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Download Interview Transcript Prebiotics Research Highlighted at American Chemical Society Meeting Increasingly, researchers are finding that proper nutrition is not just about getting the right kind and amount of nutrients needed for biological processes. You also need to nourish these non-human cells in your body, i.e. your gut microflora. This issue was recently raised at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. According to a recent article in NewHope360:10 "'Just as people need food to thrive, so do the billions of healthful bacteria that live in our guts, our gastrointestinal tract,' [Robert] Rastall [Phd] explained. 'There's a large and expanding body of scientific evidence that bacteria in the gut play a role in health and disease. Prebiotics are foods that contain nutrients that support the growth and activity of these friendly bacteria.' Rastall contrasted prebiotics to the more familiar probiotics, already being promoted on the labels of food like yogurt and some dietary supplements. Probiotic foods actually contain friendly bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus believed to release healthful substances as they grow in the GI tract. Prebiotics are indigestible food ingredients that provide no nutrition to people. Their purpose is to nourish the friendly bacteria among the estimated 100 trillion microbes living inside the human GI tract." While raised awareness about the importance of prebiotics and probiotics is good news, it comes with the territory that researchers are also working on ways to produce prebiotics that can easily be added to processed foods. Pre- and probiotics are very sensitive to heat, and excessive heat-treatment is a hallmark of most processed foods. It therefore stands to reason that any prebiotic inventions they come up with for the processed foods market will inevitably be of inferior quality, and I strongly recommend avoiding any and all processed foods that proclaim to contain prebiotics or probiotics, and stick with the real thing, i.e. traditionally fermented foods for healthful probiotics, and unprocessed whole foods for prebiotics, such as onions and garlic. Study Finds "Clear Link" Between Inflammation, Bacterial Communities and Cancer Demonstrating just how far-reaching the health impact of the bacterial balance in your gut can be, another recent study claims the key factor behind cancer appears to be ecological rather than genetic.11 Published in the journal Science12, the study suggests cancer may be due to a chain reaction that starts with inflammation that disrupts your gut ecosystems, allowing pathogens, such as , to invade your gut and cause cellular damage. The presence of was increased by a factor of 100 by inflammation, and 80 percent of germ-free mice infected with developed colorectal cancer, while germ-free mice inoculated with another common gut bacterium remained cancer-free, although these mice, like the others, did develop severe colitis (gut inflammation). According to a press release by the University of North Carolina:13 "In a series of experiments conducted with mice prone to intestinal inflammation, the researchers found that inflammation itself causes significant simplification in diverse communities of gut microbes and allows new bacterial populations to establish major footholds. Among the bacterial taxa invading the disturbed intestinal ecosystem, the research team found a greatly increased presence of E. coli and related bacteria. By putting E. coli bacteria into mice that were raised under sterile conditions, the team also found that the presence of E. coli promoted tumor formation. When regions of the E. coli genome known to be involved in DNA damage were removed, the ability of the E. coli to cause tumors was substantially decreased. The researchers noted that the mouse results may have implications for human health as well, as they also found an E. coli variant with the suspect genes in high percentages of human patients with colorectal cancer and irritable bowel disease. ...'As is usual in human studies, we didn't have cause and effect,' Fodor noted. 'We don't know if microbes are somehow causing conditions to shift in the gut that would cause cancer or if there are conditions that are associated with cancer that would increase the openness of the gut to particular microbes. A shift in the microbial community is associated with inflammation... It is interesting that the microbial community is actually changing with the disease state, which indicates that it is either responding to or contributing to the disease state.'" Like Bacteria, Cancer Cells Rely on Communication and Cooperation In related news, an article published in Trends in Microbiology14 examines the shared traits of cancer cells and bacteria. Bacteria and cancer cells both use sophisticated communication to gain supremacy within the host. As reported by Medical News Today:15 "Inspired by the social and survival tactics of bacteria, the team presents a new picture of cancer as a meta-community of smart communicating cells possessing special traits for cooperative behavior. Using intricate communication, cancer cells can distribute tasks, share resources, differentiate, and make decisions. Before sending cells to colonize organs and tissues throughout the body (metastasis), 'spying cells' explore the body and return the cancer's origin. Only then do metastatic cells leave the primary tumor and navigate to new posts. Also like bacteria, cancer cells change their own environment. They induce genetic changes and enslave surrounding normal cells, forcing them to do the disease's bidding - providing physical support, protecting them from the immune system, and more." Three years ago, I posted a TED video featuring Bonnie Bassler, in which she discusses how bacteria "talk" to each otherusing a chemical language that lets them coordinate defense and mount attacks. Cancer cells, as it turns out, employ similar forms of communication, and as discussed by Bassler, these discoveries pave the way for the development of drugs aimed at shutting down or altering cell-to-cell communication. This is a Flash-based video and may not be viewable on mobile devices. According to Medical News Today: "The team also suggests further research into cancer 'cannibalism,' when cancer cells may consume their peers when they run out of resources. The idea is to send signals which trigger cancer cells to kill each other, which can be done with bacteria. Other researchers have demonstrated that injected bacteria can 'outsmart cancer.' Bacteria can be used to induce gap junctions between the cancer cells and immune cells, 'teaching' the immune system to recognize and kill the tumor cells." The Phenomenal Health Benefits of Fermented Vegetables Cultured or fermented foods have a very long history in virtually all native diets, and have always been highly prized for their health benefits. The advent of processed foods dramatically altered the human diet, and we're now reaping the results in the form of rapidly rising chronic health problems. I believe the shunning of traditionally fermented foods has a lot to do with this. The culturing process produces beneficial microbes that are extremely important for your health as they help balance your intestinal flora. If you do not regularly consume the traditionally fermented foods below, a high-quality probiotic supplement will provide similar benefits: Fermented vegetables Lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner) Fermented milk, such as kefir (a quart of unpasteurized kefir has far more active bacteria than you can possibly purchase in any probiotics supplement) Natto (fermented soy) When choosing fermented foods, steer clear of pasteurized versions, as pasteurization will destroy many of the naturally occurring probiotics. This includes most of the "probiotic" yogurts you find in every grocery store these days; since they're pasteurized, they will be associated with all of the problems of pasteurized milk products and they typically contain added sugars, high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring, or artificial sweeteners, all of which will only worsen your health. Fermented foods are also some of the best chelators and detox agents available, meaning they can help rid your body of a wide variety of toxins, including heavy metals. When you first start out, you'll want to start small, adding as little as half a tablespoon of fermented vegetables to each meal, and gradually working your way up to about a quarter to half a cup (2 oz to 4 oz) of fermented vegetables or other cultured food with one to three meals per day. Since cultured foods are efficient detoxifiers, you may experience detox symptoms, or a "healing crisis," if you introduce too many at once. Learn to Make Your Own Fermented Vegetables Fermented vegetables are easy to make on your own. It's also the most cost-effective way to get high amounts of healthful probiotics in your diet. To learn how, review the following interview with Caroline Barringer, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) and an expert in the preparation of the foods prescribed in Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Nutritional Program. In addition to the wealth of information shared in this interview, I highly recommend getting the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, which provides all the necessary details for Dr. McBride's GAPS protocol. Although you can use the native bacteria on cabbage and other vegetables, it is typically easier to get consistent results by using a starter culture. Caroline prepares hundreds of quarts of fermented vegetables a week and has found that she gets great results by using three to four high quality probiotic capsules to jump start the fermentation process. Download Interview Transcript Caroline prepares the vegetables commercially and I used hers for a month before I started making my own. So, if you just want to put your toe in the water and see if you like them, you can order a jar or two and try them out. You can find her products on .net or .com. AVOID This to Optimize Your Gut Flora! Along with eating naturally fermented foods and/or taking a high-quality supplement, it's essential that you avoid sugar, including fructose. Sugar nourishes pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and fungi in your gut, which may actually harm you more than its impact on insulin resistance. One of the major results of eating a healthy diet like the one described in my nutrition plan is that you cause your beneficial gut bacteria to flourish, and they secondarily perform the real "magic" of restoring your health. Remember, an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, which is just one more reason why "tending to" your gut microflora is an essential element of good health. A robust immune system, supported by your flourishing inner ecosystem, is your number one defense against ALL disease, from the common cold to cancer. I feel very strongly that if we can catalyze a movement to get more people to implement this ancient dietary wisdom to their normal eating patterns, then we'll start seeing a radical change in health.