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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.

Fitness/ Diet

Kombucha: The Drink that Will Revolutionize your Health

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You might have seen your friends carry a mysterious, colorful drink enclosed in a glass case with a white hue on the surface of the bottle. This drink is known as Kombucha, and it is currently gaining prominence amongst millennials for its various health benefits. Kombucha is a fermented-mushroom tea drink that contains bacteria, yeast, and sugar. Here are a few benefits of drinking Kombucha.

  1. Improves Digestion: The white component of the drink forms during the fermentation process when bacteria and yeast combine together to form a “mushroom like film,” which is extremely rich in probiotic bacteria that can aid in digestion, inflammation, and weight loss.
  2. Increases Antioxidant Levels: Kombucha is known to have quite a few antioxidants that help the liver. On studies with rats, those who drank Kombucha reduced the toxicity of their liver by at least 70%.
  3. Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease: Research demonstrates that drinking Kombucha can influence cholesterol levels, specifically LDL and HDL. Low density lipoprotein cholesterols (LDL) is typically known as the “bad cholesterol” because cholesterol is taken into the arteries, leading to plaque building up in the artery walls. On the other hand, HDL is known as the “good cholesterol” because higher levels of it are known to reduce risk of heart diseases. Kombucha is known to increase HDL levels by promoting its absorption through the body.
  4. Promotes Cancer Prevention: Kombucha is known to “strengthen our natural defences” that help prevent cancer. Specifically, the lauric acid found in the drink and the Lactobacillus microbes help reduce cancer risks by stimulating natural cancer killing cells.
  5. Improves Mental Health: The vitamin B component of Kombucha helps balance mood and enhances concentration. It also inhibits the release of the stress hormone cortisol. In addition, drinking Kombucha can alleviate the leaky gut which is often thought to be a symptom of depression. The leaky gut means that there is decreased permeability in gut regions, and this problem can manifest itself through inflammation, and ultimately depression.

Thankfully, you don’t always have to go to the store to get Kombucha; you can make it at home!  Watch this video by HGTV that shows you how to make different flavors of Kombucha at home. Give us your take on Kombucha in the comments below!

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Lifestyle

Listen Up! This Month of Febru-Hairy Shows Benefits of Not Shaving

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Everyone has a different opinion regarding body hair, but ultimately, it should be a personal decision to wear whatever style makes you feel comfortable. Shaming people for what they choose to do with their body not only reinforces outdated societal standards but represses expression of individuality.

Therefore, the next time you reach for that razor, consider these health benefits of keeping your body hair!

  1. Vulnerability to skin infections. Be careful when you use the razor that might leave a knick or two in the process. Exposure to the environment could potentially leave the wound left from the knick susceptible to infections from the bacteria.   
  2. The release of more pheromones. Pheromones called androstadienone shows to increase a female’s libido and disperse the odor that potentially attracts a partner. This might change the way people view their methods to attract potential mates.
  3. Armpit hair reduces chafing. When you go running, the sweat, combined with the friction of your arms moving back and forth can lead to chafing. However, dermatologists warn that removing your hair can make the unwanted rashes worse, so it’s better to keep your body hair intact!
  4. Regulate your body temperature. You may have noticed that when you are cold, your hair spikes up. That is the body’s internal temperature regulation system to trap heat and keep you warm, especially during the cold winter times!
  5. Maintains skin health. Hair follicles are more complex underneath the epidermis and contain masses of blood vessels and nerves to help your skin heal.
  6. Sun protection. Too much sunlight is detrimental to our health and causes skin cancer, but that’s what your hair is there for! So those who are hairy simply just have an extra layer to keep them protected from the powerful rays.

Now you’ve seen that there are health benefits to staying natural. Not to mention you might also be saving money! With the help of expert advice, being hairy may result in better health and for some, greater physical gains. If you would like to learn more, here is a video of reasons why others decided to stop shaving.

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Fitness/ Diet

The Diet That Will Work! Try this +++itively No Sugar Diet

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Chocolate, ice cream, candy, and all that good stuff! No wonder why kids constantly crave desserts for dinner. We might assume that excessive consumption of sugar will cause one or two cavities, but there are greater health issues that can result such as kidney failure. The truth is that glucose is an addictive component, and having too many sweets may potentially lead to dietary and health issues over time.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

The Unspoken Truth Behind Sugar

Sugar is a ubiquitous component of a typical American diet, but this leads scientists and public health experts to worry about its consumption rate. Most Americans consume too much-added sugar, specifically about 57 pounds of added sugar per person every year.

There are two different types of sugars to be aware of. The first is natural sugars, which come from fruits, vegetables, and grains to replenish the energy of cells in the body. Added sugars are added by manufacturers to extend the shelf-life of a particular product, and this is the type of sugar you should fear.

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There is a legitimate reason to fear added sugars, and here’s why. According to a study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine,  increased consumption has a direct association with contracting heart disease. In the study, people who consumed 17-21% of added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed 8% added sugar.

If that is not startling enough, scientists have discovered that added sugars have addictive properties in them. Research demonstrates that sugar activates the same brain regions as certain drugs, and increased consumption leads to increased tolerance.

How to Combat the Sugar Addiction

In recent times, Americans have turned to diet changes to combat the negative effects of sugar. While the ketogenic diet is gaining prevalence, many adults are also turning to the +++itively No Sugar Diet.

Shopping, Bottle, Woman, Grocery, Store, Drink
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This diet essentially eliminates the consumption of added or processed sugars, and instead focuses more on consuming natural sugars. Courtesy of Livestrong, here are some tips that will help you achieve longevity within this diet.

  1. Understand where hidden sugar sources are located. Many processed foods such as salad dressings, pasta sauces, and cereals contain loads of added sugar even though they may seem “healthy”.
  2. Do not be fooled by the external appearance. Deceptively healthy foods such as acai bowls and protein bars also contain a high amount of added sugar.
  3. Double check the nutrition facts. This is a key habit to incorporate, especially when you are shopping for day to day items to make sure no added sugar is present.  
  4. Eliminate and substitute! Instead of opting for artificially flavored drinks like soda and water, drink more water! Foods and drinks with turmeric and coconut water are a great source of anti-inflammatory agents and can replenish energy labels in the body.
  5. Eliminate foods with white flour. This food group is digested very quickly and can lead to increased blood sugar content in the body. Refined flour is present in items such as pasta, rice, and white bread. Instead, look for foods with whole grains such as wheat, quinoa, and barley.
  6. Beware of added sugar in dairy. Yogurts and milk tend to have added flavoring which contains sugar to boost the taste of the food.

Overall, the +++itively No Sugar Diet will help you feel your best and live a healthy lifestyle. Let us know in the comments if you have tried this diet before and have seen tangible results compared to other types of diets.

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