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Black Pepper

What are its benefits?

Long enjoyed around the world for its flavor and pungency, black pepper has caught the interest of scientists in recent decades. While little research has been done so far on black pepper’s effect on the microbiome specifically, many studies indicate that the bio-active compound in black pepper, piperine, may have a wide range of health benefits:

  • Has antioxidant properties
  • May effectively fight inflammation
  • Has been shown to improve brain function in animal studies
  • May improve blood sugar control
  • May lower cholesterol levels
  • Has anticancer and antitumor activity
  • Has been shown to improve depression when consumed with turmeric

What is it?

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a perennial climbing vine and the spice is made from its fruits (the peppercorns). Native to India, it is one of the earliest spices known. Used in cuisine worldwide, pepper is also used in medicine as a carminative (to relieve flatulence) and as a stimulant of gastric secretions. Black pepper is a good source of manganese and vitamin K, among other vitamins and minerals.

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Ginger

What are its benefits?

Scientists have long known that ginger is one of the plants that facilitates digestion and increases bioabsorption of dietary nutrients. Newer research (“Prebiotic Potential of Culinary Spices Used to Support Digestion and Bioabsorption”) shows that ginger changes the microbiome and causes shifts in microbial populations: “Both fibers and phytochemicals in medicinal herbs used as spices appear to promote the growth of beneficial microbes and inhibit the growth of potentially inflammatory species.” Ginger led to an increase in Lactobacillus gut bacteria, a beneficial bacteria that helps the body break down food, absorb nutrients, and fight off “unfriendly” organisms that can cause diseases such as diarrhea. Another study indicated that the components in ginger promote tissue repair and antimicrobial immunity.

 

As a home remedy, ginger is a common treatment for upset stomach and nausea. It seems to aid digestion and saliva flow. There’s evidence that ginger eases muscle and joint pain, as well as pain from arthritis, headaches, and menstrual cramps.

What is it?

Ginger is a flowering tropical plant that grows in China, India, Africa, the Caribbean, and other warm climates. The root of the ginger plant is well-known as a spice and flavoring. The root doesn’t have many vitamins or minerals, but it has a lot of antioxidants.

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Piper Longum

What are its benefits?

Piper longum has been the subject of many scientific studies, one of which showed that a combination of piper longum, turmeric, black pepper, and ginger produced a distinct beneficial shift in the gut’s microbial community in less than two weeks. In addition:

  • Piperine, the major active incredient in piper longum, has been shown to have anticancer and antioxidant properties.
  • Other studies have noted that piperine plays a large role in piper longum’s antiarthritic (anti-inflammatory) attributes.
  • Some extracts of piper longum have shown good antibacterial activity against certain pathogens.
  • Piper longum is also thought to benefit diabetics because it can regulate the rate at which glucose is released in the blood.

What is it?

Piper longum (long pepper) is a flowering vine whose dried fruit is used as a spice. The fruit contains a large proportion of alkaloids and related compounds, the most abundant of which is piperine. Long pepper also contains various nutrients, such as fats, proteins, sugars, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins C and A, dietary fiber, and sodium ions.

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Turmeric

What are its benefits?

Turmeric is one of the herbs used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine as an aid to digestion. Modern researchers have found that it, along with ginger, black pepper, and piper longum, promoted strong shifts in the gut bacteria that are known to regulate metabolism. Other studies have shown that turmeric and one of its active components, curcumin, tended to increase bacterial species richness. Curcumin has also been shown to help prevent multiple inflammatory diseases.

Turmeric is also used to support the digestive system in several ways:

  • Intestines: Curcumin supports digestion by relaxing the smooth muscles on the walls, helping food through the intestines. It also helps to prevent gas and bloating as food is being digested.
  • Colon: Curcumin supports the balance between your microbiota and the immune response by encouraging the glands on the surface to regenerate and heal when harmful bacteria are present
  • Stomach: Turmeric helps the stomach lining by inhibiting harmful enzymes and increases the secretion of stomach mucous, guarding against damage from gastric acid.
  • Liver: Turmeric helps to increase cholesterol elimination by boosting bile production. Combining turmeric with high-fiber foods can help the liver be more efficient at trapping cholesterol and moving it to the colon for elimination.

What is it?

Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family and is native to Southeast Asia. Its rhizome (underground stem) is used as a common culinary spice (a major ingredient in curry powder) and a traditional medicine. Curcumin is a major active component of turmeric and is what makes turmeric yellow. 

Turmeric is also rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, and other antioxidants. Additionally, it is a good source of:

  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Dietary fiber

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Triphala

What are its benefits?

Triphala is included in the shake base because of indications that it increases longevity. Triphala is a prebiotic, feeding existing beneficial bacteria in the human gut, Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. (These are known to have evolved hand and hand with humans since the beginning). Researchers at McGill University studied fruit flies — whose genes are remarkably similar to mammals with about 70% similarity in terms of their biochemical pathways — and found that a combination of triphala and probiotics increased their longevity by 60% and protected them against chronic diseases associated with aging. The mechanism for this was suggested by measurements showing reduced markers of physiological stress, oxidative stress, inflammation, and mitochondrial dynamics — all of which cause aging.

 

Ayurvedic practitioners use triphala for detoxification that aids digestion and microbiome health. Triphala is an ingredient in over 400 Ayurvedic remedies. It’s an antioxidant, and it tones and supports the large intestine to improve motility and absorption of nutrients. Triphala contains a number of polyphenolic compounds which give it a broad antimicrobial spectrum.

What is it?

Triphala is an Ayurvedic compound from India, made from three dried fruits – amla, bihara, and harada. It contains vitamin C, flavonoids, polyphenols, tannins and saponins, along with other potent plant compounds.

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Spirulina

What are its benefits?

Research has shown benefits from spirulina’s protein, phycocyanin, may include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, pain relief, and brain-protective effects. It has been shown to block tumor growth and kill cancer cells. It can reduce absorption of cholesterol, lowering cholesterol levels. It reduces triglyceride levels. Spirulina increases nitric oxide production in the body, which can help blood vessels relax. Furthermore, spirulina’s vitamin and mineral content supports a healthy immune system.

 

Specific microbiome studies have been carried out:

    • A recent study showed the prebiotic qualities of algae like spirulina. A sugar in algae, sulfoquinovose, stimulates the growth of very specific key organisms in the gut microbiome. These key organisms include the bacterium Eubacterium rectale, one of the ten most common gut microbes in healthy people. It ferments sulfoquinovose via a metabolic pathway only recently deciphered, producing a sulfur compound, dihydroxypropane sulfonate, which in turn feeds other beneficial intestinal bacteria that eventually produce hydrogen sulfide gas. The delicate balance of these metabolic pathways was also noted: in low amounts, hydrogen sulfide can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the intestinal mucosa. But increased hydrogen sulfide production by gut microbes (typically seen in people with diets high in fat and meat) is associated with chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer.
    • A second study demonstrated that spirulina might help protect against age-related liver inflammation by modifying pathways in the microbiome.

What is it?

Spirulina is a blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) that is a highly nutritious food component. It is a source of thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), copper, iron, and magnesium. It also contains a protein called phycocyanin.

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Red Reishi Mushroom

What are its benefits?

Used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diabetics, red reishi mushroom is included in the shake base blends based on research that indicates it does reduce body weight, inflammation, and insulin resistance in mice fed a high-fat diet. The study in question concerned obesity, which is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation and imbalance in the intestinal microbiota. The results showed decreased Firmicutes-to-Bacteroidetes ratios and lower levels of endotoxin-bearing Proteobacteria, indicating that red reishi mushrooms help balance the microbiome. Furthermore, results indicated they help maintain the integrity of the intestinal barrier and reduce metabolic endotoxemia.

 

Other research shows red reishi mushroom has antioxidant properties, which helps reduce oxidative stress in cells. In addition, reishi has been shown to help increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy while protecting against some of its damaging effects.

What is it?

Red reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) are highly nutritious, containing polysaccharides, proteins, minerals, vitamins (B, D), are low in fat (5%, mostly linoleic acids) and are free of cholesterol.

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Pea Protein

What are its benefits?

Pea protein isolate provides high-quality protein and is one of the more easily digested plant-sourced proteins. It is also a great source of iron and provides some calcium and potassium as well.

 

Pea protein isolate is the result of processing yellow peas to extract their protein, leaving their fiber and carbohydrates aside. Pea protein isolate contains all nine essential amino acids (though it is relatively low in L-Methionine), which are those which cannot be made by your body and must be obtained through your diet.

 

Essential amino acids are crucial for a number of important processes throughout the body, such as neurotransmitter support, muscle growth and repair, energy production and blood sugar level maintenance, immune support, mood regulation, mineral absorption, digestion, hormone regulation, sexual and sleep health, mood regulation, and support of tissue structures such as collagen, elastin, and nerve cells.

  • There are nine essential amino acids, all of which are available from pea protein isolate: L-Histidine, L-Isoleucine, L-Leucine, L-Lysine, L-Methionine, L-Phenylalanine, L-Threonine, L-Tryptophan, and L-Valine.
  • Pea protein also provides nine non-essential amino acids: L-Alanine, L-Arginine, L-Aspartic Acid, L-Cysteine, L-Glutamic Acid, Glycine, L-Proline, L-Serine, L-Tyrosine.

In addition to providing nutrition, protein contributes to a feeling of fullness. So a morning shake with pea protein makes a great meal replacement, easily taking you through to your next meal.

What is it?

Pea protein isolate is a supplement made by extracting protein from yellow peas. In addition to providing protein, it is a great source of iron.

  • While plant-sourced iron tends to be less absorbable than iron from animal sources, it becomes much more absorbable when eaten with vitamin-C-rich foods – which are plentiful in all of Microbiotic Kitchen’s shake bases.

Pea protein isolate also provides a small percentage of the daily value of calcium and potassium based on general nutrition advice.

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CategoriesIngredients

Paprika

What are its benefits?

There is a lot of nutrition packed into a small amount of paprika, and its components have been shown to benefit health in a number of ways. Paprika is rich in:

  • Fiber, which helps move food through the digestive tract and feeds good bacteria in the intestines.
  • Carotenoids, specifically capsanthin, capsorubin, beta carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Carotenoids have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory effects. A 2013 study showed that carotenoids in paprika contributed to improvement and prevention of obesity-related insulin resistance. Studies on capsanthin indicate that it may raise levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. Carotenoids also contribute to improved night vision and overall eye health.
  • Iron, which helps carry oxygen throughout the body. This can help us feel more energized.
  • Vitamins, particularly vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin B6.

Paprika imparts a sweet, smoky, or somewhat spicy flavor when used in recipes.

What is it?

The spice paprika is ground from dried peppers of the plant Capsicum annuum. It comes in a variety of flavors (sweet, smoked, and hot) and colors (red, orange, and yellow). Paprika is used worldwide to flavor savory dishes.

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Nutmeg

What are its benefits?

Nutmeg is a familiar culinary spice enjoyed for its nutty, sweet flavor. In addition, this spice has been long-used in traditional medicine practices for curative purposes, such as easing digestive ailments and treating skin disorders. Newer applications have included using nutmeg as an antibacterial agent in dentistry, and several studies have proven the antimicrobial activity of various extracts and the essential oil of nutmeg seeds. Even more recently, researchers are investigating the benefits of nutmeg on intestinal health.

  • A 2015 animal study of colon cancer looked at uremic toxins built up in the serum of the test subjects with the cancer. The researchers theorized that the toxins were the metabolites of gut bacteria. The toxins were found to be associated with an increase in proinflammatory proteins released by cells of the immune system and a lipid metabolism disorder.
  • Then the test subjects were treated with nutmeg extract, which resulted in lowered levels of toxins and decreased tumor growth. It was also noted in these test subjects that the metabolism disorder was resolved and the level of inflammatory proteins was reduced. This suggests that the toxins were a contributor to the tumor-related metabolic disorder. The study also indicates a connection between gut microbe metabolism, inflammation, and metabolic disorders, and that modifying the diet (by consuming nutmeg, for example) to affect the gut microbiome and lipid metabolism might help in preventing colon cancer.

Nutmeg seeds and extracts also have been shown in multiple studies to have antioxidant activity. This effect is due to its chemical constituents beta-caryophyllene, eugenol, caffic acid, catechin, among others. Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activity of Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) reported, “After absorption into the body, nutmeg seed lignans and their glycosides are metabolized to produce biologically active compounds containing the catechol structure, which could account for the high antioxidant potential of the nutmeg seeds…”

 

Microbiotic Kitchen uses just a small amount of nutmeg in its shake bases since in large doses it can have a psychoactive effect.

What is it?

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) is an evergreen tree native to Asia, Africa, Pacific islands, and America. Mostly nutmeg contains terpenes and phenylpropenes, though its composition does vary depending upon growing conditions. It has a number of nutrients, including fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorous, zinc, and iron.

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