Posts Tagged ‘microbiome’

yogurt1If you are like a lot of people, you’ve probably spent some time standing in front of the yogurt section of the dairy aisle, wondering what kind of yogurt to purchase. There are so many options to choose from that it can literally feel a little overwhelming. How is Greek yogurt different from regular yogurt? Is it worth the extra expense? Let’s take a look.

Both yogurts contain two primary ingredients–milk and bacterial cultures. The bacteria ferment the lactose (milk sugar) in the milk, producing lactic acid. After fermentation is complete, the liquid “whey” is strained off the solid yogurt. Regular yogurt is strained twice, leaving a little liquid in the end product (which is what you see accumulated on the top of your yogurt when you remove the lid). Greek yogurt is strained three times, removing most of the liquid. That extra straining is what gives Greek yogurt a thicker consistency (and stronger flavor) compared to regular yogurt.

Because so much liquid volume is lost through that third straining it takes about four cups of raw milk to produce one cup of Greek yogurt. In comparison, it only takes one cup of raw milk to make a cup of regular yogurt, which helps explain the higher cost associated with Greek yogurt.

Greek yogurt contains more protein and less carbohydrates, making it a better choice for diabetics. But no matter which type you select, read the food label. Compare types based on:

  • PROTEIN: A typical 6-ounce Greek yogurt has 15 to 20 grams, which is the same as 2-3 ounces of lean meat. Regular yogurt provides about 9 grams.
  • FAT: There’s fat in yogurt? Yes, depending on the type of milk used. Full-fat Greek yogurt packs 16 grams of saturated fat—or 80 percent of your total daily allowance in a 7 ounce container. Regular full-fat yogurt has 5 grams of saturated fat in an 8-ounce serving. If you’re going Greek, stick to low-fat and fat-free versions.
  • SODIUM: Greek yogurt is much lower in sodium than regular yogurt, making it a healthier choice if you’re watching your salt intake. One cup of Greek yogurt contains 65 mg of salt, while the same size cup of regular yogurt contains 159 mg of salt.
  • CALCIUM: Regular yogurt provides 30 percent of the federal government’s recommended daily amount. A 6-ounce cup of Greek yogurt typically supplies about 20 percent of the daily recommendation.
  • SUGAR: Sugar content is usually higher in regular yogurt, but much depends on additional ingredients added such as fruit and/or granola-type toppings.

Final Thoughts

Yogurt is an important probiotic, adding live bacterial strains to your colon that enhance and support your microbiome. No matter which type you choose, your body wins from that perspective alone. But experiment with the different types and flavors until you find one that fits both your nutritional and taste criteria.




Writer: Marie Economos, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Trumbull County.

Reviewer: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County

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The accumulation of bacteria

The accumulation of bacteria

Top 10 Points to Remember:

(1) The change in the human diet that has had THE BIGGEST impact on our health is (1) the drop in the amount of fiber we eat, and (2) the diversity of the fiber we eat.

(2) When you starve your good bacteria (by not eating plant foods/fiber), they have to eat something, so they start eating YOU! They eat the mucous lining in your colon, and once you begin to degrade that barrier, you expose it to potential problems (like leaky gut syndrome).

(3) Compare your food choices to a necklace—the longer the necklace (carbohydrate chain), the better the food source is for your gut bugs. Choose complex carbohydrates. Most will make it all the way down to the colon to become food for your good bacteria.

(4) Your good bacteria chomp on the food, multiply, and make MORE good bacteria. They also generate short chain fatty acids (SCFA). One in particular, butyrate, helps line and protect the colon.

(5) When you pick comfort foods (or other foods you crave) at the grocery store, they taste good on your tongue, but you also need to pick foods that your bacteria crave (dietary fiber, and lots of it).

(6) Look in your grocery cart and make sure you are feeding your good bacteria a variety (and quantity) of dietary fiber.

(7) When bacteria ferment fiber, it changes the pH of the colon. It makes it more acidic. People on low carb diets have a more alkaline pH. This provides opportunities for pathogens to bloom up somewhere down the road.

(8) Your microbiome is an ecosystem in your colon. If you starve it, you hurt it.

(9) Your good bacteria LOVE resistant starch. Examples include:

o Whole grains
o White rice, pasta, and potatoes after they are cooked and cooled
o Isolated entities—like potato starch
o Beans and legumes
o Some fruits and veggies

(10) Try to consume 15-20 grams of resistant starch every day (Americans average 5).

Written by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County

Reviewed by: Liz Smith, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension


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rainforestRainforests are Earth’s oldest living ecosystem. They cover only 6% of the Earth’s surface, yet they contain more than one half of the world’s plant and animal species. You may never get the opportunity to see a rainforest, but you are actually living very close to another type of ecosystem. It’s called a microbiome, and it resides primarily inside your gastrointestinal tract. It contains trillions of bacterial cells that help you digest food, as well as influencing your appetite, metabolism, immune system and mood. Your microbiome also affects your risk for disease, one of them being obesity. Your intestines literally house a “microbial ecosystem” that works hand-in-hand with your human cells. It is imperative that those two ecologies work in harmony and maintain a symbiotic relationship to support each other’s (and by extension your) health.

How can they do that?

The more diverse your microbiome, the easier it is to manage your weight. As humans, we share 99.9% of the same human DNA. But no two people share the same microbiome. We acquire different bacterial strains through our family, co-workers, pets, and perfect strangers. We also change it daily with our food choices. It is an ever-evolving process, and one that you actually have a lot of control over.

Research into the causes of obesity has shown that (1) composition of gut microbiome plays a significant role in weight gain. Obesity is also associated with (2) a decrease in the overall diversity of your gut bugs (even though the total number of “bugs” may remain the same). What essentially happens is that certain groups of (not-so-great) bacteria take the place of other (healthier) bacterial groups. The replacing bacteria are better at harvesting energy from food than the bacteria they replaced, thus resulting in increased calorie intake and an increase in weight.

Picture this: someone in your neighborhood builds a new home. To do that, the yard is ripped up while the home is being built. At some point, landscaping and new grass will be planted, but until that happens, you will probably see many weeds weedsgrowing in the dirt. That’s because the bad growth has lots of opportunity to survive with the good stuff gone. The same thing is true in your body. If you go on an antibiotic and kill off a lot of your good bacteria, it will give bad bacteria an opportunity to flourish. As well, if you make food choices that don’t support the colonies of good bacteria you need, others will take their place. That imbalance in your microbiome may ultimately make it easier to gain weight, and conversely, harder to lose it. Yikes!

What should I eat to maintain a healthy microbiome (and weight)?
The best food choices for a healthy microbiome are plant foods. Most whole plant foods contain decent amounts of fiber. Examples would be the seeds, strings, peels, skins, pulp, and bran present in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Those fibrous bits and pieces remain intact all the way to your colon, where they become food for the good bacteria that live there. Your gut bugs ferment them, break them down, and provide us with awesome byproducts such as butyric acid, acetic acid, and vitamins. Constantly eating fast food or foods high in fat and sugar may cause bad bacteria to bloom and good ones to disappear.

The Takeaway

If pressed, most of us would admit that we need to eat more fruits and vegetables. They provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. They are also low in calories, so including them in your meals or as snacks will enhance your efforts to lose weight. But plant foods are the primary fuel for our gut bugs, and improved bacterial colonies enhance our efforts to lose weight as well. Gut bugs and microbiome. Who knew??

Written by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA.

Reviewed by: Liz Smith, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


Click to access Turnbaugh_Nature2006.pdf

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microbes1The study of bacteria has interested doctors and researchers for centuries. However, that interest was primarily focused on “bad” bacteria—pathogens that make us sick and cause disease. Over the last 20 years, there has been a tremendous increase in the study of “good” bacteria and its effect on our guts.

In 1990, approximately 125 studies were published on the topic of microbiome (a term used to reference the bacteria, viruses, and archaea that live on us and in us). In 2009, studies of microbiome numbered over 500. Why all this interest now? Hippocrates, considered to be the father of western (modern) medicine, said in 400 B.C that “death sits in the bowels.” We’ve long recognized the importance of the intestines in human health. But now we have state-of-the-art technology that allows us to actually study gastrointestinal microbiota.

Bacterial cells outnumber human cells 10-1. They colonize every surface of the body exposed to the external environment. They are on our skin, reproductive organs/urinary system, respiratory system, and gastrointestinal tract (GIT). The most colonized of the four is the GIT—your colon alone contains over 70% of all the bacteria in your body.

Where Do They Come From?

The only time you were “bacteria-free” was when you were in the womb. Bacterial colonization begins at childbirth. When a baby travels through the birth canal, it is exposed to microbes (bacteria) present in mom’s gut and vagina. If mom chooses to breastfeed, her milk provides another healthy dose of microbes. Both of those exposures are extremely protective to the child, as well as supportive of the establishment of a healthy immune system. Last, but not least, is exposure to microbes from the child’s environment; such as household dirt and bacteria from other family members, friends, and/or pets. It also includes exposure to bacteria from outside sources. By the time a child turns three, his or her microbiome is pretty well established.

Why Should We Care?

Establishing a healthy microbiome is important because:
• It supports your immune system,
• It helps protect you from disease,
• It helps detoxify your body,
• It affects how much you weigh.

An unbalanced microbiome may:
• Increase risk for inflammation
• Increase risk for chronic disease
• Increase risk for obesity, asthma, and allergies

How Can You Protect–and Increase–Your Gut Bugs?

1. Phase out the antibacterial products. Your home is not a surgical center. Continue to hand wash frequently to reduce risk for illness, but use regular soap and water (not antibacterial products). Family members don’t need to be wet-wiped every day.

2. Go outside. Open the windows of your house or office whenever possible. Fresh air and sunlight are nature’s natural antibiotics. They will protect you far more than keeping your house hermetically sealed and sanitized.

3. Eat less of the foods that kill off healthy bacteria. They include, but are not limited to, processed foods, sugar, saturated fat, and meat products that come from animals fed antibiotics.

4. Use antibiotics as little as possible. Antibiotics are great for killing bad bacteria, such as strep. However, when you use an antibiotic, you also kill off a lot of good bacteria in your gut. If an antibiotic is absolutely necessary, use it. Otherwise, let the illness (such as cold or flu) run its course.

5. Eat more probiotics. Yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, sourdough bread, and kimchi are some examples.

6. Eat more plant foods! Plant foods contain fiber, which gives your gut bacteria something to chew on, break down, digest and extract nutrients from (fermentation). Fermentation produces by-products such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA provide energy to your intestinal cells and help keep the lining of your colon healthy.

Growing a Body of Knowledge

Remember Pig Pen from the Charley Brown comic series? How about the John Travolta movie “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble?” Establishing a healthy “microbiome medium” lies somewhere between living in perpetual dust clouds and a germ-free bubble. In the next installment of Microbiome: the Mystery and Magic of Your Gut Bugs, we will look at the connection between obesity and your microbiome.

Written by:
Donna Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu
Reviewed by: Liz Smith, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792171/

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microbes2Many of us learned about cells in high school biology class. We learned that bodies are made up of different kinds of cells—skin, muscle, blood, etc. But most of us did not learn about the trillions of non-human, microbial cells.

Those cells, or “microbiome,” are important for maintaining human health; if things go wrong with our microbes it can contribute to our risk for disease. But what is the microbial make-up of a healthy human being? What types of microbes are present, and what are they doing?

Microbe communities can be very different from one person to another. There is even a difference from one location to another on the same individual. Our microbial genomes record what we have eaten, where we have lived, and who we have been in contact with. We literally have microbial “ecosystems” in and on different parts of our bodies that differ drastically from one to another and supply a wide range of functions.

The scientific study of microbiology grew out of society’s desire to control pathogens and infectious diseases. Doctors always thought microbes were bad things to be gotten rid of, such as measles or strep throat. But most microbes do NOT make us sick. We are starting to recognize that microbes also keep us healthy, unless they become unbalanced. “Unbalance” can occur because of antibiotic usage, an unhealthy diet, or other variable. The end result may be an increased risk for chronic disease or health conditions such as:

• Acne
• Asthma
• Autism
• Cancer
• Autoimmune disease
• Diabetes
• Inflammatory bowel diseases
• Obesity

The study of microbiome is still in its infancy, but major strides have been made since the inception of the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) in 2005. “Knowing which microbes live in various ecological niches in healthy people allows us to better investigate what goes awry in diseases that are thought to have a microbial link,” such as Crohn’s disease, ulcers and obesity, said George Weinstock of Washington University in St. Louis, one of the project’s principal investigators.

For example, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine found fewer types of vaginal microbes in pregnant women (as opposed to non-pregnant women). The take-away? A pregnant, female body naturally reduces the diversity of her microbial species in the weeks leading up to birth so that the newborn — who developed in a sterile womb — can be exposed to the proper intestinal and vaginal bacteria when it goes through the birth canal. Exposure to mother’s bacteria is the signal to the infant’s immune system to start. A baby born by C-section does not get the same exposure to mom’s microbiome, and because of this difference, may be more likely to develop allergies and asthma.

Over the next year, we will examine the influence of “gut bugs” on nutrition, health, and behavior. Hopefully you will learn a lot more about your personal microbes and how food choice affects microbial levels and your risk for chronic disease.

Written by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Bridgette Kidd, Healthy People Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, kidd.149@osu.edu




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