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Could A Daily Cup Of Cocoa Help Prevent Memory Loss?

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Cocoa contains bioactive ingredients -called flavanols –which have the ability to reverse memory decline that comes with age, according to a new study published by the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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The new study was applied on a group of volunteers aged 50 to 69, after having a daily cup of specially-prepared cocoa. The scientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) that published the results found that increasing dietary cocoa flavanols can improve brain function and even lead to better scores in memory tests.

The team of scientists, who were led by Adam M. Brickman of Columbia University’s Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, said that this study is the first to reveal a ‘causal link’ between ingested flavanols and changes in memory and brain function.

Memory tests were executed before and after the volunteers started with the drink. Age-related memory decline is linked to the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus which is a different part of the brain than the one affecting people with early Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative diseases. The dentate gyrus is the region of memory formation whose performance typically declines as one ages.

cocoa

Image credit: Lab of Scott A. Small – the press-release

According to the study, a group of 37 healthy volunteers aged from 50 to 69 were randomly divided in two. The first one drank the cocoa with 900mg of flavanols, while the other with only 10mg. The experiment lasted for 3 months.

The Huffington Post reported:

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“The high-flavanol group notched up major memory improvements and an increase in blood flow to the dentate gyrus.”

The senior author Scott Small, a professor of neurology at Columbia University’s Medical Center in New York, said in a press release:

“If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30 or 40-year-old.

I suppose that our study does show, for the first time, that flavanols improves the function of humans’ dentate gyrus, particularly in ageing humans.”

However Professor Small also warned that much larger studies are needed to confirm the findings. So, the next step for the researchers is to test it on larger groups in order to better understand the relationship between flavanols, the hippocampus, and memory. You can found out about the experiment in the following video:

Discussing the same idea, Alice G. Walton wrote in Forbes:

“Previous studies have suggested similar effects, however, and a separate study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is currently testing the effects of flavanols on cardiovascular health. Flavanols including epicatechin are also found in tea, apples, grapes, blackberries and cherries. Mars already markets a flavanol-rich supplement called CocoaVia.”

On the other side, the scientists had to clarify the difference before and after applying the study, that’s why the volunteers had to pass special memory tests – a 20-minute pattern-recognition exercise, designed to assess a type of memory controlled by the dentate gyrus. After scanning the brains of the 37 volunteers, the results were very satisfying.

 Image credit: Columbia University Medical Center

Image credit: Columbia University Medical Center

The lead author Adam M. Brickman said:

“When we imaged our research subjects’ brains, we found noticeable improvements in the function of the dentate gyrus in those who consumed the high-cocoa-flavanol drink.”

The research was supported by a large US food corporation, Mars, Inc., which prepared the drink and also funded the study in part.

During his talk with The Independent, cognitive neuropsychologist Dr. Ashok Jansari said:

“Given a globally ageing population, by isolating a particular area of the brain that is weakening in functioning as we grow older, and demonstrating that a non-pharmacological intervention can improve learning of new information, the authors have made a significant contribution to helping us improve our cognitive health.”

Experts have added that the study does not mean people should eat more chocolate, as the product used in the experiment was a specially made drink formulated from cocoa beans. Chocolate is not a great source to get the compounds we need.

A more appropriate dark chocolate will usually have from 45 to 80% cocoa, while the chocolate found in the average candy bar has only 5 to 7%. Future studies may explain more about this particular issue, and maybe, in coming years we will see stores with new kinds of high-potency cocoa products.

Sources:

(1) Nature

(2) The Huffington Post

(3) Forbes

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CDC’s Recommendation for Hepatitis B Vaccination in Infants. Are There More Risks Than Benefits?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The CDC’s recommendation for universal hepatitis B vaccination of infants puts most children at unnecessary risk of harm from the vaccine. By Jeremy R. Hammond, Contributing Writer, Children’s Health Defense

  • Reflect On:

    How much do physicians really know about vaccines?

Parents are told by public health officials and the media that they should vaccinate their children strictly according to the schedule recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC’s routine childhood vaccine schedule is based on solid science, we are told, and it is imperative that all parents comply to reduce the societal disease burden. Anyone who dares to criticize or dissent from public vaccine policy is characterized as dangerously ignorant and irrational. A recent New York Times editorial, for example, characterized anyone who does so as “the enemy” and described all vaccines on the CDC’s schedule as “crucial shots”.

So is the HepB vaccine really necessary for all infants? Why does the CDC treat this vaccine as a one-size-fits-all solution when the vast majority of infants are not at significant risk of infection?

But is it really “crucial” for all children to be so vaccinated? To highlight the rationality and importance of this question, consider the example of the CDC’s recommendation that all newborn babies receive a hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine, typically on their very first day of life. Many parents naturally wonder why it is considered so necessary to vaccinate their baby against a virus that is primarily transmitted sexually or through sharing of needles among injection drug users. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) can also be transmitted to infants at birth if the mother is a carrier, but screening to identify infected pregnant women is done routinely, and an alternative effective treatment has long been available for infants born to carriers. So is the HepB vaccine really necessary for all infants? Why does the CDC treat this vaccine as a one-size-fits-all solution when the vast majority of infants are not at significant risk of infection?

To answer this question, we need look no further than the CDC’s own stated rationale for this policy, which was adopted in 1991. Close examination of the CDC’s reasoning and the evolution of this policy illustrates that, far from being based on science, the decision by the CDC’s vaccine advisory committee to adopt this policy was faith-based and concerned primarily not with the health of infants, but with the agency’s overriding goal of achieving high vaccination rates.Comparing the policy with the science reveals that parents are right to be concerned because the policy unnecessarily puts children who are not at risk of infection at risk of harm from the vaccine.

The Risk to Infants of Hepatitis B Infection

To place the CDC’s stated rationale for this policy into proper context, it’s important to understand a little bit about the nature of the virus and the risk it poses generally to the population and particularly to infants.

According to the CDC’s “Pink Book”, while most acute hepatitis B infections among adults are effectively dealt with by the host’s immune system, chronic infection is a known cause of liver disease, contributing significantly to the disease burden of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinomas. Most children and about half of adults with acute infection do not show any symptoms. Those with chronic infection may also be asymptomatic but are known as “carriers” since they still carry and can spread the virus.

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Subpopulations at highest risk therefore include sexually active individuals, injection drug users, health care workers, and children who are born to infected mothers…

Transmission of the virus occurs through infected blood or other bodily fluids. Subpopulations at highest risk therefore include sexually active individuals, injection drug users, health care workers, and children who are born to infected mothers or otherwise come into prolonged close contact with infected household members. Mother-to-infant transmission usually occurs during birth. If an environmental surface is contaminated, the virus can remain stable and infectious for seven or more days, so indirect transmission, while unlikely, is also possible. Replication of the virus occurs only in liver tissue.

Most adults completely recover from acute infection and come away with lasting immunity. However, 1 percent to 2 percent of acute cases result in fulminant disease. Among these cases, 63 percent to 93 percent will result in death. About 200 to 300 deaths occur each year in the US due to severe HBV disease.

Before routine childhood vaccination, more than 80 percent of acute infections occurred in adults, about 8 percent in adolescents, and about 4 percent in children infected through perinatal transmission. Although at lower risk of becoming infected, such children are at higherrisk of their infection becoming chronic, disproportionately accounting for about 24 percent of chronic infections. While chronic infection occurs in only about 5 percent of adult cases, the risk of an acute infection becoming chronic increases as the age of the host decreases. An estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of infections occurring in children aged one to five years become chronic, and for infants infected from their mothers, the rate is as high as 90 percent.

An estimated 25 percent of individuals with chronic infection will die prematurely from liver disease. About 3,000 to 4,000 people die from HBV-related cirrhosis each year, and another 1,000 to 1,500 die from HBV-related liver cancer.

It is primarily these fatal outcomes in adults—the few hundred deaths from fulminant disease and the few thousand deaths from liver disease—that public health officials have aimed to prevent through mass vaccination.

The hepatitis B virus has a number of different antigen components. (This gets a bit technical, but it’s important context, so bear with me.) The CDC defines an “antigen” as any foreign substance in the body, including but not limited to viruses or bacteria, which is capable of causing disease, and the presence of which triggers an immune response, including but not limited to the production of antibodies. As the CDC’s Pink Book explains, “Several well-defined antigen-antibody systems are associated with HBV infection.” These are the HBV core antigen (HBcAg), another protein contained in the viral core called the HBV e antigen (HBeAg), and a surface antigen (HBsAg).

The presence of HBsAg in the blood indicates infection, but only the complete virus is infectious, not individual antigen components. The presence in the blood of antibodies to this antigen, called “anti-HBs”, is considered indicative of immunity. Infection may also stimulate production of antibodies to HBcAg, or “anti-HBc”, the presence of which indicates past infection. The presence of anti-HBc of the immunoglobulin M class (IgM-anti-HBc) indicates recent infection. Chronic infection is determined by a positive result for HBsAg along with a negative result for IgM-anti-HBc.

The HepB vaccine contains just one viral antigen, HBsAg. Unlike natural infection, the vaccine does not stimulate production of anti-HBc.

For nearly three decades now, the CDC has treated vaccination during early childhood as a one-size-fits-all solution despite the variability in individual immune responses, individual risk from the virus, and individual risk from the vaccine.

Despite the advancements of modern science, much remains unknown about the human immune system and the full impact of viral infection or vaccination. And reading through the CDC’s Pink Book chapter on hepatitis B raises as many questions as it answers. Why do some individuals develop protective anti-HBs to fight off infection while others don’t and hence become carriers? What is the clinical significance of the development of anti-HBc in addition to anti-HBs versus the development only of the latter? In what other ways does natural immunity differ from vaccine-conferred immunity? Why would an individual’s immune system—and particularly children’s immune systems—fail to generate protective antibodies in response to the live virus, yet still be capable of doing so in response to the vaccine? Why do some individuals also fail to develop protective antibodies in response to the vaccine?

One would think that such questions would be relevant for understanding how to develop more effective methods of disease prevention, but answers to them cannot be found in the Pink Book. Indeed, answers to them are not readily found by perusing the broader scientific literature. The most obvious reason for this curiosity is the influence of the pharmaceutical industry and government policies on the direction of scientific research.

For nearly three decades now, the CDC has treated vaccination during early childhood as a one-size-fits-all solution despite the variability in individual immune responses, individual risk from the virus, and individual risk from the vaccine.

Summary

The vast majority of children in the US today are not at significant risk of hepatitis B infection, and yet the CDC nevertheless recommends universal infant vaccination.

Why?

To answer that question, in part two of this series, we will examine the evolution of the CDC’s HepB vaccine recommendations, revealing how the agency began recommending vaccination for pregnant women and infants at high risk of infection despite a complete lack of randomized, placebo-controlled trials demonstrating that these practices are safe.

Then in part three, we’ll examine the CDC’s stated rationale for its 1991 policy shift to recommending that infants be universally vaccinated, typically on the first day of their lives. Part three will show how the CDC itself concluded that its policy was a failure because of low vaccination rates among high-risk groups, as well as illuminate how the agency’s goal of achieving high vaccination rates overrode any considerations of individual risk-benefit analysis, thus placing millions of children at unnecessary risk of neurodevelopmental harm from the vaccine.

Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. CHD is planning many strategies, including legal, in an effort to defend the health of our children and obtain justice for those already injured. Your support is essential to CHD’s successful mission.

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Health

Juice Fasts: Hype-Driven Fad or Evidence-Based Health Habit?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    This article was originally written and published at Greenmedinfo.com, written by the GreenMedInfo Research Group and posted here with permission.

  • Reflect On:

    Juice fasts, formerly relegated to groups on the fringes of society, are now embraced by mainstream culture. Once only a ritual rite of passage for those embedded in natural medicine circles, juice fasts have now become ubiquitous, marketed by health gurus, infomercials, and integrative medical doctors alike.

Juice fasts, formerly relegated to groups on the fringes of society, are now embraced by mainstream culture. Once only a ritual rite of passage for those embedded in natural medicine circles, juice fasts have now become ubiquitous, marketed by health gurus, infomercials, and integrative medical doctors alike.

Despite an abundance of anecdotal evidence and the testimonies of countless juicing enthusiasts, well-designed controlled studies on the subject have remained scant (1).

Gut Microbiota: The Gateway to Good Health

The gut microbiota, or the one hundred trillion commensal bacteria that inhabit our gastrointestinal tracts, may be the vehicle through which juice fasts elicit their beneficial effects. Not only is a disturbed microbiota implicated in the pathogenesis of obesity and metabolic disorders, but weight reduction has been reported to engender improvements in levels of bacterial species that contribute to inflammatory processes (2). In particular, “Obesity is associated with lower bacterial diversity, phylum and genus-level changes, and altered representation of bacterial genes and metabolic pathways involved in nutrient harvest” (2, p. 394).

One study performed by Remely and colleagues (2015) examined the effects of a traditional diet in an Austrian monastery, comprised of small amounts of soup, cereal, fruit and vegetable juices, and herbal teas (2). This intervention, implemented in obese subjects, significantly increased microbial diversity as well as numbers of Bifidobacteria, Akkermansia, and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. Mucin-degrading Akkermansia, which have high mucosal adherence and are correlated with a healthy gut microbial community, are depleted in inflammatory disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (3, 4).

The researchers also reported that populations of Enterobacteria and Lactobacilli associated with inflammation declined after the intervention (2). The authors concluded, “Our results show that caloric restriction affects the gut microbiota by proliferating mucin-degrading microbial subpopulations,” demonstrating that juice fasts may operate through this mechanism (p. 394). Other models of caloric restriction have similarly yielded decreases in Streptococcacae, which incite mild inflammation, and increases in Lactobacillus species, which competitively inhibit pathogens and produce declines in inflammatory cytokine levels (5).

Polyphenol-Induced Microbiome Changes Favorably Influence Health

Fruits and vegetables represent the richest reservoir of phenolic compounds, which resist absorption in the small intestine and instead are metabolized by the colonic bacteria into compounds which modulate populations of gut flora. Researchers speculate that the microbiota may be a previously under-recognized avenue through which polyphenols promote health, improve metabolic parameters, and mitigate inflammation (6).

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For instance, when rats are given quercetin, a flavonoid found in plant foods such as apples and onions, microbial dysbiosis induced by a high-fat high-sucrose diet is inhibited (7, 8). The rats in this experiment likewise exhibited suppressed growth of bacterial species correlated with diet-induced obesity, such as Erysipelotrichaceae, Eubacterium cylindroides, and Bacillus, alongside an attenuated ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes (7). Further, when administered in concert, quercetin and trans-resveratrol prevented weight gain in a rodent model, whereas individually, they each improved insulin resistance (7). In isolation, supplementation with trans-resveratrol also modified expression of tight-junction proteins and inflammatory gene profiles, influencing intestinal permeability in ways likely mediated by the microbiota (7).

In another study, mice receiving Concord grape polyphenols with a high-fat diet exhibited improved profiles of glucose tolerance, adiposity, and weight gain, and had enhanced expression of fasting-induced adipocyte factor, which restricts triglyceride storage (6). The mice receiving grape polyphenols similarly displayed reduced levels of inflammatory markers, such as the inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin (IL)-6, the endotoxin released from gram-negative bacteria called lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) (6). In addition, grape polyphenols improved intestinal barrier function by up-regulating the genes for occludin and proglucagon, the former of which is a tight junction architectural protein, and the latter of which is a precursor to proteins that maintain mucosal barrier integrity and promote insulin production (6).

Importantly, grape polyphenols induced dramatic alterations in the community of commensal microbes. This botanical reduced the ratio of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes, which is significant since an increased ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes, which is induced by a high-fat, high sugar diet, has been shown to increase host adiposity when transplanted into germ-free mice (9, 10, 11). The grape polyphenols also significantly augmented populations of Akkermansia muciniphila, an obligate anaerobic species which blooms after gastric bypass surgery and promotes weight loss when transplanted into germ-free recipients (11, 12). In addition, cross-sectional studies have underscored that higher levels of A. municiphila appear in lean individuals relative to obese individuals (13). Because A. muciniphila is vulnerable to reactive oxygen species, the free radical scavenging capacity of grape polyphenols can create a more hospitable environment for this species and other obligate anaerobes that benefit health (6).

Likewise, cranberry polyphenols induced similar anti-diabetic effects in mice fed a high-fat, high sucrose (HFHS) diet (14). Administration of cranberry extract improved insulin sensitivity and glucose handling, lowering intestinal, plasma, and hepatic triglyceride levels, and reduced intestinal and hepatic inflammation and oxidative stress (14). Cranberry extract similarly attenuated circulating levels of LPS, effectively preventing the HFHS-induced metabolic endotoxemia that contributes to the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease (14). Moreover, like grape polyphenols, treatment with cranberry extract led to dramatic elevations in A. muciniphila, which confers protection against metabolic syndrome features (14).

Other studies have elucidated that dealcoholized red wine polyphenols and cocoa-derived flavanols elicit similar effects on the gut microbiota (15). Collectively, polyphenols “modulate the human gut microbiota by decreasing the abundance of Firmicutes and increasing Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus and Verrucomicrobia, which is also a key difference in the gut microbiota found in obese and lean individuals” (15, p.1).

Based on the aforementioned findings, researchers suggest that myriad distinct polyphenols and bioactive compounds may exert similar effects, both directly and indirectly, on the gut microbiome. They propose that diverse classes of dietary antioxidants may engender health benefits by conferring a survival advantage for certain commensal species (6). According to Roopchand and colleagues (2015), “We propose that this altered gut microbiota is, in part, responsible for the altered intestinal gene expression, epithelial integrity, and inflammatory markers, which then leads to decreased fat deposition and glucose absorption, along with increased insulin secretion” (6, p. 2857).

Changes in Gut Microbiota After a Juice Fast

Based on the premise that changes in microbial composition influence health, researchers designed a study to examine whether a three-day juice fast, followed by reversion to a customary diet for two weeks, would favorably influence the microbiota composition of twenty healthy subjects with low fruit and vegetable consumption (15). A root juice mix was blended from beet, apple, ginger, and lemon, whereas a citrus juice mix consisted of apple, pineapple, mint, and lemon, and the green juice mixes contained romaine lettuce, apple, cucumber, celery, lemon, and small fractions of kale, parsley, and spinach (15). Also included was a mix consisting of filtered water, lemon, cayenne, almond, vanilla bean, dates, and sea salt (15).

Whereas proportions of certain intestinal bacteria, such as Fusobacteria, Actinobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, and Proteobacteria remained consistent, a significant decrease in Firmicutes and increases in both Cyanobacteria and Bacteroidetes were observed in subjects undergoing the juice fast compared to baseline (15). Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes represent the two most abundant bacterial phyla in human populations, representing 40-60% and 20-40% of the microbiota, respectively (16).

Increased Firmicutes in relation to Bacteroidetes has been correlated with obesity and body mass index (BMI) in some human studies (17). According to researchers, “Comparisons of the distal gut microbiota of genetically obese mice and their lean littermates, as well as those of obese and lean human volunteers have revealed that obesity is associated with changes in the relative abundance of the two dominant bacterial divisions, the Bacteroidetes and the Firmicutes” (18, p.1027). The microbiome characteristic of the obese phenotype, in turn, has been correlated with increased harvesting of energy from the diet, and produces obesity when germ-free mice are colonized with the obese microbiota (18).

This trend, which has been supported by some studies and refuted by others, was reinforced by the present juice fast, where a significant positive correlation between weight at day four and Firmicutes proportion, and a significant negative correlation between weight at day four and Bacteroidetes proportion was observed (13, 15, 18). These changes in microbiota may mitigate or perpetuate metabolic syndrome features by regulating gut barrier function, as animal models have confirmed that a compromised gut barrier enables translocation of bacteria and antigens, which evokes inflammation from the gut-associated sub-mucosal lymphoid system (13).

In addition, Bacteroides species such as B. ovatus, B. thetaiotaomicron, and B. uniformis can ferment a wide array of indigestible complex polysaccharides, such as fruit- and vegetable-based xylan and pectin (19). These carbohydrates serve as fermentable substrates or prebiotics, which are metabolized into health promoting, gut sealing, cardioprotective short chain fatty acids. According to Flint and colleagues (2012), “Certain dominant species, notably among the Bacteroidetes, are known to possess very large numbers of genes that encode carbohydrate active enzymes and can switch readily between different energy sources in the gut depending on availability” (19, p. 289). The enrichment in Bacteroides species after the juice fast reinforces the prebiotic effects of juice, since similar increases in Bacteroides species such as B. acidifaciens, B. ovatus, and B. xylanisolvens were witnessed in studies of subjects with metabolic syndrome who included resistant starch in their diets (20).

In one particular study, flourishing of Bacteroides species was accompanied by significant decreases in fasting glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin, cholesterol levels, body fat, waist circumference, and pro-inflammatory markers, which speaks to the metabolic benefits incurred with strategies that augment Bacteroides populations (20). In addition, another rodent study showed that B. thetaiotaomicron combined with probiotics decreased mean body weight and reduced levels of postprandial triglycerides in rats fed a high fat diet, further illustrating the benefit of these specific microbes (21).

After the juice fast, populations of Bacteroides, Odoribacteri, Paraprevotella, Barnesiella, and Halospirulina were all enhanced at day four compared to baseline, whereas Eisenbergiella, Dialister, Ruminiclostridium, Subdoligranulum, and Streptococcus were all suppressed at day four compared to baseline, illuminating the immediate and dramatic effect that fruit and vegetable polyphenols can elicit on the microbiota (15). These other genera, however, besides Streptococcus, returned to baseline levels at day seventeen, indicating the need for regular polyphenol consumption to maintain favorable microbiome changes (15).

Effect of a Juice Fast on Inflammation

Although plasma antioxidant capacity remained unchanged after the juice fast, lipid peroxidation, as measured by urine malondialdehyde (MDA), significantly decreased by 40% at day four compared to baseline (15). The researchers attribute this to either the low-fat nature of the juice fast, such that fewer lipids are available for oxidative degradation, or the antioxidant protection conferred by juice polyphenols for lipids during digestion (15).

This latter hypothesis is supported by research demonstrating that polyphenol-rich juices containing cyanidin glycosides and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) supplemented for two weeks led to decreases in plasma MDA (22). In addition, red wine polyphenols have been shown to completely prevent the rise in plasma MDA that occurs due to oxidized fats (23). Similarly, rosmarinic acid, a polyphenol in oregano, significantly reduces MDA concentration in plasma and urine after burger consumption (24). Thus, the high polyphenol content in juices may protect against the carcinogenic and atherosclerotic effects of lipid peroxidation.

In addition, after the juice fast, day four nitric oxide (NO) concentrations were increased by five-fold and three-fold, in urine and plasma, respectively, compared to baseline, indicating the vasodilatory effect of fruit and vegetable nitrate content (15). Optimizing NO levels may prevent cardiovascular disease, since disturbed activity of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) is implicated in the pathophysiology of endothelial dysfunction, impaired arterial compliance, and hypertension. This is consistent with prior work which elucidated that nitrate-rich beet juice improves vascular function in hypercholesterolemic patients, as illustrated by increases in flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) and aortic pulse wave velocity and by decreases in platelet-monocyte aggregates compared to placebo (25). These changes may also be mediated by the microbiome, and nitrate-reducing bacteria specifically, since in one study, nitrate treatment modified the proportions of 78 bacterial taxa in the salivary microbiome compared to placebo (25).

Lastly, during the juice intervention, significant decreases in body weight and body mass index (BMI) occurred which persisted after the two-week follow-up period (15). Well-being scores remained consistent with baseline at day three, but there was a significant increase in well-being at the conclusion of the study (15). However, both NO and MDA concentrations returned to initial baseline values at day seventeen, suggesting that continued consumption of polyphenols is required to maintain anti-inflammatory benefits (15).

Although the fiber is largely removed from juice, this study highlights that juicing still elicits a prebiotic effect due to its polyphenol content, and that it can therefore favorably modify the microbiome by selectively stimulating the growth of beneficial commensal bacteria. Thus, juicing, with an emphasis on lower glycemic vegetables, may be both a prudent adjunctive strategy for people with gastrointestinal distress who cannot tolerate large quantities of fiber, and for individuals with metabolic derangements.

References

1. Horne, B.D., Muhlestein, J.B., & Anderson, J.L. (2015). Health effects of intermittent fasting: hormesis or harm? A systematic review. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102, 464–470, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.109553  (2015).

2. Remely, M. et al. (2015). Increased gut microbiota diversity and abundance of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Akkermansia after fasting: a pilot study. Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, 127, 394–398, doi: 10.1007/s00508-015-0755-1

3. Png, C.W. et al. (2010). Mucolytic bacteria with increased prevalence in IBD mucosa augment in vitro utilization of mucin by other bacteria. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 105(11), 2420-2428.

4. Belzer, C., & de Vos, W.M. (2012). Microbes inside-from diversity to function: the case of Akkermansia. International Society of Microbial Ecology Journal, 8(8), 1449-1458.

5. Zhang, C. et al. (2013). Structural modulation of gut microbiota in life-long calorie-restricted mice. Natural Communications, 4, 2163.

6. Roopchand, D. E. et al. (2015). Dietary Polyphenols Promote Growth of the Gut Bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila and Attenuate High-Fat Diet-Induced Metabolic Syndrome. Diabetes 64, 2847–2858, doi: 10.2337/db14-1916

7. Etxeberria, U. et al. (2015). Reshaping faecal gut microbiota composition by the intake of trans-resveratrol and quercetin in high-fat sucrose diet-fed rats. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 26(6), 651-660. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2015.01.002. 41-46.

8. Lee, J., & Mitchell, A.E. (2012). Pharmacokinetics of quercetin absorption from apples and onions in healthy humans. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 60, 3874-3881.

9. Carmody, R.N. et al. (2015). Diet dominates host genotype in shaping the murine gut micorbiota. Cell Host Microbe, 2015, 72-84.

10. Turnbaugh, P.J. et al. (2008). Diet-induced obesity is linked to marked but reversible alterations in the mouse distal gut microbiome. Cell Host Microbe, 3, 213-223.

11. Liou, A.P. et al. (2013). Conserved shifts in the gut microbiota due to gastric bypass reduce host weight and adiposity. Science of Translational Medicine, 5, 178ra141.

12. Zhang, H. et al. (2009). Human gut microbiota in obesity and after gastric bypass. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 106, 2365-2370.

13. Stenman, L. K., Burcelin, R. & Lahtinen, S. Establishing a causal link between gut microbes, body weight gain and glucose metabolism in humans – towards treatment with probiotics. Beneficial microbes 1–12, doi:10.3920/BM2015.0069 (2015).

14. Anhê, F.F. et al. (2015). A polyphenol-rich cranberry extract protects from diet-induced obesity, insulin resistance and intestinal inflammation in association with increased Akkermansia spp. population in the gut microbiota of mice. Gut, 64, 872-883.

15. Henning, S.M., et al. (2017). Health benefit of vegetable/fruit juice-based diet: Role of microbiome. Scientific Reports, 7. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-02200-6

16. Million, M. et al. (2013). Gut bacterial microbiota and obesity. Clinical microbiology and infection: the official publication of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, 19, 305–313, doi: 10.1111/1469-0691.12172

17. Koliada, A. et al. (2017). Association between body mass index and Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio in an adult Ukrainian population. BioMed Central Microbiology. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12866-017-1027-1

18. Turnbaugh, P.J. et al. (2006). An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature, 444, 1027–1031, doi:10.1038/nature05414

19. Flint, H.J. et al. (2012). Microbial degradation of complex carbohydrates in the gut. Gut Microbes, 3(4), 289-306.

20. Upadhyaya, B. et al. (2016). Impact of dietary resistant starch type 4 on human gut microbiota and immunometabolic functions. Scientific Reports, 6, 28797, doi: 10.1038/srep28797  (2016).

21. Olli, K. et al. (2016). Independent and Combined Effects of Lactitol, Polydextrose, and Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron on Postprandial Metabolism and Body Weight in Rats Fed a High-Fat Diet. Frontiers in Nutrition, 3, 15, doi: 10.3389/fnut.2016.00015

22. Bub, A. et al. (2003). Fruit juice consumption modulates antioxidative status, immune status and DNA damage. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 14(2), 90-98.

23. Gorelik, S. et al. (2007). A novel function of red wine polyphenols in humans: prevention of absorption of cytotoxic lipid peroxidation products. The Official Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 22(1).

24. Li, Z. et al. (2010). Antioxidant-rich spice added to hamburger meat during cooking results in reduced meat, plasma, and urine malondialdehyde concentrations. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91, 1180–1184. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28526

25. Velmurugan, S. et al. (2016). Dietary nitrate improves vascular function in patients with hypercholesterolemia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 103, 25–38, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.116244

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“I Tried Every Diet & Nothing Worked” How Mucus Free Living Saved This Woman’s Life

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    After a year on a high-fat/high-protein lifestyle, Livia Macdonald nearly died. After adopting a 'mucus-free' lifestyle, a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, she cured her depression, anxiety, and health issues.

  • Reflect On:

    True healing takes time and commitment, and a willingness to face the emotions and trauma buried beneath our eating habits.

In 2011, Livia Macdonald was looking for answers to her health. At nearly 300 lbs and stuck in the despairs of chronic illness, she was ready to make a big change. The first step—divorcing allopathic medicine all together. Like many others stepping away from conventional medicine, Livia found herself enveloped by the siren of holistic healthcare, adopting the protocols laid out by natural-health celebrity and functional medicine doctor, Mark Hyman.

Following Hyman’s vitality guidelines, Livia cut out grains, starches, and processed sugars, while incorporating more vegetables, ‘healthy’ fats and animal products into her diet.

I was told that high protein and high fats is the way to go because our brain needs fat. I even made my own ghee and ate loads of coconut oil and eggs every day,” she told Collective Evolution.

At first the high-fat diet did wonders for Livia’s health. She felt more energized, had more mental clarity, and even began to drop weight. “I lost almost 80 lbs the first year on the [high-fat] diet,” she said.

But after twelve months of a high-fat lifestyle, Livia said her body began to shut down.

“I started to feel awful. Like everything turned on me. I got severe depression, anxiety, shaking, internal tremors, my organs started to really hurt, I had them checked and my pancreas had so many fat deposits all over it and my cholesterol was through the roof after being optimal. My entire body started to shut down and I became bed ridden for an entire year.”

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During this difficult time Livia came across the work of Dr. Robert Morse, a regenerative detoxification specialist well known in the natural health world. One of the foundations of Dr. Morse’s teachings is that man is a part of the primate family, and therefore we are primarily a frugivore species whose bodies thrive off of fruit, some vegetables and herbs. Livia says that a lightbulb went off in her head immediately upon reading Dr. Morse’s work.

My intuition was screaming that this was the missing piece of my puzzle, and that he speaks the absolute truth.”

Arnold Ehret wrote “The Mucusless Diet Healing System,” a resource for the chronically ill. Ehret’s protocols implement systematic fasting, as well as a diet of raw fruit and vegetables.

Next, Livia discovered the work of a 19th century natural health educator named Arnold Ehret. Ehret’s rise to fame came through his in depth knowledge about the body, specifically in healing chronic disease through systematic fasting and a diet similar to what Morse prescribes—raw fruit and vegetables.

His magnum opus, The Mucusless Diet Healing System, detailed his many years working in a clinic for the chronically ill while implementing his detox protocols to cure their diseases. Ehret’s work garnered a cult-following throughout the early 20th century and inspired the works of well-known detox specialists like Robert Morse himself, Paul Braggs, and Alfredo Bowman.

Adopting A Mucus-Free Lifestyle

But Livia said her biggest aha moment did not come until she discovered the work of South-African detox specialist  Alexandra Cousins. Inspired by the teachings of Robert Morse and Arnold Ehret, Cousins takes their healing principles and merges them with the shamanic and emotional work which she feels is the missing piece for those seeking full-bodied healing.

What I am witnessing is that trauma, PTSD, OCD, addictions are running everyone’s lives,” she writes in her Facebook group, Living Mucus Free. “The degree will vary but we all have it unless we have specifically addressed it. It is safe to say that all my clients, especially the chronically ill suffer from some form of unresolved trauma. If you have adrenal, hormonal, thyroid, or CFS issues, you are dealing with trauma residue. Living mucus free tends to bring up all our unresolved trauma. As we no longer consume foods that numb us or stimulate us, trauma rises to the surface so that it can be felt and dealt with.”

Having endured years of ill-health herself and having tried almost every diet trend out there, Cousins eventually found solace through a lifestyle termed Living Mucus Free (LMF). Mucus, for those wondering, is the residue which builds in the body from eating non-species-specific food, i.e., animal products, grains, or most cooked food. This mucus putrefies and plaques to the intestinal walls, eventually causing acids to build up in the body and damage our organs and glands.

LMF does away with mucus-causing foods while utilizing fruit, vegetables, herbs, systematic fasting, lymphatic movement, and various trauma-release therapies. Today, Cousins teaches what she’s learned at detox retreats around the globe and inspires thousands through her fierce social media presence.

Alexandra Cousins; founder ‘Living Mucus Free’. Cousins teaches people how to heal their chronic illness through the principles of cellular detoxification.

Sweet potato pizza via Living Mucus Free.

Photo by Livia Macdonald.

Livia says she has dedicated herself to the Living Mucus Free principles with great results, incorporating daily intermittent fasting, herbal tinctures, movement and breathing practices targeted at draining the lymphatic system, as well as raw food diet.

“I have been vegan one year and living mucus free for 10 months now. My anxiety and depression cleared up within two months, never to return. I have so much more clarity and mental focus now and that is getting better with time, not worse. I am slowly healing my endocrine system and gaining more energy back, I am no longer bed ridden since the first couple of months on this lifestyle.. all my spiritual and emotional stuff has surfaced to be healed and it’s truly a fascinating and incredible journey to learn the truth and realize just how wrongly we have been conditioned in such a deep way.”

The emphasis in Living Mucus Free is elimination—getting out of the body’s way and allowing it to do its job of eliminating acids, toxins, undigested food material and mucoid plaque. This is primarily achieved through daily dry fasting and eating watery, astringent fruit, which pulls out toxins as it transits the digestive tract.

Another principle to the Living Mucus Free lifestyle is eating little to no fat while detoxing, a principle that goes against many of the high-fat diet trends of today. But as Alexandra Cousins explains, in the case of those who are cellularly degenerate, fats only serve to cover up their issues. Fats are anti-inflammatory, buffering the acidity in the body but never pulling the acids out. A temporary bandaid for true healing.

Livia feels this is what happened in her case, and it is why she thinks so many initially feel great adopting a high-fat diet.

“I feel the high fat diet works for some because it suppresses and clogs their lymphatic system so naturally they will feel instant relief. But now that I understand how the body actually works, of course you are going to show improvement at the beginning if you remove junk food, sugars/grains, dairy etc.”

Cousins also speaks much to the notion that fats, salts, animal products, and processed foods are stimulating to our nervous system which cover up our emotional wounds, so when we begin to remove these foods and focus on detoxifying the body, we are suddenly faced with old emotions or traumatic memories, and this, Alex says, is mostly what Living Mucus Free is about.

“When we detox on a cellular level, we are consistently clearing old information, old cellular memory in the form of emotion which is held in physical waste stored in the body, replacing it with new cellular information,” Alex Cousins, Living Mucus Free.

For those looking for a quick fix, Living Mucus Free probably isn’t the right fit. Those living the Mucus Free lifestyle don’t make false promises that you will be healed after a 30 day detox. The journey is slow and steady, one with bumps along the way known as healing crises. During a healing crisis any number of uncomfortable symptoms can arise as the body expels old debris and toxins. But as Livia says, walking through the discomfort is the only way towards true healing.

I believe that our society has everything so backwards,” says Livia. “We are taught to chase feeling good, and run away from feeling bad, and Living Mucus Free isn’t going to feel good in the beginning as it brings up our weaknesses for healing.”

The reward, as promised by Cousins, Morse, Ehret, and thousands of others who have healed through regenerative detox principles, is beyond anything we can imagine:

Unimaginable health and vitality, weight loss and reversed ageing, improved energy levels, mental clarity and confidence, liberation from anxiety, mood swings and self-doubt, resolution of stored trauma and a deeper connection to source, vastly improved sex life and orgasms.”

Is Living Mucus Free really the key to such incredible feats? The answer, it seems, is to be discovered only by those willing to walk through the fire to find out.

For more information about Living Mucus Free, visit Alexandra Cousins’ website, Living Mucus Free.

For amazing mucus free recipes and to continue following Livia’s journey, check her out Instagram or Facebook, or her website, LiveAlittleRaw.

Help Support Collective Evolution

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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