Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Course II Annual Evolutionary Nutrition Conference and Staffan Lindeberg Memorial

Staffan Lindeberg, a great scientist, researcher, physician, and pioneer of the paleo diet, passed away in December. He did some very important paleo diet related research, and was best known for his study of the Kitavans. We will never forget his contributions.

On October 12th, the Course II Annual Evolutionary Nutrition Conference and Staffan Lindeberg Memorial will be help in Lisbon, Portugal.

This will be a great event with a number of brilliant speakers. I highly recommend attending if you can. Here is the program outline for the day:

08h45-9h00: Opening remarks (Prof. Lynda Frassetto)
09h00-9h30: Dietary shifts during human evolution (Dr. Ainara Sistiaga)
09h30-10h00: What does a modern Paleolithic diet look like (Prof. Loren Cordain)
10h00-10h15: Round table with Q & A (Moderator: Prof. Lynda Frassetto)
10h15-10h30: Short break
10h30-10h55: The Hungry Brain (Dr. Stephan Guyenet)
10h55-11h20: The land-water ecosystem in human brain evolution (Prof. Frits Muskiet)
11h20-11h45: Evolutionary perspective on milk signalling in adults (Dr. Bodo Melnik)
11h45-12h00: Round table with Q & A (Moderator: Pedro Bastos)
12h00-13h30: Lunch break and poster session
13h30-13h50: Clinical experience and research with the Paleolithic Ketogenic diet – 2010-2017 (Dr. Csaba Tóth and Dr. Zsófia Clemens)
13h50-14h10: Clinical research with modern Paleolithic diets – The known, unknown and unknowable (Maelán Fontes)
14h10-14h30: Cooking methods as confounders in dietary intervention studies (Óscar Picazo)
14h30-14h50: Beyond diet – lifestyle changes as confounders in nutrition research (Pedro Bastos)
14h50-15h10: Round table with Q & A (Moderator: Dr. Tommy Jonsson)
15h10-15h30: Short break
15h30-16h30: Round table with all the speakers and moderators – establishing future research directions (Moderator: Sérgio Veloso)
16h30-16h45: Closing remarks (Prof. Lynda Frassetto)
*This conference will be held in English.

You can find registration and more information on the event website HERE, and on the Facebook event page HERE.

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The Language of Microbial Culture: Explaining Prebiotics, Probiotics, Synbiotics and Postbiotics

Inline_Probiotics_Post_05.012.17It’s no secret that it’s one of my favorite subjects—the burgeoning field of human gastrointestinal microbiology. I know…it’s easy to get caught up in the comparative excitement of it all.

The microbiota is familiar territory to most Primal types, but with time and research, we come to understand the nuances of the terrain a little better. New terms pop up. Novel discoveries grab our attention. Promising connections become apparent. It feels like a good day to go over a bit of the latest—to provide a little refresher for those who’ve joined us recently and most of all to offer some additional perspective on what we’re learning as studies branch into new depths. 

So without further ado, welcome to Biome 101.

The Cheat Sheet


Okay, most of you don’t need a refresher on this one. But for many, “probiotics” is simply a buzz word for something they vaguely remember is healthy…for some hazy, complicated reason. For those lost souls, here’s the quick and dirty.

The average human gut contains between 1000 and 1150 different species of bacteria and yeast, with the total population count numbering in the trillions—that for the most part, are either harmless or contributing valuable functions to your body and mind.

Competition for prime gut real estate encourages a healthy anti-pathogenic intestinal tract and sound immune function throughout. Essentially, it’s like a an old-growth forest ecosystem, whereby the natural competition of both indigenous plant and animal species works together to maintain a state of healthy equilibrium for the forest biome as a whole, preventing colonization by exotic (aka pathogenic) species. Some of the functions that play out include:

  • secretion of anti-microbial proteins that protect against pathogenic bacteria
  • maintaining and restoring intestinal homeostasis
  • interaction with our in-built immune receptors 
  • metabolizing indigestible compounds and extracting nutrients from the foods we eat

Modern science has thus far managed to create artificial cultures of around 40% of these beneficial gut bacterial strains. These cultures are, essentially, what we know to be probiotics—collections of known beneficial microorganisms that promote the re-colonization and maintenance of healthy gut populations.

And despite their comparatively recent rise to stardom, humans have been making probiotics for millennia. Yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kvass, raw vinegar—basically any fermented food has the potential to be classed as a probiotic. That being said, not every product with “live cultures” is necessarily a probiotic. To be classed as such, that product needs to promote measurable health improvements in either the gut, oral cavity, vagina, or skin.

Nowadays, it’s all about the probiotic supplements that can guarantee the most CFUs (colony forming units). Call me old school, but I’m more of a quality over quantity kind of guy.


This is where we start getting into less familiar territory for some folks, but it’s actually quite simple. Prebiotics are special plant fibers that nourish the good bacteria already living in your gut—essentially, a hearty meal for your beneficial bacteria. Prebiotics are indigestible fibers that can pass through the gastrointestinal tract and arrive in your gut relatively unscathed, where they’re feasted upon (aka fermented) by trillions of hungry mouths.

Big-name prebiotic sources include green bananas, jicama, raw leeks (I’ll take mine cooked, thanks), dandelion greens, raw garlic, onion, and raw asparagus. Prebiotics are often integrated into probiotic supplements to not only provide a vital food source for the new colonials, but to encourage continued growth of the existing gut flora.


Which brings me very smoothly onto synbiotics. Essentially, this is a technical sounding label to describe products or treatments that combine both probiotics and prebiotics to create a super potion for your nether regions. In the words of the white coats, “because the word alludes to synergism, this term should be reserved for products in which the prebiotic compound selectively favors the probiotic compound.” Got that? No worries. Let’s just look at what it means for your morning supplement or dinner plate.

While you’ll have no trouble locating a good symbiotic (yes, as it happens, I can recommend one that I use every day), there’s also plenty of fermented food pairings that together create a powerful synergistic effect. Classic examples are yogurt and raw honey (yes, please), kefir and chia seeds, or pickled asparagus if you’re feeling more adventurous. Raw apple cider vinegar contains plenty of pectin (a prebiotic) and of course good levels of beneficial bacteria, making it a synbiotic option for those who choose it.


The fourth and final term may be the least familiar concept in the microbiology realm. In a nutshell, post-biotics are the metabolic by-products of the bacteria living in your gut and other microbiomes of your body. Researchers found that these by-products can be utilized to lower blood glucose and therefore show promise as a treatment for prediabetes.

It’s an interesting concept and developing subfield. Because much of the immune-supporting and inflammation-lowering benefits of gut bacteria are actually derived from their metabolic by-products, it stands to reason that providing certain at-risk people with specific post-biotics would go a long way towards helping them. These kinds of applications may make for a powerful in-clinic treatment for certain disorders and gut dysbioses, but it can never replace the long-term maintenance and 24/7 protective powers that an active, healthy gut population can provide. 

Human Microbiome Research and What It Means for Primal Living

Researchers are increasingly discovering/re-discovering just how personalized our gut microbiomes really are. A 2013 study examined 252 fecal metagenomes from 207 individuals from both Europe and North America, detecting 10.3 million single nucleotide polymorphisms and 1051 structural variants. Researchers went on to conclude that “individual-specific strains are not easily replaced and that an individual might have a unique metagenomic genotype, which may be exploitable for personalized diet or drug intake.” We have ourselves an interesting finding here with promising suggestions for the future of the field: our gut populations are entirely individual, meaning that prebiotic, probiotic, and even postbiotic treatments might be personalized in order to achieve the most benefits. 

Next, the literature continues to emphasize just how important the gut microbiome is in the early stages of a person’s life. I’ve come across several studies that indicate necrotizing enterocolitis, a leading cause of neonatal morbidity, may respond well to prebiotic and postbiotic treatment. Notice that, for once, probiotics aren’t the hero of the bacterial hour, as it appears that prebiotics and postbiotics may be a safer and more effective method of treatment than probiotics in this circumstance.

When it comes to the normal course of things, however, probiotics still take center stage. Research shows that formula-fed infants have smaller, less productive thymus glands, while breast-fed babies are more likely to have healthy, normal-sized thymuses. The missing piece of the puzzle? Largely, the beneficial Bifidobacteria in mom’s breast milk. These probiotics also play a leading role in development of the child’s gut microbiome, while mothers fed probiotics during breastfeeding have been shown to offer increased immunoprotective properties in their breast milk. 

For those of us on the other side of the cradle, scientists have recently found a connection between post-diet weight gain and gut flora. Obese mice were placed on a mini-Weight Watchers diet and then transitioned back to a “normal” Western rodent style of eating. The formerly obese mice quickly surpassed their pre-diet weight, and the one major change that researchers observed was in their gut. Dr. Eran Elinav, head of the research team, noted that “following successful dieting and weight loss, the microbiome retains a ‘memory’ of previous obesity.”

The team began looking into resolutions, and came up with two options: first, to implant formerly obese mice with gut microbes from mice that had never been obese, and second, to supplement with post-biotics. Fecal transplantation is its own conversation, so we won’t go down that road, but the second treatment is an intriguing one. Scientists found that the formerly obese microbiome was degrading the flavonoids in their food at a far greater rate than the non-obese microbiota, which in turn was lowering energy expenditure and inhibiting fat metabolism. By adding flavonoids (a “post-biotic therapy”) to their water, the formerly obese mice didn’t gain any extra weight after returning to a regular diet.

For those with , inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for years, post-biotics appear to offer a new course of promising treatment that might even be a better option than probiotics alone for some. One study published a few years back indicated that certain commonly-administered strains of probiotics can actually have an inflammatory effect on those suffering from IBD. Researchers concluded that “a potent post biotic can… downregulate ongoing inflammatory processes in IBD tissue.” 

On the subject of bowels…combined with a good prebiotic, we might just be onto a winning formula for those suffering from gastrointestinal issues. Another study found that prebiotics (in the form of galacto-oligosaccharides) improved both stool frequency and consistency in patients with functional constipation. When combined with a probiotic, however, the resultant synbiotic had an even bigger beneficial effect: significantly improved stool frequency, consistency and reduced transit time. There really is no “I” in team.

A similar synergistic effect has been shown to help with plenty of other aspects of our health, including immune function and oxidative stress.

A Primal Approach to Gut Health

Beyond all the personal details and medical interventions, there’s an underlying message for any avid Primal enthusiast: don’t ignore your gut microbiome. Considering how many different conditions have been linked to gut dysbiosis, there’s little hope for attaining long-term, comprehensive health without a healthy gut. 

For those dealing with chronic conditions and wondering about what else they might try, you can consider forking out for fecal genomic testing, work out what bacterial strains work best for you, and seek out optimal synbiotics that work best for your individual gut conditions with the help of a specialist.

For all of us, we can recognize that a well-rounded diet that provides plenty of probiotics and prebiotics will form the fundamental building blocks for optimum and resilient gut health.

Thanks for reading everyone. Have questions, comments, experiences to share? I’m all ears. Take care.


The post The Language of Microbial Culture: Explaining Prebiotics, Probiotics, Synbiotics and Postbiotics appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

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The Ingredient Your Probiotic May Be Missing

For the past few years doctors and nutritionists have been recommending probiotics as way to control gut health. The little pills are filled with good bacteria, which have been shown to help improve digestion, boost mood and immune system and even help clear up skin. According to new research out of the University of Florida, some probiotics can even help curb allergy systems. But it turns out that most probiotics on the market are missing a key ingredient: fungus.


Enter scientist Mahmoud Ghannoum, Ph.D. The doctor, who’s a professor at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, has spent his career studying medically important fungi (yeast, mold, and mushrooms are all part of the fungi family) and believes it’s a vital part of gut health. “Fungi and bacteria are always living in our guts, but [in probiotics] we’ve only been addressing the bacteria,” he says. After many years of research, and publishing a paper in 2010 urging the medical and science communities to pay closer attention to our native fungal communities, Ghannoum developed Biohm, a probiotic that recently hit the market. Unlike the others on the on drug store shelves, this probiotic contains both good bacteria and good fungi that aim to give users a more balanced gut.


According to Ghannoum, the bad fungi in our guts can be responsible for aggravating digestive issues. It also works with the bad bacteria to form digestive plague. “Think of it like a dental plague,” he says. “The digestive plague forms a shield around the bad fungi and bacteria, which creates an imbalance in the digestive system.” Ghannoum says this new probiotic can help break down the digestive plague and help relieve digestive issues such as Crohn’s Disease and upset stomachs. For healthy people, taking the probiotic may result in less bloating and gas, as well as maintaining an overall improvement of digestive health.


Now that people are starting to pay attention how beneficial fungus can be to health and wellness, Ghannoum says we’re at the tip of the iceberg in how it can help in other ways. “I believe it won’t be long before we see some more scientific breakthroughs involving fungus and our bodies,” he says.


Kevin Aeh is a New York City-based writer and editor. He has written for Time Out New York, Refinery29, New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, Furthermore from Equinox and more.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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2017 Garden + Beanstalk Seeds

Beanstalk Seeds

I am looking forward to summer salads from the garden so much this year! Our garden has officially been planted, and I have some new seeds in the ground. I’ve partnered with Beanstalk Seeds to grow some new produce this year!

Beanstalk Seeds

Beanstalk Seeds is a seed collection targeted to kids and families to make growing produce as fun as can be. The project is a division of Kansas City Community Gardens (KCCG), which works to create vegetable gardens with low-income families, schools, and community groups in the Kansas City metro area. All proceeds from Beanstalk Seeds sales go towards helping more people grow their own nutritious produce. Moreover, gardening with kids means parents drive attention away from video games and TV and connect, get dirty, and eat well with their kids doing something that is fun for both generations.

Beanstalk Seeds have been tried and tested in the KCCG for over a decade in over 200 gardens. Not only are they are reliable to grow, but the Beanstalk Seed varieties are unusual in colorful ways, so kids love them. “Rainbow Blend” carrots, “Purple Hyacinth” beans, and “Dragon Tongue” beans are all hits with kids. I can’t wait to see what they look like when they come up, and Mazen loves anything to do with dragons 🙂 I am hoping he has as much fun eating them as he did planting them!

Beanstalk Seeds

In addition to buying seeds individually, you can simply order Jack’s Magical Seed Bag and get a themed bag of seeds in a nice variety. Choose between “Plant A Rainbow” and “Snackable Garden”. These make great gifts! The Beanstalk Seeds website goes a step beyond an online marketplace, including guide sheets, fun facts, easy recipes, and a parent blog covering gardening tips for children’s gardens.

Here are a few shots of my garden as it stood in late March. A few plants from last year actually popped back up after the last frost, and then others were just weeds.

Beanstalk Seeds

Thomas, Mazen and I went to a garden shop and stocked up on organic compost to till in before planting this year’s seeds.

Beanstalk Seeds

We borrowed Thomas’s parents’ tiller, which was great to have!

Beanstalk Seeds

Once the old plants were harvested and cleared and the soil nourished and tilled, I used the garden plan that Beanstalk Seeds sent me as a guide. In the past, I have mostly stuck to greens, so I am excited to try a few new veggies this year! Starting at the top, I planted rows of Greens (kale and swiss chard), Roots (carrots and radishes), Salad (spinach and lettuce), and Pods (peas and beans). I nixed the beets they recommended because they aren’t my favorite and I wanted to save space for more salad. I would have nixed the radishes in favor of more kale, but somebody loves radishes and insisted I plant some ; ) I left some space at the bottom for him to plant some tomatoes, too.

Beanstalk Seeds

Here’s where the fun comes in! It is just so crazy to think that these tiny seeds will grow into real food. I planted them in rows as per the package instructions and will thin them out after they pop up a bit more.

Beanstalk Seeds

I have never planted beans before!

Beanstalk Seeds

A few days later, those seeds sprouted up in neat rows of green. The miracle of nature!

Beanstalk Seeds

Beanstalk Seeds

Here’s the herb garden before. A total mess, but home to thriving rosemary and thyme. We cleared out the weeds, mixed in compost, tilled a bit, and planted dill, cilantro, parsley, lavender, and basil.

Beanstalk Seeds

We had TONS of rain the next week and lots of sunshine after, so I will update you guys with photos as things continue to progress 🙂 If you have yet to plant a garden this year, please consider supporting Beanstalk Seeds!

This post was brought to you by Beanstalk Seeds. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Clean Eating Coconut Bomb Overnight Oatmeal Recipe

Clean Eating Coconut Bomb Oatmeal Recipe

Growing up, I hated coconut with a passion. My mom loved it and I just couldn’t understand her obsession with it. She lived in Hawaii for a time, and coconut was a big deal there. She learned to appreciate it in all it’s forms.

The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera), known as “niu” in Hawaii, was originally introduced to the islands by the original Polynesian settlers. Although the island chain lies near the northern boundaries of the main coconut-growing regions of the world, coconut trees thrive in the warm, balmy climate of Hawaii. Coconuts were an important resource for ancient Hawaiians, providing food, liquid and building materials. Coconut fiber was used to lash the warrior’s koa wood canoes and the shells were used as the base of the shark skin-covered piniu, or Hawaiian knee drum. Source.

As for me, I didn’t come to enjoy the flavor of coconut until I tasted fresh coconut for the first time. Something about that flipped a switch in me, and I’ve enjoyed the flavor ever since. These days, I enjoy coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut flakes on a fairly regular basis.

Clean Eating Coconut Bomb Oatmeal Recipe

So I couldn’t pass up this chance to add it to some oats as well. It’s a delicious combo for any coconut lover. Give it a try!





These pint-sized canning jars are perfect for these recipes! Great for single servings for many different foods!Clean Eating Almonds And "Brown Sugar" Overnight Oatmeal RecipeCopyright Information For The Gracious Pantry

Clean Eating Coconut Bomb Overnight Oatmeal Recipe



Yield: 1 serving


  • ½ cup old fashion oats
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp. coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


  2. Combine all ingredients in a small, zipper-top baggie and toss in the freezer for up to 6 months.
  3. The night before you plan to eat your oats, place them in a jar or covered bowl with 1 cup light coconut milk (or any milk you prefer) and let sit in the fridge overnight. Serve cold or warm up on the stove top or in the microwave.
  5. Combine all ingredients in a small, zipper-top baggie and toss in the freezer for a future busy morning! When you're ready to cook simply put the contents of the bag into a small pot with a 1 cup of milk (any kind) and cook according to package directions on the oats container.


Clean Eating Coconut Bomb Oatmeal Recipe

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