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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Small Changes To Make That Can Have a MAJOR Impact on Health

Big changes like cutting out all carbs or training for a marathon are great—but you don’t have to remake yourself to have a dramatic impact on your health. Try a few of these baby steps to get you started in the right direction.

Add a fruit or veggie to every meal

Not ready to give up a bad habit yet? Start by creating an easy good-for-you habit instead. “Less than one in three individuals gets even two servings of fruits and vegetables per day,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN, CPT, author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet. “By adding one serving to each meal, you can get in at least three servings per day and be ahead of the curve. A half of a banana on your breakfast cereal, a small side salad with your sandwich at lunch, and adding 1/2 cup of cooked veggies into your pasta can pack in more fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients—all which have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers.”

Work on your hips

“If you have a sedentary job, focus on some hip opening exercises to start and end your day,” suggests trainer Jonathan Hertilus, ACE, owner of BFF Bootcamp in Nutley, NJ. “For instance,” says Hertilus, “hip bridges can be done anywhere—even in bed—as soon as you wake up or right before you go to sleep.” Just a few minutes of hip exercises can do wonders to keep your back and core muscles engaged.

Lose a little weight

Setting a goal to lose 40 pounds or more to get out of the “overweight” category can be daunting. So aim for smaller, more attainable goals, which can make a big difference in your overall health. “Small steps can be very powerful,” says Jill Crandall, MD, professor of endocrinology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and an attending physician at Montefiore Health System.” For people who are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, which includes many adults who are overweight and have a family history of diabetes, modest changes can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by over 50 percent.” Dr. Crandall suggests focusing on losing about 7 percent of your overall weight—or about 15 pounds for a 200-pound person.

Lighten your load

Cleaning out your purse or backpack could go a long way toward preventing neck, back, and shoulder pain. When you are carrying things, balance your load, and avoid backpacks or purses with more than 10 percent of your body weight,” suggests Robert Hayden, DC, PhD, a chiropractor in Griffin, Georgia.

Be careful with condiments

You might want to take a second to consider before you slather your next salad in ranch dressing. “Ketchup, barbecue sauce, mayo, and salad dressings can all be a major source of calories, sodium, fat, and added sugar,” says Palinski-Wade. “Opt for condiments on the side, rather than on your meal and read those labels!”

Skimp on the sugar—and pump up your probiotics

More and more studies show that sugar wreaks havoc on your health, including slowing your metabolism, impairing brain function, and increasing your risk of heart disease and cancer. But there are other health issues you can keep at bay with a little less sugar and a little more healthy bacteria. “Decreasing intake of sugar and processed food as well as taking probiotics can help decrease yeast infections,” says Jessica Shepherd, MD, MBA, OB/GYN, director of minimally invasive gynecology at University of Illinois at Chicago.

Straighten up your sleep habits

A bad sleep posture could make for more aches and pains when you’re awake. “Most of us don’t really think much about posture while we are asleep—but really, posture while you are asleep is at least as important as when you are awake because the muscles that protect your joints are quite loose while you are asleep,” says Dr. Hayden. “I recommend sleeping in a side posture whenever possible. Make sure your pillow is firm and just high enough to keep your head level with the mattress so that your head is neither pushed up nor down. Use a body pillow to hug, throwing your upper arm and upper knee over the pillow so that the pillow supports the weight of the extremities while you are asleep. This prevents you from inducing torque into the lumbar spine and offloads the weight of the upper extremity from the structures at the base of the neck. This simple approach to rest keeps your body straight and as stress free as possible while you catch those zzzs.”

Drink half your weight in water

We should all be drinking more water, but the old saw about eight glasses of eight ounces of water doesn’t work for everybody. The better formula? “Take your weight in pounds and divide by two, and you will get the number of ounces of water you should drink every day,” says Mitzi Dulan, RD, founder of simplyFUEL. “Start your day with a big glass of ice water. Ice cold water can boost your metabolism slightly because it takes energy for your body to get it to room temperature—drink six glasses of 16 ounces of cold water and burn an extra 100 calories per day.”

water

 

Stop the midnight snacking

“Avoid eating after 8 p.m.,” says Dulan. “Often times, late-night eating is really boredom eating. This helps your body focus on burning the fat during the night instead of trying to work to digest the food you just ate before nodding off.”

Shut off your electronics an hour before bedtime

Those last hours before bed may seem like the perfect time to catch up on some work or binge watch a little of your favorite show, but experts say that the light emanating from your screens could be disrupting your sleep. That wavelength of light disrupts melatonin production, and tricks your body into thinking it’s daylight, according to Mark Buchfuhrer, MD, medical director of the Comprehensive Sleep Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. The fix? Skip the screens and tuck into a good book, do relaxed stretching, or find another way to unwind in the last hour before your bedtime.

Trade refined carbs for whole grains

“Most people eat plenty of grains, but most Americans consume only one serving of whole grains per day,” says Palinski-Wade. “By swapping out a few refined grains for whole grains, you may reduce your waist circumference and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. If you use white bread for a sandwich, switch to rye. If you like rice, opt for brown rice over white rice. A simple switch can add up significantly.”

Take breaks when you’re traveling

Whether you travel by car or plane, taking frequent breaks to walk and stretch is essential. When flying by air, it can reduce your risk of developing a dangerous blood clot in your leg, called a deep vein thrombosis. “I coach our patients who are driving long-distance to get out of the vehicle periodically and walk around it a few laps,” Dr. Hayden says. “Find a bumper that is the right height to put one foot on it. Step back about two feet, square the pelvis, and lean toward the foot that is on the bumper. This has the effect of a hurdler’s stretch, and it will help stretch those gluteals on which you have been sitting as well as the quadriceps and many of the extensor muscles in the back. Always stretch both sides—if you leave one side tight, you may find yourself walking in circles!”

Cut down on the cocktails

Those studies that show red wine’s positive health benefits may encourage us to raise a few more glasses, but there are really good reasons to limit your alcohol intake, including increased risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, and obesity. Cutting back on the booze can decrease the risk of many different kinds of cancer, including breast cancer, according to Dr. Shepherd. For women, one drink a day seems to be the healthy max, while men can have two.

Start squatting

“Everyone asks me to recommend one exercise that everyone can do to improve their overall health,” says Pat McGuinness, personal trainer at the MAX Challenge in Montclair, NJ, and regional director of programming for New York Sports Clubs. “My answer is always squats! Everyone can do them—modifications are easy—and leg muscles make up more than 60 percent of our total body composition, which means you get more bang for your buck!”

Walk for five minutes every hour at work

Studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle can wreak havoc on your health. If you can’t get a standing desk to help you limit your time on your seat, make sure you take a five-minute walk break every hour. That can help you minimize the impact of sitting on your health, and ensure you get even more than the doctor-recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. That can help you reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to Dr. Crandall.

Swap soda for fruit-spiked water

Whether it’s diet or sugar-filled, study after study shows that soda isn’t the best beverage—unless you want to gain weight, increase your risk of developing diabetes, cancer, or heart disease, and reduce your bone density. But you don’t have to sacrifice flavor if you give up your soda. “Infuse water with fruit for a tasty alternative that’s sure to impress and refresh,” says McGuinness.

BY LISA MILBRAND
source: www.rd.com
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10 Health Benefits Of Kimchi

Health benefits of kimchi include an improved heart health and a healthy digestive system. The wealth [1] of antioxidants in it exercise healing effects in medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, obesity, atopic dermatitis, and gastric ulcers. This flavonoid and probiotic-rich food delays aging, regulates cholesterol levels, and boosts the immune system.

Nutritional Value Of Kimchi

Kimchi is a low-calorie, high fiber, and nutrient-packed [3] side dish. It is a storehouse of a range of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and vitamin C. It is also rich in essential amino acids and minerals such as iron, calcium, and selenium. It has an impressive assortment of powerful antioxidants and provides an additional benefit of probiotics as well in the form of lactobacillus bacteria. It contains numerous helpful components including capsaicin, chlorophyll, carotenoids, flavonoids, and isothiocyanates and has a low amount of fat and sugar.

Health Benefits Of Kimchi

The delectable taste of kimchi, which has been admired globally comes with a super bonus of health benefits attributing to a range of qualitative evidence supported by several pieces of research. The major health benefits have been discussed below.

Promotes Digestion

Kimchi is an excellent food to promote [4] digestion. It is a source of probiotics attributing to the process of fermentation involved in its preparation. The process of fermentation not only enhances the taste but also creates healthy bacteria, Lactobacillus, which is required by the body to keep a healthy state of intestinal flora. It is made from [5] cabbage which is already well known for its detoxification qualities and helps the body in getting rid of the wastes and toxins. It aids in cleaning up the intestines and stimulates better assimilation of nutrients in the body. Fiber content present in kimchi also assists in stabilizing the bowel movements and prevents constipation.kimchi

Regulates Cholesterol

Regular consumption [6] of kimchi has a beneficial effect on the levels of cholesterol. Garlic, which is used to prepare it is rich in selenium and allicin. Allicin is an eminent component which helps in lowering the cholesterol levels, thereby, reducing the risk of developing cardiac disorders such as strokes and heart attacks. Selenium also exerts a protective effect on the artery walls by preventing the build-up of plaque and decreasing the threat of atherosclerosis. An investigative study [7] has advocated that fermented kimchi helps in lowering the total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol along with the concentration of blood glucose in the body.

Antioxidant Properties

Kimchi varieties are rich in powerful [8]antioxidants which are natural scavengers. These antioxidants along with phenols and flavonoids present in it exert a protective effect against oxidative damage and shield the body from the harmful effects of oxygen free radicals.

Treats Atopic Dermatitis

The presence of lactobacillus bacteria in kimchi makes it a multi-talented condiment. It extends its therapeutic effects on various skin ailments such as atopic dermatitis which is characterized by increased levels of immunoglobulin E and skin lesions such as edema and hemorrhage. A study [9] conducted in this regard has shown that healthy bacteria present in fermented kimchi exerts suppressive effects on mite-induced dermatitis and helps in reducing inflammation.

Weight Loss

Kimchi is a source of healthy lactobacillus bacteria which the body utilizes for its healthy functioning. This good bacterium also assists in weight loss by controlling the appetite and reducing the blood sugar levels. The fiber content present in it keeps your body full and your hunger satisfied for a longer duration preventing you from overeating. A study [10] conducted on obese patients has validated the favorable effects of fermented kimchi on the body with respect to body mass index (BMI) and body fat, which helps in reducing the development of factors implicated in metabolic syndrome.

Boosts Immune System

The multi-nutrient packed kimchi is rich in a range of flavonoids and phenolic components. The variety of ingredients including ginger, garlic, and peppers involved in the preparation of kimchee are super protectors which are renowned for their beneficial effect on the immune system. They help in fighting infections and are valuable in curing cold and flu symptoms.

Anti-aging Properties

Another valuable benefit provided by kimchi is its anti-aging qualities, which can be attributed to the presence of antioxidants and vitamin C. A study [12] evaluating the anti-aging activity of kimchee has revealed that it helps in regulating and attenuating the inflammation that speeds up the aging process. The same study also showed promising results with regard to factors like reduced oxidative stress in the cells, inhibition of lipid peroxidation and extended lifespan in the subjects, making kimchi a potent anti-aging component.

Prevents Cancer

Kimchi is a valuable food which helps in reducing the risk of development of various cancers. A study [13] performed on its samples has validated its anti-cancer properties. Cabbage present in it contains healthy flavonoids which are known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Other powerful cancer fighters present in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage are glucosinolates. Glucosinolates break down to form isothiocyanates which are well-known for their effectiveness against cancerous cell growth.

kimchi

 

Treats Diabetes

A study [14] conducted on high-fat-diet-fed type-2 diabetics who were given kimchi revealed the anti-diabetic properties of this Korean delicacy. The study showed better glucose tolerance and lower levels of fasting glucose after eating a kimchi-containing diet in the diabetics. It also suggested that this Korean delicacy can prove more useful in diabetes if it is eaten with a normal or low-fat diet instead of high-fat food.

Reduces Gastric Ulcers

Kimchee exerts therapeutic [15] effects in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria. A study conducted in this regard has shown that the antagonistic activity of kimchi attributes to the abundance of Lactobacillus bacteria which inhibit the harmful pathogens from connecting to the human gastric cancer cells.

Culinary Uses

Kimchi is prepared and enjoyed in many varieties. It makes an excellent side dish or pre-meal appetizer. It can also be added to soups, stews or rice dishes. Kimchee serves deliciously well even as a topping on sandwiches or with pancakes.

Other Uses

Various studies [16] have proven the effectiveness of kimchi in curing avian influenza or bird flu virus and many other viral diseases affecting the poultry.

How To Prepare Kimchi?

Kimchi can be prepared in different ways depending on one’s taste and preference. There are many types available which are made using vegetables including Chinese cabbage, leek, scallion, radish, cucumber, ginseng, garlic, cayenne peppers, and Indian mustard leaves. These vegetables are mixed with desired spices and seasonings and kept for fermentation for specified days under favorable conditions.

Side Effects Of Kimchi

Digestive Health: Excess consumption of kimchi can lead to digestive problems. Research [19] conducted in this regard has suggested that too much of it may aggravate the risk of developing gastric cancer. Due to fermentation, kimchi is abundant in fiber which may cause gas and bloating issues in susceptible individuals. It is advisable, to begin with adding small quantities of kimchi in the diet in order to assess its effects.

Cardiac Functions & High Blood Pressure: Individuals suffering from high blood pressure should be cautious while eating kimchi because of the presence of high salt concentration, which gets further accentuated during the fermentation process. However, a study [20] conducted on hypertensive subjects revealed that even under the conditions of hypertension, eating low-sodium kimchi may not exert harmful effects on the blood pressure and cardiac activities. It is always advisable to consult a medical professional before considering it for therapeutic usage.

Summary

Kimchi possesses [21] anti-mutagenic, anti-bacterial, and anti-carcinogenic properties. The American health magazine [22] has ranked it among the world’s five healthiest foods. The wealth of strong antioxidants and healthy bacteria in kimchi encourages the production of collagen which aids in improving skin elasticity, delaying skin aging, and promoting healthy and youthful skin. Lactobacillus bacteria present in it is valuable for yeast infections. It combats nutrient depletion, builds stamina, and serves as a delicious and nutritious condiment.

References

  1. http://www.actahort.org/books/483/483_47.htm
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/world/asia/24kimchi.html?_r=0
  3. http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/meeting_abstract/24/1_MeetingAbstracts/340.6
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21215484
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23633413/?i=3&from=/23788520/related
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23444963
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23444963/?i=6&from=/23788520/related
  8. http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=KR2008003825
  9. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2672.2011.04981.x/abstract
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21745625
  11. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=uV2Oi0g_TB4C
  12. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10068-011-0091-9
  13. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/10966200360716544
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19459728
  15. https://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Gastritis_and_Peptic_Ulcer_Disease_Caused_by_Helicobacter_pylori
  16. http://www.asiabiotech.com/publication/apbn/09/english/preserved-docs/0907/0272_0277.pdf
  17. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=eqkYpqkYPngC
  18. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=s4_w572f1MgC
  19. http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/In-Korea-everybody-loves-kimchi-especially-2496596.php
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3439575/
  21. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1011921427581
  22. http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20410300,00.html
February 14, 2018  

source: OrganicFacts


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The Type of Probiotic That May Reverse Depression

The probiotic buffered the body against the damaging effects of stress.

Depression has been reversed in mice by feeding them probiotic bacteria, new research reports.

Lactobacillus is a type of ‘good’ bacteria found in yogurt, among other foods.

The role of the gut microbiome — the bacteria which live in our gut — has become a focus of research interest recently.

Dr Alban Gaultier, who led the study, said:

“The big hope for this kind of research is that we won’t need to bother with complex drugs and side effects when we can just play with the microbiome.
It would be magical just to change your diet, to change the bacteria you take, and fix your health — and your mood.”

The scientists found that when mice in the study were put under stress, the bacteria in their gut changed.

The main change was a reduction in Lactobacillus, which was linked to depressed behaviour in the mice.

Feeding them Lactobacillus almost completely stopped their depressive behaviours.

pickles

The researchers found a mechanism for how this change in the gut led to depression (it is through a metabolite called kynurenine).

First author, Ms Ioana Marin said:

“This is the most consistent change we’ve seen across different experiments and different settings we call microbiome profiles.
This is a consistent change.
We see Lactobacillus levels correlate directly with the behavior of these mice.”

The researchers plan to continue investigating kynurenine’s role in depression, Ms Marin said:

“There has been some work in humans and quite a bit in animal models talking about how this metabolite, kynurenine, can influence behavior.
It’s something produced with inflammation that we know is connected with depression.
But the question still remains: How?
How does this molecule affect the brain?
What are the processes?
This is the road we want to take.”

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports (Marin et al., 2017).
MARCH 15, 2017
source: PsyBlog


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Boost Your Immune System And Ward Off Viruses With These Foods

Chicken soup helps, sure, but a diet rich in vegetables, fish and even garlic can help lessen the severity of a cold or prevent you from getting sick.

The combination of chicken, homemade broth, veggies (such as carrots, celery and onions) and noodles or rice in chicken soup is immune-boosting and soothing, and the warm broth clears your nasal passages and keeps you hydrated.

Winter doesn’t just bring the blues, it also gifts us with coughs, runny noses and sore throats. It’s not because of the old adage of bundling up or “you’ll catch a cold!” We tend to get more cold and flu viruses during the winter as germs survive longer indoors due to poor ventilation and lack of humidity, and we are stuck indoors for much longer during the frigid months.

There’s a key to rev up our immune system that can make a huge difference: you are what you eat. A healthy diet often prevents colds and flus or reduces their longevity. The antioxidants including vitamins C, A and E found in fruits and vegetables protect our cells and boost our immune system. Supplements can never replace the real thing.

A healthy diet year-round is crucial to keeping well. This means cutting down on inflammatory foods including white flour, white rice, sugar and saturated fats, as inflammation reduces your immune system. Stick to a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein.

Garlic

Allicin, a natural chemical in garlic, fights common viruses. Add it to your cooked foods and salads. Don’t forget to have breath mints on hand!

Broccoli

Raw or lightly steamed broccoli contains vitamins A and C, as well as the compound sulforaphane, which helps ward off viruses. Add it to salads or use for dipping.

Vitamin C

For decades this has been the most popular vitamin for fending off viruses, but a handful of supplements won’t do much once you’re already infected. The best defence is to include a variety of fruits and vegetables daily with vitamin C to keep your immune system strong.

Oranges aren’t your only option — you can get more vitamin C from strawberries, kiwis, pineapple, mango, papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, snow peas, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale.

Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are good for the gut. We generally think of this as meaning digestion, but our gut health is actually a key component to many elements of our health, including 70 per cent of our immune system. Studies show that specific foods containing probiotics reduce the occurrence, length and severity of colds. These foods include sauerkraut, kefir, yogourts with live and active cultures, kimchi, kombucha and miso.

Chicken soup

There’s nothing like a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup when you’re under the weather, but does it actually help to fight off a cold? The combination of chicken, homemade broth, veggies (such as carrots, celery and onions) and noodles or rice is immune-boosting and soothing. The warm broth clears your nasal passages and keeps you hydrated. Mother was right!

Tea

We drink mug after mug of tea when we’re ill as it feels great on a sore throat, but it’s actually doing more to help, depending on the type. Black and green teas contain an amino acid called L-Theanine, which boosts our immune system. Black tea has more of this amino acid than green, but green tea protects the immune system against disease-causing free radicals. Drink up!

Spinach

Spinach is rich in vitamin C and contains several antioxidants, which increases the ability for our immune system to fight infections. Eat it raw or cook it as little as possible to get the most nutrients.

Shellfish and fish

Indulging in fish or shellfish twice weekly may prevent colds and flus. Selenium, a mineral found in oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams, helps white blood cells produce proteins that fight flu viruses. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring are loaded with omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation.

Before you end up sidelined on the couch this winter, include a combination of these immune-boosting foods so you can have a healthy 2018.

By ROSE REISMAN    Special to the Star    Thu., Jan. 11, 2018
Rose Reisman is a nutritionist, caterer, speaker, media personality and author of 19 cookbooks. info@rosereisman.com
 


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The Microbiome: The Key to Optimal Health

Here’s how the microbiome—the colony go micro-organisms that lives on and in our bodies—might hold the key to a healthy immune system, mood and weight, and our overall well-being.

micro-organisms that lives on and in our bodies—
might hold the key to a healthy immune system, mood and weight, and our overall well-being.

Imagine that from the time you’re born, your body is hosting a daily house party. Who’s on the guest list? Roughly 40 trillion of your tiniest, closest friends. And like any lively party, there’s a mix of good and bad guests. This community of micro-organisms, which includes bac­teria, viruses, fungi and yeast, is collectively known as microbiota, or our microbiome. It’s often called the ‘forgotten organ’ and could be considered one of our largest in terms of cells. In fact, recent research suggests that we have around the same number of bacterial cells as human cells. During a natural birth, you’re first exposed to bacteria from your mother, and it’s estimated that your ecosystem is largely established by age three. We’re used to thinking of bugs as unwanted party crashers, but researchers are discovering that they play an important role in our overall well-being and may hold the key to a host of health-related issues.

MEET YOUR MICROBIOME
If it seems like the word micro­biome just recently appeared on your radar, you’re not alone. It was only in 2008 that the National Institutes of Health Common Fund’s Human Microbiome Project was established to under­stand the microbiome and how it impacts the way our bodies function.

‘We knew that the microbiome was there, but we thought of it only as external and not really in our body. As research expands in this area, we’re discovering how much influence it has on well-being,’ says Kathy McCoy, the director of the Western Canadian Microbiome Centre and a professor at the Cumming School of Medicine in Calgary. ‘One thing we know for sure is that good bacteria benefit our health.’

HAPPY GUT = HEALTHY LIFE
Our gut houses the bulk of our bugs and can carry more than 1,000 different species. The hot spot is the large intestine, which is the most highly colonized by bacteria. ‘Bacteria help us digest foods we otherwise couldn’t, such as complex carbohydrates,’ says McCoy. ‘They increase our meta­bolic capacity, produce vitamins we can’t make ourselves and break down food so our bodies get needed nutrients.’

A healthy gut can determine which nutrients are absorbed and which toxins are blocked. ‘The state of our gut microbiota has drastically changed as we’ve transformed our diets, specifically due to a loss of fibre intake,’ says McCoy. ‘The consumption of more processed foods has negatively influenced the makeup of our microbiota.’

The key to a well-functioning microbiome is a diversity of good bacteria. The latest research shows how our micro­biome can affect our immunity, weight and mood, and reveals how you can nurture and strengthen your gut to improve your health.

BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY
‘Unlike genes or genetic disorders that are hardwired, we can manipulate our microbiome to some degree,’ says McCoy. By nurturing our gut to create a healthy microbiota, we equip it with better ammunition to fight potential invaders, such as bad bacteria (salmonella, for example), making it a strong ally for our immune system.

‘Over the past 50 years, in developing countries, the prevalence of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, has skyrocketed—and some, like Type 1 diabetes, are occurring at a younger age. At the same time, there’s a strong belief that the diversity in our microbiota has decreased,’ she says. By not supporting and nurturing our microbiome, we leave it less able to protect itself and more vulner­able to invaders. ‘The immune system in your gut needs to be equip­ped like an army, alert to recog­nize potential danger and armed to fight disease-causing microbes and pathogens,’ says McCoy.

MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Trying to shed a few pounds? Take a closer look at the health of your gut flora. ‘A study found that the micro­biota from obese people thrives on low-fibre, high-fat and high-sugar diets,’ says McCoy. Also, research suggests that certain bugs may make you desire specific foods, yet others can keep cravings in check. And multiple studies have demonstrated that if your microbiome is unbalanced, it can affect how efficiently food is metabolized.

IMPROVE YOUR MOOD
There might be more to that ‘gut feeling’ we get. ‘There’s evidence that some bacteria residing in the gut can affect the brain and your emotional state,’ says McCoy. Researchers are working to unlock the gut-brain connection and believe that the micro­biome could hold the answer to a number of mental health conditions. ‘Researchers are finding that changes in the microbiota might be linked to gastrointestinal abnormalities, including anxiety, depr­es­sion, autism and hyperactivity. And there are also studies focusing on the pathway between the gut and several neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease,’ says McCoy.

4 WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR MICROBIOME

1. Feed your microbiome 
One of the best—and easiest—ways to positively impact the gut is through diet. Start by increasing your fibre intake, found in grains, fruit and vegetables. Aim for 25 grams of fibre a day. Avoid high-fat and high-sugar diets, as they promote an unhealthy environment. Instead, eat foods that are full of variety, and include an abundance of fresh produce.

2. Fuel it with fermented foods
Populate the gut with good bacteria by filling up on foods with live and active cultures, such as kefir and some yogurts, and raw, unpasteurized fermented foods, such as kimchi, pickled vegetables and sauerkraut. Support digestive health and nourish the gut lining to more efficiently absorb nutrients by adding a scoop of a fermented yogurt protein powder to your morning smoothie.

3. Pop a probiotic 
‘Although our bodies have bacteria, environmental chemicals, poor nutrition, stress and medication easily affect their diversity. Choose a probiotic with 50 to 100 billion active bact­e­ria,’ says Toronto-based naturopathic doctor Sara Celik. We like a probiotic that’s jam-packed with 50 billion active cultures from 10 strains of bacteria, which is ideal for strengthening the immune system.

4. Monitor antibiotic use
Avoid the overuse of antibiotics, which can reduce the number of bacteria in your gut and break down its ability to resist infection from bad bacteria. ‘They’re drugs that don’t discriminate and kill all forms of bacteria—both good and bad—and can adversely alter the composition of your entire gut flora, which, we believe, is contributing to a host of chronic diseases,’ warns McCoy.

BY: GRACE TOBY         OCT 19, 2017 


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Lactic Acid Bacteria Can Protect Against Influenza A Virus

Lactic acid bacteria, commonly used as probiotics to improve digestive health, can offer protection against different subtypes of influenza A virus, resulting in reduced weight loss after virus infection and lower amounts of virus replication in the lungs, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

Influenza virus can cause severe respiratory disease in humans. Although vaccines for seasonal influenza viruses are readily available, influenza virus infections cause three to five million life-threatening illnesses and 250,000 to 500,000 deaths worldwide during epidemics. Pandemic outbreaks and air transmission can rapidly cause severe disease and claim many more human lives worldwide. This occurs because current vaccines are effective only when vaccine strains and circulating influenza viruses are well matched.

Influenza A virus, which infects humans, birds and pigs, has many different subtypes based on hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) proteins on the surface of the virus. There are 18 different HA and 11 different NA subtype molecules identified, which indicates numerous HA and NA influenza virus combinations. As a result, it’s important to find ways to provide broad protection against influenza viruses, regardless of the virus strain.

Fermented vegetables and dairy products contain a variety of lactic acid bacteria, which have a number of health benefits in addition to being used as probiotics. Studies have found some lactic acid bacteria strains provide partial protection against bacterial infectious diseases, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, as well as cold and influenza viruses.

This study investigated the antiviral protective effects of a heat-killed strain of lactic acid bacteria, Lactobacillus casei DK128 (DK128), a promising probiotic isolated from fermented vegetables, on influenza viruses.

Mice pretreated with DK128 intranasally and infected with influenza A virus showed a variety of immune responses that are correlated with protection against influenza virus, including an increase in the alveolar macrophage cells in the lungs and airways, early induction of virus specific antibodies and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and innate immune cells. The mice also developed immunity against secondary influenza virus infection by other virus subtypes. The findings are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“We found that pretreating the mice with heat-killed Lactobacillus casei DK128 bacteria made them resistant to lethal primary and secondary influenza A virus infection and protected them against weight loss and mortality,” said Dr. Sang-Moo Kang, lead author of the study and professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State. “Our results are highly significant because mice pretreated with DK128 had 100 percent survival and prevention of weight loss. This strain of lactic acid bacteria also equipped mice with cross-protective immunity against secondary lethal infection with influenza virus. Protection against influenza virus infection was not specific to a particular strain of influenza.

“Our study provides evidence that heat-killed lactic acid bacteria could potentially be administered via a nasal spray as a prophylactic drug against non-specific influenza virus infections.”

The researchers pretreated mice intranasally with heat-killed DK128 and then infected them with a lethal dose of influenza A virus, subtype H3N2 or H1N1. Mice pretreated with a low dose of DK128 showed 10 to 12 percent weight loss, but survived the lethal infection of H3N2 or H1N1 virus. In contrast, mice pretreated with a higher dose of heat-killed DK128 did not show weight loss. Control mice, which were not pretreated with DK128, showed severe weight loss by days eight and nine of the infection and all of these mice died.

Mice that received heat-killed lactic acid bacteria (DK128) prior to infection had about 18 times less influenza virus in their lungs compared to control mice.

Next, the researchers tested protection against secondary influenza virus infection by infecting pretreated mice with a different influenza A subtype from their primary virus infection. For the secondary virus infection, mice were exposed to H1N1 or rgH5N1.

The study’s results suggest that pretreatment with lactic acid bacteria, specifically DK128, equips mice with the capacity to have protective immunity against a broad range of primary and secondary influenza A virus infections.

Co-authors of the study include Drs. Yu-Jin Jung, Young-Tae Lee, Vu Le Ngo, Eun-Ju Ko and Ki-Hye Kim of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State; Drs. Young-Hee Cho, Sung-Moon Hong, Cheol-Hyun Kim of Dankook University; Drs. Ji-Hun Jang and Joon-Suk Oh of Tobico Inc.; Dr. Min-Kyung Park of Chungwoon University and Dr. Jun Sun of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The study is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health and the United States Department of Defense.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Georgia State University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.   December 13, 2017

Journal Reference:
Yu-Jin Jung, Young-Tae Lee, Vu Le Ngo, Young-Hee Cho, Eun-Ju Ko, Sung-Moon Hong, Ki-Hye Kim, Ji-Hun Jang, Joon-Suk Oh, Min-Kyung Park, Cheol-Hyun Kim, Jun Sun, Sang-Moo Kang. Heat-killed Lactobacillus casei confers broad protection against influenza A virus primary infection and develops heterosubtypic immunity against future secondary infection. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-17487-8


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Lack Of Sleep May Mess With Your Health On A Molecular Level

The impact goes far beyond grogginess and irritability. In many cases, sleep loss can give certain diseases the upper hand.

You no doubt have heard about the need to get a proper amount of sleep. Public health authorities continually declare we all need on average seven hours of slumber every night to be at our best. Yet while these recommendations come with a warning about the troubles stemming from a lack of sleep, when it comes to what happens inside our bodies, the details are usually few and far between.

Now, thanks to a team of Australian researchers, we have a clearer understanding of what happens at the molecular level when we disrupt these needed times of rest. The work reveals the impact goes far beyond grogginess and irritability. In many cases, sleep loss can give certain diseases the upper hand.

The team focused on the effects of what is known as the circadian rhythm. This biological phenomenon exists in all living organisms — even bacteria — and dictates when bodies should be active or at rest. The discovery was considered of such great importance the original researchers were awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine.

When the circadian rhythm was discovered, it was a mystery and any connection to health was speculative at best. But by 2007, researchers began to understand how disruptions in this rhythm can lead to health problems. A new branch of sleep medicine was developed in which disorders such as jet lag and altered timing of sleep became conditions worth documenting and treating based on our wake-sleep schedules.

Yet the studies did not stop there. Secondary consequences — known as sequelae — also were investigated and showed symptoms such as weight gain and poor decision making were directly linked to a lack of proper rest. As for the Australian researchers, they focused on a different problem with a much wider scope for health. Their interest lied in inflammation, one of the most troublesome issues in health today.

Body temperature, blood pressure, feeding times 

… are all affected.

The author’s investigations stems from a relatively recent finding from 2015. Researchers learned of a connection between our immunity and a small section of the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus, more commonly known as the SCN. At just under two millimetres in length, you might think this region would have little effect on us. Yet close to 20 years of research has revealed this tiny region seated deep in the brain is the primary regulator of the circadian rhythm. As studies have shown, the area also impacts almost all of our bodily processes.

The extent of influence on our bodily functions by the SCN is fascinating. Body temperature, blood pressure, feeding times and (not surprisingly) the feelings of wakefulness and tiredness are all affected by this little region. The 2015 study shows the immune system also responds to the calls from this region, altering how it functions during the course of a day. During the day and into the early evening, our immunity is active. Late at night and into the early morning hours, it is at rest. The balance ensures the forces maintain a proper balance and do not end up hyperactive or fatigued.

With this in mind, the Australian researchers explored the consequences to immune balance as a result of sleep deprivation. They found studies both in animals and humans revealing even a slight change in our regular circadian rhythm can lead to the development of low-level inflammation. For the authors, the rise of inflammation could worsen chronic diseases such as allergies, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. No to mention the inflammation also leads to a poorer response to infection.

Thanks to this overview, the Australian researchers have shown at the microscopic and molecular levels why getting those seven hours of sleep is so important. They underscore the necessity of making sure people take better care of their health when faced with disruptions to the sleep cycle as a result of shift work, time zone travel and other disturbances. Perhaps most importantly, for those who cannot change their sleep schedules, the inner struggles may require us to be more observant of our behaviours.

As to how to accomplish this balance, the authors suggested treatment options focusing on inflammation as a target. While this direction will no doubt take years to achieve, there may be more natural options to improve the outlook. Proper diet and exercise can help to minimize the extent of inflammation. In addition, the use of melatonin also can provide some assistance. Then there is the potential for probiotics. While still in the early stages, we may be able to one day find a mixture designed to help us stay balanced when the world around us is being disrupted.

11/06/2017    Jason Tetro Microbiology, Health & Hygiene Expert