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This month a number of persons asked me about the probiotic Lactococcus lactis (in Probiorinse) and whether it works. This product is marketed to people with sinusitis or sinus infections, with the message that it improves the sinus microbiome and sinus health. Does it?

Unfortunately, no. A well-done study published last year found that the bacteria Lactococcus lactis (Probiorinse) doesn't help to improve sinus symptoms in those with sinus issues. Yes, that bacteria is found in the sinuses, but it is not a keystone bacteria (one with a big effect) in sinus health.

The study compared the Probiorinse (Lactococcus lactis) product to Xlear (xylitol) and regular saline rinses.

The researchers tested xylitol, the probiotic Lactococcus lactisand ordinary saline rinses separately for one month in a group of persons with chronic sinusitis. They found that none of these improved sinusitis symptoms or sinus microbial diversity (the sinus microbiome). In other words, there were no significant differences among the 3 groups.

Those with chronic sinus problems still had them at the end of the study, and their sinus microbiomes and symptoms were still very different from those of the healthy participants.

By the way, another study analyzed Lactoccocus lactis (using the product Probiorinse) against some strains of harmful bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) collected from persons with chronic sinusitis and found "no effect on 4 strains, a modest inhibitory effect on one strain, and a modest proliferative effect on one" (it increased this harmful strain!). Basically no effect - not a good result.

Bottom line: Don't bother buying the 2 products and stick with ordinary saline rinses. The medical view is that saline nasal irrigation is recommended because it helps a little with nasal stuffiness or congestion, even though this effect is temporary (a few hours?). Can also try the probiotic Lactobacillus sakei, which is a keystone bacteria in the sinuses and which kills/dominates over many harmful bacteria.

Excerpt from the 2021 study by Lambert PA, et al., in the medical journal  Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology:  Microbiomics of irrigation with xylitol or Lactococcus lactis in chronic rhinosinusitis

No significant trends in alpha or beta diversity as a result of treatment were observed. SNOT‐22 score did not change significantly following treatment with xylitol, L. lactis, or saline. [Translation: the microbiome (alpha and beta diversity) didn't change, and symptoms (SNOT-22 score) didn't change]

Vegetarian diets have many health benefits, but there may be one downside - weaker hip bones. A recent study conducted in the UK found that women following a vegetarian diet had a higher risk of hip fractures (compared to women who ate meat regularly - 5 or more times a week).

In other words, meat eaters were at a lower risk for a hip fracture. Occasional meat-eaters (less than 5 servings a week) or pescatarians (ate fish, but not meat) were also at a lower risk of hip fracture. Meat products appear to be important for bone health. Other studies also find more hip fractures among persons following a vegan or vegetarian diet.

The researchers point out that vegetarian diets have a lower intake of nutrients important for bones (bone mineral density), and which are more abundant in animal products than in plants (e.g., protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, certain fatty acids).

From Medical Xpress: Vegetarian women are at a higher risk of hip fracture

A study of over 26,000 middle-aged UK women reveals those with a vegetarian diet had a 33% higher risk of hip fracture compared to regular meat-eaters. ...continue reading "Vegetarian Diets and a Higher Hip Fracture Risk"

It is very exciting whenever a study has good results in preventing cancer, especially if this is from simply eating certain foods. This recently occurred in a large study of people with a high hereditary susceptibility to certain cancers, called Lynch syndrome.

The study found that just eating some resistant starch (e.g., the amount in a green tipped banana) daily was enough to cut the incidence of upper GI cancers (e.g., pancreatic, bile duct, stomach, and duodenal cancers) by 60% over the next ten years. These are fabulous results.

However, it did not have an effect on the incidence of colorectal cancer and endometrial cancer.

In the well-done study (conducted in England, Wales, and Finland), people were randomly assigned to either a group that ate 30 grams of resistant starch daily or a placebo daily for up to 4 years. Then they were all followed for up to a further 10 years, and a portion up to 20 years. [Note: the researchers said the 30 g daily was equivalent to one slightly green banana]

Resistant starch is a type of dietary fiber found in foods such as slightly green bananas, potatoes, whole grains, beans, chickpeas, lentils, and seeds. Resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine, but is fermented by gut microbes to produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, in the colon (large bowel).

Bottom line: Eat a variety of fiber rich foods (whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts) daily, including foods that provide resistant starch. Your gut microbes and health will thank you!

From Science Daily: Cancer study: Major preventive effect from resistant starch in people with Lynch syndrome

A trial in people with high hereditary risk of a wide range of cancers has shown a major preventive effect from resistant starch, found in a wide range of foods such as oats, breakfast cereal, cooked and cooled pasta or rice, peas and beans and slightly green bananas.
...continue reading "Preventing Cancers By Eating Foods Containing Resistant Starch"

Jarlsberg cheese Credit: Wikipedia

Good news for cheese lovers. A recent well-done study found that eating a little Jarlsberg cheese every day is good for the bones as well as for metabolic markers in the blood, such as total cholesterol levels. A little bit of Camembert cheese just didn't have those beneficial effects.

Jarlsberg cheese is a Norwegian cow's milk cheese. The beneficial effects of the cheese are thought to be because it naturally contains vitamin K2 and 1.4-dihydroxy-2naphtoic acid (DHNA) - both necessary for bone health. Studies find that low intake of vitamin K2 is linked with increased risk of bone fractures. Jarlsberg contains the bacteria Proprionebacterium freudenreichii, which produces vitamin K and DHNA.

An earlier study by the Norwegian researchers found that eating 57 grams of Jarlsberg cheese (about 2 ounces) daily was optimal. Camembert was chosen because it is a cheese without vitamin K, but with similar fat and protein content. Women participated in this study, but it is thought that the results also apply to men.

Bottom line: Eat a little Jarlsberg cheese frequently for your health. Enjoy!

From Medical Xpress: Small daily portion of Jarlsberg cheese may help to stave off bone thinning

A small (57 g) daily portion of Jarlsberg cheese may help to stave off bone thinning (osteopenia/osteoporosis) without boosting harmful low density cholesterol, suggest the results of a small comparative clinical trial, published in the open access journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health. ...continue reading "Jarlsberg Cheese Has Beneficial Health Effects"

Kidney stones Credit: Wikipedia

Kidney stones are not only incredibly painful, but are also associated with chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, and heart disease. New research suggests a good way to prevent a recurrence of kidney stones is to increase consumption of calcium and potassium rich foods. Very simple!

The Mayo Clinic researchers also found certain dietary factors associated with a higher risk of getting kidney stones for the first time. They are: lower consumption of calcium, potassium, caffeine (e.g., coffee, tea), and phytate in the diet. As well as a lower daily fluid intake. Foods matter!

Some foods to eat to lower the risk of kidney stones:

Calcium rich foods: dairy products (e.g., cheese, milk, yogurt), dark green leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach, collard greens, broccoli, kale), and sardines. [Note: Calcium supplements are associated with kidney stones, while eating calcium rich foods is protective.]

Potassium rich foods: include legumes (beans and lentils), potatoes (with skins), tomatoes, some fruits (e.g., bananas, kiwi, orange juice, melons), dairy foods, some seafood (e.g., salmon, halibut, tuna, shad, clams), leafy greens (e.g., spinach), yam, squash.

Phytate rich foods: include beans, legumes, unprocessed cereal grains (e.g., oats), nuts, seeds, and potatoes.  Some people have referred to phytate rich foods as "anti-nutrients" and say to avoid them (because they may slow down absorption of certain minerals). However, recent research finds that the health benefits of eating phytate rich foods (e.g., they are antioxidants, anti-inflammatory) and other plant foods outweighs any concerns.

From Science Daily: Diets higher in calcium and potassium may help prevent recurrent symptomatic kidney stones

Kidney stones can cause not only excruciating pain but also are associated with chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. If you've experienced a kidney stone once, you have a 30% chance of having another kidney stone within five years.  ...continue reading "Certain Foods Lower the Risk of Kidney Stones"

Credit: Wikipedia

Another study with concerning results for children and pregnant women has been published. This time researchers found a commonly used fungicide in a majority of children and all pregnant women studied. Some children had chronic exposure. A small study, but still...

The fungicide is azoxystrobin, and is commonly used on crops (e.g., cereals, grapevines, potatoes, fruits, nuts, and vegetable crops), lawns, and in mildew and mold-resistant wallboard used in home construction. The fungicide migrates out of the wallboard (sheetrock) and is found in house dust. Thus, humans can have chronic exposure to it.

And yes, this fungicide has worrisome health effects in animal studies - for example, toxic to embryos, neurotoxicity, brain inflammation. Studies in pregnant mice found that the fungicide went from the mother to the developing babies by crossing the placenta and then entered the developing brain. Much is unknown and studies need to be done!

The problem is that in the USA chemicals are easily approved by the government for use, and it is up to consumers and researchers later to prove harm. But typically that is not enough to get any changes and the chemicals in question keep on being produced and used and causing harm.

What to do? Eat organically grown food. The fungicide is not allowed on organic crops. Don't use pesticides on your lawn. If renovating or constructing a home - avoid mold and mildew-resistant wallboard brands.

From Medical Xpress: Scientists detect common fungicide in pregnant women and children

For the first time, UNC-Chapel Hill researchers have measured the concentration of a biomarker of the commonly used fungicide azoxystrobin (AZ) in the urine of pregnant women and children ranging from 40–84 months of age. They also documented maternal transfer of AZ to mouse embryos and weaning-age mice.  ...continue reading "Commonly Used Fungicide Detected In Pregnant Women and Children"

Some depressing news for pregnant women - they are exposed to and contaminated with more harmful industrial chemicals than ever before.

Thousands of chemicals are used in numerous consumer products and in food production (on farms, and in packaging). Not only can we get exposed to industrial chemicals from foods and products, but also from contaminated water, air, and dust.

Researchers looked for the presence of 103 industrial chemicals in the urine of pregnant women across the Unites States. The chemicals included plastics, pesticides, parabens, PAHs, as well as some of the "replacement chemicals" for BPA and phthalates. They found that most women had some of the chemicals in their bodies. Some chemicals were found in almost or ALL of them, including 3 insecticides, 2 parabens, 10 phthalates, and 1 PAH. Yikes!

Keep in mind that replacement chemicals (e.g., BPS for BPA) can be the same or even worse to health than the original chemicals.

Also, the researchers did NOT look for the presence of some commonly used chemicals (and which are linked to health harms) such as 2,4-D, pyrethroids, chlorpyrifos, and glyphosate. These are pesticides commonly used on (non-organic) farms, but also in our homes and yards. Other studies find the amounts of these pesticides are increasing in humans over the last 2 decades, and that some of these pesticides can be detected in the majority of humans.

Pregnancy is an especially important time in the life of the developing baby, and many chemicals are much more harmful then than at any other time in life. Chemicals to which pregnant women are exposed to cross the placenta - thus getting to the fetus. So it is really important to lower the amount and number of chemicals that a pregnant woman is exposed to.

How to lower your exposure to harmful chemicals: [From list of quick tips]

1) Eat as many organic foods as possible.

2) Avoid using pesticides in your home and garden, and instead look for nontoxic, organic, or least toxic IPM (Integrated Pest Management) solutions.

3) Read labels to avoid phthalates, parabens, "antimicrobial", anti-odor in personal care items.

4) Don't use dryer sheets (not needed!) or detergents or other products with fragrances.  [ Complete list of quick tips.]

Two good, but different write-ups of the research: 1) From Medical Xpress: Study of pregnant women finds increasing exposure to chemicals from plastics and pesticides

A national study that enrolled a highly diverse group of pregnant women over 12 years found rising exposure to chemicals from plastics and pesticides that may be harmful to development. ...continue reading "Pregnant Women Are Exposed To More Chemicals and Pesticides"

There is something easy you can do to make flu or COVID-19 vaccines that you receive even more effective. Get some exercise after the jab and the antibodies your bodies produce in the following month will increase. It's a way to get an extra immune boost.

How much exercise? Iowa State Univ. researchers found that 90 minutes of light to moderate exercise (e.g. exercise bike or brisk walk) effective in boosting antibody production, but no benefit from 45 minutes of exercise or no exercise after vaccination.

The exercise should be started soon after getting the vaccination (in the study it was 30 minutes after getting vaccinated). By the way, the exercise did not increase vaccine side-effects.

From Science Daily: Exercise post-vaccine bumps up antibodies, new study finds

Researchers at Iowa State University found 90 minutes of mild- to moderate-intensity exercise directly after a flu or COVID-19 vaccine may provide an extra immune boost. ...continue reading "Exercising After Getting Vaccine Boosts Antibodies"

Well, it looks like the medical advice for avoiding food allergies in children has come full circle. For decades health professionals said for babies to avoid eating problem foods (e.g., eggs, dairy, peanuts) if parents have food allergies. But..it turned out that following this advice did not prevent food allergies.

Results of studies in the past decade changed medical views regarding food allergies. Now the advice is: Early exposure (in the first year of life) to foods such as eggs, milk, peanut butter, and wheat is preventive - don't avoid.

A recent well done Scandinavian study confirmed that this advice is good for all young children, not just those with a family history of food allergies. Starting at 3 months of age, infants who regularly ate tiny amounts of foods (wheat, eggs, cow's milk, peanuts) had a lower chance of food allergies by 3 years of age.

Only .9% of these children developed food allergies, while 2.3% to 3% of children not getting early exposure to foods developed egg, dairy, or peanut allergies.

Also, in this study some infants had their skin rubbed with skin emollients, bath additives and facial cream from 2 weeks to 8 months, 4 times per week, and more of them developed food allergies - whether also avoiding foods or not. [My comment: Why would anyone think that would help with food allergies? It sounds irritating! And it perhaps/probably messed with their skin microbiome.]

New advice: Infants should have early exposure to potentially problem foods, starting as early as 3 months, to lower their risk of developing food allergies. Delaying the introduction of these foods actually increases the risk of food allergies. (By the way, the same advice also holds true for avoiding pet allergies - exposure to furry pets in the first year of life is important.)

From Medical Xpress: Early food introduction can reduce risk of food allergy in children

Infants who were given a taste of peanut, milk, wheat and egg from the age of three months had a lower risk of developing a food allergy at the age of three years than controls, reports a study by researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the University of Oslo in Norway published in The Lancet. ...continue reading "Early Exposure to Foods Reduces Risk of Developing Food Allergies"