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Manufacturers of artificial sweeteners would like us to think that they’ve discovered the perfect loophole for enjoying the sweetness of sugar without any of its health risks. As we’ve covered in previous articles, though, nothing could be further from the truth.

The first commercially available artificial sweetener, saccharin, was shown to cause cancer in rats.[1] It was banned as a food additive in 1981, but then deemed not hazardous to humans and unbanned in 2001.[2] It’s worth noting that in these later vindicating studies, researchers do not rule out the carcinogenicity of saccharin; they merely claim that large quantities need to be consumed in order to cause cancer in humans.

Aspartame hit the market next, but it was found to be so toxic that it’s commercial release was delayed for over a decade. Despite its current widespread distribution and use as an artificial sweetener, studies continue to demonstrate that aspartame induces oxidative stress, damages cell membrane integrity, deregulates cellular function, and leads to systemic inflammation.[3]

You’d think that over time, manufacturers would get better at making safer sweeteners, but sucralose seems to be even worse than its predecessors. Studies have linked its consumption to leukemia,[4] severe bowel and kidney issues,[5] cancer and other toxicity-induced cell disorders,[6] neurotoxicity,[7] thyroid dysfunction,[8] and many other health problems.

But at least artificial sweeteners are safe for diabetics and help you lose weight, right? On the contrary, studies have demonstrated that consuming artificial sweeteners can be just as harmful as sugar (if not worse) in these scenarios. One study even found that people who consume artificial sweeteners are up to 67% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.[9]

Why artificial sweeteners are so disruptive

Researchers are fascinated by what makes artificial sweeteners such risky substances. The states that they trigger—systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, cellular dysfunction—are primary indicators of disruption on a fundamental level. Perhaps one of the only reasons they’re still deemed “not hazardous to human health” is because it can take a long time for these fundamental markers of imbalance to tip over into full-blown disease—so manufacturers can still get away with calling their products “non-toxic.”

Ever since they first began studying artificial sweeteners, researchers have searched for a specific metric for discussing their disruptive effect—some sort of mechanism that could underly all the markers of imbalance mentioned above. A new study has provided a suitable answer by demonstrating that artificial sweeteners are toxic to beneficial gut microbes.

Microbiome dysregulation can easily lead to primary imbalances like inflammation and excessive oxidative stress. By viewing it as a mechanism through which artificial sweeteners exert harmful effects on the body, we can more precisely understand the toxicity of these substances.

The study in question used a modified form of bioluminescent bacteria that literally glows when exposed to substances above a certain level of toxicity. They exposed the bacteria to aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k, as well as ten different sport supplements containing these artificial sweeteners. In all cases, the bacteria “became toxic” with a mere 1 mg/ml concentration of artificial sweetener.[10]

The researchers believe their results provide “further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity, which can cause a wide range of health issues.” They hope these findings help us understand “the relative toxicity of artificial sweeteners and the potential of negative effects on the gut microbial community as well as the environment.”[11]

There’s no good reason to use artificial sweeteners

The action steps for protecting yourself and your microbiome should be pretty clear in this case: just stop consuming artificial sweeteners. They are toxic substances with well-documented risks and no advantages whatsoever over conventional sugar.

Even if conservative estimates about their toxicity are correct (meaning that you’d have to consume a very large quantity to be at risk of negative health effects like cancer), the bioaccumulation of toxins over time can still pose a danger. Why take the risk? The study cited above demonstrates that consuming these sweeteners can compromise the integrity of the microbiome long before the development of more severe associated diseases.

There are far healthier sweetener choices anyway. Honey is a perfect example, and just might be nature’s perfect sweetener. Stevia is another safe alternative, though evidence suggests that it should still be used in moderation.

The best approach, however, is to break your addiction to sweet substances altogether—using any sugar substitute doesn’t address this inherent dependency issue. Remember that finding overall balance with your dietary habits is as important as the specific foods and substances that make up your diet.

Regardless of how you choose to find balance, though, do your best to minimize artificial sweetener consumption; your gut flora will thank you.

 


References 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1637197/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3185898

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28938797

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27078173

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2210518

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10882819

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24699280

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28040879

[9] https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2013/Q3/prof-diet-drinks-are-not-the-sweet-solution-to-fight-obesity,-health-problems.html

[10] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181001101932.htm

[11] Ibid.

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kombucha1

By now you’ve probably heard of kombucha, the probiotic-rich tea that’s available in all shapes, sizes, and flavors at your local health food store.

Kombucha gained popularity as an exotic and enjoyable way to consume probiotics, which support the invaluable community of microorganisms within the body known as your microbiome.

This is one health fad that’s worth applauding—microbiologists are continually discovering new reasons why taking good care of your body’s beneficial bacteria is absolutely essential to maintaining optimal health.

Kombucha isn’t a new creation, though. It boasts a 2,000-year history as a renowned arthritis soother, cancer fighter, and immune booster—the ancient Chinese even called it “the Immortal Health Elixir.”

As it spread from Asia to Europe and Russia, then finally into the Western health food mainstream, the body of evidence and stories touting its amazing benefits grew significantly.

Excellent (and delicious) support for your gut flora

For starters, kombucha is one product that delivers what it promises. It’s literally fermented with a SCOBY (which stands for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”), so it works wonders for your microbiome.

Many people report that it improves digestion, fights candida and other harmful stomach bugs, and even promotes mental clarity (thus supporting what an increasing number of scientists are calling the “gut-brain connection”).

A holistic immune booster

Kombucha is chock-full of antioxidants, which offer full-spectrum support to your immune system.

And because healthy gut flora play a vital role in immune function, kombucha provides an extra disease-resistance boost. Some experts even go so far as to say that your immune system’s main fighting power resides in the microbes of our intestinal tract.[1]

Kombucha is fortifying on such a deep level that an Indian study even demonstrated that it protects DNA from being damaged.[2]

Detoxifying elixir

The enzymes and bacterial acids in kombucha are powerful facilitators of detoxification. They reduce the burden placed on your pancreas and liver, so that your body can more effectively flush toxins.

Kombucha even contains a compound called glucaric acid, which has been the subject of numerous cancer studies. Because of its profoundly detoxifying qualities, glucaric acid is a highly effective cancer preventative.[3]

Time-tested arthritis support

Kombucha contains glucosamines, which you may recognize as an ingredient in many joint support formulas. Glucosamines increase production of synovial hyaluronic acid, which helps lubricate joints and protect joints from damge.

Long before the days of arthritis supplements and fancy chemical names, kombucha was lauded for its ability to prevent and treat all types of joint pain and stiffness.

Want more kombucha in your life?

If you’re intrigued by all these health benefits and have some DIY spirit, you can make it at home for as little as 50 cents a gallon (and it’s quite an experience watching the “mother culture” grow in your home setup).

If you prefer the convenience of manufactured kombucha, just make sure you stick to brands that don’t use bucketloads of sugar (kombucha cultures are already fed with sugar to make them grow, so the sugar levels in commercial drinks can very easily become excessive).

The benefits of kombucha accumulate over time, so find your favorite recipes and make this ancient elixir a part of your regular health routine.

 


 

References

[1] http://www.thealternativedaily.com/kombucha-tea-health-elixir-need-try-now/

[2] http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/14631833

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2208084?dopt=Abstract

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bpa-dangers - 18282321923_6fe75d16e9

Living—let alone thriving—in our toxic world can be awfully tricky.

As we’ve discussed in other articles, modern society is a veritable obstacle course of sneaky toxin sources. Nowadays, even the air we breathe and the water we drink is suspect.

While there are all sorts of nasty pollutants worthy of our concern, one class of chemicals is particularly worrisome: endocrine disruptors.

These noxious chemicals adversely affect the functioning of your hormones, the “messenger molecules” that coordinate nearly every complex process in your body. The importance of the endocrine system (and the hormones it produces) simply cannot be overstated—it regulates growth, metabolism (including nutrient absorption), fertility and reproduction, immune function, sleep and other circadian rhythms, mood, behavior, and the coherent functioning of nearly every tissue in the body. For this reason, health experts have warned that endocrine disruptors can be linked to almost every major health issue that we face.

Unfortunately, there’s a vast array of endocrine-disrupting substances that have planted themselves firmly in our industry-laden culture. They show up in cleaning products, industrial agriculture applications, cosmetics, and even food.

But the most widespread endocrine disruptor of all is bisphenol-A (BPA), a form of “fake estrogen” that hijacks the endocrine system and causes massive long-term health problems. The acute toxicity of this terrible substance is now openly acknowledged—but very little is being done to prevent it from saturating our environment.

Too little too late?

As evidence began to mount against BPA, it quickly became common knowledge that BPA-free plastic is the way to go. These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find a water bottle without a “BPA-Free” sticker slapped on it.

While this kind of initiative is a step in the right direction, it’s far from being a comprehensive solution. For starters, accumulating evidence suggests that the BPA alternatives used in many water bottles may be just as toxic and endocrine-disrupting as BPA itself.[1]

This allegation points to a frightening truth: that all plastics may be inherently problematic (not just types that contain BPA). And even if we assume for a moment that someone manages to produce a truly non-toxic water bottle—what about all the other ways in which plastic is used?

This thought is frightening precisely because plastic is an enormously important pillar of industrial society; it’s used for just about everything. This means that even if you swear off your personal use of plastic (especially BPA-containing plastic, and receptacles used for eating and drinking), you’ll still be affected by the massive amounts of BPA that industry inevitably pumps into the environment.

Researchers from the University of Missouri found that industrial sites all over the country release worrying quantities of BPA directly into our air and water.[2] It’s able to bind to dust and other particulates, and thus can disperse itself across vast distances. It’s also been discovered in tap water (so much for trustworthy public water treatment). Researchers have even shown that handling cash register receipts—which are saturated with BPA—can lead to elevated BPA levels in your bloodstream.[3]

And these steadily rising BPA levels have been strongly correlated with a whole host of degenerative conditions, including systemic inflammation, obesity, infertility, diabetes, asthma, compromised lung function, lung cancer, breast cancer, reproductive cancers, birth defects, calcification of the pineal gland, compromised gut flora, immune suppression, and more.

What you can do to fight back

While it’s nearly impossible to avoid BPA and other endocrine disruptors altogether, there’s still plenty you can do to protect yourself.

Eat and drink wisely. Avoid all conventional and GMO foods, which are often treated with endocrine-disrupting pesticides. Don’t buy fruits and vegetables that are wrapped in plastic (even if they’re organic), and avoid plastic food containers and cooking implements whenever possible. In fact, just avoid plastic altogether whenever possible; at the very least, avoid plastic items with a No. 3 or No. 7 recycling label. Drink purified water (even bottled water isn’t always safe).

Use hormone-balancing foods and supplements. BPA causes a build-up in excess estrogen within the body, which thus disorients the entire endocrine system. By incorporating naturally hormone-balancing foods into your diet, you can help restore your endocrine system to order. Try maca root (if you choose just one food, make it this one), turmeric, burdock, rhodiola, tulsi, beet root, cordyceps mushroom, reishi mushroom, and lion’s mane mushroom. For extra, more acute estrogen-balancing support, try these supplements: SAM-e, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), DIM, and quercetin.

Use detoxification practices. All of the foods and supplements listed above are already wonderfully detoxifying, but incorporating even more cleansing practices into your life will help ensure that you’re protected. Practice semi-regular fasting, use healing clays, eat an all-around detoxifying diet, exercise regularly, take cold showers, and spend more time in saunas.  

Support your pineal gland. The pineal gland is the center of a master detoxification system in the body, so it’s in your best interest to help it help you. Detoxification practices, avoidance of fluoridated water and toothpaste, avoidance of mercury-contaminated food and dental fillings, and forms of meditation that develop the awareness of the “third eye” are all incredibly helpful.

It could be some time before our society mends its toxic ways. In the meantime, following the advice above will help you stay protected from the unavoidable onslaught of BPA and its endocrine-disrupting cousins.

 


References

[1] http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/06/bpa-free-plastics-tritan-nalgene-dangerous

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jul/21/bpa-exposure-hormone-disrupting-fda-missouri-study-bisphenol-endocrine

[3] http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2014/1022-thermal-paper-cash-register-receipts-account-for-high-bisphenol-a-bpa-levels-in-humans-mu-study-finds/

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probiotics

Digestive microbiology is a field of immense promise.

The more we learn about the 100 trillion bacteria living inside the human gut, the more we realize how absolutely essential they are for our health.

The fact of the matter, though, is that we still know very little about this miraculously well-coordinated colony of critters known as our microbiome.

It’s made up of somewhere between 500 and 1000 different species of bacteria—and while we’ve begun to nail down the roles played by some of these species, the interactions between them are still largely a mystery. The symbiosis between all these different microorganisms is almost incomprehensibly complex.   

But here’s what we do know…

Most importantly, we know that our gut flora are immeasurably important.

Despite our limited knowledge about how our internal flora do what they do, research has revealed an undeniable correlation between a healthy microbiome and overall well-being.

Healthy people display thriving, diverse colonies of bacteria, while those who are unwell exhibit either a lower bacteria count or an imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria.

From this kind of data, we’ve been able to deduce many ways in which our gut flora help our bodies function optimally. They regulate appetite and digestion, and help digest food, so that our bodies receive all the nutrients that they’re not able to extract on their own. Gut bacteria even produce amino acids, vitamins (especially vitamins B and K), enzymes, and neurotransmitters (including serotonin).

They also greatly improve immune function, regulate insulin production, and even improve cognitive health.[1]

And studies have found that a person’s microbiome can be used to uncover much more specific facts about a person’s health too. It provides a total snapshot of your health and beyond. For example, a certain pattern of microbial colonies can indicate a certain nutrient deficiency, whether or not you were breastfed when you were a baby, and even your level of education.[2]

It isn’t unreasonable to believe that one day, you’ll be able to make positive changes to your physical, mental, or emotional health by targeting a specific, corresponding aspect of your microbiome.

So what can we do for our microbiomes today?

While we’re still unraveling many of the mysteries of our bacterial symbiotes, there’s still plenty that we can do to maintain a healthy microbiome.

Avoiding antibiotics except during absolute emergencies, avoiding conventional meat and dairy (which often contains antibiotics), ditching your antibacterial hand soap and other household cleaning products, steering clear of fluoride-contaminated tap water, and eating a diet rich in prebiotic foods are all excellent ways to keep your flora healthy and happy.

Perhaps the most popular and well-documented form of microbiome management, though, is supplementation with probiotics.

It’s commonly reported that probiotics “seed” your gut with new bacterial colonies, thus changing the composition of your microbiome. What actually appears to be happening is that probiotics change the genetic expression of your existing flora.[3]

There’s another huge problem with probiotics, though: the vast majority of them can’t survive exposure to stomach acid.  Probiotics don’t always make it through the low pH environment of your stomach into your intestines, where they are most beneficial. Typically, only a small percentage of bacteria survive.

While taking some kind of probiotic is better than nothing, you really need to do your homework if you want to ensure that your supplementation has any significant effect. Studies show that probiotics made from Soil Bound Organisms (SBO’s)  are by far the heartiest kind. They’re rich in bacterial endospores—drought-tolerant super-bacteria that are strong enough to survive stomach acid and make their positive impact.

We think that the best product out there is Mega Sporebiotic. This powerful formulation includes a perfect synergy of five different bacterial strains and beneficial prebiotics.

Its quality and efficacy is absolutely unparalleled.

This product is so effective that, until very recently, it was only available through a limited number of healthcare professionals. Don’t miss this opportunity to integrate this next-generation probiotic into your life .

By lending a hand to your microbiome, you’ll soon feel that it’s a powerful key for unlocking radiant health…and you’ll understand why many health professionals consider microbiome management the future of nutrition and natural medicine.

 


References

[1] http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/06/gut-bacteria-on-the-brain/395918/

[2] https://commonfund.nih.gov/hmp/programhighlights

[3] http://besynchro.com/blogs/blog/12099793-an-owners-manual-for-your-100-trillion-gut-bacteria

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gut-flora-keeps-you-healthy

It’s getting harder and harder to deny that bacteria is our friend.

Sure, there are some species that can wreak havoc on our bodies, but it seems that there are many more that would rather live symbiotically with us.

Researchers have discovered that between 500 and 1000 unique species of bacteria comprise our gut flora—also know as our microbiome. And an increasing number of studies demonstrate a surprising fact: these little critters are absolutely essential to our well-being.

This is a pretty ironic discovery, given allopathic medicine’s crusade on microorganisms. It appears that waging war on “germs” and living in sterile conditions are not sustainable practices.

It appears that, if we wish to live optimally, we’re going to have to deepen our understanding of the relationship between humans and bacteria.

Your multi-talented microbiome

Digestive microbiology is a field that could revolutionize the way we view health and healing within the next five to ten years.

Our gut flora play an essential role in a staggering number of bodily processes, and many researchers believe they hold the key to understanding many prevalent health conditions.

Here’s just a selection of the virtues of a healthy microbiome…

It supplies nutrients by aiding in the digestion process. Your gut bacteria is able to break down certain food components that your stomach can’t take care of on its own, like fiber. These flora convert their food into all sorts of beneficial nutrients, like amino acids, vitamins, enzymes, and short-chain fatty acids.

It regulates appetite and digestion not only by aiding with physical processes, but also by producing neurotransmitters (like serotonin) that affect us neurologically. Studies show that certain species of bacteria can manipulate the neurohormones, neurotransmitters, and receptors that control appetite.[1]

It improves insulin sensitivity. Many researchers even think that the health of an individual’s microbiome is correlated with their likelihood of developing diabetes.  

It boosts immune function by outcompeting harmful bacteria and pathogens. There also seems to be a more complex, little understood mechanism at work. While scientists are not yet sure what it is, they believe it explains why there seem to be more autoimmune diseases in developed nations with antibiotics and sterilization practices (which are your microbiome’s worst nightmare).  

When they’re not happy, you pay the price…

Just by familiarizing yourself with these benefits, you can probably figure out what happens when our gut flora is out of whack.

Quite simply, we get sick and fat.

Nutrient deficiency and immune dysfunction are leading causes of illness and degenerative disease, and insulin sensitivity and digestion dysfunction are a recipe for obesity and diabetes if there ever was one.

In studies of genetically identical twins, obese and diabetic individuals were found to have a significantly less diverse microbiome. Similarly, individuals with stronger immune systems (who reported getting sick less often) also had thriving microbiomes.[2]

It’s becoming clear that gut flora health is as important as diet and lifestyle when it comes to staying healthy and fit.

So how can we support our microbiome?

We still know very little about the mysterious and complex workings of our internal flora. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of steps that you can take to help them along their way (so that they can help you).

An important first step is to learn as much as you can about your specific microbiome.

In order to know what steps are best for each of us to take, we need to get a snapshot of our current gut flora. Otherwise, it will be difficult to tell whether your actions are yielding positive results.

Remember: there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to optimal health. It’s all a matter of taking health into your own hands, learning what works for you, and applying this knowledge in your daily life.

A company called uBiome makes it incredibly easy to get up close and personal with your microbiome.

They’ll mail you a kit with detailed instructions on how to send a biological sample back to them. Then they use state-of-the-art DNA sequencing technology to analyze your flora in glorious and meticulous detail. Lastly, they help you apply the resulting information by cross-referencing data (so that you know what microbiotic issues you need to take care of).

Pretty neat, huh? You can order a kit here.

And while you’re waiting to receive your results, the usual healthy-bacteria-promoting practices apply…

Avoid antibiotics, avoid conventional meat and dairy, stop using antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, stop drinking tap water, avoid chlorine-washed vegetables, take prebiotics and probiotics, and make your own probiotic-rich fermented foods at home.

By combining these practices with the personalized data that you receive from uBiome, you’ll be able to supercharge your microbiome…and it will thank you by doing its part to ensure that you stay vibrantly healthy.

 


References

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3554020/

[2] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-gut-bacteria-help-make-us-fat-and-thin/

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