Microbiome

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Autumn Attitude

Puppies are born with the instinct to make eye contact with humans.  Dogs understand the significance of where we look and where we point to relay a command.  Dogs learn by watching us. It’s not only what we say but what we do that garners a response from dogs.

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Just as dogs respond to eye contact our bodies respond to our daily routines.  The seasons are changing from summer to autumn and since we’re looking toward the holidays it’s important to remember not to let our Autumn Attitude sway us from our daily fitness calendar.

By that I mean that we may be busy shopping for thanksgiving, planning for gift-giving, and scheduling party routines and quickly forget about the fitness resolutions we made to ourselves some eleven months ago.

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We’re tempted to see these upcoming holidays as permission to ease up on the focused eye contact we’re monitoring on our carefully outlined, closely adhered-to, jealously- practiced fitness efforts we’ve been reaching for the better part of a year.  It’s a struggle to be sure but right now we’re looking at the top of our most beautiful, wind-swept, scene-of-our-awesome-vision mountain top, the goal is right here… We can see it, we can smell it, we can imagine it.   All we need to do is stay true for six and one-half more weeks and it’s ours…

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Autumn Attitude with its gold, rust, green, yellow, red and purple spray will sway and blow and intice us to relax our grip on fitness and have us sit beside the beaconing trees since the luscious holidays are full of heavy treats and sweet, syrupy delights that will surely slide tonnage onto our waiting and willing waistline.

We may not want to linger too long under the tree since the color of the autumn foliage may not be the only thing that is soon to change.

 

 

 

Books and Bodies

As a writer, I’m always thinking about words and as a nurse, I’m always thinking about bodies the two ideas seem to go together.

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Each of these entities has individual parts that contribute to making the whole a better unit yet if we take each part away from the whole the unit rearranges and doesn’t function.

Books and bodies, each is a sum of the whole – a person needs to read the signs of their body to determine the state of their health just as a writer needs to understand the progress they are making in describing a storyline.

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Just as we learn the ending of a story by reading the pages of a book, we are responsible for our health by understanding the vigor of our bodies.

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As we peer into the future, continue to understand the value that books and our bodies offer to our daily life.  We want our books and our bodies to make life better for a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

‘Thumbdriving’

Watching someone communicate using a hand-held telephone is like viewing a magicians’ sleight-of-hand skeletal manipulation – the fingers cradle the phone while the thumbs frantically hop across a neon-lit screen resembling adrenalin-infused high jumpers.

My definition of Thumbdriving is the skillful art of using your thumbs repeatedly to tap visual buttons on the smooth surface of a functioning electronic device with the goal of producing a retrievable text message.

Young children do it, teenagers do it, adults do it and even seniors do it – everyone’s in on the act.  If you use a cell phone you have done it at least once yourself. Thumbdriving does not require knowledge of keyboarding.

Lexicon entry into Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus might not be on the agenda just yet but the publication is adding new ideas at a fairly fast pace.

The thumb is a short, thick digit of the human hand or a corresponding digit of an animal that performs amazing functions for us in our daily lives.  This digit gives our hand dignity and without it, we couldn’t hold objects or shake hands.   We would find it more difficult to pick up our children or plan and eat a healthy, delicious meal if our thumbs were missing.

However, the reckless use of this fabulous digit may get us into trouble.

Thumbdriving can be addictive.  Texting using thumbdriving can be addictive.

Signs of this addiction may be insidious: awareness of aching in the joints, generalized swelling in the thumb, stiffness after short periods of inactivity, morning achiness in the digit that’s often relieved with a warm massage and possible pain relief with an anti-inflammatory.

Our body is telling us that we have overused our thumb either by texting too much or too fast or too often.  The dexterity in the joints of our digit can’t endure the repetition and speed.  The intensity of the coordination between our joints, hands, and eyes used in Thumbdriving can produce an adrenaline ‘high’ for some but it can ultimately cause joint damage to the thumb if not monitored carefully.

Driving a car requires thought and concentration. Thumbdriving a phone thoughtfully may be just as skillful.

 

 

 

Work in Progress

Just like our bodies are made to move, being healthy is dynamic.

When was the last time that you made a health mistake?  Did you correct yourself harshly or grant yourself a free pass?  Often when we’re trying to achieve our healthiest selves we hold ourselves to a level of perfection that’s impossible to reach.

Imagine that you’re a work in progress – you’re not done with yourself!!!

Medical literature and research give us some measurable goals to observe along our way.

  1. Failure can be a success – how else can we know what health areas to work on if we don’t fail at times? Failure is like a mirror that reflects back on us the area in need of improvement so that we can shift our health goals instead of quitting.
  2. Solutions may change when we look within ourselves – but that’s where the answer may be found, within ourselves.
  3. ‘Accepting it or Changing it’ is an attitude that any skilled counselor will profess. When we look at a situation that makes us unhappy adopting this method tends to take the stress off us and our lives.
  4. Take a ‘do-over.’  So we make a mistake, own it, apologize, make it better. The situation may be that we didn’t meet our buddy for a scheduled workout.  Okay, call them up, apologize, reschedule and offer to pick them up the next time and make sure that we keep the next appointment.
  5.  We’re changing, so look forward.  Rehashing mistakes is not in our gameplan.  Analyze our positive choices and realize that we can be whoever we determine to be.

We own this, so let’s give ourselves permission to proceed with our work in progress.

The Pumpkin Patch

Our neighborhood community garden has a pumpkin patch full of ripe, multi-colored, multi-sized gourds.

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I marvel at the variety of shapes in this garden yet each different fruit seems to occupy its own distinct place to make the garden a beautiful, restful place.  There are small, white gourds with deep ridges lying next to large, deep-yellow colored pumpkins marked with misshaped forms. Long-necked gourds snuggle next to orange, perfectly round pumpkins that resemble artist-shaped displays. Surprisingly, this mismatched arrangement reveals a beautiful fall scene inviting a restful reflection.

This garden is like a group of people – each one is different yet if you remove just one person the group loses its uniqueness.  I’ve learned that each person in a group has a unique function – there’s a leader, a follower, a secretary, a parliamentarian, a historian, an extrovert, an introvert and most importantly a janitor.

Everyone is important.

The historian may be irritated by the extroverts or the secretary might not like the leader, while the parliamentarian may question the motives of the historian but eventually, everyone will have to answer to the janitor.  However, if anyone is taken out of the group the business assigned to this class of people can’t be accomplished.  The members need to work together and everyone in the group is important – just like colorful gourds of the pumpkin patch.

Your spot in the pumpkin patch may be rocky and rough and dark orange and ugly looking or it may be sleek and round and bright yellow with perfectly shaped edges. Wherever your place is in the community garden it’s the perfect place for you.

10 Ideas to Keep Your Author Blog Fresh

“Freshening-up Your Author Blog” – these tasty tips tingle

Nicholas C. Rossis

This is a guest post by Ronita Mohan. Ronita is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic and design platform. She is an avid reader with an interest in mystery fiction, history, graphic novels, marketing, and diversity. Twitter: @Venngage

10 Ideas to Keep Your Author Blog Fresh

Writing a list | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's bookImage: Unsplash

Authors are idea-machines—or at least, they want to be. If they aren’t thinking of ideas for new books, they’re brainstorming ideas for their author blog. 

A key aspect of modern life for authors is how much self-promotion they need to do. It is no longer enough to post the odd tweet when you publish a book—authors are now expected to be online all the time, actively participating in the community and giving their fans new content.

But while fans on social media thrive on personal updates on your book-writing journey, authors need to capitalize on content marketing methods by…

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Decrease Your Increase

It’s the end of a busy, stressful day your feet are tired and the blood pressure monitor would probably register high enough so that your doctor is concerned.  The fatty, salty burger you gobble for lunch is only partially digested because the hectic office environment keeps you jittery all afternoon.  Evening commute Interstate bumper-to-bumper traffic jams have cars backed up for ten miles. Your drive home is eventful enough: you don’t need the road construction barriers marking a detour at your highway exit.

Systems in your body that keep you safe from an imminent attack are now activated.  You’re ready to defend yourself and your family and your village and your entire community if and when the big, huge, ferocious, gnarly bear comes barreling down the mountainside to not only attack your but eat everything in sight.

Obviously, the bear isn’t coming but your body doesn’t know that because from your actions throughout the day you have told your body that indeed the bear IS coming and you must get ready for the attack.  Pulse, blood pressure, digestion, endocrine system, respiration, sight, hearing, tactile senses all are doing their appointed job to ready you for defense.

However, all you really want to do is slowly get out of your car, walk your tired feet into your cozy home, take a warm, soothing bath, eat a well-prepared, healthy evening meal and quickly fall asleep in your welcoming bed that sits in a darkened, quiet room.  You will sleep soundly knowing that tomorrow will be a stress-free day filled with opportunities for professional advancement and social enrichment.

I know you’ve heard that a good nights sleep is one of the keys to health.  Well, just as you perform certain habits when you get ready for work you should perform certain habits when you prepare for sleep.  You want to follow these simple steps:

  1. Squeeze in time during your workday for small snippets of physical exercise: it’s good “sleep hygiene.”
  2.  Cap your Nightcap – alcohol may keep you from staying asleep if you manage to initially fall asleep and it can worsen sleep apnea
  3.  Adjust the bedroom thermostat temperature to 65 degrees
  4.  Avoid a full stomach, so maybe cut down of that salty, fatty burger for lunch
  5.  Using technology just before bedtime signals your brain to wake up especially if the “blue light” is constantly blinking into your brain with its wake up signal. Turn off the “tech” devises at least 30 minutes before bedtime and dim the room lights

So, even if you’ve had that stressful, jittery, eventful, bumper-to-bumper day at work you can manage to decrease your increase stress, anxiety, attack-mode defense simply by implementing a few inexpensive little tricks that offer you high rewards both in your professional and physical life.

You’ll be well-rested so when your bear of a boss does come you’re ready for the attack.

 

The Human Condition

A Generational Saga

My recent book of fiction ‘Ripples in the Generations’ is a generational saga that explores the delicate process of blending the heart-lifting joy of a life-long high school friendship with a soul-searching genetic relationship. Two factions of the Henry family share a common interest; Williams’ indiscretions, yet each is unaware of just how much they have in common. The next generation of William’s family share his DNA, but William has divided his legacy.

Even though this novel recounts the tale of a fictional family, worldwide some interesting and unbelievable results are being revealed with millions of people using commercial DNA tests to trace their family trees. Some results have been life-changing introducing them to relatives they had lost long ago-or never knew existed and some revealing long-held relationship secrets.

Sometimes when we poke our skeletons potential risks and positive responses sit side-by-side.  Taking the chance and checking our DNA makes us fragile, but being fragile also opens the opportunity to be brave and develop new connections.

So, if you’re considering having your DNA tested, make sure that the commercial DNA company is professionally credible and you’re ready for the results; whatever they may be.