Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!
Your gut bacteria may help to determine your holiday weight gain.
Researchers have shown that the intestines of obese people are swimming with a different make-up of microbes compared with those of slim people. And this microbial population could actually be helping them gain weight: bugs taken from an obese mouse and transplanted into another animal’s intestine made the animals gain more fat than normal.
The researchers propose that the obese-prone microbes glean more calories from food, which are sucked up by the body and deposited as excess fat. “Minor differences in the calories you can harvest might play an important role in predisposition to obesity,” says Jeffrey Gordon at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, who led the studies.
The implications for people trying to lose weight are, for now, unclear. It isn’t known how easy it is to change a person’s microbial balance, for example, or whether that might have unwanted health consequences. On top of all that, notes obesity expert Stephen Bloom of Imperial College London, the body’s other weight-regulating mechanisms might step in to compensate for any gut microbe changes.
Every person’s gut is home to a unique cocktail of trillions of bacteria and other minute bugs that help to break down food and fight off invading pathogens. In 2004, Gordon first proposed that this medley of microbes might help control body weight.
The studies he and his team publish in Nature this week are the strongest evidence in support of this idea 1,2. They strained the faeces of 12 willing obese volunteers, used genetic sequencing to identify the different species of bacteria in there, and compared them with five lean volunteers.
Most of the bacteria fell into two groups, called Firmicutes or Bacteroidetes. But the obese volunteers had more than 20% more Firmicutes and nearly 90% less Bacteroidetes than the lean ones.
The obese volunteers then spent one year on a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet, and lost as much as 25% of their body weight. At the same time, the proportion of Firmicutes in their colon dropped and that of the Bacteroidetes rose, although these levels never reached those of the group who were slim to start with.
Cause and effect
This suggests that our bodies somehow communicate our weight to the microbes in our gut, and that obesity can upset the normal microbial balance. But studies in mice suggest that the reverse is also true: shifting the microbes can affect weight.
The researchers sucked microbes from the guts of either lean mice or the obese ones. They injected the microorganisms into the intestines of animals whose own innards were unnaturally bare of microbes because they had grown up in a sterile cage.
After two weeks, the mice injected with the ‘obese’ microbes gained roughly double the quantity of fat than those that received the ‘thin’ microbes, although this amounted to only a fraction of gram. “These changes might be minor, but over time would have a more dramatic effect,” Gordon says.
Mouse experiments also suggest how the microbes make a difference. The researchers found that mice genetically engineered to be obese also have more intestinal Firmicutes, and their gut bacteria as a whole have more genes that break down otherwise indigestible fibrous components of food. That suggests that they can wring more calories from their food. An examination of the amount of food going in, and the amount of caloric content coming out in faeces, confirms that they’re absorbing more calories.
A dose of fatness
The concept that our internal bacteria are partly determining our weight “is quite radical,” says Randy Seeley of the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, who studies the regulation of body weight. Plenty about the idea is still unproven, he notes.
And it is unclear whether gut microbes are really a significant contributor to the ballooning obesity epidemic, or whether other factors are far more important.
Gordon says that it might be possible to identify compounds manufactured by the bugs that influence fat deposition, and perhaps use these as obesity therapies. He is planning to study in more detail the differences between the microbes in overweight and thin individuals.
In the meantime, there seems little cause to worry that you might accidentally ‘catch’ a dose of fattening microbes from an obese friend. “It could feed a certain hysteria,” says Seeley, “but there is no easy way to pass the obese bugs on to people.”
Obese mice lost weight after being fed the microbe Akkermansia muciniphila, which appears to have a symbiotic relationship with the inner lining of the intestine.
The gut is home to innumerable different bacteria — a complex ecosystem that has an active role in a variety of bodily functions. In a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1, a team of researchers finds that in mice, just one of those bacterial species plays a major part in controlling obesity and metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.
The bacterium, Akkermansia muciniphila, digests mucus and makes up 3–5% of the microbes in a healthy mammalian gut. But the intestines of obese humans and mice, and those with type 2 diabetes, have much lower levels. A team led by Patrice Cani, who studies the interaction between gut bacteria and metabolism at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, decided to investigate the link.
Mice that were fed a high-fat diet, the researchers found, had 100 times less A. muciniphila in their guts than mice fed normal diets. The researchers were able to restore normal levels of the bacterium by feeding the mice live A. muciniphila, as well as ‘prebiotic’ foods that encourage the growth of gut microbes.
The effects of this treatment were dramatic. Compared with untreated animals, the mice lost weight and had a better ratio of fat to body mass, as well as reduced insulin resistance and a thicker layer of intestinal mucus. They also showed improvements in a host of other indicators related to obesity and metabolic disorders.
“We found one specific common factor between all the different parameters that we have been investigating over the past ten years,” says Cani.
•Gut-microbe swap helps mice shed weight
•Microbiology: The inside story
•Fat people harbour ‘fat’ microbes
More related stories
Cani’s team has started unravelling the complicated mechanisms through which the bacterium may influence metabolism. Restoring normal levels of A. muciniphila led to increased intestinal levels of endocannabinoids, signalling molecules that help to control blood-glucose levels and maintain the gut’s defenses against harmful microbes.
A. muciniphila also seems to have a ‘dialogue’ with the cells of the intestinal lining and with the immune system, says Cani, sending a signal that affects the production of anti-microbial molecules, while increasing the production of mucus. It seems as if the bacterium is telling the host that it will take care of any invading harmful microbes in exchange for more food, he adds.
Cani “strongly believes” that A. muciniphila could one day be used to treat disorders such as obesity, diabetes and colitis in humans. “There is so much evidence in the literature that links this bacterium to human conditions,” he says.
Randy Seeley, an obesity researcher at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, says that it is “ridiculously cool” that science can now link specific aspects of the microbiome to specific functions, and he is optimistic that the work will lead to useful treatments for humans, although that will take some time. “What we have to figure out is, what is the best way to change gut flora,” he says. “If you just toss bacteria in, they don’t stay.”
The fact that the immune system may be involved in the interaction between A. muciniphila and the body, Seeley adds, offers an intriguing possibility for another way to manipulate bacteria in the gut. “There will be drug targets that come out of that,” he says.
1.Everard, A. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1219451110 (2013).
According to the National Center for Homeopathy, it’s okay to use homeopathic remedies at home to help yourself through an acute bout of anxiety resulting from a known cause (e.g., a recent trauma, shock, or loss). Here are some remedies NCH reports that homeopaths often use to help people with anxiety:
• Aconite: For acute situations when sudden fears overtake us rapidly. Intense fear (or ¬presentiment) of death, as well as ¬palpitations, shortness of breath, flushed face, and trembling.
• Argentum nitricum: Fearfulness and anxiety about many things especially bridges, closed spaces, heights, and personal health. Speaks quickly, in a big hurry, and tends to have diarrhea (everything is in a rush!). Everyday scenarios cause worry, leading to obsessive-compulsive behavior. This can become abject terror, leaving the person feeling lost and insane. Warm blooded, craves sweets and salt, and complains of anxiety in the morning and before appointments.
• Arsenicum album: Pacing to and fro, fretting over what may or may not happen, anguishing over their health and that of family members, and needing company. Chilly and thirsty for sips of water, they feel worse at or after midnight. Controlling, fastidious, and critical, particularly when in ill-health. Worries about robbers, insanity, or security and especially about money matters. Burning pains are relieved by heat.
• Gelsemium: Apprehensive and timid, these people feel they haven’t the resources to do what they’d like to do. They dread performances of any kind, for fear they’ll lose control or something terrible will happen. Vertigo, weakness, trembling, chills, diarrhea, drowsiness, and even speechlessness from fright. When trembling, they want to be held. They fear falling, crowds, and fainting (or heart attack); they desire light and quiet.
• Ignatia: Acute, recent grief or loss. Sensitive, refined, and heartbroken people who are biting their lips or cheeks, repeating to themselves, “I just can’t believe it, I can’t believe it…” Averse to consolation, they may appear defensive, sigh frequently (as if to ground themselves back into their bodies), and experience radical mood swings—bursting into tears or laughter.
• Lycopodium: Any new challenge creates anxiety due to a severe lack of confidence. They may have an emotional swagger but are easily intimidated by anyone perceived as more powerful. Responsibility in work or relationships can create ¬debilitating anxiety and fear of failure, which may manifest in ¬sexual difficulties, irritability, digestive -complaints, and claustrophobia.
• Natrum muriaticum: Considered the “stiff upper lip” remedy, people who need it are profoundly sensitive and inhibited due to many ¬anxieties; silent with grief after a loss. They are fearful of tight, narrow spaces, anxious at night, worried about robbers, and secretly terrified of being humiliated or rejected. Anxieties are often cloaked by migraines, tingling in the extremities, palpitations, insomnia, and isolation or feigned indifference.
• Phosphorus: People needing this may be bright-eyed, social, loving, and empathic—but when frightened, they are excitable, suggestible, “spaced out,” easily vexed, fearful of robbers, and in need of reassurance. They gulp cold water (but then either vomit it or get nauseated by it) and are much worse at night. Their anxiety often has something to do with love; they worry endlessly about the object of their attachment not returning their affections. They can be very angry about rejection and obsess on it.
• Pulsatilla: Sensitive, easily upset people who need a great deal of consolation and reassurance and are as changeable as an April day. They tend toward childish rumination and pouting if they don’t get the attention and emotional security they crave, quickly becoming fearful of rejection. Dependent on others for reassurance. Worse in warm rooms, being covered in bed, and after eating rich foods; better from fresh air, mild exercise, and consolation.
• Silica (SILICEA): Lack self-confidence and fearful of new undertakings, especially speaking in public. Yielding, yet obstinate. Overly conscientious/anxious about trifles (obsessive); they overwork and exhaust themselves to avoid failure. Chilly, thirsty, constipated, and better with consolation and sympathy.
Below are ten crystals you can use to improve your health and happiness!
1. Turquoise helps you heal.
Turquoise is the master healer. It is believed to be the energetic bridge between heaven and earth. Since ancient times, it’s been highly regarded for its protective and good-luck-charm properties. It’s believed that when Turquoise is given as a gift, its healing properties are magnified by one hundred! Turquoise is a stone of communication that helps you to speak your truth, from the highest source of love.
2. Bloodstone gives you energy.
In ancient times, Bloodstone was often worn as an amulet to help purify the blood. When our blood and energy is flowing smoothly, our life force remains strong and healthy. This crystal is a powerful energizer, helping you to overcome lethargy, negative thoughts and self-doubt. Bloodstone also helps to boost enthusiasm, increase drive and maintain emotional wellbeing.
3. Smoky quartz helps you let go.
Smoky quartz transmutes negative energy and acts as a protective shield against unwanted energy. It helps you to let go of old patterns and belief systems that are holding you back. It releases all blocked, old and stagnant energy in the body. Once all of your old energy is removed, new energy is able to fill the open space with light and hope.
4. Rose quartz cultivates love.
Rose quartz is a stone of unconditional love that helps to open and heal the energy of the heart. It encourages the forgiveness of others and, most importantly, of yourself. The secret to finding true love is to love yourself. Rose quartz emits vibrations of love, beauty and compassion. It’s a feel-good stone that nurtures, supports and allows you to feel the most powerful energy in the universe: LOVE.
5. Carnelian is good for creativity.
Ancient civilizations believed that carnelian attracted fortune and helped you attract your deepest desires. It removes blocked or stuck creative energy that may be dominating your mind and leaving you feeling burnt out or uninspired. Its vibrant orange color stimulates your passion to move forward and achieve your dreams. Carnelian is an action stone that restores motivation, confidence and joy.
6. Quartz crystal works wonders in clearing the mind.
Quartz crystal is made of silica, the most abundant element on the earth. It also makes up the human body, on a cellular level. When quartz crystal touches your skin, a merging of energy occurs, which is believed to encourage optimal health and healing. Ancient civilizations utilized quartz to balance the body and clear the mind. It’s a powerful crystal that transmutes negativity and amplifies energy to raise your vibration and help you align with light and clarity.
7. Celestite relieves stress.
Celestite’s name is derived from the Latin word caelestis, meaning celestial. By simply gazing upon it, the heavenly blue color of this crystal inspires deep peace and happiness. It’s an ideal crystal to place in your bedroom to bring tranquility and harmonious energy, encouraging restful sleep. When placed directly on your body, celestite brings muscle and stress release to the area on which it is placed.
8. Citrine helps to live in the now.
Citrine is a crystal of light and happiness. It doesn’t hold any negative energy and emits large amounts of positive energy. It serves as a friendly reminder to be present and in the now, because in this moment, you can create miracles. Citrine is a manifestation stone that encourages you to dream big, maintain a positive state of mind and attract everything you want in your life.
9. Aventurine attracts new opportunities.
Aventurine helps you to overcome feelings of self-doubt. It opens up the energy of the heart, attracting new opportunities. It helps to increase confidence, self-worth and optimism. As your mind and energy field open up, you are able to see the infinite abundance and opportunities that surround you.
10. Shungite protects against EMF.
Believed to be millions of years old, Shungite is an ancient crystal that is found in Russia. Scientists are still currently researching the full potential of this magical mineral. It’s utilized as a powerful shield against electrical magnetic energy (EMF). Shungite helps to absorb negative energy and pollutants. Place a piece of Shungite next to computers or wear on your body as an energetic shield.
Some exciting news has emerged today in Ireland. Research has found that a wild flower growing in West Cork could hold the key to wiping out the deadly superbug MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus). A post-graduate student, at the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) has identified a wild flower which is effective against the antibiotic-resistant superbug. Inula helenium (elecampane) is a tall plant which grows wild and blossums in late summer. It is indigenous to Europe and Asia and is now grown in the USA as well. The dried roots and rhizomes (branching part of the the root) are collected and used in herbal preparations to treat respiratory and digestive problems.
The 2-year research project in Cork has shown that extracts from the plant were 100% effective against MRSA as well as a broad spectrum of other bacteria. It now looks as if this plant has the potential to become a useful weapon in the fight against MRSA. It’s fantastic to see Ireland lead the way in research which in time, could help to save lives worldwide. This is good news indeed and holds great hope for the future.
By Eating Well
This honey-oat bread has a pleasant flavor and divinely moist, tender crumb. It requires minimal mixing and cleanup, calls for ingredients usually stocked in the pantry, and is tasty yet healthful.
2 tablespoons plus 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quick-cooking (not instant) oats, divided
1 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour or white whole-wheat flour (see Tip)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
8 ounces (scant 1 cup) nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
1 large egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup clover honey or other mild honey
3/4 cup nonfat or low-fat milk
- Position rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375 degrees. Generously coat a 9-by-5-inch (or similar size) loaf pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon oats in the pan. Tip the pan back and forth to coat the sides and bottom with oats.
- Thoroughly stir together whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Using a fork, beat the remaining 1 cup oats, yogurt, egg, oil and honey in a medium bowl until well blended. Stir in milk. Gently stir the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture just until thoroughly incorporated but not overmixed (excess mixing can cause toughening). Immediately scrape the batter into the pan, spreading evenly to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon oats over the top.
- Bake the loaf until well browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. (It’s normal for the top to crack.) Let stand in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around and under the loaf to loosen it and turn it out onto the rack. Let cool until barely warm, about 45 minutes.
Yield: 12 slices
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Total Time: 1 3/4 hours (including cooling time)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
To Make Ahead: Store cooled bread, tightly wrapped, for up to 1 day at room temperature. If desired, warm (wrapped in foil) at 375°F before serving.
Tips and Notes:
Tip: White whole-wheat flour, made from a special variety of white wheat, is light in color and flavor but has the same nutritional properties as regular whole-wheat flour. Two companies that distribute the flour nationally are King Arthur Flour and Bob’s Red Mill.
Per slice: 193 calories; 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 3 g mono unsaturated fat); 18 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbohydrates; 6 g protein; 3 g fiber; 396 mg sodium; 100 mg potassium
Nutrition Bonus: Iron (15% daily value)
Carbohydrate Servings: 2
Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fat
Special Health Considerations: Low Sat Fat, Low Calorie, Healthy Weight, Heart Healthy, Diabetes Appropriate
This traditional cornbread is made without flour, isn’t sweet and has a crumbly texture. You can change the adaptable recipe to suit your cornbread preference. For a variation, substitute 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for the baking powder and use buttermilk instead of milk. If you’re looking for a more muffinlike texture, substitute flour for half the cornmeal.
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups yellow or white cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg , beaten
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk or nonfat buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place oil in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or similar-size glass baking dish and transfer to the preheating oven.
2. Mix cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add egg and milk (orbuttermilk); stir until just combined. Remove the pan from the oven and swirl the oil to coat the bottom and a little way up the sides. Very carefully pour the excess hot oil into the cornmeal mixture; stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the hot pan.
3. Bake until the bread is firm in the middle and lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve warm.
Yield: 8 servings
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Total Time: 30 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
To Make Ahead: The cornbread can be made up to 3 hours in advance. Reheat, wrapped in foil, in a warm oven.
Per serving:171 Calories; 7 g Fat, (1 g saturated fat, 4 g mono unsaturated fat); 27 mg Cholesterol; 24 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 3 g fiber; 228 mg sodium; 85 mg potassium;
Carbohydrate Servings: 1 1/2
Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1 1/2 fat
Special Health Considerations: Healthy Weight, Low Sodium, Low Cholesterol, Low Sat Fat, High Fiber, Low Calorie.
By Eating Well
Soda breads are hearty Irish staples — wholemeal flour with large flakes of bran and wheat germ, or white flour or a mixture leavened with baking soda and moistened with buttermilk. The acid in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda, which is an alkali, creating bubbles of carbon dioxide that rise in the bread. Soda breads have the heft of a yeast bread but are made in minutes, and the dough can be shaped into scones or a round loaf, depending on the occasion. Originally it would have been baked in a bastible (pot oven) over the open fire.
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle with a little flour.
- Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk. Using one hand, stir in full circles (starting in the center of the bowl working toward the outside of the bowl) until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, in a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Clean dough off your hand.
- Pat and roll the dough gently with floury hands, just enough to tidy it up and give it a round shape. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches. Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Mark with a deep cross using a serrated knife and prick each of the four quadrants.
- Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue to bake until the loaf is brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped, 30 to 35 minutes more. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.
Yield: 2-pound loaf (12 slices)
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours (including cooling time)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Per slice: 165 calories; 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g mono unsaturated fat); 2 mg cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrates; 8 g protein; 3 g fiber; 347 mg sodium; 179 mg potassium
Nutrition Bonus: Fiber (13% daily value)
Carbohydrate Servings: 2
Exchanges: 2 starch
Special Health Considerations: Low Sodium, Heart Healthy, Healthy Weight, Low Sat Fat, Low Cholesterol, Low Calorie