again.

Delicious, nutritious and highly sustainable.

By Joe Leech, Dietitian 


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9 Health Benefits of Thyme

Thyme is more than just a tasty garden herb. This medicinal plant has been shown to help combat inflammation, acne, high blood pressure, and even certain types of cancer. Here’s how thyme can reduce your pain and benefit your health.

1. Antibacterial

Medicinal Chemistry published a study that found essential oil from common garden thyme (Thymus vulgaris) exhibited very strong activity against clinical bacterial strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia and Pseudomonas.

Thyme oil also worked against antibiotic resistant strains that were tested. This is especially promising news considering the current increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The antibacterial action of thyme also makes it useful for oral care. Try mixing one drop of thyme oil in a cup of warm water and using it as a mouthwash.

2. Anti-inflammatory

Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is an enzyme that plays a key role in the body’s inflammatory response. A Nara Women’s University study found that thyme essential oil reduced COX-2 levels by almost 75 percent.

Interestingly, when researchers isolated a pure extract of carvacrol, a compound in thyme oil, this extract reduced COX-2 levels by more than 80 percent.

Thyme’s anti-inflammatory action can also help with localized pain. You can mix a few drops of thyme oil into a basic massage oil and rub it into an area where you’re experiencing pain, such as muscle aches, headaches, or skin inflammation.

3. Supports Brain Health

In one study, rats given a thyme supplement had antioxidant levels in their brains that were equivalent to antioxidant levels of much younger mice. Also, the level of healthy fats, such as omega-3 fats, were significantly higher compared to mice that had not received the thyme supplement.

Studies have indicated that high levels of omega-3 will help protect cognitive function and mental health as we age.

4. Acne Treatment

A Leeds University study found that a thyme tincture was more effective in killing the bacterium that causes acne than common chemical-based creams, such as benzoyl peroxide.

The thyme tincture was made by steeping thyme leaves in alcohol. This extracts the vital compounds from the plant. Naturally Healthy Skin has a good recipe for a thyme acne gel you can make at home.

Health Benefits of Thyme

5. Anticancer

Thyme extracts are shown to cause cell death in both breast and colon cancer cells.

Two studies found that wild thyme (Thymus serphyllum) extract killed breast cancer cells, and mastic thyme (Thymus mastichina) extract was effective against colon cancer cells.

6. Reduces Respiratory Symptoms

A fluid extract of thyme and ivy leaves was shown to significantly reduce coughing and other symptoms of acute bronchitis compared to a placebo.

Drinking thyme tea may help when you have a sore throat or a cough. You can also try adding 2 drops of thyme oil to a container of hot water for steam inhalation.

7. Lowers Blood Pressure

In separate studies, extracts from wild thyme (Thymus serphyllum) and Himalayan thyme (Thymus linearis Benth.) were found to reduce blood pressure in rats. Both studies indicated that thyme extract may protect against hypertension.

8. Fungicide

A 2007 study looked at the effect of thyme essential oil as a disinfectant against household molds. They concluded that thyme oil is an effective fungicide against many different types of fungi and molds.

You can add a few drops of thyme oil to water or your favorite household cleanser to help clean up any fungal problems in your home.

Thyme can also kill fungi within your body. For instance, Candida albicans is the fungus that causes both vaginal and mouth yeast infections in humans. Italian researchers found that thyme essential oil greatly enhanced intracellular killing of Candida albicans.

9. Bug Repellant

Thymol, a compound in thyme, is an ingredient in many different pesticides. It’s been shown to effectively repel mosquitos, which can help prevent mosquito-borne disease.

To use as a repellant, mix 4 drops of thyme oil per teaspoon of olive oil and apply to your skin or clothing. You can also mix 5 drops for every 2 ounces of water and use as a spray.

How to Eat More Thyme

Many of these studies looked at thyme essential oil. Speak to your doctor, naturopath or herbalist before you start to consume thyme oil internally. Essential oils are potent compounds that should be taken under the advice of a professional.

Incorporating more fresh or dried thyme into your diet is a gentler way to get all the benefits from this wonderful herb.

By: Zoe Blarowski      June 22, 2016