Posts tagged with "biology"

Lauren Hurley/ Lauren Hurley Creative x Sator/ Project Chimps for use by 360 Magazine

Sator × Project Chimps

Sator has just announced its partnership with one of the most recent chimpanzee sanctuaries, Project Chimps. The collaboration includes the launch of a sequence of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) on the Sator app. Each chimp at Project Chimps will receive their own specially minted NFTs, and all proceeds will be returned back to the sanctuary.

The Project Chimps sanctuary is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia, where former research chimps are given lifelong refuge and rehabilitation. Home to 82 chimps today, Project Chimps aims to grow these numbers and provide more chimps with accessible care. To learn more about the chimps, visit ProjectChimps.org.

With the announcement of the collaboration, this supports the sanctuaries’ goal to assist more chimps in the future. The proceeds accumulated through the purchase of the NFTs go directly back to the sanctuary, providing more resources for better care of the chimps and to house more chimps in the future.

The NFTs will be released in a sequence of groups. The first collection drop is “The 5 Alphas.” “The 5 Alphas” include the heads of the 5 separate family units at the Project Chimps sanctuary: Binah, Bo, Kareem, Kirk and Patrick. “The 5 Alphas” NFTs can be accessible now through the Sator app. There are around 5,000 NFTs for each individual Alpha offered.  NFTs can be bought through Sator’s native token (SAO) for roughly $5 each.

Sator’s President Chris Martin speaks on the significance of the collaboration between the two teams. Martin states, “We are honored that Project Chimps chose Sator to launch their first-ever NFT campaign in support of the sanctuary’s efforts to provide care to the retired research chimpanzees. We see it as a creative way to bring awareness to their mission and we’re very excited to be a part of it.”

A feature apart of the Sator app allows users to diverge into various realms to earn crypto tokens through playing games and connecting with content. These crypto tokens can be substituted for NFTs in the app. The app also allows users the opportunity to conversate with other users around the world.

To download the Sator dApp:

iPhone: visit HERE

Android: visit HERE

Image of Telescope via Gabrielle Archulleta for Use by 360 Magazine

Osteoporosis: New Approach to Understanding Bone Strength

Innovative Research Reveals Genes That Influence Osteoporosis

 

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have taken a new approach to understanding how our genes determine the strength of our bones, allowing them to identify several genes not previously known to influence bone density and, ultimately, our risk of fracture.

 

The work offers important insights into osteoporosis, a condition that affects 10 million Americans, and it provides scientists potential new targets in their battle against the brittle-bone disease.

 

Importantly, the approach uses a newly created population of laboratory mice that allows researchers to identify relevant genes and overcome limitations of human studies. Identifying such genes has been very difficult but is key to using genetic discoveries to improve bone health.

 

“Genome-wide association studies have revolutionized the identification of regions of the human genome that influence bone mineral density. However, there are challenges to using this information to help patients, such as identifying the specific genes involved. Additionally, such studies have focused only on bone mineral density, although many other aspects of bone contribute to bone strength and risk of fracture but cannot be measured in humans,” said Charles Farber, PhD, of UVA’s Center for Public Health Genomics and Department of Public Health Sciences. “The ability to use mice in a novel way has allowed us to begin to overcome the challenges associated with human genome-wide association studies.”

 

Understanding Osteoporosis and Bone Strength

 

Genome-wide association studies have identified more than 1,000 locations on our chromosomes where genes are found that influence bone mineral density (BMD), a strong predictor of how likely an individual is to experience a bone fracture. But bone mineral density is only one factor in bone strength. Farber and his colleagues wanted to get a more complete picture.

 

They created a resource by collecting information on 55 different skeletal characteristics in hundreds of mice and then used an approach called systems genetics to analyze the data. The analysis identified a total of 66 genes that contribute to BMD, including 19 not previously linked to BMD.

 

Of the 19, the researchers were able to determine that two, SERTAD4 and GLT8D2, likely affect bone mineral density through cells that form bone called osteoblasts. This ability to determine the cell types that genes use to perform biological processes is one of the great strengths of systems genetics analysis, the researchers say.

 

The scientists also found that another gene, QSOX1, plays an important role in determining the mass and strength of the outer, “cortical” layer of bone. This type of bone makes up 80% of our skeleton and is vital for bone strength and weight-bearing.

 

In addition to providing new insights into osteoporosis, the new findings highlight the tremendous potential of using mice to identify important genes in humans, Farber says.

 

“The information we generated from mice can be used in the future to evaluate these newly identified genes as potential drug targets,” said Basel Al-Barghouthi, of UVA’s Center for Public Health Genomics, who led the analysis. “Furthermore, these approaches can be applied across a wide range of diseases.”

 

Findings Published

 

The researchers have published their findings in the scientific journal Nature Communications. The research team consisted of Al-Barghouthi, Larry D. Mesner, Gina M. Calabrese, Daniel Brooks, Steven M. Tommasini, Mary L. Bouxsein, Mark C. Horowitz, Clifford J. Rosen, Kevin Nguyen, Samuel Haddox, Emily A. Farber, Suna Onengut-Gumuscu, Daniel Pomp and Farber.

Chrons via Rice University News for use by 360 Magazine

New Bacteria to Help Detect Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

In an important step toward the clinical application of synthetic biology, Rice University researchers have engineered a bacterium with the necessary capabilities for diagnosing inflammatory bowel diseases.

The engineered strain of the gut bacteria E. coli senses pH and glows when it encounters acidosis, an acidic condition that often occurs during flare ups of inflammatory bowel diseases like colitis, ileitis and Crohn’s disease.

Researchers at the University of Colorado (CU) School of Medicine used the Rice-created organism in a mouse model of Crohn’s disease to show acidosis activates a signature set of genes. The corresponding genetic signature in humans has previously been observed during active inflammation in Crohn’s disease patients. The results are available online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study co-author Jeffrey Tabor, an associate professor of bioengineering in Rice’s Brown School of Engineering, whose lab engineered the pH-sensing bacterium, said it could be reprogrammed to make colors that show up in the toilet instead of the fluorescent tags used in the CU School of Medicine experiments.

“We think it could be added to food and programmed to turn toilet water blue to warn patients when a flare up is just beginning,” said Tabor.

Bacteria have evolved countless specific and sensitive genetic circuits to sense their surroundings. Tabor and colleagues developed a biohacking toolkit that allows them to mix and match the inputs and outputs of these bacterial sensors. The pH-sensing circuit was discovered by Rice Ph.D. student Kathryn Brink in a 2019 demonstration of the plug-and-play toolkit.

PNAS study co-authors Sean Colgan, the director of the CU School of Medicine’s Mucosal Inflammation Program, and Ian Cartwright, a postdoctoral fellow in Colgan’s lab, read about the pH sensor and contacted Tabor to see if it could be adapted for use in a mouse model of Crohn’s disease.

“It turns out that measuring pH within the intestine through noninvasive ways is quite difficult,” said Colgan, the Levine-Kern Professor of Medicine and Immunology in the CU School of Medicine.

So Brink spent a few weeks splicing the necessary sensor circuits into an organism and sent it to Colgan’s lab.  

“Normally, the pH in your intestines is around seven, which is neutral, but you get a lot of inflammation in Crohn’s disease, and pH goes to something like three, which is very acidic,” Tabor said.

Colgan and colleagues have studied the genes that are turned on and off under such conditions and “needed a tool to measure pH in the intestine to show that the things they were observing in in vitro experiments were also really happening in a live animal,” Tabor said.

“Colonizing this bacterial strain was the perfect biological tool to monitor acidosis during active inflammation,” Colgan said. “Correlating intestinal gene expression with the bacterial pH sensing bacteria proved to be a useful and valuable set of biomarkers for active inflammation in the intestine.” 

Tabor said he believes the pH-sensing bacterium could potentially be advanced for human clinical trials in several years. 

Tabor’s work was supported by the Welch Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

Harnessing the Nine Hallmarks of Aging: to live your healthiest life by Greg Macpherson for use by 360 Magazine

Reversing the Aging Process At A Cellular Level

By: Greg Macpherson, pharmacist, author, “Harnessing the Nine Hallmarks of Aging

You might think that the occasional gray hair, fine line and wrinkle starting to stare back at you in the mirror is a sign that time is starting to have its impact felt, but these visible changes as we age are just a symptom of what has been going on at a cellular level inside your body for decades. We all know that you can’t change time, but recent advances in our understanding of aging at a cellular level mean that in the not too distant future we will be able to change the impact that time has on our cells.

And it’s about time. Right now, despite the decades and billions of dollars that have gone and continue to go into attempting to understand and solve the diseases associated with advancing age like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and cardiovascular disease, we have not made the progress we should.

Researchers are now starting to ask the question – what if we change track and seek to understand the aging process? By slowing aging, we not only spend decades longer in good health, but we push the diseases associated with old age down the road–possibly avoiding them all together.

 Why We Decline with Age

With better questions come better answers, progress, and breakthroughs. Nearly a decade ago, in the absence of a single theory regarding aging, scientists reached a consensus on nine key areas of our cells that decline in function as we age. These key areas are called the nine hallmarks of aging, and they all have something in common. If you make them worse, you age faster. If you make them better, you slow the aging process down.

Identifying the hallmarks of aging has given researchers cellular targets to focus on, and has unleashed an incredible amount of human capital focused on solving, or at least reducing, the ravages of aging on our bodies. Researchers armed with tens of billions of dollars in research grants and private equity are now racing to find the answers. And the prize is huge–resolving the aging process, deferring the diseases of older age and extending the time we spend in middle age in good health by decades will transform humanity and will both disrupt and create a trillion dollar industry overnight.

Progress is being made at an accelerating rate, and there are now therapies that have  been proven in mice models that are now making their way into clinical studies. Rapamycin, a pharmaceutical that is typically used for organ transplant recipients, because of its ability to help the body avoid rejecting the organ, is now understood to extend life in mice by up to 60%. Senolytics, molecules that help the body identify and remove senescent cells that increasingly accumulate as we age and literally poison the healthy cells that surround them, have extended life in mice by up to 30%. Metformin, a drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes has been identified to significantly reduce cancer rates and extend life.

And these are just a few of the compounds that have been identified that shift the effect of time on our bodies. These and more molecules being developed right now, plus strategies for healthy aging that have been identified from the blue zones around the world where people live to 100 and beyond at a much higher rate than the rest of us, are amongst the many healthy aging strategies that I featured in my book, “Harnessing the Nine Hallmarks of Aging, to Live Your Healthiest Life.”

As a pharmacist with 30 years of experience, I have spent the last decade working in the biotechnology arena associated with anti-aging, translating the complex world of anti-aging science to make it available for the rest of us. By understanding the nine hallmarks of aging­–adopting simple strategies from the blue zones, and sharing the breakthrough molecules that have not been available to humans in previous generations– I’ve put together a step-by-step, healthy aging strategy. We can all adopt  this strategy and, in the process, significantly alter our aging trajectory and making healthy aging much more of a certainty.

Why DNA Matters

One example of a hallmark of aging is “genomic instability,” which is another way of saying that the negative changes to our DNA in our cells that happen as we age. Your DNA is your cellular instruction set and defines what it means to be a human versus every other living species on our planet. Your DNA is responsible for the difference between a skin cell and a heart cell, a neuron and an insulin producing cell.

Your DNA are molecules that sit at the center of almost every single cell in your body, helping it function, live and thrive. Your DNA does this in an incredibly hostile environment as it deals with the external stress of pollution, mutagenic foods and chemicals, UV light and X-rays, and the internal insults of oxidative stress. Due to these factors your DNA is damaged between 50,000 and 100,000 times per day, per cell.

Because of the importance of having a healthy instruction set, your cells spend a huge amount of resource on the repair and maintenance of your DNA and as we age, and this process starts to decline, which has significant effect on the health of your cells. Take a quick look at the back of your hand compared to the skin on the inside of your wrist to get a sense of the difference between cells exposed to UV damage that hits your DNA.

DNA damage is happening right now in every cell in your body, and over time it affects the ability of your cells to function effectively. Starting as early as your 30s, by supporting DNA repair and maintenance through making lifestyle changes and by taking molecules, like hobamine, NMN and apigenin, as outlined in my book, it can help your body keep your DNA and the other hallmarks of aging in good shape. By following the roadmap of this breakthrough strategy in a healthy aging, you will age better than previous generations have ever been able to achieve.

Biography

Greg Macpherson is a pharmacist, entrepreneur and author of, “Harnessing the Nine Hallmarks of Aging: To Live Your Healthiest Life.” For more than a decade, he has been working in the biotechnology sector, specifically focusing on the aging process at the cellular level. This work led him to discover ways to harness the nine identified, scientific hallmarks of aging, which is the premise of his book that addresses the natural aging process, how to age more favorably and simple strategies to slow the aging process and build a functional longevity plan. Beyond theory and concept, Macpherson has used his entrepreneurial spirit to further develop solutions to this new paradigm of aging, described in his book, by launching SRW Laboratories, a science and research based company that curates the latest biotechnology research to formulate natural products designed to help slow the onset of aging and disease, and develop evidence based solutions for those who are experiencing age-related health concerns. SRW, which stands for Science, Research and Wellness, is Macpherson’s natural world laboratory that will develop the preventative formulas from nature required to slow down the aging process based on the nine hallmarks of aging, which include mitochondrial dysfunction, telomere attrition and cellular senescence, to name a few. With aging being the single biggest risk factor for developing disease, Macpherson’s mission to slow the aging process at a cellular level could help millions of people delay the onset of diseases associated with advanced aging like Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
greg macpherson headshot for use by 360 Magazine

new candy illustration by Rita Azar by 360 Magazine

Timing Your CBD Gummy Ingestion

How Long Until CBD Gummies Kick In? And How Long Do They Last?

It’s no secret that CBD gummies are everywhere these days. Still, many people are hesitant to use gummies in place of a standard CBD oil tincture. One of the most significant factors that stop people from feeling comfortable with things like CBD gummies, is the lack of certainty about how long they take to kick in.

So, how long should it take before CBD gummies kick in, and how long can you expect them to last? Let’s take a look.

What Are CBD Gummies?

CBD gummies are a particularly interesting form of CBD because they are one of the few types that users directly ingest. While other forms of CBD involve direct absorption (i.e. sublingually or topically), CBD gummies are exposed to the digestive metabolic process. This can make it tough when it comes to figuring out how long gummies take to kick in.

How Long Until The CBD Gummies Kick In?

A whole host of different factors, from biological and genetic to environmental and dietary, impact the expected time it can take for CBD gummies to start working. A big factor is the fact that CBD gummies are imbibed orally by ingesting them. This means that their expected time to take effect can vary pretty drastically depending on when the user last ate.

More food sitting in their stomach waiting to digest means a longer wait before the effects are noticed. Furthermore, everyone has an individual rate of metabolism, which will control the rate that the CBD is absorbed.

Weight is another issue – CBD is fat-soluble, which means that it will tend to stick to fat molecules. Those that carry around a bit of extra weight might find that their CBD gummies take longer to take effect.

Finally, the actual CBD composition of the gummy plays a considerable role. Stronger CBD gummies will last longer, but their effects might take awhile to peak due to their prolific intensity.

How Long Will The CBD Gummy Last?

The rate that CBD lasts in the human body is dependent on its half-life, which is how long the body takes to work through half of the concentration of CBD. Unfortunately, the exact half-life of CBD has not yet been accurately pinpointed. Some studies shows that it can vary considerably based on the method of consumption.

On average, the half-life of CBD seems to be between 10 hours and 24 hours, though this is again entirely based on the method of consumption.

Final Thoughts: How Long Until CBD Gummies Kick In, And How Long They Last

Lots of new people are starting to try CBD gummies, especially in the UK, as the market has really blossomed in the last decade. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to pin down the specific amount of time that CBD gummies take for their effect to take hold. A combination of weight, metabolism, the CBD’s strength, and even just individual genetics govern pretty much every aspect.

Science Tech Illustration by Gabrielle Archuleta

Blood Discovery Research x UVA

Blood Discoveries Advance Effort to Grow Organs, Battle Cancer 

New Research Reveals Important Insights Into How Our Bodies Make Blood 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, V.A.– Pioneering research into how our bodies manufacture the cells that make blood has moved us closer to regrowing tissues and organs. These findings also may let doctors grow the cells for transplantation into people to battle cancer, blood disorders and autoimmune diseases.

Researcher Karen K. Hirschi, PhD, of the Department of Cell Biology and Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, has developed a simple and efficient way to generate “hemogenic endothelial cells.” These cells are the first step in the production line of blood cells, and Hirschi’s new findings provide a blueprint for creating them outside of the body.

“By studying how hemogenic endothelial cells develop normally, we gain the insight needed to generate them in the lab,” Hirschi said. “Now that we have established a method to produce human hemogenic endothelial cells outside of the body, we will continue to improve their production and function as we learn more about the mechanisms that promote their normal development.”

Building Blood-Making Factories

Hirschi’s latest work, published in a pair of scientific papers, offers important insights into how hemogenic endothelial cells form, and how they ultimately give rise to the cells that directly manufacture blood.

Writing in the prestigious journal, Science, she and her team reveal a key trigger that causes the endothelial cells to “transdifferentiate,” or turn into blood-making factories, during embryonic development. These blood-making (i.e. hemogenic) endothelial cells generate hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) that have long been used for the treatment of cancer and other diseases. Typically, they are taken from sources such as an individual’s bone marrow, but doctors would like to be able to manufacture them quickly and easily for patients on demand. “Generating human hemogenic endothelial cells in the lab from each patient that needs HSPC is the first step toward patient therapies for blood disorders,” Hirschi said.

In a paper published nearly simultaneously in Cell Reports, Hirschi unveils a blueprint for creating the hemogenic endothelial cells, the source of HSPCs, outside of the body. The secret is a substance called retinoic acid. You may have heard of retinoic acid in association with beauty products, but in this case its responsibilities include triggering genes to cause “hematopoietic transition”–to put more vascular endothelial cells in the business of making blood by producing HSPCs.

The new insights provided by the work “will improve our ability to apply developmental insights to the generation of distinct endothelial cell subtypes for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine,” the researchers write in their new paper. “In addition, our system could likely be developed further to optimize the generation of transplantable HSPCs from human hemogenic endothelial cells for clinical therapies.”

The approach offers several advances over existing means, including being quicker and less expensive, the researchers note.

“We hope our continued efforts will move us closer to treating both vascular and blood disorders,” Hirschi said. “These studies highlight the importance of basic cell and developmental biology research as a foundation for devising strategies for patient-specific clinical therapies.”

Hirschi was recruited from Yale in 2019 to join the faculty in the Department of Cell Biology, which has long been interested in addressing how embryos develop and applying this basic knowledge to the repair and regeneration of damaged tissues and organs.

Findings Published

The Science paper was authored by Dionna M. Kasper, Jared Hintzen, Yinyu Wu, Joey J. Ghersi, Hanna K. Mandl, Kevin E. Salinas, William Armero, Zhiheng He, Ying Sheng, Yixuan Xie, Daniel W. Heindel, Eon Joo Park, William C. Sessa, Lara K. Mahal, Carlito Lebrilla, Hirschi and Stefania Nicoli. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants F32HL132475, U54DK106857, 1K99HL141687, R01HL130246, R56DK118728, R01HL146056. R01HL128064, R01DK118728 and R01GM049077) and the American Heart Association (grants 19PRE34380749 and19TPA34890046).

The research team responsible for the Cell Reports paper consisted of Jingyao Qiu, Sofia Nordling, Hema H. Vasavada, Eugene C. Butcher and Hirschi. That work was supported by NIH grants HL128064, U2EB017103, R01-AI130471 and R01-CA228019; CT Innovations grant 15-RMB-YALE-04; Department of Veterans Affairs Merit Review award I01BX002919; the Swedish Society for Medical Research; and a Stanford Dean’s Fellowship.

To keep up with the latest medical research news from UVA, subscribe to the Making of Medicine blog at http://makingofmedicine.virginia.edu.

Mosquito illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Preventing Mosquito Bites Around Your Home

By Dr. Craig Stoops

For many people, mosquitoes are a part of life in the summer. Their presence is annoying and can even threaten the health of people and pets.  

Fortunately, there are ways people can protect themselves against mosquito bites. Three effective ways to control mosquitoes around a house and limit exposure to their bites are: 1) Source reduction, 2) EPA-approved repellents, and 3) Hiring a professional.

Source reduction

Many mosquito species like to use water found in unattended bird baths or discarded items such as buckets, tarps, and children’s toys as locations to lay their eggs and continue the next generation. By emptying and cleaning bird baths and discarding items that can hold water (often called “tip and toss”) one can greatly diminish the mosquito population around their house and protect themselves from mosquito bites.

It is important to get your neighbors involved as well. What they do will impact you because mosquitoes will easily go from one property to the one next door seeking a blood meal.

EPA-approved repellents

There are numerous safe and effective insect repellents available on the market in a variety of formulations such as sprays, creams and wipes. The best and longest-lasting repellents contain the active ingredient DEET, but there are other active ingredients available such as picaridin, IR3535 and several botanical ingredients such as lemongrass oil and others. Visit the U.S. CDC website on mosquito bite prevention for additional information: https://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/about/prevent-bites.html

Researchers are always looking for additional “tools for the repellent toolkit” and new effective active ingredients have been recently found. One example is nootkatone. The EPA has recently provided approval for this active ingredient developed by scientists and the U.S. CDC from the Alaska yellow cedar tree. It has shown in the laboratory to be effective at repelling both mosquitoes and ticks and is available for development by a company into a commercially available product. 

Not everyone will be comfortable using a repellent that contains DEET. And repellents are only effective if people use them, so having ingredients like nootkatone available is important in protecting people from mosquito bites. Here is the U.S. CDC webpage on nootkatone: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p0810-nootkatone-registered-epa.html

Hire a professional

While people can do a lot to control the mosquitoes around their house by discarding and emptying containers that breed mosquitoes, there may be times that getting advice from a professional is necessary to effectively control the problem. Pest control operators specifically trained in identifying the mosquitoes in your yard and recommending an integrated control program can be a great way to provide season-long relief from mosquito bites.  

When considering using a pest control company, be sure to do your homework and make certain you are hiring certified professionals who understand the methods and limitations of mosquito control. These professionals will be able to identify problem areas and use both non-chemical and EPA-approved insecticides to control the problem.

Dr. Craig Stoops (www.mosquito-authority.com), LCDR (ret.) MSC USN, is a retired U.S. Navy medical entomologist and chief science officer at Mosquito® Authority, a mosquito control company. He has conducted mosquito control and research in the United States, South and Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He has a B.S. in biology from Shippensburg University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in entomology from Clemson University. Dr. Stoops is board certified by the Entomological Society of America in medical and veterinary entomology.

Are We Living Too Clean?

By Jessica ter Haar, Ph.D., scientific director of the International Probiotics Association

If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that proper hygiene is vital to keeping ourselves and the members of our communities safe and healthy. We are constantly reminded of the need to disinfect our hands, avoid touching our faces, keep our distance and take COVID-19 safety measures seriously.
But could all the hand washing, antibacterial cleansing and social distancing cause another health problem?

It may seem counterintuitive, but the extreme clean living our society has adopted could in fact make our body’s innate immune system weaker. Many people have entered into a sort of “microbe-phobia” to avoid the coronavirus, but it is important to remember that not all microbes are bad. In fact, many are essential for good health.
Sterilizing everything can have the unintended negative consequence of eradicating the good germs that we would normally be exposed to in our daily lives. In doing so, we are weakening our body’s own natural defenses to everyday threats.

Microbes—including bacteria, fungi, and viruses—are invisible to the naked eye, and our bodies host trillions of these microorganisms inside and out. Scientifically, this population is known as the microbiome. The gut microbiome, for example, is a concept that has been around for centuries but has only been commonly used in conversation since the early 2000s.

Some microbes are harmful and can make us sick, but many keep us healthy and should not be feared but appreciated. Understanding the role of the human microbiome has been complicated further by the confusion surrounding terminology – a big one being the differences between bacteria, fungi and viruses. It’s important to know more about them and how they differ when considering good versus bad microbes.

Bacteria are single-cell organisms, and most are not dangerous to humans. In fact, less than 1% of all bacteria are responsible for disease. Many bacteria live in our bodies and help us stay healthy. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics, which kill the bacteria or at least stop the bad bacteria from multiplying.

Fungi are single-celled or multi-celled organisms that are similar to bacteria in that they live in different environments and cause disease. Fungal infections can become life-threatening if the immune system is weak, but certain fungi also have many beneficial qualities. The discovery of penicillin, a type of fungus, was due to a variety of mold which is now used to produce this antibiotic.

Viruses, including the coronavirus, are more challenging. They have no cells of their own and instead rely on host cells to multiply and replicate. Many viruses peacefully co-exist with humans, but some can cause diseases, including the relatively harmless common cold, while others can be deadly and bring about serious diseases like AIDS, measles and COVID-19. It is difficult to fight a virus with medication, which is why vaccinations are often used to support the immune system to better prepare the body to fight the virus.

As we begin practicing good hygiene and social distancing recommendations, life is feeling far from normal. But similar to the emotional effects of our isolation, by not living life, we are failing to be exposed to the good natural microbes needed to support our immune system’s defenses, metabolism, digestion and the brain’s ability to modulate mood and focus.

The question is, how can we continue hygiene measures to prevent COVID-19 without weakening our immune systems?

This is where probiotics come in. Probiotics can be the hero in our current germophobic environment to help counter the lack of microbe exposure and stimulate our body’s own bacterial population in the gut microbiome and cells. Probiotics can literally wake up sleepy bacteria and cells and assist in protecting our health.
If you are unfamiliar, probiotics are live microorganisms that, when taken in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host. Experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and WHO created this definition of probiotics, and to date, probiotics have more than 8,000 different scientific research studies indexed by PubMed.

Something as simple as a probiotic supplement can help compensate for our ultra-clean lifestyles and add beneficial microorganisms to our daily health arsenal. Probiotics add to the functional diversity of healthy microbes within our microbiome that bolster our immune system and overall health resilience. Probiotics have quickly risen in popularity and took center stage in the past decade, primarily because of how probiotics make people feel and how they work.

According to research, people report feeling better when they are taking a probiotic, which makes perfect sense because when the gut is happy, the rest of the body seems to be in synchronicity. But let’s not forget that probiotics can also work beyond the gut. There is a lot of probiotic science that continues to evolve, and everything seems to point to positive health outcomes.

Many of the microorganisms in probiotic supplements, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are similar to those naturally found in the body. Different types of probiotics have many different effects on the body like helping to maintain balance of good bacteria; producing certain vitamins and other substances; impacting our mood; and regulating weight.

Interestingly, studies of probiotics have shown beneficial immune impacts. While no probiotic has been found to treat COVID-19, research studies are currently assessing their impact. To date, more than 1,600 human clinical trials have been published about probiotics on ClinicalTrials.gov and the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform of WHO databases. The International Probiotics Association is another great resource for updates on studies and new findings with probiotics.

As we wait for life to return to normal, taking something as simple as a probiotic supplement can help our immune systems compensate for an ultra-clean lifestyle and put our minds at ease as we take steps forward to boost our health during these uncertain and challenging times. In learning more about microbes, we can embrace the power of these organisms, take the fear out of equation and develop a plan to keep our immunities strong in the face of any health crisis.

About Jessica ter Haar, Ph.D.,

Jessica ter Haar is director of scientific affairs for the International Probiotics Association (IPA) and is a microbiology expert and probiotic educator focused on digestive and women’s health. She holds a doctorate from the University of Groningen in medical microbiology and probiotics for vaginal infections, and a master’s degree in nutrition and nutraceutical sciences from the University of Guelph. Ter Haar is also the founder and chairwoman of “Women and their Microbes,” a scientific conference directed at scientists, clinicians and industry professionals focused on helping women achieve their best possible microbial health during every stage of life. In her professional work with probiotics, she uses her thorough knowledge base to underscore the importance of probiotics, make scientific knowledge accessible, and address unmet medical and research needs. Additionally, ter Haar consults with a variety of companies in the probiotic, pharmaceutical and food industries on strategies to clearly communicate, valorize and leverage scientific benefits and best practices.

OXYGEN: A SECRET WEAPON FOR FITNESS? 

Expert Offers Insight into the “Oxygen-Enhanced Exercise” Trend & Shares Breathing Tips to Improve Health & Enhance Your Workout

Have you seen anyone at your gym wearing unusual face masks as they workout? If not, you are sure to encounter this soon and when you do, there is no need for alarm. It’s called oxygen-enhanced exercise, and it’s a holistic approach to fitness that has recently skyrocketed in popularity. Once available and common only with Olympians and pro athletes (like Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, and Mario Lemieux,) this training method has hit the mainstream and now at-home-exercisers and workout warriors across the country are using it as an all-natural way to gain an athletic advantage.

Oxygen-enhanced exercise is a scientifically proven phenomenon that’s said to benefit the body by reducing the physical stress of exercise, accelerating recovery, helping you sleep, giving you more energy, and improving your metabolism.

According to breathing expert Michael Grant White, oxygen is crucial for peak athletic performance.

“Playing sports, weight-lifting, circuit training, or any other intense physical activity, of course, burns calories and builds muscle, but many people don’t consider the wear and tear it has on their body. Lack of oxygen ages the body at a much greater rate…”

…says White, who has studied breathing over the past 24 years and has seen a rapid rise in interest for oxygen-enhanced exercise. As anti-doping initiatives spread across the country, and athletic drug testing becomes more prevalent, many athletes are turning to oxygen-enhanced exercise as a way to amplify their workouts without the use of drugs, chemicals, surgery, or invasive techniques.

We all know oxygen and exercise go hand-in-hand, but in case you missed this high school biology lesson, here’s a quick recap of the science: During exercise, your muscles have to contract and work harder, which increases their demand for oxygen. The amount needed is much more than you are taking in. Your body first burns the existing oxygen in the red blood cells and when this runs out, the body turns to fermentation for its energy needs. Instead of using oxygen, the muscles convert glucose into lactic acid and this is when fatigue sets in. Oxygen-enhanced exercise leverages the body’s already-existing system for oxygenating the blood before this happens.

If you’re not ready to sport an oxygen mask, you can still enhance your workout through mindful breathing. According to research, proper breathing should be one of your main focuses during exercise. It’s easy to underestimate just how much it impacts our overall health and fitness. Oxygen helps the body maintain pH balance, it increases neuronal energy metabolism in the brain, detoxifies the blood, and strengthens the immune system by killing harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Oxygen also plays a huge role in the recovery process because it helps restore pre-exercise ATP levels and helps your liver break down lactic acid into simple carbohydrates.

“Not all breathing is created equal, there are breathing techniques you can do to enhance your workout…”

…says White who has trained athletes to use proper breathing techniques and seen first-hand how better breathing can help strengthen endurance, lower lactic acid production, and improve stamina for cardio-centric activities (like running, swimming, biking, etc.) In addition, simple breathing techniques can help athletes (at any level of fitness) recover more quickly from high-intensity activities.

In short: better breathing = better health.

Michael Grant White is on a mission to awaken the breathing consciousness of the world. He has insight into the oxygen-enhanced exercise trend and can share breathing tips people can use at home to improve their health and their workout.


IN AN INTERVIEW / ARTICLE:

  • Breathing Tricks to Improve Your Health & Enhance Your Workout
  • Unlikely Ways Your Breathing Impacts Your Life
  • Fascinating Link Between Breathing & The Brain
  • Insight into the “Oxygen-Enhanced Exercise” Trend: An All-Natural Approach to Improve Health & Enhance Workouts

ABOUT MICHAEL GRANT WHITE:

Michael Grant White is a holistic health expert, author, and international speaker who has dedicated his career to helping people improve their health through better breathing. As an Optimal Breathing Coach and the founder of My Oxygen Machine and Breathing.com, White is on a mission to make the world healthier one breath at a time.

For More Information Visit:

 http://breathing.com

Emotional Eating Contributing to Your Prediabetes?

Here Are Eight ADA-Approved Techniques to Break This Dangerous Habit

If you’ve got prediabetes, it’s time to adopt healthier eating habits. But emotional eating is one habit that could derail your progress and put you further at risk. Jill Weisenberger, author of Prediabetes: A Complete Guide, offers tips to help you stop emotional eating today.

Arlington, VA (May 2018)—If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes or have been told that you’re at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, you already know you’ve got to change your eating habits. But overhauling your diet is anything but easy—especially when you’re feeling hurt, sad, mad, lonely, or aggravated. If you turn to food when you’re stressed or unhappy, you could be damaging your health with emotional eating.

“Plenty of people who try to adopt healthier eating habits often find themselves waylaid by emotional eating,” says Jill Weisenberger, who partnered with the American Diabetes Association to write Prediabetes: A Complete Guide: Your Lifestyle Reset to Stop Prediabetes and Other Chronic Illnesses (American Diabetes Association, May 2018, ISBN: 978-1-580-40674-1, $16.95). “Digging into a carton of ice cream or bag of chips when you’re feeling down can quickly derail your health goals. And for the 84 million American adults with prediabetes, emotional eating can be especially dangerous to your health.”

Weisenberger says it can be hard to break the habit of emotional eating, because psychology and biology are both at play. People reach for “feel-good” foods like Mom’s cookies or a cheesy casserole. Additionally, stress hormones crank up the appetite, and eating releases the brain’s feel-good chemicals. Often, a psychotherapist skilled in working with people with disordered eating is the ideal person to help you. Ask your healthcare provider for a referral if you think a psychotherapist can help you.

Despite these challenges, you can learn to stop emotional eating with practice and diligence. Are you ready to break free of emotional eating and move one step closer to reclaiming your health? Here are a few techniques that may help you on your journey.

Keep a log. Record your food intake for a week or two. Track what you’re eating along with your mood. This process may help you find choice points in which you can learn to change your thinking and behavior and teach you to identify your breaking points long before you break.

“Consider keeping a photo log,” suggests Weisenberger. “If you’re about to eat, snap a picture. Do this for a week to see in color the choices you’ve been making.”

Notice and label your emotions. Having negative emotions isn’t usually bad. In fact, having negative emotions is actually normal. But taking a deep dive into a bag of salty, crunchy snacks because of negative emotions is unhelpful in the long run.

“Practice noticing and labeling your emotions,” says Weisenberger. “Are you sad, anxious, lonely, or mad? Naming them and observing them without judgment will help you learn about them. Many people find that journaling about their emotions is helpful.”

Imagine handling emotional situations. In your mind, practice responding to common triggers in ways that don’t lead you to overeating. Think about what you can do next time you feel overwhelmed with household chores or the next time you argue with your spouse or whatever situation leads you to eat emotionally. Over and over in your mind, practice acting in desirable ways. “Here again,” says Weisenberger, “many people find journaling enlightening and empowering.”

Create a plan. After imagining responding in positive ways, create a plan for difficult situations. If you need distractions, gather things to help you, such as puzzle books, adult coloring books, nail polish, a list of people to call, or a list of activities such as soaking in a bath or playing with your dog.

“If you know that exercise or meditation help you cope with strong emotions, plan to take at least five minutes for meditation or exercise,” says Weisenberger. “You may need more than one plan to address various situations.”

Practice non-food coping skills. Regularly soothe yourself without calories. Every day, take time for soothing enjoyment, so when the time comes, you have an arsenal of coping strategies at the ready. Some ideas include taking deep-breathing breaks, using adult coloring books, writing in a journal, listening to soothing or uplifting music, chatting with a friend, buying yourself flowers, or soaking in a hot tub.

“I regularly play with my dog, Benny, a perpetual puppy,” says Weisenberger. “I also call and text my daughters, spend quiet time drinking tea or coffee with my husband, take five-minute breaks outside, and sit alone sipping a warm and fragrant tea from a beautiful cup. How you choose to soothe yourself is as individual as you are.”

Adopt a morning ritual. A morning ritual potentially has the power to affect your entire day. A ritual is different from a routine in that a ritual holds a deeper meaning. A few examples are:

• Express gratitude in thoughts, a journal, or aloud.

• Reaffirm your goals in writing or aloud.

• Practice yoga, meditation, or prayer.

• Watch a sunrise.

• Visualize good things happening in your day.

• Recite affirmations or a mantra.

Build in food treats. Whatever food you reach for in times of stress probably has some special meaning to you. Is it chocolate, macaroni and cheese, pizza, or hot-from-the-oven cookies? Whatever it is, be sure to have some now and then. Not as a reward, but simply because you like the way it tastes. Practice enjoying this favorite food in a reasonable amount, perhaps as part of a balanced meal. Simply removing a food’s taboo label can be helpful. In this way, you are learning that it’s okay to treat yourself and removing the notion of treats as cheats. We all deserve treats, but cheat days are the wrong mindset.

Create a personal wellness vision and review it often. A personal wellness vision is a concrete and motivating picture of you being healthy, feeling healthy, and living a healthful life. Imagine yourself at your ideal level of well-being. How do you feel? Look? Act? Write down what this looks like for you. This vision will help you identify what is important to you.

“After creating your vision, be sure to regularly look it over! It’s easy to forget what really matters when you’re under stress or running in crisis mode. But knowing—and remembering—what’s really important steers you to appropriate actions.”

“Reaching for food to manage your emotions can be a very hard habit to break,” concludes Weisenberger. “Become aware of times when you look to food to soothe you, calm you down, or help you avoid your feelings. When you recognize that you’ve been eating with your emotions, you can change the behavior and continue striving toward your health goals.”

You can visit Jill Weisenberger’s website here