Moderation for Gut Microbiome Health – Part 2 of 3

There is a lot of buzz about the gut microbiome and its importance in human health. With the impact of the coronavirus, understanding the connection between gut microbes and immunity is more critical than ever. Last month we looked at what foods and chemicals to avoid to strengthen the gut flora. This month, we will look at what to consume only in moderation to support the 100 trillion microbes living in the human digestive system and thereby support the immune system’s fight against all types of potential illnesses.

The study of the microbiome is still in its infancy. Even though there is still a lot to learn, there is research upon which we can draw. In study after study, the evidence shows that anyone who eats can make a big difference in supporting their gut flora.

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Never a Better Time to Boost Your Immune System

At the writing of this article, more than 277,000 cases of Covid-19 have been reported here in the United States and the number is rising rapidly each day. Most of us are staying home to save lives and to “flatten the curve.”

At this time many in the collective are feeling the effects, feeling the fear, feeling disempowered; even powerless. We are looking to the government, the news stations, social media, and supplements, but how many of us are looking at our plate?

I have been hearing stories of younger populations with no known underlying health conditions contracting the more severe form of the virus requiring hospitalization, even depending on respirators to breathe.

What if we are overlooking something right under our nose? Is it possible that the standard American diet may be creating an underlying health condition that is leaving millions at higher risk?

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Care and Feeding of the Gut Microbiome – Part 1 of 3

Like many students of human health, I have been watching the discoveries related to the human gut microbiome. By way of definition, the gut microbiome (also called gut microbiota and gut/intestinal flora) consists of all the microbes (viruses, protozoa, bacteria, fungi, etc.) that live in our digestive system. Researchers are only just beginning to find the surprising connections among the gut microbiome, brain, mood, health, disease, and performance.

For example, recent discoveries show that

Humans live in complete, permanent, and desirable symbiosis with hundreds of trillions of microbes like bacteria, viruses, fungi. It turns out that we have more microbe DNA than human DNA.
There are about 2+ pounds of these microbes living in and on the human body. That’s inside and out.
Most of the microbes live in the digestive system or gut, where they play essential roles in many other bodily functions, organs, and systems. We can’t live without them.

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The Plant–Based Easter Egg Makeover

Whether decorating eggs or deviling them, it is estimated that 180 million are purchased for Easter every year. Why has this become a tradition around the world? Easter is a religious holiday, but customs like Easter eggs may be linked to Pagan practices. An ancient symbol of new life, the egg has been associated with springtime Pagan festivals.

Decorating eggs for Easter goes back as far as the 13th century. One theory for this custom is that eggs were once a forbidden food during the Lenten season. People would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting. Then they would eat them on Easter as a celebration.

Flash forward many centuries and many advances in science and nutrition; we now suspect that eggs may be incredibly inedible. A 2010 study in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology found a 19% increased risk for cardiovascular problems in people that consume the most eggs.

A 2019 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, tracking 30,000 participants found that eating ev

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Grocery Shopping in Times of Panic

In times of near-apocalyptic crisis, it is natural to go into survival mode. For example, fearing the end of the world, people will go to the store in a panic and buy as much food and other household necessities as possible. In these times of COVID19’s swell, surge and spread, people are running true to expectations. We anxiously enter the grocery store. It is overcrowded with people. We check the aisles. Cookies – Gone. Ramen Soups – Gone. Deli Meats – Gone. Pancake Mix – Gone. Kids’ Cereals – Gone. Boxed Instant Meals – Gone!

This was my shopping experience today. I saw a man’s cart which was heaped high like the other overfilled carts in the store. What caught my attention was that his cart was loaded with several frozen pizzas, and cheese pastries, boxes of prewrapped snack cakes, fruity artificially colored cereal, and refined flour crackers, lunch meat, 2 30-can cases of beer, 2 bottles of wine, and a half dozen boxes of toaster pastries. All this along with boxed mac ‘n cheese, fruit snacks, and a case of high caffeine soda. Looking at what this gentleman planned to purchase kind of took my breath away! My first thought was, ‘Is this your idea of feeding your tribe for the next 15 – 30 days?’ My second thought was, ‘Is this how your tribe eats every day, even without panic in place?’

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Being Mindful About Feeding the Brain

A while back, I worked at a beautiful senior living facility. It had an excellent reputation as one of the best in the county. Sons and daughters would bring their elderly parents there to live because it was clean and bright, and the surroundings very inviting. The place had wonderful caregivers. They offered graduated levels of assistance for the residents so that if they needed more or less care, it was available.

In the time I worked there, I met many seniors with the beginnings of memory loss, Alzheimer’s Disease, and dementia. Often within 6 months, we could see a noticeable decline in these residents’ mental ability as the diseases advanced. Medications would be added to their daily regimens, to no avail.

Meals at the facility were of the typical American type: lots of refined white flour, sugar, meats, gravies, cheeses, overcooked vegetables, minimal fruits, and desserts. The kitchen manager was a lovely lady who did her best to please everyone. I had read that nutrition could make a difference for people with these illnesses, so I spoke with her.

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March usually has us thinking of St. Patty’s Day. It sure does for me. I grew up hearing tales of our Irish ancestors fleeing the emerald isle for greener pastures during the potato famine of the 1840’s.

My mother and her father, Poppy Joe, would put on an impressive Irish brogue as they told tales of Irish immigrant life in New York city towards the end of the 19th century. Back then, the Irish were considered dirty. There were even signs hanging in windows that said, “Irish need not apply.” This was at once both fascinating and baffling to me. Why such discrimination? Who were these people that were my relatives? What was this faraway land?

Growing up I had the most amazing time taking Irish dancing lessons in the basement of a neighboring family. The parents of this large brood of 6 kids were Irish and they had real brogues, not the made-up kind of my mother and Poppy. I learned the “Jig.” It was great fun.

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Heart Disease Month

Have you been diagnosed with heart disease? If so, you are not alone. According to the American Heart Association, 116.4 million, or 46% of adults, are estimated to have hypertension and someone dies of cardiovascular disease every 38 seconds. February is American Heart Month, and each year we are reminded to focus on our heart health. This year, instead of just managing heart disease, let us focus on how to prevent, treat and reverse heart disease.

According to Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., director of the cardiovascular disease prevention and reversal program at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in Ohio, coronary heart disease is a “benign, foodborne illness” that can be stopped or even reversed by avoiding a typical Western diet. So, let’s look at the arteries supplying the heart with blood and what actually happens to the blood vessels with heart disease. Coronary artery disease (CAD) begins with progressive endothelial injury, inflammatory oxidative stress, reduced nitric oxide production, foam cell formation, and development of plaques that may rupture to cause a myocardial infarction (MI) or stroke.

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Chicagoland – Connect with us on Meetup

Hey, Chicagoland! We invite you to join our Meetup – https://www.meetup.com/Chicagoland-Plant-Based-Nutrition-Movement/ and feel free to join in on any events that are of interest to you! The events on our Meetup Calendar are very assorted and include such things as:

Educational/support type groups (most are “voluntary potlucks” where participants are encouraged to bring a whole food plant-based no oil dish to pass. Bringing a dish is generally not required, but serves to both give participants some “practice” at preparing a WFPB-NO dish, but also to introduce a variety of delicious foods to other participants
Cooking Classes
Educational speakers
Documentary film screenings
Health immersions
…and more
While most of the events on our Meetup Calendar are PBNM.org events, we are also pleased to help expose our members to events hosted by others, but which are aligned with our specific objective, which is, of course, to provide our members with as much useful information and as many resources as possible about the power of a whole food plant-based dietary pattern to promote optimal health. Such events will indicate who is actually conducting the event.

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