Microbiome Testing: Another Marker Of Your Health

Guest Post Article By:

Richard Lin
Founder / CEO
www.thryveinside.com

 

As our “Father of Medicine,” Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Yet, the precursor to all disease is inflammation. Since our immune system is responsible for inflammation, there must be a tie between our gut health and our immune system. Well, there is! In fact, up to 80% of our immune cells reside in our gut. That’s why the key to a strong immune system is to improve your gut health!

What Causes Chronic Inflammation?

There are many triggers that set off an immune response in our system. Perhaps none are greater than our food sources. Many of the foods we eat are deficient in nutrients. They are fried in unhealthy fats, preserved with artificial ingredients, and sweetened with refined sugars. 

Many of these foods are made of ingredients that our healthy bacteria don’t enjoy. Therefore, solid food particles and artificial molecules remain in the body. So, our immune system kicks in to eliminate these potential hazards by causing inflammation. Once the threat is eliminated from the system, inflammation ceases. All is merry again.

Unfortunately, our round-the-clock diets have evolved to include a lot of inflammatory foods. From GMOs to increased sensitivity towards allergens to the use of pesticides, our food supplies set us up for a lifetime of inflammation. 

How Chronic Inflammation Ruins Gut Health

Our body is composed of trillions of microbes that range from bacteria to fungi to viruses. We depend on our gut bacteria to help keep a lot of these other microbes in check. All the while, we also depend on our gut bacteria to break down food, help create energy, and boost nutrient absorption. That’s a lot of burdens!

For our gut bacteria to work optimally, we must feed them a diet rich in fiber. Unfortunately, a vast majority of us don’t get enough fiber. So, over the course of this lifetime, we end up starving out our healthy bacteria.

Even worse, the immune system doesn’t have an ally that can help modulate inflammation. In turn, inflammation becomes chronic. As a result, immune cells and beneficial gut bacteria start to die off. 

Without healthy gut bacteria, the body is susceptible to viral, bacterial, and fungal attacks. When this happens, we can develop a litany of life-threatening illnesses, including cancer. 

How to Improve Gut Health and Immune System

Everyone’s body is different. Therefore, we all have different ratios of gut bacteria in the body. The key to fixing your gut health and immune system is to get a gut health test kit.

Microbiome testing company, Thryve, sends you everything you need to collect a sample from your toilet paper safely and mail it to their laboratory. Their specialists will analyze your DNA and give you an in-depth report of bacteria living in your gut.

Even better, they offer custom probiotics to help bring balance to your system. In turn, your immune system will have the backup necessary to help control chronic inflammation that can cause many chronic life-threatening conditions, including cancer. 

 

What You Eat Can Impact Your Stress Level

In challenging times like these when stress and worry are peaking don’t forget to look at what is at the end of your fork for some help.  You can get a lot of support from the meals that you put together.

Let’s take a look at ideal inclusion and needed exclusions.

What You Eat Contributes To Your Stress Level

Food that contains a lot of sugar can cause a roller coaster ride for your blood sugar and this can cause you to feel jittery and to have mood swings.  Best to stay away from foods in this category.

Keeping in line with the thought of controlling blood sugar, complex carbohydrates, foods high in fiber, are an important inclusion in a diet focusing on stress busting.  Fiber slows down the speed that sugar enters into your blood stream, so it helps you to avoid those sudden spikes and drops in your blood sugar levels, balancing your mood and easing your stress.  Foods high in fiber include cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, celery, berries, leafy greens, beans and whole grains.

Fiber is also key for your gut microbiome health and because your brain and gut are connected a healthy, happy gut microbiome leads to a happier you.

And if we are talking about creating a happy gut, we can’t forget fermented foods that are a good source of probiotics. So, we are talking about things like kefir, kombucha, apple cider vinegar and kimchi.

Some studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial for improving mood.  One possible reason is that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain cell structure and function.  Another could be that they provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support.

Food sources of omega-3’s include wild caught salmon, sardines, flax seeds and chia seeds.

Magnesium is a go to supplement for improving sleep, quelling stress and calming nerves but why not get it from the food that you eat?  Foods naturally rich in magnesium are leafy greens, such as spinach and Swiss chard and dark chocolate.

Adaptogens

Finally, I want to mention that you can incorporate adaptogens to help you handle stress.

Adaptogens such as Ashwagandha and Holy Basil and some mushrooms including reishi and cordyceps are known to support the body’s ability to handle stress.

These can be easily included into your diet as teas or added into smoothies, salads and soups.

Here is one idea for you!

 

Stress Busting Hot Chocolate Recipe

Ingredients & Directions

Add to your blender and combine:

1 cup non-dairy milk (I love cashew for this one)

1 TBSP cacao powder

1 tsp maple syrup (or to taste)

1 tsp Ashwagandha powder

1 tsp Reishi mushroom powder

After you blend the ingredients add them to a pot and warm up. ⁠

Top with cinnamon if you like⁠

References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/fish-oil-supplements/faq-20058143

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC538287/

 

Diabetes, Mitochondria & Cancer

Type 2 Diabetes is a known precursor for many different cancers.

Type 2 Diabetes also appears to confer a significantly greater risk in women than men for cancers of the mouth, stomach, kidney and for leukaemia.

With the knowledge that chronic inflammation fuels complications of Type 2 Diabetes, including cardiovascular and kidney issues, determining the underlying causes of inflammation in Type 2 Diabetes is very important for the development of treatments.  The prevailing assumption has held glucose to be the main determinant.

However, new research from scientists at the University of Kentucky has shown that changes to mitochondria drive chronic inflammation from cells exposed to certain types of fats.  This new finding does not disprove glucose as a mechanism for inflammation but it does shed light on the puzzling situation of people with tight glucose control still seeing disease progression.

What Are Mitochondria?

Mitochondria are organelles found in every human cell except for red blood cells. The more energy a cell needs the more mitochondria it will have.  Mitochondria take in nutrients, break them down and create energy for a vast number of cellular functions.

Improving Mitochondrial Health

With the results of this study in mind, improving the health mitochondria is a logical piece of the puzzle for cancer prevention.

Let’s look at some ways to do this.

Exercise

Mitochondria are essential providers of energy for cellular survival.  They are also key to the function of apoptosis, or programmed cellular death.  Exercise is key to increasing mitochondrial health and biogenesis.

Intermittent Fasting

 Intermittent fasting has been shown to remove damaged mitochondria from the body through a process known as mitophagy. It also improves mitochondria homeostasis leading to more optimal functioning.

As well, by avoiding over consumption you reduce the amount of fuel that your mitochondria is required to burn.  This serves to limit free radicals, a by-product of mitochondrial function.

Toxins

The deleterious effects of environmental toxins on mitochondrial function has been studied extensively in humans.  Doing your best to avoid environmental toxins, improving the environmental health of your home and workplace and supporting your natural detoxification pathways to aid your system in the elimination of acquired toxins are vital for supporting your mitochondrial health.

Diet

Poor diet can lead to excessive free radicals and inflammation.  Your mitochondria also produce free radicals.  Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables provides needed antioxidants to counteract harmful effects of these free radicals.

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References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890380/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-018-4664-5

https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(19)30377-8?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS1550413119303778%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31674658

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19448716

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6078194/

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Produce Labels. What the Numbers Mean

The sticker that you find on fresh fruits and vegetables in the grocery store is called the PLU code, or Price Lookup Number.  The sticker codes for the price but also tells you how the food was grown. It tells if it is genetically modified, organically grown or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides.

What the Numbers Say

Here are the 1,2,3’s of reading the produce code:

  1. Four numbers in the PLU means that the produce was grown conventionally or “traditionally” with the use of chemicals. For example, 4033 is a small lemon.
  2. If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “8”, this tells you that the item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable.  A genetically modified small lemon would be: 84033
  3. If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “9”, this tells you that the produce was grown organically and is not genetically modified. An organic small lemon would be: 94033

Of note, the adhesive used to attach the stickers is considered food-grade, but the stickers themselves are not.

Protective Coatings Applied to Fruits & Vegetables

Produce develops a natural, protective coating called a cuticle as it grows.  After harvesting and before it is sent to the grocery stores, the produce is washed and most of this protective cuticle is removed.

To replace the natural cuticle, a protective coating may be applied to some produce including apples, lemons, avocados, cherries, nectarines, peaches, oranges and pears.

The coating helps to slow decay, retain moisture and increase the shelf life of fruits and veggies. It also serves to improve the look of the produce and is itself edible.

There are many types of protective coatings that can be used on produce.  All must comply with Canadian regulations and be acceptable for use in Canada.

Label Reading is an Art

Knowing the basics of label reading is important whether you are in the produce section or making your way down through the processed foods area.

It can be confusing.  If you want a short, crash course in Nutrition Label reading head on over to my blog post:

Tips for Reading Nutrition Labels

 

References:

https://www.halfyourplate.ca/fruits-and-veggies/fresh-facts-for-consumers/

Pay Close Attention To These Numbers When Buying Fruit 

 

 

 

 

 

Baked Salmon with Coconut Aminos Marinade

Let’s address the elephant in the post here shall we.  What are Coconut Aminos?

Coconut Aminos are a  yummy sauce made from coconut sap.   The sauce is dark, rich and salty. It is gluten free and is a great replacement for soy sauce.

Unbeknownst to many is the fact that, unless otherwise stated, soy sauce is made with wheat.  The wheat is roasted and fermented with the soy to achieve the familiar soy sauce taste that we know and love.

Coconut Aminos don’t offer a powerhouse of nutritional content but if you are trying to maintain a gluten free diet they are the way to go when you need an alternative to soy sauce in your recipes.

The salmon recipe below is a family favourite of ours.  It is not only simple, it is also a great way to introduce Coconut Aminos in to your diet if they are a new addition to your pantry.

Baked Salmon with Coconut Aminos Marinade

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • ½ kg salmon fillets
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 4 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp.ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Mix the maple syrup, Coconut Aminos, garlic and pepper together in a small bowl
  3. Place salmon fillets in to a dish, cover with the marinade and refrigerate 30 minutes – 1 hour
  4. Transfer salmon fillets to a baking dish lined with parchment paper, saving the marinade, and bake the salmon until it is cooked through, approximately 15 minutes
  5. Pour the saved marinade into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  6. Reduce to 1/4 cup.
  7. When the salmon is done place it on a serving tray and drizzle the glaze over top of it.

Serve immediately.

For simple sides that really complement the salmon try serving this dish with roasted asparagus and wild rice.

Enjoy!