Category Archives: immune system


Pasteurize Eggs With Radio Frequency

  Eggs are a wonderful part of a balanced nutritional plan.  Despite all of the kerfuffle about the cholesterol in eggs, it’s a healthy food which provides protein and choline.  Each egg delivers a whopping 6 grams of protein while choline is an essential nutrient.   Part of the b vitamin family it is responsible for supporting methylation as well as overall nervous system health.

However eggs can also be an infection vector especially for salmonella.  I was shocked recently when I gave a talk to discover, chatting with attendees afterwards, that not one of them was aware of the huge recall involving nearly half a billion eggs back in 2010.  I have a couple of articles about that time frame from my blog here and here.

According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, “Pasteurized eggs or egg products shall be substituted for raw eggs in the preparation of Foods such as Caesar salad, hollandaise or Béarnaise sauce, mayonnaise, meringue, eggnog, ice cream, egg-fortified beverages and recipes in which more than one egg is broken and the eggs are combined.”  This ruling is for susceptible populations such as the elderly in care home situations, children in preschools, or those who are ill, immuno-compromised, or in hospitals or other health facilities.

Currently in order to pasteurized “raw” eggs they are bathed in hot water for one hour.   In a new process, The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) claims that pasteurizing eggs through radio frequency (heating the egg) followed by a water bath to cool it off will be sufficient to kill salmonella.

Given that salmonella comes from the hen laying the eggs doesn’t it make more sense to treat the hens so they don’t get salmonella?  Unfortunately in this country we prefer to treat the outbreak and the affected ill population.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Below is a graphic from the presentation I gave at the Weston A. Price Foundation Regional Conference last weekend.

Screenshot 2014-04-03 14.52.29

 

As you can see from the graphic above, reducing salmonella at the source not only creates a healthier poultry industry, it reduces health care costs.  I’m not sure how much it costs to treat salmonella poisoning for 80,000 people.  And the truth is that may not be an accurate number as no one knows how many cases went unreported.

So while industry may pat themselves on the back for adding another systematic process to food production I have a few issues with this:

  1. I do not consider these eggs to be raw.  Raw means raw, not heated, not radio treated and heated.  True they are marked ‘pasteurized’ but they are not raw.
  2. We are focusing on the wrong side of the equation.  We should be removing salmonella at it’s source.
  3. We are missing an opportunity to reduce health care costs and save lives by changing how we raise poultry (and in Denmark they do it without antibiotics)

The government wars that even undercooked eggs (such as over easy or soft cooked) can be a potential vector for disease.  If you choose to eat raw eggs you may want to consider getting to know your egg farmer and not purchasing from large, confined, commercial egg operations.

photo:  Phichet9707

Endometriosis Explained

March is National Endometriosis Month.  I’m delighted to share an article by my friend and colleague Dr. Amy Day who provides expert answers to your common questions, giving us  important information about this condition which affects millions of women in the United States.  Dr. Amy is also offering a free call to readers of the blog, check out the details at the end of this post.

Screenshot 2014-02-19 19.02.13

Endometriosis, also known as “endo”, is a common condition that far too often goes undiagnosed. Women suffering from pelvic pain, infertility and immune dysfunction are told that the pain is in their heads or that it is normal for a woman to suffer.

Because March is Endo Awareness Month, let’s all get familiar with this condition so we can be on the lookout to help our girlfriends and sisters find doctors who care, diagnoses that are helpful and treatments that work!

Q: What exactly IS endometriosis?
A: This condition is named after the endometrium or inner lining of the uterus. Similar tissue can sometimes grow in the wrong places, outside of the uterus. However, this name is misleading since we now know that endo is a whole-body disease involving the immune and endocrine (hormone) systems, not just the pelvis.

The immune system is unable to control these implants and they release inflammatory chemicals that allow the tissue to grow and cause pain. The tissue is also affected by cycling hormones so every month it builds up and then bleeds. Unlike the menstrual flow, this blood has no way to exit the body, resulting in internal bleeding and pain.

Q: What causes endo?
A: The short answer is that we don’t know. There are theories about retrograde (backwards flowing) menstruation bringing endometrial cells into the pelvis. Another theory is that the tissue moves through the lymph or blood to distant sites. There is a genetic link since the condition tends to run in families. And there is an embryonic theory that it happens when a baby girl is developing in utero.

We also know that there are links with environmental toxins. In fact, researchers use the chemical dioxin to create endometriosis in lab animals, in order to then do testing and learn about the disease. Dioxin is a byproduct of pesticide manufacturing, paper bleaching and waste incineration, so environmental exposure is a factor.

Q: How do I know if I have it?
At least 6.3 million women and girls in the U.S. have endo. The most common symptom is pelvic pain either with menses, during sex, with bowel movements and urination or at any time of the month. About a third of women with endo have difficulties with fertility. Fatigue is very common and many women have other related conditions such as yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and chemical sensitivities.

At this time, the definitive diagnosis is made by laparoscopic (camera inserted through belly button) surgery. In practice, many women don’t want to have surgery and, fortunately, new diagnostic tests are being developed.

Q: If I or someone I know may have endo, what treatment options are available?
A: In conventional medicine, there are strong drugs with many side effects, and there is surgery. Additionally, there is a whole world of natural treatment approaches available to patients.

Dr. Amy’s treatment plans aim to ease inflammation, normalize immune response, reduce pain, balance hormones, optimize gut function, promote detoxification and support effective stress management. This can be achieved through a healthy lifestyle, appropriate diet and exercise, nutritional supplements, herbal medicines and, when needed, bioidentical hormones. This natural treatment approach is safe and appropriate even if the patient “just” has painful periods and hasn’t had surgery to diagnose endo.

Q: How can I learn more?
A: Always be willing to speak up about your symptoms and seek doctors who will listen to you. You can also check out the Endometriosis Association, consider becoming a member to stay informed.

As a personal gift to you check out the free recording “Dr. Amy’s 3 Essential Secrets to a Naturally Pain-free Period.”  You’ll get valuable information and you will also learn more about Dr. Amy and her personal journey.

Dr. Amy is a woman with endo as well as a doctor who treats endo. Her journey has empowered her to learn the most effective natural treatment options for women with this complex condition. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Endometriosis Association, has a private medical practice in Berkeley, CA and offers telephone coaching and wellness support to women everywhere via her website www.DrAmyDay.com.

Green Tea And Inflammation

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I’m delighted to share an article with you written by Dr. Helayne Waldman, co-author of The Whole Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors. Dr. Waldman is a holistic nutrition educator in private practice and a consultant to breast cancer clinics and doctors in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Inflammation is your immune system’s natural response to an injury, such as a pulled muscle, or to germs, allergens, chemical irritants, and other threats. Your immune system reacts by releasing white blood cells and chemicals into the bloodstream, which infiltrate your tissues, creating the indicators of inflammation that most of us are familiar with: redness, heat, swelling, and pain. This is a normal and appropriate response; our bodies need to stay vigilant in order to fend off an invasion or injury with aggressive pro-inflammatory mechanisms, such as clotting, fever, and swelling. But too often, inflammation becomes a chronic condition, and in this state, we leave ourselves more vulnerable to breast cancer occurrence and recurrence.

An important characteristic of chronic inflammation is its relationship to angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels that serve to feed a tumor. While this too is a natural and normal process, it is also one that tumors can hijack to build a blood supply to accommodate their growing needs. Inflammatory cells stimulate the formation of new blood vessels which then transport critical nutrients to the tumor. This is a recipe for chronic inflammation, and clearly, inflammation and the resulting angiogenesis need to be kept under control. What can you do to control and reduce the cancer-promoting effects of chronic inflammation? Here’s one idea: Drink green tea.

Green tea is widely recognized for its anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties. It supplies catechins, a class of antioxidants with therapeutic value for reducing your risk of breast cancer. The most abundant in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, a catechin that has demonstrated inflammation-reduction and cancer-interruption both in the lab and in animals. In May 2013, researchers concluded that their “findings support the hypothesis that EGCG… directly targets both tumor cells and tumor vasculature, thereby inhibiting tumor growth, proliferation, migration, and angiogenesis of breast cancer.” The finding that EGCG acts on cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed reinforces past results — that the catechins in green tea induced apoptosis, or cell death, in cancer cells but not in their normal cell counterparts.

Another recent study from the journal PLoS (Sept., 2013) once again put EGCG to the test, this time against a highly aggressive form of breast cancer known as inflammatory breast cancer. . The authors summarized, “EGCG decreased expression of genes that promote [cancer cell] proliferation, migration, invasion, and survival. Consistently, growth, invasive properties, and survival of [inflammatory breast cancer] cells were reduced by EGCG treatment.” Well done!

To enjoy all of the anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits green tea has to offer, it is best to get caffeinated green tea and add lemon juice when drinking — caffeine helps to enhance green tea’s tumor-suppressive properties while the vitamin C in lemon juice amplifies the effects of EGCG.
photo: McKay Savage

The Benefits Of Garlic

garlic for healthAre you a garlic lover? You may not have realized that with all that garlic breath you’re actually improving your health (and maybe warding off vampires). In fact, it’s health benefits have been noted dating all the way back to ancient Rome and Egypt, but what exactly does it do for you?

A great source of vitamin-C, vitamin B6, phosphorus, potassium, copper, iron, zinc, selenium, calcium, magnesium, and manganese, garlic’s secret lies in the compound called allicin.  This compound is responsible for all the purported health benefits by increasing the body’s production of hydrogen sulfide and leading to a number of changes.  Believed to protects against cancers, it is an anti-inflammatory vegetable which boosts the immune system, It is also antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal. As if that’s not enough, it’s also highly supportive for detoxification.

With the increase in interest in detoxing your body, it’s good to know how garlic helps with this process. Remember those sulfur compounds mentioned above? Those compounds activate liver enzymes that rid the body of toxins. On top of that, it provides both allicin and selenium, which protect the liver from damage. So next time you’re looking for a new detox recipe, try using garlic.

An interesting health benefit of garlic is that it helps with cough, sore throats, and stuffy noses or congestion. [editor note: when we have illness in our home a favorite remedy is to chop up a fresh clove of garlic and swallow it down with water.  It may be a bit pungent but it seems to do the trick.  Note of caution, do not do this on an empty stomach or you may vomit.]

Also good for circulation; the hydrogen sulfide compounds found in this vegetable relaxes the blood vessels.  It is believed to increase blood flow and it may even help protect the heart. Because of the changes in blood and circulation, it may also improve aerobic performance. A study done on college endurance athletes showed that both VO2 max and endurance performance time increased following garlic supplementation; perhaps that’s why ancient Egypt fed their athletes garlic before the Olympic Games and the Romans believed it aided strength. Consider taking supplements (or even try it fresh) before you exercise and see if it helps improve your performance.

You can easily maximize the health benefits that you do get from garlic by putting a little thought into preparation. The healthy compounds are boosted and can withstand cooking when the cloves are crushed or cut at room temperature and then allowed to sit for 10- 15 minutes. To get the most out of your garlic for health and flavor, cook it the least amount as possible. When adding it to a recipe that calls for onions and other aromatics always put the garlic in last.  Finally, researchers believe that aged garlic contains the healthiest properties.

If you’re a garlic lover, you may not even care about the negative effects, but for some they can be a large deterrent. Negative effects include bad breath, gastric upset, body odor, heartburn, and bloating. However, if you’re opting for supplements rather than fresh, some rare effects can happen including headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. Lastly, because it is a blood thinner, you may bruise more easily or if you combine a high garlic intake with blood thinners, you run the risk of severe bleeding.

Randi Upshaw is a Certified Athletic Trainer who loves health and fitness and uses writing to share it with others.  Like what she writes?  Then check out www.HomeGymReview.net.

photo: Donovan Govan

My Peanut Allergy Kid

Peanut Allergy

Food allergies and sensitivities are increasing dramatically in our society. I’m not aware of any family that does not have a child who goes to school with another child who has a, sometimes life threatening, food sensitivity. Peanut and tree nut allergies appear to be among the worst and the incidence is growing. In her book The Peanut Allergy Epidemic: What’s Causing It and How To Stop It author Heather Fraser looks at the growing challenge of this issue and why it seems to be so strongly tied to our Western culture.
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On My Mind Monday 03.25.13

on my mind -- what's in the news

It’s never the same two weeks in a row. A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health. Here’s what’s on my mind.

Salt Linked to Autoimmune Diseases – I find this article fascinating for a couple of reasons. One is that there appears to be no delineation of whether they used only iodine laced salt or if there was a comparison with sea salt (although I’d like to point out that at the root of it all salt is sea salt). There’s also no mention of the fact that salt is required for the body to make hydrochloric acid and that some autoimmune disorders such as adrenal fatigue actually require the use of salt for sufferers to feel better. While there is far too much salt in processed food (as an example 1 cup of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran contains 15% of your daily recommendation) and high salt intake is tied to high blood pressure, this issue is one to watch.

Doctors Who Cook Give Better Nutrition Advice – Funny enough my favorite doctor ever was the one who was a foodie and LOVED to cook. Often we spent at least half the visit talking about food. Sadly for me he left to go to a clinic that specialized in male health (I called and pointed out that that didn’t help me any but it didn’t seem to change his mind). I can see where this could make a difference. Even better would be physicians who would be willing to take cooking classes from Nutrition Professionals. This information would then be disseminated to their clients and more people might be a eating a whole food nutrient rich diet. I can only hope that in our food-show-obsessed culture this idea takes root and encourages more doctors to learn how to cook real food.

Gatorade pulls ingredient linked to flame retardants – this is nutri-washing at it’s finest. Pepsi, the company that owns Gatorade, responded to a petition from a kid about Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO), an ingredient found in flame retardants, and pulled it from their Gatorade products. They then got a huge boost of media exposure for that. Instead of the BVO they plan to use sucrose acetate isobutyrate (SAIB). This is an ingredient which according Eastman Chemicals lies “somewhere between a plasticizer and a resin.” Not only that Pepsi may have removed the BVO from Gatorade but it’s still available in Mountain Dew.

Nutri-washing: I thought I should put in a definition here of Nutri-washing. The term was first coined by Michele Simon, a public health attorney, who first used it in her book Appetite for Profit: How the food industry undermines our health and how to fight back. It is the practice of food manufacturer’s to reformulate their products as a presumably healthier version and then PR spin it like crazy to make themselves look good. In the case listed above Pepsi is touting how wonderful and responsive they are that they’ve removed BVO from Gatorade. What they conveniently don’t mention is the other products in their brand which still contain it and the chemical they’ve used to replace it with. Until enough steam builds up about SAIB they, and other food manufacturers, will continue to use nasty chemicals in the food they produce. Your best defense is to READ THE LABEL and become an informed consumer.

What’s Mira Reading: Inspired by the dad who wrote the blog post you’ll read tomorrow I’m reading The Peanut Allergy Epidemic: What’s Causing It and How To Stop It.

Video of the Week: I love cauliflower and purchase it regularly. For those who don’t know you can also eat the greens, they’re tasty in a stir fry or sauteed with other greens. But for the cauliflower itself consider trying this flavorful cauliflower recipe from George Mateljan.

photo: Alvimann

On My Mind Monday 10.15.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Dehydration can affect your thinking – In addition to all of the other ill effects of dehydration now there’s one more to add to the list.  It can affect your cognitive processing.  This can become an issue as we age since our thirst mechanism can decline over time.  As the saying goes, “If you’re thirsty, you’re already down a quart.”  While that may or may not be entirely accurate, it is true that by the time you feel thirsty your body is already somewhat dehydrated.  Avoid this by getting into the habit of sipping throughout the day to stay well hydrated and healthy.

Seven Steps For Instant Calm – In our busy, over-scheduled, modern lives we often find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.  Here are some simple tips to remind us of those small things that we can do to help us recenter.

Why We Get Colds – There are actually a number of reasons why this happens, we’re run down or our immune system is low, we’re overweight, or we consume too much sugar (it suppresses the immune system).  It turns out that cold viruses also do better when humidity levels are low.  To help support the immune system consider adding more garlic to your diet, getting off the couch, checking your vitamin D levels, and cutting back on sugar.

Sugary drinks cause weight gain – I’m a little surprised that anyone thinks we still need to do studies on this.  Sugary drinks are nothing more than liquid candy.  They represent empty calories that do are not filling and contribute excess intake without any nutritional content whatsoever.  I wonder if they keep doing studies on this because so many of us are so addicted to our sugary drinks that we keep hoping for a different answer.

An old-fashioned drink is back in style – Mead is making headlines.  Made from a honey base it has a unique flavor, just like wine or beer, depending on where it’s made and the ingredients that go into it.  While I’ve not made it nor tasted it, this certainly sounds interesting and I’ll be watching to see if this is another locavore food trend that spread across the country.

photo:  mconnors

On My Mind Monday 2.27.12

newspaper | photo: mconnors

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  My snapshot of what I find interesting.  Information and news about health, nutrition and/or holistic living.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Three weight loss drugs make second bid for FDA approval – I’m not a huge fan of weight loss drugs (no surprise there). Unfortunately many of them are stimulants and easily abused. The other problem is that even though they often come with some sort of documentation about meal plans they do not, in my opinion, adequately address educating people about understanding nutrition and specifically understanding their eating habits and how they contribute to their overweight. We are surrounded with generalized statements but often nothing to support lifelong habit and thought changes. This is why people yo-yo, they haven’t learned how to meet their own needs when it comes to their diet. I do hope these products will continue to be refused approval.

A connection between superbugs and antibiotic use in livestock – it frustrates and infuriates me that over 70% of our antibiotics are used in livestock feed and yet the industry refuses to see a connection between that usage and the rampant increase of superbugs. Well, now we have PigMRSA to prove the point. How to avoid antibiotics in your food? Unfortunately there is no labeling requirement that shows how much antibiotic the animal on your plate has eaten. The only way to avoid it is to choose meat marked “natural” and labeled with the statement that it does not contain hormones, antibiotics or preservatives. This label however is not regulated. A better option, if the budget will allow, is to choose organic meat, dairy, and eggs. This is a regulated label and the animal is not allowed by law to have antibiotics, GMO feed, hormones, or preservatives.

In a Squeaky-Clean World, a Worm Might Help Fight Disease – in a nutshell this article talks about the possibility of pig whipworms being helpful in stimulating the immune system.  Here we have yet another scientist looking at the Hygiene Hypothesis which I wrote about here and here.  This is a different take on adding organisms to the body to support health.  Another one that has gained some attention recently is fecal bacteriotherapy which appears to be helpful in remitting C. Difficile infections and a variety of Irritable Bowel Diseases.  While I’m not certain that in our modern culture many people would be open to the idea of either of these therapies, they certainly seem to point to a need to stop being so hyper-clean.  The antibacterial everything in our environment may actually make us more sick in the long run.  Consider a return to good old-fashioned soap and water.

Antibiotics don’t work for most sinus infections – Unfortunately we have become accustomed to taking antibiotics for everything.  As a result many of us are walking around with weakened, overwhelmed, inflamed guts that do not have adequate probiotic colonies to support good health.  If you have to take an antibiotic, seriously consider if it is necessary before just popping those pills.  And don’t forget to take a good probiotic with your antibiotics to replenish the good bacteria which are being wiped out right along with the bad.  I often suggest that people take probiotic supplements for 60 days after their last dose of antibiotic.

Someone asked for a suggestion for probiotics:  One probiotic that I like a lot is Innate Response’s Flora 20-14 Ultra Strength.  With 20 billion CFUs in 14 different clinically proven strains, this is a supportive supplement to recolonize your gut.  It can be purchased at a discount through my Virtual Dispensary please contact me for your access code.

This commercial was seen during the Superbowl.  I think it’s sweet but also carries a powerful message.  I just found out that all proceeds of the song, The Scientist, available on iTunes, go to the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, an organization dedicated toward helping to create more sustainable food and support farmers.  That’s a mission that I can believe in.

Why we must occuppy our food supply – Willie Nelson and Anna Lappe tell it like it is

I like Mark Bittman and watch his youtube channel a lot. I also happen to love both clementines (which are still easily available here in TX) and clafoutis. So this looks like a great combination for a simple dessert that makes use of seasonal ingredients.

What I’m reading:

The Magnesium Miracle – This book highlights how important this essential nutrient is to our health.  Magnesium is important for heart health, weight management, diabetes, mental health and more.  As a matter of fact the book lists over twenty-five conditions that are related to magnesium deficiency.  It also talks about magnesium in synergy with other minerals and ways to get more magnesium into our system.  I’ve known for a long time that many people are walking around deficient in magnesium.  I’m enjoying this book and learning already.

disclosure:  cmp.ly/5

Colic And Probiotics

crying newborn | photo: Melimama

Recently I wrote a post about gut health and allergies.  In that post I mentioned a study that was done in Sweden which seems to highlight the benefits of having a diverse bacterial eco-system in the gut to help protect against future allergies and conditions, including eczema.

Strong and diverse health does more than protect against allergies.  It is also important for babies when it comes to colic.  Colic is believed to affect as many as 1/3 of all babies.  There does not appear to be a difference between those babies that are breast fed and those which are bottle fed.  There are many different theories as to the cause of colic and it’s important to note that no one knows for certain.  Given that we are bio-individual creatures it’s likely that there are multiple reasons.  Dietarily there appears to be some success for a large number of babies when lactose (milk sugar) is removed from their diet.  These babies have what is referred to as lactose overload, or functional lactase insufficiency.  In plain English, they are not producing enough lactase (the enzyme which breaks down the lactose) and this causes gastric distress.  This is not lactose intolerance, but rather the undeveloped digestive system not having enough lactase; this situation does correct itself over time.

Over the past few years the health of the intestinal eco-system has come under scrutiny as a possible reason for colic.  Back in 2009 researchers at the Texas Health Science Center (THSC) in Houston found a connection between gut health and colic.  The study seemed to indicate a correlation between bacterial balance and colic.  Although the initial study was a small one, all the colicky infants tested positive for Klebsiella, a bacteria which is often found in the mouth and intestines of adults.  The study concluded, “Infants with colic, a condition previously believed to be nonorganic in nature, have evidence of intestinal neutrophilic infiltration and a less diverse fecal microflora.” (the less diverse microflora theory was shown to be true in the Sweden study mentioned above.)

Now another, study published in the journal BMC Microbiology in June 2011, appears to show positive results for inoculating with beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacillus. In this study two strains of lactobacillus had positive, antimicrobial effects. Studies are continuing to see which strains are best; I assume the studies will also look at how to best deliver probiotics to the infant without overwhelming their system.

I know many mothers add higher levels of probiotic foods to their diet in order to help their own immune systems be as strong as possible.  I also know some mothers who have used liquid probiotics and put it on their nipples just before breast feeding in order to help the infant get some beneficial effect.  If you feel it would be beneficial to add probiotics to the diet of your infant child it’s important to let your health care professional know. If you are working with a lactation specialist let them know as well.

One thing that neither of these studies addresses is the gut health of the mother.  As I’ve mentioned before, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride points out that most gut disturbances tend to be generational disorders.  It is highly beneficial for the mother to have a strong bacterial eco-system, this is what gets passed along to the infant and what helps to inoculate them during a natural birthing process.  For all of us, having a strong, diverse, healthy gut is important to health.  Now it looks like it’s even more important to support the health of future generations.

Klebsiella study: http://www.ei-resource.org/news/irritable-bowel-syndrome-news/klebsiella-bacteria-linked-to-infant-colic-and-irritable-bowel-syndrome/
Lactobacillus study: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2180/11/157/abstract/

Gut Health Linked To Allergies

probiotic – lactobacillus bulgaricus | photo: Gengiskanhg

A recent study done in Sweden entitled, “Low diversity of the gut microbiota in infants with atopic eczema” appears to show that higher diversity in infant gut microflora  lowers the chance of allergies, including eczema.

This is of interest for a number of reasons.  One, it appears to back up the Hygiene Hypothesis.  This is the idea that if our environment is too clean it doesn’t provide the diversity we need and also encourages the body to attack “harmless antigens.”  Two, it provides further information about the role of certain beneficial bacteria.  Examples included proteobacteria protecting against allergies while bacteroides appear to be useful against inflammation.  Three, it shows, yet again, the connection between the gut and health.  Four, it highlights, to me, the dangers of the over-use of antibiotics.  I have written briefly about antibiotics in our food supply here and here.

The more antibiotics that appear in our food system, the higher the toll they take on our bodies.  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome and creator of the GAPS Diet, tells us that when she looks at dysfunction in the gut she traces it back over at least three generations.  The less healthy flora the parents have to pass on, the fewer strains will be available to inoculate the baby.  Dr. Campbell-McBride has found the effect to be cumulative over the generations.

What does all of this mean?  In addition to cleaning up our irresponsible use of antibiotics in the food supply, it also means that we need to do what we can to ensure a strong, healthy eco-system in our gut.  We need to create a rich supply of diverse prebiotic and probiotic colonies.  How to accomplish this?  Adding fermented foods to the diet such as kefir is a good start.  Other fermented foods could include yogurt and kombucha.  Also eating a diet high in fiber, especially soluble fibers which are fermented by the bacteria in the gut will help.  Should you require taking antibiotics it is vitally important that you take them as prescribed and finish the dose to avoid creating resistant bacteria.  You will also need to re-inoculate your system by taking probiotics (antibiotics wipe out both good and bad bacteria).

While this study from Sweden highlighted the benefits of a richly diverse gut colony in infants for protecting them against allergies, I feel that supporting the gut at any time is beneficial.  I believe probiotic support can go a long way toward helping to regain or maintain healthy gut function.

disclosure: cmp.ly/5