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Health can be measured in many ways and is often broken down into a variety of numbers and diagnoses that don’t often provide the best picture of what a truly healthy body and mind looks like.

While modern-day western medicine has brought many wonderful and life saving advancements, one of the downfalls of western medicine is the often siloed approach to health, which looks at the body in sections of individual symptoms and pieces rather that the whole system it really is.

This is why holistic health is so important, because to truly achieve optimal wellness in the physical, mental, and spiritual sense we have to be viewing and supporting the body as the incredible system it is.

WHAT IS HOLISTIC HEALTH?

Holistic health or holistic healing is often defined as a form of healing that looks at the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. This kind of holistic healing often involves multiple complimentary medicines and alternative healthcare practices that can overlap with modern-day western medicine, but will go beyond the singular treatment of symptoms to support more than just the body.


Some alternative healthcare practices that often are found within the realm of holistic health are:

  • chiropractic

  • herbalism

  • massage

  • energy work (reiki)

  • therapy

  • yoga/meditation

  • acupuncture

  • physical therapy

  • general western medicine

  • nutrition

  • personal training

When all of these complimentary therapies come together for holistic healing, a person is much more likely to experience wellness on a deeper level that allows for a more joyful and truly healthy way of living.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF HOLISTIC HEALTH

While people are living longer today they also are experiencing chronically high levels of stress and fatigue, are consuming nutrient depleted foods, and are exposed to hundreds of potentially harmful chemically through our air, water, cleaning, and personal care products daily. So to say that holistic health is important would be an understatement.

For many living with chronic disease and undiagnosable symptoms, the modern-day healthcare industry has failed them, and it is time that a more holistic, whole-body solution became a standard part of the way we treat and support the health of the billions of people living on this planet.

Holistic health also takes into account the many external and environmental factors which could be supporting or impacting our overall health and wellness, and with climate change impacting our surrounding environments more and more each day, it is important that we have a systematic way of addressing health in the future.


THE 5 ASPECTS OF HOLISTIC HEALTH: PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL, SPIRITUAL, AND MENTAL

When it comes to holistic health we are looking beyond the physical body and are addressing physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health. All of these 5 aspects of holistic health are what enable a person to truly live each day in the healthiest, happiest way possible and if one area if compromised, most likely other areas will be as well.

 

PHYSICAL

Our physical health is what most people think about when they think of health. This is mostly because it is the physical body that often shows us physical signs and symptoms of either optimal or sub-optimal health. These physical signs and symptoms are also more easy to track and measure, versus other non-physical signs and symptoms that can feel more abstract.

When it comes to supporting your physical health there are few key practices that everyone can benefit from and can make a huge difference on your overall well-being:

  • Sleep for 8 hours each night. This will allow your body to truly rest and repair from the day.

  • Eat a nutrient dense diet that is high in plant-based foods and organic/pastured animal products.

  • Maintain a balanced blood sugar by eating meals and snacks that contain fat, carbohydrates, and protein every 3-4 hours.

  • Move your body for 30 minutes each day. While every person’s exercise routine will be different, everyone can benefit from at least 30 minutes of movement each day.

  • Limit processed foods and hydrogenated oils which are highly inflammatory and can increase risk of chronic disease.

  • Do not smoke, and avoid excessive alcohol consumption.

  • EMOTIONAL

    While often overlooked, our emotional health is just as important as our physical health — especially because our emotional health can affect our physical health if it is not prioritized.

    Ways you can support your emotional health:

    • Seek out therapy when needed. Therapy is an essential part of supporting our emotional health and should be utilized whenever necessary.

    • Practice mindfulness and stress reduction habits that can help you better manage life’s daily stressors.

    • Keep a journal to record you thoughts and feelings. Use your journal to record what you are grateful for as it can help bring positivity into times of stress.

    • SOCIAL

      Research has shown that the happiest people on earth have deep connections with their friends, family, and community. This is often why religion is connected with happiness as it can provide a deep sense of community and support, no matter what faith a person chooses.

      Ways that you can support your social health:

      • Make time for in-person connection. While technology has allowed for us to feel connected more, research has shown that virtual connection still does not provide us with the same level of happiness as in-person connection does.

      • Get involved in your local community. Whether this is through your church, local volunteer organizations, clubs, or programs at your kids school — getting involved in your local community is one of the best ways you can support your social health and improve happiness.

      • Set boundaries with people in your life that may increase stress or bring about toxic energy. Also do not be afraid to walk away from friendships and relationships that are negatively affecting your health.

         

      • SPIRITUAL

        Spiritual wellness does not necessarily mean that you need to become religious, although the two often have overlapping practices and principles. Instead your spiritual health should focus on how you are connecting with your inner soul, and the greater world around you.

        Ways you can support your spiritual health:

        • Spend time in nature

        • Spend a few minutes each day meditating

        • If you are religious, take the time to practice your faith

          MENTAL

          The last aspect of holistic health is our mental health, which often overlaps with both our emotional and physical health. The big distinction between our mental and emotional health though is that while our emotional health refers mostly to our daily mood and emotions, our mental health refers to our cognitive abilities that affect how our brain functions.

          Ways that you can support your mental health:

          • Always keep your mind active by seeking out learning opportunities and problem solving practices that challenge your brain.

          • Consume nutrient dense foods that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that will help reduce overall inflammation and support cognitive function.

          • Avoid excessive drinking, smoking, and consuming recreational drugs.

          • Improve gut health with gut healing foods like bone broth and prebiotic and probiotic rich foods. Since the brain is directly connected to the gut a healthy gut is essential for a healthy mind.

     

 

Today, we want to share some delicious vegan snacks that are easy to make, super healthy and nutritious, and will curb any sweet tooth!

We wanted these treats to be as healthy as they are delicious, so we made sure to take all the ingredients we need from Mother Nature’s backyard — meaning there are no processed ingredients in these recipes. Instead, our recipes are packed with wholesome goodness that you’ll wonder why you don’t treat yourself to more often! 😉

So let’s get into it — keep reading for some amazing vegan snack ideas!

 

Cardamom chocolate porridge

This recipe uses fresh, whole foods and only takes a couple of minutes to whip up. You’ll be licking your fingers in no time!
 
What you’ll need:

  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp flaxseeds
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 cardamons
  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk
  • 60g dark chocolate

 
To prepare:

Put oats, chia seeds, flaxseeds, shredded coconut, cinnamon, and cardamoms (open them) in a pan and grill them on low heat. Stir for about 30 seconds. Pour milk and stir until warm. Add coconut sugar and dark chocolate. Stir again until everything melts and you get a dark thick texture. Transfer into a bowl and add desired toppings to serve.

 

Gluten-free vegan crepes

Crepes are one of our favorite treats, but they usually have pesky sugars hiding in them. Our healthy take on this French dessert substitutes sugar with maple syrup, plus — they’re gluten-free. Mmmm.. We’re sold!
 
What you’ll need:

  • 1 scant cup oat flour, gluten-free (90 g)
  • 4 tbsp tapioca flour/starch (28 g)
  • 4 tbsp potato starch or corn starch (28 g)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds (10 g)
  • 1 1/2 cups plant milk (I used coconut milk) (360 ml)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup (30 g)

 
To prepare:

Process all ingredients in your food processor or just whisk them together in a bowl. Heat a non-stick pan/skillet with some oil over medium heat, then pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan, swirling the batter around to coat the pan evenly. Cook for about 2-4 minutes or until you can easily lift a side of the crepe (don’t try to flip the crepe too early!). After you flipped the crepe, cook for another 1-2 minutes. After a while, the batter will get thicker (because of the ground flax seeds), so just add a little more plant milk in order to have a consistent. Fill your crepes with a vegan chocolate spread, and — enjoy! 🙂

 

Simple Vegan Waffles

Another option that will sweeten your morning! Say goodbye to routine, and hello to these perfectly crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside wafflettes.
 
What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar, coconut sugar, or maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • Blueberries or chopped strawberries to serve

 
To prepare:

Preheat your waffle iron to your desired setting. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients. Then pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl, stirring the mixture until it’s completely smooth. Let the batter sit for a few minutes, then pour it onto the preheated waffle iron and cook until golden brown. It may take a few minutes longer than usual to cook since there are no eggs in the batter. Once your waffles are done, make sure not to stack them so they stay crispy. Top the waffles with your favorite fruit and some maple syrup. The amounts of ingredients listed should serve three people, so make sure to share your healthy snack with some friends! 😉

Adding fiber to your diet, eating antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and cutting down on salt can help clear your body of toxins. So can avoiding alcohol and smoking, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep. Milk thistle is a herb you can use to improve liver function and so are turmeric and licorice. If you’re looking for a comprehensive detox program, try the panchakarma therapies advocated by Ayurveda.

Effective Ways To Cleanse Your Body

Junk food, alcohol, pollution – your body battles numerous toxins on a daily basis. Fortunately, it’s got a great detoxification system in place. Your skin, your immune system, and your intestines work to eliminate, screen, or protect you from harmful substances. Your liver helps to metabolize nutrients like zinc and copper and neutralize dangerous metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium. And of course, your kidneys filter out toxic waste materials.But thanks to our lifestyle habits and other environmental factors, these systems are often put to the test. So how can you lend your body a hand and rid it off toxins?

 

No Magic Pill Or Quick Fix For Cleansing Your Body

From cleanser diets, where you restrict yourself to just fruit juices or green smoothies, to detox foot pads that claim to eliminate toxins, you’ll find a host of “magical” remedies making the rounds. But the truth is you’ll need to make a more sustained effort to keep your body clean.Your best bet is some healthy and consistent measures that support the natural detoxifying mechanisms of your body. This way, your toxin busting organs get all the help they need to keep this intricate system going.

10 Effective Ways To Cleanse Your Body

Here are 10 steps you can put in place from today to rid your body of toxins and keep it in top form.

1. Get Some Fiber

Dietary fiber helps in eliminating toxins by maintaining bowel regularity. Insoluble fiber can bulk up stool and quicken the movement of waste and food through your digestive system. So it’s particularly useful when you’re dealing with constipation. Meanwhile, soluble fiber is known to hamper the absorption of cholesterol and fat as help control blood sugar levels, which makes it great for your heart.

What to do: It’s recommended that you have around 25 g of fiber per day if you’re on a 2000 calorie diet. Fruits, nuts, and vegetables are good sources of both soluble and insoluble fibers. Also mix in fiber-rich whole grains to meet your daily quota. There’s a whole variety of foods you can choose from: beans, lentils, apples, blueberries, oatmeal, and nuts will give you soluble fiber while brown rice, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and legumes offer insoluble fiber.

2. Neutralize Free Radicals With Antioxidants

Compounds present in processed food, exposure to the sun’s rays, the conversion of food into energy by your body as well as toxins like alcohol, tobacco, and pollution can result in the formation of free radicals. These free radicals can damage your DNA and cells. Therefore, they have a role in aging as well as a range of diseases from diabetes and heart disease to cancer. Antioxidants can help protect your cells from damage due to certain toxins. They protect your body against free radicals as well as reverse the damage to a certain extent.

What to do: Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants. Make sure you eat a colorful mix to get a range of antioxidants. For instance, watermelon, tomatoes pink grapefruits, and apricots can give you lycopene; peas, papayas, squash, mangoes, carrots, and cantaloupes can give you beta-carotene; green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collards can give you lutein – all antioxidants you’d want to tank up on.

3. Go Easy On Salt

Most of us use too much salt or sodium in our food. Salt can raise your blood pressure, strain and damage your kidneys, and impair their ability to remove toxins from your body. Toxins can then start to accumulate in your body.

What to do: Try to keep your salt consumption below 6 gm a day. And remember, many processed foods like ready-made sauces and store-bought bread can be deceptively high in salt so check the labels diligently. You don’t, however, have to resign yourself to flavorless food just because you’re cutting down on salt. Spices like cinnamon, pepper, and ginger can be used to make food tasty and interesting.

4. Cut Down Alcohol

Your liver cleans and detoxifies your blood and it filters alcohol when you drink. But each time this happens, a few liver cells die out. The liver is capable of regenerating itself but excessive alcohol consumption can hamper this ability and result in permanent liver damage.

What to do: If you have alcohol then exercise moderation. Stick to 1 drink a day if you’re a woman and 2 drinks if you’re a man. One drink is defined as 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, 12 ounces of beer, or 5 ounces of wine. Better still, cut down completely for a while to detox!

5. Flush Out Toxins With Water

Your kidneys filter blood to produce urine which is made up of waste and extra fluid. And drinking sufficient water will help keep your kidneys functioning well. Urine is normally straw-colored but if your urine is darker in color it could be an early sign that you’re not getting enough water.

What to do: Make sure you get enough fluids. Women need around 2.1 liters in a day while men need about 2.6 liters. But you may need more if you’ve been exercising intensively or it’s really hot, to compensate for the extra fluid lost through sweat.

6. Quit Smoking

Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals. And many of these can be extremely toxic. Here’s a sample of the substances that you could be breathing in when you smoke: formaldehyde, the chemical that’s used to preserve specimens in labs; ammonia, a chemical used in toilet cleaners; hydrogen cyanide, which is found in rat poison; toluene, which is a part of paint thinners … you get the drift! No wonder then that smoking can cause cancer, increase your risk for heart disease, and damage your lungs.

What to do: Quit smoking. If you’re struggling, online programs or counseling may be helpful. Also consider nicotine replacement products or prescription medication that help lessen withdrawal symptoms. Research shows that they can double your chances of success.

7. Try Herbal Remedies

Here are a few herbal remedies that can boost your liver function and help cleanse your body.

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle contains silymarin, an antioxidant that can improve liver function. Silymarin is thought to lessen inflammation, flush out toxins that can be harmful to your liver, and regenerate liver cells that have been injured. It’s commonly used to counteract the damaging effects of alcohol on the liver and can help it become healthy again after a person stops drinking.

What to do: Grind up 12 to 15 grams of the dried fruits of milk thistle and consume it. You could also steep it and take it as a tea. Milk thistle is also available as a supplement. If your liver function is impaired it might take 8 to 12 weeks of use before you see an improvement and those who with chronic liver conditions may need to use milk thistle long term. But do check in with your doctor if you’re planning on using milk thistle therapeutically for a liver condition.

Turmeric

Turmeric has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. Its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can protect your liver too. One animal study also showed that it could inhibit the progression of liver cirrhosis in rats exposed to the harmful chemical thioacetamide.

What to do: This flavorsome spice makes a great addition to your dishes. So try a spicy curry with some turmeric today. You can also make a traditional drink that comes from Southeast Asia – Turmeric milk. It’s easy to prepare – all you need to do is boil a glass of milk with about a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Gulp this down every day for an immunity and liver boost.

Licorice

Licorice contains flavones with strong antioxidant properties which may be able to protect your liver. One animal study even found that it can halt alcoholic fatty liver disease.

What to do: Make a licorice tea by boiling around 14 grams of licorice roots in 500 ml of water for about 15 minutes. Drink this tea warm.

But do keep in mind that licorice contains a compound known as glycyrrhizin which can be harmful when used long term. So please check in with your doctor if you’re planning on using licorice for more than two weeks.

8. Get Enough Sleep

Did you know that a good night’s sleep plays an important role in clearing your brain of toxins? Toxic molecules implicated in neurodegenerative conditions accumulate in the space between brain cells during the day. But researchers have found that the cellular structure of your brain changes while you sleep and the gaps between brain cells increase. And your glymphatic system which helps control the flow of cerebrospinal fluid – fluid that surrounds your spinal cord and brain – opens. Fluid then rapidly flows through your brain flushing out harmful toxins.

What to do: On average, an adult needs about 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night. Make sure you don’t skimp on sleep. Start your day with a clear head!

 

9. Try Intermittent Fasting

Fasting has actually been a way of life for people for most of our evolution when we were hunter gatherers. It is also a part of almost every major religion from Christianity and Islam to Hinduism. And researchers have found that it might be good for your liver. Your body produces more of a certain protein known as GADD45β – which stands for “Growth Arrest and DNA Damage-inducible” – when you’re hungry. This protein is involved in the repair of DNA but it has also been found to regulate the absorption of fatty acids by the liver. The accumulation of excess fat can be harmful to your liver. It can lead to swelling and scarring of the liver which could cause liver failure.20 It has been found that people with low levels of GADD45β have a greater accumulation of fat in the liver and higher blood sugar.

What to do: Limit the calories that you have in a day to 500 calories on two nonconsecutive days in a week while following a regular diet for the rest of the week. You could also follow a time restricted diet, where you have meals within an 8-hour period on a day and then fast for the remaining 16 hours. But do check in with your doctor beforehand to see if you have medical conditions or take medications that might make it inadvisable for you to fast. For instance, fasting can aggravate complications like kidney disease in those who have diabetes.

 

10. Get An Ayurvedic Detox

If you’ve been searching for a comprehensive detoxification program, you should consider Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, the accumulation of toxins (known as dushivisha) affects your immunity and vital life energy, resulting in disease. To clear out toxins from the body, this ancient medical system uses 5 techniques together known as panchakarma. These include therapeutic vomiting (vamana karma), purgation (virechana karma), enema therapy (basti karma ), nasal administration of medicines (nasya karma) and bloodletting therapy (raktamokshaņa karma). Before the main detoxifying process is carried out, oleation or sudation may be used as a preparatory process to soften toxins so that they can be eliminated.

What to do: An ayurvedic practitioner can help you put together a detoxification program based on your constitution and tailored to your individual needs.

 

 

 

 

Herbs To Purify Your Body From Air Pollutants

 

 

 

weight lifterThere is perhaps no group of people on the planet who focus more on nutrition and supplementation than athletes. The physical demands of training for an athlete, whether they be a marathon runner, an Olympian or even a casual gym-goer, are rigorous. Every meal contributes (whether positively or negatively) to their success. One of the ways athletes can meet and even exceed their goals is by introducing enzymes into their diets. Here’s everything you need to know about enzymes for athletes.

The Nutritional Needs of the Athlete

In order to push harder, go further and perform better, athletes must consume more calories, and more food, than the average person. The ideal diet for any hard-hitting athlete starts with plenty of protein to help build muscle (anabolism) and prevent muscle breakdown (catabolism). To fuel the body and keep it moving, ample carbohydrates and fat are also required. Lots of lean meat, protein shakes and grains are great for bulking up or cutting down, but these foods have a tendency to wreak havoc on the digestive tract.

Not only do athletes face tough digestive challenges, they also put their musculoskeletal systems through the wringer. After a particularly limit-pushing training session, some muscle fatigue and soreness can be expected, which can slow the training process. In addition, athletes who have been in the game for a prolonged period may experience pain or recurring problem areas triggered by overuse, injury or inflammation. Taking all of these unique factors into account, it’s clear that athletes need their own special considerations when formulating the right diet. Their supplementation routine should focus on:

  • Supporting the body in the absorption of nutrients so that it can put all vitamins, minerals and proteins to work in helping build muscle
  • Providing support for maintaining and increasing muscle strength and tone
  • Assisting the body in post-workout recovery

Types of Enzymes for Athletes

With the above considerations in mind, athletes of all types should consider introducing a sports nutrition enzyme into their diet. These enzymes often come in pre-formulated blends that contain various potent enzymes for the whole body. Here are some examples:

  • Protease — The powerful proteolytic enzyme protease is necessary for protein hydrolysis and generating amino acids. Proteolytic enzymes support healthy digestion and aid in muscle recovery, easing soreness.
  • Amylase — This enzyme, found in saliva and pancreatic fluid, helps convert starch into glucose for energy. Excess glucose is stored in the form of the polysaccharide glycogen, which serves as a reserve or emergency energy source.
  • Lipase — Just as amylase helps your body digest carbs, lipase aids in the digestion of fats, turning them to fatty acids and glycerol. It is naturally found in the pancreas.
  • Lactase — As its name suggests, lactase is the enzyme produced by the body to help break down and digest lactose, a disaccharide sugar found in milk. It supports the body’s ability to digest dairy products commonly found in an athlete’s diet.

Choosing the Right Enzyme Blends

Since most people eat meals that contain a unique combination of protein, fat, carbohydrates, sugars and lactose, it doesn’t make sense to isolate these powerful digestive enzymes or take them separately. Instead, enzyme blends are used to provide complete support for digestion and the body’s ability to recover after strenuous physical activity

RESTORE - This powerful blend of proteolytic enzymes is formulated to aid the body in converting proteins to smaller peptides and amino acids, which can promote building and maintaining muscles. Specifically, it helps athletes reach their goals by boosting the bioavailability of the protein they consume.

 

Both of the aforementioned enzyme blends are effective throughout the pH range (3 to 9) of the digestive tract, ensuring maximum effectiveness. All products from Specialty Enzymes & Probiotics, including our unique athletic enzyme blends, are formulated with the highest quality ingredients. They all achieve the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) seal and are vegan, kosher, halal, gluten-free and GMO-free.

 

 

 

The bacteria that live in your intestines are a mixed blessing. Scientists have known for decades that this so-called microbiota helps us digest our food and crowds out infectious germs. The bugs have also been implicated in allergies and obesity. Now, a new study adds one more potential malady to the list: rheumatoid arthritis.

"It's been suspected for years and years, both in humans and in the animal model, that the development of autoimmune diseases like arthritis is dependent on the gut microbiota," says immunologist Diane Mathis of Harvard Medical School in Boston. Now, she says, those suspicions are beginning to be confirmed in humans. "It's a very striking finding.”

Rheumatoid arthritis is a mysterious disease. It can strike at any age, typically beginning in young and middle-aged adults and causing painfully stiff, swollen joints in the hands and feet. It can also destroy bone and cartilage and damage organs like the lungs and kidneys. Scientists aren’t sure what causes rheumatoid arthritis, but they do know that it’s an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body's immune system is attacking its own tissues. And that's where gut bacteria come in

Gut bacteria have an intricate relationship with our immune system. We need to be able to tolerate helpful microbes while still recognizing and fighting invaders. Immunologist Dan Littman of New York University knew that gut microbes are important to the development of a particular type of immune cell his team studies, known as a Th17 cell. Mice that are reared in sterile conditions produce very few of these cells, and his group had previously found that mice bought from one supplier had far more Th17 cells than those that came from a different supplier. The difference turned out to be due to the rodents' gut microbes.

When Littman presented that result at a conference several years ago, Mathis, who was in the audience, told him that she had seen a change in her lab animals when they were moved to a lab in a different town. Instead of spontaneously developing a mouse version of arthritis, they remained healthy. Littman and Mathis collaborated to find out why and tracked down the difference to a particular type of bacterium that, when present in the intestines, trains the immune system to produce Th17 cells, which in turn release molecules that cause inflammation and bone damage in arthritis.

Littman wondered if rheumatoid arthritis in humans might also be due to specific gut microbes. His team tested fecal samples (which reflect the population of gut bacteria) from 114 residents of the New York City area. Some subjects were healthy; others had been living with rheumatoid arthritis for years; still others had psoriatic arthritis, a different autoimmune disease whose causes are also unknown; and some had been recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Members of this latter group were especially important because, although they had rheumatoid arthritis, they hadn't yet been treated for it. In this group, a bacterium named Prevotella copri was present in 75% of patients' intestines, the researchers will report online tomorrow in eLifeP. copri only appeared in 37% of patients living with either rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis and 21% of healthy controls. This last number is similar to the prevalence of P. copri that previous studies found in the general population in industrialized countries.

"That they were able to associate one bacterium with one pathology is remarkable," says Yasmine Belkaid, an immunologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, who was not involved in the work.

But the results aren't enough to convict P. copri as the mastermind behind rheumatoid arthritis, she notes. The authors can't ethically give the bacterium to healthy subjects, so they couldn't prove that P. copri caused arthritis in patients, just that the bacterium and the disease tend to occur together. Genetics and other environmental factors, like smoking, have been associated with rheumatoid arthritis, so even if P. copri is the culprit, it doesn't necessarily act alone. "The next step is to be able to understand how causative these microbes are," Belkaid says. That would require surveying people's microbes and waiting to see who develops the disease.

To build its case against the bacterium, Littman's team gave a lab-grown strain of P. copri to mice and watched what happened in the rodents' guts. P. copri easily took up residence, and the researchers found that the mice developed increased inflammation, especially in the gut. They didn't get arthritis, possibly because the strain of P. copri was different from the human ones, but Littman says the gut inflammation corroborates the idea that gut microbes are prodding immune cells to develop and that those cells then go forth and lead an attack on other parts of the body.

That is the most exciting possibility, Mathis says. But, she explains, other hypotheses can't be ruled out. It's possible that arthritis patients' immune systems allow P. copri to grow out of control, or perhaps a third factor affects both the microbes and the immune system independently. Rheumatoid arthritis, Littman says, seems to have several environmental triggers, but how and whether they combine is not well understood.

The findings, Mathis says, open the possibility of new therapies to prevent or treat rheumatoid arthritis. Current treatments for the disease include drugs with scary side effects—Remicade, for instance, seems to increase the risk of developing certain cancers and serious infections. Perhaps P. copri could be attacked with antibiotics, Littman says, or crowded out with probiotic pills full of good bacteria. Either way, patients may someday be able to relieve their joint pain by focusing on their guts.

Information sourced from https://www.sciencemag.org/