The Roundup - Edition 40

The Roundup


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Here is The Roundup, Edition 40, bringing you the best from around the web from the past two weeks!

Blast from the Past

The Atlantic recently wrote a story called “When Yogurt Affects The Brain” describing the way that our gut bacteria can influence our emotional and mental health. One theory is that beneficial bacteria stimulate the vagus nerve, which stimulates the production of various brain chemicals and neurotransmitters that play a role in what we think and how we feel. Probiotics can affect anxiety, improve socialization skills, and reduce depression, and these beneficial effects on the brain may be just as important for our quality of life as they are for the proliferation and survival of the beneficial gut flora. After all, anything that helps humans reproduce will help their commensal flora to thrive, and good social skills are an important part of human reproductive efforts.

I’ve been interested in the gut-brain connection for years, and have covered the topic in various podcasts, including one on the gut as a “second brain”, and another on the gut-brain axis. The connection between gut health and brain function is one of the most important and least recognized factors in human health and vitality. Because there are so many aspects of the modern lifestyle that are antagonistic to gut health, I see more and more patients coming to me with serious gut issues that are causing cognitive difficulties, depression, and anxiety. And unfortunately this can be a vicious cycle, with stress and anxiety having its own effects on the gut.

That’s why in my practice with patients experiencing gut dysbiosis, cognitive or mood issues, or both, I recommend a combination of a gut healing diet, food-based or supplemental probiotics, and a commitment to regular stress management. These therapies can help undo the damage caused by our modern lifestyles, full of junky processed food, excessive antibiotic use, and high levels of unmitigated stress. You can learn more about these recommendations in my book Your Personal Paleo Code (published in paperback as The Paleo Cure in December 2014).

Research Report

  • Group nature walks have been linked with significantly lower depression and perceived stress, and enhanced mental well-being.
  • Walking or cycling to work is better for people’s mental health than driving.
  • There’s mounting evidence implicating chronic systemic inflammation in osteoporosis and fracture risk in adults.
  • In breastfed infants, a higher protein intake from meats (compared to cereals) was associated with greater linear growth and weight gain but without excessive gain in adiposity.
  • A new study reveals that certain gut bacteria may induce metabolic changes following exposure to artificial sweeteners.
  • New technology shows that fermented milk products increase good gut bacteria and production of butyrate.
  • New research shows a positive correlation between feeling thankful before bed and quality of sleep. 

Worth a Look

  • Sleep is critically important, not only to the basic function of the brain, but to the type of thinking skills that can make or break an entrepreneur or businessperson. 
  • The Paleo Lifestyle: The Way, Way, Way Back” is probably the most balanced, favorable, intelligently written article about Paleo in the mainstream press yet.
  • Scientists now believe that one of the best anti-aging techniques could be standing up.
  • Forget what you think you know about sleep for 10 minutes while you watch this TEDx presentation by Dr. Parsley.
  • Mark Sisson shares six recommendations for making exercise more meaningful.
  • Across the United States, natural darkness is an endangered resource.
  • Exhaustion actually is a status symbol in our culture. We’re working and training ourselves to death.

For the Foodies

  1. Just read Greg’s comment. Greg, I’m sorry to hear about your struggle. If you go to my site you can read the “About Me” page for the story of how I reversed the diabetes. It includes a link to the strict diet I went on for the first few months. Maybe it’ll be helpful. I also like Dr. Fuhrman’s “The End of Diabetes.” I’m not vegan, like him, but learned a lot from him! I hope you find some relief!

  2. Thanks for sharing my recipe (the pumpkin jello), and thanks for a great article!!! When I started on my road to reversing diabetes without the drugs getting intestinal flora balanced was CENTRAL to my recovery!!!

  3. This was in the news today about certain strains of bacteria having more of an infectious, disease causing nature. The study did not say which diet they used contributed to more of that particular bacteria. A search on that bacteria suggested it was a high carbohydrate diet/fiber that contributed. However, what about a diet with moderate protein, moderate/high fat, and a lower level of carbohydrate?

    Now this is interesting. Some seem unable to produce L-Fucose to feed certain bacteria( not sure which, by reading the article). If during sickness, you are able to produce L-Fucose, the mix of bacteria is improved.

  4. I am a white male, age 71 and I have type 2 diabetes since 1991. I take Lantus and Novolog together with 24 different supplements (including Probiotcs) to control my diabetes. I cannot control it! I watch what I eat; exercise by walking daily; and I get 8 hours of sleep nightly. My blood sugar fluctuates widely at night. e.g. I test at bedtime and the reading is 110 and when I wake up it is over 200? Can you give me some advice?

    • Blood Sugar 101 is a useful website. Stopping all the supplements and adding them back in slowly to make sure they all agree with you, is a good idea too. Bernstein’s Diabetes book (or forum) is a well worth a look too.

  5. You mention fermented milk products again, but not what to do if they don’t agree with you. So many people have diahrrea and bloating, weird head rushes and heart palpitations as a result of drinking kefir. Why? And if you do these symptoms should you stop, or should you continue? I had diahrrea every day for 2 weeks after kefir. I had to take antibiotics to get it to stop… kinda defeats the purpose!

    • yes , fermented foods can give you the poops .start with
      one or two table spoons . increase slowly over weeks ,
      maybe month .it works for most people

  6. The New York Times article is a step in the right direction but it still focuses on the “caveman” theme. It mentions “ancestral health” with out explaining that it refers to broadening our lifestyle beyond paleolithic times. It still makes it sound like you have to give up dairy and do hard-core cross-fit. If this article was my introduction to paleo, my response would be “creepy. Not for me.” Fortunately, Kresser, Sisson and other open minded thinkers are pulling ahead in the real world of ancestral health.

  7. Very interesting links! Any particular strains of probiotics that are beneficial for emotional health, or is it just the entire ecosystem that needs to be in good shape?

  8. Chris, I hope you don’t mind me asking this here, but I just wanted to ask a really important question that I forgot to. How do you actually look at SIBO fundamentally? As I understand the main cause of SIBO is food poisoning, which means that someone has damaged gut nerves (slowed motility), and assuming that it is the problem, it follows that one has to either:
    1) limit fermentable fibers, basically limit carb intake, low FODMAP+SCD combo, OR
    2) use some kind of prokinetic, either herbal or pharmaceutical,
    or use diet+prokinetic if it’s necessary?

    It seems to me that better strategy would be to use a prokinetic if it’s necessary, because having the knowledge about the importance of microbiome, makes me think that low carb, low fermentation diet, is not the best idea.

    What do you think? How do you approach this in clinical practice? Do you use prokinetics? Pharmaceutical or herbal? (I’ve heard that Iberogast might be as effective as low dose antibiotics) Do you advise your patients to stay on a low FODMAP or SCD diet for life?