becoming more and more popular as research continues to validate its role in supporting
various aspects related to heath. For example, many are familiar with its
popularity for mitigating stress and I've written previously on how stress and
emotion can impact our physical body. However, more recent evidence is proving
even more intriguing with evidence of the effects of the power of meditation
that many ancient gurus knew for centuries.
in a 2015 article in Nature Reviews researchers
reviewed the evidence of how meditation may cause neuroplastic changes in the brain
in regions that are involved in the regulation of emotions, attention, and
self-awareness. The abstract reads:
Research over the past two decades
broadly supports the claim that mindfulness meditation - practiced widely for
the reduction of stress and promotion of health - exerts beneficial effects on
physical and mental health, and cognitive performance. Recent neuroimaging
studies have begun to uncover the brain areas and networks that mediate these
positive effects. However, the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear, and
it is apparent that more methodologically rigorous studies are required if we
are to gain a full understanding of the neuronal and molecular bases of the
changes in the brain that accompany mindfulness meditation.
a previous meta-analysis of 21 studies reported that eight brain regions were
consistently altered in mediators, though bias may exist, the results were
To address these questions, we
reviewed and meta-analyzed 123 brain morphology differences from 21
neuroimaging studies examining ∼300
meditation practitioners. Anatomical likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis
found eight brain regions consistently altered in meditators, including areas
key to meta-awareness (frontopolar cortex/BA 10), exteroceptive and
interoceptive body awareness (sensory cortices and insula), memory
consolidation and reconsolidation (hippocampus), self and emotion regulation
(anterior and mid cingulate; orbitofrontal cortex), and intra- and
interhemispheric communication (superior longitudinal fasciculus; corpus
callosum). Effect size meta-analysis (calculating 132 effect sizes from 16
studies) suggests a global 'medium' effect size (Cohen's d¯=0.46; r¯=.19).
Publication bias and methodological limitations are strong concerns, however.
Further research using rigorous methods is required to definitively link
meditation practice to altered brain morphology.
The Newest Study on the Block
randomized-controlled trial that took into account some of the previous research
methodological issues, such as setting and environmental effects, found amazing
results in regards to meditation. Specifically, the researchers were able to
demonstrate that not only did meditation effect well-being measures, but also
gene expression in markers related to stress, immune function, aging markers
(telomerase), and amyloid beta (AB) metabolism (a protein linked to Alzheimer's
disease). Differences were found among randomized vacationers and novice meditators
and a comparison group of regular meditators. Interestingly, vacation in the
retreat also had positive benefits alone, but meditation practiced by novices,
showed additional benefits. The abstract states:
Meditation is becoming increasingly
practiced, especially for stress-related medical conditions. Meditation may
improve cellular health; however, studies have not separated out effects of
meditation from vacation-like effects in a residential randomized controlled
trial. We recruited healthy women non-meditators to live at a resort for 6 days
and randomized to either meditation retreat or relaxing on-site, with both
groups compared with 'regular meditators' already enrolled in the retreat.
Blood drawn at baseline and post intervention was assessed for
transcriptome-wide expression patterns and aging-related biomarkers. Highly significant
gene expression changes were detected across all groups (the 'vacation effect')
that could accurately predict (96% accuracy) between
baseline and post-intervention states and were characterized by improved
regulation of stress response, immune function and amyloid beta (Aβ)
metabolism. Although a smaller set of genes was affected, regular meditators
showed post-intervention differences in a gene network characterized by lower
regulation of protein synthesis and viral genome activity. Changes in well-being
were assessed post intervention relative to baseline, as well as 1 and 10
months later. All groups showed equivalently large immediate post-intervention
improvements in well-being, but novice meditators showed greater maintenance of
lower distress over time compared with those in the vacation arm. Regular
meditators showed a trend toward increased telomerase activity compared with
randomized women, who showed increased plasma Aβ42/Aβ40
ratios and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) levels.
This highly controlled residential study showed large salutary changes in gene
expression networks due to the vacation effect, common to all groups. For those
already trained in the practice of meditation, a retreat appears to provide
additional benefits to cellular health beyond the vacation effect.
summer is over, you may need some support in taking another respite. The
results provided scientific proof to your boss that vacation is good for your
health, and regular meditators may further benefit from a retreat- a win-win!
The Alternative Daily. Survey Says: Yoga and Meditation are Growing in
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). National Health
Statistics Reports from the National Health Interview Survey. No. 79. Trends in
the Use of Complementary Health Approaches Among Adults: United States,
2002-2012 . 16 pp. (PHS) 2015-1250. February 10, 2015. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/nhis_nhsr.htm
Hölzel BK, Posner MI. The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Apr;16(4):213-25.
doi: 10.1038/nrn3916. Epub 2015 Mar 18.
McKay S. The Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation. Chopra Center
Website. Available at: http://www.chopra.com/articles/the-neuroscience-of-mindfulness-meditation
Fox KC, et al. Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A
systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation
practitioners. Neurosci Biobehav
Rev. 2014 Jun;43:48-73. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.03.016. Epub 2014 Apr
Epel ES, et al. Meditation and vacation effects have an impact on
disease-associated molecular phenotypes. Translational Psychiatry (2016) 6, e880;
In case you
weren't already convinced that researchers'
have gone "bug" crazy due to the explosion of articles on the microbiome,
there's even more exciting updates this month. If you don't know what the microbiome is yet,
I invite you to learn more about the little critters that reside in your
insides (and outsides). They are linked to many health outcomes and actually communicate
with our cells and modulate our biochemistry. Scientists have made connections
between the population of bugs that we cart around and how they are correlated
to and connected with many disease outcomes as well as how manipulating them
with probiotics, diet,
and lifestyle impacts our wellness. In fact, the National Institute of Health's Human Microbiome
Project is currently undertaking massive research initiatives to learn more
about the genetic population of microbes that makeup a healthy human.
Now, here are
some fascinating studies on the latest insights in the tiny world of
More Evidence That the Gut Microbiome
Affects Immune Response
In a recent study
published in EBioMedicine, researchers
reported on the correlation between bacterial activity and how it relates to
HIV activity and the response to treatment. One of the researchers in Science Daily stated:
"The make-up and behaviour of the
gut bacteria of HIV patients whose body responds adequately to antiretrovirals
are different to those who respond less well to treatment. It is possible that
the reason why some subjects respond better to antiretrovirals is because their
immune system is predisposed to these beneficial, recovery-enabling
bacteria," adds researcher Sergio Serrano-Villar at Hospital Ramón y
Here is the
While changes in gut microbial
populations have been described in human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV)-infected
patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART), the mechanisms underlying the
contributions of gut bacteria and their molecular agents (metabolites and
proteins) to immune recovery remain unexplored. To study this, we examined the
active fraction of the gut microbiome, through examining protein synthesis and
accumulation of metabolites inside gut bacteria and in the bloodstream, in 8
healthy controls and 29 HIV-infected individuals (6 being longitudinally
studied). We found that HIV infection is associated to dramatic changes in the
active set of gut bacteria simultaneously altering the metabolic outcomes.
Effects were accentuated among immunological ART responders, regardless diet,
subject characteristics, clinical variables other than immune recovery, the
duration and type of ART and sexual preferences. The effect was found at
quantitative levels of several molecular agents and active bacteria which were
herein identified and whose abundance correlated with HIV immune pathogenesis
markers. Although, we cannot rule out the possibility that some changes are
partially a random consequence of the disease status, our data suggest that
most likely reduced inflammation and immune recovery is a joint solution
orchestrated by both the active fraction of the gut microbiota and the host.
This study was fascinating,
as it examined not only the population of microbes in the stool, but their
metabolic alterations and the difference between responders to treatment and
nonresponders as compared to controls.
study, researchers found a correlation between certain microbe populations in
infants and their risk for allergies and asthma later in life. It appears that
the guts of at-risk babies were missing the key immune lipids that modulate
a related study with rodents demonstrated how intestinal bacteria interact with
a receptor of the immune system that effects the intensity of allergic
responses. The researchers also found that when this receptor was absent in
rodents, certain bacteria were still able to override the allergic response and
normalize the immune response.
More Evidence that Microbes Are
Associated with Obesity
a metabolic consequence of obesity, the manipulation of diet modulating bacteria
population, or environmental exposures, more proof of the link between obesity
and bugs was found in two studies recently. One study found an increased risk
for childhood obesity in babies born via cesarean sections, in which the
newborn does not receive an inoculation of microbes through the vaginal canal.
Another enormous study undertaking on the antibiotic-obesity connection was
reported on in Science Daily. Researchers
have begun the process of gathering data by searching through records of 1.6 million
kids and will be correlating and reporting on how prescriptions of antibiotics
in the first two years of life are linked to weight gain at ages five and 10 years.
study found that exposure to the "sterile" ICU environment caused people to lose
their gut bugs, putting the at risk for various health imbalances. Health Day reported:
Intensive care patients have a
significant loss of helpful gut bacteria within days of entering the hospital,
a new study finds. These bacteria help keep people well. Losing them puts
patients at risk for hospital-acquired infections that may lead to sepsis,
organ failure and even death, according to the researchers.
For the study, the investigators
analyzed gut bacteria from 115 intensive care unit (ICU) patients at four
hospitals in the United States and Canada. Measurements were taken 48 hours
after admission and after either 10 days in the ICU or leaving the hospital. Compared
with healthy people, the ICU patients had lower levels of helpful bacteria and
higher levels of potentially harmful bacteria, the findings showed.
"The results were what we feared
them to be. We saw a massive depletion of normal, health-promoting
species," study leader Dr. Paul Wischmeyer said in a news release from the
American Society for Microbiology. Wischmeyer, an anesthesiologist at the
University of Colorado School of Medicine, is moving to Duke University in the
The microbes living in our body are providing the links we've been looking for in
the mechanisms of how all different diseases are connected. Importantly, simple
measures like eating healthy diets, exercise, decreasing stress, and taking the
right probiotics are simple ways to mitigate the risk of various diseases due to fact that these measures
take care of the critters your letting live rent-free in your insides!
RUVID. Gut bacteria affect immune recovery in HIV patients, study finds.
ScienceDaily. 5 September 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160905114800.htm.
Villar S, Rojo D, Martínez-Martínez M, Deusch S, JF Vázquez-Castellanos, Bargiel
J, et al. Gut Bacteria Metabolism
Impacts Immune Recovery in HIV-infected Individuals. EBioMedicine,
2016; 8: 203 DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.04.033
University Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Swelling obesity
rates may be tied to childhood antibiotic use. ScienceDaily. 30 August 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160830084458.htm.
Chan School of Public Health. Cesarean delivery may lead to increased risk of
obesity among offspring. ScienceDaily. September
6, 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160906130952.htm.
Preidt R. Patients May Quickly Lose Beneficial Gut
Bacteria in the ICU. Health Day.
August 31, 2016. https://consumer.healthday.com/caregiving-information-6/intensive-care-979/icu-patients-gut-bacteria-msphere-release-batch-2849-714373.html
University of California - San Francisco. Newborn gut microbiome predicts
later allergy and asthma, study finds: Microbial byproducts link particular
early-life gut microbes to immune dysfunction. ScienceDaily. September
12, 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160912122348.htm
Technical University of Munich (TUM). Intestinal bacteria influence food
allergies: Composition of gut microbiota and immune system are closely
interwoven. ScienceDaily. September 12, 2016.
Enjoy the Healthy Benefits of Healing Aromatics
I just finished watching the Essential
Oils Revolution 2 and it was wonderful! As a self-taught geek with some
pharmacology background, it was exciting to hear all different viewpoints and
learn from various experts.
Two presentations I found very intriguing were on the topics of DIY recipes and
cooking with essential oils. Since DIY recipes are vast and a nice compilation
can be found here
I wanted to share a little bit more on
. Dietary essential oils have been used as natural and safe
flavorings and preservatives in the food industry for years
Below are some easy tips to get you started with adding essential oils into
your favorite dishes!
Cooking in 1, 2, 3...
1. First of all, the most important thing is to make sure you have essential
oils that are safe for ingestion. The FDA provides some guidance by listing
certain essential oils as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) here. Some essential oils companies label which
essential oils can be ingested, making this step easy! Technically, essential
oils which can be taken orally are considered to be dietary supplements. (If
you are still unsure about how to safely ingest oils or heard some headline
out this blog I did on standardization and quality.)
Dr. Z explains more on the safety of using essential oils in recipes in his
with Essential Oils Blog":
Essential oils - both real and synthetic -
have been used as flavoring agents for years.
It's just too easy to add a drop or two of an intensely flavored oil in place
of time consuming ingredients with much more volume. (1) In addition to flavor,
essential oils are regularly tested by researchers for their potential to
improve food safety. Antimicrobial oils, the theory goes, may be able to minimize
food borne illness if manufacturers added it to packaging.
So the idea that we can cook with essential
oils or incorporate them into our kitchen process is nothing new. The important
thing is to do so safely, appreciating the
differences between a whole herb or spice and its essential oil. You'll also
want to note that not every essential oil is a good choice for cooking.
Sometimes the oil doesn't taste quite as yummy as the whole herb. Sometimes the
oil has too much of a certain component, making it less than ideal or even
unsafe in high quantities.
2. The second thing to remember is that a little goes a very long way. Some
estimate that 1 drop per teaspoon is a conversion measure. I think anything
more than 2 drops is probably too much. (Finding a source for this is hard to
come by.) For optimal flavoring (and safety with "hotter oils" like oregano,
basil, thyme, and marjoram), you would want to add them to a recipe with some
form of fat in it.
3. Finally, it's best to add the essential oils last, when the dish is
almost finished. This will prevent the concern of altering
the constituents at high heat. Of course, cold recipes aren't a problem. Furthermore, there is
some evidence that certain essential oils can increase bioavailability of
healthy constituents with cooking, such as
thymol in thyme. However, carvacrol is supported when adding both the oil
and the ground leaves.
If you want to start some experimenting with dishes, some recipes can be
for barbecue fun. Bon App`etit!
Click here for my latest blog on the power of peppermint for a focused back to school brain.
been a little bit of a "doctor doom" when it comes to giving some stats on the
toxic exposures we come across every day. Although my focus has been more to
educate and empower with tools to protect ourselves, I know that sometimes it
can still appear daunting.
Last year, I
gave you tips for protecting kids' brains and
bodies from chemical harms (and
germs) as they go to back to school. This month I saw more these topics on
this subject of toxic effects hit my inbox including:
PCB Chemicals Still Tied to Autism in U.S. Kids
Linked to Migraines
Change May Prolong Smog Season in Southeast U.S.
as in the past the gloom was followed by the good, it will again today.
What the Scary Facts Have to Do with
recommended essential oils as one of my favorite tools to mitigate stress and
balance our physiology, biochemistry, and emotions. This past week, I was in
heaven with listening to the speakers in the Essential Oils Revolution 2 summit
explain the science behind how essential oils can protect our bodies from
sickness and modulate our health. (Speaking of too much of a good thing, I did
in fact listen to every single presenter!)
We know now
that inhalation and diffusion of essential oils has profound positive effects
on the brain and body. In fact, a recent study in rodents demonstrated how
aromatic essential oils (lavender, clary sage, sweet orange, and sandalwood) exhibited
metabolic effects in their brain biochemistry and urinary metabolites. This
study was further supporting evidence that their properties as secondary
metabolites modulating physiology beyond aroma. For my scientific-speak
followers, the authors concluded:
In conclusion, we identified the
global metabolic responses to aromas intervention characterized by unique
metabolic signatures in rat brain tissue and urine involving neurotransmitters,
fatty acids, carbohydrates and amino acids. Inhalation of essential oil is able
to attenuate anxiety-induced metabolic perturbation, concurrent with the
behavioral findings that inhalation of essential oil significantly increased the
open arms time and open arms entries.
I have hinted
about the saving grace of diffusing essential oils in the past and specifically
discussed how essential oils inhibit microbe growth in the
air. I was recently working on an article for one of my favorite fitness and
health gurus and found further support in how a specific oil blend I use is
effective in stomping out unwanted critters floating around us. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10412905.1998.9700958)
NASA demonstrated that plants have the power to protect us from indoor
pollution by decreasing levels of organic chemicals. Now, a new study reports
that essential oils may directly impact and alleviate lung and liver ailments
caused by air pollution. The study was done in vitro using lung and liver cells
exposed to airborne particulates. The authors sought to determine how essential
oil components, free and encapsulated, from extracts from cloves, aniseed,
fennel and ylang ylang would impact inflammatory mediators produced from the harmful
exposures. They found that these compounds reduced the resultant inflammation
responses of the cells. The abstract from the study reads:
Outdoor air pollution and fine
particulate matter (PM) were recently classified as carcinogenic to humans by
the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The exposure to airborne
particulate matter also contributes to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases,
which are major public health concerns. Up to now, no work has evaluated the
ability of essential oils as an alternative medicine to relieve the adverse
health effects caused by airborne particulate matter. Here, we investigated for
the first time the effects of four essential oil components, trans-anethole, estragole, eugenol
and isoeugenol, on the reduction in inflammation induced by particulate matter
with an aerodynamic diameter below 2.5 μm (PM2.5), in human
bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) and human liver carcinoma (HepG2) cell lines.
Anethole is a flavor component of anise and fennel, estragole is occurring in
basil, eugenol occurs in clove bud oil and isoeugenol occurs in ylang-ylang.
Essential oil components were tested either as free or
hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin-encapsulated forms. Control experiments showed
that particulate matter (PM2.5) induced inflammation by secretion of
pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8. Our results show that the addition of
either free or encapsulated essential oil components to particulate matter
exposed cells decreased up to 96 % the cytokine IL-6 level, and by up to
87 % the cytokine IL-8 level. Overall our findings evidence for the first
time that natural essential oil components counteract the inflammatory effects
of particulate matter and that encapsulation in cyclodextrins preserved their
surprise that constituents in oils have healing and protective properties. Just
one constituent alone in an oil has been found to have profound effects and the
synergism of the whole oil seems to be just as, or more, powerful. But remember
to use cold air diffusion to experience all the benefits you can receive from
aromatic applications. This way you will not destroy the essential oil
compounds and prevent them from oxidation in the air. For example, one (kinda-sketchy,
biased study) determined that lavender that was exposed to air at 60 degrees Fahrenheit
could produce negative reactions in sensitive people.
So treat your
oils well by preserving their therapeutic constituents with cold-air diffusion.
Remember if you use them safely and intelligently, they will then treat you
I just published a blog on calmness and the age of information overwhelm. Read it here.
Chemicals Still Tied to Autism in U.S. Kids. Health Day. August 23, 2016. https://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/autism-news-51/prenatal-exposure-to-banned-chemicals-tied-to-autism-714114.html
natural gas wells associated with migraine, fatigue. Science Daily. August 25, 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160825084623.htm
Change May Prolong Smog Season in Southeast U.S. Health Day. August 23, 2016. https://consumer.healthday.com/respiratory-and-allergy-information-2/air-pollution-health-news-540/climate-change-ozone-pnas-git-release-batch-2832-714103.html
Oils Revolution 2 Summit. August 22- 29, 2016. Online event. http://eorevolution2.com/
Young G, Oberg CJ. Effect of a Diffused Essential Oil Blend on Bacterial
Bioaerosols. Journal of Essential Oil Research. 1998;10:5.
Wu Y, Zhang
Y, Xie G, et al. The Metabolic Responses to Aerial Diffusion of Essential Oils.
Ye J, ed. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(9):e44830. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044830.
BC, Douglas WL, Bounds K. A study of
interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement. July 1, 1989. https://archive.org/details/nasa_techdoc_19930072988
Kfoury M, Borgie
M, Verdin A, Ledoux F, Courcot D, Auezova L, Fourmentin S. Essential oil
components decrease pulmonary and hepatic cells inflammation induced by air
pollution particulate matter. Environmental
Chemistry Letters. 2016; DOI: 10.1007/s10311-016-0572-4
Hagvall L, et
al. Autooxidation of lavender oil. Contact
Dermatitis. 2008; 59: 143-150
interest in food
addiction piqued when I started working with men and women who came to me
for a wide-range of health issues. No matter the subject of wellness support,
weight always seemed to be an additional concern.
noticed a pattern in my clients that tended to delay results or cause a return
of symptoms. It was based on the roller-coaster of a dysfunctional relationship
to certain detrimental foods. For some, it appeared to be an actual addiction.
They wanted to be healthy, and were even given well-respected and legitimate
advice from previous practitioners. Still, the knowledge of "the right foods to
eat," and the ever-changing, dizzying lists of "good foods" and "bad foods"
didn't seem to change their behavior. Why?
began searching and applying my background in psychology, mind-body medicine,
naturopathic philosophy, and functional medicine and discovered that yes, food
could be a form
of addiction. Though not reported as very common, an average of less 10% in
several studies, I feel that the perhaps an "unease" around food is very
time, I quickly learned that dietary changes, no matter how balanced or
extreme, only stuck so long "the psychology of eating," a term coined by nutritional guru Marc
David, was not considered. Other factors that affect cravings and
willpower, such as biochemical differences in brain signaling, hormonal
imbalances, sleep, lifestyle, nutrient deficiencies, digestive disturbances,
and eating foods
that are designed to be addictive without consumer's knowledge,were reviewed recently and
in some of my
previous blogs. The solution was clear, recommendations had to be
reason, I was excited to see a recent study of 1,607 individuals (1,269
completed the study) across seven European contents that demonstrated greater
gains in dietary change adjustments in a dietary plan that included personalized nutrition (PN) advice.
study, subjects were recruited to an internet-delivered intervention (Food4Me)
and randomized to receive conventional dietary advice (control) or to the PN
approach. PN was based on either an individual baseline diet, an individual
baseline diet plus phenotype (anthropometry and blood biomarkers), or
individual baseline diet plus phenotype plus genotype (five diet-responsive genetic variants).
In this way, researchers could compare the effects of dietary targets based on
personalized advice and how additional information on phenotype and genetics
would influence follow through.
were based on dietary intake, anthropometry, and blood biomarkers measured at
baseline and after 3 and 6 months' intervention. The authors stated:
Following a 6-month intervention,
participants randomized to PN consumed less red meat [-5.48 g,
(95% confidence interval:-10.8,-0.09), P = 0.046],
salt [-0.65 g, (−1.1,-0.25), P = 0.002]
and saturated fat [-1.14 % of energy, (−1.6,-0.67), P < 0.0001],
increased folate [29.6 µg, (0.21,59.0), P = 0.048]
intake and had higher Healthy Eating Index scores [1.27, (0.30, 2.25), P
= 0.010) than those randomized to
the control arm. There was no evidence that including phenotypic and phenotypic
plus genotypic information enhanced the effectiveness of the PN advice.
I'll review some caveats of a low saturated intake for everyone in a future
blog, but the point is that by providing individuals with specific dietary
advice based on their genetics and current health status wasn't as powerful as
an internet-based tailored program that was specific for them. In other words,
feedback and interaction count for changing food habits.
loss and optimizing nutrition isn't just about knowledge of food and controlling
intake, but about providing comprehensive tools that fully address the whole
person. In fact, even their sense of smell and taste can be impactful in
modulating appetite. I just wrote a blog on my homepage on how even our sense
of smell may impact hunger cues and dietary choices. You can read that here.
How Prevalent is "Food Addiction"? Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2011;2:61.
Flint AJ, Gearhardt AN, Corbin WR, Brownell KD,
Field AE, Rimm EB. Food addiction scale measurement in 2 cohorts of middle-aged
and older women. American Journal
of Nutrition. January 22, 2014. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.068965
K. How Common is Food Addiction? A Critical Look. Authority Nutrition. https://authoritynutrition.com/how-common-is-food-addiction/
University. Personalized nutrition is better than a 'one size fits all'
approach in improving diets. Science Daily. August 16, 2016.
C, Livingston KM, Marsaux CFM, Macready AL, Fallaize R, O'Donovan CB, et al. Effect of personalized nutrition on
health-related behaviour change: evidence from the Food4me European randomized
controlled trial. International Journal of Epidemiology, August
Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastain A, Mann N, Lindeberg
S, Watkins BA, O'Keefe JH, Brand Miller. Origins and evolution of the Western
diet: health implications for the 21st century. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 2005;
The Importance of
I just posted
an article on my website on the power of olfaction and its link to our
health, as well as our mortality. Specially, the sense of smell is intricate
for human survival. It modulates appetite and food preferences, is important
for detection of danger in the environment, is involved in pain processing and
the stress response, effects social relationships, and has a profound impact on
responses. Furthermore, several studies have reported on the link between
loss of smell and aging, cognitive decline, and increase risk of death from all
causes. Thankfully, even without the sense of smell, essential oils and odors
have an interesting correlation to modulating the same processes as olfaction
alone, but in different ways. In this blog, I'll use the example of Parkinson's
A Quick Background on Parkinson's Disease
Scientists believe PD is a result of the combination of environmental,
genetics, and epigenetic
factors (how the environment effects gene expression).
Many studies have linked abnormal alpha-synuclein, clumps of proteins found in
the brain and other tissues, to the disease process. In fact, accumulation in
the gastrointestinal tract of this protein is becoming a studied brain-gut
etiology. The World Journal of Gastroenterology states the following on
these links as well as the connection to smell being an indicator of this
The classical motor symptoms like bradykinesia,
resting tremor, rigidity and late postural instability result from the death of
dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra. There is also a wide spectrum of non-motor manifestations involving for example
olfactory (loss of smell), gastrointestinal (GI), cardiovascular, and urogenital systems . It has become evident that
the different levels of the brain-gut axis including the autonomic nervous
system (ANS) and the enteric nervous system (ENS) may be affected in PD [4-8].
(bold emphasis mine)
The Smell Connection of Detection
Science Daily reported:
Now, a new laboratory model of Parkinson's is
giving scientists an inside look at what happens in the brain years before
motor symptoms appear. Specifically, it demonstrates how abnormal
alpha-synuclein proteins, which are strongly associated with Parkinson's,
gradually spread from an area of the brain implicated in the early stages of
the disease to other regions of the brain ultimately damaged by the disease.
The findings were published today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
The article continues:
"We know that specific signs of Parkinson's,
including a loss of sense of smell, appear years before the onset of motor
symptoms. Our new model replicates the
phase that occurs long before diagnosis and, importantly, gives us a powerful
tool to test novel interventions that might prevent the onset of Parkinson's as
we know it."
The study demonstrates that alpha-synuclein travels
along nerve cells in the olfactory bulb -- the part of the brain that controls
sense of smell -- prior to the onset of motor symptoms and that this area may
be particularly susceptible to the spread of alpha-synuclein, ultimately
causing deficits in the sense of smell. Clumps of alpha-synuclein eventually reach several additional brain
regions, including the brainstem area that houses dopamine cells. (bold
The researchers are hoping these findings will lead to a new model to
study PD. However, there has been causative agents explored previously.
Effect of Smell on PD
There have been prior reports of the connection between olfaction,
environmental triggers, and Parkinson's disease. This theory is termed the "olfactory
vector hypothesis." Annals of Neurology
agents, including viruses, prions, and toxins, have been implicated in the
cause of a number of neurodegenerative diseases, most notably Alzheimer's and
Parkinson's diseases. The presence of smell loss and the pathological
involvement of the olfactory pathways in the formative stages of Alzheimer's
and Parkinson's diseases, together with evidence that xenobiotics, some
epidemiologically linked to these diseases, can readily enter the brain via the
olfactory mucosa, have led to the hypothesis that Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
diseases may be caused or catalyzed by agents that enter the brain via this
route. Evidence for and against this concept, the "olfactory vector
hypothesis," is addressed in this review.
In other words, the sense of smell can be an entry
way to toxicants through the nose to the brain and throughout the body! However, there's good news for aroma
inhalation as well!
The Essential Oils Connection
Essential oils have the ability to modulate emotion, memory, and physiological responses through their aroma and also due to their powerful secondary metabolites. Furthermore, essential oils have the power to modulate the health of the gut and brain. In fact, there's information
on my essential oils database
on how oils can modulate many aspects of health and
my latest blog discusses how even without the sense of smell, odorants have
So, make sure you check it out for more information. For now, know that
by using essential oils, you are powerfully practicing preventative medicine
through the linkage of your nose to your brain and supporting your gut-brain
Hays NP, Roberts SB. The anorexia of aging in humans. Physiol Behav. 2006;88: 257-266. doi:
Jacob S, Garcia S, Hayreh D, McClintock MK. Psychological effects of
musky compounds: comparison of androstadienone with androstenol and muscone
[abstract]. Horm Behav. 2002; 42:
274-283. doi: 10.1006/hbeh.2002.1826
Fox K. The Smell Report. Social Issues Research Center.
Krusemark EA, Novak LR, Gitelman DR, Li W. When the Sense of Smell Meets
Emotion: Anxiety-State-Dependent Olfactory Processing and Neural Circuitry
Adaptation. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2013;33(39):15324-15332.
Corradi-Dell'Acqua C, TuscheA, Vullieumier P, Singer T. Cross-modal representations of first-hand and
vicarious pain, disgust and fairness in insular and cingulate cortex. Nature Communications. March 18, 2016.
Masaoka Y, Sugiyama H, Katayama A, Kashiwagi M, Homma I. Slow breathing and emotions associated with
odor-induced autobiographical memories. Chem Senses. 2012 May;37(4):379-88. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjr120.
Vermetten E, Schmahl C, Southwick SM, Bremner JD. A Positron Tomographic
Emission Study of Olfactory Induced Emotional Recall in Veterans with and
without Combat-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Psychopharmacology
Gottfried JA. Central mechanisms of odour object perception. Nature
reviews Neuroscience. 2010;11(9):628-641. doi:10.1038/nrn2883.
Van Andel Research Institute. New
model recreates early spread of Parkinson's disease in the brain. Science
Daily. August 8, 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160808163628.htm
Mulak A, Bonaz B.
Brain-gut-microbiota axis in Parkinson's disease. World Journal of
Gastroenterology:WJG. 2015;21(37):10609-10620. doi:10.3748/wjg.v21.i37.10609.
Nolwen L. Rey, Jennifer A.
Steiner, Nazia Maroof, Kelvin C. Luk, Zachary Madaj, John Q. Trojanowski,
Virginia M.-Y. Lee, Patrik Brundin. Widespread transneuronal propagation of
α-synucleinopathy triggered in olfactory bulb mimics prodromal Parkinson's
disease. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2016; jem.20160368
Chamine Irina and Oken Barry S.
Aroma Effects on Physiologic and Cognitive Function Following Acute Stress: A
Mechanism Investigation. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary
Medicine. June 2016. doi:10.1089/acm.2015.0349.
Doty R. The
olfactory vector hypothesis of neurodegenerative disease: Is it viable? Ann Neurol.2008;63:7-15
Aguiar AS, Matheus FC, et al. Neurotox
Res. 2012; 21: 90. doi:10.1007/s12640-011-9281-8
Misra BB, Dey
S. TLC-bioautographic evaluation of in
vitro anti-tyrosinase and anti-cholinesterase potentials of sandalwood oil.
Nat Prod Commun. 2013 Feb;8(2):253-6.
Palomino OM, Frutos G. Effectiveness of
Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil as antihypotensive agent in primary
hypotensive patients and its influence on health-related quality of life. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;151(1):509-16.
doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.006. Epub 2013 Nov 20.
Last week, I
discussed food as an addiction. On my homepage, I provided a continuation of
how food can be medicine and food can poison. In it, I highlighted the power of eating fish for brain health. Recently, a study caught my eye relating salmon
consumption to reducing anxiety in ninety-five male forensic inpatients.
the study investigated how consumption of Atlantic salmon could modulate
biology and self-reported anxiety. The researchers measured heart rate variability
(HRV) and heart rate (HR) as indicators of the nervous system response to
dietary components. Furthermore, they investigated the outcome measures in
relation to specific nutrients such as Vitamin D status and two omega-3 fatty
acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The participants were randomly assigned
to the fish group (portion size 150-300g) or
a meat group. The meals were consumed three times a weak. HRV (using root mean square deviation, rMSSD),
HR, and state-and trait-anxiety (STAI) were analyzed pre-intervention and after
23 weeks of the dietary intervention. The study reported:
The Fish group showed significant
improvements in both rMSSD and HR. The Fish group also showed significant
decreases in state-anxiety. Finally, there was a positive relationship between
rMSSD and vitamin D status. The findings suggest that Atlantic salmon
consumption may have an impact on mental health related variables such as
underlying mechanisms playing a key role in emotion-regulation and
also analyzed for levels of mercury, dioxins, and dioxin-like PCBs found in the
fish. They concluded even with 31% of tolerable weekly limit (TWI) in a person
weighing 100 kg, there were no adverse effects:
The content of several undesirable
substances was also determined in the Atlantic salmon. The level of mercury was
22 µg/kg, and the level of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs was 0.48 ng TEQ/kg;
both are far below the EUs upper limits of 500 µg/kg and 6.5 ng TEQ/kg in fish,
respectively. Taking into account the amount of salmon consumed per week during
the weeks with the highest salmon intake, the intake of dioxin and dioxin-like
PCBs per week represents 31% of the tolerable weekly intake (TWI) in a person
weighing 100 kg . Persons with higher body weight will have a correspondingly lower
percentage of TWI. Importantly, no adverse side effects were reported during
the intervention trial .
E-blast by Trudy Scott, CN, commented on the study findings and made similar observations
as me. She stated:
- The salmon was farmed and mercury and dioxin
levels were measured. Despite this, mental health benefits and reduced
anxiety was observed. I suspect even more favorable results would have
been observed had wild salmon been used
- The authors mention that a longer intervention
as in this study i.e. 23 weeks/6 months is likely to lead to better
results than a shorter intervention
- The Fish group had a significant increase in
both omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA
- The authors speculate about how improved
vitamin D status in the Fish group may help regulate serotonin production
and thereby help regulate heart rate variability and reduce anxiety
- The study highlights nutritional benefits of
fatty fish other than marine omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D: selenium,
iodine, vitamin B12 and high quality proteins. I'd like to add that it is
a source of zinc and iron too, both of which are co-factors for making
- Although the study found a significant decrease
in state-anxiety, it did not find any changes in trait-anxiety (here are
the differences in state-anxiety and trait-anxiety). The authors suggest that
trait-anxiety may be more difficult to change during a 6-month
intervention study. I'd like to add that other concurrent nutritional and
biochemical interventions would likely have provided additional mental
health benefits. This could include: a gluten-free diet, targeted individual amino acids, addressing dysbiois, addressing high or low histamine, pyroluria, and zinc-copper imbalances and son on.
In another study, supporting brain benefits for fish consumption, those on a fishy diet had lowered risk of
Fish contains high concentrations of
omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Several studies have reported depletions
of omega-3 fats among depressed patients, and a cross-national comparison has
revealed a significant inverse correlation between annual prevalence of major
depression and fish consumption. In a sample of 3,204 Finnish adults,
depressive symptoms were estimated with the Beck Depression Inventory. A
frequency question was used to measure fish consumption. Multiple logistic
regression analysis was conducted to assess the association between depression
and fish consumption. After the analysis adjusted for potential confounders,
the likelihood of having depressive symptoms was significantly higher among
infrequent fish consumers than among frequent consumers.
Last year, I
wrote about how fish oil was shown in several studies to reduce hostility in
troubled youth. You can read about
that here and learn more about the importance of a fishy diet for brain
Olson G, Dahl L, et al. Reduced Anxiety in Forensic Inpatients after a
Long-Term Intervention with Atlantic Salmon. Nutrients. 2014;6(12):5405-5418.
Scott, Trudy. Reduced anxiety in forensic inpatients - long-term
intervention with Atlantic salmon. E-Blast. August 8, 2016.
Tanskanen A, Hibbeln JR, Tuomilehto J, Uutela A, Haukkala A, Viinamäki H,
Lehtonen J, Vartiainen E. Fish consumption and depressive symptoms in the
general population in Finland. Psychiatr Serv. 2001 Apr;52(4):529-31.
et al 2006. Omega-3 fatty acids: evidence basis for treatment and future
research in psychiatry. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 67 (12): 1954-1976.
naturopathic doctor and functional medicine practitioner, I've worked with many
people who have various food sensitivities and disordered eating patterns. A
few weeks ago, I did a presentation on my book, BreakFree Medicine, at Nature Tyme, a wonderful health food store located in
Syracuse, NY. In my presentation, I took some time to discuss the topic of food
addiction. (Click here to access the presentation and read an overview. You will also find the top health news for July 2016 there.)
some articles I wrote throughout the years on this topic. In them, I discuss the
emerging and current research on food addiction. I also discuss the importance of looking at the biochemistry
when willpower is weak. Within the full links, you can access more
studies at the end of each article... if you want to dive deeper into the
propeller-hat-geeky science of the original sources.
Why Humans Eat Junk Food and Find It
Hard to Stop (Part 1 of 2):
This blog discusses how the food industry uses science to manipulate our taste
buds in order to make us want to eat and buy more of their products: http://dr-lobisco.com/why-humans-eat-junk-find-it-hard-to-stop/
Why Are We Addicted to Food? (Part 2
of 2): This blog
reviews the biochemistry of food addiction and the psychological connections. I
discuss the dopamine and neurotransmitter connections and the development of
the Yale Food Addiction Scale. If you want to get more resources and studies on
food addiction, this blog and the one below are great places to start: http://dr-lobisco.com/why-we-are-addicted-to-food-part-ii/
Making Americans and Little Ones So "At Large?" The Obesity Epidemic, It's Not
Just a "Food and Exercise" Thing:
In this blog I reveal 6 reasons, beyond the calorie myth of being
1. Americans aren't starving, but
they are dieting. This means they are constantly hungry.
2. Nutritional deficiencies
3. Insufficient Fiber & the microbiome connection
5. Fast Food Restaurants and Junk Foods (With an honorable mention about artificial
Read it here:http://dr-lobisco.com/obesity-epidemic/
Nutrient War Era- Why We Are On the Losing Side of Weight Loss: This blog
goes into detail on the factors that affect weight, beyond nutrient composition
and calories. I discussed them on "The Dirty 'D' Word" on Natural Path (http://thenatpath.com/food/diets/the-dirty-d-word/):
Digestive health (including the microbiome)
Medicine, Food as Poison, Dealing with Food as a (Sweet) Addiction: Part I: I recently
wrote an article that goes into further detail on food as an addiction. It also reviews
how food can be a medicine for health and how junk food can be poison to the body. I
will be posting this on my website next week, so stay tuned.
Medicine, Food as Poison, Dealing with Food as a (Sweet) Addiction: Part II: In an
article that I will be posting soon, which is published on Natural Path, I discuss five ways to help support those with a problem with food addiction or unhealthy eating patterns. These are a preview of the Five (5) Key Ways to kick the sugar and junk food habit:
Know if You're a "Moderator" or "Abstainer"
Use Stress Reduction and Mindfulness
Support Brain Balance (balance the different areas
of the brain by using specific nutrients to target imbalances and support
neurotransmitter balance through hormonal modulation, microbiome health, blood
Modulate Mood and Emotions with Essential Oils
for the full article to be posted on my website.
To Fast or
to Eat- Is There Still Room for Breakfast? All the confusion! How about fasting? In this blog, I
explore the caveats of the "fasting crave," and highlight who it may help.
Hint- ladies, you won't want to miss this! (http://dr-lobisco.com/to-fast-or-to-eat-is-there-still-room-for-breakfast/)
The Fructose- Alcohol Connection
As I was
writing this blog, I came upon a study I had not seen before. This study compared the "metabolic,
hedonic, and societal similarities" between fructose and alcohol. This was a unique way to
assess how food could be similar to a substance of abuse. The authors wrote:
Rates of fructose consumption continue
to rise nationwide and have been linked to rising rates of obesity, type 2
diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Because obesity has been equated with
addiction, and because of their evolutionary commonalities, we chose to examine
the metabolic, hedonic, and societal similarities between fructose and its
fermentation byproduct ethanol. Elucidation of fructose metabolism in liver and
fructose action in brain demonstrate three parallelisms with ethanol. First,
hepatic fructose metabolism is similar to ethanol, as they both serve as
substrates for de novo lipogenesis, and in the process both promote hepatic
insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and hepatic steatosis. Second, fructosylation
of proteins with resultant superoxide formation can result in hepatic
inflammation similar to acetaldehyde, an intermediary metabolite of ethanol.
Lastly, by stimulating the "hedonic pathway" of the brain both
directly and indirectly, fructose creates habituation, and possibly dependence;
also paralleling ethanol. Thus, fructose induces alterations in both hepatic
metabolism and central nervous system energy signaling, leading to a
"vicious cycle" of excessive consumption and disease consistent with
metabolic syndrome. On a societal level, the treatment of fructose as a
commodity exhibits market similarities to ethanol. Analogous to ethanol,
societal efforts to reduce fructose consumption will likely be necessary to
combat the obesity epidemic.
Source: Lustig RH. Fructose: metabolic, hedonic, and societal parallels with ethanol. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010
Sep;110(9):1307-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.06.008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20800122
nation is either obsessed, addicted, or caught in the mirage of diet confusion in regards to food.
I hope these resources provide you with some information that can help you, or
someone you know, who is struggling with their eating patterns. Remember, when
willpower won't work, you have to ask why? Biochemistry
and emotions will trump willpower everytime!
homepage blog, I outlined the health issues related to biotoxin exposure and reviewed
the resultant Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) in susceptible
individuals. This blog is a continuation of dealing with mold exposure and goes
into detail about environmental mold testing. It is meant to be a resource
guide for those who are concerned they may have mold in their dwelling.
listed to a podcast with Chris Kresser and Mike Schrantz on how to test for
mold. Mike currently owns and operates Environmental Analytics, LLC, an
environmental consulting firm. Through my studies and this podcast, I've
compiled some caveats and considerations related to environmental testing for
use air sampling, which may be helpful in some situations, but has several
Not all molds float in air (some are
heavier, some are lighter, some settle out quicker, some dry, some are too "stick.".)
- The sample itself may be accurate, but
limited by a "grab sample." A "grab sample" only collects about 5 minutes'
worth of air and may not represent the whole house.
- Some heavier molds
may be on the surface and only show up minimally in the air sample, making
the air sample appear normal
the "guru" on this topic, recommends ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness
Index) using the lab Mycometrics. This method involves getting a sample of dust
off of surfaces or using a vacuum to collect dust. Then, you send it in for assessment
via a DNA test.
issue with ERMI is quality of labs and that the test is dependent on good
quality of probes and primers. Therefore, you must pick your lab wisely.
Other Caveats and Considerations of
- You should collect more than one sample
- Some mold is hidden within walls/foundation and may
not be detected
- Some mold can only be detected under certain
conditions (temperature, moisture, etc.)
- Neither methods consider the mold outside the home
and the change inside, only a professional can do that
- ERMI is an average of what molds are considered a
problem, some people may be sensitive to some at lower levels or another
species not tested
review of mold in the home is thoroughly outlined by Harriet Ammam, a
toxicologist from Washington State Department of Health. She states that there
are four categories of health effects of mold: allergy, infection, irritation
(mucous membrane and sensory), and toxicity. She lists the following caveats,
though some of them have been revised as more research has been indicated:
Few toxicological experiments
involving mycotoxins have been performed using inhalation, the most probable
route for indoor exposures. Defenses of the respiratory system differ from
those for ingestion (the route for most mycotoxin experiments). Experimental
evidence suggests the respiratory route to produce more severe responses than
the digestive route (Cresia et al.,
from low level or chronic low level exposures, or ingestion exposures to
mixtures of mycotoxins, have generally not been studied, and are unknown...
of multiple exposures to mixtures of mycotoxins in air, plus other toxic
air pollutants present in all air breathed indoors, are not known.
of other biologically active molecules, having allergic or irritant
effects, concomitantly acting with mycotoxins, are not known.
of mold spores and fragments varies, depending on instrumentation and
methodology used. Comparison of results from different investigators is
rarely, if ever, possible with current state of the art.
many mycotoxins can be measured in environmental samples, it is not yet
possible to measure mycotoxins in human or animal tissues. For this reason
exposure measurements rely on circumstantial evidence such as presence of
contamination in the patient's environment, detection of spores in air,
combined with symptomology in keeping with known experimental lesions
caused by mycotoxins, to establish an association with illness.
of individuals exposed indoors to complex aerosols varies depending on
their age, gender, state of health, and genetic make-up, as well as degree
contamination in buildings can vary greatly, depending on location of
growing organisms, and exposure pathways. Presence in a building alone
does not constitute exposure.
of patients' environments generally occur after patients have become ill,
and do not necessarily reflect the exposure conditions that occurred
during development of the illness. ... (you can read the full article and
list at the link below)
Testing with Experts:
Due to the
caveats, self-testing is rarely accurate. You can try and find professionals in
your area by visiting the following site: http://www.acac.org/find/database.aspx.
Look for professionals with CIEC, CMC, or CMI certifications. Another option
would be to set up a consult with experts here: http://environmentalanalytics.net/contact-us/
What Happens if Mold is Found...or if it
Isn't but Symptoms Are Present
a good question! In my homepage blog I go through these tips, so visit it
Kresser. RHR: How To Test
Your Home for Mold, with Mike Schrantz. February 2016. https://chriskresser.com/how-to-test-your-home-for-mold-with-mike-schrantz/
Shoemaker RC. Inside Indoor Air Quality: Environmental Relative Moldiness Index
Ammann, HM. Is
Indoor Mold Contamination a Threat to Health? http://www.mold-survivor.com/harrietammann.html
Cleanup and Remediation: http://www.cdc.gov/mold/cleanup.htm
Atadtner A. Mold
Testing - Air Quality Lab Interpretation. Healthy Building Inspections and
Testing. February 14, 2013. http://healthybuildingscience.com/2013/02/14/mold-testing-air-quality/
the National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL). https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/about-national-exposure-research-laboratory-nerl
J. Gangneux, T. Reponen, L. Wymer, S. Vesper, AND P. Le Cann. Correlation
between environmental relative moldiness index (ERMI) values in French
dwellings and other measures of fungal contamination. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL
ENVIRONMENT. Elsevier BV, AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, 438:319-324, (2012).
on ERMI: https://nlquery.epa.gov/epasearch/epasearch?querytext=ERMI&fld=&areaname=&areacontacts=&areasearchurl=&typeofsearch=epa&result_template=2col.ftl&force=no&filter=sample4filt.hts
I know it's
not just me that is "in love with the bugs" and all they do for us. I think the
whole world's really gone buggy. I'm talking about our microbiota, the ecology
of bugs that live in and on us. They interact with our own cells and modulate our
biology in so many ways.
get a cool study on critters and share it on social media, people tend to get
excited and show it with their little hearts and likes. However, I got bugged
recently by a blog that made a conclusion that probiotics weren't effective due
to one review of seven studies. The authors determined there was no change in
fecal microbiome population with their ingestion; therefore, probiotics weren't
a good health tool. What!?
So, I had to
write a blog on my homepage in defense of the actions of probiotics. I went beyond
poo population changes, even though other studies have found changes in fecal
samples by swallowing bugs. For example, a recent review on weight loss did
determine there may be a small, but significant effect, of taking probiotics in
certain populations, though there were some limitations in the trials. Although
swallowing critters to lose weight is still pretty controversial, their effects
on our health in so many other ways isn't. In fact, there were two recent
studies on their role in multiple sclerosis.
For example, there
was a study from Science Daily finding
an association between those with multiple sclerosis and the ratio of "bad
bugs" to "good guys" in their belly. Following this, a few weeks later, was another
study on the same topic.
article, researchers found that 60 subjects with multiple sclerosis (MS) had
different compositions of gut microorganisms as compared to their 43 healthy
counterparts. Furthermore, they discovered that the MS patients that were being
treated had different gut populations than the untreated patients. What I found
fascinating with this study is that the scientists didn't just study
populations of microbial changes with the fecal samples, they also assessed
serum levels of immune markers (cytokine and inflammatory measurement) and
correlated alterations in genetic expression of certain immune cells (T cells
and monocytes). Finally, they measured methane in breath tests, as a
rudimentary marker of methane producing bacteria present. Quite an experiment!
(Hence, the long list of authors in the reference section needed to carry out
such a feat!)
Daily reported on these findings as stated below:
Samples from MS patients contained
higher levels of certain bacterial species -- including Methanobrevibacter and Akkermansia
-- and lower levels of others -- such as Butyricimonas -- when compared to
healthy samples. Other studies have found that several of these microorganisms
may drive inflammation or are associated with autoimmunity. Importantly, the
team also found that microbial changes in the gut correlated with changes in
the activity of genes that play a role in the immune system. The team also
collected breath samples from subjects, finding that, as a result of increased
levels of Methanobrevibacter, patients with MS had higher levels of methane in
their breath samples. The researchers also investigated the gut microbe
communities of untreated MS patients, finding that MS disease-modifying therapy
appeared to normalize the gut microbiomes of MS patients.
So, if anyone
had a doubt that these little critters are modulating our immune response,
these two studies that show which ones are present in our guts are associated
with an autoimmune disease such as MS, may turn some into believers! This
association wasn't a big surprise to me though, I think almost everything can
connect back to the gut. I had a hunch on the connections between gut bugs,
coffee, and MS a little while back, if you remember (see here: http://dr-lobisco.com/how-gut-bugs-link-coffee-nutrient-depletion-h-pylori-to-multiple-sclerosis/).
treat your belly bugs good with lifestyle and diet and they will treat you
well. Read more here.
Zhang, Yucheng Wu, Xiaoqiang Fei. Effect
of probiotics on body weight and body-mass index: a systematic review and
meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. International Journal
of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 2016; 67 (5): 571 DOI: 10.1080/09637486.2016.1181156
NB, Bryrup T, Allin KH, Nielsen T,
Hansen TH, Pederson O. Alterations in fecal microbiota composition by probiotic
supplementation in healthy adults: a systematic review of randomized controlled
trials. Genome Medicine.2016; 8:52.
Versalovic J. Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal
immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therapeutic Advances in
Gastroenterology. 2013;6(1):39-51. doi:10.1177/1756283X12459294.
Logan AC, Bested AC. Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient
practice meets nutritional psychiatry. Journal
of Physiological Anthropology. 2014. DOI: 10.1186/1880-6805-33-2
Ahmed M, Prasad J, Gill H, Stevenson L, Gopal P: Impact of consumption
of different levels of Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 on the intestinal
microflora of elderly human subjects. J Nutr Health Aging. 2007, 11:
Iowa Health Care. Link between gut bacteria, MS discovered: MS patients show
lower levels of good bacteria. ScienceDaily.
June 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160627125355.htm.
Women's Hospital. Changes uncovered in the gut bacteria of patients with
multiple sclerosis: Study finds alterations in the gut microbiomes of treated
and untreated MS patients. ScienceDaily.
12 July 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160712130221.htm.
Gandhi R, Cox LM, Li N, von Glehn F, Yan R, Patel B, Mazzola MA, Liu S, Glanz
B, Cook S, Tankous S, Stuart F, Melo K, Nejad P, Smith K, Topcuolu BD, Holden
J, Kivisakk P, Chitnis T, De Jager PL, Quintana FJ, Gerber GK, Bry , Weiner HL..
Alterations of the human gut microbiome in multiple sclerosis. Nature Communications. 2016; 7: 12015
Leave a Comment
As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.
"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle."