Microbiome (mikro . biom) – This medical term has it’s first known use in 1952. It’s the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space.  Joshua Lederberg coined the term arguing the importance of microorganisms inhabiting the human body in health and disease.

photo of person with face and body paint

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Simply, it’s the bugs that live on or in us.

The bacteria, fungi, and viruses that inhabit a particular environment and especially the collection of microorganisms living on our body number about 100 trillion (Carl Zimmer) and together with other microbes, collectively are known as our own personal microbiome.

The material in our gut is the personal microbiome of our gut.

The largest number of microbes live in the gastrointestinal tract and are associated with the regulation of digestion, protection from disease-causing organisms, and the development of a strong immune response.

According to an article by Will Hartfield (12/32016), the microbiome is linked to a person’s genetic footprint and hence plays a role in the determination of our unique DNA, predisposition to pathogens, hereditary traits, body type and much more. In fact, up to 90% of all human maladies are linked to the health of the gut and the overall condition of our microbiome.

strawberry frozen yogurt cup

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Lifestyle can affect our microbiome. Dr. Heather Tick, a researcher, and the multi-book author suggests some healthful guidelines.

Medical procedures, medications, diet, questionable drinking water, chemotherapy are just a few issues that can alter the microbiome in our bodies and bring about serious long term health issues.

When our gut microbiome is balanced – which means that the ratio of good bacteria to bad will be higher keeping everything in check – we’ll find good bacteria (probiotics), bad bacteria, yeast (like Candida Albicans) and other microorganisms.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the healthiest microbiome. So, how do we know if our gut microbiome isn’t healthy?

  • Gas or bloating  * Indigestion * Diarrhea or Constipation * Food Allergies * Frequent Colds/flues * Infections * Sugar Cravings * Fatigue * Mood Swings * Skin Allergies * Depression * Weight Loss/Gain * Brain Fog/Trouble Concentrating * Headaches * Thyroid Issues * Autoimmune Issues

Changing our diet is a good way that we can intervene.

out of order text on persons belly

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“Ditch the sugar.” We’ve heard it before.  Well, we’re hearing it again now.  Sugar in all of its forms creates an addictive cycle.  The brain simply signals that another sugar treat is entering the bloodstream and like cocaine, the addictive cycle begins again.

Probiotic-rich foods are great sources of dietary probiotics: these include yogurt, kefir, and kombucha.  Fiber-rich foods such as onions, legumes, and bananas are also recommended since your gut bacteria break down the fiber for their own energy helping to support the colonization of healthy bacteria in the gut.

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Supplements with a probiotic that contains a variety of bacterial strain with a high colonizing unit per capsule such as 50 billion live cultures help to speed healing and improve gut diversity.  This is important if we’ve been prescribed an antibiotic.  Antibiotics destroy bacteria in the nonselectively, meaning they also kill the probiotic we need to keep our gut microbiome healthy.

Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is important because it’s linked to our overall health.



Travel is the power to change our world. Whether we physically travel or mentally explore our options, putting ourselves in another location is the goal of traveling. Either method can be used as a tool for change.

Kobe Bryant stated in a 2010 interview during the NBA finals – “Your sad, bad feelings can be used as an energy tool for your motivation to move you forward in life. Learn to focus them to achieve what you want.” (L.A. Lakers, Boston Celtics) Traveling forward in life by tapping into our personal energy tool – Kobe referred to this idea as “a frequency” – gives you energy, and focus, which stimulates your ambition.

Resolution, industry, sincerity, and tranquility were a few of Benjamin Franklin’s personal, positive virtues that helped him travel forward within the political arena of his time. These qualities aided Franklin’s journey as he changed his world

Whether traveling either by vehicle or mentally, tapping into our immense potential rearranges our environment. So, if you want to change, just chose your mode of travel.

Time for Fall

This is a season for change not only in earth’s color scheme but the nourishing power of regrowth.

Gardner’s till the ground with intention and might just as the moon cycles through phases of its equinox as though both are preparing for the birth of equal division of day and night.

Earth’s sun gives equal attention to the power of growing and serenity of sleeping as though the divided courtesy reminds us to ready ourselves for the upcoming hibernation of winter – summer’s playground is fading.

We eye our sweaters and jackets with suspicion as though foreign objects have invaded our closets and are clamoring for attention. Memories dance across the clothes hangers reminding us of past social events and cold winter huddlings. Boots and snow-proof gear assume a prominent position in our living arrangements since they will be our close companions for the next few months -bikinis and flippy shoes are tossed to the back of the closet.

As we slip into the season of warm, silky sweaters, we are reminded that cool weather heralds change for earth and earthlings alike – both of which are vying for attention and sharing resources.


In our busy, hectic days do we often take a chance to reflect upon something that is free, good for our health, can’t be bought, available to everyone and doesn’t depend on a time schedule?

Some evening if you have a few extra minutes around sundown stop and look up into the sky.

Welcoming Eyes

Whatever the situation, we’re intrigued by eye contact. Eye contact increases our pulse rate, decreases our dishonesty factor (we lie less often), increases our adherence to rules and norms and helps us to attend to subtle social cues.

In this Covid-19-world there’s a vast array of rapidly changing information. If we attend to relevant information we’re better able to assess our environment and make appropriate personal decisions.

We’ve all been there, albeit for just a brief moment, as we unexpectedly catch the fleeting glance of a impressionable person. They’re wearing a protective mask while hurriedly buying that last-minute item at the grocery store or maybe standing six feet apart from you in the post office waiting to send off a special delivery package but their visual glance says “Welcome – Hello, how are you?”

The best way to make a lasting impression is to make eye contact. This statement is verified by Lily Zhang a Career Development Specialist at MIT in the publication Secrets to Making Non-Awkward Eye Contact The Muse-Tools & Skills – 2018 Lily Zhang.

Recent EEG work suggests that there are fundamental differences in our brain activity response to viewing another person in the same room compared to viewing that person on a computer screen.

Viewing a live face with a direct gaze results in more pronounced brain processing than viewing a photograph of that same face. So, eye contact with another human being stimulates our brain activity. We respond as physical beings to another physical being when we look in another persons’ eyes.

During this period of COVID-19-social distancing and mask-wearing and goggle-donning it is vitally important to make that ever-primal gesture of communication: eye contact.

Recent social psychology research suggests that we may often avoid looking at other people in real life and this effect has been recently confirmed using an eye-tracking devise. In contrast, people, and in particular their faces and eyes, strongly capture and direct attention when participants view photographs.

It seems likely that people may not attend to other individuals in the same way when interacting in real life as when presented with a video. This may be something that we as individuals may want to think about since we use a cell phone to communicate with each other and, during this time of COVID-19 quarantine, may be watching more live-streaming videos instead of communicating with each other in our daily lives.

In social situation, eye contact is highly informative. Looking directly at someone while their speaking, even while they’re wearing a COVID-19 protective mask, aids us in being part of the conversation. Instead of two people engaging in idle chatter or buzzing, annoying unrelated words, eye contact gels the spoken words into – wait for it, wait for it – a welcoming conversation.

Since we should all be wearing protective mask during these uncertain COVID-19 times and because we all need to rely on a welcoming, friendship network, if we aren’t looking into the eyes of the people within our 6 ft.- social-distancing area how can we understand the lives and challenges of the community in which we live?

Your eyes are your “scouts.” They scan the horizon much like the advance scouts did in the days of the ole’ west when the military was traveling on maneuvers in the hot desert. Processing of the information is the same: gathering, assessing and decision making.

In today’s COVID-19 environment it’s just as vital to make the correct decision with the incoming information that you receive from eye contact. We all make connections through eye contact so you may want to pay attention to the cues coming from the person you’re looking at: it’s a good idea.

According to a news release on http://www.Today.com/health (7/13/2020), in an article from Maura Hohman the coronavirus is most commonly transmitted through the nose and mouth, but it’s also possible to get the coronavirus through your eyes. In addition to social distancing, hand washing and wearing a face mask, the use of eye protection, such as goggles, visors and face shields, may help keep infection rates low.

A recent study in The Lancet indicates that the risk of COVID-19 is reduced from 16% to 5.5% on average for people who protect their eyes with goggles, face shields and other eye PPE compared with those who don’t apply any eye covering.

Dr. John Torres, an NBC News correspondent, explains that whether you should take precautions to protect your eyes from the coronavirus depends on where you are. Wear glasses or goggles “if you’re in an area where you can’t practice social distancing or if you’re around people who are coughing or sneezing a lot” is a good idea.

Some say that our eyes are the windows to our soul. Others indicate that our eyes are truth tellers and still others describe our eyes as the entry into the deepest corners of our mind. Our eyes may be all these things and more especially during this COVID-19 time of uncertainly.

Our eyes can be a portal for acquiring a COVID-19 infection. Our eyes can be a source of receiving a welcoming greeting from a loved one or a stranger wearing a protective face mask. Our eyes can be a “scout” surveying the landscape around us searching for a friendly face or our eyes can be part of a lively conversation.

Sometimes our eyes welcome home a tired family member after they have had a hard day caring for a critically ill COVID-19 patient in an ICU hospital bed. Our tired eyes can be looking through a face shield into the eyes of yet another COVID-19 dying patient for which the hospital has no bed and has had to be treated in the hallway on a gurney. Our eyes can welcome home our mommy since she’s recovered from COVID-19 and received excellent medical care.

We perceive up to 80% of all impressions by means of our sight. If our other senses such as taste and smell stop working it’s the eyes that best protect us from danger (Wikipedia October 16, 2017). Our precious eyesight may be our only vanguard if we’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and lose our other responses to incoming stimuli.

Our eyes invite the world. Wearing a COVID-19 protective face mask or face shield focuses us into an expressive eye-to-eye communication with that world. Weather we face a COVID-19-world shifting with fear, hate, anguish, uncertainty or love we were given 2 eyeballs for depth perception and can use the awareness to see our relationship within that world.

Our eyes welcome the world, we write the story.





American Nurse, a journal of the American Nurses Association, (June 2020 Vol. 15. 6, p 21) introduces us to the words of Florence Nightingale: “No amount of medical knowledge will lessen the accountability for nurses to do what nurses do; that is, manage the environment to promote positive life processes.”

This includes the 24-hour, 7-day-a-week nature of the work, which affects nurses’ health and well-being, including nutrition, particularly when working night shift according to an article by Sharon Tucker, PhD, APRN-CNS, NC-BC, EBP-C, FNAP, FAAN.

Hospital inpatient nursing positions new hires quickly experience the reality of 12-hour-plus shifts, rotating shifts and overtime.



Working nights interferes with our body’s natural circadian rhythm (24-hour sleep/wake cycle). Circadian rhythm is a natural process that regulates the sleep/wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. It is linked to our body’s internal clock. Brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other important biological processes are determined by this cycle.

Chrononutrition – the balance between biology and diet suggests that feeding and fasting can synchronize our biological and solar clocks. The rhythm cycles involve 4 ideas: light-dark, sleeping-waking, activity-rest, feeding-fasting. (Stronger By Science Chrononutrition: Why Meal Timing and Nutrition, Calorie Distribution & Feeding Windows Really Do Matter Nov. 18, 2019).

Serious health problems can occur when the circadian rhythm and chrononutrition are disrupted. It’s called chronodisruption.

Working as a night shift nurse, surviving on coffee and a partially eaten doughnut at 2 am surely alters and probably misaligns a nurse’s circadian rhythm and throws them into chronodisruption. Night-shift work may alter eating patterns (which impact your body’s regulator responses to metabolism) and food choices. Several studies have shown a relationship between altered circadian rhythms, eating patterns, and obesity.

These studies have important implications not only for night-shift and rotating-shift nurses but everyone of us wishing to maintain our health and wellbeing.

The “Nursing, night shift, and nutrition” article and the scientific field of Chronobiology outline a strategy that maximizes nutrition benefits throughout the day. When and how we eat has the potential to synchronize our circadian rhythm. Therefore, we need to align our internal cycles.

Eating at our biological night is a bad idea and the larger the calorie intake the more detrimental it is during the biological night.

Our tissues are more sensitive to insulin in the morning than at night with a decrease in sensitivity to insulin across the day. Eating a good breakfast can help promote good energy levels throughout the day.

During sleep the body is in a fasting state that promotes the release of stored glucose for central nervous system function. Eating during this time disrupts the system.

Research shows that if you consume most of your daily calories within 4 hours of going to sleep you will have more body fat than than people who don’t eat within that 4 hour span. Avoiding large carbohydrate loads in the evening is a good idea.

Night-shift nurses may find their circadian rhythm centered by choosing light snacks – such as fruits, vegetables, protein (nuts, yogurt, tune), and salads – that will increase energy. Also, eating the main meal before going to work will provide more fuel for their shift.

Caffeine is a double-edge sword. Systemic reviews demonstrate moderate consumption can improve alertness, vigilance and psychomotor performance; however, caffeine can interrupt sleep when night-shift workers want to rest. Avoiding caffeine 4 to 6 hours before planned sleep is a good idea because caffeine can reduce sleep efficiency, sleep duration, and slow-wave and REM sleep.

High-fat and high-sugar substances will ultimately make fatigue and energy swings more challenging. So, if you’re tempted to grab that last minute snack at the convenience store on your way to night-shift work – think twice, plan ahead and bring a packed meal from home.

Stronger By Science – Chrononutrition and Nursing, night shift, and nutrition offer a perspective for keeping our rhythm synchronized.


  • Establish norms and healthy food guidelines – Shift work doesn’t always allow for family meals but at least plan for weekly, nutritious meals earlier in the day
  • Arrange to have healthy foods available both to prepare for the meal and to take to work for the night-shift “time-clock”
  • Prepare meals ahead of time so that you’re not tempted to grab a quick last-minute, fat-filled, calorie-laden snack to go along with your 4th cup of caffeinated coffee


  • People in the US spend about 87% of their time in enclosed buildings when you factor in work schedules and indoor environments – this can cause chromodisruption. We need to get out into the sunlight, at least 20 minutes a day. Of course, do this cautiously keeping in mind the powerful rays of the sun an its potential to burn your skin with ultraviolet rays – always use sunscreen.
  • However, “the light” does not mean the light from using electronic devices that can inhibit your ability to sleep and rest. That includes the light from cell phones, laptops, computers, or any other play items whether for children or adults that emits electronic light. Sending your child or toddler to bed with an electronic, light-emitting toy may disrupt their sleep.
  • If you are a night-shift worker try to get 20 minutes of daytime sun


  • Regular physical activity is associated with increased mental and physical health
  • Conditioning exercises reduce your risk of heart attack and helps to manage your ideal weight
  • Physical activity helps to prevent chronic disease and maintain stronger muscles

Keeping your rhythm, keeping your sway, keeping your to-and-fro is the key whether you work night shift or you punch the clock from 9-5.

Healthy in Body and Mind

Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 5.5 million Americans, most of them age 65 or older, may have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s (NIH fact sheet 6/17/2020), (www.nih.gov).

Combining more healthy lifestyle behaviors was associated with substantially lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease in a study that included data from nearly 3,000 research participants. Those who adhered to four or all of the five specified healthy behaviors were found to have a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s.

The behaviors were:

  • physical activity
  • not smoking
  • light-to-moderate alcohol consumption
  • a high-quality diet
  • cognitive activities

Funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, this research was published in the June 17, 2020 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Richard J. Hodes the NIA Director states, “This observational study provides more evidence on how a combination of modifiable behaviors may mitigate Alzheimer’s disease risk.” (www.nia.nih.gov)

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults and currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Recent estimates indicate that the disorder may rank it third, just behind heart disease and cancer, as the cause of death for older people.

Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairments related to Alzheimer’s disease. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In MCI, people have more memory problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms do not interfere with their everyday lives.

Doctors may diagnose Alzheimer’s by:

  • Asking questions about the persons overall health and medications
  • Noticing changes in personality or behavior
  • Administering tests of memory, problem solving, attention and counting
  • Carrying out standard medical tests: blood and urine to rule out causes for changes
  • Performing brain scans – PT, CT, MRI

The NIA Director, Dr. Richard J. Hodes also states that the NIA observational study of 3,000 research participants provides more evidence on how a combination of modifiable behaviors may mitigate Alzheimer’s disease risk.”

The researchers scored each participant based on the five healthy lifestyle factors:

  • At least 150 minutes per week of moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity – Physical activity is an important part of healthy aging
  • Not smoking – Established research has confirmed that even in people 60 and older who have been smoking for decades, quitting will improve health
  • Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption – Limiting use of alcohol may help cognitive health
  • A high-quality, Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, which combines the Mediterranean diet with Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet – The MIND diet focuses on plant-based foods linked to dementia prevention
  • Engagement in late-life cognitive activities – Being intellectually engaged by keeping the mind active may benefit the brain
  • The SPRINT MIND trial, also suggests that intensive blood pressure control may slow age-related brain damage

The NIA is also funding more than 230 additional studies focusing on Alzheimer’s and dementia related issues. These include cognitive training, sleep evaluations and combination therapies.

Research by the National Institute on Aging suggests that a host of factors beyond genetics may play a role in the development and course of Alzheimer’s disease. There is a great deal of interest in the relationship between cognitive decline and vascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, as well as metabolic conditions such as diabetes as obesity.

The message seems to be: in addition to keeping regular medical appointments, stay physically active, socially engaged and eat a heart healthy diet on a regular basis – maybe we’ll all live to be a healthy 100 years old.

Epigenetic Aging

Accurately estimating biological age has tremendous value according to Adam Alonzi’s recent article entitled “Gauge Your Age: Epigenetics and the Future of Medicine.”

Smoking, drinking, stress, chronic infection, and major depression can all measurably accelerate the aging process as gauged by the epigenetic clock (Gao,2016; Gassen, 2017; Horvath, 2015; Rosen, 2018; Han; 2018).

Fear of transmitting, or acquiring, the virus that causes COVID-19 even if you or the other person is asymptomatic has been a strong driver of widespread compliance with face masks and physical distancing. However, we really don’t know how often an asymptomatic person infects a secondary individual.

According to an article by Laura A. Stokowski RN, MS, the number of asymptomatic people isn’t trivial. Recent data published in Annals of Internal Medicine indicates that 40%-50% of people with COVID-19 may be asymptomatic but have viral loads similar to those of presymptomatic individuals. Until we know how much transmission occurs from asymptomatic people, that risk hasn’t been eliminated, and that source must be considered infectious.

The question is: Can the effects of the virus that causes COVID-19 spreading around the world be causing a DNA methylation modification?

While we all age, we don’t all age in the same ways or at the same rate. Epigenetics modifications are largely responsible for this phenomenon, with DNA methylation being the most studied modification.

Adam Alonzi ask the question – Why do some people stay healthy throughout their lives and others don’t?

Methylation doesn’t rearrange DNA but it affects the expression of DNA. There is evidence that methylation traces or tags can pass to future generations – much like tendencies or habits (Epigenetics Simplified).

Epigenetics is what determines a cells specialization. Chemical and environmental modifications occur around our DNA. These modifications influence the expression of our cells. Everything we do and experience affects our cells – whether good or bad.

I look at life from a health care and writers point of view. Epigenetics is a long, well-written story line with many actors and actresses. The writer (our life experiences) adjusts the story line (methylation).

97% – 99% is the overall recovery rate for people diagnosed with COVID-19. An early scientific study shows that people who recover from the COVID-19 virus may carry it in their system for weeks (WebMD Coronavirus Recovery).

Obviously, our life experience both chemical and physical influences the methylation wrapping around our DNA.

“In geriatric medicine, we are always struck by the difference between our patients’ chronological age and how old they appear physiologically.” – Douglas, Kiel, HMS professor of medicine at Beth Israel.

Currently, we have tests for fasting blood sugar, creatinine blood levels, and biomarkers for blood clotting factors. These tests paint a bigger picture and can write a longer or shorter story.

Are we in a life cycle where there’s evidence of aging based on COVID-19 test results? If so is there intervention?

The sands of time flow downward for all of us but with rapid scientific advancements that flow may grind to a smooth finish.




Flowers can be a selfless gift of love and appreciation, a thought of kindness and outreach or of sorrow and reparation.

Roses carry their own special quality of thought and class.

Receiving roses whether they be red, white, pink, coral or deep, flaming intense purple all have a story to tell.

Throughout life occasions occur where roses seem to fit.

Roses are the thorny, crowning, blooming, delicate flower in the garden.

Roses may be my favorite – take a moment to find yours.

Big Easy Antithesis

Spending the day enjoying Jackson Square in historic New Orleans, Louisiana offers gaudy and decadent entertainment along with intelligent enrichment.

New Orleans is a city of intense contrasts. Luxury automobiles speed down cobblestone streets while gaunt-looking carriage horses pull tourist-filled wooden street carts down asphalt boulevards. Scantily-clad beauties prance casually across the portico of historic churches while greasy, dirty, poorly-clad, unshaven men loiter on street corners that are briefly visited by smartly-tailored bride grooms walking to their wedding ceremony.

The St. Louis Cathedral, centrally located in Jackson Square with its memorable architecture and historic past, is an anchor for these contrasts. Pedestrians intermingling activities congeal with the trolley car ramblings. Local artists display the electric, neon portraits along the rod iron fence that encases the sedate statues of the past.

Jackson Squares’ stark contrast continues with the indiscriminate shops that frame it. These stores, that are occupied by conversant proprietors, are the true keepers of the historic encounters of the culturally diverse attitudes of N.O. Their presence is often muted by the glaring tunes of the French Creole street bands and spontaneous Cajun lyrics and rhythm of homegrown tunes.

One such shop owner was at her designated position the festive afternoon I and my friend entered the subdued, unpretentious book store located at 624 Pirates Alley. This quaint literary boutique offered a welcome respite from the auditory and visual assault offered by the festive revelry of the weekend entertainers of Jackson Square.

The wizen, literary proprietor rose from her patine-covered chair as we entered the book store. I asked the rhetorical question – “Is this really a William Faulkner book store?” Her eyes twinkled and the corners of her mouth revealed an understanding smile as she slowly inhaled the idea. “Yes. He actually rented these two rooms in the early 1900’s while he wrote the novel Mosquitoes.”

She graciously conducted a tour of the quaint, cozy rooms with an easy, yet grand, sweeping of her arm as she circled the room. The space was compact so we completed the tour without leaving our initial stance.

Faulkner’s literary collection was audaciously displayed in the middle of the rooms yet they seemed to consume the entire shop by their understated prominence. The sparse book store quickly appeared scanty in trying to contain Faulkner’s substantive collection of literature.

After reviewing the assortment of Faulkner publications, I chose the book entitled – Mosquitoes, an in-depth description of people in isolation relating to each other in an unpretentious manner. The book was not bedazzled with jewels or inscribed with quaint tourist logos but it was a treasure for me. It filled up my senses of sight and sound much like eating a warm, toasty beignet from Cafe’ Du Monde Original French Market Coffee Stand fills up the sense of taste and touch – they are both delicious.