How to Optimize Your Gut Health


What is Gut Health?

Although Hippocrates hypothesized that all diseases begin in the gut over 2,000 years ago, research is recently beginning to truly understand the massive impact that gut health has on overall health, wellbeing and disease control.

The truth is, the gut and its functions are extremely complex. The human body is composed of equal if not more bacteria than cells. We are basically bacteria-bipeds wandering this planet. Only about 10% of our cells are truly human, while the majority is microbial.

We are in an age when transplanting fecal matter (poop) from one person into another is a “thing.” An extremely effective “thing” curing over 90% of patients with Clostridium difficile. But nonetheless, that’s how damaged human’s microbial systems have become.

Better questions we can now answer: How did this happen? And how do we fix it?

The human body is one ecosystem with trillions of micro-organism inhabitants. This is called the human microbiome. We could not live without this massive colony of bacteria. They are in our eyes, skin, digestive and respiratory system.

The largest colony of microbes reside in our digestive system. There’s an entire world going on in there, with certain species performing different functions. Without gut flora, humans would not be able to survive.

Gut flora can be categorized into three groups:

● Beneficial (essential) flora: These are the most important and most abundant microbes (bacteria) found in a healthy individual. Key beneficial players: Bifidobacteria, Lactobacteria, Propionobacteria, E. Coli (physiological strains only), Peptostreptoccocci and Enterococci.

● Opportunistic flora: These microbes have various functions in different combinations. In a healthy body, opportunistic flora is tightly controlled and regulated by the beneficial bacteria. However, in a compromised immune system, these guys can stray and cause health problems. Key opportunistic players: Bacteroids, Peptococci, Staphylococci, Streptococci, Bacilli, Clostridia, Yeasts, Enterobacteria, Fuzobacteria, Eubacteria, Catenobacteria, etc.

● Transitional flora: These microbes are consumed on a daily basis through the environmental toxins and processed food. As long the gut is protected by beneficial bacteria, these microbes will pass through our digestive system without harm. But if it’s damaged, transitional flora can lead to disease. Key transitional players: toxins, chemicals, parasites, bacteria in undigested food and drink.

Immune System & Gut Health

Approximately 80% of our immune system is located in the gut. Basically if your beneficial microbes are M.I.A., there’s a good chance you’re getting sick, my friend. The Mucosal Barrier of the Gastrointestinal (GI) tract is built to allow very small fully digested particles through.

However, when the GI tract becomes stressed, the tight junctions between the cells lining of our GI tract or enterocytes become loose. This allows the unchecked entry of bigger particles into the bloodstream. Your body then sees these larger particles as foreign and activates the immune system just like it would for any pathogen.

The problem is that your immune system has a great memory (via memory B cells). They don’t care what exactly that large particle is. To your immune system, it’s just an intruder that needs to be pulverized. Thus, if you have intestinal permeability depending on what larger particles get through, your immune system can start attacking literally any items that you commonly eat like tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, even a lean piece of grass-fed steak.

The problem doesn’t end there because if a large particle gets through that looks similar to thyroid, ovarian, adrenal, or mucosal tissue, you may have just set the stage for an auto-immune disease – your own immune system now sees yourself as foreign. This is called molecular mimicry and this chain of events is not something to take lightly.

Energy Metabolism

Without a well-balanced gut flora, digestion and absorption cannot be optimal. This bacteria has the ability to break down protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber. “By-products of bacterial activity in the gut are very important in transporting mineralsvitamins, water, gases and many other nutrients through the gut wall into the bloodstream.”

Take Away: Even if you followed a ‘perfect’ diet consuming all the “superfoods” in the world, you cannot combat a damaged gut flora. It’s essential to heal the gut first. Then you will be able to able to efficiently digest and absorb healthy foods and supplements. Fiber and lactose (milk sugar) are two substances that require good bacteria for digestion.

Most people don’t produce lactase–the enzyme that breaks down lactose–after infancy. But why then can some people handle dairy while others cannot? This is because these individuals have a lot of lactose-digesting bacteria; one of the most notable ones being E. Coli. Yes, this is same bacteria that also can make us sick.

However, if your gut is populated by physiological strains of E. Coli, you are better equipped to fight off the pathogenic (bad) species of E. Coli.

What Compromises the Microbiome?

The integrity of the gut flora has its roots far before your parents conceived you. Did dad follow a strict Ramen-noodle diet in college? Was mom hanging out with Ben & Jerry on the reg while you were in her tummy? Not to put the blame on our folks’ diet, but it is one contributing factor to a baby’s microbiome among many other factors, including:

Birth & Infancy

● C-section babies
● Bottle-fed babies


● Penicillins
● Tetracyclines
● Aminoglycosides
● Antifungal antibiotics
● Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria–the bad and the good. So, although necessary at times, a dose of these drugs will inherently leave you immune-compromised.

Other Drugs

● Pain killers
● Steroids
● Contraceptives
● Sleeping pills
● Heartburn medication

Processed Foods

● Sugar & processed carbohydrates
● Grain fiber
● Food sensitivities – common allergens and food sensitivities wreak havoc on your digestive system eventually leading to GI tract shutdown, a blunted brush border, dysbiosis, and poor gut health.


● Infectious disease
● Viral infections
● Chronic illness
● Alcoholism
● Dysbiosis – or inappropriate ratio of good vs. bad bacteria residing in the gut. This is the topic of entire books and articles, but in the simplest terms: you are the wolf that you feed. Healthy bacteria thrive on colorful fruits and vegetables, bad bacteria thrive on sugar, artificial  sweeteners, and unhealthy fats. Also, if you have transit time issues, it is very likely that you have some kind of dysbiosis and brain to gut axis issue.


● Short-term stress (recovers fairly easy)
● Prolonged stress (permanent damage)

Other Factors

● Old age
● Over physical exertion
● Surgery
● Pollution
● Toxic substance exposure/ingestion
● Extreme climates
● Environmental Toxins – items like BPA, BT Toxin (found in GMO corn), and Glyphosate (AKA Round-Up).
● Intestinal parasites, microbial infestations, or fungal overgrowth – this is much more common than you might think. 80-90% of our population is believed to have some kind of unwanted GI intruder.

Take away: Think twice before taking antibiotics and popping any over-the-counter or prescribed medication. Please, do not take this fundamentally. Just don’t go running to the doctor the second you have the sniffles. Sure, a Z-Pack will probably make you feel better in the short term, but you’re wiping out all of the good bacteria along with the bad. Plus, overuse of antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance. So when you really need those meds to work, they may not.

Avoid processed food. It sounds simple, but it’s not with over 80% of the American food supply being altered or processed in some way.

Control “extreme” behaviors. This can be any obsessive act or habit from partying too much to over-exercising to everything in between. Too much of a bad OR good thing causes stress to the body and damages the gut flora.

Practice TLC in the most natural environment possible. You probably won’t witness the lasting effects of recycling that glass bottle but your body will. By removing yourself from life’s stressors aka your 8×8 work cubicle and entering a local park surrounded by lots of green, you will inherently avoid many of those damaging factors.

How to Establish a Healthy Gut?

The information on how to help fix gut health could fill an entire book, let alone an article. While we obviously can’t go into that kind of detail here, we can give you some simple fixes that will get you started on the right track.

Restore Stomach Acid Production

The first step in restoring stomach acid production is addressing any factors that are inhibiting it. This means getting tested for H. pylori if you suspect it, taking steps to manage chronic stress and avoiding acid-suppressing drugs.

The next step is to take hydrochloric acid (HCL). Taking HCL can often help kick start the body’s own acid production. HCL helps limit digestive problems as well as the potentially serious consequences of low stomach acid (such as decreased nutrient absorption, bacterial overgrowth, and increased susceptibility to infection.

Be aware that HCL should always be taken with pepsin — or, better yet, acid-stable protease — because it is likely that if the stomach is not producing enough HCL, it is also not producing enough protein digesting enzymes.

Replace Digestive Enzymes

As mentioned above, the single most important step in increasing digestive enzyme production is by restoring stomach acid production.

This will give the chyme entering the small intestine the proper pH level (acidity), which is what stimulates the pancreas to produce enzymes. Managing chronic stress and ensuring adequate micronutrient (co- enzyme) intake are also important.


This one is a little harder to give a quick overview of, because there are so many potential causes, and some of those causes require a fairly complex approach. What we can do is give you a few general tips that are helpful in most circumstances, regardless of the cause.

The first step would be to cut out gluten. Gluten leads to increased intestinal permeability if you have a gluten allergy/sensitivity or not (via activation of the zonulin pathway). Gluten is not your friend.

Also, just two alcholic beverages will cause damage to the intestinal lining and in turn intestinal permeability. A night of bottle service and pizza is a fantastic way to ramp yourself for an incredible inflammatory response and maybe even good ol’ autoimmune disease.

None of this sounds sexy or fun. Sorry, but we don’t make the rules and we’ve found a fair number of people who are weight loss resistant in our practice.

These people try everything but can’t lose body fat and constantly crave sugar. This is because whenever your immune system is running wild, you will be in a perpetual state of sugar burning and have zero shot at burning stored fat no matter how little you eat or how much you exercise.

Fixing the GI tract and securing up the junctions between our enterocytes is the first step on the road to putting out the inflammatory fire and having a real opportunity to incinerate visceral fat or the bulge around the middle.


The next step would be trying some tweaks to your existing Paleo or “real food” diet. (You are on a Paleo or “real food” diet, aren’t you? If not, that is the first step. Here are three diet fixes we’ve found to be helpful, and they’re listed in the order we suggest you try them:

● Add Fermented Food. Raw, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir or beet kvass are rich in enzymes and should be consumed regularly if tolerated.
● Try an Elimination diet. Cut out all gluten, dairy, and sugar for a minimum of two weeks (6 weeks is ideal). Begin to add one food back into your diet. A piece of sprouted, whole-grain bread is a good start. Now you begin the waiting game.
● GAPS diet. The GAPS diet is a comprehensive, anti-inflammatory, gut-healing diet. It’s especially helpful with SIBO, dysbiosis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

How to Optimize Your Gut Health

Along with these diet tips, we suggest you start adding these probiotic strains and supplements to you daily protocol. Supplemental nutrients can be helpful for immediate relief. These include:

● Ox bile. While not technically an enzyme, ox bile is one of the most effective supplements for improving fat absorption.
● Acid stable protease. Improves protein digestion; acid-stable protease is able to survive the low pH of gastric juices to further aid in protein assimilation.
● Pancreatin. A mixture of enzymes produced by the pancreas, including lipase (fat digesting), protease (protein digesting) and amylase (carbohydrate digesting).
● Bromelain. An enzyme found in pineapple that helps with protein digestion, and may have systemic anti-inflammatory effects.
● Ginger. A time-tested digestive remedy. As with HCL, in most cases you will only need to take these nutrients temporarily, until you are able to address the underlying issues. But they can be incredibly helpful in the meantime.

Probiotic Bacteria

More and more research has shown the effectiveness of daily probiotic supplementationon energy metabolism, immune system strength and disease controlProbiotics are strains of beneficial bacteria. Of course, there are thousands of strains of probiotics, so it’s virtually impossible to get every single strain through one probiotic supplement, but there are some heavy hitters that are widely available and crucial to take on a daily basis.

● Lactobacillus acidophilus
● Lactobacillus plantarum
● Lactobacillus rhamnosus
● Bifidobacterium infantis
● Bifidobacterium lactis

Probiotic Yeast

● Saccharomyces Boulardii


● Organic Jerusalem Artichoke (root)
● Organic Dandelion (leaf)

Digestive Enzymes

● Amylase
● Protease
● Lipase
● Cellulase
● Alpha Galactosidase
● Maltase
● Lactase
● Glucoamylase
● Pectinase
● Xylanase
● Beta Glucanase
● Invertase
● Hemicellulase
● Serratiopeptidase
● Pepsin

Bitter Herbs

Another way to stimulate acid production in the stomach is by taking bitter herbs. “Bitters” have been used in traditional cultures for thousands of years to stimulate and improve digestion. More recently, studies have confirmed the ability of bitters to increase the flow of digestive juices, including HCL, bile, pepsin, gastrin and pancreatic enzymes. The following is a list of bitter herbs commonly used in Western and Chinese herbology:

● Dandelion
● Fennel
● Gentian root
● Ginger
● Beet root
● Goldenseal root
● Milk thistle
● Peppermint
● Wormwood
● Yellow dock

Hydrochloric Acid

● Betaine Hydrochloride


1. Mutzel, Mike. Belly Fat Effect: The Real Secret about How Your Diet, Intestinal Health, and Gut Bacteria Help You Burn Fat. Print
2. Arrieta, M. C. “Alterations in Intestinal Permeability.” Gut 55.10 (2006): 1512-520.
3. Kharrazian, Datis. Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism. Garden City, NY: Morgan James, 2010. Print.
4. Davis, Reed. “Functional Diagnostic Nutrition – Lecture Series 4.” FDN Certification. 8 Aug. 2015.


EM Probioticum, goedgekeurd voor menselijke consumptie, verwacht in Nederland!


In onze berichten van vorige week stond dat er een EM-A variant goedgekeurd was voor menselijk gebruik in Duitsland. Wij hebben nagevraagd bij Agriton en zij bevestigden dat zij ook met een EM-A verpakking komen die geschikt en goedgekeurd is voor menselijk gebruik als probioticum. De verwachting is dat het beschikbaar zal zijn in het begin van volgend jaar. Zodra wij een exacte datum hebben vernemen jullie dat in onze wekelijkse nieuwsbrief.



Scientists are finally starting to understand the gut and brain connection, and this understanding can lead to huge breakthroughs in regard to various mental disorders, and how what’s going on in the gut could actually be a culprit for many of these illnesses. Many are surprised to learn that an estimated 90% of the serotonin produced by the body actually comes from the gut! This may lead us to believe that proper nutrition, gut microbiome, and digestion might be a key component to a healthy mind.

 Recently, bacteria have been discovered in the gut that depends solely on one of the chemicals in our brains for survival. These bacteria consume a molecule known as GABA; this molecule is crucial for calming the brain. This shows directly how gut bacteria can affect our mood.

Philip Strandawitz and his colleagues from Northeastern University in Boston have recently discovered that a species of recently discovered gut bacteria, called KLE1738 could only be grown if it was provided with GABA molecules. While announcing his findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in Boston last month, Strandawitz said, “Nothing made is grown, except GABA.”

GABA acts by inhibiting signals from nerve cells, which calms down the activity of the brain. This is why it’s so surprising that a bacteria in the gut needs it in order to grow and reproduce. Interestingly enough, low levels of GABA are directly linked to depression and other mood disorders. The findings of this study just provide further evidence that the bacteria in our gut are directly affecting the function of our brains.

What Does This Mean For Treatment Of Depression?

An experiment performed in 2011 showed how a type of gut bacteria called Lactobacillus rhamnosus can actually alter the GABA activity in the brains of mice, as well as directly influencing how the mice are responding from stress. Researchers involved in this study found that this effect disappeared when they surgically removed the vagus nerve, linking the gut to the brain, in the mice. This suggests that it plays a role in the influence that gut bacteria have on the brain.

Now, Strandawitz is looking for other gut bacteria that consume, or alternatively produce GABA. This way he can test their effects on the brains and behavior of animals. This research may eventually lead to alternative treatments for various mood disorders including depression and anxiety.

Is It Really As Simple As Diet?

Perhaps. We can’t really say for sure, but having a healthy gut can relate to having a healthy mind. There are more and more instances being documented from people who have completely changed their diets, and the impact it has had on their mood, symptoms of depression and, believe it or not, on autism as well.

There are many different contributing factors leading to an imbalance of gut flora, which in turn can lead to various mental and physical issues. Overuse of antibiotics without taking probiotics can cause this, not being breastfed as a baby could lead to gut issues down the road, also, being born from a C-section can also cause issues later on, as the beneficial bacteria that would normally be passed to the baby during birth is bypassed. These factors and more can lead to many different ailments and allergies.

After all our guts go through, it is no surprise that many of us are struggling with so many health disorders and allergies, but having this awareness – that so much is dependent on an optimal functioning gut and digestive system – is the first step towards taking back our health!

I highly suggest the book, Medical Medium by Anthony William, where these topics are explored on a much deeper level.

Have you changed your life by changing your diet and bringing balance to your gut flora? Let us know your story!

Much Love


EM- Verenging: EM-Actief (zoals Microferm) wordt gebruikt als probiotica. Er zijn mensen die merken dat ze bij het drinken van EM-Actief minder tot geen negatieve hebben!

Gut bacteria found to trigger gene that protects against type 1 diabetes


Researchers have discovered that a powerful guardian gene known to protect against a variety of autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, is triggered by the bacteria in our gut. This finding offers a clue to the complex interaction between our genes, immune system and gut microbiota.

Scientists at the Harvard Medical School set out to investigate what factors influence the activity of a powerful gene complex known as the human leukocyte antigen (HLA). It has been known for some time that specific variants of HLA genes in humans and major histocompatibility complexes (MHC) in mice can protect against diseases such as type 1 diabetes, but how that influence is exerted has been a mystery.

The team focused on gut bacteria as being a potential catalyst for modulating the genes’ activity. In a series of experiments, non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice engineered to carry a guardian gene were treated with gut bacteria killing antibiotics at various times in their development.

The mice treated with antibiotics during the first six weeks of life were found to subsequently develop symptoms of early stage type 1 diabetes despite holding the protective guardian gene. On the other hand, when treated with antibiotics at between six and 10 weeks of age, the mice still displayed signs of genetic diabetic resistance.

These results imply that early-life formation of gut microbiota has a significant effect on gene modulation influencing immune system behavior. The experiment also delivered antibiotics to mother mice in the 10 days before giving birth and discovered this also disrupted their offspring’s genetic protections. This particularly highlights the influence of a mother’s microbiota on her offspring.

Exactly how the bacteria in the gut affects gene activity is still unknown, but the researchers suggest that this offers clear evidence of how disrupting the early development of an individual’s gut microbiome can usurp any genetic predisposition and alter proper immune function.

“Our findings need to be borne out in further experiments,” says co-lead of the study Diane Mathis. “However, our results powerfully illustrate the notion that early antibiotic exposure can modulate disease risk and that avoiding or at least minimizing antibiotic treatment in infants and pregnant women during critical periods of development may be a good idea.”

The last experiment the team conducted involved fecal transplants from mice with the guardian gene to mice without that genetic protection. The mice receiving the fecal transplant displayed a reduction in pancreatic cell inflammation, the general marker signaling the onset of type 1 diabetes. This solidifies the role gut bacteria plays in regulating our immune system and suggests future treatments for autoimmune diseases could be targeted at the gut microbiome.

The new research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Harvard Medical School

Onze bron:

Your Gut Can Help Fight Depression and High Blood Pressure


By Dr. Mercola

Trillions of bacteria live in your gut, influencing your body’s homeostasis daily. Far from being restricted to the confines of your intestinal tract, your gut microbiota is intricately tied to other body systems via a number of complex pathways, including the gut-brain axis and a recently revealed gut-brain-bone marrow axis, the latter of which may influence your blood pressure, mood and more.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that your brain, your immune system and your gut microbes are intricately linked, so it’s not a stretch to add bone marrow to the list of connections. Immune cells stem from bone marrow, and bone marrow inflammation, which may result from high blood pressure, is known to be caused by a signal from the brain. In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, researchers further revealed that immune cells in bone marrow play an important role in signaling between the brain and gut.1,2

Gut-Brain-Bone Marrow Connection Revealed

In an animal study, researchers replaced natural bone marrow in mice with bone marrow cells from genetically engineered (GE) mice. The marrow had been modified to be deficient in adrenergic receptor beta, making it less responsive to messages from the brain.

“In this way,” researchers wrote in The Conversation, “we could investigate how the host brain-immune communication will modify gut microbiota. Indeed, by studying this new mouse model, we determined that our nervous system — directed by our brain — can modify the composition of gut microbiota by communicating directly with the bone marrow immune cells. The brain, therefore, can change our gut microbiota indirectly by talking to the bone.”3

In short, when bone marrow was less able to communicate with the brain, a “muted inflammatory response” was observed in the gut, which in turn led to a more diverse (i.e., healthier) microbiome. The study shed light on one of the complex ways your gut health may be implicated in that of your heart and brain, with researchers noting:4

“In the context of cardiovascular disease, this muted inflammatory response appears to be beneficial, as it leads to beneficial lowering of blood pressure in our experimental mice.

Most interestingly, a link between gut microbiota and our mental health has recently become clearer. In particular, some have suggested that gut microbiota influence the stress and anxiety pathways in the brain in a way that can alter mood and behavior both positively and negatively, giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘gut feeling.'”

Imbalanced Gut Microbes Play a Role in High Blood Pressure

Imbalanced gut microbes, known as gut dysbiosis, have been previously linked to heart disease and high blood pressure, but a recent animal study shed further light on the unique connection.5 Researchers gave rats antibiotics for 10 days to wipe out their natural microbiota, then transplanted hypertensive microbiota into rats with normal blood pressure. Rats with high blood pressure, in turn, were transplanted with normal microbiota.6

The results were surprising in that the rats treated with hypertensive microbiota developed high blood pressure, while the transplantation of normal microbiota led to only a slight reduction in blood pressure among the hypertensive rats. “We conclude that gut dysbiosis can directly affect SBP [systolic blood pressure],” the researchers wrote, adding that manipulating gut microbiota, such as via the use of probiotics or eating fermented foods, may be an “innovative treatment for hypertension.”7

However, it’s not the first time such a link has been revealed. A systematic review and meta-analysis of nine randomized, controlled studies found significant benefits among people with high blood pressure who consumed probiotics in products like yogurt and milk.8 On average, compared to a placebo, the probiotic consumption lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 3.56 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 2.38 mm Hg.

It appeared that at least 100 billion colony-forming units of probiotics a day were necessary to trigger such improvements, and the benefit was only seen in those who consumed probiotics for eight weeks or more. In 2015, meanwhile, certain gut microbes, namely firmicutes and bacteroidetes, were associated with increased blood pressure in rats.

“Products of the fermentation of nutrients by gut microbiota can influence blood pressure by regulating expenditure of energy, intestinal metabolism of catecholamines, and gastrointestinal and renal ion transport, and thus, salt sensitivity,” according to research published in the journal Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension.9

Probiotics Found to Benefit Gut Diseases, Mental Health

The addition of beneficial microbes has been found to benefit people struggling with serious gut diseases, including necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which often occurs in premature infants and can be fatal. An Australian study revealed that probiotic supplementation significantly reduced NEC risk and mortality in preterm neonates, lowering the incidence of NEC in premature babies by at least 30 percent.10

Probiotics have also been found to benefit irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), of which disturbances in the gut microbiota are often seen.11Compared to placebo, probiotic therapy was found to reduce pain and symptom severity among people with IBS,12 and probiotics are also known to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children.13

On the mental front, a small study involving adults diagnosed with IBS and depression found the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum provided depression relief. At six weeks, 64 percent of the treatment group had reduced depression scores compared to 32 percent of the control group that received a placebo.14

Those receiving the probiotic also reported fewer symptoms of IBS and improved overall quality of life. At the end of 10 weeks, approximately twice as many in the treatment group were still reporting lower levels of depression.

Interestingly, functional MRI scans revealed a link between reductions in depression score and actual changes in brain activity, specifically in areas involved in mood regulation, such as the amygdala. As noted by Dr. Roger McIntyre, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto, who was not involved in the study:15

“We know that one part of the brain, the amygdala, tends to be red-hot in people with depression, and it seemed to cool down with this intervention. It provides more scientific believability that something in the brain, at a very biological level, seems to be affected by this probiotic.”

Are Personalized Probiotics the Answer?

As for which strains of probiotic are best, the answer may be harder to come by. Emma Allen-Vercoe, a microbiologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, told Scientific American, “Bacterial strains are so genetically different from one another, and everybody has a different gut microbiota … There will probably never be a one-size-fits-all probiotic.”16

Studies suggest, for instance, that some people may benefit more from probiotics than others if they’re “low” in a certain variety that is then added to their diet. As Scientific American reported:17

“In other words, their gut ecosystems had a vacancy that the probiotic filled. That is exactly the kind of insight that clinicians need to create and recommend more effective probiotics. If a doctor knows that an individual with severe diarrhea has an undersized population of a particular beneficial microbe, for example, then prescribing the missing strain should increase the chance of a successful treatment.”

Other research has looked into the benefits of certain strains of bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria, which tend to be abundant in babies’ intestines but typically make up less than 10 percent of the gut microbiome bacteria in adults.18 Low levels of Bifidobacteria, in turn, are linked to chronic diseases like celiac disease, diabetes, allergic asthma and even obesity, while supplementing with them has been found to benefit IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, psoriasis, depression and more.19

Another type of bacteria, lactobacillus, has been shown to reduce anxiety in animal studies,20 while taking a probiotic with eight different bacterial strains reduced aggressive and ruminative thoughts in a study of adult volunteers.21,22

The Lectin Connection and How Leaky Gut Can Destroy Your Health

It’s important to be aware that gut dysbiosis, also known as leaky gut, is not only a major gut disrupter linked to digestive disorders, but may also contribute to other chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s and possibly cancer. If your gut is leaky, your blood-brain barrier is also leaky, which means toxins can go right into your brain, affecting your cognitive and mental health.

Further, leaky gut can be triggered by a number of factors, including imbalanced gut microbiota that result from dietary factors, such as the consumption of sugar as well as lectins. This latter component is very important. Lectins are plant proteins, sometimes called sticky proteins or glycan-binding proteins, because they seek out and bind to certain sugar molecules on the surface of cells. There are many types of lectins, and the main difference between them is the type of sugar each prefers and binds to.

Some — including wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), found in wheat and other grass-family seeds — bind to specific receptor sites on your intestinal mucosal cells and interfere with the absorption of nutrients across your intestinal wall.

As such, they act as “antinutrients,” and can have a detrimental effect on your gut microbiome by shifting the balance of your bacterial flora — a common precursor to leaky gut. Dr. Steven Gundry, author of “The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in ‘Healthy’ Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain,” makes a strong case for a lectin-free diet, stating:

“Our microbiome is, I think, our early warning system, because about 99 percent of all the genes that make up [the human body] are actually nonhuman, they’re bacterial, viral and fungal … [from which] we’ve uploaded most of the information about interacting with our environment … because the microbiome is capable of almost instantaneous changing and information processing that we actually don’t have the ability to do.

We’re beginning to realize … that the microbiome is not only how we interact with plant materials … like lectins, but probably more importantly, our microbiome teaches our immune system whether a particular plant compound is a friend or foe [based on] how long we’ve known that plant compound. There are lectins in everything.

But the longer we’ve interacted with lectins and the longer our microbiome has interacted with them, the more our microbiome kind of tells our immune system, ‘Hey, guys, it’s cool. We’ve known these guys for 40 million years. Chill out. They’re a pain, but we can handle them.’

From an evolutionary perspective, if you look at modern foods — say the grains and the beans, which we started interacting with 10,000 years ago, which is a blink of time — our microbiome [regards them as] foreign substances … [T]here’s no lectin speed dating in evolution.”

Lectins are strongly associated with autoimmune disorders of all kinds, primarily by triggering leaky gut. They’re found in many of our most cherished foods, such as:

Potatoes Eggplants Tomatoes Peppers Goji berries Lima beans
Cashews Peanuts Sunflower seeds Chia seeds Pumpkin seeds Kidney beans
Squash Corn Quinoa Soybeans Wheat Lentils

In addition, according to Gundry, glyphosate, which is not only sprayed on GE crops via Roundup but also is used to desiccate wheat in the U.S., is also highly problematic, decimating your microbiome and increasing leaky gut. It’s yet another reason to eat organic as much as possible.

To learn more, I highly recommend picking up a copy of “The Plant Paradox,” especially if you’ve already cleaned up your diet and still struggle with excess weight and/or health problems. Certainly, anyone with an autoimmune disorder would also be wise to take a closer look at lectins.

How to Support a Healthy Microbiota

Supporting your microbiome isn’t very complicated, but you do need to take proactive steps to encourage its health while avoiding factors known to cause harm. In addition to the lectin information above, consider the following recommendations to optimize your microbiome:

Do Avoid
Eat plenty of fermented foods. Healthy choices include lassi, fermented grass fed kefir, natto (fermented soy) and fermented vegetables. Antibiotics, unless absolutely necessary, and when you do, make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Take a 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 Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products, as CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics plus GE grains loaded with glyphosate, which is widely known to kill many bacteria.
Boost your soluble and insoluble fiber intake, focusing on vegetables, nuts and seeds, including sprouted seeds. Chlorinated and/or fluoridated water. Especially in your bathing such as showers, which are worse than drinking it.
Get your hands dirty in the garden. Exposure to bacteria and viruses can help to strengthen your immune system and provide long-lasting immunity against disease.

Getting your hands dirty in the garden can help reacquaint your immune system with beneficial microorganisms on the plants and in the soil.

Processed foods. Excessive sugars, along with otherwise “dead” nutrients, feed pathogenic bacteria.

Food emulsifiers such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols and xanthan gum also appear to have an adverse effect on your gut flora.

Unless 100 percent organic, they may also contain GMOs that tend to be heavily contaminated with pesticides such as glyphosate. Artificial sweeteners have also been found to alter gut bacteria in adverse ways.23

Open your windows. For the vast majority of human history, the outside was always part of the inside, and at no moment during our day were we ever really separated from nature.

Today, we spend 90 percent of our lives indoors. And, although keeping the outside out does have its advantages it has also changed the microbiome of your home.

Research shows that opening a window and increasing natural airflow can improve the diversity and health of the microbes in your home, which in turn benefit you.24

Agricultural chemicals, glyphosate (Roundup) in particular is a known antibiotic and will actively kill many of your beneficial gut microbes if you eat foods contaminated with it.
Wash your dishes by hand instead of in the dishwasher. Research has shown that washing your dishes by hand leaves more bacteria on the dishes than dishwashers do, and eating off these less-than-sterile dishes may actually decrease your risk of allergies by stimulating your immune system. Antibacterial soap, as it too kills off both good and bad bacteria and contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance.


Probiotic cure for peanut allergies shows long-term success


Sometimes the slow, measured pace of medical research is frustrating. On average it takes about 12 years for a new drug to move from discovery to general practice, but each step towards approval is important as it validates whether or not these new medicines actually work and are safe. A new four-year follow-up study on the efficacy of a probiotic-based peanut allergy cure has revealed the majority of the original participants are still displaying tolerance to peanuts, paving the way for the final phase of trials to bring the treatment to the public.

In 2013, a team at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, completed a study involving over 60 children suffering from peanut allergies. Over 18 months the children either received a placebo or a combination of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus with a peanut protein. At the end of the study 82 percent of the children receiving the probiotic treatment could safely eat peanuts.

“It appears that we have been able to modify the allergic response to peanut such that the immune system produces protective responses rather than a harmful response to the peanut protein,” said pioneer of the therapy Professor Mimi Tang, four years ago after the original study was published.

A big question that remained was whether this degree of peanut tolerance would hold over the long term. Now four years later the long-term data is in – and it’s extraordinarily positive. Eighty percent of those subjects that were tolerant of peanut by the end of the original study were still regularly eating peanuts years later with no problems.

“These children had been eating peanut freely in their diet without having to follow any particular program of peanut intake in the years after treatment was completed,” says Professor Tang of the recent follow-up work.

The research also suggests that a tolerance-based treatment for food allergies could be a realistic and effective target for addressing other food allergies.

The next step for the researchers is to move into Phase III clinical trials, which are often considered the most expensive and time-consuming part of the development process as they involve large patient groups across multiple locations. In the US the FDA can sometime approve treatments to market while they are still undergoing Phase III trials.

The team at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has already jointly set up a company called Prota Therapeutics with a goal of moving this treatment through to public use as quickly as possible. No specific timeframe has been outlined, but the treatment should be available in the near future and could dramatically change the lives of many people suffering from this dangerous allergy.

The new follow-up study was published in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Source: Murdoch Children’s Research Institute


Kitchen sponges are festering germ dens—and sanitizing them doesn’t help


EM-Vereniging: “De sponsjes een tijdje in een oplossing van 1 op 10 Wipe & Clean laten staan zorgt ervoor dat de sponsjes fris blijven en langer meegaan. Een bakje met die oplossing bij de gootsteen waar je het sponsje steeds inlegt is ideaal als je stank wilt voorkomen. De regeneratieve micro-organismen domineren dankzij het gebruik van EM en voorkomen stank.”

Some germy places in the house include the kitchen faucet and sponges. Typically people wash their hands after handling raw meat in the kitchen and frequently use sponges or cloths to wipe germs from surfaces in the kitchen.  (photo: pixabay).

Scientists have long thrown shade at the unassuming kitchen sponge. The household staple skulks in sinks amid dirty dishes and soggy food scraps, sopping up and amplifying microbial forces capable of invading clean food spaces. The savvy kitchen-goer may think they have this situation locked down—a simple toss through a sanitizing dishwasher cycle or a sizzling swirl in the microwave… and done. Sudsy germsplosion averted.

Nice try, says science.

In a comprehensive study of 14 household sponges and their microbial inhabitants published in Scientific Reports, researchers confirmed that kitchen sponges are indeed domestic abominations. Moreover, any sterilizing attempts only seem to temporarily free up sponge-space for potential pathogens, which rapidly recolonize the festering scrubber.

According to the authors, led by Markus Egert of Furtwangen University in Germany:

From a long-term perspective, sponge sanitation methods appear not sufficient to effectively reduce the bacterial load in kitchen sponges and might even increase the shares of [disease-linked] bacteria… We therefore rather suggest a regular (and easily affordable) replacement of kitchen sponges, for example, on a weekly basis.

Now, the researchers haven’t soaked up all possible data points of sponge science. But their study offers the most comprehensive look yet at the nasty sink-dwellers.

Taking top and bottom samples from 14 household sponges used in Germany, the researchers extracted genetic material to sequence and identify microbial inhabitants. They also used a method to tag active, breeding microbes with fluorescent markers and visualize them in the sponge material using 3D confocal laser-scanning microscopy.

Data squeeze

The sequencing harvested more than 220,000 raw DNA sequences, which represented 9 phyla, 17 classes, 35 orders, 73 families, and 118 genera of microbes. As other, smaller studies reported, the researchers found that bacteria in the family Moraxellaceae dominated sponge space, accounting for about 36 percent of microbes in samples. These germs are typical on human skin and have been found all over kitchen surfaces that tend to be cleaned with sponges—counters, fridge shelves, faucets, and stoves. They’re also found on dirty laundry and are known to give clothes a stinky smell.

Otherwise, the researchers found Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Actinobacteria were primary phyla. Five of the 10 most common operational taxonomic units—basically like species—were closely related to bacteria associated with moderate diseases.

In terms of concentration, previous studies had pegged sponge germ density around 107–109bacterial colony forming units per sponge. Assuming that only about one to three percent of bacteria can be grown in labs into colonies, those estimates match the new data. Egert and his colleagues found densities as high as 2.5 x 1010 and 5.4 x 1010—that’s 25 to 54 billion—bacterial cells per cubic centimeter of sponge. The 3D visualizations showed ubiquitous distribution of microbes throughout the sponge, with dense biofilm-like structures on the sponge surface.

The researchers noted that a few of the sponge owners had said that they cleaned them regularly, either by microwaving or using hot-soapy washes. Those sponges didn’t have fewer microbes than the others, but they did tend to have more bacteria related to those that are linked to disease.

(A) Kitchen sponges, due to their porous nature (evident under the binocular (B) and water soaking capacity, represent ideal incubators for micro-organisms. Scalbar (B): 1mm.

sponge samples:

Pie charts showing the taxonomic composition of the bacterial kitchen sponge microbiome, as delivered by pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene libraries of 28 sponge samples (top and bottom samples of 14 sponges, respectively). For better readability, only the 20 most abundant orders and families are listed.

3D model of the bacteria in the sponge sample 6b. Volume–renderings of a confocal stack showing sponge auto fluorescence (cyan); Gam42a–stained bacteria (blue) and EUB338MIX–stained bacteria (red); where Gammaproteobacteria appear purple for the overlap of red and blue, while other bacteria remain only red.

Analysis of bacteria in sponge sample 9b. Maximum projections of confocal stacks, showing EUB338MIX–stained bacteria in red (A) and sponge auto fluorescence in cyan (B); (C) is the overlap; and (D) is the 3D model.

“Presumably, resistant bacteria survive the sanitation process and rapidly re–colonize the released niches until reaching a similar abundance as before the treatment,” the authors concluded. “Whether this has any consequences in terms of clinical relevance remains to be demonstrated,” they add. But the work highlights “an amazing bacterial colonization of kitchen sponges” that they hope will “create even more awareness for kitchen sponges as hygienically relevant microbial incubators.”

Scientific Reports, 2017. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-06055-9  (About DOIs).


Nederlands artikel:

Een keukensponsje schoonmaken, dat doe je door het in kokend water te steken. En als je een fan bent van lifehacks, heb je er misschien al eens eentje in de microgolfoven gestoken. Maar volgens een nieuwe studie is dat niet voldoende om alle bacteriën te vernietigen.

Sponsjes in je keuken zijn een broeihaard van bacteriën en zelfs regelmatig schoonmaken kan dat niet verhelpen. Dat is de conclusie van een team wetenschappers, die een analyse maakte van de bacteriën op sponsjes, ook diegene die schoongemaakt werden. “Onze data suggereren dat sponsjes die volgens hun gebruikers regelmatig schoongemaakt werden, niet minder bacteriën bevatten dan de ‘vuile’ sponsjes”, staat in de studie, gepubliceerd op het online wetenschapskanaal Scientific Reports.

“Vermoedelijk overleven resistente bacteriën de schoonmaakbeurt en koloniseren ze snel tot dezelfde hoeveelheden dan voor de poetsbeurt”, staat er. “Verdere analyse is nog nodig, onder meer met reiniging van sponsjes in een gecontroleerde omgeving. Maar onze data zijn een aanwijzing dat je sponsjes best niet te lang bijhoudt, zelfs niet als je ze regelmatig reinigt.”