Microbirth   
Winner of Grand Prix Award at 2014 Life Sciences Film Festival. A documentary on the latest research on the origins of the microbiome; how microscopic events during childbirth have lifelong consequences for the health of our children.
          What’s On Your Skin? Archaea, That’s What   

It turns out your skin is crawling with single-celled microorganisms – ¬and they’re not just bacteria. A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Medical University of Graz has found that the skin microbiome also contains archaea, a type of extreme-loving microbe, and that the amount of it varies with age.

The post What’s On Your Skin? Archaea, That’s What appeared first on News Center.


          Skin Microbiome: Archaea Abundance May Vary With Age   
A new study on the human skin microbiome finds archaea abundance to be associated with age.
          A perturbed skin microbiome can be 'contagious' and promote inflammation   
In a new study, researchers have shown for the first time that, not only can infection with the Leishmania parasite alter the skin microbiome of affected mice, but this altered microbial community can be passed to uninfected mice that share a cage with the infected animals.
          Are Pets the New Probiotic?   

June 2017 Scientists are paying increasing attention to the “indoor microbiome,” the billions of bacteria, viruses and fungi that we share our homes and offices with. But not all those …

More...

The post Are Pets the New Probiotic? appeared first on Birth Defect Research for Children.


           Altered homeostatic regulation of innate and adaptive immunity in lower gastrointestinal tract GVHD pathogenesis    
Lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is the predominant cause of morbidity and mortality from GVHD after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Recent data indicate that lower GI tract GVHD is a complicated process mediated by donor/host antigenic disparities. This process is exacerbated by significant changes to the microbiome, and innate and adaptive immune responses that are critical to the induction of disease, persistence of inflammation, and a lack of response to therapy. Here, we discuss new insights into the biology of lower GI tract GVHD and focus on intrinsic pathways and regulatory mechanisms crucial to normal intestinal function. We then describe multiple instances in which these homeostatic mechanisms are altered by donor T cells or conditioning therapy, resulting in exacerbation of GVHD. We also discuss data suggesting that some of these mechanisms produce biomarkers that could be informative as to the severity of GVHD and its response to therapy. Finally, novel therapies that might restore homeostasis in the GI tract during GVHD are highlighted.
          Perturbed skin microbiome can be 'contagious'   

[USA], Jun 30 (ANI): A recent study has revealed that a perturbed skin microbiome can be contagious and promote inflammation.

Even in healthy individuals, the skin plays host to a menagerie of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Growing scientific evidence suggests that this lively community, collectively known as the skin microbiome, serves an important role in healing, allergies, inflammatory responses and protection from infection.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania showed for the first time that, not only can infection with the Leishmania parasite alter the skin microbiome of affected mice, but this altered microbial community can be passed to uninfected mice that share a cage with the infected animals.

Mice with the perturbed microbiome, or dysbiosis, had heightened inflammatory responses and more severe disease when they were subsequently infected with Leishmania.

"To my knowledge, this is the first case where anyone has shown that a pre-existing skin microbiome can influence the outcome of an infection or a disease," said co-senior author Elizabeth Grice. "This opens the door to many other avenues of research."

In addition, when the researchers examined samples from human Leishmania patients, they found similar patterns of dysbiosis as in the infected mice, a hint that the findings may extend to people.

"The transmission of dysbiosis in the skin from one animal to another is a key finding," said co-senior author Phillip Scott. "And the fact that we saw similar patterns of dysbiosis in humans suggests there could be some very practical implications of our work when it comes to treating people with leishmaniasis."

Cutaneous leishmaniasis is a tropical disease caused by a parasite and transmitted by the bite of a sand fly. The disease results in sores on the skin, which can sometimes become severe and disfiguring. There is no vaccine for the disease and the limited drugs available often fail to provide a complete cure.

Curious about the influence of the skin microbiome on the disease, the Penn-led team swabbed the skin of 44 Leishmania patients, analyzing the microbiota not only of their lesions but also the area around them and a portion of skin on the opposite side of the bodies as the lesion. They noticed that the lesion samples contained less bacterial diversity than the samples of other skin sites. But not all of them were the same; they found three distinct community types: one dominated by Staphylococcus, one by Streptococcus and one that was mixed.

"I think an important next step will be to see if this sharing of microbiota occurs in people, and whether that could be a factor in affecting the severity of infections in humans," Grice said.

A final question was to determine whether this naturally transmitted dysbiosis would predispose the uninfected animals' response to an enhanced inflammatory response. And indeed, when infected with Leishmania, these mice had more severe inflammation and skin ulcers than mice with unperturbed skin microbiota. In a more general assay, the researchers used a contact hypersensitivity assay, which uses a skin irritant to elicit an immune response, on the mice that had been housed with Leishmania-infected mice. These dysbiotic mice, too, had a heightened inflammatory response.

To follow up on their findings, the researchers hope to examine whether sharing of a dysbiosis occurs in other infections and whether the resulting alteration in skin microbiota affect processes such as wound healing.

In addition, the researchers hope to determine whether there is a connection between the type of skin microbiome present in Leishmania lesions and the severity of disease, or the responsiveness to treatment.

If true, "this may make us rethink the role of antibiotics in treating leishmaniasis," Scott said.

The findings are published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe. (ANI)


          From toxic prisons to sand's scarcity, good reads for the holiday weekend   

As we head into the holiday weekend it occurs to me to offer for your attention some of the better long reads I’ve enjoyed lately on environmental topics.

So here are four standouts on subjects ranging from environmental health hazards in U.S. prisons to the looming world shortage of sand, from the biodiversity in your gut to how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave Monsanto a pass on studying probable links between Roundup and cancer in mice. All were freely available Wednesday and should be still.

* * *

At the crossroads of mass incarceration and environmental injustice — the practice of burdening poorer and/or nonwhite communities with a disproportionate share of pollution — sits much of America’s prison system, whose population has grown more than sevenfold since the 1970s.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that prison administrators sometimes turn a blind eye to environmental conditions in and around their facilities. But the findings of a new investigation by Earth Island Journal and Truthout suggest that the health-threatening exposures are neither occasional nor unusual.

In Toxic Prisons, writers Candice Bernd, Zoe Loftus-Farren and Maureen Nandini Mitra report that “at least 589 federal and state prisons are located within three miles of a Superfund cleanup site on the National Priorities List, with 134 of those prisons located within just one mile.”

Many were simply built in a hurry on sites nobody else wanted, like the medium-security prison in Pennsylvania whose proximity to a massive coal-ash dump has tainted inmates’ air and water with heavy metals and other toxins.

In Texas, arsenic contamination prompted a federal court order directing a prison to provide inmates with safe drinking water. And at prisons across California, the soil-borne fungal disease known as valley fever has been a chronic problem:

In the past decade, more than 3,500 California prisoners have become sick from valley fever and more than 50 have died from it. Though infection rates decreased significantly after 2011, to fewer than 100 cases each in 2014 and 2015, last year saw another spike with 267 prisoners infected.

In 2011, a particularly bad year, infection rates for the highest risk California state prisons were dozens of times above those in nearby communities, according to Centers for Disease Control data. Although the fungus is poorly understood, researchers suspect that out-of-town prisoners bused to the Central Valley are especially susceptible because they are not native to the region. Locals may develop some kind of immunity that shields them from the worst valley fever symptoms.

California now offers to test prisoners for immunity and to transfer vulnerable inmates to lower-risk facilities. Like most official responses noted in the article, this one was ordered by the courts. Much less has happened to safeguard the population of the SCI Fayette prison at LaBelle, Pennsylvania:

The 237-acre men’s prison began operating in 2003 on one corner of what, in the 1940s through the 1970s, was one of the largest coal preparation plants in the world, where coal from nearby mines was washed and graded. The “cleaned” coal was then shipped off to power plants and other markets, while the remaining coal refuse was dumped on and around the hilly, 1,357-acre site. By the mid-1990s, when its owners filed for bankruptcy and abandoned the site, an estimated 40 million tons of coal refuse had been dumped there. At some places the waste piled up some 150 feet.

An inmate survey conducted by a Pittsburgh prisoner advocacy group called the Abolitionist Law Center ask about their health problems and found that:

Eighty-one percent of the 75 prisoners who responded … claimed to suffer from respiratory, throat, and sinus conditions; 68 percent experienced gastrointestinal problems; 52 percent reported adverse skin conditions; and 12 percent said they were diagnosed with a thyroid disorder. The report also noted 11 of the 17 prisoners who died at SCI Fayette between 2010 and 2013 had died of cancer.

Contacted by the reporters for comment, prison officials said the facility meets OSHA-type safety standards, without providing data to back that up.

* * *

David Owen’s gift for juxtaposing the odd little detail with the stunningly large issue, while maintaining tone of bemused fascination, are on ample display in his New Yorker piece, “The World Is Running Out of Sand.”

He begins with the logistically massive if socially trivial effort to obtain appropriate sand for internationally regulated beach-volleyball competitions, for which ordinary beach sand is rarely sufficient (too large and variable in grain size).

An event in Toronto last year required 1,360 tons of sand to be delivered in 35 semitrailer loads. But at least it came from a few hours away. Sand for the first European Games, held in Azerbaijan two years ago, was brought by sea from southern Turkey because moving it by road would have meant crossing potential combat zones in Syria and Iraq.

Elsewhere in the world, sand is moved much greater distances at much greater cost for the construction of nearly everything that uses concrete or asphalt and, with increasing frequency, to rebuild storm-ravaged coastlines and levees.

Sand covers so much of the earth’s surface that shipping it across borders—even uncontested ones—seems extreme. But sand isn’t just sand, it turns out. In the industrial world, it’s “aggregate,” a category that includes gravel, crushed stone, and various recycled materials. Natural aggregate is the world’s second most heavily exploited natural resource, after water, and for many uses the right kind is scarce or inaccessible. In 2014, the United Nations Environment Programme published a report titled “Sand, Rarer Than One Thinks,” which concluded that the mining of sand and gravel “greatly exceeds natural renewal rates” and that “the amount being mined is increasing exponentially, mainly as a result of rapid economic growth in Asia.”

Pascal Peduzzi, a Swiss scientist and the director of one of the U.N.’s environmental groups, told the BBC last May that China’s swift development had consumed more sand in the previous four years than the United States used in the past century. In India, commercially useful sand is now so scarce that markets for it are dominated by “sand mafias” — criminal enterprises that sell material taken illegally from rivers and other sources, sometimes killing to safeguard their deposits. In the United States, the fastest-growing uses include the fortification of shorelines eroded by rising sea levels and more and more powerful ocean storms — efforts that, like many attempts to address environmental challenges, create environmental challenges of their own.

Aggregate is the main constituent of concrete (eighty per cent) and asphalt (ninety-four per cent), and it’s also the primary base material that concrete and asphalt are placed on during the building of roads, buildings, parking lots, runways, and many other structures. A report published in 2004 by the American Geological Institute said that a typical American house requires more than a hundred tons of sand, gravel, and crushed stone for the foundation, basement, garage, and driveway, and more than two hundred tons if you include its share of the street that runs in front of it. A mile-long section of a single lane of an American interstate highway requires thirty-eight thousand tons. The most dramatic global increase in aggregate consumption is occurring in parts of the world where people who build roads are trying to keep pace with people who buy cars. Chinese officials have said that by 2030 they hope to have completed a hundred and sixty-five thousand miles of roads — a national network nearly three and a half times as long as the American interstate system.

Windowpanes, wineglasses, and cell-phone screens are made from melted sand. Sand is used for filtration in water-treatment facilities, septic systems, and swimming pools. Oil and gas drillers inject large quantities of hard, round sand into fracked rock formations in order to hold the cracks open, like shoving a foot in the door. Railroad locomotives drop angular sand onto the rails in front of their wheels as they brake, to improve traction. Australia and India are major exporters of garnet sand, which is crushed to make an abrasive material used in sandblasting and by water-jet cutters. Foundries use sand to form the molds for iron bolts, manhole covers, engine blocks, and other cast-metal objects. I once visited a foundry in Arizona whose products included parts for airplanes, cruise missiles, and artificial hip joints, and I watched a worker pouring molten stainless steel into a mold that had been made by repeatedly dipping a wax pattern into a ceramic slurry and then into sand. The work area was so hot that I nervously checked my arm, because I thought my shirt was on fire. Factories that produce plate glass — by pouring thin layers of molten silica onto baths of molten tin — can be hotter.

* * *

Moving from global geology to the body’s internal flora, I commend Kyle Frischkorn’s tour of the microbiome in the human gut, “You Are What You Eat, And What You Eat Is Millions of Microbes,” published in Smithsonian magazine.

“Poop is nothing short of a scientific miracle,” he begins, then makes his case with a quick survey of all we’ve learned by studying fresh human samples of same. I highlight that right away because this particular article might not be the one you save to read over lunch.

Much of it deals with Rob Knight, founder of the American Gut Project, which in the last five years has enlisted 9,000 volunteers to send cash and/or fecal samples to a research team which has now used DNA analysis to “create the first census of the 40 trillion or so bacteria that call our guts their home.”

The origins of those bacteria are well understood — we’re ingesting them all day long via food and all the other things we put into our mouths, not always with full awareness. What interests the researchers is understanding what drives an amazing diversity in gut microbiomes from one belly to the next.

For the study, volunteers had self-reported their diets, with the vast majority following omnivorous diets, and less than 3 percent each identifying as "vegetarian" or "vegan." When researchers crunched the numbers, however, they found no discernible correlations between gut communities and those with seemingly similar diets. 

In other words, the bacteria in poop were telling a different dietary story than the people making that poop. “You can be a vegan who mostly eats kale, or you can be a vegan who mostly eats fries,” Knight explains. “Those have totally different consequences for your microbiome.” Anyone can claim to be a die-hard adherent to the Paleo Diet, it seems, but the data suggested that the microbiome remembers all those midnight ice cream transgressions.

Every time you ingest, you change the interior landscape of you. Because the bulk of bacteria in the microbiome live in the gut, when we feed ourselves, we feed them too. The chemistry of what we eat, be it fries or kale, alters the chemical landscape of the gut, making it more cozy for some and less hospitable for others. 

It gets livelier. Because microbes are everywhere — on the table, in the air, on the surface of the muffin you left out on the counter — you’re also adding new microbes to the mix. Some stroll through your body like polite tourists. Others stick around and interact with the locals. Every bite has the potential to alter the microbiome, and subsequently human health. But researchers have yet to figure out how.

Ultimately the goal is to develop scientific understanding that will help people plan the best diets to fight disease and promote higher levels of health. In the meantime, it’s an exercise in pure science that is fundamentally redefining how we think of food and bacteria:

It’s not that all food has some bacteria on it, it’s that bacteria themselves are intrinsically and unavoidably a major component of food, inseparable from proteins and vitamins, micronutrients and fat.

* * *

For all those who still believe the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency engages in needless regulatory nitpicking and anti-business obstructionism, please have a look at Carey Gillam’s article for Environmental Health News, “Of mice, Monsanto and a mysterious tumor.”

Over the next year or so, U.S. courts will begin to wade through heaps of lawsuits challenging Monsanto Co.’s position that glyphosate, aka Roundup, poses no human health risk if used correctly.

Which is important, considering the glyphosate’s No. 1 ranking for decades now among herbicides favored by farmers, public land managers and residential applicators. Also, considering that glyphosate routinely turns up in food and in human urine samples.

Gillam’s is a history piece and its focus is on research conducted in 1983 that proved inconvenient for Monsanto, and became the focus of a concerted effort by the company and like-minded EPA regulators to minimize its significance:

The two-year study ran from 1980-1982 and involved 400 mice divided into groups of 50 males and 50 females that were administered three different doses of the weed killer or received no glyphosate at all for observation as a control group. The study was conducted for Monsanto to submit to regulators. But unfortunately for Monsanto, some mice exposed to glyphosate developed tumors at statistically significant rates, with no tumors at all in non-dosed mice.

A February 1984 memo from Environmental Protection Agency toxicologist William Dykstra stated the findings definitively: “Review of the mouse oncogenicity study indicates that glyphosate is oncogenic, producing renal tubule adenomas, a rare tumor, in a dose-related manner.” Researchers found these increased incidences of the kidney tumors in mice exposed to glyphosate worrisome because while adenomas are generally benign, they have the potential to become malignant, and even in noncancerous stages they have the potential to be harmful to other organs. Monsanto discounted the findings, arguing that the tumors were “unrelated to treatment” and showing false positives, and the company provided additional data to try to convince the EPA to discount the tumors.

But EPA toxicology experts were unconvinced. EPA statistician and toxicology branch member Herbert Lacayo authored a February 1985 memo outlining disagreement with Monsanto’s position. A “prudent person would reject the Monsanto assumption that Glyphosate dosing has no effect on kidney tumor production,” Lacayo wrote. ”Glyphosate is suspect. Monsanto’s argument is unacceptable.”

Eight members of the EPA’s toxicology branch, including Lacayo and Dykstra, were worried enough by the kidney tumors in mice that they signed a consensus review of glyphosate in March 1985 stating they were classifying glyphosate as a Category C oncogen, a substance “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Monsanto then found scientists willing to re-examine the results and conclude, essentially, that the tumors occurred for reasons other than glyphosate exposure. The company also resisted EPA’s call for a repeat of the mouse study, and the regulators’ enthusiasm for the fight began to fade.

The discussions between Monsanto and the EPA dragged on until the two sides met in November 1988 to discuss the agency’s request for a second mouse study and Monsanto’s reluctance to do so. Members of the EPA’s toxicology branch continued to express doubts about the validity of Monsanto’s data, but by June of 1989, EPA officials conceded, stating that they would drop the requirement for a repeated mouse study.

By the time an EPA review committee met on June 26, 1991, to again discuss and evaluate glyphosate research, the mouse study was so discounted that the group decided that there was a “lack of convincing carcinogenicity evidence” in relevant animal studies. The group concluded that the herbicide should be classified far more lightly than the initial 1985 classification or even the 1986 classification proposed by the advisory panel. This time, the EPA scientists dubbed the herbicide a Group E chemical, a classification that meant “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans.”


          Can Microbes Encourage Altruism?   
Interesting idea. Lifeforms are much more intricate and interrelated than we think: the “web of life” really does reflect how you (and I) are attached to other lifeforms, including the microbiome that has such an influence on our health and without which we could not live. Elizabeth Svoboda writes in Quanta: arasites are among nature’s […]
          Why Stress Has a Lot to Answer For When It Comes to Gut Issues   

Plain and simple, stress sucks! It has a very annoying way of contributing to serious health issues - bad skin, check! Horrible sleep patterns, check. Weight fluctuation, double check! And because that just isn't enough, stress is also a trigger for a lot of autoimmune conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is twice as common for women than men and it rears its ugly head, in most cases, in your late teens to early twenties.

Dietician Chloe McLeod who specialises in nutrition for inflammatory conditions, acknowledges that IBS is definitely exacerbated by stress. "IBS is a condition of gut-brain interaction, which means it's influenced by both what is happening in our gut, as well as our brains e.g. stress," says Chloe.

While determining IBS food triggers (a FODMAP approach is a great way to determine your triggers) and reducing your intake of these foods can help reduce discomfort, reducing your stress levels is just as important. "Stress can impact the delicate balance of our microbiome (the balance of bacteria in our gut) and exacerbate symptoms," says Chloe. "Not only can stress be a key trigger in bringing on IBS symptoms, but it can also make us all the more sensitive to trigger foods, which is why stress is one my key recommendations for managing IBS."

In this digital-first day and age, it's hard to reduce your stress. Switching off just isn't as easy as it should be, but putting some stress-reducing practices in place can mean the difference between a healthy (and relaxed) mind and body, and constantly feeling anxious and unwell. Chloe recommends yoga, meditation and long walks on the regular - listening to your body's needs is so important and more often than not you'll find your bod is crying out for mindfulness and regular exercise.

Chloe admits combining stress-management with supplements can also alleviate IBS symptoms. "Try taking a daily probiotic supplement regularly to help restore the natural balance of bacteria in the digestive system," says Chloe. "Probiotics which contain the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 (Bifantis), have been clinically proven to help relieve symptoms of IBS, including abdominal pain, gas and bloating." Which is great news for anyone who suffers from this horrible condition.

By making a conscious decision to live a stress-free life and maintaining a healthy lifestyle you can keep a number of illness that start in the gut under complete control.


          July 2017 Highlights   
Editor-in-Chief Shawn Kennedy and Clinical Editor Betsy Todd present the highlights of the July issue of the American Journal of Nursing. On this month’s cover is an illustration of gastrointestinal microbiota. The authors of our first CE, “Health and the Human Microbiome: A Primer for Nurses,” provide an overview of the current state of knowledge about the human microbiome—with a focus on the microbiota in the GI tract and the vagina, the two most commonly studied body sites—and discuss implications for nursing practice. Our second CE, “Early Intervention in Patients with Poststroke Depression,” explains how poststroke depression often manifests, describes risk factors, and discusses the screening tools and therapeutic interventions nurses can use to identify and help manage depression in patients following stroke. In our next article, “The Growing Need for Diverse Blood Donors,” the chief nurse of the American Red Cross discusses how changing demographics necessitate an increase in more ethnically diverse blood donors, and shares strategies nurses can use to address this need. In “Ethical Nursing Care When the Terminally Ill Patient Seeks Death,” the authors review clinical perspectives on the assessment of the patient’s wish or request to die, ethical questions, and the current legal landscape to consider how nursing care can be ethically provided to a patient requesting death. Finally, in “Could Emotional Intelligence Make Patients Safer?,” the authors address how emotional intelligence may be a skill that can help nurses to “error proof” communication in the health care setting. In addition, there’s News, Reflections, Drug Watch, Art of Nursing, and more.
           NASA keeps a close watch for bad bugs on space station   
Scientists at NASA organise regular checks to ensure that the International Space Station (ISS) has one of the cleanest living environments and is free from bacteria and other micro-organisms, the space agency said. “Once every three months, we sample from two locations in each module of the US segment of the station,” Mark Ott, a microbiologist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said in a statement. Samples collected from surfaces and from the air are cultured on plates containing a growth medium, one specific for bacteria and the other for fungi. Those plates return to the ground and scientists identify each organism that grows on them. The study, published in the journal of Microbiome, identified 11 strains of bacterium belonging to
          Comment on The Best Probiotics: Understanding the Microbiome by Ash   
When should one take their probiotics? I heard two sides to this question, one being you take it before food since there isn't that much stomach acid to kill the bacteria in the probiotc; and the other being you take it after eating food because the food that was eaten takes most of the stomach acid produced when eating food and leaves none to little to destroy the bacteria in probiotics. What has been your experience with your patients,yourself, and clients on which is a better time to take probiotics, after or before food? I think this is very important and should have been addressed in the article.
          A perturbed skin microbiome can be 'contagious' and promote inflammation, Penn study finds   
In a new study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have shown for the first time that, not only can infection with the Leishmania parasite alter the skin microbiome of affected mice, but this altered microbial community can be passed to uninfected mice that share a cage with the infected animals.
          Anxiety Overtakes Depression as No. 1 Mental Health Problem   

By Dr. Mercola

Anxiety is the new depression, with more than half of all American college students reporting anxiety.1 Recent research2 shows anxiety — characterized by constant and overwhelming worry and fear — is now 800 percent more prevalent than all forms of cancer.

A 2016 report3 by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State confirmed the trend, finding anxiety and depression are the most common concerns among college students who seek counseling.4 Data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the U.S. may be as high as 40 million, or about 18 percent of the population over the age of 18, making it the most common mental illness in the nation.5,6

Fortunately, there are many treatment options available, and some of the most effective treatments are also among the safest and least expensive, and don't involve drugs.

Anxiety — A Medical Condition Driven by Sociological Conditions?

Commenting on the featured video, Huffington Post writes:7

"A person with high functioning anxiety can look calm on the surface, but underneath that practiced veneer, their thoughts are churning. That's the message behind a new video from 'The Mighty,' in which a young woman describes the experience of living with the condition, which is characterized by persistent negative thoughts, restlessness and even physical symptoms like muscle tension …"

But what is at the heart of all this anxiety? What's causing all these persistent negative thoughts? Why the chronic restlessness? The New York Times addressed the rising prevalence of anxiety in a recent article, noting:8

"While to epidemiologists the disorder is a medical condition, anxiety is starting to seem like a sociological condition, too: a shared cultural experience that feeds on alarmist CNN graphics and metastasizes through social media …

'If you're a human being living in 2017 and you're not anxious,' [Sarah Fader, who has generalized anxiety disorder] said on the telephone, 'there's something wrong with you' … [I]t seems we have entered a new Age of Anxiety. Monitoring our heart rates. Swiping ceaselessly at our iPhones …

Consider the fidget spinner: endlessly whirring between the fingertips of 'Generation Alpha,' annoying teachers, baffling parents … According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, some 38 percent of girls ages 13 through 17, and 26 percent of boys, have an anxiety disorder …  Meanwhile, the number of web searches involving the term has nearly doubled over the last five years …"

United States of Anxiety

Kai Wright, host of the political podcast "The United States of Anxiety," attributes the current trend to the fact that we've been at war for over a decade and a half, have faced two recessions in that same time frame, and have had to adjust to a swiftly changing digital landscape, which in turn has changed how we work and interact.9

"Everything we consider to be normal has changed. And nobody seems to trust the people in charge to tell them where they fit into the future," he says.10 Andrea Petersen, author of "On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety," interviewed students at University of Michigan for her book, some of whom revealed the internal pressure cooker was turned on far earlier than you might expect. In his Times article, Alex Williams writes:11

"One student, who has ADHD, anxiety and depression, said the pressure began building in middle school when she realized she had to be at the top of her class to get into high school honors classes, which she needed to get into Advanced Placement classes, which she needed to get into college. 'In sixth grade,' she said, 'kids were freaking out.' This was not the stereotypical experience of Generation X …

'In addition to the normal chaos of being a human being, there is what almost feels like weaponized uncertainty thrown at us on a daily basis,' said Kat Kinsman, the 'Hi, Anxiety' author. 'It's coming so quickly and messily, some of it straight from the president's own fingers.'

Indeed, Mr. Trump is the first politician in world history whose preferred mode of communication is the 3 a.m. tweet … 'We live in a country where we can't even agree on a basic set of facts,' said Dan Harris, an ABC news correspondent and 'Nightline' anchor …"

Beware of Microwave Exposure

We have had nearly an exponential increase in electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure from devices like our cellphones and cordless phones, Wi-Fi routers, baby monitors, smart meters and cellphone towers, which may turn out to be a primary driver for this increase in anxiety and depression. How you say?

Good question. Due to the pioneering work of Dr. Martin Pall, we know that voltage gated calcium channels are over 7 million times more sensitive to microwave radiation than the charged particles inside and outside our cells. This means that the safety standards for this exposure are off by a factor of 7 million.

When the EMF from the above listed devices hit your voltage gated calcium channels, nearly 1 million calcium ions per second are released into the cell, which then causes the cell to release excessive nitric oxide that then combines with superoxide to form peroxynitrate, which then forms the dangerous hydroxyl free radical that causes massive mitochondrial dysfunction.

Guess which tissues have the greatest density of voltage gated calcium channels? Your nerves and tissues, like the pacemaker in your heart and, of course, your brain. When the channels in the brain are activated, it causes a major disruption in neurotransmitter and hormonal balance that can radically increase the risk for not only anxiety and depression but arrhythmias, autism and Alzheimer's.

I am going to be massively expanding on this in future articles and interviews but in the meantime, please watch or rewatch my video below to help start you on the process of protecting you from microwaves.

Do Fidget Spinners Work?

In his article, Williams touches on the popularity of so-called fidget spinners, originally devised as a focusing aid primarily for autistic children and kids with attention deficit or sensory sensitivity disorders. The toy is now being used by all sorts of people of varying ages. But do they really help reduce anxiety? According to psychiatrist Pilar Trelles at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, the spinners can be quite helpful.

Health Magazine quotes her as saying, "When someone is hypersensitive to the environment they might bite their nails, pull out their cuticles or pinch their skin. Fidget spinners offer a less harmful way to expend that nervous energy."12 The fidget spinner falls under a stress management category called rapid stress management technique, recommended for use in conjunction with other forms of therapy.

That said, some schools have banned use of fidget spinners, on account that they distract teachers and other students. Medicine Net has also issued a warning that fidget spinners pose a choking hazard,13 as the round metal bearings could come dislodged. A 10-year-old girl had to have a bearing surgically removed from her esophagus after she accidentally swallowed it.

Other Common Causes of Anxiety

While genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events play a role in the development of anxiety disorders, stress is a common trigger. Anxiety is a normal response to stress, but in some people the anxiety becomes overwhelming and difficult to cope with, to the point that it affects their day-to-day living. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains how your brain reacts to stress, and how the anxiety response is triggered:14

"Several parts of the brain are key actors in the production of fear and anxiety … scientists have discovered that the amygdala and the hippocampus play significant roles in most anxiety disorders.

The amygdala … is believed to be a communications hub between the parts of the brain that process incoming sensory signals and the parts that interpret these signals. It can alert the rest of the brain that a threat is present and trigger a fear or anxiety response.

The emotional memories stored in the central part of the amygdala may play a role in anxiety disorders involving very distinct fears, such as fears of dogs, spiders or flying. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that encodes threatening events into memories."

A number of other situations and underlying issues can also contribute to the problem. This includes but is not limited to the following, and addressing these issues may be what's needed to resolve your anxiety disorder. For more information about each, please follow the links provided:

Exposure to microwave radiation from devices like cellphones, Wi-Fi routers, portable phones, smart meters, baby monitors and cellphone towers

Food additives, food dyes, GMOs and glyphosate.

Food dyes of particular concern include Blue #1 and #2 food coloring; Green #3; Orange B; Red #3 and #40; Yellow #5 and #6; and the preservative sodium benzoate

Gut dysfunction caused by imbalanced microflora

Lack of magnesium, vitamin D15 and/or animal-based omega-3.

(Research has shown a 20 percent reduction in anxiety among medical students taking omega-3s16)

Use of artificial sweeteners

Excessive consumption of sugar and junk food

Improper breathing

Exposure to toxic mold

Breathing Has a Direct Influence on Anxiety

The way you breathe is intricately connected to your mental state. I've previously published interviews with Patrick McKeown, a leading expert on the Buteyko Breathing Method, where he explains how breathing affects your mind, body and health. Here, I've chosen a video featuring Robert Litman, where he specifically addresses the relationship between breathing and anxiety.

According to Buteyko, the founder of the method, anxiety is triggered by an imbalance between gases in your body, specifically the ratio between carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen. In this video, Litman explains how your breathing affects the ratio of these gases, and demonstrates how you can literally breathe your way into a calmer state of mind.

A Buteyko breathing exercise that can help quell anxiety is summarized below. This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate CO2, leading to calmer breathing and reduced anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you go into a more relaxed state.

  • Take a small breath into your nose, a small breath out; hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release to resume breathing.
  • Breathe normally for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat the sequence several more times: small breath in through your nose, small breath out; hold your breath for five seconds, then let go and breathe normally for 10 seconds.

McKeown has also written a book specifically aimed at the treatment of anxiety through optimal breathing, called "Anxiety Free: Stop Worrying and Quieten Your Mind — Featuring the Buteyko Breathing Method and Mindfulness," which can be found on Amazon.com.17 In addition to the book, ButeykoClinic.com also offers a one-hour online course and an audio version of the book, along with several free chapters18 and accompanying videos.19

Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist, has also written an excellent book called "Breathe." In it, she details a program that can help improve your physical and mental health. You can learn more about her breathing program in this recent interview.

Nature Sounds Calm the Mind and Quell Anxiety

In addition to addressing your breathing, consider spending more time in natural environments. Researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School found that nature sounds have a distinct and powerful effect on your brain, lowering fight-or-flight instincts and activating your rest-and-digest autonomic nervous system.20,21,22

Nature sounds produce brain activity associated with outward-directed focus, whereas artificial sounds create brain activity associated with inward-directed focus. The latter, which can express itself as worry and rumination about things related to your own self, is a trait associated with anxiety and depression. Nature sounds also produce higher rest-digest nervous system activity, which occurs when your body is in a relaxed state.

Previous research has also demonstrated that listening to nature sounds help you recover faster after a stressful event. So, seek out parks, or create a natural sanctuary on your balcony, or indoors using plants and an environmental sound machine. YouTube also has a number of very long videos of natural sounds, such as the one featured above. You could simply turn it on and leave it on while you're indoors.

EFT — A Potent Non-Drug Treatment Alternative

Another potent treatment alternative that does not involve drugs is the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), one of the most well-established forms of energy psychology. It's akin to acupuncture, which is based on the concept that a vital energy flows through your body along invisible pathways known as meridians. EFT stimulates specific energy meridian points in your body by tapping them with your fingertips, while simultaneously using custom-made verbal affirmations.

This can be done alone or under the supervision of a qualified therapist. By doing this, you reprogram the way your body responds to emotional stressors, effectively "short-circuiting" the event chain that leads to an anxiety or panic attack. Research confirms EFT can be a powerful intervention for stress and anxiety,23,24,25 in part because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.26

If you recall the NIMH's explanation above about how your amygdala and hippocampus are involved in anxiety disorders, you can see why tapping is such a powerful tool. In the video above, EFT therapist Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to tap for panic attacks and anxiety relief.

For serious or complex issues, you may need a qualified EFT therapist to guide you through the process. That said, the more you tap, the more skilled you'll become. You can also try acupuncture,27 which like EFT bridges the gap between your mind and body.

Other Treatment Options for Anxiety

Considering the risks of psychiatric drugs, I would urge you to view them as a last resort rather than a first-line of treatment. In addition to the breathing exercises, nature sound therapy and EFT already mentioned, other far safer strategies to explore include:

Regular exercise and daily movement

Mindfulness training and/or a spiritual practice. Research suggests psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, may be a game changer in the treatment for severe depression and anxiety, and the spiritual intensity of the experience appears to be a key component of the healing.

Magic mushrooms are not legal, so this is not a viable treatment as of yet, but it highlights the importance and relationship between having a spiritual foundation that can provide hope and meaning to your life

Optimizing your gut microbiome. Gastrointestinal abnormalities have been linked to a variety of psychological problems, including anxiety and depression. It is now well established that the vagus nerve is the primary route your gut bacteria use to transmit information to your brain,28 which helps explain why mental health can be so intricately connected to your gut microbiome.29

For example, fermented foods have been shown to curb social anxiety disorder in young adults.30,31 To learn more about this, please see "Poor Diet, Lack of Sunshine and Spiritual Anemia — Three Potent Contributors to Depression and Anxiety."

Lowering your sugar and processed food intake. Research shows your diet can have a profound effect on your mental health.32,33 Pay particular attention to nutritional imbalances known to contribute to mental health problems, such as lack of magnesium, vitamin D, B vitamins and animal-based omega-3

Getting plenty of restorative sleep

Being mindful of your exposure to EMFs and use of wireless technologies. At bare minimum, avoid keeping any of these gadgets next to you while sleeping

Evaluating your toxic exposures. A common symptom of toxic mold exposure is anxiety, so ask yourself if there's any kind of pattern; do your symptoms improve when you spend time away from your home or office, for example?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They even offer CBT for young children these days.34 A number of universities offer Tao Connect35 to their students, but even if you're not a student, there are free online programs available that you can use. Some examples include MoodGYM,36 e-couch,37 Learn to Live38 and CBT Online39

Anxiety can significantly reduce your quality of life, so it's well worth it to keep going until you find a proper long-term solution. Last but not least, don't underestimate the value of social interactions — face-to-face, that is, not via social media. Lack of social interaction has become so widespread, some establishments have taken to turning off their Wi-Fi in an effort to encourage human interaction.

Jimson Bienenstock, president of HotBlack Coffee in Toronto, explained his decision to turn the café into a cellphone-free zone to The New York Times, saying,40 "It's about creating a social vibe. We're a vehicle for human interaction, otherwise it's just a commodity." Indeed, like mindfulness and spiritual pursuits, social interaction helps foster meaning and purpose in life, thereby protecting and improving your mental health.


          Diet Plays a Key Role in Developing a Healthy Gut Microbiome   

Diet Plays a Key Role in Developing a Healthy Gut Microbiome Understanding and practical modification of your gut microbiome is an important part of the future of medicine. Nearly 15 years ago scientists believed that the Human Genome Project would find information necessary to create gene-based therapies to produce cures for most health conditions. Many […]

The post Diet Plays a Key Role in Developing a Healthy Gut Microbiome appeared first on Live Trading News.


          Athlete Poop Won't Improve Your Athletic Performance   

The human body isn’t just your cells, but a home for trillions of bacteria. We know that many of those bacteria serve important purposes, and imbalances or a lack of diversity could lead to illness. But research into this field is pretty new. At least, new enough that you shouldn’t just transplant someone else’s gut…

Read more...


          Biodynamic Farming and the Legacy of Rudolf Steiner   

By Dr. Mercola

Biodynamic farming is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture initially developed by Austrian scholar Rudolf Steiner,1 Ph.D., (1861-1925). It’s an approach that can provide far superior harvests compared to conventional chemical-based agriculture, while simultaneously healing the Earth.

Not only does biodynamic farming provide superior crops both in volume and increased density of nutrients, but biodynamic farms are also completely self-sustaining. As noted in the featured film, “The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner,” sustainability, and the personal independence and freedom that sustainability provides, was incredibly important to Steiner.

It’s a very long film — over three hours — but if you have an interest in biodynamic farming or Steiner’s worldview in general, it’s well worth watching. He taught there is an invisible force that aids and sustains humanity, and biodynamic farming makes use of a wide variety of influences, including planetary influences and moon phases.

Regenerative agriculture has been one of my passions for the past few years, and I’ve read many books and interviewed many experts in this area. Over these past few years, I’ve tested a number of different strategies to improve plant growth, such as vortexed compost tea, rock dust powders, magnetic structured water, ionic ocean minerals, biochar, many types of foliar sprays and mulch like wood chips.

Steiner’s Legacy Lives On

Steiner has had a profound influence, making an indelible mark on the world. Profoundly prolific, his complete works fill more than 330 books, much of which are now available online in German and English.2

Steiner was a trained scientist and respected philosopher, a true eclectic and visionary far ahead of his times. His voluminous works span a wide range of topics, from “The Mysteries of Antiquity” and writings on Nietzsche and Goethe, to “The Philosophy of Freedom” and “Spirit and Matter” to the “Birth of the Biodynamic Method.”

He wrote about economics, politics, art, architecture, drama, therapeutic speech, epistemology, religion, science, medicine, education and more. You could spend your entire life studying his life’s work, many aspects of which are detailed in this two-part film.

Education — The Steiner Way

Aside from agriculture, Steiner had a deep interest in early education, and his principles are alive and well to this day. In the U.K. alone, there are more than three dozen Steiner academies of learning, and the natural world, including farming skills, is an integral part of the curriculum.

Steiner kindergarten academies “provide ‘unhurried and creative’ environments for learning,” The Guardian wrote in 2012.3 Trevor Mepham, principal of Steiner Academy Hereford, told the paper, “It's about keeping that vitality and that freshness and that twinkling eye. I think that's common sense, though. It's just that we arguably try to do that as a matter of course.”

“There's something undeniably wholesome about the Steiner approach,” The Guardian notes. “In an age when toddlers are adept at using iPhones, the idea of children building shelters in the woods is profoundly attractive to parents. Access to television is restricted — under the homeschool agreement with parents, children are not meant to watch TV before the age of 8.

There is no uniform; the children wear hoodies, sturdy trousers and plimsolls, and the canteen serves mainly vegetarian food. A homely vegetable curry spiced with mustard seeds is dish of the day when I visit …

‘As human beings we have a close and important relationship with the natural world. To pretend that we just need gadgetry and technology, that misses out a very vital part of the piece,’ Mepham says. ‘Especially when children are young, we need to try to foster in them an interest and sense of inquiry and hopefulness about the natural world.’"

Biodynamic Farming and Reverence for Nature

Biodynamic farming is perhaps the area where his legacy lives on the strongest. In 1924, due to popular demand, Steiner offered an agriculture course in Koberwitz, a small village in what is now Poland.

The course consisted of eight lectures and five discussions, now available in the book “Agriculture: Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture,” which to this day serves as the basis of biodynamic farming everywhere. His course is also available for free online.4 As noted by Biodynamic Association:5

“Steiner was one of the first public figures to warn that the widespread use of chemical fertilizers would lead to the decline of soil, plant and animal health and the subsequent devitalization of food. He was also the first to bring the perspective of the farm as a single, self-sustaining organism that thrives through biodiversity, the integration of crops and livestock and the creation of a closed-loop system of fertility.”

In 1923, he also predicted that, in 80 to 100 years, honeybee populations would collapse6 — a prediction fulfilled with the sudden emergence of colony collapse disorder, which can be traced back to the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides.

As just one of many examples of Steiner’s comprehensive approach to farming, biodynamic farmers will not cut off the horns on their cows, as the animal’s horns are a primary sensory organ, and a complex interrelated relationship exists between the horns and the animal’s digestive system.

Why Agricultural U-Turn Is Necessary

We live in an increasingly toxic world, and according to a wide variety of scientists, we are looking at no more than 50 to 60 years’ worth of business as usual before we reach a point at which nature will no longer sustain us on any front, be it water, air or soil quality. Indeed, food security is no longer a given, even if you have plenty of available land, and here’s why:

Water scarcity is getting worse as aquifers are drained faster than they can be refilled

One-third of the largest groundwater aquifers are already nearing depletion,7 with three of the most stressed aquifers being located in areas where political tensions are already running high.8 To give you an idea of how quickly groundwater is being depleted, consider what’s happening in the High Plains Aquifer (also known as the Ogallala) in the American Midwest.

Here, the water level has been dropping by an average of 6 feet per year, while the natural recharge rate is 1 inch or less.9 Once this aquifer is depleted — and many wells have already run dry in the area — 20 percent of the U.S. corn, wheat and cattle output will be lost due to lack of irrigation and water for the animals.

Soil erosion and degradation is rapidly worsening

In a 2012 Time magazine10 interview, University of Sydney professor John Crawford noted that about 40 percent of agricultural soils around the globe is currently classified as degraded or seriously degraded. “Seriously degraded” means that 70 percent of the topsoil (the layer of soil in which plants grow) has already disappeared.

The reason for the erosion and degradation is farming methods that remove carbon from the soil and destroy the microbial balance in the soil responsible for plant nutrition and growth. At present, topsoil is being lost 10 to 40 times faster than nature can regenerate and replenish it naturally.

Water pollution is worsening

Precious water sources are also threatened by pollution from large-scale monocrop farms and concentrated animal feeding operations.11 According to a report12 by Environment America, corporate agribusiness is “one of the biggest threats to America’s waterways.” Tyson Foods Inc. was deemed among the worst, releasing 104.4 million pounds of toxic pollutants into waterways between 2010 and 2014.

Researchers have warned that many lakes around the world are at grave risk from fertilizer runoff that feeds harmful blue-green algae (cyanobacteria),13,14 and once established, it’s far more difficult to get rid of than previously thought. The answer, according to the authors of this study, is better land-use management that addresses fertilizer runoff. Dramatic reductions in fertilizer use are also recommended.

Air pollution is worsening

Scientists have declared farming and fertilizers as the No. 1 cause of particulate matter air pollution in much of the U.S., China, Russia and Europe today, specifically the nitrogen component of fertilizers.15,16 Industrial food and farming also release dangerous amounts of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization warns 25 percent of all deaths worldwide are attributable to environmental pollution, with air pollution being among the most significant.17

Desertification is speeding up

Land is turning into desert at a rapid clip and, with it, we’re losing biodiversity of both plant and animal life.

Biodynamic Farming Is Part of the Answer

Biodynamic farming addresses all of these problems and more. The good news is biodynamic farming is on the rise, gaining popularity among younger farmers — even people who don’t have a family background in farming. John Chester, for example, was a filmmaker before he left Hollywood for a 213-acre farm in Moorpark, California. The Guardian writes:18

“… Chester runs [Apricot Lane Farms] with his wife, Molly. The couple nurtures 100 different types of vegetables, 75 varieties of stone fruit, and countless animal residents: Scottish highland cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep, ducks, hens, horses and livestock dogs. Last year, Apricot Lane Farms was recognized by the National Wildlife Federation and the North American Butterfly Association for supporting so much wildlife — not a recognition typically given to farms.”

Last year, biodynamic farming in the U.S. increased by 16 percent, adding nearly 21,800 acres to its fold.19 To evaluate the impact of biodynamic methods on soil quality, Demeter USA, a nonprofit certifier of biodynamic goods, has started collecting topsoil samples from participating farms. Eventually, this will tell us just how quickly soil quality can be improved.

Demeter co-director Elizabeth Candelario told The Guardian, “This will provide a tool for farmers who continue to focus on building healthy soil, and give voice to power about biodynamic agriculture’s role in mitigating the impacts of climate change.”

Cosmic Influences

What sets biodynamic farming20 apart from organic farming are the principles involving cosmological forces, such as taking moon phases and planetary cycles into account when planting and harvesting. Each of the 12 zodiac signs are associated with a particular quality. As explained by Tony Carlton in the film, the four primary qualities or energies farmers work with are earth, light, water and warmth. Zodiac signs also fall into four different elements, namely earth signs, air signs, water signs and fire signs.

  • During the influence of an earth sign, you would plant root vegetables, as the astrological earth element corresponds with plant roots. Earth signs are: Taurus (April 20 to May 20), Virgo (August 23 to September 22) and Capricorn (December 22 to January 19)
  • During water signs, you would plant leafy greens (water element). Water signs are: Cancer (June 21 to July 22), Scorpio (October 23 to November 21) and Pisces (February 19 to March 20)
  • Air signs call for planting of flowering plants (light element). Air signs are: Gemini (May 21 to June 20), Libra (September 23 to October 22) and Aquarius (January 20 to February 18)
  • Fire signs call for planting of fruits (the element of warmth). Fire signs are: Aries (March 21-April 19), Leo (July 23 to August 22) and Sagittarius (November 22 to December 21)

To recap, the four elements of earth, water, air and fire correspond to the plant kingdom of root, leaf, flower and fruit. As an example, lettuce grows well under the influence of Pisces, but the bean does not. Beans prefer the influence of Aries. If you plant beans during the month of Pisces, the plant will hardly grow at all — until Aries comes around, at which time it will actually start to grow.

This further translates into moon phases as well. For example, when the moon is in Aries, a fire sign, you’ll want to plant fruiting plants, such as cherries. When the moon is in Taurus, an earth sign, plant carrots and other root veggies. Since the moon moves quickly through each sign, it will change signs every two days or so. For a planting guide based on moon phases, see The Gardeners Calendar.21

Biodynamic Is Organic and Regenerative, and Then Some

Biodynamic farming also differs a bit in the way farmers are certified. While an organic farmer can section off as little as 10 percent of the farm for the growing of certified organic goods, in order to be certified as a biodynamic farmer, your entire farm must be biodynamic. In addition to that, biodynamic certification also requires 10 percent of the land be dedicated to increasing biodiversity, such as forest, wetland or insectary. As noted by Lauren Mazzo, writing for Shape Magazine:22

“In the end, they're both about eliminating the scary stuff from our food. An organic certification means there are no synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation or genetic engineering used in the food, and farm animals must be fed organic feed, etc.

Biodynamic includes those guidelines, as well as making the farm even more self-reliant. For example, instead of simply requiring organic feed for animals, most of the feed must originate from other processes and resources on the farm.”

Biodynamic farming also has most or all of the features associated with regenerative agriculture, such as crop rotation, cover crops and so on. And, while neither use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides or herbicides, Steiner created a number of very specific preparations made from herbs, minerals and manure, which are then added to compost or sprayed on the fields.

One such preparation involves packing manure into a cow horn and burying it underground over the winter. In spring, the contents of the horn are scraped out, mixed with water and applied as a soil treatment to stimulate root growth. Another involves packing silica into a cow horn and burying it over the summer.23

You Are What You Eat

According to Steiner, man is a microcosm of the macrocosm. Certainly, it’s true that the biosphere that is the Earth is intricately connected, from the tiniest bacteria in the soil all the way up to the human body, which just so happens to contain 10 times more bacteria and other microorganisms than human cells. What separates us from the microbiome in the soil, you could say, is merely scale and perception.

With that in mind, we cannot afford to ignore soil, plant and insect health, as our health depends on theirs. While few are called to become full-time farmers, most people can grow some of their own food, even if it’s just some herbs or sprouts, which require little space and maintenance.

Even if you do none of those things, you can still help steer the agricultural industry toward safer, more sustainable systems by supporting your local farmers and choosing fresh, locally-grown organic and grass fed foods. If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods:

American Grassfed Association

The goal of the American Grassfed Association is to promote the grass fed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education.

Their website also allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; born and raised on American family farms.

EatWild.com

EatWild.com provides lists of farmers known to produce raw dairy products as well as grass fed beef and other farm-fresh produce (although not all are certified organic). Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass fed products.

Weston A. Price Foundation

Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

Grassfed Exchange

The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass fed meats across the U.S.

Local Harvest

This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass fed meats and many other goodies.

Farmers Markets

A national listing of farmers markets.

Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals

The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

FoodRoutes

The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs and markets near you.

The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO "organic" production from authentic organic practices.

RealMilk.com

If you're still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund24 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.25 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.


          PhD Defense: Development and analysis of individual-based gut microbiome metabolic models   
Belval Campus, Maison du Savoir MSA 3.110
          Sep 15, 2017: “Genes Involved in Maize Secondary Metabolism Revealed by An Integrated Metabolomics, Transcriptomics, and Quantitative Genetics Approach” - Simon (Shaoqun) Zhou at Plant Science Building   

Simon (Shaoqun) Zhou
Graduate Student Exit Seminar
Plant Biology, Cornell University

Thesis: Interactions between plants and their biotic environments in the soil microbial community

I am an evolutionary biology PhD student interested in the interactions between plants and their biotic environments, especially soil microbial community. Using a combination of natural variation surveying and controlled artificial selection approach, I hope to understand how plants and their rhizospheric microbiome maintain a dynamic homeostasis, and respond to environmental stress (e.g. herbivory) and internal changes (e.g. host plant polyploidy) as a community.

My undergraduate research experiences focused on plant population genetics, phylogenetics and palynology, which I continue to study and apply in my current project.

View on site | Email this event


          Athlete Poop Won't Improve Your Athletic Performance   

The human body isn’t just your cells, but a home for trillions of bacteria. We know that many of those bacteria serve important purposes, and imbalances or a lack of diversity could lead to illness. But research into this field is pretty new. At least, new enough that you shouldn’t just transplant someone else’s gut…

Read more...


          Perturbed Skin Microbiome Can Be Contagious and Promote Inflammation   
A perturbed skin microbiome was found to be contagious and seems to promote inflammation even in healthy individuals. The skin plays host to a menagerie

          Staff Scientist - Molecular Biologist - The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Dayton, OH   
Come Work at HJF! HJF is seeking a Staff Scientist to support the Microbiome test analyses at the Molecular Bioeffects Branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force
From The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Thu, 04 May 2017 17:42:59 GMT - View all Dayton, OH jobs
          Research Scientist, Bioinformatics - George Washington University - Foggy Bottom, MD   
We are seeking a highly motivated, skilled, and collaborative computational biologist to contribute to multiple NIH -funded microbiome research projects....
From George Washington University - Fri, 16 Jun 2017 17:12:57 GMT - View all Foggy Bottom, MD jobs
          Staff Scientist - Molecular Biologist - The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Dayton, OH   
Come Work at HJF! HJF is seeking a Staff Scientist to support the Microbiome test analyses at the Molecular Bioeffects Branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force
From The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Thu, 04 May 2017 17:42:59 GMT - View all Dayton, OH jobs
          The microbiome in hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients and cancer patients: Opportunities for clinical advances that reduce infection   
- Source: journals.plos.org
          Lactobacillus crispatus Dominant Vaginal Microbiome Is Associated with Inhibitory Activity of Female Genital Tract Secretions against Escherichia coli   
Objective: Female genital tract secretions inhibit E. coli ex vivo and the activity may prevent colonization and provide a biomarker of a healthy microbiome. We hypothesized that high E. coli inhibitory activity would be associated with a Lactobacillus crispatus and/or jensenii dominant microbiome and differ from that of women with low inhibitory activity. Study Design: Vaginal swab cell pellets from 20 samples previously obtained in a cross-sectional study of near-term pregnant and non-pregnant healthy women were selected based on having high (>90% inhibition) or low (<20% inhibition) anti-E. coli activity. The V6 region of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene was amplified and sequenced using the Illumina HiSeq 2000 platform. Filtered culture supernatants from Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus iners, and Gardnerella vaginalis were also assayed for E. coli inhibitory activity. Results: Sixteen samples (10 with high and 6 with low activity) yielded evaluable microbiome data. There was no difference in the predominant microbiome species in pregnant compared to non-pregnant women (n = 8 each). However, there were significant differences between women with high compared to low E. coli inhibitory activity. High activity was associated with a predominance of L. crispatus (p<0.007) and culture supernatants from L. crispatus exhibited greater E. coli inhibitory activity compared to supernatants obtained from L. iners or G. vaginalis. Notably, the E. coli inhibitory activity varied among different strains of L. crispatus. Conclusion: Microbiome communities with abundant L. crispatus likely contribute to the E. coli inhibitory activity of vaginal secretions and efforts to promote this environment may prevent E. coli colonization and related sequelae including preterm birth.
          Impact of Technical Sources of Variation on the Hand Microbiome Dynamics of Healthcare Workers   
We assessed the dynamics of hand microbial community structure of 34 healthcare workers from a single surgical intensive care unit over a short (3 week) time period, whilst taking into account the technical sources of variability introduced by specimen collection, DNA extraction, and sequencing. Sample collection took place at 3 different time points. Only the sampling collection method appeared to have a significant impact on the observed hand microbial community structure among the healthcare workers. Analysis of samples collected using glove-juice showed a slightly more similar microbial composition within individual hand samples over time than between the hands of different individuals over time. This was not true for samples collected using a swab, where samples from a single individual were no more similar to each other over time than those among other individuals over time, suggesting they were essentially independent. DNA extraction techniques (lysozyme only versus enzyme cocktail) and sequencing (replicate set 1 versus 2) using Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine, were not influential to the microbial community structures. Glove-juice sample collection may likely be the method of choice in hand hygiene studies in the healthcare setting.
          MicrobiomeAnalyst: a web-based tool for comprehensive statistical, visual and meta-analysis of microbiome data   
Abstract
The widespread application of next-generation sequencing technologies has revolutionized microbiome research by enabling high-throughput profiling of the genetic contents of microbial communities. How to analyze the resulting large complex datasets remains a key challenge in current microbiome studies. Over the past decade, powerful computational pipelines and robust protocols have been established to enable efficient raw data processing and annotation. The focus has shifted toward downstream statistical analysis and functional interpretation. Here, we introduce MicrobiomeAnalyst, a user-friendly tool that integrates recent progress in statistics and visualization techniques, coupled with novel knowledge bases, to enable comprehensive analysis of common data outputs produced from microbiome studies. MicrobiomeAnalyst contains four modules - the Marker Data Profiling module offers various options for community profiling, comparative analysis and functional prediction based on 16S rRNA marker gene data; the Shotgun Data Profiling module supports exploratory data analysis, functional profiling and metabolic network visualization of shotgun metagenomics or metatranscriptomics data; the Taxon Set Enrichment Analysis module helps interpret taxonomic signatures via enrichment analysis against >300 taxon sets manually curated from literature and public databases; finally, the Projection with Public Data module allows users to visually explore their data with a public reference data for pattern discovery and biological insights. MicrobiomeAnalyst is freely available at http://www.microbiomeanalyst.ca.

          What’s On Your Skin? Archaea, That’s What   
Berkeley Lab researcher Hoi-Ying Holman (Credit: Berkeley Lab) Click for a full size image   What’s On Your Skin? Archaea, That’s What Berkeley Lab study on human skin microbiome finds archaea abundance associated with age By Julie Chao It turns out your skin is crawling with single-celled microorganisms – ­and they’re not just bacteria. A ...
          Gut Bugs Determine Health Benefits of Sourdough Whole-Grain Bread | Glycemia Improves W/ White Bread in Some!   
Yes, white bread can be the healthier choice. Whether your post-prandial glycemic response will improve or deteriorate with white vs. whole-grain sourdough bread appears to be fully dependent on your gut bugs.
Even though it has gotten a bad rep over the past 20 years, bread is (still?) consumed daily by billions of people, worldwide. I guess that's also because the scientific evidence of which the Internet gurus will tell you that it would "prove that bread is the devil" is by no means unambiguous.

It was thus high time for scientists to perform a randomized crossover trial like the one by Talk Korem and colleagues from the Weizmann Institute of Science - a study that used data from two 1-week-long dietary interventions comprising consumption of either traditionally made sourdough-leavened whole-grain bread or industrially made white bread.
Review older articles about the gut - health axis.at the SuppVersity

Bugs Dictate What You Crave

Sweeteners & Your Gut

Foods, Not Ma- cros for the Gut

Lactulose For Gut & Health

Probiotics Don't Cut Body Fat

The Macrobiotic MaPi2.0 Diet
A study that found no significant differential effects of bread type on multiple clinical parameters. Following a 3-day run-in period, all participants who had been logging their regular food intake with a smartphone application for quite some time, subjects consumed either white bread made from mostly refined wheat flour (locally known as “achid”) from a major brand common in Israel, or a sourdough-leavened bread made from whole-grain wheat flour with traditional methods in an artisanal bakery.

Figure 1: Illustration of our experimental design, a 2x2 randomized crossover trial comparing the effects of 1-week consumption of industrial white bread and sourdough-leavened whole-grain bread (Korem 2017).
As you would expect it from any well-designed study, the subjects were randomly assigned to two sequence groups: white bread followed by sourdough bread (WS), or sourdough bread followed by white bread (SW) - with surprisingly little differences between (a) the groups and (b) the white bread vs. sourdough feeding during the intervention periods.
  • Figure 2: (A) No significant difference between the treatment effects of the two types of bread on clinical parameters measured in this study. (B and C) The effect of white bread (left panel) or sourdough bread (right panel) on the glucose metabolism of subjects who consumed white bread first (dark blue lines) or sourdough bread first (yellow lines | Korem 2017).
    The gut microbiota composition remained person specific throughout this trial and was generally resilient to the intervention. Practically speaking: there's nothing of the sort of a general benefit of whole-grain sourdough bread as it is propagated in the health literature.
  • There was a statistically significant interpersonal variability in the glycemic response to different bread types, which did not change over the course of the study period; an observation that suggests that the lack of phenotypic difference between the bread types stems from a person-specific effect. 
To get to the bottom of these initially surprising results, the researchers analyzed the significant interpersonal variability and sought to predict from baseline measures in advance whether it is white or sourdough bread that will induce lower glycemic responses for each individual.
Note: The study at hand highlights (once again) the futility of the glycemic index and a low GI is not the only benefit of whole-grain bread. As the authors point out "the published glycemic index for similar bread types was 70 and 54 for white bread and sourdough bread, respectively" and highlight that, since the "glycemic index inherently ignores inter-individual differences, it [results] in wrong classification for the ten subjects who had lower glycemic responses to white bread than to sourdough bread" (Korem 2017).

Furthermore, the higher content of vitamins and fiber in whole-grain vs. white bread have been associated with extra-benefits ranging from gastrointestinal and metabolic health to heart health - effects that will not surface within a few days, but can be observed only in response to long-term (months or years) consumption of whole-grain vs. white bread; and these effects may be partly mediated by changes of the microbiome in response to long-term whole-grain consumption. How you react to white vs. whole-grain bread could thus well change over time.
Korem et al. used a classification algorithm based on gradient boosting regression (Friedman 2001) to model the complex non-linear relationships between the subjects individual baseline microbiome samples and the observed reaction to white vs. sourdough bread.
"To reduce the immense feature space of microbial gene relative abundances, [the scientists] performed a principal component analysis (PCA) on the training set of each cross-variation and selected four principal components. For species, pathways, and modules abundances, we removed sparse features and those correlated to other features across the training set of each CV and then retained only the top six features best correlated with the outcome in the training set of each CV fold" (Korem 2017).
The scientists model performed very well and predicted the glycemic response of the subjects with an accuracy of 83% - irrespective of the exact numbers, the scientists were thus able to demonstrate "that the glycemic-response-inducing bread can be accurately classified for each subject using only microbiome data" (Korem 2017) - in that, informative features were the MetaPhlAn-derived relative abundances of Coprobacter fastidiosus, a Gram-negative, obligately anaerobic, rod-shaped, non-spore-forming and non-motil bacterium, and Lachnospiraceae bacterium 3_1_46FAA, a member of the anaerobic Clostridiales family that has been associated with colon cancer protection in humans.
Glycemia is not only about the type of floor and presence of bacteria during the baking process: Baking Bread With ~100g Extra-Fat Reduces the Glycemic Response: Coconut Oil Beats Butter, Grapeseed & Olive Oil | reread this SuppVersity Classic from April 2016.
What are the implications? It's important to note that scientists rightly point out that the "exact mechanisms for the effect of the gut microbiota on glycemic control are yet to be elucidated," it is also unquestionable that their ability to "highly accurate predict" the glycemic response to bread based solely on data derived from stool samples, opens up new doors to personalized nutrition advice, of which the study at hand confirms once again that it cannot be based on 'one-size-fits-it-all' paradigms like "sourdough is better for your health than cheap white bread" (Korem 2017).

Unfortunately, it will probably take 2-3 years before you will find reliable test kits at the doctors' office or online. Those that are currently available lack scientific back-up (plus: glycemia is not all, see red box) | Comment!
References:
  • Friedman, Jerome H. "Greedy function approximation: a gradient boosting machine." Annals of statistics (2001): 1189-1232.
  • Korem, Tal, et al. "Bread Affects Clinical Parameters and Induces Gut Microbiome-Associated Personal Glycemic Responses." Cell Metabolism 25.6 (2017): 1243-1253.

          Biodynamic Farming and the Legacy of Rudolf Steiner   

By Dr. Mercola

Biodynamic farming is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture initially developed by Austrian scholar Rudolf Steiner,1 Ph.D., (1861-1925). It’s an approach that can provide far superior harvests compared to conventional chemical-based agriculture, while simultaneously healing the Earth.

Not only does biodynamic farming provide superior crops both in volume and increased density of nutrients, but biodynamic farms are also completely self-sustaining. As noted in the featured film, “The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner,” sustainability, and the personal independence and freedom that sustainability provides, was incredibly important to Steiner.

It’s a very long film — over three hours — but if you have an interest in biodynamic farming or Steiner’s worldview in general, it’s well worth watching. He taught there is an invisible force that aids and sustains humanity, and biodynamic farming makes use of a wide variety of influences, including planetary influences and moon phases.

Regenerative agriculture has been one of my passions for the past few years, and I’ve read many books and interviewed many experts in this area. Over these past few years, I’ve tested a number of different strategies to improve plant growth, such as vortexed compost tea, rock dust powders, magnetic structured water, ionic ocean minerals, biochar, many types of foliar sprays and mulch like wood chips.

Steiner’s Legacy Lives On

Steiner has had a profound influence, making an indelible mark on the world. Profoundly prolific, his complete works fill more than 330 books, much of which are now available online in German and English.2

Steiner was a trained scientist and respected philosopher, a true eclectic and visionary far ahead of his times. His voluminous works span a wide range of topics, from “The Mysteries of Antiquity” and writings on Nietzsche and Goethe, to “The Philosophy of Freedom” and “Spirit and Matter” to the “Birth of the Biodynamic Method.”

He wrote about economics, politics, art, architecture, drama, therapeutic speech, epistemology, religion, science, medicine, education and more. You could spend your entire life studying his life’s work, many aspects of which are detailed in this two-part film.

Education — The Steiner Way

Aside from agriculture, Steiner had a deep interest in early education, and his principles are alive and well to this day. In the U.K. alone, there are more than three dozen Steiner academies of learning, and the natural world, including farming skills, is an integral part of the curriculum.

Steiner kindergarten academies “provide ‘unhurried and creative’ environments for learning,” The Guardian wrote in 2012.3 Trevor Mepham, principal of Steiner Academy Hereford, told the paper, “It's about keeping that vitality and that freshness and that twinkling eye. I think that's common sense, though. It's just that we arguably try to do that as a matter of course.”

“There's something undeniably wholesome about the Steiner approach,” The Guardian notes. “In an age when toddlers are adept at using iPhones, the idea of children building shelters in the woods is profoundly attractive to parents. Access to television is restricted — under the homeschool agreement with parents, children are not meant to watch TV before the age of 8.

There is no uniform; the children wear hoodies, sturdy trousers and plimsolls, and the canteen serves mainly vegetarian food. A homely vegetable curry spiced with mustard seeds is dish of the day when I visit …

‘As human beings we have a close and important relationship with the natural world. To pretend that we just need gadgetry and technology, that misses out a very vital part of the piece,’ Mepham says. ‘Especially when children are young, we need to try to foster in them an interest and sense of inquiry and hopefulness about the natural world.’"

Biodynamic Farming and Reverence for Nature

Biodynamic farming is perhaps the area where his legacy lives on the strongest. In 1924, due to popular demand, Steiner offered an agriculture course in Koberwitz, a small village in what is now Poland.

The course consisted of eight lectures and five discussions, now available in the book “Agriculture: Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture,” which to this day serves as the basis of biodynamic farming everywhere. His course is also available for free online.4 As noted by Biodynamic Association:5

“Steiner was one of the first public figures to warn that the widespread use of chemical fertilizers would lead to the decline of soil, plant and animal health and the subsequent devitalization of food. He was also the first to bring the perspective of the farm as a single, self-sustaining organism that thrives through biodiversity, the integration of crops and livestock and the creation of a closed-loop system of fertility.”

In 1923, he also predicted that, in 80 to 100 years, honeybee populations would collapse6 — a prediction fulfilled with the sudden emergence of colony collapse disorder, which can be traced back to the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides.

As just one of many examples of Steiner’s comprehensive approach to farming, biodynamic farmers will not cut off the horns on their cows, as the animal’s horns are a primary sensory organ, and a complex interrelated relationship exists between the horns and the animal’s digestive system.

Why Agricultural U-Turn Is Necessary

We live in an increasingly toxic world, and according to a wide variety of scientists, we are looking at no more than 50 to 60 years’ worth of business as usual before we reach a point at which nature will no longer sustain us on any front, be it water, air or soil quality. Indeed, food security is no longer a given, even if you have plenty of available land, and here’s why:

Water scarcity is getting worse as aquifers are drained faster than they can be refilled

One-third of the largest groundwater aquifers are already nearing depletion,7 with three of the most stressed aquifers being located in areas where political tensions are already running high.8 To give you an idea of how quickly groundwater is being depleted, consider what’s happening in the High Plains Aquifer (also known as the Ogallala) in the American Midwest.

Here, the water level has been dropping by an average of 6 feet per year, while the natural recharge rate is 1 inch or less.9 Once this aquifer is depleted — and many wells have already run dry in the area — 20 percent of the U.S. corn, wheat and cattle output will be lost due to lack of irrigation and water for the animals.

Soil erosion and degradation is rapidly worsening

In a 2012 Time magazine10 interview, University of Sydney professor John Crawford noted that about 40 percent of agricultural soils around the globe is currently classified as degraded or seriously degraded. “Seriously degraded” means that 70 percent of the topsoil (the layer of soil in which plants grow) has already disappeared.

The reason for the erosion and degradation is farming methods that remove carbon from the soil and destroy the microbial balance in the soil responsible for plant nutrition and growth. At present, topsoil is being lost 10 to 40 times faster than nature can regenerate and replenish it naturally.

Water pollution is worsening

Precious water sources are also threatened by pollution from large-scale monocrop farms and concentrated animal feeding operations.11 According to a report12 by Environment America, corporate agribusiness is “one of the biggest threats to America’s waterways.” Tyson Foods Inc. was deemed among the worst, releasing 104.4 million pounds of toxic pollutants into waterways between 2010 and 2014.

Researchers have warned that many lakes around the world are at grave risk from fertilizer runoff that feeds harmful blue-green algae (cyanobacteria),13,14 and once established, it’s far more difficult to get rid of than previously thought. The answer, according to the authors of this study, is better land-use management that addresses fertilizer runoff. Dramatic reductions in fertilizer use are also recommended.

Air pollution is worsening

Scientists have declared farming and fertilizers as the No. 1 cause of particulate matter air pollution in much of the U.S., China, Russia and Europe today, specifically the nitrogen component of fertilizers.15,16 Industrial food and farming also release dangerous amounts of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization warns 25 percent of all deaths worldwide are attributable to environmental pollution, with air pollution being among the most significant.17

Desertification is speeding up

Land is turning into desert at a rapid clip and, with it, we’re losing biodiversity of both plant and animal life.

Biodynamic Farming Is Part of the Answer

Biodynamic farming addresses all of these problems and more. The good news is biodynamic farming is on the rise, gaining popularity among younger farmers — even people who don’t have a family background in farming. John Chester, for example, was a filmmaker before he left Hollywood for a 213-acre farm in Moorpark, California. The Guardian writes:18

“… Chester runs [Apricot Lane Farms] with his wife, Molly. The couple nurtures 100 different types of vegetables, 75 varieties of stone fruit, and countless animal residents: Scottish highland cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep, ducks, hens, horses and livestock dogs. Last year, Apricot Lane Farms was recognized by the National Wildlife Federation and the North American Butterfly Association for supporting so much wildlife — not a recognition typically given to farms.”

Last year, biodynamic farming in the U.S. increased by 16 percent, adding nearly 21,800 acres to its fold.19 To evaluate the impact of biodynamic methods on soil quality, Demeter USA, a nonprofit certifier of biodynamic goods, has started collecting topsoil samples from participating farms. Eventually, this will tell us just how quickly soil quality can be improved.

Demeter co-director Elizabeth Candelario told The Guardian, “This will provide a tool for farmers who continue to focus on building healthy soil, and give voice to power about biodynamic agriculture’s role in mitigating the impacts of climate change.”

Cosmic Influences

What sets biodynamic farming20 apart from organic farming are the principles involving cosmological forces, such as taking moon phases and planetary cycles into account when planting and harvesting. Each of the 12 zodiac signs are associated with a particular quality. As explained by Tony Carlton in the film, the four primary qualities or energies farmers work with are earth, light, water and warmth. Zodiac signs also fall into four different elements, namely earth signs, air signs, water signs and fire signs.

  • During the influence of an earth sign, you would plant root vegetables, as the astrological earth element corresponds with plant roots. Earth signs are: Taurus (April 20 to May 20), Virgo (August 23 to September 22) and Capricorn (December 22 to January 19)
  • During water signs, you would plant leafy greens (water element). Water signs are: Cancer (June 21 to July 22), Scorpio (October 23 to November 21) and Pisces (February 19 to March 20)
  • Air signs call for planting of flowering plants (light element). Air signs are: Gemini (May 21 to June 20), Libra (September 23 to October 22) and Aquarius (January 20 to February 18)
  • Fire signs call for planting of fruits (the element of warmth). Fire signs are: Aries (March 21-April 19), Leo (July 23 to August 22) and Sagittarius (November 22 to December 21)

To recap, the four elements of earth, water, air and fire correspond to the plant kingdom of root, leaf, flower and fruit. As an example, lettuce grows well under the influence of Pisces, but the bean does not. Beans prefer the influence of Aries. If you plant beans during the month of Pisces, the plant will hardly grow at all — until Aries comes around, at which time it will actually start to grow.

This further translates into moon phases as well. For example, when the moon is in Aries, a fire sign, you’ll want to plant fruiting plants, such as cherries. When the moon is in Taurus, an earth sign, plant carrots and other root veggies. Since the moon moves quickly through each sign, it will change signs every two days or so. For a planting guide based on moon phases, see The Gardeners Calendar.21

Biodynamic Is Organic and Regenerative, and Then Some

Biodynamic farming also differs a bit in the way farmers are certified. While an organic farmer can section off as little as 10 percent of the farm for the growing of certified organic goods, in order to be certified as a biodynamic farmer, your entire farm must be biodynamic. In addition to that, biodynamic certification also requires 10 percent of the land be dedicated to increasing biodiversity, such as forest, wetland or insectary. As noted by Lauren Mazzo, writing for Shape Magazine:22

“In the end, they're both about eliminating the scary stuff from our food. An organic certification means there are no synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation or genetic engineering used in the food, and farm animals must be fed organic feed, etc.

Biodynamic includes those guidelines, as well as making the farm even more self-reliant. For example, instead of simply requiring organic feed for animals, most of the feed must originate from other processes and resources on the farm.”

Biodynamic farming also has most or all of the features associated with regenerative agriculture, such as crop rotation, cover crops and so on. And, while neither use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides or herbicides, Steiner created a number of very specific preparations made from herbs, minerals and manure, which are then added to compost or sprayed on the fields.

One such preparation involves packing manure into a cow horn and burying it underground over the winter. In spring, the contents of the horn are scraped out, mixed with water and applied as a soil treatment to stimulate root growth. Another involves packing silica into a cow horn and burying it over the summer.23

You Are What You Eat

According to Steiner, man is a microcosm of the macrocosm. Certainly, it’s true that the biosphere that is the Earth is intricately connected, from the tiniest bacteria in the soil all the way up to the human body, which just so happens to contain 10 times more bacteria and other microorganisms than human cells. What separates us from the microbiome in the soil, you could say, is merely scale and perception.

With that in mind, we cannot afford to ignore soil, plant and insect health, as our health depends on theirs. While few are called to become full-time farmers, most people can grow some of their own food, even if it’s just some herbs or sprouts, which require little space and maintenance.

Even if you do none of those things, you can still help steer the agricultural industry toward safer, more sustainable systems by supporting your local farmers and choosing fresh, locally-grown organic and grass fed foods. If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods:

American Grassfed Association

The goal of the American Grassfed Association is to promote the grass fed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education.

Their website also allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; born and raised on American family farms.

EatWild.com

EatWild.com provides lists of farmers known to produce raw dairy products as well as grass fed beef and other farm-fresh produce (although not all are certified organic). Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass fed products.

Weston A. Price Foundation

Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

Grassfed Exchange

The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass fed meats across the U.S.

Local Harvest

This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass fed meats and many other goodies.

Farmers Markets

A national listing of farmers markets.

Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals

The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

FoodRoutes

The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs and markets near you.

The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO "organic" production from authentic organic practices.

RealMilk.com

If you're still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund24 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.25 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.


          What's On Your Skin? Archaea, That's What   
Newswise imageIt turns out your skin is crawling with single-celled microorganisms - (break)and they're not just bacteria. A study by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Medical University of Graz has found that the skin microbiome also contains archaea, a type of extreme-loving microbe, and that the amount of it varies with age.
          Staff Scientist - Molecular Biologist - The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Dayton, OH   
Come Work at HJF! HJF is seeking a Staff Scientist to support the Microbiome test analyses at the Molecular Bioeffects Branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force
From The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Thu, 04 May 2017 17:42:59 GMT - View all Dayton, OH jobs
          Comment on Do C-Sections Alter A Baby’s Microbiome? by jeri lynn   
do you think most people choose to have C-sections? the attitude here seems quite condescending. my plan was to deliver my twins vaginally, w/out drugs. instead I got preeclampsia at 27 weeks and it was deliver or possibly die. so we chose to deliver. it is never a choice I would have made had I not been forced.
          Having pets can reduce risk of developing allergies and obesity   
A recent study published in Microbiome from researchers at the University of Alberta shows that babies from families with pets had nearly two-fold increases in the amount of two specific microbes in their guts, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira. These particular microbes are associated with reduced risks of developing childhood allergies as well as obesity. According to study author…
          What is the Gut Microbiome? How You Can Support It   

The post What is the Gut Microbiome? How You Can Support It appeared first on Whole Foods Magazine.


          Perturbed skin microbiome can be contagious: study   
A perturbed skin microbiome can influence the outcome of an infection and promote inflammation, a study has found. Reported by DNA 6 hours ago.
          Perturbed Skin Microbiome Can Be Contagious and Promote Inflammation   
In mice, the perturbed skin microbiome or dysbiosis showed increased inflammatory responses and even more severe diseases were caused with Leishmania.

          Skin Microbiome: Archaea Abundance May Vary With Age   
A new study on the human skin microbiome finds archaea abundance to be associated with age.

          Staff Scientist - Molecular Biologist - The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Dayton, OH   
Come Work at HJF! HJF is seeking a Staff Scientist to support the Microbiome test analyses at the Molecular Bioeffects Branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force
From The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Thu, 04 May 2017 17:42:59 GMT - View all Dayton, OH jobs
          Staff Scientist - Molecular Biologist - The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Dayton, OH   
Come Work at HJF! HJF is seeking a Staff Scientist to support the Microbiome test analyses at the Molecular Bioeffects Branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force
From The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Thu, 04 May 2017 17:42:59 GMT - View all Dayton, OH jobs
          Comment on Is It the “Terrible Twos”? Or Is It a Disrupted Gut Microbiome? by Johnna Wheeler   
I feel your frustration and worry Michelle. I have a very clear picture of what's happened, based on what you've shared, and how to begin healing his gut. If you'd like to talk about it on the phone, I am here for you. Call 301-293-1500. If I don't answer, please leave a message and I will get back to you quickly.
          You’re Only as Healthy as Your Gut!   

The importance of your gut biome to your overall health is something that scientific research has only recently brought to light. The microbiome is the healthy bacteria in your body and your gut. When your gut microbiome is balanced, you stay healthy and you have a lot of energy. Unfortunately this healthy bacteria is being [...]

The post You’re Only as Healthy as Your Gut! appeared first on Wellnessnews.


          Immune Boosting Gene That Fights Inflammatory Bowel Disease   
Though there is currently no cure and treatment options are costly and limited to alleviating symptoms of Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a new gene which acts as a protection is identified.

          Jasmina Aganovic: How She Became A Successful Intrapreneur   
I spoke to Jasmina Aganovic, the president of skin microbiome company Mother Dirt, about the challenges with being an entrepreneur at a big company, how she's overcome those challenges, the pros and cons with being an intrapreneur, and her best advice.
          Staff Scientist - Molecular Biologist - The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Dayton, OH   
Come Work at HJF! HJF is seeking a Staff Scientist to support the Microbiome test analyses at the Molecular Bioeffects Branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force
From The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Thu, 04 May 2017 17:42:59 GMT - View all Dayton, OH jobs
          Impact of Soylent Consumption on Human Microbiome Composition   
Condition:   Gut Microbiota
Intervention:   Other: Soylent and water diet
Sponsor:   University of California, Berkeley
Completed - verified June 2017
          The Gut Microbiome of the Vector Lutzomyia longipalpis Is Essential for Survival of Leishmania infantum.   
Related Articles

The Gut Microbiome of the Vector Lutzomyia longipalpis Is Essential for Survival of Leishmania infantum.

MBio. 2017 Jan 17;8(1):

Authors: Kelly PH, Bahr SM, Serafim TD, Ajami NJ, Petrosino JF, Meneses C, Kirby JR, Valenzuela JG, Kamhawi S, Wilson ME

Abstract
The vector-borne disease leishmaniasis, caused by Leishmania species protozoa, is transmitted to humans by phlebotomine sand flies. Development of Leishmania to infective metacyclic promastigotes in the insect gut, a process termed metacyclogenesis, is an essential prerequisite for transmission. Based on the hypothesis that vector gut microbiota influence the development of virulent parasites, we sequenced midgut microbiomes in the sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis with or without Leishmania infantum infection. Sucrose-fed sand flies contained a highly diverse, stable midgut microbiome. Blood feeding caused a decrease in microbial richness that eventually recovered. However, bacterial richness progressively decreased in L. infantum-infected sand flies. Acetobacteraceae spp. became dominant and numbers of Pseudomonadaceae spp. diminished coordinately as the parasite underwent metacyclogenesis and parasite numbers increased. Importantly, antibiotic-mediated perturbation of the midgut microbiome rendered sand flies unable to support parasite growth and metacyclogenesis. Together, these data suggest that the sand fly midgut microbiome is a critical factor for Leishmania growth and differentiation to its infective state prior to disease transmission.
IMPORTANCE: Leishmania infantum, a parasitic protozoan causing fatal visceral leishmaniasis, is transmitted to humans through the bite of the sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis Development of the parasite to its virulent metacyclic state occurs in the sand fly gut. In this study, the microbiota within the Lu. longipalpis midgut was delineated by 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequencing, revealing a highly diverse community composition that lost diversity as parasites developed to their metacyclic state and increased in abundance in infected flies. Perturbing sand fly gut microbiota with an antibiotic cocktail, which alone had no effect on either the parasite or the fly, arrested both the development of virulent parasites and parasite expansion. These findings indicate the importance of bacterial commensals within the insect vector for the development of virulent pathogens, and raise the possibility that impairing the microbial composition within the vector might represent a novel approach to control of vector-borne diseases.

PMID: 28096483 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


          Ada 80 juta bakteri dalam 10 detik berciuman   
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Sebanyak 80 juta bakteri pindah tempat selama sepuluh detik Anda mencium pasangan Anda, simpul para peneliti dalam  jurnal Microbiome seperti dikutip Science Daily.

Peneliti juga menyimpulkan, pasangan yang lagi berbalas ciuman paling sedikit sembilan kali sehari, akan saling berbagi komunitas bakteri mulut yang sama.

Ekosistem lebih dari 100 triliun mikroorganisme dalam tubuh kita -mikrobiome-- berperan penting dalam mencerna makanan, mensintesa nutrien, dan mencegah penyakit.

Mikroorganisme ini dibentuk oleh genetika, pola makan dan umur, tetapi juga oleh dengan siapa manusia berinteraksi (berciuman).

Mengingat mulut menjadi pintu masuk bagi lebih dari 700 varietas bakteri, maka mikrobiota mulut menjadi dipengaruhi oleh orang terdekat kita.

Para peneliti dari Micropia dan TNO di Belanda meneliti 21 pasangan dengan meminta mereka mengisi kuisoner mengenai prilaku cium mereka termasuk frekuensi ciuman intim masing-masing.

Para peneliti kemudian menyeka sampel-sampel untuk meneliti komposisi mikrobiota mulut para pasangan tersebut di lidah dan liur mereka.

Hasilnya menunjukkan, manakala para pasangan itu mencium dengan intim dalam frekuensi relatif tinggi, maka mikrobiota liur mereka menjadi serupa.

Rata-rata ditemukan paling tidak sembilan ciuman intim per hari yang membuat para pasangan berbagi secara signifikan mikrobiota liur yang serupa satu sama lain.

"Ciuman intim melibatkan kontak lidah secara penuh dan pertukaran liur menjadi prilaku unik manusia dan ini umum dilakukan oleh 90 persen kebudayaan yang ada," kata kepala penelitian ini, Remco Kort dari jurusan Mikrobiologi dan Biologi Sistem di TNO, Belanda, yang juga penasehat pada museum mikroba Micropia.

"Yang menarik, penjelasan yang saat ini ada mengenai fungsi ciuman intim pada manusia berperan penting bagi mikrobiota yang ada di rongga mulut, kendati menurut pengetahuan kita, pengaruh pasti ciuman intim terhadap mikrobiota mulut tak pernah diteliti."

"Kami ingin menemukan batas di mana para pasangan berbagi mikrobiota mulut mereka, dan ternyata, semakin sering pasangan berciuman, maka semakin serupa mikrobiota mulut mereka," kata Kort.

Pada eksperimen ciuman terkendali untuk mengkuantifikasi perpindahan bakteri, anggota setiap pasangan diberi minuman probiotik yang mengandung varitas-varitas khusus bakteri termasuk Lactobasilus dan Bifidobacteria.

Setelah ciuman intim, para peneliti mendapati fakta bahwa kuantitas bakteri probiotik pada liur penerima meningkat tiga kali lipa atau total 80 juta bakteri berpindah selama 10 detik ciuman.

Penelitian ini juga menggarisbawahi  peran penting mekanisme lain dalam menyaring mikrobiota mulut yang dihasilkan dari gaya hidup, pola makan dan cara merawat tubuh yang sama antar pasangan, dan ini khususnya terjadi pada mikrobiota di lidah.

Para peneliti menyimpulkan kalau mikrobiota lidah lebih mirip antar pasangan ketimbang individu yang tak berkaitan, maka kemiripan itu tak berubah oleh ciuman yang lebih sering. Ini bertolak belakang dengan yang terjadi pada mikrobiota liur.

Mengomentari hasil kuisoner ciuman, para peneliti menunjuk penemuan terpisah namun menarik  bahwa 74 persen pria melakukan ciuman intim dengan frekuensi lebih tinggi dibandingkan dengan wanita pada pasangan yang sama.  Ini kira-kira sepuluh kali ciuman per hari pada pria, atau  dua kali lipat ciuman intim wanita per hari yang hanya lima kali per hari.

Untuk menghitung jumlah bakteri yang berpindah lewat sebuah ciuman, para peneliti mengandalkan nilai perpindahan rata-rata dan sejumlah asumsi yang berkaitan dengan perpindahan bakteri, permukaan kontak ciuman dan nilai  rata-rata volume air liur, demikian Science Daily.

Editor: Jafar M Sidik

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          Microbirth   
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          Microbiome…Epigentics….You can’t imagine how much my Hypnobabies Childbirth Class cover all of this. We want children healthy, not only for birth, but the rest of their lives. I’m OBSESSED and reading to learn more to share ALL.THE.TIME! #hypnobabies #microbiome #epigenetics #childbirth @hmbirth @312doulas   
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          Staff Scientist - Molecular Biologist - The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Dayton, OH   
Come Work at HJF! HJF is seeking a Staff Scientist to support the Microbiome test analyses at the Molecular Bioeffects Branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force
From The Henry M. Jackson Foundation - Thu, 04 May 2017 17:42:59 GMT - View all Dayton, OH jobs
          Comment on The Best Probiotics: Understanding the Microbiome by Alex Swanson   
Hi Ash, Great question. My opinion is that they are best taken with food, with a focus on prebiotics in the meal. The survival rate has been pinned at 20-40% based on the strains, gastric acidity, and bile salts. The challenge is adherence to the mucosal cells - which certain strains appear to be better than others - therefore blocking harmful bacteria from attaching. The small intestine is more easily influenced, but prebiotics increases the ability of probiotics to colonize in the colon and not just pass through. Since you would consume probiotics with food - as found in fermented foods and drinks - it makes sense to me that supplemental probiotics should be taken with a meal for both colonization and protection against bad bacteria. It has been my experience with clients that taking probiotics during a meal or after yields the best response in terms of noticeable results in digestion.
          Fulltime tenure-track position in the field of nutrition and human intestinal microbiome   
Universite Laval - School of Nutrition - Laval, QC - Quebec City, QC - nutrition or biochemistry or microbiology or a related discipline; 2) Have a recognized expertise in the field of the human intestinal microbiome; 3..., grants or awards; 4) Have demonstrated skills for laboratory work in microbiology, metagenomics, molecular biology and nutritional biochemistry...