Author

Leslie Ann Berg, MSPH

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Introduction Fermented foods are projected to be one of the leading weight loss trends throughout 2019, but they’ve actually been around for a long time. The fermentation process is one of the oldest examples of food preservation, and fermented foods have been a foundational staple of the human diet throughout history. Unfortunately our modern ways of eating – processed, high fat, high salt, and high sugar foods – have taken the place of more traditional and healthful ways of eating. Fermented foods are now one of the least consumed foods in the U.S., despite the fact that they are one of the most important for gut health, specifically for your gut microbiome. Studies show that daily and long-term consumption of fermented foods can lead to improved weight loss. What are fermented foods & why are they beneficial for weight loss? The fermentation process transforms the food into a substance that’s…

Collagen has been deemed one of the most popular gut and beauty supplements, found in products ranging from lotions to tonics. With a quick Google search, you can find “proof” that collagen is a useful supplement for a myriad of gut health issues – leaky gut, liver health, IBS, acid reflux, IBD, inflammation, digestive upset, stomach ulcers, and regulating acid secretion – as well as a beauty fix, purportedly improving nail, hair, skin, and teeth health, and even boosting weight loss. But can a supplement really deliver all of these benefits? Let’s delve into the research and find out. What is Collagen? Collagen is the most widely found protein in the body, making up 25 to 35% of all body protein, and is present in our bones, teeth, skin, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and even in our digestive organs. While 28 different types of collagen have been identified in the scientific literature, type 1 collagen…

Eating dirt has become a recent health fad amongst some people who are concerned about improving their gut microbiome. Dirt? Yes, dirt! But does it really confer benefits for the gut and overall health? And should we literally be eating spoonfuls of the stuff? Let’s dig a bit deeper (into the dirt!) to learn more. While eating dirt (or geophagia) is considered by some to be a new and maybe even ridiculous “fad”, it’s a practice that has actually been around for thousands of years and has possibly helped the human race survive throughout millennia. Just about every culture has put eating dirt into practice, and while the motivations may vary, the benefits are universal: healthier people. Hippocrates writes of geophagia in his medical textbook linking “earth eating” and anemia. A few hundred years later, alica, a porridge that contained red clay was used as a remedy for mouth ulcers,…

If you follow a gluten-free diet, whether it’s because of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) or for other health reasons, a good slice of bread may be one of the main things you miss from your previous diet. But science shows that you may not have to miss out after all, and sourdough bread might be your solution! First let’s take a look at sourdough bread and what makes it so different from other breads. Sourdough bread (the traditional way of making gluten-containing bread prior to the mid 1600’s), instead of baker’s yeast, is made with a starter culture rich in Lactobacilli bacteria. Why is this so important? Lactobacilli, besides being great for the gut microbiome, makes the bread more nutrient rich by neutralizing the undesirable phosphorus, or phytic acid, found in the wheat’s bran. (Studies show that sourdough fermentation can neutralize phytic acid by up to 90%). Phytic acid in conventional bread binds to…

When most of us undergo dietary changes for weight loss, it usually involves drastic changes, like cutting carbs, eliminating entire food groups, or adopting a 30-day detox program. But surprisingly, a recent study found that people lose as much weight by making one simple dietary change alone than by following these complicated diets. That dietary change? Eating more fiber! Using a randomized controlled trial including 240 participants with metabolic syndrome, researchers found that eating more fiber alone resulted in equivalent kilograms lost over a year’s time when compared to a more strict diet regimen. If you’re looking to lose weight, try increasing your fiber intake first. And don’t be shy! Populations with some of the most diverse gut microbiota eat as much as 100 grams of fiber daily. A great way to begin is to track your current daily fiber intake, then increase it by 5 to 10 grams each…

Do you struggle to lose weight? Your microbiome could have something to do with it. A recent study implemented a 3-month lifestyle intervention in 26 overweight and obese adults (aged 18 to 65) and compared weight loss success (defined as losing 5% or more of baseline body weight) with microbial composition. Results showed an association between weight loss success and an increased abundance in Phascolarctobacterium, while weight loss failure (unable to lose 5% of body weight in the 3-month period) was associated with an increased abundance of Dialister and a gut microbiome that is genetically efficient in metabolizing carbohydrates. Mayo Clinic Proceedings →Takeaway: Microbial health plays a key role in our ability to reach and maintain a healthy weight. If you struggle with weight loss, focusing on balancing your microbiome (or rewilding!) could be an important first step. For a comprehensive plan to optimize microbial health in your everyday life, check out Dr. Robynne Chutkan’s book The…

The secret behind Clostridium difficile strength is uncovered. C. Diff, a harmful bacterial infection that often takes hold after antibiotic exposure and is more common in hospitals, was found to release para-cresol, a special compound that prevents other bacteria from growing. This compound gives C. Diff a competitive advantage and dominance over the intestinal microbiota. PLOS C. Diff affects half a million Americans annually, and is the cause of 15,000 deaths each year, and these numbers are climbing. Researchers are hopeful that this study finding will lead to the development of a drug that targets C. Diff infection more effectively.

Have arthritis or at risk for developing arthritis? A new study found that both rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) have specific oral microbial footprints that could be used in screening and early detection of the disease. Scientists analyzed saliva from 110 RA patients and 68 OA patients and compared these to 155 healthy subjects. Scientific Reports →Takeaway: 8 oral bacteria biomarkers were discovered that differentiate RA from OA, making the oral microbiome a viable tool in detecting arthritis and distinguishing arthritis type.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is drastically higher in those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD – Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis). After analyzing 11 studies, including over 1,100 IBD patients and 400 controls, researchers found that IBD patients are 9 times more likely to develop SIBO. Alimentary Pharmacology Therapeutics →Takeaway: Why this incredible risk of developing SIBO in IBD patients? Scientists hypothesize that prior surgeries, gastric pH changes and compromised intestinal mucosal integrity, all common in IBD, could be to blame. If you have IBD and/or think you may be suffering from SIBO, or if you are a practitioner who treats IBD and/or SIBO, check out Dr. Chutkan’s course, the Gutbliss Guide to SIBO for an incredible compilation of clinical information on testing, diagnosing, and treating SIBO.

High intake of dietary fiber is linked to lowering the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) – a form of liver cancer that often develops in those with chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. The study included over 125,000 participants with an average follow-up of 24 years and found that of those participants, 141 patients were diagnosed with HCC. Among the cohort, researchers found that those who increased whole grains in the diet had a reduced risk of developing HCC. JAMA Oncology →Takeaway: Increasing fiber intake can be a powerful tool in lowering disease risk. Focus on non-gluten containing whole grains such as brown rice, rolled oats, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and amaranth – as well as vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.