Vitality & Longevity: Secrets to A Thriving Life – PART 4 Your Microbiome and Your health

Until recently, scientists focused almost solely on how microbes negatively affect humans. There has since been a realization that some microorganisms are actually beneficial to human health.

Let’s first of all define some terms:

  • The microbiota is the collection of microbes that live in and on the human body. The microbiota microorganisms contain about 30-50 trillion cells, bacteria make up the bulk  The human body itself contains about 37 trillion human cells.
  • The microbiome refers to the combined genetic material of the microorganisms in a particular environment

Top Ten Facts About the Microbiome

  1. Microbial genes significantly influence how the body operates.
  2. They impact aging, digestion, the immune system, mood and more
  3. There are approximately 3.3 million microbial genes in the human body (and 2,000 functional human genes)
  4. Microbial genes outnumber human genes by a ratio of 100:1
  5. 99% of human metabolic functions in the human body are coded for bacterial DNA )
  6. Everyone’s individual microbiome is as unique as their fingerprint and comprised of hundreds of different types of bacteria.
  7. The specific number of bacteria cells varies throughout the day and is always turning over.
  8. The microbes that live in your body are determined by what you’re exposed to and these colonies are constantly in flux. Geography, health status, stress, diet, age, gender, and everything you touch all affect the composition of your microbiota
  9. We depend on a vast army of microbes to stay alive: a microbiome that protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins
  10. Gut bacteria have the ability to produce the enzymes required to break down complicated nutrients.

Owning a Pet Can Help Improve Your Overall Health – PART 1

Did you know that owning a pet can help improve your overall health? Our dogs are part of our family. Some might say a little “too much” since they sleep in our bed and cuddle up on the couch with us!  See all the ways pet owners’ health can prosper—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

This series in divided into 3 parts – the physical, mental and emotional benefits of pet ownership.

PART 1 – Physical Benefits of Owning a Pet

  1. Exercising, caring for, and just being around pets can boost your overall physical health, lower your risk of developing certain heart-related issues, and ease your aches and pains.
  2. Pet owners have a better level of fitness. You won’t burn a whole lot of calories watching your pet fish swim around in its bowl. But if you have a dog, you’re likely getting more exercise than those who don’t. Turns out that knowing your pet needs exercise is a powerful motivator to get out and walk. About half of dog owners get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, five days per week. That’s the recommended amount. And the benefits don’t stop there. Dog walkers also walk more vigorously than when walking alone, and saw a greater improvement in fitness than those who walked with a human companion. People often talk each other out of getting exercise, but we don’t try to make those lame excuses to our pooches.
  3. Pets improve your heart health. Watching a cute kitten play or snuggling a dog can be heartwarming. It can also just be plain good for your heart. Pet owners are more likely to have lower resting heart rates and blood pressure than those who are pet-free. And having a dog can increase your likelihood of survival a year after a heart attack. Cats are particularly good for your circulation and cardiovascular health. Studies show that owning a cat at some point in your life can decrease your odds of dying from a heart attack. Cat owners also tend to have fewer strokes. While they fill your heart with love, pets also help keep your heart strong.
  4. Pet owners can see lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels.  This could be, in part, because pet owners tend to be more active. Pets also have been known to warn their diabetic owners ahead of dangerous drops in blood sugar—about one third of dogs with diabetic owners have shown this ability.
  5. Chronic pain sufferers find some relief when they own pets. Research is unclear as to why pets appear to make it easier to cope with painful conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Some suspect that caring for a pet helps take your mind off your discomfort and problems. Additionally, when you snuggle up against a warm pet, the heat can soothe pains associated with conditions like fibromyalgia.
  6. Animals help children build up stronger immunity. Research shows that children who grow up in a household with a dog, cat, or on a farm with livestock are less likely to have allergies. Although pets can be one of the common triggers for asthma, researchers say babies that grow up in a house with a cat are actually less likely to develop the condition when they’re older—unless the mother is allergic to cats.

Look for PART 2 in this series about how owning a pet can help your mental health.

 

Are Your Greens Clean?

Are your greens clean? There is another aspect to eating clean that many of us forget about. I say this with a “disclaimer”. Studies have been comparing the benefits of organic versus non organic produce for years, and despite all of that, there hasn’t been a clear case for the nutritional advantages of organic food.

For me, I look at the list of produce with the most pesticide residue and choose organic for these whenever I can.

For the third year in a row, strawberries top the “Dirty Dozen” list put out by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The list has been published each year since 2004 and ranks popular fruits and vegetables based on pesticide contamination.

The group found that one third of all conventional, or non-organic, strawberry samples contained 10 or more pesticides. One sample of strawberries was found to have an “astounding” 22 pesticide residues, EWG said.

Spinach, the second produce item on the list, contained pesticide residues in 97 percent of conventional, or non-organic, samples. Additionally, more than 98 percent of samples of strawberries, peaches, potatoes, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide, according to the activist group.

The full list of the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” includes:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Grapes
  6. Peaches
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Celery
  11. Potatoes
  12. Sweet Bell Peppers

The Environmental Working Group also released a companion list of 15 foods with the lowest levels of pesticide residues detected in federal testing.

The full list of the EWG’s “Clean Fifteen”:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbages
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangoes
  10. Eggplants
  11. Honeydew melons
  12. Kiwis
  13. Cantaloupes
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli