Why Freeze Dried Powders

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The closest thing to fresh plants is freeze drying. Yet it even concentrates all aspect of the plant as many pounds of plants are needed to produce one pound of powder. Enzymes and antioxidants are concentrated many fold as well. Other methods, like air drying etc., have active constituents of the plants lost.

The process of freeze drying (lyophilization for the hi-tech crowd) involves harvesting the plants at their peak. They are then washed in fresh spring water and sprayed clean.The cleaned plants are immediately frozen to provide for the necessary conditions for low temperature drying. The plants are then placed under a vacuum. This enables the frozen water in the herb to vaporize without passing through the liquid stage, a process known as sublimination. Low temperature condenser plates remove the vaporized water from the vacuum chamber by converting it back to a solid. This completes the separation process.

After the vacuum has been introduces there is about 4-5% of moisture left in the plant material. To reduce this final moisture content, low temperature heat is applied to the frozen material to accelerate sublimation and pull off the remaining moisture.

Sea Plankton

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NEW EARTH SUPERFOODS PRESENTING “PACIFIC SEA PLANKTON”

Recent research has revealed the tremendous antioxidant value that is contained in Sea Plankton. This certainly is not accidental as Sea Plankton is the original life form preceding all living creatures on our planet as we all came originally from the ocean. Our bodies contain mostly water, with the genetic make up of our origin, the ocean.

Commonly kelp or seaweed are washing up on the shore and people have heard of nutritional value and benefits of these. The difference of these and most other algae to Sea plankton is that Sea Plankton feeds almost all the fish in the ocean in some way or another and contains incredible amounts of nutrients.  A particular and special strain of Sea Plankton that is grown in Hawai, also called Pacific Sea Plankton, contains an incredible nutritional profile with all the essential amino acids, the healing fatty acids (omega 3’s — EPA/DHA), plus a wealth of vitamins, key minerals and trace elements, rare antioxidants, phospholipids, electrolytes, nucleic acids, enzymes, and co-enzymes.

Unlike other algae based super foods like Chlorella, this single celled organism does not have a shell and is immediately absorbed once it touches your tongue.

Unfortunately, most fish oils contain substantial amounts of toxins, such as mercury and PCBs

As an alternative, Sea Plankton is clearly one of the most effective ways to complement and enhance our bodies need to protect and repair our body.
Omega-3 has been used for years for chronic inflammation with great promise, yet it certainly did not show the results we all hoped for. This is because research now shows that the previously believed benefits of Fish oil are based an inferior source of Omega-3. Fish oil is a very questionable source of Omega-3. Most Fish oil sold today is processed from fish guts, skin, heads, fins, trimmings and blood in industrial fishmeal rendering plants where farmed fish by-products and small wild fish are ground up as feed for farmed fish. It is an industrial by-product contaminated with toxins. It first must be refined using high heat under pressure with harsh solvents. Fish oil is highly processed and far from natural.
Fish oil is contaminated with the toxins present in the water of the fish farm and wild marine environment, such as PCB, dioxin, flame retardant, mercury, lead, herbicides, pesticides, as well as the antibiotics, growth hormones and food coloring.
Highly questionable methods are commonly used to detox contaminated fish oils like extreme heat processing or Molecular Distillation including harsh solvents such as hexane or ethanol. The results is a highly altered product that our body just cannot utilize properly anymore. It became so foreign that it actually can do more harm then good as not all the toxins can be completely removed from the fish oil. Rancidity is a common result as the oils oxidize resulting in fishy smell and difficulty to digest. So the oil must be deodorized; lemon flavor may be added. Unfortunately, rancid oils are easily concealed in gelatin capsules, and they are pro-inflammatory when consumed.
These negative effects of oil refining might explain why the daily serving amount of fish oil is so high, typically in the thousands of mg. Yet, only 100mg a day of Sea plankton has tremendous amounts of Omega-3. Also, sea plankton lipids are much more absorbable than highly processed oils.
Medical research has clearly demonstrated that an increased amount of Omega-3 EPA/DHA relative to Omega-6 in our diet shows great benefits. Omega-3 deficiency has been linked to chronic inflammation. Advances in science and extensive clinical research have established a link between chronic inflammation and a broad range of degenerative conditions such as heart disease, cancer, immune dysfunction, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, psychiatric disorders and more.
Omega-3 DHA/EPA originates in sea plankton. Small wild fish obtain Omega-3 by consuming sea plankton, the sole producer of Omega-3 EPA/DHA. The Omega-3 fatty acids are transported through the marine food chains to become enriched in the fats of fish, marine mammals and other higher animals.
Sea Plankton is a truly fantastic source for Omega-3 but also for many other important antioxidants. It contains great amounts of vitamin B-12 and also great antioxidants like Astaxanthin etc.
Sea Plankton further contains a wide range of essential fatty acids in a complete, balanced array of natural phytochemicals and micronutrients like the Omega-3 fatty acids: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) Alpha linoleic acid (ALA)
Omega-3 DHA EPA, Omega-6, vitamins, rare trace minerals & elements, antioxidants, carotenoids, pigments, amino acids, enzymes, polyphenols, chlorophyll, phytonutrients, lean protein, and much more. The nutrients are bound to naturally occurring emulsifiers, thereby enhancing balanced cellular nutrition with optimal absorption.

Scientists speculate that billions of years ago the introduction of tiny organisms with the ability to convert sunlight, warmth, water and minerals into protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and amino acids marked the beginning of life. Called Sea Plankton, these tiny creatures are the basis of all other life forms on planet earth.
Sea Plankton remains on earth to this day as the first and most efficient food producer on the planet. From this tiny organism, the most basic of foods, the chain of life extends through all the plants and animals, finally bringing life to all humanity itself. Sea Plankton is a uniquely developed Hawaii-bred ‘Micro algae’. This special Sea Plankton is the most potent source of ‘Beta Carotene’ and is one of the richest sources of GLA, Vitamin B-12, Chlorophyll and protein in the world.
Sea Plankton is the purest of foods. Its position at the base of the food chain makes this ‘Sea Plankton Live Food’ the purest food on earth. As the very first to convert sunlight, warmth, water and minerals into substances of life, it produces highly nutritious, easily assimilated food without contaminants. It is 85 to 95% digestible.

GROWN IN SEA-WATER PONDS IN HAWAII
This ‘Live Food’ has several environmental advantages over other products. Grown in sea-water ponds on the Kona Coast of Hawaii, Pacific Sea Plankton is a totally unique strain of micro algae. This is in direct contrast with most micro algae products which are grown in ‘interrupted’ seasonal cycles in fresh water ponds. Pacific Sea Plasma’s growth cycle has been uninterrupted since 1981 allowing it continuous evolutionary development in the unrelenting Kona sunshine.
Additionally, it is grown in nutrient rich ‘Sea Water’ brought from 2,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. As a result, Sea Plankton is totally free of any pesticides or contaminants. And finally, all nutrients in Sea Plankton are kept fresh and vital through a new ‘Low-oxygen” drying technology that exists nowhere else in the world today.

AS A SOURCE OF BETA-CAROTENE
Easily the most potent source of ‘Beta Carotene’ available in the world,  Sea Plankton offers 3 times the potency of ‘Spirulina’. It has 10 times the concentration of carrots. Ten grams of  Sea Plankton provides well over an amazing 23,000 IU (14mg.) of beta carotene or 460% of the US RDA of Vitamin A activity. High doses of Vitamin A supplements may be toxic, the Beta Carotene in Pacific Sea Plankton is always safe because the body only converts beta carotene to Vitamins as needed.

AS A FOOD SOURCE B-12 AND B-COMPLEX VITAMINS
Pacific Sea Plankton joins ‘Spirulina’ as the richest source of Vitamin B-12. It is higher than beef liver, chlorella or sea vegetables. Because B-12 is difficult to get from plant sources, Pacific Sea Plankton is the ideal natural choice.
10 grams of Pacific Sea Plankton contain 20 to 30 micrograms (mcg) of B-12, and from 330 to 530% of the US RDA Thiamin and Riboflavin. Other B vitamins, B-6, Niacin, Biotin, Panthothenic Acid, Folic Acid, Insoitol, and vitamin E are present in smaller amounts.

AS A SOURCE GAMMA LINOLENIC ACID (GLA)
Pacific Sea Plankton is one of the richest food sources of GLA besides mother’s milk. GLA is an essential fatty acid which means that it is good fat and absolutely essential to health. GLA is the precursor to the body’s master hormones that control many functions. Although essential, the body is unable to synthesize its own GLA and relies on adequate food sources. 10 grams of Pacific Sea Plankton contains 100 milligrams (mg) of GLA.

DIRECTIONS FOR TAKING PACIFIC SEA PLANKTON

New Earth Superfoods is offering Sea Plankton in basically two forms – one in powder and the other in a further enhanced cultured form of Coconut Kefir.
Suggested Dosage: Take a tsp daily with a large glass of liquid or even better take an ounce of our Sea Plankton Kefir whenever you feel low in energy or stamina.
Each individual is unique. Some people are more toxic and have longer standing health concerns than others. The amount that you use depends on your own unique individual needs. Your servings will change as your body condition changes.
In some cases its advisable to double or triple the initial dosage for faster results. Reminder: This is a whole food made from 100% Pacific Sea Plankton. Our products work nutritionally and are not stimulants. Any results are nutritional and in no way mean to imply that you should not see a doctor.

PACIFIC SEA PLANKTON NUTRITIONAL SPECIFICATIONS
GENERAL COMPOSITION

FATTY ACIDS
(Total 48mg/g)
Protein    60%
Carbohydrates    19%         Omega 6 Family
Lipids    6%         Gamma Linolenic (GLA)    10 mg
Minerals    8%         Essential Linoleic    11 mg
Moisture    7%         Dihomogamma Linolenic    .53 mg
Omega 3 Family
VITAMINS         Alpha Linolenic    14.5 mcg
Docosahexaenoic (DHA)    14.5 mcg
Beta-Carotene    2.8mg         Monoenoic Family
Vitamin A (as Beta Carotene)    4,676 iu         Palmitoleic    1.98 mg
B1 Thiamine    34 mcg         Oleic    .17 mg
B2 Riboflavin    33 mcg         Erucic    .024 mg
B3 Niacin    207 mcg
B6    4.4 mcg         OTHER FATTY ACIDS
B12    2.2 mcg
Vitamin E (d-a tocopherol)    15 mcg         Palmitic Acid    20 mg
Inositol    680 mcg         Myristic Acid    1.08 mg
Biotin    .323 mcg         Stearic Acid    .068 mg
Folic Acid    .3 mcg         Arachidic Acid    .048 mg
Pantothenic Acid    4 mcg         Behenic Acid    .048 mg
Lignoceric Acid    .024 mg
MINERALS
Maganese             26 mcg         PIGMENTS AND ENZYMES
Calcium    4 mg
Magnesium    4.8 mg         Chlorophyll    7.9 mg
Iron    1.06 mg         Beta-Carotene    2.8 mg
Phosphorus    10.4 mg         Total Carotenoids    5.4 mg
Potassium    15.4 mg         Phycocyanin    111 mg
Sodium    7.3 mg         Superoxide Dismutase    .4 mg

Zinc    12 mcg         Pacific Sea Plankton is also a rich source of enzymes, RNA, DNA, sulfolipids, glycogen, and other potentially important nutrients.
Boron    10 mcg
Copper    1 mcg

Probiotics and Autism

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Autism is a complex developmental disability that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others, with a wide range of behavioral, social, and language problems. Autism usually appears during the first three years of life.

Autism is characterized by a collection of neurobehavioral, neurological, gastrointestinal and immunological dysfunctions that include a loss of eye contact, deficiencies in socialization and communication, abnormal theory of mind function, language dysfunction, restrictive, repetitive, and stereotypical behaviors, food allergies, constipation, yeast infections and other behavioral and medical conditions.

Autism is called a “spectrum disorder” since it affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.

It is estimated that one in every 150 American children has some degree of autism with males being affected three to four times more frequently than females. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are complicated conditions that may require an integrative treatment protocol involving many factors including behavioral and social therapy, pharmacotherapy, environmental control, dietary supplements, nutritional, alternative and biomedical therapies. Many are sick with gastrointestinal, immunologic, and metabolic problems that significantly affect their behavior and their physical and emotional health. Treating the medical problems often leads to improvement in clinical signs and symptoms and, in some cases, to recovery.

Causes of Autism

There has been an exponential increase in the number of new diagnoses of autism. And there is continuing debate and controversy as to what the diagnosis ‘autism’ actually constitutes. There is even more debate and controversy as to its causes, and potential for treatment /amelioration.

The fundamental cause of Autism, based in our experience, is severe intestinal flora imbalances resulting into immune imbalances mainly due to gastrointestinal infections, antibiotics and vaccinations that in turn affect the brain. We have daily phone and e-mail contacts with parents of ASD children where parents detail causes and symptoms of Autism and treatments they undertake for their children. Our evaluation of causes of Autism is as follows.

Autism usually appears during the first three years of life. The reason is, and it is well documented, that between the ages of 0-3, the intestinal microflora of a child is not well established yet. The same can be said about the brain and nervous system. They are in a stage of formation and are fragile. During this time, if a lot of antibiotics and/or vaccinations are given, and if the immune system of a child is somewhat low, the intestinal microflora being fragile is affected negatively. As a result a toxic condition is produced in the gut that will affect the brain and the nervous system to various extents. The more toxicity in the gut the more the effect on the brain. As a result, the majority of children with Autism reveal abnormal gastrointestinal symptoms including food allergies, yeast infections, constipation.

Factors affecting Gut/Brain/Immune dysfunction and Autism are indicated in Fig. 1. These factors result into at least two types of ASD with regard to disease development: abnormal cognitive development evident from birth (classical autism); and in the majority cases developmental regression, usually between 18-36 months of age, following apparent normal development (regressive autism).

Gut/Brain/Immune Dysfunction and Autism

It is very important to understand the direct relationship between the gut and brain, especially during the first three years of life, when both are in a stage of formation. The above factors make the immune system of each child different and unique. Therefore physicians, especially pediatricians, should not treat all children alike, but on a case by case basis after careful evaluation with the parents. A detailed history should be taken that can determine, at least qualitatively, the immune system of each child. Hence the standard vaccination schedule can not be applicable, if the above factors are not evaluated and taken into consideration properly.

Gut-Brain-Immune Axis

The gastrointestinal tract is a complex ecosystem in which there is a delicate balance between the intestinal microflora and the host. A healthy gastrointestinal tract should contain a high percentage of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria beneficial bacteria to prevent the over colonization of disease causing pathogenic micro-organisms such as E. Coli, Clostridia, Salmonella and Candida.

Bidirectional interactions between the brain and intestinal microflora might have an important role in modulating gut and brain function and may be involved in the modulation of emotions, pain perception, mucosal immune activity and general well-being. The reduction of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria and overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria will be stressful to this brain/gut interactions especially for infants aged 0-3 producing neurological and immune imbalances and affecting their development. The neurological and immune systems are inextricably intertwined beginning in the embryonic stage of life. Disruption of the bidirectional interactions between the intestinal microflora and the nervous system may be involved in the pathophysiology of acute and chronic gastrointestinal and neurological disease states.

Abbreviations: ANS, autonomic nervous system; CNS, central nervous system; EMS,

emotional motor system; GI, gastrointestinal; HPA, hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal. Fig. 2 Source: Rhee, S. H. et al. Nat. Rev. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 6, 306–314 (2009)

D-Lactate Free Probiotic powder formulation have been used specifically for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), to improving their intestinal microflora and digestive processes. D-lactate is a result of fermentation of probiotic bacteria in the digestive system.

Probiotics and Autism

Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host”. They possess the ability to transiently colonize the GI tract, increase the concentration of beneficial microbes, and thereby create a balance in the gut microbiota to the ultimate benefit of the host, in a natural and safe way.

Potential or known mechanisms whereby probiotic bacteria might impact on the microbiota include:

competition for dietary ingredients as growth substrates

bioconversion of, for example, sugars into fermentation products with inhibitory properties

production of growth substrates

direct effect on pathogens

competitive exclusion for binding sites

barrier function

reduction of inflammation, thus altering intestinal properties for colonization and persistence within, and (8) stimulation of innate immune response.

Probiotics can therefore have been used to prevent or reduce the risk of ASD for infants aged 0-3. The aim is to protect their digestive and immune systems by using probiotics at appropriate dosages prior, during and after any intervention, such as antibiotics or vaccinations, that affect negatively the intestinal microflora and immune system of the mother and infant, as indicated in Fig. 1. Choosing the correct probiotic formulation and dosages are considerations that also must be understood and followed by pediatricians and parents alike.

Candida

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Candida is a fungus that normally inhabits the mouth, throat, gbastrointestinal tract and vagina. Under normal conditions, candida exists within us in a healthy balance, and the body’s immune system keeps it from spreading.  When your immune system is strong, candida yeasts presents no problem.  But, if you have a poor and sugary diet, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to toxins and stress and/or take antibiotics or other medications the good bacteria that prevent fungal infections from developing can get knocked out.  Candida yeasts then multiply and further weaken the immune system.

Symptoms of Candida

Feelings of frustration and loneliness are common when dealing with a yeast overgrowth because Candida is evasive to much of the medical community. Here are some of the common symptoms:

• Gas, bloating and indigestion

• Bowel irregularities, constipation or diarrhea

• Food cravings especially for carbohydrates or sweets

• Mood swings or depression

• Headaches or migraines

• Menstrual problems and PMS

• Dry, itchy skin or hives

• Finger or toe nail fungus

• Vaginal yeast infections

• Itching or redness in body creases

• Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia

• Weight imbalances (over or under-weight despite diet)

• Premature ageing

• Chemical sensitivity (especially colognes or fabric dye)

What You Can Do to Fight Candida – Probiotics For Candida

Probiotics are often used in the fight to reduce Candida overgrowth. Amounts used differ from person to person depending on a variety of circumstances like diet and condition.

Dietary Changes in Reducing Candida

Changing your diet is also recommend to control the Candida. Your diet should exclude fruit, sugar and yeast. Especially in the beginning of the treatment you have to be very strict and disciplined. If you cheat you’ll feel the effect of the Candida “monster”.

Anti-fungal agents have been traditionally used. The major anti-fungal prescription medications are Nystatin, Diflucan, Nizoral and Sporanox. Natural antifungal and antibacterial agents are garlic, olive leaf extract, oil of oregano, pau d’arco, uva ursi, golden seal, caprylic acid and citrus seed extract. Fibers such as flaxseed powder and psyllium husk have been used as well.

Balancing Act

Generally speaking, proper diet, high potency and quality multi-strain probiotics and natural anti-fungal agents are essential in the prevention, control and elimination of Candida.

As the intestinal and vaginal microflora become balanced, you can tolerate a greater variety of foods. If you think you might have symptoms of Candida overgrowth, consult a health care practitioner who is familiar with this condition. Other conditions have similar manifestations. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment may cause these conditions to be overlooked.

Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds

by ROB STEIN

November 18, 2013 3:07 AM

Illustration by Benjamin Arthur for NPR

Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of “gut feelings?” There’s growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds.

“I’m always by profession a skeptic,” says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. “But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains.”

Mayer thinks the bacteria in our digestive systems may help mold brain structure as we’re growing up, and possibly influence our moods, behavior and feelings when we’re adults. “It opens up a completely new way of looking at brain function and health and disease,” he says.

So Mayer is working on just that, doing MRI scans to look at the brains of thousands of volunteers and then comparing brain structure to the types of bacteria in their guts. He thinks he already has the first clues of a connection, from an analysis of about 60 volunteers.

Mayer found that the connections between brain regions differed depending on which species of bacteria dominated a person’s gut. That suggests that the specific mix of microbes in our guts might help determine what kinds of brains we have — how our brain circuits develop and how they’re wired.

Credit: Benjamin Arthur for NPR

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the microbes are causing changes in brain structure, or in behavior.

But other researchers have been trying to figure out a possible connection by looking at gut microbes in mice. There they’ve found changes in both brain chemistry and behavior. One experiment involved replacing the gut bacteria of anxious mice with bacteria from fearless mice.

“The mice became less anxious, more gregarious,” says Stephen Collins of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who led a team that conducted the research.

It worked the other way around, too — bold mice became timid when they got the microbes of anxious ones. And aggressive mice calmed down when the scientists altered their microbes by changing their diet, feeding them probiotics or dosing them with antibiotics.

To find out what might be causing the behavior changes, Collins and his colleagues then measured brain chemistry in mice. They found changes in a part of the brain involved in emotion and mood, including increases in a chemical calledbrain-derived neurotrophic factor, which plays a role in learning and memory.

Scientists also have been working on a really obvious question — how the gut microbes couldtalk to the brain.

A big nerve known as the vagus nerve, which runs all the way from the brain to the abdomen, was a prime suspect. And when researchers in Ireland cut the vagus nerve in mice, they no longer saw the brain respond to changes in the gut.

“The vagus nerve is the highway of communication between what’s going on in the gut and what’s going on in the brain,” says John Cryan of the University College Cork in Ireland, who has collaborated with Collins.

Gut microbes may also communicate with the brain in other ways, scientists say, by modulating the immune system or by producing their own versions of neurotransmitters.

“I’m actually seeing new neurochemicals that have not been described before being produced by certain bacteria,” says Mark Lyte of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Abilene, who studies how microbes affect the endocrine system. “These bacteria are, in effect, mind-altering microorganisms.”

This research raises the possibility that scientists could someday create drugs that mimic the signals being sent from the gut to the brain, or just give people the good bacteria — probiotics — to prevent or treat problems involving the brain.

One group of scientists has tested mice that have behaviors similar to some of the symptoms of autism in humans. The idea is that the probiotics might correct problems the animals have with their gastrointestinal systems — problems that many autistic children also have.

In the mice, many of their autism behaviors were no longer present or strongly ameliorated with probiotics, says Paul Patterson at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. His research will be published soon in the journal Cell.

Experiments to test whether changing gut microbes in humans could affect the brain are only just beginning.

One team of researchers in Baltimore is testing a probiotic to see if it can help prevent relapses of mania among patients suffering from bipolar disorder.

“The idea is that these probiotic treatments may alter what we call the microbiome and then may contribute to an improvement of psychiatric symptoms,” says Faith Dickerson, director of psychology at the Sheppard Pratt Health System.

“It makes perfect sense to me,” says Leah, a study participant who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She agreed to talk with NPR if we agreed not to use her full name. “Your brain is just another organ. It’s definitely affected by what goes on in the rest of your body.”

It’s far too soon to know whether the probiotic has any effect, but Leah suspects it might. “I’m doing really well,” she says. “I’m about to graduate college, and I’m doing everything right.”

Mayer also has been studying the effects of probiotics on the brain in humans. Along with his colleague Kirsten Tillisch, Mayer gave healthy women yogurt containing a probiotic and then scanned their brains. He found subtle signs that the brain circuits involved in anxiety were less reactive, according to a paper published in the journal Gastroenterology.

But Mayer and others stress that a lot more work will be needed to know whether that probiotic — or any others — really could help people feel less anxious or help solve other problems involving the brain. He says, “We’re really in the early stages.”

Chowing Down On Meat, Dairy Alters Gut Bacteria A Lot, And Quickly

by MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF

December 11, 2013 1:34 PM

To figure out how diet influences the microbiome, scientists put volunteers on two extreme diets: one that included only meat, egg and cheese and one that contained only grains, vegetables and legumes.

Morgan Walker/NPR

Looks like Harvard University scientists have given us another reason to walk past the cheese platter at holiday parties and reach for the carrot sticks instead: Your gut bacteria will thank you.

Switching to a diet packed with meat and cheese — and very few carbohydrates — alters the trillions of microbes living in the gut, scientists report Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The change happens quickly. Within two days, the types of microbes thriving in the gut shuffle around. And there are signs that some of these shifts might not be so good for your gut: One type of bacterium that flourishes under the meat-rich diet has been linked to inflammation and intestinal diseases in mice.

“I mean, I love meat,” says microbiologist Lawrence David, who contributed to the study and is now at Duke University.

“But I will say that I definitely feel a lot more guilty ordering a hamburger … since doing this work,” he says.

Scientists are just beginning to learn about how our decisions at the dinner table — or the drive-through — tweak our microbiome, that is, the communities of bacteria living in our bodies. But one thing is becoming clear: The critters hanging out in our intestine influence many aspects of our health, including weight, immunity and perhaps evenbehavior.

And interest in studying the links between diet and the human microbiome is growing. Previous research in this field had turned up tantalizing evidence that eating fiber can alter the composition of gut bacteria. But these studies had looked at diets over long periods of times — months and even years. David and his colleagues wanted to know whether fiber — or lack of it — could alter gut bacteria more rapidly.

To figure that out, the researchers got nine volunteers to go on two extreme diets for five days each.

The first diet was all about meat and cheese. “Breakfast was eggs and bacon,” David says. “Lunch was ribs and briskets, and then for dinner, it was salami and prosciutto with an assortment of cheeses. The volunteers had pork rinds for snacks.”

Then, after a break, the nine volunteers began a second, fiber-rich diet at the other end of the spectrum: It all came from plants. “Breakfast was granola cereal,” David says. “For lunch, it was jasmine rice, cooked onions, tomatoes, squash, garlic, peas and lentils.” Dinner looked similar, and the volunteers could snack on bananas and mangoes.

“The animal-based diet is admittedly a little extreme,” he says. “But the plant-based diet is one you might find in a developing country.”

David and the team analyzed the volunteers’ microbiomes before, during and after each diet. And the effects of all that meat and cheese were immediately apparent.

“The relative abundance of various bacteria species looked like it shifted within a day after the food hit the gut,” David says. After the volunteers had spent about three days on each diet, the bacteria in the gut even started to change their behavior. “The kind of genes turned on in the microbes changed in both diets,” he says.

In particular, microbes that “love bile” — the Bilophila — started to dominate the volunteers’ guts during the animal-based diet. Bile helps the stomach digest fats. So people make more bile when their diet is rich in meat and dairy fats.

A study last year found that blooms of Bilophila cause inflammation and colitis in mice. “But we didn’t measure levels of inflammation in our subjects,” David says. “That’s the next step.”

Instead, he says, his team’s data support the overall animal model that Bilophila promotes inflammation, which could ultimately be controlled by diet.

“Our study is a proof of concept that you can modify the microbiome through diet,” David says. “But we’re still a long ways off from being able to manipulate the community in any kind of way that an engineer would be pleased about.”

Even just classifying Bilophila as “bad bacteria” is a tricky matter, says Dr. Purna Kashyap, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

“These bacteria are members of a community that have lived in harmony with us for thousands of years,” says Kashyap, who wasn’t involved in the study. “You can’t just pick out one member of this whole team and say it’s bad. Most bacteria in the gut are here for our benefit, but given the right environment, they can turn on us and cause disease.”

Nevertheless, Kashyap thinks the Nature study is exciting because the findings unlock a potentially new avenue for treating intestinal diseases. “We want to look at diet as a way of treating patients,” Kashyap says. “This study shows that short-term dietary interventions can change microbial composition and function.”

Of course, figuring out exactly how to do that will take much more research.

“The paper has made the next leap in the field,” Kashyap says. “With discovery comes responsibility. Once you make this big finding, it needs to be tested appropriately.”