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Thyme Credit: Wikipedia

It turns out that even making minor adjustments to your usual diet can improve the gut microbiome (the community of bacteria, fungi, viruses living in the gut) within a few weeks. Two separate studies found that eating some peanuts daily or adding some herbs or spices to the  foods you eat can improve the numbers of beneficial bacteria living in the gut.

In the peanut study - eating or not eating peanuts didn't change the diversity or main types of bacteria living in the gut. But eating peanuts did increase the numbers of several beneficial species --Roseburia and Ruminococcaceae, which are butyrate producing bacteria (good!). The peanut group ate 28 grams of peanuts (1 ounce or about 33 peanuts) as a night-time snack for 6 weeks.

In the spice and herb study, adding a combination of spices and herbs to the diet for 4 weeks increased microbial diversity in the gut (good!), and also increased beneficial Ruminococcaceae numbers (good!) in persons at risk for heart disease. Faecalibacterium and Agathobacter  numbers also increased (good!). A variety of dried spices and herbs (1/8 tsp, 3/4 tsp. or 1/1/2 tsp) were added to foods in the daily diet, and not taken as a capsule.

Dried spices added to foods in the spice and herb study included coriander, cumin, allspice, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, onion powder, garlic, ginger, rosemary, thyme, basil, black pepper, paprika, parsley, red pepper, etc. - 24 in all!

Bottom line: These studies agree with other research finding that eating peanuts (and all sorts of nuts, legumes), as well as adding spices and herbs to your foods is beneficial to the gut microbiome. They feed beneficial microbes in your gut, have all sorts of micronutrients, and they also have multitudes of microbes. A win-win.

From Science Daily: Peanuts and herbs and spices may positively impact gut microbiome

Adding a daily ounce of peanuts or about a teaspoon of herbs and spices to your diet may affect the composition of gut bacteria, an indicator of overall health, according to new research from Penn State. In two separate studies, nutritional scientists studied the effects of small changes to the average American diet and found improvements to the gut microbiome. ...continue reading "Adding Herbs and Spices To Your Foods Improves Gut Microbiome"

Recent research found that flare-ups of the disease lupus involves microbial changes in the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the community of microbes (fungi, bacteria, viruses) living in the small intestine.

NYU School of Medicine researchers found in a study that about half of the individuals having flare-ups of lupus (Systemic lupus erythematosus) had an overgrowth (or "bloom") of the bacteria Ruminococcus blautia gnavus. They also found that during flare-ups the gut microbiome was out-of-whack, with an increase in some harmful (pathogenic) species.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs, especially kidneys, joints, skin, blood vessels, brain, heart, and lungs. A tell-tale sign of lupus that many people get is a butterfly shaped rash across the nose and cheeks.

These research results raise the possibility that future treatments for lupus may involve somehow altering gut microbes. Maybe dietary changes or certain probiotics?

From Science Daily: Lupus flare-ups strongly linked to specific bacterial growth in gut

Recurrent bouts of systemic lupus erythematosus, marked by the body's immune system attack of its own tissues, closely tracked with measureable upticks in growth in the gut of a certain species of bacteria. ...continue reading "Lupus Involves Changes In Gut Microbes"

Recent studies suggest that "vaginal seeding " of a newborn is effective and also has beneficial health effects for the baby. Vaginal seeding is transferring some of a mother's vaginal fluids (which contain beneficial microbes) onto newborns delivered via C-section.

The reason for doing this procedure (using gauze pads) is because during a vaginal birth the baby picks up the mother's microbes as it moves through the birth canal (this is good!). Babies delivered by C-section don't pick up all these beneficial microbes - instead they get what is floating around the delivery room.

Rutgers Univ. researchers found that infants that received vaginal seeding hosted a different microbial population in their stool and skin (more like the mother's) than those who didn't in the first month after birth. The vaginal seeding had worked - the mother's microbes had become part of the baby's microbiome.

Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello has been doing research in the area of vaginal seeding and infant microbiome for a while. (Description of vaginal seeding method she uses.)

By the way, breastfeeding the baby is also a great way to transfer maternal microbes to the baby. There are hundreds of species in the breast milk, and the species in the milk vary over time.

From Medical Xpress: Technique may restore healthy bacterial balance in C-section babies

Newborns delivered by cesarean section who are swabbed with the vaginal fluid of their mothers after birth have beneficial bacteria restored to their skin surface and stools, according to a new study.  ...continue reading "Technique May Improve the Microbiome of C-section Babies"

Artificial sweeteners are very popular, with sucralose (Splenda) being the most widely used artificial sweetener in the US. However, there is increasing evidence that these sweeteners are linked to health problems. Recently, a study found that basically all safety claims by the manufacturer of sucralose are nonsense (deceptive advertising!), and that the sweetener instead can cause health harms.

Health harms from sucralose include: damages DNA (it's genotoxic), it causes "leaky gut" (makes the wall of the gut more permeable), bioaccumulates in the body, leukemia, alters gut microbes, drives glucose intolerance, causes weight gain, increases appetite. decreases insulin sensitivity, metabolic dysfunction, enters into breastmilk of nursing mothers, promotes intestinal inflammation, and more.

Of course the European Union has stricter standards regarding sucralose than the US. (Why am I not surprised?).

The following two articles discuss different aspects of sucralose and its health harms. The one from US Right to Know is worth reading in full.

Excerpts from Medical Xpress: Chemical found in common sweetener damages DNA

A new study finds a chemical formed when we digest a widely used sweetener is "genotoxic," meaning it breaks up DNA. The chemical is also found in trace amounts in the sweetener itself, and the finding raises questions about how the sweetener may contribute to health problems. ...continue reading "Health Risks From Popular Artificial Sweetener"


It is now my eleventh year of successfully treating sinus infections with only the probiotic Lactobacillus sakei. This includes regular sinus infections, chronic sinusitis, and even when there are just a few sinus symptoms (you know, the gradual slide toward sinusitis). No antibiotics and no antibacterials in all this time! Yes, it still feels miraculous!

Studies show that the beneficial bacteria Lactobacillus sakei occurs naturally (in tiny amounts) in healthy sinuses, but is depleted or missing in those with sinusitis. It is normal for a community of bacteria, viruses, fungi to live in the sinuses - this is the sinus microbiome.

My journey started in the winter of 2013 after reading research in late 2012 about L. sakei. I started with kimchi back then, but in the last few years I've used the product Lanto Sinus, which contains a kimchi-derived strain of Lactobacillus sakei.

Since starting this blog in 2013, I have heard from hundreds of people and the majority agree that L. sakei works great as a sinus treatment! Other probiotic species just don't work, even though they may help with some symptoms. [See Best Probiotics For Sinusitis for details on results and products used.]

Lessons Learned Over the Past Decade:

1) Lactobacillus sakei alone is enough to treat sinus infections or sinusitis. It helps with all the associated symptoms: mucus dripping down the throat (post-nasal drip), sinus pressure, sinus headaches, earaches and coughs from sinusitis, etc.

2) Using L. sakei (whether in kimchi or Lanto Sinus) should take about a minute! No fancy methods or protocols needed.

3) Only use L. sakei when needed. This means when there are sinus symptoms (e.g., lots of mucus, post nasal drip) or you're sliding towards sinusitis. No need to wait till the sinus infection is full-blown.

4) Stop using it when feeling better. Don't use it daily or as a preventive, but only when needed. There are many species of microbes living in the sinuses, so you don't want to flood the sinuses with just one species for weeks on end.

5) After using it for a few days, evaluate whether you can stop or whether you need to keep using it longer. The sinuses frequently keep improving and rebalancing after stopping L. sakei.  One can always use more if needed. ...continue reading "Ten Plus Years of Successfully Treating Sinus Infections With Probiotics"

Another recent study confirmed that what you eat determines the microbes living in your gut (small intestines). This is the gut microbiome or microbiota (the community of bacteria, fungi, viruses). The microbes living in a person's gut can be determined by analyzing a sample of a person's poop.

The researchers found that persons eating more fruits, vegetables, and foods high in fiber (e.g., whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds) have gut microbes associated with health. They also have more diversity of species in the gut (this is a sign of health). But eat a diet rich in highly processed foods and low in fiber, and you'll have microbes associated with health problems (e.g., heart disease, cancer, diabetes).

The researchers point out that following the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) supports a healthy gut microbiome. Especially important for a healthy gut microbiome were vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and dairy. Yes, dairy foods have oodles of microbes (your cheese is alive!), whole fat dairy is beneficial, but skim milk or 0% is not. Eating a variety of high fiber foods is important because then you'll be eating a variety of fibers.

Bottom line: you are what you eat.

Excerpts from Medical Xpress: How diet quality affects the gut microbiota to promote health

We know that eating a healthy diet affects body weight, cholesterol levels, and heart health. A new study from the University of Illinois focuses on another component: the role of diet in supporting a healthy gastrointestinal microbiota. The researchers conclude that following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) promotes a gut microbiota composition that may support overall health. ...continue reading "Certain Foods Are Great For Gut Health"

Cricket Credit: Wikipedia

Ready to eat some insects for your gut health? Hah! A recent research paper made the case that eating insects will improve the gut microbiome and health.

The researchers point out that eating insects already happens throughout the world. Edible insects are good sources of protein, micronutrients, and contain dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Also, insects can be farmed using fewer resources than conventional livestock (e.g., beef, pigs)

The most commonly consumed insects: beetles, caterpillars, wasps, bees, ants, grasshoppers, true bugs; and termites.

From Science Daily: Chitin from consuming insects can help both gut microbiota and global health

Chitin (kai'tin) and healthy fats from insects appear to contribute to healthy gut microbiota and are strong sources of protein and nutrients, according to a paper co-authored by a Colorado State University researcher and published in Nature Food. ...continue reading "Are You Ready to Eat Insects?"

Healthy skin Credit: Wikipedia

Well, the results of new research about skin with psoriasis compared to healthy skin isn't surprising. The research found that skin with psoriasis has a distinct microbiome (community of bacteria, viruses, fungi) - one that is different from that of healthy persons.

A main finding was that the types of bacteria were lower (less diversity) on the psoriatic skin. Greater diversity of bacteria is considered good - a sign of health. Levels of Staphylococcus were higher in the psoriatic skin, but healthy skin had higher levels of Cutibacterium and Kocuria.

Oher research also supports the view that microbes are somehow involved with the development of psoriasis. The hope is that someday treatment could be just taking a probiotic pill or applying certain microbes to the skin, perhaps in a lotion. Wouldn't that be great?

Excerpts from Medscape: Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Show Distinctive Skin Microbiomes

The bacterial diversity in lesional and nonlesional skin of patients with psoriasis (PsO) with or without psoriatic arthritis (PsA) was significantly lower than that of healthy control skin, based on data from 74 individuals. ...continue reading "Psoriasis Has A Microbiome"

Toddler Credit: Wikipedia

It turns out that the baby gut microbiome is loaded with all sorts of viruses, and most of the species were unknown till now. All the viruses living in the gut is the virome. Analyzing baby poop is a way to find out what viruses live in the gut (intestines) of babies.

A team of scientists did an in-depth analysis of the poop (from diapers) of healthy one year old Danish children and found more than 10,000 new virus species! The overwhelming majority of the viruses are phages, which are viruses that attack and inhabit bacteria. There were many more viruses than bacteria in the baby poop.

Most of the phages are harmless, but some others are not so harmless, and this results in immune responses from the human host. In other words, all of this is normal and part of "training" the immune system in early childhood. The researchers named the newly discovered viruses after children participating in the study (e.g., Amandaviridae, Andyviridae).

By the way, it is normal for multitudes of viruses, bacteria, and fungi to live in the gut of humans throughout life - it's the gut microbiome.

Excerpts from Washington Post: Scientists identify thousands of unknown viruses in babies’ diapers

Research involving Danish babies’ dirty diapers has provided a plethora of information on previously unknown viruses — and the best view yet of the makeup of the infant gut microbiome. ...continue reading "Healthy Babies Have Thousands of Viruses In The Gut"

By now no one should be surprised that the male urethra has a microbiome - the community of microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi) that live there. After all, we have millions of microbes living all over and in us.

There is the core microbiome generally found in all adult male urethras and then also microbes that vary from person to person. The urethra is the tube through which both urine and semen leave the male body.

A recent study found that having sex with a woman (vaginal sex) influences what lives in the male urethral microbiome. The researchers found that some of the men had microbes in the male urethra that are normally found in the female reproductive tract, specifically women with vaginal dysbiosis (yeast infections). This means the women transmitted the microbes to the men during sex. These microbes are not part of the male core urethral microbiome.

Interestingly, even if the men have microbes associated with bacterial vaginosis in the microbiome of the urethra, the men (unlike the women) didn't have any symptoms of an infection.

From Futurity: Vaginal infections can be sexually transmitted to men 

New research finds that the bacteria that causes a common vaginal infection can also have a major presence in men and can be sexually transmitted. ...continue reading "The Microbiome of the Male Urethra"