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How Gut Bacteria Controls Your Brain

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The bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract (gut) is often referred to as your second brain, and for a good reason. Inside your stomach is a very complex, multi-organism microbiome that consists of not only your cells but also various bacteria that help you digest your food. The most prominent bacteria are Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, and Proteobacteria, but there are many more as well. The effects of these bacteria are currently in research, but recent scientific studies have discovered that these bacteria are not only beneficial but a necessity for survival.

The bacteria in your gut can make your basic life functions easier and overall happier in general. A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience conducted an experiment where they studied germ-free mice (in the gut) compared to mice containing bacteria. These germ-free mice displayed an exaggerated response to restraint stress and anxiety-related behaviors, which affected the overall well-being of the rat.

https://www.railyardapothecary.com/store/p248/The_Gut_Brain_Connection%3A_Learning_to_Trust_My_Gut.html

What makes it much more interesting is that gene expression of a key protein regulating neuronal plasticity and cognition was observed to have decreased, whereas a control group of normal mice with gut bacteria showed the necessity of such bacteria for survival. When the scientists re-introduced the bacteria in the gut, these effects were somewhat able to be reversed and symptoms, including neuronal cognition, were mediated; however, not all the mice with reintroduced gut bacteria were seen to recover from the symptoms and continued symptoms were especially prominent for mice that were not in early childhood/adolescence.

Scientists then applied this newly found information and analyzed human fecal matter. They began to see the effects of various dietary choices and how it affects your brain. The current focus is on probiotics, which is a $20 billion industry in today’s market, and it is promoted widely as healthy. But why?

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The testing of gastrointestinal tract bacteria and probiotics is relatively early in its studies, but there are specific strains that have been proven to impact your gut microbiome positively. Additional studies of groups given probiotics against groups given a placebo in hospitals measured for mood and cognition. Using the total Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the researchers saw that the probiotics group had a higher percentage decrease versus the placebo group. These tests were based on the mood, something that is not quantifiable. However, suggested evidence tells us that probiotics help with increased mood and further, larger clinical trials are being conducted to find more evidence.

Manipulation of the microbiome in your gut is utilized for many applications, including chronic diseases and illnesses. Hepatic encephalopathy, a symptom of a chronically diseased liver, causes patients to have complications with cognitive function and patients treated by gastrointestinal tract bacteria manipulation. Antibiotics are given to help the patients because their diseased livers cannot process the gut bacteria metabolites. Reducing the bacteria that cause these metabolites to mediate the problem results in the disappearance of these metabolites, thus improving cognitive function. The bacteria microbiome here have a direct effect of the patients’ function, displaying how your gut bacteria controls your brain.

https://www.parentingspecialneeds.org/article/gut-brain-connection-special-needs/

Evidence in mice suggests that gastrointestinal tract microbiome may be not only necessary for yourself right now but also crucial for early brain development. Right after birth, the newborn is introduced to many different microorganisms, and this early microbiome is essential for the development of the early brain. A 2010 study, Normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior, tested mice with different microbiome organisms to see the effects. Germ-free (GF) mice were tested versus normal mice in anxiety and exploratory activity.

Mice were tested to see if the absence of gut bacteria would affect the maturation of the brain of the mice. Key proteins were found missing from the GF mice, and later those mice experienced anxiety behaviors. Interestingly, proteins for the development of synapses were not expressed as much, which seems to lead to a long-term effect on the developing mice in motor control and anxiety. Results such as “elevated Noradrenaline (NA), Dopamine (DA), and 5-HT Turnover in the Striatum” appeared to cause the anxiety-like behaviors. In other words, mice without a bacterial microbiome saw anxiety-like behaviors due to changes in the neuronal chemistry inside the brain. This suggests that in humans early childhood, gut microbiome is important for the development of the synapses of the brain and controls the brain through gene expression leading to protein expression.

Your health, mood, and well-being may be in fact due to the microbiome that lays inside your gastrointestinal tract. Studies observed that mice gut bacteria cause anxiety-like symptoms. Eating probiotics have shown to be beneficial, but further research is still necessary. For now, understand the correlation between what you eat affects how you feel, and that your stomach bacteria plays a significant role in your health.

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Fitness/ Diet

7 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

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Inflammation refers to your body’s method of protecting itself against things that harm it, including infections, injuries, and toxins. One way to treat inflammation could be a prescription for pain medication. Another way to combat inflammation can come from your local grocery store. Here are seven food items you can find at your local grocery store to help fight your body’s inflammation.


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1. Broccoli 

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is low-calorie and rich in folate, vitamins C, E, and K, and fiber, along with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale. Research has shown that consuming the right amount of cruciferous vegetables can decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. The vegetable’s high amount of antioxidants is related to its anti-inflammatory effects. Broccoli is high in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that combats inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines and NF-kB, which leads to inflammation

2. Avocados

Avocados are loaded with potassium, magnesium, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. This superfood also contains carotenoids and tocopherols that helps lower the risk of cancer. One study found when people ate a slice of avocado with a hamburger, and they had lower levels of the inflammatory markers NF-kB and IL-6. Other participants who ate the burger without avocado had higher levels of the inflammatory markers. 

3. Green Tea

Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks you can find on the market. This tea reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and other medical conditions. Most of its health benefits derive from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, including the substance epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG helps to reduce inflammation by decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokine production and damage to the fatty acids in your cells 

4. Peppers

Bell peppers are not just known for their delicious flavor but are loaded with vitamin c along with chili peppers. Both peppers contain antioxidants that have substantial anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Bell peppers contain the antioxidant quercetin, which may reduce one marker of oxidative damage in people with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease Chili peppers have sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which can lead to healthier aging and reduce inflammation.

5. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice with a rich, earthy flavor that has a bitter taste and is often used to season or color curry powders, mustards, etc. The flavorful spice has received a considerable amount of attention for its content of curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient. Turmeric lowers inflammation associated with arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases.

6. Cherries

Sweet and sour cherries are packed with antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, that help fight inflammation. Although the effects of tart cherries have been studied more, sweet cherries also provide health benefits. In one study, participants who ate 280 grams of cherries per day for 1 month, had lower levels of the inflammatory marker CRP and remained low for 28 days after they stopped consuming cherries 

7. Dark chocolate and cocoa

Dark chocolate is supplied with antioxidants that reduce inflammation and can decrease the risk of disease and lead to healthier aging. Flavanol-rich cocoa is responsible for chocolate’s anti-inflammatory effects and keeps the endothelial cells that line your arteries healthy. Be sure to choose dark chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa; the higher the percentage of cocoa, the better to obtain these anti-inflammatory benefits.

Incorporating healthier options onto your plate won’t provide you with an instant cure for inflammation, but it could help reduce your flare-ups or lower your pain levels. Including anti-inflammatory foods into your diet is a more holistic way of addressing pain and inflammation, as opposed to taking medication.


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Sources: 

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-inflammation
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-anti-inflammatory-foods#section6
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22100562
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20370896
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17584048
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21324570
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21324570
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18188410
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569207
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20944519
  11. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-tart-cherry-juice-benefits
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16549461
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16877960

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Covid-19

Getting Back Into Shape During Covid

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The motivation to stay active during quarantine can be quite difficult, especially with many opting to use garages or bedrooms as a personal gym without any equipment or legroom available. Even as gyms reopen, understanding what your body needs to become stronger, leaner, & fitter can be a difficult challenge to tackle.

Keep in mind that your level of progression is widely based on your total time off, and your level of fitness before it. If you start by placing a high demand on your body, you risk the possibility of injury and a quick regression backward. Being extremely sore the next day does not indicate a quality workout. Here is an outline to guide and help you ease back into your workout without losing motivation or risking injury.


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1. Start with Flexibility Workouts

Your first progressive step should be to incorporate a couple of days of flexibility workouts to increase blood flow and circulation while supporting range of motion and joint mobility. Developing flexibility is one of the most overlooked protocols of fitness routines, and building these protocols early on will allow your body to properly readjust to the new demands that will be placed on it. Signing up or participating in a beginner yoga class or videos you can do at home to increase flexibility and build strength. Choose 10 to 15 stretches, performing each flexibility movement for up to one minute. 

2. Add Easy Cardio

The next step is integrating light cardiorespiratory workouts after a couple of stretching or yoga sessions. An excellent way to start is a brisk 20-minute outdoor walk that will revitalize your mind and get your body moving again. Other options you can include in your workout, such as low impact HIIT workout (high-intensity interval training) for beginners. Machines you can use at your gyms include treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes are great indoor options. If you had a well-established fitness base before a month-long break, your first week might consist of light jogging instead of walking.

3. Start Strength Training

After your first week of flexibility and light cardio, start to incorporate strength workouts into your routine by trying gentle strength training workout for getting back into the gym. The time apart from the gym most likely involved a fair amount of sitting that causes weakness in your posterior chain, which refers to all the muscles on the backside of the body from your head down to your heels. These particular muscles are essential for basic everyday movement and keep your spine upright when at the desk. That is why incorporating exercises that improve your posture, develop core strength, and activate muscles throughout your glutes and hamstrings are essential. 

Exercises like squats, lunges, bridges, TRX hamstring curls, stability ball mobility, and core work will help activate these muscles. Bodyweight workouts are ideal for working these muscles and establish a safe transition back into your fitness regimen, and you can work within your fitness level. 

4. Begin your workout with a proper warm-up and end with a good cool-down

It is important to begin your workout with a proper warm-up that prepares your body for the increase in activity, and a cool-down helps your heart rate return to normal resting rate. Don’t jump into any physical activity without easing into it. Muscles that have not been accustomed to strenuous activity for a while, and will experience some form of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), which means you will be tight and achy for 24-72 hours after your workout. You may also experience this when you work out regularly but up to your intensity. With a proper cool-down session, you can help some of the soreness you could experience the day following your workout. 

5. And spend a few minutes stretching.

Stretching is an important dynamic when getting back into your fitness routine to help loosen those tight muscles before starting your workouts. After your workout, its good to release that muscle tension

6. Focus on your form

When you’re getting back into your regular routine, quality will always trump quantity. Maintaining proper form will help target and work your muscles without straining or overexerting yourself. Take your time to focus on your form, breathing, and control. This is extremely important because proper technique and form are crucial to help prevent injury

7. Don’t skip rest days!

Don’t jump into working out a six-days-a-week workout routine too soon. Recovery is a big part of being active. When you don’t take a day off, your body doesn’t get to take the necessary time to replenish your muscles. Rest days are vital to long-term wellness, and the lifestyle you are recreating for yourself now should consist of frequency. Promoting recovery is a good way to build habits of your workouts without leading to a sprain or strain delaying your workout and fitness routines. 

8. Listen to your body

Your body will let you know when it is working hard, but learning the difference between hurts-so-good and hurts-not-so-good will save you a trip to the doctor’s office. If something feels uncomfortable or causes you pain, stop doing whatever is causing your body to feel that way. There is a not-so-fine line between muscle discomfort from a good workout, and pain lets you know something’s not right. Be attentive to your body to help you progress through your workouts safely. 

Slowly easing your way to recreating your fitness regimen will help you stay consistent and achieve your fitness goals. It’s important to remember we are all on our fitness journey, so take your time and stay motivated!

Sources:

  1. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/05/05/gov-newsom-announces-california-to-begin-reopening-at-end-of-this-week/
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2019/05/09/a-brief-guide-to-injury-prevention/
  3. https://www.shape.com/fitness/how-get-back-working-out
  4. https://www.self.com/story/heres-exactly-how-to-ease-back-into-working-out
  5. https://www.shape.com/fitness/tips/what-is-posterior-chain-exercises

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Lifestyle

7 Health Benefits of Roller Skating

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Some businesses are gearing up for reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic. Though not all industries, including gyms, are sure when they will reopen their doors to the public, most people are finding new ways of staying in shape at home. One at-home workout you can try is roller skating that has proven to be an effective workout with substantial health benefits. According to the Roller Skating Association International, it works every muscle in your body and can burn anywhere from 350 to 600 calories per hour.  Here are seven benefits of roller skating to achieve your fitness goals.

1.Balance and Coordination

Since balance is necessary for skating, you’ll learn and master the techniques needed to improve your form. Roller skating improves your balance by using your lower-back and abdominal muscles to roll forwards and backward. Skating requires you to maintain a steady core to stay upright, which is the perfect method for a better balance.

2.Heart Healthy

Roller skating, inline skating, and rollerblading help strengthen the heart, according to The American Heart Association roller sports is a valid form of aerobic exercise. Participating in moderate roller skating will raise the average skater’s heart rate from 140-160 beats a minute. You can increase your heart rate dramatically to about 180 beats per minute.

3.Diabetes Management

The American Diabetes Association recommends two types of physical activity to manage and prevent diabetes, such as strength training and aerobic exercise, both of which are in skating and rollerblading. Roller skating is an excellent example of aerobic exercise, which helps your body use and manage insulin better. Roller skating strengthens the heart and bones, decreases blood glucose levels, relieves stress, and improves cholesterol levels. 

4.Strength Training

In terms of health benefits, roller skating is equivalent to jogging by reducing body fat and leg strength development. Roller skating helps develop strength and building muscle. Roller skating works the legs and glutes as you power through movement and works your arms and core as you balance your body during the movement. Stronger muscles and improved coordination work together to help prevent injuries and keep you active.

5.Easy on the Joints

Running and walking can cause pressure on joints like the knees, and could potentially cause permanent injury. All disciplines of skating are low-impact and are easy on your joints. When roller skating, there’s a fluid motion instead of jerky movements present in running, walking, aerobics, and dancing. Fluid movement in inline skating and roller skating decreases the chances of sustaining joint damage. According to a study conducted at the University of Massachusetts, in-line skating causes less than 50 percent of the impact shock to joints compared to running.

6.Burning Calories

According to MayoClinic.com, a 160-lb a person can burn 913 calories rollerblading at an average pace for one hour. Within that same hour, someone who is 200 lbs. will burn 1,138 calories and someone who is 240-lb. can burn 1,363 calories.

7.No Rink Required 

You don’t need a gym to go roller skating, all you need is a pair of skates, and you’re all set. Many people enjoy roller skating in a rink with others, but is not required and can be done outside on the street, on a paved trail, anywhere with a smooth, steady surface.

Staying active while at home is essential to help relieve stress during quarantine and improve your overall physical health. Before you engage in any physical activity, make sure you stretch and warm-up to prevent injury.

Sources: 

  1. skateland.net/pdf/skate_heart.pdf
  2. https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.ilparks.org/resource/resmgr/healthy_lifestyles/August_10.pdf
  3. https://www.rollerskatedad.com/10-amazing-health-benefits-roller-skating/#.XtfH_55KiEt
  4. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/03/31/5-ways-to-relieve-stress-during-a-pandemic/

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