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Diet

Health Issues Related to Diet

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Gut Health May Play a Role in PTSD

For a long time, many people have associated posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — a condition that develops in some who have experienced a dangerous, shocking or frightening event — with soldiers and police officers who deal with life and death situations on a daily basis.

Some experts who understand it intimately, however, believe PTSD is a public health problem that’s triggered by painful events other than war-related experiences.

That wider perception of PTSD symptoms has evolved over the years to include a broader scope of direct traumas — like experiencing a serious car accident, life-threatening illness, violent physical assault or other traumatic events — as well as indirect ones (hearing about the death of a loved one).

By the numbers, 60 percent of all men and half of all women in America will experience at least one traumatic event and roughly 8 percent of all Americans will face PTSD during their lifetimes, according to the National Center for PTSD.

Now that modern science better understands the gut-brain axis (the connection that links your intestines, emotions and brain) more fully, it’s not at all surprising to learn the balance of bacteria in your gut may predict if you’ll experience PTSD or not, according to a study appearing in Psychosomatic Medicine.

The gut bacteria drop-off

Researchers at the University of Colorado and Stellenbosch University (South Africa) teamed up to compare the microbiomes of 18 patients with PTSD with a control group of 12 patients who experienced significant trauma but not PTSD to identify any abnormalities in the gut.

PTSD patients had dramatically lower levels of three bacterial species (Actinobacteria, Verrucomicrobia and Lentisphaerae) compared to the control group. Additionally, patients who experienced childhood trauma had lower levels of two species (Actinobacteria and Verrucomicrobia).

This second finding interests and worries researchers because people who experience childhood trauma are at a higher risk of facing PTSD later in their lives. In fact, these changes in gut health balance may have happened much earlier in response to childhood trauma, says lead researcher Dr. Stefanie Malan-Muller, according to a press release.

Another problem with this gut bacteria drop-off: All three are responsible for regulating the body’s immune system, and inflammatory markers soon after a traumatic event are an indicator that predicts the development of PTSD later on, says Dr. Malan-Muller.

Hopefully, more research will determine if this specific fall in gut bacteria makes patients more vulnerable to PTSD or if it occurs as a result of PTSD.

Could probiotics be used to treat PTSD? Researchers at the University of Colorado were impressed by the results of their 2016 study on preventing a PTSD-like syndrome in mice by adding beneficial bacteria to their tiny microbiomes.

Currently, this team of researchers is studying the key factors that lead to the development of PTSD in hopes their findings can lead to better treatments. A potential treatment the team is looking is one that alters microbiome with the use of probiotics containing a strain of Lactobacillus (one of the families of beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior Probiotic for kids) and prebiotics.

Stay tuned to the EndoMune blog for more news about PTSD and other health information that affects your gut health.

a person holding a jar of coconut

Power Packed Probiotic Smoothie

Summer holidays are opportunities to enjoy a cold drink, sun bathe by the pool, and spend time with friends and family! Good times in the sun often include sugary drinks, alcoholic beverages, and processed food – all of which may upset your gut. Now, you can make the next day just as good as the day before. Try our 5th of July Coconut Açaí Smoothie and add EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, which can help repair your gut from the damage done by the alcohol and processed or fried food. In this delicious drink, the coconut water and Himalayan sea salt help replenish electrolytes lost during the festivities, and the açaí and blueberries provide high amounts of polyphenols to fight the free radicals in processed food and alcohol. Make this concoction to make your 5th even happier than your 4th!

5th of July Coconut Açaí Smoothie

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 100 grams frozen natural açaí puree (Sambazon brand is sold at many local grocery stores)
  • ½ cup natural frozen blueberries
  • 1 scoop vanilla-flavored whey protein isolate (or vegan protein of choice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt*
  • 1 capsule EndoMune Advanced Probiotic

*Feel free to add a scoop of your favorite electrolyte powder to this drink!

Blend on high for 30 seconds, or until desired consistency is reached. Drink it now or freeze in popsicle molds for a cold treat!

3 spoonfuls of spices and salt

Your Gut May Protect You From Too Much Salt

Are you eating a diet heavy in processed or fast foods? Chances are good you’re eating way too much salt and setting yourself up for a lot of cardiovascular problems.

You’re already thinking, “I never touch a salt shaker at dinner or when I’m eating out.” More than 75 percent of the salt you consume hides in the processed foods you eat on the run or in a restaurant, according to the American Heart Association.

The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of salt every day, nearly 50 percent more than the 2,300 milligrams (1 teaspoon) recommended by most health experts.

Left unchecked, all of that extra salt in your body is a silent force that can lead to high blood pressure and, in time, heart disease, which leads the list of the top 10 causes of death among all Americans.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn all that extra salt harms your gut health too. But, a recent study on animals and human subjects appearing in Nature – a team-up between researchers at MIT and Berlin’s Max Delbruck Center and Charite – offers a bit hope.

Previous work has shown how a high-salt diet harms the body’s immune system by increasing the production of Th-17 cells that trigger inflammation and elevate a patient’s risks of hypertension.

For this new study, researchers sharply increased the salt intake of mice (eight times) and 12 healthy men (nearly three times) for two weeks apiece compared to healthier diets to determine how their bodies would react.

In both sets of tests, the composition of gut bacteria in mice and men changed for the worse with drops in Lactobacillus. These declines were also marked by expected increases in inflammatory Th-17 cells and higher blood pressure.

Interestingly, when probiotics containing Lactobacillus were introduced the collective gut and cardiovascular health of both sets of test subjects improved rapidly too, underscoring a link between salt and gut bacteria.

(Both EndoMune Advanced Probiotic for adults and EndoMune Jr contain multiple strains of beneficial bacteria, including Lactobacillus).

Extra salt harms your brain

According to researchers, heart disease may not be the only health issue affected by excessive salt intake either, as the uptick in inflammation may trigger the development of autoimmune diseases similar to multiple sclerosis.

A more recent study on salt appearing in Nature Neuroscience tied the accumulation of Th-17 cells in the gut (they produce proteins that suppress nitric oxide which reduces the supply of blood to the brain) to damaged neurons and cognitive problems related to the gut-brain axis.

“We discovered that mice fed a high-salt diet developed dementia even when blood pressure did not rise,” said senior author Dr. Costantino Iadecola, director of the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) and the Anne Parrish Titzell Professor of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine, according to a press release.

“This was surprising since, in humans, the deleterious effects of salt on cognition were attributed to hypertension.”

Despite the restorative power of probiotics mentioned in the MIT study, researchers were concerned consumers might take them in hopes of canceling out the effect of eating of salty, fatty foods.

Yet, as we’ve seen in previous reports documenting the production of TMAO (trimethylene n-oxide), the gut is much more strongly connected to heart disease than many experts previously assumed.

Probiotics certainly aren’t “magic pills” that can cure any disease, but even the experts have come to appreciate the many ways the gut touches all parts of human health.

Taking a probiotic, ideally with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune, is quickly becoming a must if you want to protect your health, safely, effectively and naturally.

a person holding a handful of grain

Antibiotics Hurt Your Whole Grain Intake

It’s amazing how incorporating whole grains into your diet reduces your risks of serious health problems – stroke, cancer, chronic inflammation and type 2 diabetes – while delivering important minerals, vitamins and antioxidants your body needs.

Adding whole grains to your diet can be as simple as replacing white rice in your favorite meals with brown rice or quinoa, swapping out white flour tortillas with ones made with stone-ground corn or eating a little popcorn (just forget the fatty movie theater butter and salt).

However, all of that dietary goodness you’ve done for your health may evaporate when you take antibiotics, drugs that doctors prescribe too often.

Researchers at Aarhus University discovered this critical problem while examining the health of more than 2,200 Danish patients who developed cancer over a 13-year period in a 2016 study appearing in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

The problem occurs when antibiotics disrupt one component of whole grains, lignans (beneficial polyphenols found in a host of plant-based foods, including flaxseeds and sesame seeds), in the human gut.

Antibiotics prevent the conversion of lignans in the gut to enterolignans, chemical byproducts that behave like estrogen and have been associated with lower mortality rates among breast cancer patients.

Concentrations of enterolignans in women who had taken antibiotics dropped by 41 percent less than three months before giving blood samples and 12 percent among men, both compared to patients who didn’t take them.

Those numbers remained relatively low (26 and 14 percent among women and men, respectively) up to a year later too.

A follow-up study by part of the same Danish research team on pigs found enterolignan concentrations dropped 37 percent in animals treated with antibiotics, compared to a control group.

The easy advice would be to avoid taking broad spectrum antibiotic drugs as much as possible, but that’s just one part of the solution.

Unfortunately, our bodies are exposed to soaps, toothpastes and cosmetics on a daily basis that contain antimicrobial compounds like triclosan.

Constant exposure to these chemicals creates a backlash known as the hygiene hypothesis, in which your body’s ability to develop its own immunities to disease is weakened significantly. In other words, your environment may be “too clean” for its own good.

Protecting your body from the damage antibiotics and harmful chemicals can do to your gut is as easy and effective as taking a probiotic containing multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic for adults and EndoMune Junior Probiotic for kids.

friends cheering their glasses of wine over plates of food

How Aphrodisiacs can Help Fight Disease

There has been a lot of recent interest among food researchers investigating the health benefits of resveratrol, an antioxidant found naturally in red wine, dark chocolate, peanuts and some berries.

As we’ve talked about previously in this space, good gut health is one of the variables that allows resveratrol-rich foods like dark chocolate and red wine to offer some pretty nifty advantages, like sharpening your brain.

Consuming resveratrol-rich foods may also be responsible for these perks by making changes to your gut health, according to a pair of reports related to protecting your cardiovascular system from disease.

Resveratrol vs. diabetes

A fascination about the benefits of resveratrol piqued the curiosity of Dr. Jason Dyck, who has spent years studying this antioxidant at the University of Alberta.

Previous studies found resveratrol benefited the health of diabetic patients by lowering their blood sugar levels, but scientists didn’t understand how because resveratrol levels circulating throughout the human bloodstream are so low.

That is, until Dyck and his research team examined how resveratrol affected the gut microbiomes of mice in a study appearing in the medical journal, Diabetes.

In step one, feeding obese mice resveratrol for six weeks was enough to change the makeup of their tiny microbiomes and improve their tolerance to glucose.

The positive results from stage two of their study – giving new healthy mice fecal transplants from that previous group of diabetic mice – were far more dramatic, rapid and impressive than feeding them resveratrol alone.

“We performed fecal transplants in pre-diabetic obese mice and within two weeks their blood sugar levels were almost back to normal,” says Dr. Dyck, according to a press release.

After some deliberation, scientists concluded this gut health change may be the result of one or a group of metabolites that could be triggering healthy changes in blood sugar levels.

“It’s going to take a herculean effort to find what that molecule is,” says Dr. Dyck. “Maybe it’s one, maybe it’s a combination of four or five, or maybe even a hundred. We don’t know, but we intend to find out.”

Resveratrol vs. heart disease

Resveratrol may also play an important role in reducing the production of TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide), an natural gut byproduct that promotes heart disease by triggering the accumulation of plaque in the arteries by gut flora, according to a report appearing in mBio.

A group of Chinese researchers fed mice bred to have an elevated risk of developing atherosclerosis food with or without resveratrol for 30 days. Then, the mice were fed TMA (trimethylamine) or choline to trigger any unhealthy reactions.

Resveratrol had a very similar calming effect, not only on TMAO levels, but the production of TMA in the gut that generates TMAO. Additionally, feeding mice resveratrol also increased levels of various bacterial species, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Too much of a good thing

Before you start stocking up on resveratrol-rich foods, it’s important to remember too much of a good thing can cause health problems too.

For example, increasing your resveratrol intake by eating dark chocolate is OK, so long as you don’t overdo it. Be sure you’re eating minimally processed dark chocolate that contains high percentages of cocoa.

Consuming wine, along with beer and baked goods, can also be a problem for your gut, as these foods contain sulfites that can inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut if you’re not careful.

Feeding your gut by taking a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria may shield your heart health from cardiovascular diseases, like diabetes and chronic inflammation too.

a plate of delicious looking veggies

More Food Additives May Harm Your Gut

We warned you recently about a gut bacteria connection to nitrites, a common food additive that may be a trigger for migraines. However, nitrites aren’t the only potential problem harming your gut health.

Your gut health may undergo changes or be compromised by chemical preservatives added to an array of foods, based on the results of two new studies.

Are antimicrobials benign?

As we’ve seen time and again, the use of antibacterial soaps and antibiotics has created unintended problems that have often made us too clean for our good.

Antimicrobial compounds work like antibacterials, with one key exception: Antibacterials prevent the spread of bacteria alone, while antimicrobials eliminate a wider range of critters, including viruses, yeasts, fungi and bacteria.

In a surprise to scientists at the University of Massachusetts, one specific antimicrobial compound – the food-grade polymer, polylysine — was responsible for the temporary disruption of gut bacteria in mice, according to a study appearing in Science of Food.

Polylysine is used as a food preservative in Korea and Japan as well as foods imported to America. (It’s commonly used in boiled rice, noodles, cooked rice and sushi.)

Over 15 weeks, researchers studied fecal samples taken from male and female mice that were fed polylysine at three different times (the beginning then at five and nine weeks).

“The concentrations of gut microbes changed in response to polylysine as we fed the mice throughout the study,” said Dr. David Sela, a nutritional biologist and lead study author, according to a press release.

“Surprisingly, the microbiome snapped back to the original concentrations despite continuous feeding of the polylysine, but we don’t understand how or the potential relevance to health.”

By week 5 of their study, the microbiomes of mice given polylysine had changed, but shifted back to normal at week 9.

It’s obvious that the microbiomes of mice adapted to this antimicrobial compound for reasons scientists can’t explain. Is that a good thing? And, how does this affect gut health over a longer time?

Is wine harming your gut?

Researchers at the University of Hawai’i Maui were far more definitive about the effect sulfites – a food preservative used in baked goods, beer and wine and canned vegetables just to name a few — have on the beneficial bacteria in your body, and it’s not good.

FDA regulations limit sulfites in processed foods to 5,000 parts per million, not a great amount. Nevertheless, some people are very sensitive to sulfites and must avoid them.

Researchers exposed four bacterial species in the human microbiome (from the Lactobacillus and Streptococcus families) to concentrations of two common kinds of sulfites (sodium bisulfite and sodium sulfite) in smaller concentrations (10-3,780 ppm) for up to six hours for a study appearing in PLOS One.

Unfortunately, these sulfites were responsible for killing or inhibiting the growth of beneficial bacteria, results that lead researcher Dr. Sally Irwin says could be a direct link between diseases and changes in the human microbiome.

Yes, food additives are a problem for people who are sensitive to them, but these results certainly shed a new light on what’s considered “safe” and “healthy.”All the more reason to protect and fortify your health with a multi-species probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic with 10 essential species of beneficial bacteria plus a prebiotic that feeds the good guys in your gut.

Can Yogurt Treat Depression?

Yogurt is a delicious and nutritional treat people often confuse as a remedy for all sorts of health conditions (often with the sneaky help of science).

But can yogurt treat depression, one of the most pervasive, frustrating and common health problems affecting more than 16 million adults in America annually?

A recent study appearing in Scientific Reports concluded feeding mice a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus reuteri in yogurt made from live cultures was enough on its own to reverse depressive symptoms in stressed out mice.

A team of scientists at the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine came to that finding after studying the gut health of tiny mice and discovering the depletion of Lactobacillus reuteri triggered the onset of depression.

To take it a step further, that loss of Lactobacillus reuteri was responsible for spiking levels of kynurenine (a metabolite in blood) that bring on depressive symptoms. Once mice were fed Lactobacillus reuteri with their food, however, their stress levels returned to nearly normal, scientists said.

This research does represent evidence that the gut-brain axis – the link between your brain, emotions and intestines – is very much a reality, and maintaining a healthy balance among all three is critical for good physical and mental health.

University of Virginia scientists were so pleased with these results on mice, they plan to turn their attention to human subjects, specifically with multiple sclerosis patients who struggle with depression too.

However, one probiotic strain may not be enough to do the trick. Other studies have found probiotics formulated with Bifidobacterium longum may have a similar beneficial effect on treating depression.

What’s more, there’s no guarantees the yogurt you’ll find in a grocery store will contain exactly the right amounts or combinations of beneficial bacteria that make much of a difference on balancing your emotions.

But, there is growing evidence that a probiotic containing multiple strains of beneficial bacteria – think EndoMune Advanced Probiotic — may be a more effective solution for treating depression and a safer one given all of the side effects associated with antidepressants.

How Dietary Fiber Protects Your Health

Eating a variety of foods rich in dietary fiber – whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fresh fruits – is one of the best things you can do to protect your health from disease.

Unlike other components of food, dietary fiber isn’t broken down or absorbed. It passes through your body either as soluble fiber that dissolves in water and lowers cholesterol and glucose levels or insoluble fiber that helps food move through your digestive system.

Scientists at the University of California Davis (UC Davis) discovered another reason to eat more fiber based on how it interacts with your gut bacteria in ways that may protect your body from harmful pathogens, according to a recent study published in Science.

Here’s how it works: As the microbes in your gut process soluble fiber, short-chain fatty acids (better known as butyrate) are created which does a lot of good behind the scenes.

Ideally, butyrate signals to the cells lining the walls of your large bowel to increase its consumption of oxygen, protecting your gut from more harmful bacteria, like E. coli and Salmonella. (Butyrate production keeps gut inflammation in check too.)

Scientists better appreciated the work butyrate does when cells were exposed to antibiotics – definitely no friend to your gut. Antibiotics deplete your body’s reserves of butyrate, which reduces the signaling between butyrate and the gut wall.

This disruption in your gut’s natural signaling allows more oxygen to hang around, letting E. coli and other nasty bugs multiply. In time, all of these behind-the-scenes problems could come to the forefront and make you sick.

“Our research suggests that one of the best approaches to maintaining gut health might be to feed the beneficial microbes in our intestines dietary fiber, their preferred source of sustenance,” said Dr. Andreas Bäumler, professor of medical microbiology and immunology at UC Davis and senior author of the study, according to a press release.

Unfortunately, too many Americans are addicted to Western diets, full of fatty foods with little nutritional value, so they tend to avoid fiber-rich foods at the expense of their health.

That said, it doesn’t take a lot of fiber to make a big difference in your health. Merely increasing your intake of dietary fiber by just 1 ounce (about 30 grams) is enough to help you lose weight and lower your risk of cardiovascular problems, not to mention relieve constipation.

Boosting the amount of fiber you eat every day isn’t hard, especially if you like lentils, beans, artichokes, apples, pears, strawberries and whole grains.

Along with eating more fiber, taking a daily probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic (FOS), may do even more good as both work in sync by triggering the fermentation process that feeds your gut safely and naturally.

Protect Your Gut From Fatty Holiday Foods

Many of us can’t wait for the end of the year, if for no other reason than to satisfy our year-round cravings for eggnog, prime rib, dressing, pecan pie and other fatty holiday foods.

Eating those holiday foods in excess as many of us do during the season comes with an unhealthy price to pay in adding extra pounds, not to mention harming our gut.

A recent study featured in Cell Reports goes a long way toward describing how the gut may predict the damage you do to your body merely by eating excessive amounts of high-fat foods.

High-fat diets: No ho, ho, ho!

Previous studies have found that people eating the same high-fat diets — the major culprit in an array of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and stroke — react differently. Some may suffer from less or more problems than others.

Researchers fed genetically similar mice healthy foods and screened urine samples for compounds produced by their gut bacteria, establishing a baseline of healthy chemical profiles.

Once those same lab animals were switched to fatty foods, their tiny bodies reacted just like their human counterparts, with some becoming less tolerant to glucose (an early sign of diabetes) while others gained more weight.

Follow-up analyses of urine samples taken from mice after feeding them fatty foods changed too, predicting signs of unhealthy changes in weight, glucose and behavior.

In fact, the presence of one very popular chemical produced by the gut — trimethylene n-oxide (TMAO) — was a sign of glucose issues, not to mention heart disease.

“We tend to believe that obesity is caused by bad genes or by bad genes interacting with bad environment,” says Dr. Dominique Gauguier, a senior investigator on this study based in Paris, according to a press release.

“Our findings indicate that an organism’s gut microbiome can drive the adaptation to dietary challenges in the absence of genetic variation.”

These results are only the beginning, as researchers plan to embark on a larger, more in-depth clinical trial on 2,000 human patients that will go further toward forecasting how people react to differing diets and how gut health drives their overall health.

The long-term goal: Generating chemical profiles from urine and blood samples that may offer guidance on what diets are most supportive for a patient’s optimal health.

Until that comes…

What we do know right now is that maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial gut bacteria is critical in protecting your body from cardiovascular diseases like diabetes, based on the findings of a Danish study we’ve discussed previously.

That same study also found that patients who had less diverse gut microbiomes carried more fat on their bodies and experienced more inflammation in their digestive tracts, making them more vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases.

The holiday season is full of gatherings with friends, family and lots of fatty seasonal foods that can add inches and pounds to your waistline and disrupt the diversity of your gut in no time if you overindulge too often.

Keeping your portion sizes small and eating healthier foods rich in fiber can do a lot of good for your body and keep off those extra pounds.

Taking a multi-species probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic with 10 distinct species of beneficial bacteria, can also go a long way toward protecting the diversity of your gut and your overall health too.

For Gut-friendly Holidays, Eat Cranberries

Apart from being a staple in foods for the holiday season (desserts, stuffing, sauces and drinks) and a first-line treatment for urinary tract infections, cranberries receive little notice in the wide world of whole foods, an undeserved sign of disrespect.

Many health experts consider cranberries a superfood due to their low-calorie/high-fiber content and being fill to the brim with important antioxidants and nutrients (resveratrol, vitamins C, E and A and copper).

A study featured recently in Applied and Environmental Microbiology found another important use for cranberries as a natural prebiotic, non-digestible fiber or carbs that feed the bacteria living in your gut.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amhurst made this discovery when feeding cranberry-derived carbohydrates called xyloglucans to gut bacteria in the lab.

The real benefit from eating cranberries, says lead researcher Dr. David Sela, is the ability to eat for two, as it supports our own nutrition as well as the beneficial bacteria that lives in our gut.

“When we eat cranberries, the xyloglucans make their way into our intestines where beneficial bacteria can break them down into useful molecules and compounds,” says Dr. Sela, according to a press release.

Under the microscope, Dr. Sela and his research team observed these prebiotic compounds from cranberries feeding bifidobacteria under the microscope, an important process in protecting the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

Cranberries aren’t the only natural sources for prebiotics. They’re also a healthy component in many whole foods, from bananas, jicama and apples to artichokes, onions, leeks and almonds.

Just like almonds that contain a lot of fat, you have to be careful about eating a lot of cranberries too. Many commercial brands of juices and dried fruits add a lot of unnecessary sugar — 25-30 grams for juices and 8 grams for dried fruits — per 8-ounce serving, so eating them in moderation is a healthy choice.

If you want to add some prebiotic protection for your gut and cranberries aren’t your favorite food, look for a probiotic that contains fructooligosaccarides (FOS).

FOS is a natural substance derived from plant sugars and a proven prebiotic used in products like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids).

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