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.
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?
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.
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.
The Next Super-Drink: Coconut Water
When we think of tropical fruits, the first fruit that comes to most people’s mind is coconut. While the oil and chunks of the fruit are often used for cooking, the water, in recent times, has gained significant attention for containing a multitude of health benefits.
The water comes from coconuts that are about 5-7 months old and has been used to cure several ailments. The top three advantages of drinking coconut water is that it has high amounts of electrolytes, high levels of potassium, and reduces fat levels. Read more below!
1. Has High Amount of Electrolytes
Instead of using Gatorade for your next sports drink, consider drinking coconut water because it contains natural electrolytes that can help restore fluids after a long, arduous exercise.
Electrolytes help us maintain blood volume, heart health, and prevent dehydration. This, in return helps us reduce stress, fatigue, and stimulates muscle relaxation.
2. High Levels of Potassium
When we think of intaking a daily healthy level of potassium, people assume a banana is the easiest choice. In fact, a banana contains only 440 milligrams of potassium whereas coconut water contains 660 milligrams of potassium.
This super drink water has more than ten times of potassium compared to other sports drinks! Potassium is vital to our bodies because it restores fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, preventing hypokalemia or too little potassium in the body.
This greatly affects cardiovascular health because a certain amount of potassium intake reduces the likelihood of contracting a stroke. Essentially, coconut water helps us maintain optimal blood pressure and is therefore extremely heart healthy.
3. Helps Lower Fat Levels
Foods that are high in fiber are predominantly utilized to help lower fat. Some of these healthy fat foods are oatmeal, fish, avocado, and olive oil. But did we forget to mention another factor of coconut water is that it has super fat-lowering effects?
Researchers conducted a study in which rats consumed coconut water and were found to have less likely had a heart attack. The coconut water decreased the rat’s cholesterol levels, specifically the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) found in the heart.
LDL is considered to be the bad cholesterol because a buildup of this lipoprotein would increase the cholesterol in your arteries. Therefore, coconut water can have the same effect on humans and reduce our LDL levels.
Additionally, consumption of coconut water reduces triglycerides, which are a type of fat found in the bloodstream that increases the risk of heart disease. Reducing LDL levels and triglycerides are both important in the weight loss process.
With all of these health benefits, coconut water is sure to be the next super-drink that can significantly impact human health. Why consume all these other food when coconut water contains these top health benefits and more!
4 Reasons Why You Should Use Turmeric
You may be familiar with curries that have a yellowish hue to them. What causes this yellow coloring is turmeric, a spice from the South Asian subcontinent that is gaining immense recognition for various health benefits.
Turmeric has been used for about 4,500 years to alleviate symptoms from congestion to wounds and bruises. The most potent substance found in turmeric is curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Here are a few ways in which turmeric can boost your overall health.
1. Increases Antioxidant Quantities in the Body
Curcumin contains antioxidant properties that prevent oxidative damage, which causes aging and other diseases. These radicals alter the composition of organic molecules including genetic material, proteins, and fatty acids.
Antioxidant properties protect our bodies from this radicalization, and consumption of turmeric not only blocks radicals directly but also initiates self-defense mechanisms that combat radicalization in any shape or form.
2. Strengthens Brain Function
Turmeric can increase the number of neurons because it’s curcumin component stimulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) hormone. An increase in the BDNF hormone can “[delay] or even [reverse] many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function.”
Consumption of turmeric could be the next step in reducing diseases such as Alzheimer’s or depression. More neuronal connections will lead to overall stronger brain function!
3. Bolsters Body’s Anti-Inflammation Mechanisms
Inflammation is extremely crucial in upkeeping your body’s defense mechanisms and repairing any tissue damage. However, it becomes counterproductive when inflammation is chronic and eventually attacks its own body.
urmeric helps fight against this by blocking NF-kB, which is a molecule present in the nucleus and turns on inflammatory genes. Interestingly, curcumin’s levels of anti-inflammation
4. Reduces the Contraction of Heart Disease
Curcumin can prevent heart disease because it reverses steps in the contraction of heart disease by improving the function of the endothelium. The endothelium is the lining of the blood vessels, and turmeric plays a role in increasing endothelial function. This helps us regulate blood pressure and blood clotting among other factors.
The bottom-line is that turmeric is very versatile in its benefits and is not too hard to incorporate in food intake. One to two teaspoons in cooking can make a world of a difference in flavoring your food and enhancing your health for years to come.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Exercise?Think About Your Vitamin D.
If you are determined to improve your physical fitness over time, consider the vitamins and nutrients your body is receiving simultaneously. As cardiorespiratory can often represent a level of fitness that prevents disease and improves our ability to push training further, it’s no wonder that so many people are interested in a fast track to improvement.
The base definition of this type of fitness ultimately comes down to the ability of our heart and lungs to supply energy to our muscles. In some recent findings from Virginia Commonwealth University, it’s been discovered that there is a reliable link between vitamin D levels and cardiorespiratory fitness.
Levels of vitamin D could essentially influence various cardiorespiratory indicators. Even with some factors working against cardiorespiratory fitness over time, such as smoking or exercising with a larger body mass index, participants that had higher levels of vitamin D often tested as being fitter in this area.
The data that was collected for this study was delivered through the European Journal of preventive cardiology. This data shows a strong correlation rather than causation between vitamin D and cardiorespiratory health.
Individuals that live in harsher and cooler climates where vitamin D can be more difficult to acquire naturally may have a more difficult time in achieving better cardiorespiratory fitness and exercise, especially during sun-deprived months.
Even though exercising in the sun is not always an option, proper supplementation with the help of fortified foods and/or dietary vitamins to boost their intake of vitamin D is deemed to be a great health benefit for the individual.
So next time you decide whether to go running inside on the treadmill or outside in daylight, keep in mind the adequate level of vitamin D you need to achieve. Individuals can work at enjoying a better capacity for exercise and also work to improve heart health, as well as the strength of our bones which can maximize training results in itself.
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