Microbiome, Aging and Fitness

Microbiome, Aging and Fitness By E. Dylan Mayer In my last blog titled, Microbiome and Aging, I discussed an article reporting the shift of the gut microbiome that is associated with healthy aging. The research team behind that study found that beginning in mid-to-late adulthood, the gut microbiome becomes increasingly unique to the individual with age, with a relative decrease in the abundance of certain bacterial taxa (mainly of the genus Bacterioides). They found that this uniqueness was positively associated with known microbial metabolic markers – primarily tryptophan and phenylalanine/tyrosine metabolites - previously implicated in immune regulation, inflammation, and longevity. This information drew my interest to another article on the role of diet and the gut microbiome in healthy aging. This study was done by a group of Danish investigators led by Josue Castro-Mejía. Healthy aging, and the crucial role of diet in this biological process have become topics with high relevance for individuals and society. According to an NIH report from 2011, the number of older adults over the age of 65 is estimated to increase by more than 50% worldwide over the next few decades, with potentially huge implications for the health and economy of affected individuals and society as a whole.1 “…the gut microbiome of a healthy 25-year-old is not necessarily the healthiest pattern in a 65-year-old.” Many physiological functions, as well as the composition and functions of the gut microbiome change with increasing age. As discussed in my last blog, age-related changes in our gut microbiomes are associated with healthy aging– meaning the gut microbiome of a healthy 25-year-old is not necessarily the healthiest pattern in a 65-year-old. Changes in body composition arise along with lifestyle-associated disorders influencing fitness and physical decline . Both regular physical exercise and diet have long been considered important factors in preventing frailty and age-related morbidities as we age, even though the precise role of the gut microbiome in this relationship remains incompletely understood. Researchers in the Danish study looked at the connection between dietary intake, physical activity, gut microbiome and host metabolome (the total number of metabolites or biochemical breakdown products generated by the gut microbiota) in relation to physical fitness. They comprehensively studied 207 community-dwelling subjects aged 65+ years old, who were not allowed to participate in any sports or resistance training more than once a week, did not suffer from tissue or gastrointestinal disorders, nor were prescribed antibiotics…

Do Loneliness and Wisdom Really Affect Our Gut Microbes?

Do Loneliness and Wisdom Really Affect Our Gut Microbes? By Emeran Mayer, MD Loneliness and social isolation are important public health risks, linked to worse emotional, cognitive, and physical health, frailty, and premature death.1, 2 A number of studies has demonstrated that loneliness, in particularly in the elderly is associated with changes in cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and immune function, including dysregulation of the brain gut microbiome system and systemic immune activation. On the other hand, wisdom, social support, and social engagement are associated with greater well-being and health.3, 4 Though wisdom has traditionally been viewed as a construct restricted primarily to philosophy or religion, empirical research in recent years has demonstrated that certain dimensions of wisdom are partially influenced by biology.5 Studies in behavioral genetics and neurobiology6, 7 suggest strong genetic and biological components of both loneliness and wisdom that underscore their potential role in modulating the brain gut microbiome system. “Lower levels of self-reported loneliness and higher levels of wisdom … were associated with greater richness and diversity of the gut microbiome.” In a recent publication in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry,8 Tanya T. Nguyen and colleagues from the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego reported results from an exploratory cross sectional study of 180 adults who completed validated questionnaires to assess loneliness, wisdom, compassion, social support. In addition, they performed analyses to assess the relative abundances of gut microbes in the stool of study participants and looked for correlations between the questionnaire results and the microbiome analyses. As hypothesized, they observed that lower levels of self-reported loneliness and higher levels of wisdom, compassion, social support, and social engagement were associated with greater richness and diversity of the gut microbiome. At first glance, the results seem fascinating confirming previous reports from preclinical and clinical studies about a relationship of the gut microbiome with social interactions and behaviors, and suggesting that even a higher level human trait as wisdom may show such a connection with our guts. However, at a closer look, the reported associations of loneliness are not that surprising: Loneliness and social isolation are generally associated with negative emotional states, such as depression and with chronically increased stress levels, all of which have been shown to affect brain gut microbiome interactions in a negative way. In addition, reduced physical activity, and an inferior diet (neither of which were assessed in the current study) are more common in…

Compassion

Compassion From Grant Bartlett, PhD Our Lives are impacted by Family, Friends, Teachers, Preachers, Colleagues and the Global Community at large. They have inspired me to be much more than I believed I was capable of doing. They demonstrated that we don’t settle for style, but we succeed with substance. We must maintain our integrity and compassion in this less than compassionate world. All people are important. Celebrate them. Befriend them. Love them. Robert Kennedy, using a quote from George Bernard Shaw in the “Celebration of Life” stated: ”There are those who look at things the way they are and ask Why? However, others look at things that never were and ask “Why Not”? Compassion for ourselves and others is essential for the survival of the Community of Man / Woman. I believe, based on lifelong experiences, that five, twenty-five, fifty or one hundred years from now, it will not matter what our bank account was, the style of the house we lived in, or the make of car we drove. However, I believe the world may be truly more positive and accepting because we, as individuals and communities, positively impacted, celebrated, supported, and contributed to someone else’s Life. We must be totally involved in living the Life we were given and creating the circumstances we want. Learn from the Past, Cherish the Present, and Look positively to the Future. Remember, Life is a one-way Street. There is no turning back. Play the cards we are dealt. There is a Maxim I learned years ago that has been a guiding light. I do not remember the source, however, I remember the substance: Risk more than others think is safe! Care more than others think is wise! Dream more than others think is practical! Expect more than others think is possible! I have also learned that those who bring Sunshine to the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves. We must be catalysts and builders. We must remember that three of the most important words in the English language are “May I Help”? We must also remember that what we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. However, what we have done for others will live forever. As Chaucer so aptly stated: “We are all pilgrims journeying to Canterbury individually. Why not walk together and tell each other our stories”? Yes, and we must all seek Adventure. As I…

3 Habits of the Healthy and Happy

3 Habits of the Healthy and Happy By Nicole Winhoffer For 10 years, I’ve worked with the most prestigious performance artists, Oscar-winning directors and actresses and top CEOs in the world, whom I like to consider, all, top athletes. We prepare, train, practice and repeat, to reach their optimal excellence. We perform each day, asking our minds, bodies and spirits to execute at an optimal level. Each level of success requires integrating 3 habits. From my research, I consider these 3 habits, the way to get results. I use the 3 habits with each of my students to help them on their journey toward progress and achieving their personal best. The 3 habits are naturally embedded in each NWMethod Program to allow the student to build muscle memory and strength. Practicing these 3 habits can change your body, your mind and your life. Habit #1: Consistency Being consistent is key to seeing results. Repetition induces muscle memory and allows for new brain synapses to connect and create new behaviors, thoughts and actions. Consistency allows you to practice and perform movements that your body wants to change. Being consistent is the small change that maximizes results. How to create consistency? Start by scheduling and allocating your time. In your calendar, plan out your month and week as best you can. The more you write down your goals and measurable items, the more likely you will achieve them. Plan to be consistent with your routine; the time you sleep and wake up, eat, workout, work and rest. Being consistent allows for your brain and body to adjust to a rhythm and flow that decreases stress and wasted energy. The more consistent you are with your routine, the fewer decisions you have to make; therefore, the more brain and body energy you have to spend on the plans and projects that mean the most to you. Being consistent with your body allows for sustainability and maintenance over time. Sweating out toxins, using your muscles and stretching brings more energy to your total wellbeing. Being consistent creates results over time. Be consistent with yourself. Make it a habit and increase your total energy. Habit #2: Creativity Being creative helps you become a better problem solver in all areas of your life and work. Creativity helps you see things differently. It allows you to think outside the box, which brings more new synapses to fire.…

The Remarkable Benefits of Flexible Problem Solving

The Remarkable Benefits of Flexible Problem Solving By Jeffrey Lackner, PsyD The past 20 years has seen an explosion of research on non-drug treatments for painful medical disorders including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Disorders that were once seen as untreatable are now regarded as treatable. Hope has replaced helplessness. One particularly exciting area is the use of a specific behavioral treatment called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to relieve even the most severe pain and bowel problems of IBS. “The focus of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is what maintains a problem not what causes a problem.” Unlike other psychological treatment, CBT focuses on the here and now – how our current thoughts and behaviors impact health. So there is no lying on a coach, “analyzing”, free-associating, or open ended discussion that is part of “talk therapy”. The focus of CBT is what maintains a problem not what causes a problem. The practice of CBT rests on its own set of underlying assumptions. These assumptions are based on experimental research that tells us many of our reactions are learned and form our behavioral skill set. In a nut shell, CBT assumes that: Patients have specific skills deficits related to their disease that make them vulnerable to symptom flares. These skills deficits can be behavioral ones as for example difficulty regulating tension in the body that can disrupt brain-gut interactions or maladaptive coping strategies such as excessive avoidance or reliance on safety-behaviors (reassurance seeking from doctor that their abdominal pain doesn’t mean they have cancer). Deficits can also reflect biases in their salience system leading to exaggerated threat appraisals which crank up the volume of the body’s stress response system. These mental traps can disrupt brain-gut interactions and when this happens symptoms flare. The same processes that create deficits can be used to remediate them. In other words, just as these skills deficits are learned, they can be unlearned by learning more effective symptom self-management skills. By remediating these skills deficits, patients can gain control over GI symptoms and eventually manage, if not control, their symptoms on their own even when medications have not done the trick. “The thought processes of many chronic worriers, involve “catastrophizing” which is a way of thinking that tends to define increasingly worse and worse outcomes to a specific problem.” There is no one regimen of CBT any more than there is one hypertension medication or one physical therapy…