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Gut Microbiome & Health


My experiences on using recommendations related to Gut Microbiome

The Gut Microbiome movement has taken the health & wellness world by storm and has proponents swearing by it’s impact on human health.

Not one to be influenced by popular media, I decided to try out the recommendations myself and see if they were beneficial.

Here’s an account of my experience. But first a look at what the proponents say…

What is the Gut Biome and why do proponents consider it as fundamental to our good health.


Our gut microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms. The distinctive compositions and specificity of the microbiota in one’s intestines makes it rather unique to each individual and is likened to your distinct identity card.

Come to think of it this way, everything that you eat – from the spicy kababs, to the lettuce in your salads is converted by your gut into – your cells, energy, the processes within your body. Proponents of Gut Microbiome vouch that the Microbes in your gut have a strong influence on the process and results and so are key to your health and well being.

Living a healthier lifestyle and fostering a symbiotic relationship with our good gut bacteria helps us modulate immunity, insulate us from toxins, better absorb foods, and fight disease.

Gut microbiota are even being studied for their potential effects on behavior and mental well being. Several studies have hinted at our behavior being affected by our microbes. For instance, a landmark study conducted by Bercik, et al. in 2011 performed a simple experiment, where they basically swapped the gut bacteria between breeds of mice with different characteristic behaviors. One breed which tended to be anxious and timid and the other which were more exploratory and less timid. The study found that the mice changed their behavior to be more like their donor breed. These are newer and exciting fields of study and the results are worth watching our for.

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HbA1C – What is it and how it is used

The term HbA1C refers to glycated Haemoglobin or Glycosylated Haemoglobin. It develops when Haemoglobin, a protein within red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body, joins with glucose in the blood, to become ‘glycated’.

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HbA1c levels are reflective of blood glucose levels over the past six to eight weeks and do not reflect daily ups and downs of blood glucose. For people with diabetes this is important as the higher the HbA1c, the greater the risk of developing diabetes-related complications.

When the body processes sugar, glucose in the bloodstream naturally attaches to Haemoglobin.

The amount of glucose that combines with this protein is directly proportional to the total amount of sugar that is in your system at that time.

Because red blood cells in the human body survive for 8-12 weeks before renewal, measuring glycated haemoglobin (or HbA1c) can be used to reflect average blood glucose levels over that duration, providing a useful longer-term gauge of blood glucose control.

If your blood sugar levels have been high in recent weeks, your HbA1c will also be greater.

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Type II Diabetes – Government And Societal Support Does Help

Having diabetes is associated with substantially higher medical and lifestyle expenditures for the person, and adds to the societal burden. Let’s look at some of the initiatives promoted by progressive national governments around the world.

Having diabetes is associated with substantially higher medical and lifestyle expenditures for the person.

While Diabetes can be managed proficiently in most cases and only seldom leads directly to death, but the condition’s impacts are often serious, including complications, disabilities and lost quality of life.

Patients can manage their diabetes with medication and diet, but the disease is often life-long and is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.

On the other hand, it also places similar high economic pressures on the country’s healthcare system and the economy. Do active and concerted steps taken by governments and the social structure around the individual help make matters better ? In this article, we see a few laudable examples where national governments and the society have undertaken a transformative approach towards non-communicable diseases such as Diabetes, and towards lifestyle, health and fitness as a valid approach to prevention and management of these conditions.

The direct cost of Diabetes

Globally, the number of people suffering with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus which was 108 million in 1980, has surged to 422 million in 2014, and is further anticipated to reach 642 million by 2040. Even without complications, the routine management of diabetes can be more than three times higher than the per capita expenditure for health care. As per a 2016 article published in the popular newspaper – The National, the cost per person in the UAE with Diabetes was US$2,155.90.

Routinize Your Fitness

Maintaining a daily schedule can help you stay committed to your Fitness Regime. See why this works better and how you could identify your personal zone.

Visiting the gym whenever you have the free time or sticking to the same time everyday – what’s the better option?

Studies indicate that it is better to be consistent and stick to a daily same-time regime. Here are a few of the reasons why this works out better.

The Habit Factor

One of the main reasons why you should consider being consistent in your daily fitness schedule is simply because it requires a lot less motivation. Humans are creatures of habit and when you stick to a regular exercise routine, over a period of time, you turn it to a habit. If you go to the gym whenever ‘time permits’, you are more likely to skip a few sessions – you tend to juggle with ‘other’ commitments for the free time slot everyday. Compare this with having a set daily time for exercise – you then drive yourself towards something that you do automatically.

Milk Kefir

Milk Kefir is considered a wonder-drink. Let’s see why this beverage is making waves in the healthy living community

Milk Kefir is a cultured, fermented dairy beverage that tastes very similar to a yogurt drink. It’s made using a starter of “Kefir Grains”, which is a combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars.

Kefir and Yogurt have a lot in common but also have many differences. They differ in consistency, nutrient content, and how they’re made. Since Kefir is fermented, most lactose intolerant people can tolerate Kefir.

Some sites recommend that you buy Kefir from the stores. There are many sources that recommend that you prepare Kefir by yourself. My own experience was that I liked the taste of my home grown batch of Kefir much better than the ones that I bought from the store.

Here’s how Kefir is prepared at home.

The main ingredients are Kefir starter grains and Milk (preferably full-fat milk, and not the UHT varieties)

The process is very simple – add a teaspoon of kefir grains to table spoon of full fat milk and mix well. Add this to a cup of milk  and let it sit out at room temperature in a cool dark place for about 24 hours. After the 24 hour period, strain the Kefir grains using a plastic strainer. Your Kefir drink is now ready for consumption.

Here’s what you also need to know :

  • The ‘Kefir Grains’ are living cultures and can be re-used as the starter for subsequent batches. After preparing your batch of Kefir, strain the Kefir Grains. You could store the grains by placing them in a cup of milk and keep in the refrigerator. Stored this way Kefir grains can remain viable for multiple uses.
  • The grains enlarge in the process of Kefir production, even reaching a walnut size, and eventually they split.
  • As the grains grow, you will also notice that your Kefir Milk ferments faster and becomes sourer. If you would like your drink to be less sourer, reduce the quantity of Kefir grains.
  • Make sure that the Kefir grains do not come in contact with metal utensils (spoons, strainers, bowls etc.). Proponents say that contact with metals can spoil the Kefir grains. They recommend that you could use glass bottles, wood or plastic spoons and plastic strainers for producing Kefir.
  • While washing the grains, use filtered or distilled water. Make sure that you maintain a high level of hygiene while producing your batches.
  • When you start on a new starter batch of Kefir Grains, your first batch of production may have an odor. If you are sensitive to the smell, then you could discard the first two batches.

Organic On A Budget

Organic food is often more expensive than conventionally grown food. With organic products being a lifestyle choice and with prices frequently being on the higher side, our organic choices can have an impact on our budget. However if you know your priorities and set spend boundaries, it may be possible to purchase organic food and stay within your food budget.

Here are 7 ways to help you budget your organic purchases.

1. Track Current Spending

It’s helpful to figure out what you are spending on food. Keep your organic purchase receipts for 2 months, to get a realistic picture of your current spending preferences. If you feel inclined, create a spreadsheet to break down your spending by category, including beverages, produce, etc. Once you’ve done this, you can get an idea of where to trim down spending. Tie this in with the monthly food budget (if you haven’t yet made a food budget, then it is a good time to begin).

2. Plan Your Meals

It’s much easier to stick to a budget when you have a plan. Plus, having a purpose for each food item you buy will ensure nothing goes to waste or just sits in your pantry unused. While planning, it’s tempting to opt for every meal being a grandiose experience. Big mistake. These make it difficult to be consistent in following. Start simple with easy salads and simple dishes. Give yourself a two month trial period before moving to more complex plans.

Bottled Water … Safe? Think Again

The average adult human body is comprised of 50-65% of water. A no-brainer then that keeping hydrated is essential to your health. Most of us are conscious about the health benefits of drinking water and keep our plastic bottles at easy reach. Convenient indeed, but did you know that the plastic bottled water may be doing more harm than good.

Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of plastic bottled water.

BPA a frequent component of plastic bottles and in most food packaging plastics is a chemical that mimics hormones.

Studies indicate that BPA, even in minute quantities can lead to a variety of hormonal changes, including early puberty in females, reduction in sperm count, causing men to grow breasts and increased rates of reproductive cancers. The harmful effects are also pronounced in newborns and young children exposed either directly or indirectly through their mother.

Hormones are the most critical component in fertility in both men and women, and hormone problems are most commonly implicated in impaired fertility. Hormone disruptors such as chemicals in plastics send mixed signals. These cause some reproductive hormones to be produced excessively and while lowering the production of other hormones.

Both genders are equally susceptible, with hormonal imbalances such as those with estrogen reduce the ability to conceive.

Boys seem to be the most at risk for severe alterations before and during puberty.

Research continues to alert that the increase in estrogenic chemicals, like BPA and other plastic materials, has contributed significantly to cancers such as breast cancer, testicular cancer and prostate cancer.