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Wed, 28 Sep 2016
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Health & Wellness


Bacterial cells vs. human cells in the body

Who’s living whom? Think you’re in charge? The bacterial-human cell ratio shows your human cells are greatly outnumbered by microbiome (bacterial) cells in your body.
The bacterial-human cell ratio in the body is quite astounding, if you didn't already know it. Did you realize that the amount of bacteria in your body vastly outnumber everything else?The bacterial-human cell ratio is estimated to be around 10:1! That means for every human cell in your body, there are roughly 10 bacterial cells. So who's living whom? Who's in charge? It's certainly not the human "you", because you only have one eleventh of the numbers (although human cells are far larger and heavier). The bacterial-human cell ratio reaffirms the importance of having a healthy bio-terrain (i.e. having the right balance of, and an abundance of, healthy bacteria in your body), which is what many alternative and holistic healing modalities teach. Ultimately, it also lends weight to the idea that it is your body's bio-terrain or inner environment that determines your state of health and immunity - not whether you are exposed to a particular bacterium or virus as is the prevailing view in Western Medicine.

Comment: The cutting edge of gut health and disease


The gut-brain connection, mental illness, and disease

Psychobiotics, immunology, and the theory of all chronic disease.

We are never truly alone. On our skin, in our gums, and in our guts live 100 trillion organisms, altogether known as the microbiome. These beasties comprise 90% of the cells of our bodies, though these cells are so tiny in size that it appears our own human cells predominate. It is only recently that we have begun to study these organisms with any depth. Most of them live within the gut, and cannot be cultured, and only with the advent of advanced genetic testing have we been able to have a better understanding of the variety and numbers of microbes we're dealing with. They are Bacteria, Archaea, and even some eukariotic parasites, protozoans, and fungi.

What do they have to do with psychiatry? It turns out way more than we might have suspected. The gut and brain have a steady ability to communicate via the nervous system, hormones, and the immune system. Some of the microbiome can release neurotransmitters, just like our own neurons do, speaking to the brain in its own language via the vagus nerve.

To have a full understanding of how the whole gut-brain connection works, you need robust knowledge of endocrinology, immunology, pathology, and neurology, which is a bit beyond the scope of a blog article. However, to break it down to simplistic terms, here are the basic links:

Comment: For an update on this topic, read:

The cutting edge of gut health and disease
In both human and rodent studies, increasing obesity, insulin resistance, and fasting glucose levels correlate linearly with decreasing distance between gut bacteria and the cells lining the intestine. This invasion of bacteria on the front lines of the gut is called "bacterial encroachment," reminding us that our relationship with our microbiota is best characterized as "frenemies." Andrew Gewirtz leads a team at Penn that published the sobering paper in Nature last year, showing how modest amounts of emulsifying agents nearly universally found in processed food damaged the microbiome and intestinal cells, causing colitis in mice. He made the sensible recommendation to avoid processed food in favor of eating fresh, whole foods.

He's also been able to reverse some damaging effects of more processed, purified diets in mice by adding the fermentable fiber inulin to their chow. The inulin feeds the microbiota and makes them more diverse and robust. However, along the lines of the "frenemies" designation, immune compromised mice got sick when fed inulin, meaning we have to be careful about making recommendations for fiber blooming of our gut microbes. It may make sense to use multiple step treatments, eliminating pathogens with temporary low fermentable fiber diets and possibly antibiotics, then adding in more friendly probiotics, feeding them with fiber. These complex protocols have yet to be studied in a systematic way in humans and remain experimental.


The cutting edge of gut health and disease

Probiotics and other microbiome manipulations have been touted as cures to everything from obesity to colitis to allergies and autism. Certainly the potential for these agents and methods are exciting, but what where is the line, now, between dangerous hype and the state of the art research being done?

The perfect way to answer that question was a symposium this past week at Harvard Medical School on gut health, microbiota, and probiotics, bringing together world experts in the field. Microbiota researchers in obesity and metabolism along with those studying effects of gut health and probiotics on the brain shared their work isolating mechanisms of action of the microbiota on these diverse physiologies.

Rob Knight, PhD, a key leader of the American Gut project, made the striking point that the cost of sequencing the microbiota for study has dropped 4-5 orders of magnitude in the last 11 years. While most of the speakers at this symposium are sponsored by large national grants and have dozens of researchers working with them, in a few years we may have many more teams working on translating what we know about the microbiota from animal research into clinical trials for humans. From his research establishing differences between gut bacteria in healthy and obese people, Knight figured out that most commercially available probiotics (which have the important FDA designation 'GRAS' or "generally recognized as safe) are likely not the right taxa to show robust results in humans. This means more work has to be done in safety testing for new strains before more significant progress can be made in human trials.

Comment: For more background information, read:


An elementary school has kids meditate instead of punishing them and the results are profound

It was recently reported that Robert W. Coleman Elementary in West Baltimore will be taking a new and holistic approach to disciplining students. Instead of punishing them or sending them to the principal's office, administrators will now be sending children to "the mindful moment room" where they will be able to meditate and wind down.

The new policy has been in place for over a year, and in the time that the meditation room has been set up, there has actually been no suspensions throughout the entire year.

Comment: A great way to control stress, promote healing, detoxing and rejuvenation is through the Éiriú Eolas program.


The woman who is allergic to water

Rachel's rare condition means that a bath is agony; even her own tears will scorch her face. How can the human body reject life's most basic necessity?

Rachel wakes up - and drinks a kind of poison that feels like a glass of stinging nettles. As it slips downs her throat, she can feel it blistering her skin, leaving a trail of red, itchy welts behind. Later that day, scorching drops of the stuff start falling from the sky. At the local leisure centre, she watches others splash around in a pool of the irritant. They seem unfazed, but the moment she dips her toe in, she's faced with burning pain.

No, this is not some bizarre alternate reality. This is the world of Rachel Warwick, who is allergic to water. It's a world where relaxing baths are the stuff of nightmares and snorkelling in tropical seas is as appealing as rubbing yourself with bleach. "Those things are my idea of hell," she says.


Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite

Nothing is more exasperating than having your good night's sleep disturbed by bed bugs all over your bed. Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small (but terrible) wingless insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, including humans.1

They are usually brown to reddish-brown, and are roughly the size of an apple seed, measuring 5 to 7 millimeters long. Their bodies, when not fed, are flat and oval-shaped, but become balloon-like and more elongated when nourished.2

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that bed bugs aren't a medical or public health hazard because they don't spread disease, this doesn't mean you should take these insects lightly.

Aside from sleep loss, you can become susceptible to bed bug bites (red swollen bumps that are similar to mosquito bites) and frequent itchiness that could result in excessive scratching and secondary skin infections.3

Learn more about how bed bugs are affecting the U.S., the best ways to drive them away from your home and prevention techniques that you can practice.

Comment: See also:


The water supply contains a cocktail of contaminants -- what to do?

So-called safe drinking water supplies coming out of our taps are now proven to contain industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals linked to toxicity, developmental problems, tumour growth and hormonal disruptions. One glass of tap water now contains hundreds of contaminants that are not filtered through federally approved guidelines which monitor safety standards servicing millions of people.

Excreted and flushed through our sewage works and waterways, drug molecules are all around us. A recent analysis of streams in the US detected an entire pharmacy: diabetic meds, muscle relaxants, opioids, antibiotics, antidepressants and more. Drugs have even been found in crops irrigated by treated waste water.

The chemical contaminants that infest city water supplies in industrialized nations are abundant, including fluoride, chlorine, lead, mercury, arsenic and dozens of pharmaceuticals.


Big Pharma's industrial waste is fueling the rise in superbugs worldwide

Pharmaceutical companies are fueling the rise of superbugs by manufacturing drugs in factories that leak industrial waste, says a new report which calls on them to radically improve their supply chains.

Factories in China and India - where the majority of the world's antibiotics are produced - are releasing untreated waste fluid containing active ingredients into surrounding areas, highlights the report by a coalition of environmental and public health organizations.

Ingredients used in antibiotics get into the local soil and water systems, leading to bacteria in the environment becoming resistant to the drugs. They are able to exchange genetic material with other nearby germs, spreading antibiotic resistance around the world, the report claims.

Ahead of a United Nations summit on antimicrobial resistance in New York next week, the report - by the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and pressure group Changing Markets - calls on major drug companies to tackle the pollution which is one of its root causes.

They say the industry is ignoring the pollution in its supply chain while it drives the proliferation of drug resistant bacteria - a phenomenon which kills an estimated 25,000 people across Europe and globally poses "as big a threat as terrorism," according to NHS England's Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies.

Arrow Up

How a low carb, fat burning paleo diet can boost athletic performance

A few weeks back, I explored the potential benefits using fat as your primary fuel can have on cognitive function. While the strongest research centers on people dealing with age-related cognitive decline and other neurodegenerative diseases, and whether burning fat and ketones can boost cognitive function in healthy adults remains unconfirmed, the totality of the evidence suggests it can provide a benefit. Today, I'll be discussing a related topic with more solid scientific footing: the effects of fat-adaptation on athletic performance.

Detractors of high-fat, low-carb diets often claim that they're bad for physical performance. They may offer some help to people with certain forms of brain cancer, they can definitely help obese people lose weight quickly and easily, and the ketogenic diet is the gold standard treatment for epilepsy, but fat-adaptation severely hampers your ability to perform on the field, on the track, and at the gym.

Is this really true, though?

While the effect of fat adaptation on anaerobic performance is unclear, it can actually improve many other measures of physical performance. There may even be cause for anaerobic-centric athletes to get fat-adapted, if only for part of the time.

Let's dig right into the benefits.

Comment: Adopting a low carb or ketogenic paleo diet has a myriad of benefits for the human body:


Osteoporosis is scurvy of the bone - not calcium deficiency

"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."~ Proverbs 17:22

It saddens me to see older women diagnosed with "osteopenia" or "osteoporosis" listening to their doctors and taking supplemental calcium and even problematic drugs called bisphosphonates. These are irrational, dogmatic, harmful approaches to the problem of degrading bone as we age. In my time practicing nephrology and internal medicine, I saw numerous patients suffering from vascular disease while taking the recommended doses of calcium. X-rays revealed perfect outlines of calcified blood vessels and calcified heart valves.