Food Friday: On Antibiotics? Eat Yogurt.

Antibiotics can reduce the amount of good bacteria in your gut. If you’re on antibiotics, then you should consider eating yogurt.

Greek Yogurt, Fig, and Black Currant Parfaits

Have you been on oral antibiotics for your acne or rosacea? If so, this post is for you.¬†Antibiotics¬†such as minocycline and doxycycline are sometimes necessary to reduce bad bacteria on your skin. They also reduce the good bacteria in your gut that are essential for good health and good digestion. Here’s how you can put billions of good bugs back into your system: Eat yogurt.

Look for yogurt labeled “live and active cultures,” that is high in protein and low in sugar and fat. We use filling, high-protein, non-fat Greek yogurt in the recipe below along with antioxidant-rich fresh figs and black currants (both currently in season).

Greek Yogurt, Fresh Fig, and Black Currant Parfaits
Makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons honey
A couple of pinches of cinnamon
A couple of pinches of salt
A couple of pinches of lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt
6 fresh figs, quartered
1/2 cup fresh black currants*
1 tablespoon pistachios

1. Heat honey, cinnamon, salt, lemon zest, and rosemary either in the microwave or on the stovetop until warm and smooth. Remove from heat.

2. Use two cocktail or other pretty glasses to assemble parfaits. Start with yogurt at the base. Then top with fig pieces, currants, pistachios, and honey sauce. Repeat. Eat. Make again tomorrow.

*Note: Black currants are small, round berries with a glossy black skin and tart flesh. They’re available at farmers’ markets and organic markets. If you can’t find them, blackberries make a good substitute. Dried black currants are more widely available, but their flavor and texture is sweeter like a raisin.

Photo and recipe by Susan Russo of FoodBloggablogspot.com

Your Hands Are Teeming With Bacteria

hands-pink-sherbert-photography

Right now your hands are teeming with bacteria. Countless trillions of organisms call your skin home, and that’s a good thing. Skin infections do not arise because you have bacteria on your skin. Rather, they arise because the type of bacteria on infected skin is not healthy bacteria but aggressive pathogenic bacteria.

Determining which bacteria are good and which are dangerous is difficult, but our immune systems have managed to get it right most of the time. When our immune systems are wrong, either an infection develops, or excess inflammation develops, as is the case in eczema or psoriasis.

Telling good from bad is hard. There are hundreds of types of bacteria on your hands right now. A recent study of college students (perhaps not the cleanest group of individuals) discovered that the average student has 140 different types of bacteria on his or her skin. There were over 4,000 different types of bacteria identified across all the students. Not surprisingly, the most common types were familiar household names: Propionobacterium (the bacteria responsible for acne), strep, and staph (of which the infamous methicillin resistant staph aureus, MRSA is a subtype).

There were also differences in the bacteria on the dominate hand versus the non-dominant hand — namely bacteria normally found in the gastrointestinal track was found more often on the dominant hand. This will no doubt lead to a follow up study of: “Do college students wash their hands before leaving the bathroom?” (Research so far does not look promising).

Photo: Pink Sherbert Photography (flickr)

How Many Friends Do You Have? I’ve Got a Few Trillion.

The next time you feel lonely, remember this: you always have a few friends with you. No, not your Tweeple, your bacteria.

You have lots of them with you at all times; so many in fact, you’re like a walking planet. There are far more microbes living in and on you then there are people on earth! According to an article in The Economist, there are 100 trillion microbes living with you — 10 times the number of cells you actually have (so technically, you’re 90% bacteria, 10% human).

We are only now starting to comprehend the importance of this relationship with our lowly microbe friends. The disease model used to be simple: If you are infected with bacteria, you are sick. If you are bacteria free, then you are healthy. Not so anymore.

In fact, it is probably more true that losing a few billion of your bacterial friends leads to sickness, rather than to health. A better health model is that it’s not important to be free of bacteria to be healthy; rather it is important to have the right balance of microorganisms living with you to be disease free.

The first place we are likely to see the importance of healthy bacteria in skin disease is in eczema. Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic itchy rash that often occurs in childhood and can last for years. It appears that one of the problems in patients with eczema is that they have an overgrowth of unwanted bacteria and a loss of other, good or healthy bacteria. Restoring this bacterial balance might ironically calm the immune system, improving eczema.

Look for new therapies in the upcoming new year such as creams and probiotic pills that don’t kill bacteria, but rather give you good bacteria. Future technologies will likely be able to detect imbalances of bacteria to diagnose disease and to foster health. It’s also another example of how Eastern medicine, with its principles of balance and natural remedies, might have gotten it right all along.

Photo: Tom@HK flickr.com