Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Boost Bacteria to Bolster Your Brain

How can boosting bacteria in your body improve your brain health? Called the “second brain” by leading scientists, a healthy balance of flora in the gut helps to determine whether you’ll have a great memory and a strong resistance to brain disease.

And what happens in the gut plays a significant role in your brain health.  Restoring beneficial bacteria and some healthy yeasts in your intestines (yes, some yeasts are beneficial, just not the ones that cause yeast infections) can go a long way toward protecting your mental faculties and preventing brain diseases altogether.

Frequently when I tell people about this connection between intestinal and brain health—what is known as the gut-brain axis, they tell me that they are covered because they eat yogurt on a regular basis.  While yogurt may (or may not) help boost intestinal flora depending on whether it contains any live cultures at all, we need to give our guts a lot more than yogurt to help us establish a strong and healthy brain for life.

Let’s explore some of the exciting research into the link between beneficial microbes in our gut and our overall brain health.

Some probiotics actually function as antioxidants within the body, which can not only reduce the effects of free radical damage and aging, it is especially good news in the prevention and treatment of brain diseases.

That’s because the brain is vulnerable to free radical damage. Additionally, research at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) found that consuming certain strains of probiotics could actually produce many brain health benefits, including improved sensory and emotional processing.

Since the brain plays a significant role in whether we suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, probiotics may also be helpful in addressing these serious health concerns. In animal studies conducted by the Department of Medicine at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and published in the medical journal Gastroenterology, the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum eliminated anxiety and normalized behavior.  It appeared to work by reducing the excitability of the nerves in the gut that connect through the vagus nerve to the central nervous system, and in doing so, eliminated anxiety.

Hungarian researchers found that intestinal inflammation is one of the key factors involved in depression and that treating the inflammation with probiotics (along with B complex vitamins, vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids) reduced depressive symptoms.

Additional French research demonstrates the power of boosting specific strains of probiotics to boost mood and psychological health.  They found that healthy study participants experienced reduced psychological stress, depression, anxiety, and anger and hostility, as well as improved problem-solving skills when taking the Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum for 30 days.

While you can still enjoy yogurt if you are already doing so, please keep in mind that the above strains are not typically found in yogurt.  I’m not aware of any yogurt that contains the best brain-boosting strains.

Take a probiotic supplement containing proven strains of brain-boosting probiotics such as  Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium longum, and Lactobacillus helveticus on a daily basis.  Store your probiotics in the refrigerator, and take them on an empty stomach. First thing in the morning with a large glass of water tends to work well for most people.

Additionally, kimchi—the national dish of Korea which is typically a fermented mixture of cabbage, chilis, and garlic—frequently contains a much more diverse group of beneficial microbes than yogurt, making it an excellent choice as a brain boosting food. Some types contain fish sauce so if you’re vegan be sure to choose a fish sauce-free option. It is delicious on sandwiches, over brown rice, or as a side-dish to many foods.  Be sure to choose kimchi that hasn’t been pasteurized to ensure the cultures are still intact.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook           October 5, 2017
source: www.care2.com
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The Natural Dietary Add-On Found To Treat Depression

64% of depression and anxiety patients saw reductions in their symptoms.

Probiotics relieve the symptoms of depression, as well as helping with digestion problems, a new study finds.

The research was carried out on people with irritable bowel syndrome who were also depressed.

Twice as many reported improvements in depression symptoms if they took a specific probiotic.

Dr Premysl Bercik, senior study author, said:

“This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS.
This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases.”

The probiotic is called Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001.

Half of the 44 adults with IBS and mild to moderate anxiety or depression took a daily dose.
Over 10 weeks those taking the probiotic showed improvements in their IBS and depression and anxiety.

64% of those taking the probiotics showed psychological improvements compared with just 32% in the placebo group.

Brain scans revealed changes in multiple brain areas related to mood control.

Dr Bercik said:

“This is the result of a decade long journey — from identifying the probiotic, testing it in preclinical models and investigating the pathways through which the signals from the gut reach the brain.”

The study’s first author, Dr. Maria Pinto Sanchez, added:

“The results of this pilot study are very promising but they have to be confirmed in a future, larger scale trial.”

Other studies have also shown that probiotics have promise in treating depression.

One mouse study in which they were fed Lactobacillus, found that the probiotic reversed  their depression.

Another study found that a multispecies probiotic helped stop sadness from turning into depression.

Recent studies have repeatedly underlined the importance of diet for how we feel.

The new study was published in the journal Gastroenterology (Pinto-Sanchez et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog


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Probiotic Use Linked to Improved Symptoms of Depression

A new study is the first to show improved depression scores with a probiotic.
It adds to the whole field of microbiota-gut-brain axis,
providing evidence that bacteria affect behavior.

Probiotics may relieve symptoms of depression, as well as help gastrointestinal upset, research from McMaster University has found.

In a study published in the medical journal Gastroenterology, researchers of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute found that twice as many adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) reported improvements from co-existing depression when they took a specific probiotic than adults with IBS who took a placebo.

The study provides further evidence of the microbiota environment in the intestines being in direct communication with the brain said senior author Dr. Premysl Bercik, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster and a gastroenterologist for Hamilton Health Sciences.

“This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS. This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases,” he said.

IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder in the world, and is highly prevalent in Canada. It affects the large intestine and patients suffer from abdominal pain and altered bowel habits like diarrhea and constipation. They are also frequently affected by chronic anxiety or depression.

The pilot study involved 44 adults with IBS and mild to moderate anxiety or depression. They were followed for 10 weeks, as half took a daily dose of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001, while the others had a placebo.

At six weeks, 14 of 22, or 64%, of the patients taking the probiotic had decreased depression scores, compared to seven of 22 (or 32%) of patients given placebo.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) showed that the improvement in depression scores was associated with changes in multiple brain areas involved in mood control.

“This is the result of a decade long journey — from identifying the probiotic, testing it in preclinical models and investigating the pathways through which the signals from the gut reach the brain,” said Bercik.
“The results of this pilot study are very promising but they have to be confirmed in a future, larger scale trial,” said Dr. Maria Pinto Sanchez, the first author and a McMaster clinical research fellow.

 

Materials provided by McMaster University.  Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Maria Ines Pinto-Sanchez, Geoffrey B. Hall, Kathy Ghajar, Andrea Nardelli, Carolina Bolino, Jennifer T. Lau, Francois-Pierre Martin, Ornella Cominetti, Christopher Welsh, Amber Rieder, Jenna Traynor, Caitlin Gregory, Giada De Palma, Marc Pigrau, Alexander C. Ford, Joseph Macri, Bernard Berner, Gabriela Bergonzelli, Michael G. Surette, Stephen M. Collins, Paul Moayyedi, Premysl Bercik. Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 Reduces Depression Scores and Alters Brain Activity: a Pilot Study in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gastroenterology, 2017; DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2017.05.003

ScienceDaily, 23 May 2017. 
 


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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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What is BDNF and What Does it Do?

BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, is a protein produced inside nerve cells.  The reason why it is so important to a healthy brain is because it serves as Miracle-Gro for the brain, essentially fertilizing brain cells to keep them functioning and growing, as well as propelling the growth of new neurons.

Although neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin are important in helping the brain function because they carry the signals of neurons, the protein BDNF build and maintain the brain circuits which allow the signals to travel.

BDNF improves the function of neurons, encourages their growth, and strengthens/protects them against premature cell death.  It also binds to receptors at the synapses, to improve signal strength between neurons.

Essentially, the more BDNF in the brain, the better the brain works.  

What Happens When There’s Not Enough?

Naturally, we want more of this protein in the brain.  But what exactly happens when there is a lack of BDNF or when something prevents it from working properly? Along with impaired learning, decreased levels have been associated with a variety of neurological/mental conditions such as alzheimer’s, epilepsy, anorexia nervosa, depression, schizophrenia, and OCD.  Let’s talk about the specifics of a few of them.

Connection Between Depression and BDNF

Although researchers do not say that low levels of the protein is the cause of depression, many studies have found a connection between the two.  In the book Spark, Dr. John Ratey pointed out that a study of 30 depressed people found that every single one of them had low levels of the protein.  In a postmortem study of people who committed suicide and had depression, the researchers also found significantly decreased levels of the protein.

Even in individual without a mental illness, lower levels of the protein have been correlated with personality traits that make them less mentally resilient and more vulnerable to depression.

Again, researchers have not been able to find a single cause of depression and saying that low BDNF is the cause of depression would be irresponsible.  But it looks to be a factor.

Connection Between Anxiety and BDNF

Anxiety is fear.  Fear, to the brain, means a memory of danger.  Danger means something different to someone with a diagnosed anxiety disorder than someone without.

Here’s how anxiety works in the brain.  When confronted with real threat, there is no difference in brain scans of someone who doesn’t have anxiety disorder and someone who does.  However, the difference comes into play when it comes to everyday life, when situations are non-threatening.  A brain with anxiety cannot distinguish between a threatening situation and a nonthreatening situation, so it is always on high alert and fearful.  So to someone with an anxiety disorder, every situation is a dangerous situation.

The National Institute of of Mental Health labels anxiety a learning deficit—because the brain is unable to learn to discriminate between dangerous situations and benign situations.

Recent research has led scientists to believe that the protein is an essential ingredient in combating anxiety.  Scientists think this is due to the fact that it helps the brain learn to essentially work around the fear and create positive memories. In addition, higher levels of the protein ramps up levels of serotonin, which calms the brain down and increases the sense of safety.

Low BDNF and Impaired Learning

Since BDNF provides the infrastructure for effective learning, it follows that the lack of the protein impairs effective learning.  Additionally, people with gene mutations that robs them of the ability to produce the Miracle-Gro are more likely to have learning deficiencies.

In a 2007 study of humans, German researchers found that people learned vocabulary words 20 percent slower when compared to people that increased BDNF levels right before learning (by exercising).

Essentially, the protein is a mechanism for the brain to learn.  It gives the synapses the tools it needs to take in information, process it, associate it, remember it, and put it in context to see the big picture.

Age as a Factor

Alike many other chemicals in the human body, aging decreases BDNF levels.  That’s why it takes us longer to learn to do complex tasks as we age.  Remember, the protein is instrumental in learning quickly and learning well.

To make matters worse, it is estimated that 1 in 3 people have a genetic mutation that makes BDNF levels fall much faster than average.

Just how fast do the levels drop when you have this genetic mutation?  A study at Stanford University sought to answer this question.  The study took 144 airplane pilots ages 40 to 69.  They had the pilots do annual flight simulator test over a few years time.  The end result? The test scores of pilots who had the genetic mutation dropped twice as fast as the scores of the pilots that did not have the mutation.

But luckily, we don’t have to live with ever-decreasing levels.  That is because we can increase them through various ways, whether we have the genetic mutation or not.

Increasing BDNF Levels

As the Miracle-Gro of the brain, the more of it we have, the better.  Although it is a relatively new discovery, scientists do know that it can be increased in several ways.

 

Exercise

Aerobic exercise increases its production.  But science thinks exercise not only increases production the protein, but it also adjusts it to optimal levels that have been programmed into our DNA through evolution.

Carl Cotman, a neuroscientist at UC Irvine, ran an experiment with rats to see if there was a difference in BDNF production between various exercise routines.  Turns out, there is.  After just two weeks, those who exercised daily produced the protein much more rapidly than those who exercised on alternating days (150 percent of baseline versus 124 of baseline).  However, after a month, there was no difference in production of BDNF between those who exercised daily and those who exercised every other day.

But the study also noted that the protein returned to baseline (non-exercise) levels just after two weeks of not exercising.  This was true for both groups.  However, it shot right back up after just two days of exercising: 139 percent for daily exercisers and 129 for alternating day exercisers.

Researchers found that exercise in old rats made the brain function (almost) just as good as young rats.

Exercising is by far the most surefire and fastest way to increase BDNF levels.  That is why it is so effective in relieving stress and symptoms of mental illnesses.  This is also why exercise allows the brain to learn so effectively.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are plentiful in fish, especially deep-water fish (salmon, tuna, cod).  They have been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, heart problems, oxidative damage, and inflammation of the neurons.  They also provide a neuroprotective layer for the brain by raising and normalizing BDNF levels.

Although some sources say that you can take omega-3 supplements, there are studies out there the question the overall efficacy of fish oil supplements.  So the best way to get your omega-3 fatty acids is to eat them.  But if you are interested in seeing how much (and if) omega-3 supplements increase BDNF levels in men, then keep up with this clinical trial, which has not been completed yet.

While there are other sources of omega-3 fatty acids as well like nuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds, there is insufficient evidence to show that they have the same benefits as omega-3 from fish.  Omega-3 fatty acids from deep-water fish contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which are essential to many of the benefits it provides.

Probiotics

In the book Brain Maker Dr. David Perlmutter recommends five strains of probiotics to increase BDNF levels in the brain.  Those are Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus brevis, Bifodobacterium lactis, and Bifidobacterium longum.  Here are the common foods in which you can find each strain:

Lactobacillus plantarum: sauerkraut, pickles, brined olives, kimchi, Nigerian ogi, sourdough, fermented sausage, stockfish, and some cheeses (such as cheddar)

Lactobacillus acidophilus: yogurt, kefir, miso, and tempeh

Lactobacillus brevis: pickles, saurkraut, and beer hop

Bifodobacterium lactis: yogurt, miso, tempeh, pickled plum, pickles, kim chi, and many other forms of fermented and pickled fruits/vegetables that have not gone through the manufacturing process

Bifidobacterium longum: yogurt, milk, fermented dairy foods, saukraut, and soy-based products

Intermittent Fasting

For those that are not familiar, intermittent fasting is a form of dietary restriction in which the person goes without food for a certain amount of time (usually 12 to 24 hours).

Although the evidence is still thin, there are some studies out there that show intermittent fasting can increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor.  Dietary restriction seems to stimulate the production of new neurons, increase the brain’s ability to resist aging, and restore function to the brain following injury.  More specifically, intermittent fasting appears to result in a stress response at a cellular level that stimulates neuronal plasticity and the production of certain proteins, like BDNF.

Again, more research needs to be done on the connection between intermittent fasting and brain-derived neurotrophic factor but results so far look promising.

*******

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is the foundation of all things good in the brain.  It allows the brain to work effectively and efficiently.  When there is enough Miracle-Gro in the brain and it is allowed to work efficiently, it enables the brain to create more memories, learn quicker, and operate at a higher level. When there’s a deficiency of it in the brain, it causes all kinds of cognitive and mental issues.

 


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Targeting Gut Bacteria May Be The Key To Preventing Alzheimer’s

Diet could be a powerful mode of prevention.

A new study suggests that a gut-healthy diet may play a powerful role in preventing one of the most feared diseases in America.

Mounting research continues to show the links between the health of the gut and that of the brain. Now, a new study from Lund University in Sweden finds that unhealthy intestinal flora can accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The report, published Feb. 8 in the journal Scientific Reports, demonstrates that mice with Alzheimer’s have a different gut bacterial profile than those that do not have the disease.

The gut microbiome is highly responsive to dietary and lifestyle factors. This suggests that a gut-healthy diet may play a powerful role in preventing one of the most feared diseases in America.

“Alzheimer’s is a preventable disease and in the near future we will likely be able to give advice on what to eat to prevent it,” study author Dr. Frida Fak Hållenius, associate professor at the university’s Food for Health Science Centre, told The Huffington Post. “Take care of your gut bacteria, by eating lots of whole-grains, fruits and vegetables.”

In the new study, Hållenius and her colleagues revealed a direct causal association between gut bacteria and signs of Alzheimer’s in mice. When a group of bacteria-free mice were colonized with the bacteria of rodents with Alzheimer’s, they developed brain plaques indicative of Alzheimer’s. When the bacteria-free mice were colonized with the bacteria of the healthy rodents, however, they developed significantly fewer brain plaques.

Beta-amyloid plaques between nerve cells in the brain are a central marker of the disease. These sticky protein clumps accumulate between the brain’s neurons, disrupting signals and contributing to the gradual killing off of nerve cells.

“We don’t yet know how bacteria can affect brain pathology, we are currently investigating this,” Hållenius said. “We think that bacteria may affect regulatory T-cells in the gut, which can control inflammatory processes both locally in the gut and systemically ― including the brain.”

The contributions of microbes to multiple aspects of human physiology and neurobiology in health and disease have up until now not been fully appreciated.

The gut microbiome is intimately connected with the immune system, since many of the body’s immune cells are found in this area of the stomach, Hållenius added.

Anything that happens in the digestive tract can affect the immune system, she explained. “By changing the gut microbiota composition, you affect the immune system of the host to a large extent.”

The findings suggest that Alzheimer’s may be more more preventable than health experts previously thought. The composition of bacteria in the gut is determined by a mix of genetics and lifestyle factors. Diet, exercise, stress and toxin exposure all play a huge role in the gut’s bacterial makeup.

Now, the researchers can begin investigating ways to prevent the disease and delay its onset by targeting gut bacteria early on. And in the meantime, anyone can adopt a plant-based, whole foods diet and probiotic supplementation as a way to improve the health of their microbiome.

“The diet shapes the microbial community in the gut to a large extent, so dietary strategies will be important in prevention of Alzheimer’s,” Hållenius said. “We are currently working on food design that will modulate the gut microbiota towards a healthier state.”

The study is far from the first to show a connection between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s. In a 2014 paper published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, researchers listed 10 different ways that the microbiome may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, including fungal and bacterial infections in the intestinal tract and increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier.

“The contributions of microbes to multiple aspects of human physiology and neurobiology in health and disease have up until now not been fully appreciated,” that study’s authors wrote.

By Carolyn Gregoire      Feb 21, 2017
 


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The Surprising Food that Aids Allergy Sufferers

When I ask “what surprising food aids allergy sufferers?” you may think of green tea or some other food that is well-known for its immune-balancing effects, but you probably don’t think of sauerkraut when the runny nose and itchy eyes of allergy season strike. But a growing body of shows that maybe you should enjoy naturally-fermented sauerkraut on a regular basis, particularly before and during allergy season.

Research in the journal Current Sports Medicine Reports found that probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut can reduce allergic conditions and balance immune function. In this study at the Division of Sports Medicine at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, researchers found that fermented foods like sauerkraut reduced allergy symptoms while also enhancing athletic performance. That’s a nice bonus: I’m not aware of any allergy medications that also boost athletic ability.

Other research in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that fermented cabbage regulated the immune systems of animals and even reduced or prevented allergic reactions altogether. In this study at the National Teipei University of Education researchers concluded that fermented cabbage offers promise for the treatment of allergic diseases.

The researchers still aren’t clear on the mechanism involved in preventing or reducing allergic reactions but it is likely a couple of things at work:

1) Many probiotics have a natural gut-healing and anti-inflammatory effect, and we now know that many diseases begin with gut inflammation and damage to the delicate mucosal lining in the gut.

2) As probiotics are being discovered and categorized, we are learning that many offer specific health benefits. So it is possible that there are specific probiotics that simply help to reduce allergy symptoms or allergies altogether. The research is still in the early stages, so perhaps over time and as more studies are carried out we’ll better understand how the probiotics in sauerkraut can help us deal with allergy season.

But not just any sauerkraut will do. Most commercial varieties are actually made with white vinegar instead of the natural fermentation process needed to encourage probiotic development. And, it’s the probiotics that offer the therapeutic allergy-reducing benefits.

Additionally, most store-bought sauerkraut has been pasteurized, a process of using excessive heat to bottle sauerkraut to increase shelf-life, but one that also kills all of the probiotics linked to allergy-reduction. The best way to ensure that the sauerkraut you eat is full of beneficial microbes is to make it yourself, which is much easier than most people think. Check out my blog Make Your Own Probiotic-Rich Sauerkraut to learn how. Alternatively, purchase sauerkraut in the refrigerator section of your health food or grocery store, making sure that the label indicates “unpasteurized” or “live cultures.”

While little research has been done on other fermented foods to see if they offer anti-allergy effects, preliminary studies also indicate that kefir (a beverage that is similar to yogurt, only a thinner consistency), miso and yogurt also offer immune-regulating, anti-histamine and respiratory-boosting effects. Ideally, eat at least one fermented food, but preferably more, each day. Be sure to choose only unsweetened options that contain live cultures.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook                 March 4, 2017
About Michelle          Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Probiotic Promise: Simple Steps to Heal Your Body from the Inside Out.

source: www.care2.com