A Nerve Pathway Links the Gut to the Brain’s Pleasure Centers

A newly discovered neural circuit in mice may one day help modify food preferences and eating behavior.
A Nerve Pathway Links the Gut to the Brain's Pleasure Centers
Credit: Getty Images

How do we decide what we like to eat? Although tasty foods typically top the list, a number of studies suggest preferences about consumption go beyond palatability. Scientists have found both humans and animals can form choices about what to consume based on the caloric content of food, independent of taste.

Research spanning many decades has shown nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract can shape animals’ flavor preferences. One of the earliest findings of this effect dates back to the 1960s, when Garvin Holman of the University of Washington reported hungry rats preferred consuming a liquid paired with food injected into the stomach rather than a solution coupled with a gastric infusion of water.

More recently Ivan de Araujo, a neuroscientist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and his colleagues have shown calories can trump palatability: Their work has demonstrated mice prefer consuming bitter solutions paired with a sugar infusion injected in the gut rather than a calorie-free sweet solution.

For years De Araujo and his group have been working to tease apart how the contents of the gut produce pleasure in the brain. In mice they have found sugar in the digestive tract can activate the brain’s reward centers. In animals bred without the ability to taste sweetness, sugary snacks still triggered activity in the ventral striatum, a brain region involved in reward processing. But according to De Araujo, the specific pathway that relayed signals between the gut and the brain remained a mystery.

Now, De Araujo and his colleagues have identified the vagus nerve, a bundle of fibers that connects the brain stem to the intestines and other major organs in the body, as a potential conduit of these gut-borne pleasure-related signals to the brain—at least in mice. Using optogenetics, a technique that involves genetically engineering animals so that flashes of light can activate specific cells, the researchers discovered stimulating neurons in the gut-innervating branches of the vagus nerve can induce the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine from the substantia nigra, a brain region involved in movement and reward.

The findings, which were recently published in Cell, also reveal animals would repeatedly poke their noses into holes in order to self-stimulate these cells—and that they preferred flavors paired with the activation of this circuit. “[Our study] provides a mechanism via which we understand why the presence of calories or nutrients in the gut changes our behavior,” De Araujo says.

Future studies will need to tease apart what types of gut stimuli, such as the presence of specific foods or the stomach stretch that occurs after a meal, will activate this pathway, notes Gary Schwartz, a neuroscientist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine who was not involved with the work. “If one knew what kinds of stimuli we should give the gut to make [food] rewarding or not rewarding, maybe we can help control overeating or make people who don’t want to eat, eat more.”

Scientists have long known the gut–vagus–brain pathway is responsible for producing feelings of fullness, but this new study—and other recent research—has started to uncover new roles for this system in higher-order brain functions, says Scott Kanoski, a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California who was not part of the research. Earlier this year, his team found this circuit also controls some memory functions. Selectively cutting the branches of the vagus that were connected to the gut, they discovered, impaired the animals’ ability to form memories about new objects or locations.

Of course, additional research is necessary to confirm this type of circuit exerts the same behavioral effects in humans. In the meantime vagal stimulation is already used to treat emotional and eating disorders such as depression and obesity. And there is a growing interest in using this technique as a therapy for anxiety disorders and a variety of additional conditions—even Alzheimer’s and related memory disorders, Kanoski says. “Understanding more about the biology of the system could have implications for future applications.”

A key question that remains about these gut–vagus–brain pathways is: How is information about gut contents relayed to the sensory branches of the vagus nerve? One possibility is the vagus senses hormones within the gut, De Araujo says. Another was outlined in a recent Science study in which Diego Bohórquez, a neuroscientist at Duke University, and his colleagues discovered that some enteroendocrine cells, which are found in the walls of the gastrointestinal tract, directly form synapses with the vagus nerves of mice. Introducing an environmental stimulus—in this case, sugar—into the gut could activate this circuit. Bohórquez—who was also a co-author in De Aruajo’s study—dubbed these synapse-forming gut cells “neuropods.”

In addition to transmitting information about nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract, these newly identified vagal circuits may also be involved in bacterial signaling from the gut to the brain, says John Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland who was not involved in either study.

A large body of research now provides support for findings that the microscopic organisms in our intestines can influence behavior and mental health—and some evidence already suggests the vagus is a possible route via which these effects occur. In a 2011 study Cryan and his colleagues demonstrated that severing the vagus nerves of mice blocked the anxiety-reducing effects of the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus rhamnosus. This study showed the vagus is critical for signaling to the brain by certain strains of bacteria. But how microbes send signals to the vagus remains an open question.

“It would be interesting to see if metabolites from the microbiome could activate these neuropod cells [or the] reward pathway,” Cryan says. “I think this is really exciting for the microbiome field.”

Sudden Death Syndrome: The Hidden Epidemic Destroying Your Gut Flora

Dr. Don Huber is an expert in an area of science that relates to the toxicity of genetically engineered (GE) foods.

(Alternative terms for GE foods include genetically modified (GM), or “GMO” for genetically modified organism.) His specific areas of training include soil-borne diseases, microbial ecology, and host-parasite relationships.

Dr. Huber also taught plant pathology, soil microbiology, and micro-ecological interactions as they relate to plant disease as a staff Professor at Purdue University for 35 years.

Story at-a-glance

  • Dr. Don Huber, an agricultural scientist and expert in microbial ecology, has issued stern warnings about shockingly devastating effects of genetically engineered food crops after discovering a brand new organism in GE animal feed—an organism that has since been clearly linked to infertility and miscarriage in cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, and poultry
  • Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, and this new-to-science microbe are now linked to a new phenomenon referred to as “Sudden Death Syndrome” (SDS)
  • Herbicides and pesticides are metal chelators, which means they immobilize specific nutrients, rendering them unavailable to the plant and any animal or human who consumes that plant
  • The nutritional efficiency of genetically engineered (GE) plants is profoundly compromised. Micronutrients such as iron, manganese and zinc can be reduced by as much as 80-90 percent in GE plants

Video discussion. URL:https://youtu.be/X4swW9OFmf8

GE Crops are Breaking the Agricultural System…

Agriculture is a complete ‘system’ based on inter-related factors, and in order to maintain ecological balance and health, you must understand how that system works as a whole.

Any time you change one part of that system, you change the interaction of all the other components, because they work together. It is simply impossible to change just one minor aspect without altering the entire system…

Dr. Huber’s research, which spans over 55 years, has been devoted to looking at how the agricultural system can be managed for more effective crop production, better disease control, improved nutrition, and safety. The introduction of genetically engineered crops has dramatically affected and changed all agricultural components:

  • The plants
  • The physical environment
  • The dynamics of the biological environment, and
  • Pests and diseases (plant-, animal-, and human diseases)

In this interview, Dr. Huber reveals a number of shocking facts that need to become common knowledge in order to stop this catastrophic alteration and destruction of our environment, our food supply, and ultimately, our own biology. I urge you to listen to the interview in its entirety, or read through the transcript to understand fully appreciate the importance of this development.

Herbicides and Pesticides Immobilize Specific Nutrients

One of the major modifications done to genetically engineered food crops is the introduction of herbicide resistance. Monsanto is the leader in this field, with their patented Roundup Ready corn, cotton, soybean and sugar beets, which can survive otherwise lethal doses of glyphosate—the active ingredient in Roundup.

The working premise is that by making the plants resistant to the herbicide, farmers can increase yield by cutting down on weed growth. This premise has been found to be severely flawed however, as farmers around the world are now losing acreage to glyphosate-resistant super-weeds at an alarming rate. According to the British Institute of Science in Society, the US has fared the worst, now combating 13 different glyphosate-resistant weed species in 73 different locations.

But the introduction of glyphosate-resistance has also had a direct impact on soil microbes.

While the link between an herbicide (which is directed toward plants) and soil microbes may not be immediately apparent, this ripple effect occurs because, again, it’s an inter-related system. In a nutshell, herbicides are chelators that form a barrier around specific nutrients, preventing whatever life form is seeking to utilize that element from utilizing it properly. That applies both to plants and soil microbes—as well as animals and humans.

This may actually be one of the primary reasons why genetically engineered foods appear to be able to cause such profound health problems in those who consume them. Any organism that has the same physiological pathways for these nutrients will be impacted in the same manner.

Dr. Huber explains:

“You have to realize what an herbicide, or a pesticide, is. They are metal chelators. In other words, they immobilize specific nutrients… [I]t’s a compound that can grab onto another element and change either its solubility or its availability for the critical function it has physiologically. We have herbicides and pesticides that are quite specific just for a particular essential micronutrient like copper, zinc, iron, or manganese.

Glyphosate is very unique and was first patented as a chelator by Stauffer Chemical Co. in 1964, because it could bind with any positively charged ion. If you look at the essential minerals for plants, you see calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, and all of those other critical transition elements, as well as structural components for some of them… They all have an ion associated with them. It’s the micronutrient that is an ion—that is a transition element, or that element that is really critical for a particular enzyme function.

If you can chelate and, in that chelation process, essentially immobilize that essential nutrient, you have provided an opportunity to either kill a weed or damage and kill an organism—any organism… that have that particular requirement for that physiologic pathway with glyphosate or the shikimate pathway…

You have to realize that this mode of action immobilizes a critical essential nutrient. Those nutrients aren’t just required by the weed, but they’re required by microorganisms. They’re required by us for our own physiologic functions. So if it’s immobilized, it may be present if we do a regular test. But it’s not necessarily physiologically available in the same efficiency that it would have been if it wasn’t chelated with glyphosate…”

The Dangers of Glyphosate that Most People Have NO Idea Of

Glyphosate, even in plants genetically engineered to withstand it, affects about 25 different enzymes in the process of chelating, or immobilizing, critical micronutrients, because those ions (the micronutrients) are required in order to “drive” the physiological engines that make the plant or organism function properly.

“It is well documented that… having that foreign gene inserted reduces the capability of that plant to take up nutrients and to translocate nutrients,” Dr. Huber says. “Then, when you apply the chemical [glyphosate], you have a further compounding effect in reducing the efficiency of the plants at rates as low as 12 grams per acre.”

According to Dr. Huber, the nutritional efficiency of genetically engineered (GE) plants is profoundly compromised. Micronutrients such as iron, manganese and zinc can be reduced by as much as 80-90 percent in GE plants!

Many staunch defenders of genetically engineered foods are under the misconception that GE foods are “better” or have improved nutrition when the exact opposite is true. They also don’t understand that the glyphosate residue cannot be removed or washed off—it actually becomes part of the plant. It cannot be washed off because it’s systemic within the plant itself.

“It’s going to be in your root tips, your shoot tips, your legume nodules, and in the food that you eat,” Dr. Huber warns.

Furthermore, about 20 percent of the glyphosate migrates out of the plant’s roots and into the surrounding soil. Once in the soil, the glyphosate affects beneficial soil microorganisms in the same way that it affects weeds, because they have the same critical metabolic pathway. With each new Roundup Ready crop approved, the glyphosate residues in the soil increases, and the tolerance levels in the crop increases as well.

This is explosive information that should make warning bells go off in most people’s heads! Personally, I firmly believe we must all become activists to eliminate this threat to our food supply as soon as possible.

Food Quality is Related to Soil Quality

The quality of the food is almost always related to the quality of the soil. The most foundational and critical components of the soil are the microorganisms that thrive there—more so than the necessary nutrients, because it’s the microorganisms that allow the plants to utilize those nutrients.

According to Dr. Huber:

“The plant can only utilize certain [reduced] forms of all the nutrients… The way that it becomes reduced in the soil is through those beneficial microorganisms. We also have microorganisms for legumes like soybeans, alfalfa, peas, or any of the other legumes that can fix up to 75 percent of their actual nitrogen for protein in amino acid synthesis that actually comes from the air through the microorganisms in the soil.

Glyphosate is extremely toxic to all of those organisms.

What we see with our continued use and abuse of this powerful weed killer is that it is also totally eliminating many of those organisms from the soil. We no longer have the same balance that we used to have. Consequently, we see an increase of over 40 new plant diseases, and diseases we used to have under fairly effective control, which now all of a sudden is another serious problem.”

GE Foods Fueling Deadly Botulism in Cattle

The normal biological control organisms—the beneficial gut bacteria—in animals and humans are also very sensitive to residual glyphosate levels.

For example, toxic botulism is now becoming a more common cause of death in dairy cows whereas such deaths used to be extremely rare. The reason it didn’t occur before was because beneficial organisms served as natural controls to keep the Clostridium botulinum in check. Without them, the Clostridium botulinum is allowed to proliferate in the animal’s intestines and produce lethal amounts of toxins.

“Again, the agricultural system, as well as our own ecology, is really a balance,” Dr. Huber says. “It’s a system, not just a bunch of silver bullets that are stacked in a chamber of a revolver. It’s how that ecological system is modified and changed that brings us a new level of diseases and problems with sustainability of our agriculture, our own health, and well-being.”

MOST Major US Food Crops are Now Genetically Engineered!

Many still don’t realize just how much of our food supply has been genetically engineered (GE). As of this year, 93 percent of soybeans grown in the US are genetically engineered, as are:

Between 2008 and 2009, a full 95 percent of all sugarbeets planted were also Roundup Ready.

This means that virtually every processed food you encounter at your local supermarket that does not bear the “100% USDA Organic” label is likely to contain at least one GE component! Earlier this year, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) also deregulated genetically engineered alfalfa, which is a perennial crop commonly used in cattle feed.

According to Dr. Huber:

“Alfalfa is our fourth most important economic crop, by far the most nutritional feed for our herbivores. They, all of a sudden, can definitely be threatened—not only because of the direct effect of glyphosate on microorganisms, but also because it predisposes and can make that plant very susceptible to some common diseases…

We see this on corn… where we have the sister organism with the Goss’s wilt, a bacterial disease. In that situation, we find that when we put glyphosate on, it nullifies all the genetic resistance that, in the past, made that disease of almost no consequence…Now we find it from coast to coast, East to West, from Mexico to Canada. For four years now, we have a major epidemic in a major food production area in the Midwest, just from that disease.

That is a direct result of our genetic engineering process, which reduces the genetic resistance, and the application of the herbicide that it was designed to tolerate.”

Important Questions Still Unanswered…

According to Dr. Huber, there’s currently enough residual glyphosate in animal feed and food to make an otherwise benign organism lethal…

Unfortunately, research is still lacking to ascertain exactly how great the risk to human health is. It’s possible that those who do not consume an all-organic diet, which is the majority of Americans, to some extent or another, are destroying their gut flora with every bite of food they eat. According to Dr. Huber, the reduction in mineral content through chelation by glyphosate residues in GE plants would certainly make you far more susceptible to potentially dangerous pathogens.

Studies have already confirmed that glyphosate alters and destroys beneficial gut flora in animals, as evidenced by the increasing instances of lethal botulism in cattle.

I’ve written extensively about the importance of your gut flora on your health. You NEED beneficial bacteria in your gut, or health problems are virtually guaranteed. Optimizing your gut flora may be one of the single most important things you can do to maintain good physical and mental health, so the fact that GE foods may be adversely impacting your intestinal balance is of extreme importance and needs to be understood.

Another important question that does not at present have an answer is whether or not glyphosate accumulates in animal- and human tissues once consumed. We don’t even know if glyphosate is fat-soluble, which would definitely make it accumulate in fat tissues.

GE Foods Brings Brand New Threat

Earlier this year, Dr. Huber wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, informing him of the issues discussed above, as well as another groundbreaking new finding that could spell absolute disaster for our entire food supply. It’s a brand new micro-fungal organism associated with something called Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in soy. It’s also found in a large variety of livestock given GE feed who experience both spontaneous abortions and infertility.

Dr. Huber urged the USDA to investigate the matter and suspend approval of GE alfalfa until proper studies have been completed. His warnings have so far been largely ignored, and GE alfalfa was deregulated earlier this year…

“When you look at the tremendous increase in human diseases that can have a potential tie directly back to either the chemical or the engineering process, it’s critical for that research to be done as quickly as possible. We need resources to do it. The private funds, again, aren’t going to do everything because there’s just too much to be done.”

The organism was initially identified by veterinarians around 1998—about two years after the introduction of Roundup Ready soybeans, which is one of the staple feeds. The vets were puzzled by sudden high reproductive failure in animals. While sporadic at first, the phenomenon has continued to increase in severity.

“We [recently] received a call from a county extension educator, indicating that he has a dairy that has a 70 percent abortion rate. You put that on top of 10 to 15 percent of infertility to start with, and you’re not going to have a dairy very long. In fact, a lot of our veterinarians are now becoming very concerned about the prospects for being able to have replacement animals,” Dr. Huber says.

The cause-effect relationship between high reproductive failure and this new microbial entity has been established, but the research has not yet been published. The reason for the delay is because they really do not know what the organism is…

“It’s not a fungus. It’s not bacteria. It’s not a mycoplasma or a virus – it’s about the same size of a small virus; you have to magnify it from 38 to 40,000 times. They have pictures of it… You can see the interactions with it. They can now culture it. It’s self-replicating and cultured. It doesn’t grow very well by itself.

Like most of our very fastidious organisms, it tends to die out after three or four sub-culturing, but grows very well with other organisms. If you have yeast, bacteria, or a fungus in the culture, this entity grows very well.

We’re waiting on getting enough material, pure material, for DNA analysis, but also looking at some other possibilities… Until you can put a name on it, all it does is create a great deal of speculations.”

What is known is that it’s an entirely new entity, previously unknown to science, and it’s definitely found in genetically engineered corn and soybeans. It’s also been established that it causes infertility and miscarriage in cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, and poultry.

“We can anticipate with that broad spectrum of animal species, which is extremely unusual, that it will also be with humans,” Dr. Huber says. “We’ve seen an increasing frequency of miscarriage and a dramatic increase in infertility in human populations in just the last eight to 10 years.”

Why is the USDA Ignoring Such Urgent Warnings?

Dr. Huber received a response from Dr. Parham, head of the USDA-APHIS, assuring him that “all of the decisions that the USDA makes are based on peer-reviewed science.” Dr. Huber responded with another letter, pointing out 130 published peer-reviewed articles documenting all of his concerns.

“I asked if they could provide me a peer-reviewed scientific study that would justify the regulation of those products,” he says. “I’m still waiting for that. I haven’t found anyone that can produce that type of document.

… I did receive a call from Risk Management about two weeks after writing the letter, asking if I could provide details, because there wasn’t anything in the letter. The letter was written to a politician. I didn’t want to disclose names of scientists or details because of the retaliatory effect that we see with anyone researching this area – they can be either fired from their job or their program shut down. That’s a real fact.”

The Red-Tape Nightmare of GE Safety Research

Crazy as it sounds, researchers cannot perform whatever safety studies on GE foods they see fit because the way the red tape has been put in place, they could easily be found guilty of breaking the law by performing research on a patented product.

“If you read the technology agreement that the farmer has to sign, he can’t even do research on his own farm to compare whether this crop or this product is better than another one without violating the terms of that technology agreement,” Dr. Huber explains. “It’s essentially a closed system to guarantee success.”

… A group of us that are working together on the new entity causing reproductive failure… have obtained private funding, and have taken it to experts in the areas of specific diseases and tried to encourage them to work on it. In the past year, they have been prohibited from working on it by their universities or department heads…

That’s one of the reasons why we needed that contact with the USDA officials, in hopes that we could share the problems that concern them, that they would recognize the serious nature of this, and that we could obtain their support and use their resources for funding of individuals and specialists, so that we could overcome that barrier that seems to be there for anyone working on genetically engineered crops that might indicate that they’re not quite everything they were cut out to be.

It’s almost as though you have to belong to that religion, if you’re going to do any research or publish your research.”

Obviously, such as setup will produce highly biased and prejudiced results, and can easily obfuscate the truth…

GE Food and Premature Aging

Another astonishing effect of this brand new mystery organism associated with GE crops is profound premature aging. Research done in Iowa three years ago showed that prime beef from a two-year old cow had to be downgraded to that from a 10-year old cow!

So what effect will eating this GE-fed beef have on you? No one knows. But I would bet it won’t make you any healthier… And if animals are any indication, it could spell disaster for your overall health and fertility.

“When the veterinarians wanted to find the source for this [brand new] entity, they went to the feed. The first place where they found high concentrations was in the soybean mill. Since then we’ve found it in the corn. We find it in silage. Primarily in high concentrations only where we have a genetically engineered crop that has glyphosate applied to it. Those are the crops that we also see high Goss’s wilt, high SDS. They are all correlated together in that relationship.

The other place you see it, though, is where they have used the manure that has a high glyphosate residue level in it. The manure also has very high concentrations, if the chickens or the animals that have been fed these feeds with high concentrations. When that manure is applied to pastures and cattle graze on it, we also see high infertility rates there.

It occurs in the placenta, in the fetus, in the sperm and inseminators.

Stating that it takes twice as much semen now to get a conception and as many as four to eight inseminations rather than the typical 1.2 to 1.5 for a dairy because of that reduced fertility… I was on a plane with a bull breeder who commented that 40 percent of his bulls had to be pulled out of service, because they can’t get conception anymore.”

But that’s not all. Glyphosate can also disrupt a number of other biological systems aside from your reproductive system.

” … When you have a very potent chelator, it disrupts all kinds of systems, not just the EPSPs system that we find in certain microorganisms and plants, but also all of the other systems involved in liver function, blood function, and hormonal function. They all go right back to that basic nutrient process that keeps all systems functional,” Dr. Huber explains.

Glyphosate is actually a very potent endocrine disruptor that can affect your:

  • Endocrine system
  • Thyroid function
  • Pituitary function

Important Summary

As Dr. Huber said

“When future historians come to write about our era they are not going to write about the tons of chemicals we did or didn’t apply. When it comes to glyphosate they are going to write about our willingness to sacrifice our children and to jeopardize our very existence by risking the sustainability of our agriculture; all based upon failed promises and flawed science.

The only benefit is that it affects the bottom-line of a few companies. There’s no nutritional value.”

What You Can Do To Get Involved

There’s no doubt in my mind that genetically engineered foods are one of the absolute gravest dangers we fact today as a species. I urge you to educate yourself on this issue and become an active participant in getting GE foods OUT of our food supply.

If you don’t already have a copy of the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, please print one out and refer to it often. It can help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.

Also don’t let Secretary Vilsack ignore this new problem of a micro-fungal pathogen that may be responsible for killing plants, animals and possibly humans!

To quote Dr. Huber’s letter to Secretary Vilsack:

Based on a review of the data, [this dangerous new pathogen] is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn—suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science! … I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high-risk status. In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency.”

Do your part to protect your health and the health of your family by avoiding processed foods loaded with GM components and eating whole, live foods that contain the nutrients your body needs to thrive.

Always buy USDA Organic products when possible, or buy your fresh produce and meat from local farmers, and especially avoid food products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not organic, as any foods containing these two non-organic ingredients now are virtually guaranteed to be genetically engineered.

If you live in California, volunteer to gather petition signatures to help support the California GMO Labeling Ballot Initiative.  If you live outside of California, please donate to help support this Initiative.

A Tale of Two Brains: How Your Second Brain Is Key To Understanding Many Chronic Illnesses.

Not many people realize they have two brains. Yes, you read that right. And your second brain may have more to do with your health that you ever imagined.

We tend to think of our brain as the command center from which all physiological functions stem. But there is another intelligence in your body that you may not realize… and its importance to your health may be the key you’re looking for when searching for the cause of chronic illness and even mental health issues.

If you see a thirty something man with gray hair, or a forty year old woman with balding head, or a fifty year old stroke victim in a coffin, or a sixty-five year old grandpa with shaky hands, or a seventy year old grandma with dementia — look no further than inside their compromised guts. (Gut Sense: How to Restore Intestinal Flora and What Happens If You Don’t)

The “second brain” or belly brain is much different from the brain in our heads. While our cranial brain performs complex cognitive functions, allowing us to process information, apply knowledge, and change preferences, our belly brain is intuitive and receives signals and messages regarding our bodies and the environment that it sends back to our cranial brain and vice versa.

Understanding the belly brain and its functions is often the answer to helping people who are plagued with many problems that are often dismissed by traditional medical practitioners. Your belly brain, known to scientists as the enteric nervous system, is connected to your cranial brain by the vagus nerve. The same brain-regulating chemicals found in your cranial brain have also been found in your belly brain — including hormones and neurotransmitters. It’s estimated that one hundred million neurotransmitters line the length of the gut, approximately the same number found in the cranial brain. (Dr. Gershon, Scientific American: Think Twice)

The belly brain also produces dopamine and 95% of the chemical serotonin in our bodies. Without adequate levels of these two “feel-good” chemicals, we may experience depression, insomnia and other emotional distress. Be glad for these symptoms as they are warning signals—alerts–that tell you plainly to “Listen to me! Pay attention to my gut!”

Our belly brain influences not just mood, but is key to understanding many of our disease processes as well. It’s easy to see why, when you realize that approximately 70% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract. Taking care of both your brains will serve you well in many areas of health.

As Americans, we spend more than any other nation in the world on healthcare. You would think that for this price tag we would be the healthiest people on the planet. Yet we are among the sickest population. Prescription drug use for gastrointestinal and mental conditions is at an all-time high, yet too many people are still suffering and walking around in a drug-induced haze.

Maybe it’s time to look to the cause of the problem rather than simply treating the symptoms. Popping a pill to ease your discomfort may be the easy way out, but it’s wreaking havoc with your health. If you don’t address the cause of your discomfort, the problem will only get worse until it definitely has your attention. By taking care of our two brains, we can greatly influence the quality of our health.

How do you take care of your second brain?

First, let’s look at what we eat. The gut is like any environment–it is only as healthy as what you put into it. There are ten times more microbes in your intestinal biome than you have cells in your body. In fact, these microbes are made up of more than 500 different species and weigh in at somewhere between 2 and 5 pounds! If we produce a good environment for healthy, helpful microbes, we have a healthy body. Sounds easy enough, right?

So what produces a healthy gut?

Unfortunately, we have seen an increasing number of patients in our practice with serious health problems, and many of these disorders stem from intestinal issues. While a different protocol may be prescribed for each patient, there are some basic things you can do to improve the health of your gut.

1. Stay away from chicken and meat that have antibiotics when possible. These antibiotics alter the flora in your intestines. Antibiotics are meant to kill the harmful bacteria; unfortunately, they kill the good bacteria, too, leaving you even more defenseless.
2. Stay away from high carbohydrate intake, i.e., sugar, pasta, rice and grains. They feed the bad flora. Never before in the history of mankind have humans eaten such large amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates, and our bodies are not designed to optimize this fuel on a full-time basis.

3. Stay away from gut irritants. Avoid chemical toxins such as MSG, food preservatives and flavor enhancers. Eat organic whenever possible and avoid foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Gluten sensitivity is an increasing problem in our culture where 99% of the wheat we now consume is a hybrid developed back in 1970 by Norman Borlaug. This dwarf wheat also contained 14 new strains of gluten. It is estimated about 40% of our population could be gluten sensitive or intolerant, and many think this is one of the reasons why.

Flickr - Brain - Lnk.Si

4. Increase your intake of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, fermented relish, or Kombucha, a fermented tea. Just a tablespoon or two of one of these delicious foods at the start of your meal can populate your inner ecosystem with the good bacteria our bodies need.

5. For more information about healing diet and gut protocols go to http://www.gaps.me

How GMO Farming and Food Is Making Our Gut Flora UNFRIENDLY.

Two studies published in the past six months reveal a disturbing finding: glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup® appear to suppress the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, leading to the overgrowth of extremely pathogenic bacteria.

Late last year, in an article titled Roundup Herbicide Linked to Overgrowth of Deadly Bacteria, we reported on new research indicating that glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup® may be contributing to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria, both in GM-produced food and our own bodies.  By suppressing the growth of beneficial bacteria and encouraging the growth of pathogenic ones, including deadly botulism-associated Clostridum botulinum, GM agriculture may be contributing to the alarming increase, wordwide, in infectious diseases that are resistant to conventional antibiotics, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), which the CDC’s director recently termed a ‘nightmare bacteria.’

How GMO Farming and Food Is Making Our Gut Flora UNFRIENDLY

GMO Herbicides May Lead To The Overgrowth of Harmful Bacteria, Including Deadly Clostridum Botulinum

Now a new study published in the journal Anaerobe titled, “Glyphosate suppresses the antagonistic effect of Enterococcus spp. On Clostridum botulinum,” confirms this herbicide’s ability to adversely affect gut bacteria populations (i.e. generate dysbios).[i]  In an attempt to explain why Clostridum botulinum associated diseases in cattle have increased during the last 10-15 years in German cattle, researchers theorized that since normal intestinal flora is a critical factor in preventing Clostridum botulinum colonization in conditions such as infantile botulism perhaps the ingestion of strong biocides such as glyphosate found in GM cattle feed could reduce their natural, lactic acid bacteria dependent immune defenses as pathogenic microbes.

They reported on the toxicity of glyphosate to Enteroccocus, the most prevalent lactic acid bacteria species in the gastrointestinal tract of cattle, and concluded “Ingestion of this herbicide could be a significant predisposing factor that is associated with the increase in C. botulinum mediated diseases in cattle.”

Of course, the implications of this finding extend beyond the health of cattle or poultry. The majority of American consumers who don’t even have the legal right to know through truthful labeling if they are eating GMOs, are consuming non-organic, Roundup Ready soy, canola, cottonseed or soy on a daily basis, and therefore are being exposed to glyphosate residues year round; additionally, animals fed Roundup sprayed GMO plants will bioaccumulate glyphosate and/or glyphosate metabolites, adding to the consumer’s bodily burden of these gut flora-altering, highly toxic chemicals.

GMO Herbicides Kill More Than ‘Weeds,’ Are Broad-Spectrum Biocides

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum biocide. It does not discriminate by killing only the “weeds” that compete with the genetically modified plants resistant to it. In fact, it has been found to be toxic to human DNA at concentrations 450-fold lower than presently used in agricultural applications.[ii] When combined with adjuvants and other so-called ‘inactive’ ingredients, the glyphosate-formulations are far more toxic than their component ingredients taken in isolation.[iii] Nor are the toxic effects limited to plants. A 2012 study published in the journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment found that Roundup herbicide has DNA-damaging effects to fish after short-term, environmentally low concentration exposures (6.67 μg/L, or, 6.67 micrograms per Liter).[iv]  For a comprehensive list of the toxic effects of Roundup and glyphosate visit our research page on the topic: Glyphosate formulations.

One of the most concerning adverse effects of glyphosate most relevant to the topic of this article is its destructive effects on the fertility of soil itself. In an earlier expose titled, Un-Earthed: Is Monsanto’s Glyphosate Destroying the Soil?, concerning findings published in the journal Current Microbiology were discussed showing that Roundup® herbicide is having a negative impact on the microbiodiversity of the soil, including microorganisms of food interest, and specifically those found in raw and fermented foods.[v]

One of the key implications of this finding is that since many of the beneficial bacteria that make up the 100 trillion bacteria in our gut necessary for health come from our food, and these bacteria-rich foods nourish and help maintain the flora in our gut, the removal of key beneficial microorganisms from the  soil will likely result in profoundly disrupting the bacteria-mediated infrastructure of our health.

We Must Reject GMO Farming Practices Or Face Dire Consequences

We must, of course, consider carefully the origin of our food. Conventionally produced produce and animal products are often grown or fed from farming practices that involve the use of factory-farmed manure and raw human sewage. Animal and human excreta today is exceedingly toxic, and contains a wide range of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, hormones and antibiotic resistant bacteria and related pathogens that.  contaminate our food and our bodies if we choose to eat it. It also causes us to employ ‘food security’ technologies like nuclear waste-based food irradiation and bacteriophage sprays try to disinfect inherently toxic food, only generating different and sometimes far more dangerous compounds as a result.

Instead of succumbing to the intellectually unsophisticated concept that disease is primarily caused by germs ‘out there,’ rather than viewing our risk of infection as primarily determined by immune susceptibility ‘in here,’ we must shift our understanding radically if we are to survive the wholesale destruction of our biosphere, also entirely refraining from supporting, buying, consuming food produced through GM-based farming practices.  Our body is literally woven from the  molecular fabric of the body of the Earth. And so, when we poison or genetically modify our environment, and we poison and genetically modify ourselves.


Probiotics may save patients from deadly chemotherapy.

If you or someone you love is facing the possibility of cancer or chemotherapy, make sure they read this story. Breakthrough new science conducted at the University of Michigan and about to be published in the journal Nature reveals that intestinal health is the key to surviving chemotherapy.


The study itself is very difficult for laypeople to parse, however, so I’m going to translate into everyday language while also offering additional interpretations of the research that the original study author is likely unable to state due to the nutritional censorship of medical journals and universities, both of which have an anti-nutrition bias.

The upshot is this: A clinical study gave mice lethal injections of chemotherapy that would, pound for pound, kill most adult human beings, too. The study authors openly admit: “All tumors from different tissues and organs can be killed by high doses of chemotherapy and radiation, but the current challenge for treating the later-staged metastasized cancer is that you actually kill the [patient] before you kill the tumor.” (See sources below.)

Chemotherapy is deadly. It is the No. 1 cause of death for cancer patients in America, and the No. 1 side effect of chemo is more cancer. But certain mice in the study managed to survive the lethal doses of chemo. How did they do that? They were injected with a molecule that your own body produces naturally. It’s production is engineered right into your genes, and given the right gene expression in an environment of good nutrition (meaning the cellular environment), you can generate this substance all by yourself, 24 hours a day.

The substance is called “Rspo1″ or “R-spondon1.” It activates stem cell production within your own intestinal walls, and these stem cells are like super tissue regeneration machines that rebuild damaged tissues faster than the chemotherapy can destroy them, thereby allowing the patient to survive an otherwise deadly does of chemo poison.

As the study showed, 50 – 75 percent of the mice who were given R-spondon1 survived the fatal chemotherapy dose!

The cancer industry needs to find a way to stop killing all their customers

The problem with the cancer industry today is that all the conventional cancer treatments keep killing the patients. This is bad for business. So the purpose of research like the R-spondon1 research mentioned here — which was funded by a government grant — is to find ways to keep giving patients deadly doses of high-profit chemotherapy without actually killing them. You slap a patient with a dose of R-spondon1 (sold at $50,000 a dose as a patented “drug,” of course), dose ‘em up with a fatal injection of chemotherapy, and then thanks to the R-spondon1 you get a repeat cancer customers instead of a corpse.

That’s called “good business practices” in the cancer industry, which is so far best known for turning patients into body bags rather than actually curing cancer.

(Yes, there is a reason why most oncologists would never undergo chemotherapy themselves. They know it doesn’t work on 98% of all cancers.)

Probiotics are likely the key to generating your own R-spondon1

Before I discuss why these findings are so important for followers of natural health and nutrition, let me first offer a disclaimer. The research mentioned here was conducted on mice, not humans, so it isn’t full proof that the same mechanism works in humans. Nevertheless, the reason mice are used for such research is because they are nearly identical to humans in terms of biology, gene expression, endocrine system function and more.

Furthermore, even though this study used an injection of R-spondon1 as the “activator” of gene expression in endothelial cells of the intestinal lining, in truth your cells already possess the blueprint to produce R-spondon1 on their own. In fact, human intestines are coated with a layer of epithelial cells that are regenerated every 4-5 days in a healthy person. This is only possible through the activation and continued operation of intestinal stem cells, a normal function for a healthy human.

And what determines the health of those stem cells more than anything else? Their local environment which is predominantly determined by gut bacteria. If your gut bacteria are in balance, the gene expression of your epithelial cells is normal and healthy. If your gut bacteria are out of whack, so to speak, the gene expression of your epithelial cells will be suppressed, thereby slowing or halting the regenerative potential of your intestinal cells. This is why people who have imbalanced intestinal flora also suffer from inflammatory intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s, IBS and so on.

Thus, probiotics are a key determining factor in the ability of your intestines to maintain the appropriate gene expression for the very kind of rapid cellular regeneration that can help your body survive a fatal dose of chemotherapy.

Meat and dairy cause devastating gut flora imbalances that may increase susceptibility to chemotherapy drugs

This may also explain why people who eat large quantities of processed meat, cheese and dead, pasteurized dairy products — especially when combined with starchy carbohydrates and processed sugars — are far more likely to die from chemotherapy than people who eat more plant-based diets. (There isn’t yet a source to substantiate this claim, but it’s something I’ve noted from considerable personal observation. You may have noticed it too among your own family members who have undergone chemotherapy treatments. Those with the worst diets seem to have far higher fatality rates.)

Those who consume processed meat and dead dairy have their intestines filled with fiber-less, difficult-to-digest proteins that are putrefied and sit in the intestines for 2 – 5 days, typically. Dietary sugars and carbohydrates then feed the bacteria fermentation process, resulting in the rapid growth and replication of sugar-feeding bacteria that displace the kind of healthy flora which best protect intestinal wall cells.

This imbalance, I suggest, increases susceptibility to chemotherapy toxicity while simultaneously impairing the ability of the patient to absorb key nutrients that protect healthy cells from the toxicity of chemo drugs. This may explain why patients who heavily consume meat, cheese and dairy diets tend to die so easily when exposed to chemotherapy.

But there’s something even more alarming about all this that everyone needs to know…

Antibiotics may also set you up to be killed by chemo

Although the research did not directly address this question, its findings seem to indicate that the kind of gut bacteria “wipeout” caused by antibiotics could prove fatal to a chemotherapy patient.

This is especially worrisome because many cancer patients are simultaneously prescribed antibiotics as they undergo chemotherapy. This could be a death sentence in disguise. While neither the antibiotics nor the chemo directly kill the patient, the combination of sterilized gut bacteria and highly-toxic chemotherapy drugs could multiply the toxicity and prove fatal. The death certificate, however, will say the patient died from “cancer,” not from the chemotherapy which is usually the actual cause of death.

And yet, every single day in America, patients who are taking antibiotics are subjected to multiple courses of chemotherapy. This may quite literally be a death sentence for those patients.

There’s also a self-fulfilling death spiral at work in all this: following the first round of chemotherapy, many patients suffer from weakened immune system that result in symptomatic infections. Physicians respond to this by prescribing antibiotics, resulting in the patient undergoing subsequent rounds of chemotherapy with “wiped out” gut flora. So the chemo causes the problem in the first place, and then the response to the problem by western doctors makes the next round of chemo fatal. This is a self-fulfilling death spiral of failed medicine.

Oncologists seem to have no awareness whatsoever of the importance of gut bacteria in allowing patients to protect their own healthy cells from the devastating effects of chemotherapy drugs. Many oncologists, in fact, actively discourage their patients from taking any sort of supplements during chemotherapy out of an irrational, anti-scientific fear that such supplements may “interfere” with the chemo and make the treatment fail.

This is one of the many ways in which oncologists get cancer patients killed.

Takeaway points from this article:

• New research shows that a substance generated by intestinal stem cells allows subjects to survive an otherwise fatal dose of toxic chemotherapy.

• Healthy gene expression of intestinal cells allows them to naturally produce protective molecules that support and boost cell regeneration.

• Probiotics may protect and support the intestinal stem cells that help cancer patients survive toxic chemotherapy. (More studies needed to explore this and document the impact.)

• Antibiotics may be a death sentence when followed by chemotherapy.

• Oncologists need to consider the risks and benefits of postponing chemotherapy in patients who are simultaneously taking antibiotics. The combination may be deadly. Conversely, they need to consider the benefits of encouraging chemotherapy patients to take probiotic supplements before beginning chemotherapy treatment.

Source: naturalnews.com

Probiotics Linked to Reduced Risk of Allergies, Psoriasis, Colitis, Periodontal Disease and More.

Story at-a-glance

  • The root of many health problems is related to an imbalance of intestinal bacteria, and this foundation of good health is laid even while in utero
  • A recent analysis of available clinical trials found that women who take probiotics—i.e. healthy bacteria—during pregnancy reduce their child’s risk of developing allergies
  • Providing abundant probiotics in the form of fermented foods is one of the most powerful ways to restore your baby’s beneficial gut flora; raw, organic grass-fed yogurt is well tolerated by most infants and children
  • Recent research shows probiotics can put those suffering with psoriasis, ulcerative colitis and/or chronic fatigue syndrome into remission, and reduce chances of relapse
  • Another study showed a certain probiotic strain improved the efficacy of standard treatment for chronic periodontitis, which includes scaling and root planing, by 53 percent

Most people, including many physicians, do not realize that 80 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive tract, making a healthy gut a major focal point if you want to achieve optimal health.

The root of many health problems is related to an imbalance of intestinal bacteria, and this foundation of good health is laid even while in utero.

Without a well-functioning gastrointestinal (GI) tract, a newborn baby will be more vulnerable to pathogens, allergens, and a number of immune-related diseases, so getting an infant’s gut up and running efficiently is crucial. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant would be wise to address their own gut health as early as possible to give their child the best start possible in this regard.

That said, it’s never too late to address your or your child’s gut, and most people would likely benefit from doing so.

The bacteria located in your GI tract play a crucial role in the development and operation of the mucosal immune system in your digestive tract. They also aid in the production of antibodies to pathogens.

Friendly bacteria even train your immune system to distinguish between pathogens and non-harmful antigens, and to respond appropriately. This important function prevents your immune system from overreacting to non-harmful antigens, which is the genesis of allergies.

But probiotics perform such a wide variety of functions, they’re really critical regardless of what ails you. And because adding probiotics to your diet is so easy, by way of cultured foods and/or supplements, it’s a step I highly encourage you to take.

How To Reduce Your Child’s Risk of Allergies

Babies gets their first “inoculation” of gut flora from mother’s birth canal during childbirth. If the flora is abnormal, the baby’s flora will also be abnormal; whatever organisms live in the mother’s vagina end up coating the baby’s body and lining his or her intestinal tract.

According to a recent analysis of previous clinical trials1, women who take probiotics—i.e. healthy bacteria—during pregnancy reduce their child’s risk of developing allergies. Unfriendly flora can also predispose babies to Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), of which allergies are just one potential outcome.

Other health problems associated with GAPS include autism, learning disabilities, and a number of other psychological, neurological, digestive, and immunological, problems. As reported in the featured Reuters article2:

“Since allergies and asthma both spring from hypersensitive immune responses, several trials have set out to assess the effect of probiotic supplements on those conditions…

[The] team analyzed the results of 25 trials of supplements given during pregnancy or within the first year of a child’s life. All of the studies compared mothers and babies randomly assigned to take probiotics with those given placebo supplements.

Participants were given probiotic doses daily, and in some cases more than daily, for a few months to a year. The trials tracked whether kids went on to test positive for common allergies – such as peanut or pollen allergies…

Babies who were exposed to probiotics in the womb and received supplements after birth had a 12 percent lower risk of allergies in the following months and years than kids in the comparison groups. But allergy risk was not reduced when babies were started on probiotics after birth only.”

How Allergies Are Related to Poor Gut Health

A condition known as “leaky gut” occurs when gaps develop between the cells (enterocytes) that make up the membrane lining your intestinal wall. These tiny gaps allow substances, such as undigested food, bacteria and metabolic wastes, that should be confined to your digestive tract to escape into your bloodstream — hence the term leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky gut syndrome can be a contributing factor to allergies, which can help explain why children with healthier gut flora have a reduced risk of developing allergies. Even more significantly, pathogenic microbes in the baby’s digestive tract can damage the integrity of his or her gut wall. This can allow all sorts of toxins and microbes to flood his or her bloodstream, which can then enter his or her brain and disrupt its development.

Breastfeeding helps protect your baby from this abnormal gut flora, which is why breastfeeding is so crucial to your child’s health. No infant formulas can do this. 

Leaky gut is also associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, as well as celiac disease. The condition Once the integrity of your intestinal lining is compromised, and there is a flow of toxic substances “leaking out” into your bloodstream, your body experiences significant increases in inflammation.

Healing and sealing” your gut has been shown to help alleviate allergy symptoms. The key lies in altering your diet to eliminate offending foods, such as grains and processed foods, and introduce healthier ones that will support a proper balance of bacteria in your gut. To restore gut health, and prevent leaky gut from occurring, eating traditionally fermented foods is essential.

Fermented Foods Can Help a Baby Avoid MAJOR Health Problems

Providing abundant probiotics in the form of fermented foods is one of the most powerful ways to restore a baby’s beneficial gut flora. Oftentimes, a commercial probiotic supplement won’t even be needed.

Raw organic grass-fed yogurt is well tolerated by most infants and children. It’s best to make your own yogurt at home from raw organic milk, and start with a very tiny amount. Once yogurt is well tolerated, then start introducing kefir. If you have any problems with dairy, you can substitute vegetables fermented with yogurt culture or kefir culture. Avoid commercial yogurt from the grocery store, as these are laden with sugars that feed pathogenic bacteria—the exact opposite of what you’re looking for.

To learn more about introducing fermented foods to your newborn, I recommend picking up a copy of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome3, which has a large recipe section for fermenting your own foods at home and using them to benefit all members of your family. If you have a baby with a severe condition, then the addition of a high-quality probiotic supplement might be needed.

There have been more probiotic studies involving adults than those with children, and even fewer with infants. Unfortunately, precious little research has been devoted to the study of probiotics for neonates, especially extremely low birth weight neonates (ELBW), but scientific studies thus far are very promising. One study in particular, published in BMCMedicine4 in 2011 by the Department of Neonatal Pediatrics in Nepean Hospital along with several other Australian hospitals, brings us closer to important evidence-based guidelines for the use of probiotics with preterm neonates. For more details on this, please see my previous article on the use of probiotics for neonates.

That said, probiotics have been shown to provide a number of benefits to infants and children. For example, daily supplements of probiotic foods may reduce a child’s risk of eczema by 58 percent, according to one study. Another study found that a daily dose of Lactobacillus reuteri can help improve colic.

Probiotic Proves Beneficial for Non-Gut Inflammatory Disorders as Well

Other recent studies confirm the importance of your gut health for health problems such as psoriasis and chronic fatigue syndrome. One such study, published in the journal Gut Microbes, is interesting in that it’s the first study showing how a single probiotic strain can influence your systemic immune system. As reported by Medical News Today5:

“The mucosal immune system protects the internal mucosal surfaces of the body such as the gastrointestinal, urogenital and respiratory tracts. These internal surfaces act as a barrier to the outside world for the internal tissues of the body, which are then further protected by the systemic immune system. There is some convincing evidence that probiotics, or gut-friendly bacteria, influence the development and maintenance not only of the microbial balance inside the gut and the mucosal immune system but also the systemic immune response.”

The probiotic used in the study is called Bifidobacterium infantis 35624. Three separate randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trials were included in the study, which assessed the effects of the probiotic on one gastrointestinal and two non-gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders. Twenty-two of the patients enrolled in the study were diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, 26 were diagnosed with psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition, and 48 patients had chronic fatigue syndrome.

The levels of inflammation markers in 35 healthy volunteers were used as baseline references. The three biomarkers assessed were C-reactive protein (CRP) and pro-inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), and interleukin-6 (IL-6). At the outset of the trials, all patients, whether their disorder was related to gastrointestinal inflammation or not, had significantly elevated levels of all three of these biomarkers. During the trial period, which lasted between six and eight weeks, each patient received either the probiotic or a placebo. At the end of each of the three separate trials, the researchers found that:

·         All three patient groups who received Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 had significantly lower levels of CRP compared to those who received a placebo

·         Patients with ulcerative colitis psoriasis patients had lower TNF-a

·         Those with ulcerative colitis and chronic fatigue syndrome had reductions in IL-6

According to the researchers, these reductions in inflammatory biomarkers typically count as remission, and are indicative of a reduced risk of relapse. A similar study published in 20096 found that Bifidobacterium infantis was the only probiotic strain out of 13 tested capable of improving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Probiotics Helps Improve Periodontal Disease, and More

In related news, another double-blind, placebo-controlled study7 found that the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentisimproved the efficacy of standard treatment for chronic periodontitis (scaling and root planing) by 53 percent. According to the featured article8:

“By the end of the 12 week long study 53 per cent fewer sites (surfaces on a teeth) in patients with deep dental pockets and supplemented by Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentis was in need for surgery, compared to the placebo group… After the intervention period it was also concluded that 67 percent of the patients in the placebo group fell into the high-risk category for disease progression, while the corresponding figure for patients supplemented by Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentis was only 27 percent.”

Probiotics have also been found to influence the activity of hundreds of genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner. Researchers have documented beneficial probiotic effects in a wide variety of disorders, including9, 10:

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Constipation and diarrhea

Colon cancer

Eradication of H. pyloriinfection, which is associated with ulcers

Vaginal infections

Strengthened immune response


Rheumatoid arthritis

Cirrhosis of the liver

Hepatic encephalopathy

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems

Fermented Vegetables—An Ideal Source of Probiotics

The advent of processed foods dramatically altered the human diet, and we’re now reaping the results in the form of rapidly rising chronic health problems. I believe the shunning of traditionally fermented foods has a lot to do with this. The culturing process actually produces the beneficial microbes that we now realize are so crucial for health, and when eaten daily, they help maintain a healthy balance of intestinal microbes. Fermented foods are also some of the best chelators and detox agents available, meaning they can help rid your body of a wide variety of toxins, including heavy metals. The best way to ensure optimal gut flora is to regularly consume traditionally fermented foods. Healthy options include:

Lassi (an Indian yogurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner)

Various pickled fermentations of cabbage sauerkraut,, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots


Traditionally fermented raw milk such as kefir or yogurt, but NOT commercial versions, which typically do not have live cultures and are loaded with sugars that feed pathogenic bacteria

Natto (fermented soy)



When choosing fermented foods, steer clear of pasteurized versions, as pasteurization will destroy many of the naturally occurring probiotics. This includes most of the “probiotic” yogurts you find in every grocery store these days; since they’re pasteurized, they will be associated with all of the problems of pasteurized milk products. They also typically contain added sugars, high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring, or artificial sweeteners, all of which will only worsen your health.

When you first start out, you’ll want to start small, adding as little as half a tablespoon of fermented vegetables to each meal, and gradually working your way up to about a quarter to half a cup (2 to 4 oz) of fermented vegetables or other cultured food with one to three meals per day. Since cultured foods are efficient detoxifiers, you may experience detox symptoms, or a “healing crisis,” if you introduce too many at once. If you do not regularly consume the traditionally fermented foods above, a high-quality probiotic supplement may provide similar benefits.

Learn to Make Your Own Fermented Vegetables

Fermented vegetables are easy to make on your own. It’s also the most cost-effective way to get high amounts of healthful probiotics in your diet. To learn how, review the following interview with Caroline Barringer, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) and an expert in the preparation of the foods prescribed in Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Nutritional Program.

Although you can use the native bacteria on cabbage and other vegetables, it is typically easier to get consistent results by using a starter culture. Caroline prepares hundreds of quarts of fermented vegetables a week and has found that she gets great results by using three to four high quality probiotic capsules to jump start the fermentation process.

Remember: Your Gut, Brain and Primary Immune Defense Are All Connected…

You’d be wise to remember that the vast majority of your immune system is located in your digestive system, making a healthy gut a major focal point if you want to maintain optimal health. Furthermore, as discussed in a number of other recent articles, your gut is quite literally your second brain, as it originates from the same type of tissue. Your gut and your brain actually work in tandem, each influencing the other. This is why your intestinal health can have such a profound influence on your mental health, and vice versa.

This also helps explain the link between neurological disorders (including ADHD and autism) and gastrointestinal dysfunction. For example, gluten intolerance is frequently a feature of autism, and many autistic children will improve when following a strict gluten-free diet. However, even more importantly, establishing normal gut flora within the first 20 days or so of life plays a crucial role in appropriate maturation of your baby’s immune system.

Babies who develop abnormal gut flora are left with compromised immune systems, and besides raising your child’s risk of allergies and other disorders discussed above, it may even be a crucial factor when it comes to vaccine-induced damage. As explained by Dr. Campbell-McBride, vaccinations were originally developed for children with healthy immune systems, and children with abnormal gut flora and therefore compromised immunity are not suitable candidates for our current vaccine schedule as they’re more prone to being harmed. To learn more about this, please see this previous article.

To sum it all up, regardless of your age, three very positive changes occur when your good-to-bad intestinal bacteria ratio is brought into balance:

1.    Digestive problems diminish or disappear

2.    Your body begins to use all the good food and nutritional supplements you feed it

3.    Your immune system de-stresses and is better equipped to fight off disease of all kinds, contributing to a longer and healthier life

Source: mercola.com

New non-smokers may gain weight because of gut changes, not food.

Eighty percent of people who quit smoking put on an average of 15 pounds, studies have shown, and those pounds are usually attributed to a person trading lighting up for pigging out. But according to the researchers at the Zurich University Hospital, the weight gain may not have to anything to do with an increase in calories. Rather, the weight might be a result of changes in the composition of a person’s intestinal flora after they quit. The study found that when a person stops smoking, the bacteria in their intestinal flora shifts to a type which burns energy more efficiently and breaks down more of what is ingested, thus creating more fat and less waste. The 20 study participants insisted their calorie intake stayed the same or fell after they quit smoking.



What Is the Role of Gut Bacteria in Calorie Restriction?

Story at-a-glance

  • Life-long calorie restriction in mice significantly changes their gut microflora in ways that promote longevity
  • It appears that calorie restriction’s beneficial changes to gut microflora may be, in part, responsible for its observed enhancement of longevity
  • Intermittent calorie restriction, such as intermittent fasting, appears to provide many of the same health benefits as constant calorie restriction, including benefitting gut bacteria, extending lifespan and protecting against disease
  • What you eat is crucial to maintaining a healthful inner ecosystem; in addition to calorie restriction/intermittent fasting, avoiding excess sugars and grains and eating plenty of traditionally fermented foods are important

Lowering your caloric intake has been scientifically proven to slow down aging, reduce age-related chronic diseases and extend lifespan. The effects have been observed in a variety of species from worms and yeast to rats and fish, with some research showing that restricting calories in certain animals can increase their lifespan by as much as 50 percent.

There’s evidence that calorie restriction has a similar effect on the human lifespan, as well, and one of the key reasons why is likely related to its ability to lower your insulin levels as well as improve insulin sensitivity.

However, researchers recently studied whether calorie restriction also prompts changes to your gut microbiota, which may also be responsible for some of its beneficial role in health.

Calorie Restriction Prompts Significant Changes to Your Gut Bacteria

Science is increasingly revealing that microorganisms living in your gut are there performing indispensable functions. Known as your microbiome, about 100 trillion of these cells populate your body, particularly your intestines and other parts of your digestive system.

There is also an emerging consensus that most disease originates in your digestive system, and this includes conditions that impact your brain, your heart, your weight and your immune system, among others. There’s also evidence that the microorganisms present in your gut can affect how well you age,1 and this, of course, ties in directly with the latest research on calorie restriction and longevity.

One important thing to remember about the microbes in your gut is that they are not static. They can change profoundly throughout your life, for better or for worse, and one of the biggest influences on this change is your diet.

Indeed, the latest study showed that life-long calorie restriction in mice “significantly changes the overall structure of the gut microbiota” in ways that promote longevity.2 So it now appears that one reason why calorie restriction may lengthen lifespan is because it promotes positive changes to the microorganisms in your gut.

The researchers noted:

“Calorie restriction enriches phylotypes positively correlated with lifespan, for example, the genus Lactobacillus on low-fat diet, and reduces phylotypes negatively correlated with lifespan.

These calorie restriction-induced changes in the gut microbiota are concomitant with significantly reduced serum levels of lipopolysaccharide-binding protein, suggesting that animals under calorie restriction can establish a structurally balanced architecture of gut microbiota that may exert a health benefit to the host via reduction of antigen load from the gut.”

Intermittent Fasting May Provide Comparable Health Benefits to Calorie Restriction

While the research supporting calorie restriction is compelling, it’s not a very popular dietary strategy for most people, for obvious reasons. Many are simply not willing to deprive themselves of calories to the extent needed to prompt the beneficial effects.

An alternative that is much more acceptable is intermittent fasting, which can be as simple as restricting your daily eating to a narrower window of time of say 6-8 hours (this equates to 16-18 hours worth of fasting each and every day).

Recent research suggests that sudden and intermittent calorie restriction appears to provide many of the same health benefits as constant calorie restriction, including extending lifespan and protecting against disease. For instance, intermittent fasting leads to:

  1. Increased insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial energy efficiency – Fasting increases your leptin and insulin sensitivity along with mitochondrial energy efficiency, and thereby retards aging and disease, which are typically associated with loss of insulin sensitivity and declined mitochondrial energy.
  2. Reduced oxidative stress – Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.
  3. Increased capacity to resist stress, disease and aging – Fasting induces a cellular stress response (similar to that induced by exercise) in which cells up-regulate the expression of genes that increase the capacity to cope with stress and resist disease and aging.

Intermittent Fasting Switches Your Body to Fat-Burning Mode… With Radical Improvements to Your Gut

If you want to give intermittent fasting a try, consider starting gradually. You can delay breakfast as long as possible and extend the time every day before you eat breakfast until you are actually skipping breakfast. Make sure you stop eating and drinking anything but water three hours before you go to sleep, and restrict your eating to an 8-hour (or less) time frame every day. In the 6-8 hours that you do eat, have healthy protein, minimize your carbs like pasta, bread, and potatoes and exchange them for healthful fats like butter, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil and nuts — essentially the very fats the media and “experts” tell you to avoid.

This will help shift you from carb-burning to fat-burning mode. Once your body has made this shift, it is nothing short of magical as your cravings for sweets, and food in general, rapidly normalizes and your desire for sweets and junk food radically decreases — if not disappears entirely.

Remember, it typically takes a few weeks for most to shift from burning carbs to fat-burning mode. Once you succeed and switch to fat-burning mode, you’ll be easily able to fast for 18 hours and not feel hungry. The “hunger” most people feel is actually cravings for sugar, and these will disappear once you successfully shift over to burning fat instead.

Another phenomenal benefit that occurs is that you will radically improve the beneficial bacteria in your gut, as occurs with calorie restriction. Along with improving your immune system, you will sleep better, have more energy, have increased mental clarity and concentrate better. Essentially, every aspect of your health will improve as your gut flora becomes balanced.

Certain Gut Bacteria are ‘Major Contributors’ to Cancer

As if you needed even more reason to optimize the bacteria in your gut, recent research has revealed an association between different gut bacteria and the development of lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells. The study involved mice with ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T), a genetic disease linked to a high rate of B-cell lymphoma in both mice and humans. Those with certain microbial species in their gut lived significantly longer before developing lymphoma, and had less of the gene damage that causes the disease. The researchers also created a catalog detailing which types of bacteria had either promoting or protective effects on genotoxicity and lymphoma.

This is not the first time gut bacteria has been linked to cancer. Findings published in the journal Nature,3 for instance, reported the discovery of microbial-dependent mechanisms through which some cancers mount an inflammatory response that fuels their development and growth. Another study, published in the journal Science,4 suggested cancer may be due to a chain reaction that starts with inflammation that disrupts your gut ecosystem, allowing pathogens, such as E. coli, to invade your gut and cause cellular damage.

Healthy Gut 101: How to Optimize Your Microflora for Better Health

With it now becoming increasingly clear that your microflora influence the expression of your genes, your immune system, weight, mental health, memory, and your risk of numerous chronic and acute diseases, from diabetes to cancer, destroying your gut flora with antibiotics and poor diet is a primary factor in rising disease rates.

As discussed, your diet is crucial in this equation, and it appears likely that calorie restriction, or intermittent fasting, may have a beneficial effect on the makeup of your microflora. But there are other factors, too. Remember, an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is also located in your gut, so reseeding your gut with healthy bacteria is important for the prevention of virtually ALL disease, from colds to cancer. In light of this, here are my recommendations for optimizing your gut bacteria.

  • Fermented foods are the best route to optimal digestive health, as long as you eat the traditionally made, unpasteurized versions. Healthy choices include lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner), fermented grass-fed organic milk such as kefir, various fermentations of vegetables like cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash and carrots, and natto (fermented soy).

Fermented vegetables, which are one of my new passions, are an excellent way to supply beneficial bacteria back into your gut. And, unlike some other fermented foods, they tend to be palatable, if not downright delicious, to most people. Most high-quality probiotic supplements will only supply you with a fraction of the beneficial bacteria found in such homemade fermented vegetables, so it’s your most economical route to optimal gut health as well.

  • Probiotic supplement. Although I’m not a major proponent of taking many supplements (as I believe the majority of your nutrients need to come from food), probiotics are an exception if you don’t eat plenty of raw organic and fermented foods on a regular basis.

In addition to knowing what to add to your diet and lifestyle, it’s equally important to know what to avoid, for optimal microflora balance, and this includes:

Antibiotics, unless absolutely necessary (and when you do use them, make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a probiotics supplement) Conventionally raised meats and other animal products, as CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics, plusgenetically engineered grains, which have also been implicated in the destruction of gut flora


Processed foods (as the excessive grains and sugars, along with otherwise “dead” nutrients, feed pathogenic bacteria)


Chlorinated and/or fluoridated water


Source: mercola.com


Are Probiotics the New Prozac?

Story at-a-glance

  • The secret to improving your mental health is in your gut, as unhealthy gut flora can have a detrimental impact your brain health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression
  • A recent proof-of-concept study found that women who regularly ate yogurt containing beneficial bacteria had improved brain function compared to those who did not consume probiotics
  • Research has also shown that certain probiotics can help alleviate anxiety by modulating the vagal pathways within the gut-brain; affecting GABA levels; and lowering the stress-induced hormone corticosterone
  • What you eat can alter the composition of your gut flora. Specifically, eating a high-vegetable, fiber-based diet produces a more beneficial composition of microbiota than a more typical Western diet high in carbs and processed fats
  • Limiting sugar, eating traditionally fermented foods, and taking a probiotic supplement are among the best ways to optimize your gut flora and subsequently support your brain health and normalize your mood.
  • probiotics

While many think of their brain as the organ in charge of their mental health, yourgut may actually play a far more significant role.

The big picture many of us understand is one of a microbial world that we just happen to be living in. Our actions interfere with these microbes, and they in turn respond having more effects to our individual health as well as the entire environment.

There is some truth to the old expression, having ‘dirt for brains’.  The microbes in our soil, on our plants, in our stomachs are all a result of our actions.  Antibiotics, herbicides, vaccines, and pesticides, and the tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals we’ve created all have impacts and result in reactions from these microbes.

Mounting research indicates that problems in your gut can directly impact your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression.

The gut-brain connection is well-recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, so this isn’t all that surprising, even though it’s often overlooked. There’s also a wealth of evidence showing intestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases.

With this in mind, it should also be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important, because in a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment. A recent article1 titled “Are Probiotics the New Prozac?” reviews some of the most recent supporting evidence.

Probiotics Alter Brain Function, Study Finds

The featured proof-of-concept study, conducted by researchers at UCLA, found that probiotics (beneficial bacteria) actually altered participants’ brain function. The study2 enlisted 36 women between the ages of 18 and 55 who were divided into three groups:

  • The treatment group ate yogurt containing several probiotics thought to have a beneficial impact on intestinal health, twice a day for one month
  • Another group ate a “sham” product that looked and tasted like the yogurt but contained no probiotics
  • Control group ate no product at all

Before and after the four-week study, participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, both while in a state of rest, and in response to an “emotion-recognition task.”

For the latter, the women were shown a series of pictures of people with angry or frightened faces, which they had to match to other faces showing the same emotions.

“This task, designed to measure the engagement of affective and cognitive brain regions in response to a visual stimulus, was chosen because previous research in animals had linked changes in gut flora to changes in affective behaviors,” the researchers explained.

Compared to the controls, the women who consumed probiotic yogurt had decreased activity in two brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation:

  • The insular cortex (insula), which plays a role in functions typically linked to emotion (including perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning, and interpersonal experience) and the regulation of your body’s homeostasis, and
  • The somatosensory cortex, which plays a role in your body’s ability to interpret a wide variety of sensations

During the resting brain scan, the treatment group also showed greater connectivity between a region known as the ‘periaqueductal grey’ and areas of the prefrontal cortex associated with cognition. In contrast, the control group showed greater connectivity of the periaqueductal grey to emotion- and sensation-related regions.

The fact that this study showed any improvement at all is remarkable, considering they used commercial yogurt preparations that are notoriously unhealthy; loaded with artificial sweeteners, colors, flavorings, and sugar. Most importantly, the vast majority of commercial yogurts have clinically insignificant levels of beneficial bacteria. Clearly, you would be far better off making your own yogurt from raw milk—especially if you’re seeking to address depression through dietary interventions.

Yes, Your Diet Affects Your Mood and Mental Health

According to lead author Dr. Kirsten Tillisch:34

“Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut. Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street… ‘When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘gut feelings’ take on new meaning.’”

The implications are particularly significant in our current era of rampant depression and emotional “malaise.” And as stated in the featured article, the drug treatments available today are no better than they were 50 years ago. Clearly, we need a new approach, and diet is an obvious place to start.

Previous studies have confirmed that what you eat can alter the composition of your gut flora. Specifically, eating a high-vegetable, fiber-based diet produces a profoundly different composition of microbiota than a more typical Western diet high in carbs and processed fats.

The featured research tells us that the composition of your gut flora not only affects your physical health, but also has a significant impact on your brain function and mental state. Previous research has also shown that certain probiotics can help alleviate anxiety:

  • The Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility5 reported the probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 normalized anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis by modulating the vagal pathways within the gut-brain.
  • Other research6 found that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a marked effect on GABA levels—an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes—in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior. It is likely other lactobacillus species also provide this benefit, but this was the only one that was tested.

It’s important to realize that you have neurons both in your brain and your gut — including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain! Perhaps this is one reason why antidepressants, which raise serotonin levels in yourbrain, are often ineffective in treating depression, whereas proper dietary changes often help…

Your Gut Bacteria Are Vulnerable to Your Diet and Lifestyle

Processed, refined foods in general will destroy healthy microflora and feed bad bacteria and yeast, so limiting or eliminating these from your diet should be at the top of your list. Following my recently revised nutrition plan is a simple way to automatically reduce your intake of sugar from all sources. Processed foods wreak havoc on your gut in a number of different ways:

  • First, they are typically loaded with sugar, and avoiding sugar (particularly fructose) is in my view, based on the evidence, a critical aspect of preventing and/or treating depression. Not only will sugar compromise your beneficial gut bacteria by providing the preferred fuel for pathogenic bacteria, it also contributes to chronic inflammation throughout your body, including your brain.
  • Many contain artificial sweeteners and other synthetic additives that can wreak havoc with brain health. In fact, depression and panic attacks are two of the reported side effects of aspartame. Preliminary findings presented at the 65th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology also report that drinking sweetened beverages―whether they’re sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners—is associated with an increased risk of depression.7
  • Processed foods are also typically loaded with refined grains, which turn into sugar in your body. Wheat in particular has also been implicated in psychiatric problems, from depression to schizophrenia, due to Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA), which has neurotoxic activity.
  • The majority of processed foods also contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients (primarily corn and soy), which have been shown to be particularly detrimental to beneficial bacteria. There are several mechanisms of harm at work here. For example:
    • Eating genetically engineered Bt corn may turn your intestinal flora into a sort of “living pesticide factory,” essentially manufacturing Bt-toxin from within your digestive system on a continuing basis
    • Beneficial gut bacteria are very sensitive to residual glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup). Due to mounting resistance, GE Roundup Ready crops are being drenched with increasing amounts of this toxic herbicide. Studies have already confirmed that glyphosate alters and destroys beneficial gut flora in animals, as evidenced by the increasing instances of lethal botulism in cattle
    • Recent research also reveals that your gut bacteria are a key component of glyphosate’s mechanism of harm, as your gut microbes have the identical pathway used by glyphosate to kill weeds!

Your gut bacteria are also very sensitive to and can be harmed by:

Antibiotics, unless absolutely necessary (and when you do, make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a probiotics supplement) Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products, as CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics, plusgenetically engineered grains, which have also been implicated in the destruction of gut flora
Chlorinated and/or fluoridated water Antibacterial soap

How to Reseed Your Gut Flora

Considering the fact that an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, reseeding your gut with healthy bacteria is important for the prevention of virtually ALL disease, both physical and mental. The first step is to clean up your diet and lifestyle by avoiding the items listed above. Then, to actively reseed your gut with beneficial bacteria, you’ll want to:

  • Radically reduce your sugar intake. I’m being repetitive here, to drive home the point that you can take the best fermented foods and/or probiotic supplements, but if you fail to reduce your sugar intake you will sabotage your efforts to rebuild your gut flora. This would be similar to driving your car with one foot on the accelerator and one on the brake simultaneously. Simply not a good strategy at all. When you consume sugar at the level of the typical American you are virtually guaranteed to have a preponderance of pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungi, no matter what supplements you are taking.
  • Eat traditionally fermented, unpasteurized foods: Fermented foods are the best route to optimal digestive health, as long as you eat the traditionally made, unpasteurized versions. Some of the beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods are also excellent chelators of heavy metals and pesticides, which will also have a beneficial health effect by reducing your toxic load. Healthy choices include:
    • Fermented vegetables
    • Lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner)
    • Fermented milk, such as kefir
    • Natto (fermented soy)

Ideally, you want to eat a variety of fermented foods to maximize the variety of bacteria you’re consuming. Fermented vegetables, which are one of my new passions, are an excellent way to supply beneficial bacteria back into our gut. And, unlike some other fermented foods, they tend to be palatable, if not downright delicious, to most people.

As an added bonus, they can also be a great source of vitamin K2 if you ferment your own using the proper starter culture. We tested samples of high-quality fermented organic vegetables made with our specific starter culture, and a typical serving (about two to three ounces) contained not only 10 trillion beneficial bacteria, it also had 500 mcg of vitamin K2, which we now know is a vital co-nutrient to both vitamin D and calcium. Most high-quality probiotics supplements will only supply you with a fraction of the beneficial bacteria found in such homemade fermented veggies, so it’s your most economical route to optimal gut health as well.

  • Take a high-quality probiotic supplement. Although I’m not a major proponent of taking many supplements (as I believe the majority of your nutrients need to come from food), probiotics are an exception if you don’t eat fermented foods on a regular basis.

Nurture Your Gut for Optimal Health and Mental Well-Being

Foods have an immense impact on your body and your brain, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan is the best way to support your mental and physical health.

Mounting research indicates the bacterial colonies residing in your gut may in fact play key roles in the development of brain, behavioral and emotional problems—from depression to ADHD, autism and more serious mental illness like schizophrenia. Certainly, when you consider the fact that the gut-brain connection is recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, and that there’s no shortage of evidence of gastrointestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases, it’s easy to see how the balance of gut bacteria can play a significant role in your psychology and behavior.

With this in mind, it should also be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important, from cradle to grave, because in a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment.

Cultured foods like raw milk yogurt and kefir, some cheeses, and fermented vegetables are good sources of natural, healthy bacteria. So my strong recommendation would be to make cultured or fermented foods a regular part of your diet; this can be your primary strategy to optimize your body’s good bacteria.

If you do not eat fermented foods on a regular basis, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement is definitely recommended. A probiotic supplement can be incredibly useful to help maintain a well-functioning digestive system when you stray from your healthy diet and consume excess grains or sugar, or if you have to take antibiotics.

Source: mercola.com

Gut Microbes Can Split a Species.

Here’s how to create a new species. Put animals—say finches—from the same species on separate islands and let them do their thing for many, many generations. Over time, each group will adapt to its new environment, and the genomes of the two populations will become so different that if you reintroduce the animals to the same habitat, they can no longer breed successfully. Voilà, one species has become two. But a new study suggests that DNA isn’t the only thing that separates species: Some populations diverge because of the microbes in their guts.


The paper is “important and potentially groundbreaking,” says John Werren, a biologist at the University of Rochester in New York. “Scientists have studied speciation … for many years, and this opens up a whole new aspect to it.”

The new work involves three different species of parasitic jewel wasps, tiny insects that drill into the pupas of flies and lay their eggs, letting the offspring feed on the host. Two of the species, Nasonia giraulti and N. longicornis, are closely related, whereas the third species, N. vitripennis, diverged from the other two about 1 million years ago. When N. giraultiand N. longicornis mate in the lab, most of their offspring survive, but when either mates with N. vitripennis, almost all male larvae in the second generation die.

Seth Bordenstein and Robert Brucker, biologists at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, wondered if the reason for this mortality went beyond incompatible DNA. They knew that the gut microbes in N. vitripennis differed from those in the other two species, and they suspected that these microbes could play a role in the offspring deaths. Indeed, when they raised all three species of Nasonia without gut microbes—by rearing them on sterile food—almost all the second generation offspring of matings between N. vitripennis and N. giraulti wasps survived. Andwhen the scientists reintroduced bacteria into the germ-free wasps, most of their second-generation offspring died, the duo report online today in Science.

Werren says that the work introduces a whole new way to look at what sets species apart. Instead of just thinking about genes of the parents not meshing in hybrids, he says, biologists could now think about how the parents’ genes are incompatible with the offspring’s microorganisms. Some parental genes could enable the immune system to keep certain gut bacteria in check, for instance, and without them the gut microbes might sicken the animal and kill it.

Bordenstein goes one step further. The genes of microbes harbored by an organism are just as important for evolution as the genes in its own cells, he says, calling both together a “hologenome.” Werren disagrees. Microbes in the gut interact with the bigger organism, just like other organisms in nature interact, for instance predator and prey, Werren says. “They are not co-evolving as a single unit, so why would we call them a single genome?”

Axel Meyer, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Konstanz in Germany, is skeptical about whether gut microbes have a big effect on speciation. The paper is “exciting,” he says, “but there might be huge biological differences between species in how the microbiome [the community of microbes in an organism] is established.” As a result, he says, it is an open question whether there will be many more examples of gut microbes separating species. Werren thinks there will be. “No pun intended,” he says, “but my gut tells me that this is going to be common.”

Source: sciencemag.org

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