Using ingredients straight from your kitchen, these dyed Easter eggs make a fun and festive way to celebrate.
Egg decorating is a festive activity that celebrates the arrival of spring, a season of renewal. The egg, an ancient symbol of rebirth and new life, has a long and storied history tied to holidays and seasonal celebrations around the world, including Easter. In fact, if you’ve hand-dyed eggs, then you have, perhaps unknowingly, participated in one of the oldest known decorative art forms. In 2010, archaeologists in South Africa discovered engraved ostrich eggs dating back around 60,000 years. Since then, eggs have been decorated in every way imaginable, including traditional pysanky (Ukrainian Easter egg decoration) and arts-and-craft inspired decoupage eggs.
This tutorial keeps things simple and relies on natural ingredients, which result in rich, jewel-toned dyes that cover the egg in a wash of color but also let the shell’s speckled beauty show through. Drawing on spring’s color palette for inspiration — from robin’s egg blue to daffodil yellow — the dye recipes shared here require little more than a few kitchen ingredients and a bit of patience.
These dyes are not fast-working like their commercial counterparts; the eggs need to soak for a few hours at a minimum. To achieve the vibrant colors shown here, you must soak your eggs overnight. If you prefer more pastel tones, a shorter soak is effective. Keep in mind that this is not an exact science — colors will vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including the color of your eggs’ shells and the amount of time you soak them for.
Natural dye ingredients, such as
3 cups of yellow onion skins from roughly 8-10 onions
The chemicals to blame for our reproductive crisis are found everywhere and in everything ~ 10:23 UTC Thursday, 18 March 2021
The end of humankind? It may be coming sooner than we think, thanks to hormone-disrupting chemicals that are decimating fertility at an alarming rate around the globe. A new book called Countdown, by Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, finds that sperm counts have dropped almost 60% since 1973. Following the trajectory we are on, Swan’s research suggests sperm counts could reach zero by 2045. Zero. Let that sink in. That would mean no babies. No reproduction. No more humans. Forgive me for asking: why isn’t the UN calling an emergency meeting on this right now?
The chemicals to blame for this crisis are found in everything from plastic containers and food wrapping, to waterproof clothes and fragrances in cleaning products, to soaps and shampoos, to electronics and carpeting. Some of them, called PFAS, are known as “forever chemicals”, because they don’t breakdown in the environment or the human body. They just accumulate and accumulate – doing more and more damage, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Now, it seems, humanity is reaching a breaking point.
Swan’s book is staggering in its findings. “In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” Swan writes. In addition to that, Swan finds that, on average, a man today will have half of the sperm his grandfather had. “The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,” writes Swan, adding: “It’s a global existential crisis.” That’s not hyperbole. That’s just science.
As if this wasn’t terrifying enough, Swan’s research finds that these chemicals aren’t just dramatically reducing semen quality, they are also shrinking penis size and volume of the testes. This is nothing short of a full-scale emergency for humanity.
Swan’s book echoes previous research, which has found that PFAS harms sperm production, disrupts the male hormone and is correlated to a “reduction of semen quality, testicular volume and penile length”. These chemicals are literally confusing our bodies, making them send mix messages and go haywire.
Given everything we know about these chemicals, why isn’t more being done? Right now, there is a paltry patchwork of inadequate legislation responding to this threat. Laws and regulations vary from country to country, region to region, and, in the United States, state to state. The European Union, for example, has restricted several phthalates in toys and sets limits on phthalates considered “reprotoxic” – meaning they harm the human reproductive capacities – in food production.
In the United States, a scientific study found phthalate exposure “widespread” in infants, and that the chemicals were found in the urine of babies who came into contact with baby shampoos, lotions and powders. Still, aggressive regulation is lacking, not least because of lobbying by chemical industry giants.
In the state of Washington, lawmakers managed to pass the Pollution Prevention for Our Future Act, which “directs state agencies to address classes of chemicals and moves away from a chemical by chemical approach, which has historically resulted in companies switching to equally bad or worse substitutes. The first chemical classes to be addressed in products include phthalates, PFAS, PCBs, alkyphenol ethoxylate and bisphenol compounds, and organohalogen flame retardants.” The state has taken important steps to address the extent of chemical pollution, but by and large, the United States, like many other countries, is fighting a losing battle because of weak, inadequate legislation.
In the United States today, for example, you can’t eat the deer meat caught in in Oscoda, Michigan, as the health department there issued a “do not eat” advisory for deer caught near the former air force base because of staggeringly high PFOS levels in the muscle of one deer.
And, just the other week, hundreds of residents who live near Luke air force base in Arizona were advised not to drink their water, when tests detected high levels of toxic chemicals. Scientists have found these substances in the blood of nearly all the people they tested in the US. No country or region on earth is untouched by PFAS contamination. It is a global problem. PFAS has been found in every corner of the globe. It is virtually present in the bodies of every human. It’s found in fish deep in the sea, and birds flying high in the sky.
And it’s killing us, literally, by harming and attacking the very source of life: our reproductive capacities. The rapid death and decline of sperm must be addressed, and it must be addressed now. There simply is no time to lose.
I’ve tried so many different combinations of vegetables and fruits to concoct, what I believe to be, the best tasting green juice everrrrr! I’ve done the research and the trials and errors for you. This recipe is simple and only requires 3 ingredients. My green juice is incredibly refreshing, nourishing, and delicious.
I prefer a green juice that’s slightly sweet without a bitter aftertaste. My first ingredient is the cucumber. Why? Well, cucumbers are super hydrating and they render tons of liquid. They are full of phytonutrients which have the potential to lower inflammation, boost immunity, and so much more. Who wants beautiful skin? I do! Cucumbers will keep your skin glowing. Second ingredient, raw organic spinach. Using a dark leafy vegetable like spinach enhances the nutrition in the juice. It’s rich in chlorophyll, magnesium, iron, vitamins B2 and B6, folate, vitamins K, E, A, calcium, potassium and manganese.
Lastly, the Granny Smith apple. Its moderately tart flavor adds a wonderful dimension to juices, there’s also a hint of sweetness in them that’s perfect if you’re trying to restrict your sugar intake. There you have it, my 3 ingredients best tasting green juice. I recommend using organic produce whenever it’s possible. Choosing organic reduces harmful pesticides and herbicides in your body. We’re trying to enhance our bodies defenses mechanism against harmful diseases and oxidative stresses, not contribute to it.
Just a couple of weeks ago I highlighted a wonderful article written by David Marchese for the New York Times Magazine on Cicely Tyson. She spoke about living her life to the fullest, and she truly did. One question that was posed to her read, “This is an inelegant segue, but at your age, you must think about death now and then. Does it scare you? I’m not scared of death. I don’t know what it is. How could I be afraid of something I don’t know anything about?” What an inspiring piece.
My heart just dropped and chills came over my entire body learning of her passing. So many things rummaged through my brain. Did she get COVID? Was she sick? Did she get the COVID Vaccine? Which vaccine? I wanted answers. I skimmed through that article so fast. Nothing was mentioned, but then I thought back to that original New York Times Magazine article, and I released a sigh and relaxed a little. Cicely lived an amazing fulfilling life. She had no regrets, and she’s at her final resting home now with her Maker.
There has been so many deaths, just within the past year from COVID. When I hear of someone passing; immediately, I think it’s from COVID. Deaths of many different ranges of ages too. Everyday there’s a new tally on the news of all those souls that have gone home too soon. I’m also mourning my very own dear father who also passed away in 2020, but not from COVID. His passing weighs very heavily on me daily. It hasn’t been easy on me but prayer, family, close friends, and the gym gives me strength.
Learning of the passing of Cicely and reading about her family being there with her, comforted me. I wish my family had that special moment with my father, but I’m happy the Tyson family was able to share that together. I will continue to hold on to my wonderful loving memories of my dad, and forever cherish them and him.
Doctor’s Death After Covid Vaccine Is Being Investigated
How scary is that title? It worries me to know that the Coronavirus Pfizer vaccine that was created to save lives, are killing people all around the world.
Dr. Gregory Michael, 56-year-old obstetrician and gynecologist in Miami Beach, received the vaccine at Mount Sinai Medical Center on Dec. 18 and died 16 days later from a brain hemorrhage. Then in Norway, 23 people died after receiving the first dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, 13 were nursing home patients. Steinar Madden, Medical director said, it is quite clear that these vaccines have very little risk, with a small exception for the frailest patients. Doctors must now carefully consider who should be vaccinated. Although these deaths are low, they are still significantly important because there’s clearly something wrong with the Pfizer vaccine. People need to understand, vaccines are not a ones-size-fits-all.
Agreeing to take the vaccine regardless of which drug company manufactured it, there is a high risk of side effects or possibly dying. When these drug companies, such as Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and AstraZeneca (to name of few), created the COVID-19 vaccine they applied for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for distribution.
What is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)?
An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is a mechanism to facilitate the availability and use of medical countermeasures, including vaccines, during public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Under an EUA, FDA may allow the use of unapproved medical products, or unapproved uses of approved medical products in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions when certain statutory criteria have been met, including that there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives. Taking into consideration input from the FDA, manufacturers decide whether and when to submit an EUA request to FDA.
Once submitted, FDA will evaluate an EUA request and determine whether the relevant statutory criteria are met, taking into account the totality of the scientific evidence about the vaccine that is available to FDA. This emergency use allows drug companies to skip many steps. Steps that would usually include many years of research studies on the efficacy and validity of the vaccine on various different variables. The population of people in the United States consists of so many variables to study. For example:
The effects on people with high blood pressure
The effects on breast cancer, blood cancer, prostate cancer, brain cancer patients and so on.
The effects on diabetics
Psychological and mental disorders
Allergies, pregnancy, infants, elderly, teenagers and so on
That list can go on and on because there are so many underline health conditions to consider when studying the effects on people. I’m not one hundred percent sold on the Emergency Use Authorization for these vaccines because the data is still pending. Everyone that opted-in now to be vaccinated are being studied and monitored closely.
In the months and years to come, that data may be used to adjust or even change the ingredients in the vaccines to address side effects and deaths that people have experienced. The more data on hand, the better the outcome. These first individuals will pave the way for concrete information to be used to create the most effective vaccine. Please be careful because there are fake vaccines and treatments out on the market as well.
Unfortunately, there are people and companies trying to profit from this pandemic by selling unproven and illegally marketed products that make false claims, such as being effective against the coronavirus. These fraudulent products that claim to cure, treat, or prevent COVID-19 haven’t been evaluated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness and might be dangerous to you and your family.
Always consult with your healthcare professionals before taking or thinking of buying any form of drug, tests, treatments, vaccines, or vitamins for the treatment of COVID-19 or any other ailments.
Kevin Hart is one of the realest comedians out there. He’s not afraid to speak his mind, and stick to his true moral convictions. Kevin lives his life unapologetically for him and his family. I admire that about him, and now his skin care regime. Who would have thought? I never thought I would be sharing an article on Kevin Hart’s skin care routine, which sounds a lot similar to my own routines. In the article below, Kevin describes everything he does for his skin, heart, body, and his mind. Enjoy!
The actor-comedian-producer Kevin Hart isn’t used to being homebound, but that doesn’t mean he is any less busy. Through his company Laugh Out Loud, he is working with Headspace, a meditation app, on content like “Mindful Runs,” “Energy Shots” and “Meditate With Me,” motivational programs that blend comedy with mindfulness. They’re all rolling out this month. And along the way, Mr. Hart, 41, has gone whole hog on skin care, wellness and even fragrance. Here’s his pandemic grooming and wellness routine.
First things first, I have a sip of water. I’m a faithful water-by-the-night-stand kind of person. Then I go to the bathroom and throw some water on my face. You have to change that sag and fatigue look in the mirror. Then I do a nice warm towel to the face.
Skin Care Convert
My skin care is all by Tina K. She’s a facialist, and she’s done my face for 10-plus years. A friend referred me to her, and that friend was more committed to skin care than anyone in my life.
I had no idea of the different quality and levels of skin care regimens. I was blown away by Tina. She worked around my schedule. She made me make a commitment to my skin. I think of it this way: The same way I’m committed to health and wellness or writing a script, it should be the same with skin care.
Before Covid, I would see her about twice a month to make sure I got a deep clean. Then it’s about consistency — the wash, the scrub, the mask. These are things I never thought I’d be talking about in a thousand years! But anything deserves the opportunity to be taken care of — your skin, your heart, your body, your mind. It’s all stuff you have to work on, and it doesn’t just become good overnight.
Early Bird Gym Time
After that, I’m in the gym by 6 a.m. I usually work out between 5 and 6 — I beat the sun up — because nine times out of 10, I don’t have to be anywhere. Getting up this early, this was a gradual change. I realized that if I didn’t clock in the gym time, I couldn’t consistently produce the best me. Especially when I was touring or shooting, the only time that was mine was my mornings.
I’ve been an early gym riser for about the last six years. I love it now — you’re getting some quiet, you can listen to music — it’s almost therapeutic for me.I’m working out with my trainer, Ron Boss Everline. We’ve hit about the eight-year mark. I like the fact that we’ve grown together.
A lot of my accomplishments have come from taking care of myself and my body, and I owe that to him. He helped me fall in love with the lifestyle. He didn’t throw me the most difficult thing in the world. It’s about learning to love it.
It’s not trying to get a crazy level of results in a short time. It’s about gradual results: As I achieve more, I can unlock different levels. We’re all over the map, anything from full body to weights to bands to cardio. For cardio, it can be mountain biking or beach workouts. We just try to keep it fun and fresh.
I’ll go to the steam room first, then shower. I love a steam. A good sweat is always welcome. In the shower, I’m a body-wash guy. I might use all these different combinations that Byredo has — the body wash and the lotions. Men deserve to smell good.My toothbrush, Bruush, it’s my newfound love, and I’m now an investor. You get the gums, you get every little place. And I’ve been using the same toothpaste, Colgate White, forever — since I was 4 years old.Deodorant, I’m into the standard Degree regular, 24-hour protection.
I got a Manscaper — it’s a real product! It’s pretty dope. Usually I swear by it, but sometimes you got to let it go out of control for a minute. The wife has to understand we’re on lockdown.
I don’t use anything fancy for my hair. No specific brand. I do like some of the Moroccanoil products, though.
I’m very into fragrance. Le Labo has an amazing collection. I love the exclusives that you can only get in certain cities — very exclusive drops. I’ve been wearing Lys 41. Learning about fragrance for me is like how I approach things all across the board. I have a lot of expectations on me from me. I choose not to cheat. I like the detail.
This past year, you definitely had a lot of thinking time. I’m available. You’ve got to make the best of trying to find a positive in the negative with what’s going on. For me, I get to sit down and be with my kids and my wife in a way I’ve never been available before.
There was a comedian who said something like, “I’ve never been home for a Friday, Saturday, Sunday.” Those are our work days. For years I haven’t been home for consecutive weekends ever. So having that time to really talk and communicate with my family, to understand my family and have my family understand me, has been amazing. I’m realizing there are ways of prioritizing and making myself more available and making sure my family is first.
Meditation plays a major part for me. The road biking and the running, that’s my best time to zone out and tap into a thinking space. I think about the wish list of what I want to do and the things I want to do better or aspire to do. At my house we have a massage chair, and it’s in an isolated location where there’s no TV and no music. There I use the Headspace app. I had to learn how to shut down in my mind. It’s not natural for me.
What I found with Headspace is you get coached through an easy way of relaxing and truly clearing your head. Currently I can do this for 10 to 15 minutes max. That’s why I partnered on content with them.
I also have the Theragun. I’m a fan. It serves a high value in my household, like when you’re just chilling on the couch.
I’ve tapped into some of the CBD stuff, but I haven’t OD’ed yet, in the sense that I haven’t done my research on everything out there and found what is best. I’m old school. I still do Epsom salt in the bath.
Cicely Tyson is one of my all time favorite actress. Her beauty, grace, and courageous spirit are powerful qualities that sets her apart from her peers. At 96, she continues to show that age is really just a number. She’s sharp as a whistle and clever as ever. I came across this article by David Marchese in the New York Times, and I just had to share it with you all. Cicely definitely is living her life to the upmost fullest. Enjoy!
It’s no stretch to say that Cicely Tyson widened the scope of American popular culture. Her groundbreaking portrayals of complex, dignified Black women in feature films like ‘‘Sounder’’ (1972) and the 1974 television film ‘‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’’ showed aspects of the American experience that had rarely, if ever, been represented onscreen before. The gravitas and artistry that Tyson brought to those projects has been a constant throughout her long career, up through the actress’s Tony Award-winning turn in ‘‘The Trip to Bountiful’’ (2013) and ABC’s just-concluded legal drama series ‘‘How to Get Away With Murder,’’ for which she earned five Emmy nominations. Now, with her memoir, ‘‘Just as I Am,’’ which will be published on Jan. 26, Tyson, who is 96, has moved from telling her characters’ stories to telling her own. ‘‘I’m always searching for myself,’’ she says. ‘‘There’s so many facets to a human being. I surprise myself all the time.’’
You’re 96 years old. You’ve had a full life. What advice do you have about how to do that? Oh, I don’t know that I can say it now. Maybe at the end of the interview.
I like it. Let me ask a question that has to do with race and acting. You remember Pauline Kael? Yes. She gave me an excellent review for ‘‘Sounder.’’
A cliffhanger! That’s right. It makes sure you stay with me.
She also had an essay about ‘‘Jane Pittman,’’ and I want to read you something from it. She wrote: ‘‘I’m comparing Tyson to the highest, because that’s the comparison she invites and has earned. She isn’t there, but she’s on her way. She’s great, but she will be even greater when she can relax and smile without feeling she’s Uncle Tomming.’’ That’s a pretty big, fraught assumption Kael was making, that you were playing to racial perceptions. What do you think about that? That’s a surprise! I don’t Uncle Tom to anybody. I don’t care who it is. When I smile, I smile. I do not grin. There’s a difference, OK? And I would say that to Jesus, do you understand? White people always think that when Black people smile a lot or laugh a lot, they’re being Uncle Tom to white folks. Well, that is not me. Absolutely not me. I smile when I feel like smiling, and I don’t when I do not.
But what about Kael’s fundamental assumption? That your characterizations were informed by off-the-screen racial dynamics. Did you ever approach your work on those terms? No. I never worried about what people think about my performances. I work internally, and then when I’m not working on a character, I don’t think about them at all.
In your book, you write about some problematic people who were in your life. One is Bill Cosby, with whom you were close. But in the book, you don’t mention what has happened with him over the past few years or how you feel about it. Are you comfortable sharing your perspective on that? I think about it all the time. To tell you the truth, I can’t believe it. We were close. Miles and I were married in his home, you know? It’s hard for me to talk about, because I don’t know this person that is incarcerated and I never experienced anything that resembled the behavior that he is incarcerated for. I don’t know that person of whom they speak.
What does it say about human nature that this person you were close to had this other side? That you don’t know anybody. You think you know them, but you don’t. I mean, that a person could have a personality so far removed from the one that you know? How can you account for it? You can’t.
I also want to ask you about Miles Davis.Who’s that? [Laughs]
The portrait that you paint of him in the book is pretty unsparing. In your telling, he was physically abusive, he was unfaithful, he was dishonest and he was also dealing with serious addiction problems. Was it hard to disclose those experiences? No. That’s who he was. I have never seen Miles Davis smoke reefer, snort cocaine or hit a woman, OK? He never did it in front of me. He never brought any of those things into our home, all right? And when I tell people that, they say, ‘‘That’s because of his respect for you.’’
I don’t quite understand. In the book, you write about him punching you in the chest. Oh, that was the only time he ever hit me, and that was at the beginning of our relationship. I was shocked. Some people came to the house, a famous writer and his wife, and something happened. I had prepared lunch and —
You dropped a knife on the floor. Yes, and he thought I threw the knife on the floor because of something he said. I hadn’t even been listening to what he was saying. And he came to me, yes he did, and he punched me in the chest. That’s the only time he ever struck me. I’d never had anybody do that to me, all right? He was so sorry. I’m glad you reminded me of that. Those things come and go. The abuse that’s mentioned, I understood where it came from. People don’t behave in that way for no reason. It comes from something or someplace. And nine times out of 10, it’s because they have been deeply hurt. The way people would refer to Miles, ‘‘He’s bad, he’s this, he does that’’ — not in a vacuum, he doesn’t. Nine times out of 10, the abuse came out when he was under the influence of the drugs, of the alcohol.
After all that you went through with him, is he someone you still have love for?Listen, let me tell you something. I got to know the soul of a man who is as gentle as a lamb. He covered it up with this ruthless attitude because he was so shy. Shy, you hear me? And in trying to be the kind of tough person that people thought he was, he ruined his life. Yes, gentle as a lamb, you hear me? That’s the Miles Davis I knew.
But what about love? I’m curious about how your feelings for a man like that might have changed over time. Wait a minute. The man I love was not like that to me. When he was dying, a friend of mine went to the hospital to see him, and he was trying to tell her something. But he had had surgery, and she couldn’t understand what he was trying to say to her. The nurse came in and said to my friend, ‘‘Why don’t you go for a walk and come back in about 45 minutes, and he will be able to talk to you.’’ So she went for a walk. And she came back to the hospital, and he was able to talk loudly enough to tell her this: ‘‘Tell Cicely I’m sorry. Tell her I’m very, very sorry.’’
You’ve been in the entertainment business for more than 60 years. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen? There has been an attempt at being more lenient to Blacks. Let me correct that a little. They are hiring Blacks, but they are hiring Black actors from Africa. And the question has been: ‘‘What’s the difference? He’s Black.’’ Ah, but he’s Black African, as opposed to Black American. They’re taking away our jobs.
Are there examples you’re thinking of? If you take a look at the scene and the Black actors whose careers have come to fruition in the last few years, you will see that most of the Black male actors have been from Africa. Black males here have been quite upset about it. Do you follow?
I follow. I’m not sure I agree, but I follow. [Laughs.] They will kill me for that!
This is an inelegant segue, but at your age, you must think about death now and then. Does it scare you? I’m not scared of death. I don’t know what it is. How could I be afraid of something I don’t know anything about?
It’s something a lot of people are scared of. They just think they know death because other people say it is something to be scared of, but they don’t know that it is a frightening thing. Do you?
Nope. No, you don’t know what it is. People say it is this and it is that. But they don’t know. They’ve not been there. I’ve not been there. I’m not in a hurry to go either! I take it a day at a time, David, and I’m grateful for every day that God gives me.
What’s the most interesting thing about being your age? Holding on to your mentality. I have known a few people who lost it, and that to me is the saddest thing in the world. Because when you can look at your child and say, ‘‘Who are you?’’ or ‘‘What’s your name?’’ — that’s the worst that can happen to anybody. I can’t believe this medical science that looks at trying to give you more time when you don’t know who you are, don’t know who your children are, do not know anything. What’s the point?
Can we go back to the cliffhanger? I can tell you now: To thine own self be true.
That’s what you left me hanging for? I mean, it’s good advice but — Yes, that’s what it is. Do that, and you’ll have no regrets.
Have you ever not been true to yourself?I have tried not to. [Laughs.]
I think I’m confused by the double negative. Does that mean — You didn’t get that did you?
I don’t think I did. [Laughs.] I know it is confusing. Follow me, David.
You’re just playing with me now. Help me out. It’s simple. I try always to be true to myself. I learned from my mom: ‘‘Don’t lie ever, no matter how bad it is. Don’t lie to me ever, OK? You will be happier that you told the truth.’’ That has stayed with me, and it will stay with me for as long as I’m lucky enough to be here.
The original New York Times Magazine article can be found here. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity from two conversations.
Vegan milk sales are on the rise while dairy stays stagnate, but which is the healthiest plant-based milk out there?
A study published in the PMC back in 2017 titled ‘How well do plant-based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow’s milk?’ assessed four types of plant-based milk: almond, coconut, soy, and rice milk.
It found that rice and coconut milk ‘cannot act as an ideal alternative for cow’s milk because of limited nutrient diversity’. But, are options for those allergic to soy or nuts.
‘Balanced nutrient profile’
The study also said almond milk has a ‘balanced nutrient profile’ but the’ nutrient density and the total number of calories are not as rich as that of cow’s milk’.
It, therefore, warns those consuming almond milk to make sure ‘various essential nutrients are available through other sources in the diet in appropriate quantities’.
Soy was crowned the overall winner for being ‘very rich in proteins and fat’, as well as its health benefits which are ‘primarily attributed to the presence of isoflavones which are linked to exhibit anti-cancer properties’.
Researchers’ only criticism of soy was its ‘beany’ flavor which it describes as a ‘major hurdle’ in encouraging consumers to ditch dairy. More recently, soy has come under scrutiny for its environmental impact, though it’s worth noting that almost 80 percent of the world’s soy is grown to feed livestock.
What plant-based milk do experts recommend?
In a recent video with Plant Based Science London, Dr. Greger states: “I encourage people to drink unsweetened soy milk, which is the healthiest milk out there. Of course, you don’t have to drink any milk at all… If you put it on Fruit Loops it doesn’t matter what kind of milk, it’s all bad.
“But if you’re using that milk to moisten your oat groats in the morning, well then unsweetened soy is probably the best.”
The human brain is a complex organ composed of billions of neurons continuously firing electrical signals that control what we do, think, and feel. However, many people do not realize that the human body also has a “second brain!” This “second brain,” located in the gut, is often overlooked but equally important in regulating our behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. In fact, research indicates that factors that disrupt gut health affect the brain and may contribute to mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. The profound discovery of the gut-brain connection lends an all new meaning to the expression “a gut feeling!” Listening to and taking care of our guts may represent a new frontier in the prevention and treatment of mental health disorders!
What is the “second brain?”
Mental illness is unfortunately quite common in the United States. Current statistics indicate that one in six American adults has a mental illness such as depression or anxiety. (1) The conventional medical approach to treating mental health disorders focuses heavily on medication and views the brain as an entity distinct from the rest of the body. However, an emerging body of research indicates that the gut and brain are intrinsically linked and that the health of one organ significantly influences the other.
The “second brain” in the gut is comprised of gut bacteria and a branch of the nervous system called the enteric nervous system. Gut bacteria produce metabolites that modulate the enteric nervous system, which subsequently sends signals to the brain that influence mental function. Depending on the type of bacteria present in the gut, these signals may promote a healthy mental state or may induce conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and even schizophrenia. (2)
A growing body of scientific studies demonstrates the association between gut bacteria and mental health. In animal studies, mice with lower levels of beneficial Lactobacilli have been found to be less resilient in stressful situations and more prone to depression. (3) In humans, depressed patients have demonstrated significantly altered gut microbiome composition compared to healthy controls, with a preponderance of pathogenic bacteria and lower levels of beneficial bacteria. (4) Patients with bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder also have significantly altered gut microbiomes.5,6 This research suggests that the “second brains” of patients with mental health disorders are miscommunicating with the brain, leading to unhealthy alterations in mental function.
Gut bacteria alter neurotransmitter levels and the stress response
Researchers have uncovered two potential mechanisms by which gut bacteria interact with the enteric nervous system, and subsequently, the brain itself:
1. Pathogenic gut bacteria, which predominate when the microbiome is imbalanced, produce metabolites that promote an inflammatory immune response and increase the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is the branch of the central nervous system responsible for the “fight or flight” response. (7) Activation of this response produces anxiety. Conversely, beneficial gut bacteria, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, produce compounds that suppress inflammation and the sympathetic nervous system reaction.
2. Certain gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, that communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve, which connects the enteric nervous system of the gut to the brain. Bacterial imbalances in the gut may alter neurotransmitter levels and disrupt mental health. (8)
Strategies for balancing the microbiome and optimizing mental health
To achieve optimal mental health, it is crucial that we establish a healthy gut microbiome. By eating a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet, supplementing with probiotics, limiting antibiotic use, and reducing stress in our lives, we can create a healthy and happy gut and brain!
Eat a Whole Foods, nutrient-dense diet
Studies show that traditional, whole foods are superior for mental health. (9) One of the reasons why a whole foods diet benefits mental health is because it contains prebiotic fiber, a type of fiber that feeds beneficial gut bacteria and fuels their many metabolic activities, including the production of metabolites that quell inflammation and optimize brain function. Fascinatingly, research has found that supplementation with prebiotic fiber alone lowers cortisol, a hormone involved in the stress response.10 Prebiotic fiber can be found in supplemental forms such as inulin and galactooligosaccharides (GOS), as well as in foods such as asparagus, garlic, onions, leeks, apples, and legumes. Consuming fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi may also benefit mood by supplying the gut with live, probiotic bacteria. When gut bacteria are well-fed and happy, they help create a happy, healthy brain!
Probiotics: Natural antidepressants
Research indicates that probiotics may act as natural antidepressants by producing metabolites that suppress inflammation and the sympathetic nervous system response. In animal models of psychological stress, supplementation with Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus helveticus, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus has been found to reduce anxiety and depressive behaviors.11,12,13
In human trials, probiotic supplementation also improves parameters of mental health. In one study, supplementation with a multispecies probiotic containing Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria reduced self-reported sad mood and negative thoughts in adults.14 In another study, supplementation with Bifidobacterium longum reduced subjective levels of stress and improved memory.15 These findings suggest that taking a multispecies probiotic containing Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria may be a simple and effective way to significantly improve mental health!
Strictly limit antibiotic use
Disruption to the gut microbiome by antibiotics has been found to impair cognition by disturbing the balance of beneficial and pathogenic bacteria in the gut and the neuroactive substances they produce.16 To promote optimal mental health, limit antibiotic use to times when it is essential, and always be sure to take a probiotic to restore beneficial gut bacteria once the course of antibiotics has been completed.
Psychological stress perpetuates a vicious cycle of poor mental health by lowering levels of beneficial bacteria and increasing levels of bacteria that promote inflammation and the sympathetic nervous system response.17 Stress-reduction practices such as yoga and meditation may benefit mental health by helping you maintain a healthy “second brain.”
Mental illness: It’s not “all in your head!”
If you or someone you love has experienced depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, know that it is not “all in your head”; in fact, much of the problem may lie in your gut! Our growing understanding of the gut-brain connection represents a new frontier in the treatment of mental health disorders and means that mental health problems need not be a life sentence. By restoring balance to the gut microbiome using a whole foods diet, probiotics, and stress reduction techniques, it is entirely possible to improve your mood and create optimal mental health that lasts a lifetime.
Article by: Lindsay Christensen, BS, biomedical science with an emphasis in nutrition, is a health writer and researcher. She is working on a MS degree in human nutrition toward being a clinical nutritionist. Her passion for natural health and wellness is driven by personal experience of recovering from a serious chronic illness. She offers health coaching and nutrition consulting services and writes about her ancestral, nature-inspired approach to nutrition and healthy living at Ascent to Health: https://www.ascent2health.com/.
3. Marin IA, Goertz JE, Ren T, et al. Microbiota alteration is associated with the development of stress-induced despair behavior. Sci Rep. 2017; 7: 43859. https://www.nature.com/articles/srep43859. Accessed January 24, 2018.
4. Naseribafrouei A, Hestad K, Avershina E, et al. Correlation between the human fecal microbiota and depression. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2014; 26(8): 1155-1162. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24888394. Accessed January 24, 2018.
7. Bailey MT, Dowd SE, Galley JD, et al. Exposure to a social stressor alters the structure of the intestinal microbiota: implications for stressor-induced immunomodulation. Brain Behav Immun. 2011; 25(3): 397-407. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21040780. Accessed January 25, 2018.
9. Rahe C, Unrath M, Berger K. Dietary patterns and the risk of depression in adults: a systematic review of observational studies. Eur J Nutr. 53(4): 997-1013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24468939. Accessed January 25, 2018.
10. Schmidt K, Cowen PJ, Harmer CJ, et al. Prebiotic intake reduces the waking cortisol response and alters emotional bias in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015; 232(10): 1793-1801. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4410136/. Accessed January 25, 2018.
11. Desbonnet L, Garrett L, Clarke G, et al. Effects of the probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis in the maternal separation model of depression. Neuroscience. 2010; 170(4): 1179-1188. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20696216. Accessed January 25, 2018.
12. Ohland CL, Kish L, Bell H, et al. Effects of Lactobacillus helveticus on murine behavior are dependent on diet and genotype and correlate with alterations in the gut microbiome. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013; 38(9): 1738-1747. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23566632. Accessed January 25, 2018.
13. Bravo JA, Forsythe P, Chew MV, et al. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011; 108(38): 16050-16055. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21876150. Accessed January 25, 2018.
14. Steenbergen L, Sellaro R, van Hemert S, et al. A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Brain Behav Immunol. 2015; 48: 258-264. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25862297. Accessed January 25, 2018.
16. Forhlich EE, Farzi A, Mayerhofer R, et al. Cognitive impairment by antibiotic-induced gut dysbiosis: Analysis of gut microbiota-brain communication. Brain Behav Immun. 2016; 56:140-155. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26923630. Accessed January 25, 2018.
17. Foster JA, Rinaman L, Cryan JF. Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome. Neurobiology of Stress. 2017; 7: 124-136.
As I discuss in my video How to Treat Heart Failure and Kidney Failure with Diet, one way a diet rich in animal-sourced foods like meat, eggs, and cheese may contributeto heart disease, stroke, and death is through the production of an atherosclerosis-inducing substance called TMAO. With the help of certain gut bacteria, the choline and carnitine found concentrated in animal products can get converted into TMAO. But, wait a second. I thought atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, was about the buildup of cholesterol. Is that not the case?
“Cholesterol is still king,” but TMAO appears to accelerate the process. It seems that TMAO appears to increase the ability of inflammatory cells within the atherosclerotic plaque in the artery walls to bind to bad LDL cholesterol, “which makes the cells more prone to gobble up cholesterol.” So TMAO is just “another piece to the puzzle of how cholesterol causes heart disease.”
What’s more, TMAO doesn’t just appear to worsen atherosclerosis, contributing to strokes and heart attacks. It also contributes to heart and kidney failure. If you look at diabetics after a heart attack, a really high-risk group, nearly all who started out with the most TMAO in their bloodstream went on to develop heart failure within 2,000 days, or about five years. In comparison, only about 20 percent of those starting out with medium TMAO levels in the blood went into heart failure and none at all in the low TMAO group, as you can see at 1:21 in my video.
So, those with heart failure have higher levels of TMAO than controls, and those with worse heart failure have higher levels than those with lesser stage heart disease. If you follow people with heart failure over time, within six years, half of those who started out with the highest TMAO levels were dead. This finding has since been replicated in two other independent populations of heart failure patients.
The question is, why? It’s probably unlikely to just be additional atherosclerosis, since that takes years. For most who die of heart failure, their heart muscle just conks out or there’s a fatal heart rhythm. Maybe TMAO has toxic effects beyond just the accelerated buildup of cholesterol.
What about kidney failure? People with chronic kidney disease are at a particularly “increased risk for the development of cardiovascular disease,” thought to be because of a diverse array of uremic toxins. These are toxins that would normally be filtered out by the kidneys into the urine but may build up in the bloodstream as kidney function declines. When we think of uremic toxins, we usually think of the toxic byproducts of protein putrefying in our gut, which is why specially formulated plant-based diets have been used for decades to treat chronic kidney failure. Indeed, those who eat vegetarian diets form less than half of these uremic toxins.
Those aren’t the only uremic toxins, though. TMAO, which, as we’ve discussed, comes from the breakdown of choline and carnitine found mostly in meat and eggs, may be increasing heart disease risk in kidney patients as well. How? “The cardiovascular implication of TMAO seems to be due to the downregulation of reverse cholesterol transport,” meaning it subverts our own body’s attempts at pulling cholesterol out of our arteries.
And, indeed, the worse our kidney function gets, the higher our TMAO levels rise, and those elevated levels correlate with the amount of plaque clogging up their arteries in their heart. But once the kidney is working again with a transplant, your TMAO levels can drop right back down. So, TMAO was thought to be a kind of biomarker for declining kidney function—until a paper was published from the Framingham Heart Study, which found that “elevated choline and TMAO levels among individuals with normal renal [kidney] function predicted increased risk for incident development of CKD,” chronic kidney disease. This suggests that TMAO is both a biomarker and itself a kidney toxin.
Indeed, when you follow kidney patients over time and assess their freedom from death, those with higher TMAO, even controlling for kidney function, livedsignificantly shorter lives, as you can see at 4:44 in my video. This indicates this is a diet-induced mechanism for progressive kidney scarring and dysfunction, “strongly implying the need to focus preventive efforts on dietary modulation,” but what might that look like? Well, maybe we should reduce “dietary sources of TMAO generation, such as some species of deep-sea fish, eggs, and meat.”
It also depends on what kind of gut bacteria you have. You can feed a vegan a steak, and they still don’t really make any TMAO because they haven’t been fostering the carnitine-eating bacteria. Researchers are hoping, though, that one day, they’ll find a way to replicate “the effects of the vegetarian diet…by selective prebiotic, probiotic, or pharmacologic therapies.”