Jaw-dropping science facts, part 6
Scientists have found evidence that gut bacteria has a direct physical effect on the brain, and suggest that it may one day be possible to treat diseases such as multiple sclerosis (and possibly even psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia) by altering gut microbial composition.
Researchers at University College in Cork, Ireland, discovered that gut bacteria has a much more important role than was previously thought: they regulate nerve fibre insulation, affecting how impulses in the brain are conducted. According to The Guardian, which picked up on the story:
'Gut microbe research has exploded in the past 10 years, and in that time, it has become increasingly clear that there is a two-way line of communication between gut bacteria and the brain. The human gut microbiome seems to play important roles in health and disease, and alterations in its composition have been implicated in a wide range of neurological and psychiatric conditions, including autism, chronic pain, depression, and Parkinson’s Disease.'
John Cryan of the APC Microbiome Institute told the newspaper:
"To our knowledge this is the first study showing a clear relationship between the microbiome and myelination in the brain.” The new findings could, therefore, eventually lead to novel treatments for multiple sclerosis and other demyelinating diseases, based on prebiotics, probiotics, or even fecal transplants, all of which could potentially be used to adjust the exact composition of microbes in the gut."
The original scientific research, published in Translational Psychiatry last April, can be found here.
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Jaw-dropping science facts part 5
One in three of us will suffer from cancer in our lifetimes, and despite the basic advice: (eat less meat, get your five-a-day, don't smoke, etc), there's really nothing we can do to eliminate the risk entirely. Or is there?
An article in the Telegraph caught our eye recently when it listed fermented probiotic food and drinks as a scientifically proven way to avoid the disease. In a fascinating feature called 'Eight proven ways to prevent cancer', author Anna Magee writes:
"It has been long known that cancers are caused by a combination of our genes, diet and lifestyle. However, as we gradually understand more about epigenetics - the way our genes are switched on and off by factors in our environment – the more we will discover about what we can do to help turn on genes linked with cancer protection and switch off those linked with causing it. Research shows small lifestyle changes could prevent a staggering 40 cent of Britain’s cancers."
In addition to eating more fibre, taking a daily aspirin and exercising more, Magee- editor of healthista.com- recommends getting as much good bacteria into your gut as possible.
"Our gut bacteria or micro-biome has recently been linked to everything from mood to obesity, and a growing number of studies are now linking it to a lowered cancer risk," Magee writes.
The latest, published in April in the journal PLOS One, gave one group of mice beneficial bacteria through probiotic supplements while the other group were given non-beneficial bacteria. The mice receiving the good bacteria produced metabolites known to prevent cancer in their guts, and were also better able to metabolise fats, which the researchers said could help lower the risk of cancer.
"The results are positive and that’s probably because the microbes help break down some of the toxins in the gut that might normally cause cancer, but also because they keep the immune system in great shape generally so it beats off cancer cells," says Tim Spector, professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, founder of the British Gut Project and author of The Diet Myth (Weidenfeld and Nicholson £8.99).
Prof Spector recommends: "To keep your gut bacteria healthy, eat a mix of probiotic foods such as live yoghurt, kefir (fermented milk drink) and sauerkraut as well as prebiotic foods such as fruit, vegetables and high fibre whole grains and legumes to feed bacteria and help it grow."
This is by no means the only scientific study to make such bold claims about the wonders of probiotics for cancer prevention. In May this year, researchers in Hong Kong developed and successfully tested a probiotic mixture called Prohep which was proven to reduce liver cancer in rats. Scientists found that healthy gut bacteria administered to rats reduced tumours by as much as 40%. This is very exciting news and researchers hope to begin testing on cancer patients in due course- we will keep you updated with any progress!
In a third study, carried out by researchers at the University of Brighton in December 2012, catechins in green tea were tested for their potential effect to reduce cancer risk, cardiovascular disease risk and weight loss. While scientists stopped short of declaring the study a roaring success, they did indeed find positive signs that green tea- as used in the fermentation of kombucha- could reduce the risk of contracting the disease. Researchers concluded:
"There is some positive evidence for risk reduction of breast, prostate, ovarian and endometrial cancers with green tea. RCTs of green tea and cardiovascular risk factors suggest that green tea may reduce low-density lipoproteins and total cholesterol.”
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Disclaimer: Equinox kombucha makes no health claims, we simply publish interesting scientific news relating to our product. The consumption of kombucha (and other fermented food and drinks) should never replace proper medical treatment wherever necessary.
Jaw-dropping science facts everyone should know about kombucha, part 4
Indian scientists have discovered that diabetes sufferers would benefit from a kombucha habit, with the antioxidants in the drink proven to suppress organ dysfunction and restore alterations in tissue machinery caused by the condition.
Both black tea and kombucha were tested in a 2013 study led by Semantee Bhattacharya from the Department of Life Sciences & Biotechnology in Kolkata. The team found that while both drinks worked very well at combatting the causes of diabetes, kombucha was significantly more efficient than black tea (because the fermentation process produces a higher number of antioxidants).
Are you diabetic? Have you found that a daily dose of kombucha helps? We'd love to hear from you! Please comment and share this article, and why not check out parts 1, 2 and 3 of our blog on the amazing health benefits of kombucha- remember, these claims are made by science, not by us!
Reference: Semantee Bhattacharyaa, Ratan Gachhuia, Parames C. Silb,
a Department of Life Sciences & Biotechnology, Jadavpur University, 188, Raja SC Mullick Road, Kolkata 700 032, India
Disclaimer: While there are many exciting scientific studies suggesting that Kombucha consumption can help with various different conditions, drinking it is never a replacement for your usual medication.
Jaw-dropping science facts everyone should know about kombucha, part 3
Scientists at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, have found that regular consumption of probiotics found in fermented food and drinks like kombucha can reduce high blood pressure and help stabilise it at a healthy level. When probiotics were taken for more than eight weeks, Jin Sun Ph.D and her team found a wide range of positive changes happening in the body as a result.
"We believe probiotics might help lower blood pressure by having other positive effects on health,” Sun said. “These include improving total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol; reducing blood glucose and insulin resistance; and by helping to regulate the hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance.”
Energy drinks, on the other hand, have been scientifically proven to increase blood pressure levels and cause stress on the heart. Yet another great reason to swap your taurine-based beverages for an energy-boosting healthy alternative like Equinox kombucha!
Source: S. Khalesi, J. Sun, N. Buys, R. Jayasinghe. Effect of Probiotics on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Trials. Hypertension, 2014; DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03469
Jaw-Dropping Science Facts Everyone Should Know About Kombucha, Part 2
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from green or black tea, cane sugar and a probiotic live fungus culture called SCOBY*. It’s packed full of probiotic yeasts and bacterias, B vitamins, organic acids and antioxidants, all of which are claimed to work various wonders for your body and mind. Although official government-backed research on kombucha is pretty thin on the ground, there are still tons of fascinating independent studies suggesting that a kombucha a day really does keep the doctor away. Following on from part one, here’s another great reason to make kombucha part of your everyday routine!
Not only can probiotics boost serotonin, scientists have found they also help to decrease negative thinking! In a 2015 study, psychologists Laura Steenbergen and Lorenza Colzato from the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition tested the power of probiotics in combatting negative feelings. They split 40 subjects into two groups, half of which received a probiotics mixture and half a placebo. The conclusion? Prolonged use of probiotics reduces recurrent negative thoughts about possible causes and consequences of distress- a marker of depression.
“These results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood,” Colzato said of her team’s study. “Our findings shed an interesting new light on the potential of probiotics to serve as adjuvant or preventive therapy for depression.”
There you go: that morning kombucha tonic can boost happiness in more ways than one!
Source: Gregor Reid ‘Neuroactive probiotics’ July 2011
Reid, G. (2011), Neuroactive probiotics. Bioessays, 33: 562. doi: 10.1002/bies.201100074
Jaw-Dropping Science Facts Everyone Should Know About Kombucha, Part 1
Probiotics, often referred to as 'good bacteria', are known to promote a healthy gut, but did you know they can also promote a healthy mind? In a 2011 study researchers were excited to discover something completely new to science: probiotic bacteria administered to the gut can positively affect your brain chemistry.
Dr Mark Lyte from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center found that microbial strains in fermented food produce neurochemicals including serotonin, the neurotransmitter credited with boosting happiness levels. In Lyke’s study, serotonin was found in the bloodstream of test subjects after probiotics were administered to the gut, leading to the exciting conclusion that probiotics function as ‘delivery vehicles’ for neurochemicals.
Kombucha fans often say the drink boosts brain power, cures hangovers and gives clarity of mind. The news that it could directly cause serotonin production gives us some clues as to why this might be…so what are you waiting for? Crack open a bottle and get happy!
Professor Mark Lyte from M. Lyte. Probiotics function mechanistically as delivery vehicles for neuroactive compounds: Microbial Endocrinology in the design and use of probiotics. BioEssays, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/bies.201100024