Improving gut barriers

Three papers on gut barriers, with the first a 2020 review of four intestinal barrier layers:

“The epithelial cell layer and outer/inner mucin layer constitute the physical barrier. Intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) produced by epithelial cells and antibacterial proteins secreted by Panneth cells represent the functional barrier.

Multiple layers of this barrier, from intestinal lumen to systemic circulation, include:

  1. Luminal intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) that dephosphorylates bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to detoxify it;
  2. Mucus layer that provides a physical barrier preventing interactions between gut bacteria and intestinal epithelial cells;
  3. Tight junctions between epithelial cells that limit paracellular transport of bacteria and/or bacterial products to systemic circulation; and
  4. Antibacterial proteins secreted by specialized intestinal epithelial cells or Paneth cells, and IgA [immunoglobulin A] secreted by immune cells present in lamina propria underlying the epithelial cell layer.


The presence of LPS in systemic circulation is identified as a causal or complicating factor in diverse diseases such as:

  • Diet-induced metabolic diseases;
  • Autism;
  • Alzheimer’s disease;
  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • Arthritis;
  • Obesity-induced osteoarthritis;
  • Asthma; and
  • Several autoimmune diseases.

Causal relationships between circulating LPS levels and development of multiple diseases underscore the importance of changes in intestinal barrier layers associated with disease development.

Correcting intestinal barrier dysfunction to modulate multiple diseases can be envisioned as a viable therapeutic option. Identifying precise defects by use of specific biomarkers would facilitate targeted interventions.” “Intestinal Barrier Dysfunction, LPS Translocation, and Disease Development”

A second 2020 review focused on IAP:

“IAP plays a vital role in intestinal barrier function, affecting bicarbonate secretion, duodenal surface pH, nutrient resorption, local intestinal inflammation, and gut microbiota. Disturbances of IAP functions are associated with persistent inflammatory diseases associated with aging (i.e.,inflammageing), inflammatory bowel diseases, type 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Expression and activity of IAP are directly affected by food intake, i.e., quantity and type of macro- and micronutrients including vitamins and other bioactive nutrients, or by absence of food, as well as indirectly by composition of gut microbiota that in turn are highly dependent on food intake. Increased IAP gene expression and activity promoting detoxification of LPS may lead to improvement of both intestinal and systemic inflammation, reduced bacteria translocation, and maintaining gut barrier function.

IAP could be used as an inflammatory marker together with other markers, such as interleukins, to predict inflammation and diseases that are based on chronic inflammatory processes.” “Intestinal alkaline phosphatase modulation by food components: predictive, preventive, and personalized strategies for novel treatment options in chronic kidney disease” (not freely available)

A third paper was a 2021 rodent study by coauthors of the first paper:

“We developed intestine-specific IAP transgenic mice (IAPTg) overexpressing human chimeric IAP to examine direct effects of increased IAP expression on barrier function and development of metabolic diseases. We evaluated effects of intestine-specific IAP overexpression in hyperlipidemic Ldlr−/− mice. The data presented demonstrated significant attenuation of Western-type diet (WD)-induced LPS translocation in Ldlr−/−IAPTg mice, with significant reduction in intestinal lipid absorption, hyperlipidemia, hepatic lipids, and development of atherosclerotic lesions.


IAP is produced by enterocytes, and catalyzes removal of 1 of the 2 phosphate groups from the toxic lipid A moiety of LPS. This produces monophosphoryl-LPS, and results in attenuation of the downstream TLR (Toll-like receptor)-4–dependent inflammatory cascade.

IAP also:

  • Dephosphorylates other proinflammatory molecules such as flagellin and ATP, resulting in their detoxification;
  • Regulates expression of key gap junction proteins (zonula occludens, claudin, and occludin) and their cellular localization, which directly modulates intestinal barrier function;
  • Promotes growth of various commensal bacteria in the gut by decreasing luminal concentrations of nucleotide triphosphates via dephosphorylation; and
  • Translocates from the apical surface of enterocytes during fat absorption. Increased serum IAP accompanies fat absorption, which is consistent with observed increased levels of circulating LPS in WD-fed mice, providing one more likely mechanism by which WD affects intestinal barrier function via IAP.

Nutrients and food components/supplements that increase IAP include galacto- or chito- oligosaccharides, glucomannan, and vitamin D3. These provide a novel opportunity to develop simple strategies for modulation of diet/nutrition to target metabolic diseases including diabetes, fatty liver disease, atherosclerosis, and heart disease.” “Over-Expression of Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase Attenuates Atherosclerosis”

Previously curated IAP studies were:


Take acetyl-L-carnitine for early-life trauma

This 2021 rodent study traumatized female mice during their last 20% of pregnancy, with effects that included:

  • Prenatally stressed pups raised by stressed mothers had normal cognitive function, but depressive-like behavior and social impairment;
  • Prenatally stressed pups raised by control mothers did not reverse behavioral deficits; and
  • Control pups raised by stressed mothers displayed prenatally stressed pups’ behavioral phenotypes.

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) protected against and reversed depressive-like behavior induced by prenatal trauma:

alcar regime

ALCAR was supplemented in drinking water of s → S mice either from weaning to adulthood (3–8 weeks), or for one week in adulthood (7–8 weeks). ALCAR supplementation from weaning rendered s → S mice resistant to developing depressive-like behavior.

ALCAR supplementation for 1 week during adulthood rescued depressive-like behavior. One week after ALCAR cessation, however, the anti-depressant effect of ALCAR was diminished.

Intergenerational trauma induces social deficits and depressive-like behavior through divergent and convergent mechanisms of both in utero and early-life parenting environments:

  • We establish 2-HG [2-hydroxyglutaric acid, a hypoxia and mitochondrial dysfunction marker, and an epigenetic modifier] as an early predictive biomarker for trauma-induced behavioral deficits; and
  • Demonstrate that early pharmacological correction of mitochondria metabolism dysfunction by ALCAR can permanently reverse behavioral deficits.” “Intergenerational trauma transmission is associated with brain metabotranscriptome remodeling and mitochondrial dysfunction”

Previously curated studies cited were:

This study had an effusive endorsement of acetyl-L-carnitine in its Discussion section, ending with:

“This has the potential to change lives of millions of people who suffer from major depression or have risk of developing this disabling disorder, particularly those in which depression arose from prenatal traumatic stress.”

I take a gram daily. Don’t know about prenatal trauma, but I’m certain what happened during my early childhood.

I asked both these researchers and those of Reference 70 for their estimates of a human equivalent to “0.3% ALCAR in drinking water.” Will update with their replies.


Vitamin K-dependent proteins

This 2020 review focused on three Vitamin K-dependent proteins (VKDPs):

“We summarize three important emerging VKDPs: Growth arrest‑specific protein 6 (Gas 6), Gla‑rich protein (GRP) and periostin in terms of their functions in physiological and pathological conditions. As examples:

  • Carboxylated Gas 6 and GRP effectively protect blood vessels from calcification;
  • Gas 6 protects from acute kidney injury and is involved in chronic kidney disease;
  • GRP contributes to bone homeostasis and delays progression of osteoarthritis; and
  • Periostin is involved in all phases of fracture healing and assists myocardial regeneration in the early stages of myocardial infarction.


The ‘+’ refers to promotion and ‘-‘ refers to inhibition. Green represents Gas 6 physiological effects and red represents its pathological effects.

  • Gas 6 resists vascular calcification: i) Gas 6 promotes proliferation and migration of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs); ii) Gas 6 inhibits apoptosis and senescence of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) by binding Tyro3, Axl and Mer (TAM) receptors; iii) Gas 6 decreases expression of inflammatory factors, including TNF-α and ICAM-1.
  • Gas 6 protects from acute kidney injury: i) Gas 6 significantly reduces creatinine and blood urea nitrogen; ii) Gas 6 enhances macrophages to uptake apoptotic cells; iii) Gas 6 reduces the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1β.
  • Gas 6 assists tumor progression: i) Gas 6 is necessary for survival, proliferation and growth of tumor cells; ii) Gas 6 contributes to drug resistance and tumor angiogenesis; iii) Gas 6 negatively regulates tumor immunity.

Numerous physiological benefits of vitamin K2 have been identified, such as anti-vascular calcification, glycemic control, and lipid-lowering effects. However, some questions about relationships between vitamin K2 and cancers remain unsolved. VKDPs are expected to be biomarkers for many diseases.” “Role of emerging vitamin K‑dependent proteins: Growth arrest‑specific protein 6, Gla‑rich protein and periostin (Review)”

This review’s VKPD biomarkers included:

  • Vascular calcification;
  • Asthma;
  • Bronchial obstruction;
  • Diabetic nephropathy; and
  • Fracture risk.

Elaborating on this last item:

“In a cohort of 607 postmenopausal women from France that were followed up for 7 years, a positive correlation between serum periostin and fracture risk was observed. The association was independent of bone mineral density and prior fractures, indicating that periostin is an independent predictive marker of fracture risk.”

As pointed out in Chronological age by itself is an outdated clinical measurement, bone mineral density is one of several historical measurements that were selected for their relative convenience instead of chosen for their efficacy. We’re in a different century now.


Basal cognition

To follow up Electroceuticals, a 2021 article by Dr. Michael Levin:

“A key philosophical idea, borrowed from computer science, is substrate independence. Components of a living system can carry out appropriate, clearly specified cognitive functions.

Cognitive processes in embryogenesis and regeneration:


    • (a) An egg will reliably give rise to a species-specific anatomical outcome.
    • (b) This process is usually described as a feed-forward system where activity of gene-regulatory networks (GRNs) within cells results in expression of effector proteins that, via structural properties of proteins and physical forces, will result in the emergence of complex shape. This class of models (bottom-up process driven by self-organization and parallel activity of large numbers of local agents) is difficult to apply to several biological phenomena. Regulative development can alter subsequent steps to reach the correct anatomical goal state despite drastic deviations of the starting state.
    • (c) For example, mammalian embryos can be divided in half, giving rise to perfectly normal monozygotic twins, each of which has regenerated the missing cell mass.
    • (d) Mammalian embryos can also be combined, giving rise to a normal embryo in which no parts are duplicated.
    • (e) Such capabilities suggest that pattern control is fundamentally a homeostatic process—a closed-loop system using feedback to minimize error (distance) between a current shape and a target morphology. Although these kinds of decision-making models are commonplace in engineering, they are only recently beginning to be employed in biology. This kind of pattern-homeostatic process must store a setpoint that serves as a stop condition; however, as with most types of memory, it can be specifically modified by experience.
    • (f) In the phenomenon of trophic memory, damage created at a specific point on the branched structure of deer antlers is recalled as ectopic branch points in subsequent years’ antler regeneration. This reveals ability of cells at the scalp to remember spatial location of specific damage events and alter cell behaviour to adjust the resulting pattern appropriately—a pattern memory that stretches across months of time and considerable spatial distance and is able to modify low-level (cellular) growth rules to construct a pre-determined stored pattern that differs from genome-default for this species.
    • (g) A similar capability was recently shown in a molecularly tractable model system, in which genetically normal planarian flatworms were bioelectrically reprogrammed to regenerate two-headed animals when cut in subsequent rounds of asexual reproduction in plain water.
    • (h) The decision making revealed by cells, tissues and organs in these examples of dynamic remodelling toward specific target states could be implemented by cybernetic processes at various positions along a scale of proto-cognitive complexity.

A challenge for the field of basal cognition is to reveal gradualism of cellular properties underwriting this critical biological function to leverage an understanding of clear phase transitions observed in cognitive capacities. The origin and development of nervous systems is so far the most dramatic example.” “Uncovering cognitive similarities and differences, conservation and innovation”

Why aren’t more resources being directed toward these research efforts? Glad to see that at least one co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, posthumously used his billions to sponsor science for human good.

The amino acid ergothioneine

A trio of papers on ergothioneine starts with a 2019 human study. 3,236 people without cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus ages 57.4±6.0 were measured for 112 metabolites, then followed-up after 20+ years:

“We identified that higher ergothioneine was an independent marker of lower risk of cardiometabolic disease and mortality, which potentially can be induced by a specific healthy dietary intake.

overall mortality and ergothioneine

Ergothioneine exists in many dietary sources and has especially high levels in mushrooms, tempeh, and garlic. Ergothioneine has previously been associated with a higher intake of vegetables, seafood and with a lower intake of solid fats and added sugar as well as associated with healthy food patterns.” “Ergothioneine is associated with reduced mortality and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease”

I came across this study by its citation in a 2021 review:

“The body has evolved to rely on highly abundant low molecular weight thiols such as glutathione to maintain redox homeostasis but also play other important roles including xenobiotic detoxification and signalling. Some of these thiols may also be derived from diet, such as the trimethyl-betaine derivative of histidine, ergothioneine (ET).

image description

ET can be found in most (if not all) tissues, with differential rates of accumulation, owing to differing expression of the transporter. High expression of the transporter, and hence high levels of ET, is observed in certain cells (e.g. blood cells, bone marrow, ocular tissues, brain) that are likely predisposed to oxidative stress, although other tissues can accumulate high levels of ET with sustained administration. This has been suggested to be an adaptive physiological response to elevate ET in the damaged tissue and thereby limit further injury.” “Ergothioneine, recent developments”

The coauthors of this review were also coauthors of a 2018 review:

“Ergothioneine is avidly taken up from the diet by humans and other animals through a transporter, OCTN1. Ergothioneine is not rapidly metabolised, or excreted in urine, and has powerful antioxidant and cytoprotective properties.

ergothioneine in foods

Effects of dietary ET supplementation on oxidative damage in young healthy adults found a trend to a decrease in oxidative damage, as detected in plasma and urine using several established biomarkers of oxidative damage, but no major decreases. This could arguably be a useful property of ET: not interfering with important roles of ROS/RNS in healthy tissues, but coming into play when oxidative damage becomes excessive due to tissue injury, toxin exposure or disease, and ET is then accumulated.” “Ergothioneine – a diet-derived antioxidant with therapeutic potential”

I’m upping a half-pound of mushrooms every day to 3/4 lb. (340 g). Don’t think I could eat more garlic than the current six cloves.


I came across this subject in today’s video:

Gut microbiota topics

Here are thirty 2019 and 2020 papers related to Switch on your Nrf2 signaling pathway topics. Started gathering research on this particular theme three months ago.

There are more researchers alive today than in the sum of all history, and they’re publishing. I can’t keep up with the torrent of interesting papers.


2020 A prebiotic fructo-oligosaccharide promotes tight junction assembly in intestinal epithelial cells via an AMPK-dependent pathway

2019 Polyphenols and Intestinal Permeability: Rationale and Future Perspectives

2020 Prebiotic effect of dietary polyphenols: A systematic review

2019 Protease‐activated receptor signaling in intestinal permeability regulation

2020 Intestinal vitamin D receptor signaling ameliorates dextran sulfate sodium‐induced colitis by suppressing necroptosis of intestinal epithelial cells

2019 Intestinal epithelial cells: at the interface of the microbiota and mucosal immunity

2020 The Immature Gut Barrier and Its Importance in Establishing Immunity in Newborn Mammals

2019 Prebiotics and the Modulation on the Microbiota-GALT-Brain Axis

2019 Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Bacterial Infections

2020 Vitamin D Modulates Intestinal Microbiota in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

2020 Microbial tryptophan metabolites regulate gut barrier function via the aryl hydrocarbon receptor

2019 Involvement of Astrocytes in the Process of Metabolic Syndrome

2020 Intestinal Bacteria Maintain Adult Enteric Nervous System and Nitrergic Neurons via Toll-like Receptor 2-induced Neurogenesis in Mice (not freely available)

2019 Akkermansia muciniphila ameliorates the age-related decline in colonic mucus thickness and attenuates immune activation in accelerated aging Ercc1−/Δ7 mice

2020 Plasticity of Paneth cells and their ability to regulate intestinal stem cells

2020 Coagulopathy associated with COVID-19 – Perspectives & Preventive strategies using a biological response modifier Glucan

2020 Synergy between Cell Surface Glycosidases and Glycan-Binding Proteins Dictates the Utilization of Specific Beta(1,3)-Glucans by Human Gut Bacteroides

2020 Shaping the Innate Immune Response by Dietary Glucans: Any Role in the Control of Cancer?

2020 Systemic microbial TLR2 agonists induce neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease mice

2019 Prebiotic supplementation in frail older people affects specific gut microbiota taxa but not global diversity

2020 Effectiveness of probiotics, prebiotics, and prebiotic‐like components in common functional foods

2020 Postbiotics-A Step Beyond Pre- and Probiotics

2019 Pain regulation by gut microbiota: molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential

2020 Postbiotics: Metabolites and mechanisms involved in microbiota-host interactions

2020 Postbiotics against Pathogens Commonly Involved in Pediatric Infectious Diseases

2019 Glutamatergic Signaling Along The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis

2019 Lipoteichoic acid from the cell wall of a heat killed Lactobacillus paracasei D3-5 ameliorates aging-related leaky gut, inflammation and improves physical and cognitive functions: from C. elegans to mice

2020 Live and heat-killed cells of Lactobacillus plantarum Zhang-LL ease symptoms of chronic ulcerative colitis induced by dextran sulfate sodium in rats

2019 Health Benefits of Heat-Killed (Tyndallized) Probiotics: An Overview

2020 New Horizons in Microbiota and Metabolic Health Research (not freely available)

Oat species comparisons of the good stuff

This 2020 study compared and contrasted distributional compositions of two oat species’ seeds:

“Oat grains of one hulless variety (Lamont) with low avenanthramide (AVA) contents and one hulled variety (Reins) with high AVA contents were sequentially abraded. Contents of nutrients (protein, oil, starch, β-glucan, ash, and other carbohydrates) and AVAs were measured.

A relationship between content of a constituent in the surface layer abraded off (termed pearling fine, or PF) at each cycle of pearling and the cumulative level of surface removal could be established. This relationship essentially describes true distribution or localization of individual constituents across an oat kernel.

AVAs provide health benefits in mammals, including anti-oxidation, anti-inflammation, anti-atherosclerosis, and anti-cancer properties. Relationships between contents of four AVAs and total AVAs in pearling fines (A) and corresponding pearled kernels (B) of hulless Lamont oat [top] and hulled Rein [bottom] with cumulative surface removal levels achieved by sequential pearling:

For Lamont oat, AVAs 2c, 2f, 2p, 5p, and total AVAs all showed decreasing concentrations with increasing levels of surface removal. The first PF (4% surface removal) contained the highest amounts for all four AVAs, with 2p near ten times higher than in whole grain.

Hulled Reins oat differed significantly from hulless Lamont oat in not only amounts of AVAs but also their distribution patterns within kernels. Dehulling caused reduction in total AVA content.

Pearled oats contained less protein, oil, ash, and other carbohydrates and AVAs, but more starch than whole grain. In contrast, oat bran contained more AVAs, protein, oil, ash and other carbohydrates but less β-glucan and starch as compared to whole grain.” “Distributions of nutrients and avenanthramides within oat grain and effects on pearled kernel composition” (not freely available)

There were higher AVA contents in hulls of the top graphic’s species (Avena nuda) compared with its next ten seed layers. Humans require the bottom graphic’s oat species’ (Avena sativa) hull, which is “about 25% total grain mass,” to be milled off before we eat it. So AVA data points on the bottom graph A start around 25% surface removal.

As mentioned in Eat oats to prevent diabetes, I replaced steel-cut Avena sativa oats with whole Avena nuda oats for breakfast. I don’t know how well Avena nuda hulls are digested, but gut microbiota ferment similar indigestibles into beneficial compounds.

The first study of Eat oat sprouts for AVAs found “up to 25-fold increase” in AVAs with 7-day-old Avena sativa sprouts. I expect 3-day-old hulled Avena sativa sprouts I eat also increase AVAs as they germinate.

Our first 1000 days

This 2021 review subject was a measurable aspect of our early lives:

“The first 1000 days from conception are a sensitive period for human development programming. During this period, environmental exposures may result in long-lasting epigenetic imprints that contribute to future developmental trajectories.

The present review reports on effects of adverse and protective environmental conditions occurring on glucocorticoid receptor gene (NR3C1) regulation in humans. Thirty-four studies were included.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is key in regulating mobilization of energy. It is involved in stress reactivity and regulation, and it supports development of behavioral, cognitive, and socio-emotional domains.

The NR3C1 gene encodes for specific glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) in the mammalian brain, and it is epigenetically regulated by environmental exposures.

When mixed stressful conditions were not differentiated for their effects on NR3C1 methylation, no significant results were obtained, which speaks in favor of specificity of epigenetic vestiges of different adverse conditions. Specific maternal behaviors and caregiving actions – such as breastfeeding, sensitive and contingent interactive behavior, and gentle touch – consistently correlated with decreased NR3C1 methylation.

If the neuroendocrine system of a developing fetus and infant is particularly sensitive to environmental stimulations, this model may provide the epigenetic basis to inform promotion of family-centered prevention, treatment, and supportive interventions for at-risk conditions. A more ambiguous picture emerged for later effects of NR3C1 methylation on developmental outcomes during infancy and childhood, suggesting that future research should favor epigenome-wide approaches to long-term epigenetic programming in humans.” “Glucocorticoid receptor gene (NR3C1) methylation during the first thousand days: Environmental exposures and developmental outcomes” (not freely available). Thanks to Dr. Livio Provenci for providing a copy.

I respectfully disagree with recommendations for an EWAS approach during infancy and childhood. What happened to each of us wasn’t necessarily applicable to a group. Group statistics may make interesting research topics, but they won’t change anything for each individual.

Regarding treatment, our individual experiences and needs during our first 1000 days should be repeatedly sensed and felt in order to be therapeutic. Those memories are embedded in our needs because cognitive aspects of our brains weren’t developed then.

To become curative, we first sense and feel early needs and experiences. Later, we understand their contributions and continuations in our emotions, behavior, and thinking.

And then we can start to change who we were made into.

Don’t brew oat sprouts – eat them!

This 2020 study chemically analyzed four grains and their brew-processing products:

“Side-stream products of malting, particularly rootlet, are currently treated as animal feed. Instead of ending up in final products (e.g., malt and beer), a substantial portion of phytochemicals end up in side streams.

Rootlets are being increasingly investigated to overcome their bitter taste and to unleash their potential. Adding the fact that side-stream products produced in high quantity are also rich in protein, their nutritional value may be too high to justify usage as feed rather than food.

Grains were steeped for 26 to 30 h with a wet–dry–wet steeping program. Oats were wet steeped for 4 h at 13 °C before and after 18 h of dry steeping at 15 °C.

All grains were germinated for 6 days at 15 °C, after which they were dried with a gentle kilning program to a final temperature of 83 °C and moisture of 4%. Rootlets were separated from malt after drying.

Statistically significant changes occurred in abundance of all 285 annotated phytochemicals during malting, when comparing whole grain with malted grain or rootlet. In oats, cumulative levels of avenanthramides increased by 2.6-fold in the malted grain compared to intact whole grain. Up to 25-fold increase has been reported previously after a slightly longer germination.

Phenolamides cumulative levels in oats increased in both malted grain (11-fold) and rootlet (50-fold). Cumulative flavonoid levels were nearly 3-fold higher in malted grain and rootlet compared to whole grain.

Avenanthramides and phenolamides had much lower extractability into the water extract and wort.

To our knowledge, this is the first time avenanthramides are reported from any other species than oats, suggesting that the synthesis pathway for avenanthramides evolved before oats diverged from the other cereals. Furthermore, benzoxazinoids are herein reported for the first time in oats.

Several previously uncharacterized saponins were found in oats in addition to the previously known avenacins and avenacosides. However, because of limited reference data currently available, their identity could not be determined beyond compound class and molecular formula in this study.

Plants can synthetize up to hundreds of thousands of secondary metabolites, and current spectral databases only contain a fraction of them to allow identification. Compounds found in this study do not represent the complete range of phytochemicals existing in cereals.” “Side-stream products of malting: a neglected source of phytochemicals”

Twice a day for six weeks I’ve eaten oat sprouts 3-to-6-days old from two species and three varieties. I’ve never noticed any “bitter taste” of rootlets mentioned.

Maybe “a final temperature of 83 °C and moisture of 4%” had something to do with it? Oat sprouts I ate never got above 25°C, and I doubt their moisture content was < 80%.

Maybe “Oats were wet steeped for 4 h at 13 °C before and after 18 h of dry steeping at 15 °C” gave oat sprouts a bitter taste? I process oat sprout batches the same way I do broccoli sprout batches. A new batch soaks to start germination every 12 hours, then is rinsed three times every 24 hours on a 6 hours – 6 hours – 12 hours cycle. Temperature in my kitchen is 21°C (70°F) because it’s winter outside.

The above graphic is a heat map of 29 studied C-type avenanthramides. Don’t know why 26 known A-type avenanthramides described in Eat oats today! weren’t analyzed. The second study of Sprouting oats stated:

“There is a higher concentration of A-type AVAs [avenanthramides] than C-type AVAs in sprouted oats.”

Reference 33’s “up to 25-fold increase” is curated in Eat oat sprouts for AVAs.

Sprouting hulless oats

I finished a 3-lb. bag of hulled Avena sativa oats used in Sprouting hulled oats after starting 20 gram batches twice a day. Amazon said that Montana farmer’s products were “Currently unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.” I went to their website and emailed an inquiry.

Turns out it’s Amazon’s problem in restocking pallets that are already received! I placed an order directly with the farmer.

In the meantime, I’m trying another oat species, Avena nuda, from an Illinois farmer. I’ll reuse Degree of oat sprouting as the model, since it was also an Avena nuda oat variety.

  • Oat seed size was 7-9 mm x 2-3 mm. The model used “huskless oat ‘Gehl’” which may be a different variety.
  • 100 seeds weighed 2.9 grams. There were close to 700 seeds per 20 g batches.
  • Oat sprout batches were processed the same way I do broccoli sprout batches. A new batch started soaking to start germination every 12 hours, then was rinsed three times every 24 hours on a 6 hours – 6 hours – 12 hours cycle.
  • Temperature in my kitchen was 21°C (70°F) because it’s snowing outside. The model findings included “Temperatures between 20° and 25°C yielded the most dramatic changes in properties of sprouted oats.”

I evaluated germination results per the model’s Degree of Sprouting finding:

“Length of the coleoptile [shoot] was selected as a criterion of categorization of degree of sprouting. Grains of degree 0 do not show any radicle [root] or coleoptile growth. Degree:

  1. Has visible embryos (small white point), while radicles and coleoptile are not visible;
  2. Shows a developed embryo emerging from the seed coat;
  3. Coleoptile lengths of at least half the oat grain length;
  4. Coleoptile lengths between half and a full grain length; and
  5. Coleoptile longer than a full grain length.”

Here’s what this hulless oat variety’s seeds and 3-day-old sprouts looked like:

The tedious part was evaluating degrees of sprouting. I took as large a bottom-to-top sample as I could tolerate sorting (160 seeds / sprouts, about 23%), with these results:

A 91% germination rate. 🙂 Average weight of 3-day-old batches was 42.5 grams, for a 213% weight gain. That wasn’t as much as 3-day-old hulled oats’ 97% germination rate and 260% weight gain.

For degree-of-sprouting comparisons, here are my eyeball estimates of the model study’s 3-day-old hulless oats:

These 3-day-old hulless oat sprouts taste starchier with less enzyme aftertaste than 3-day-old hulled oat sprouts. Will extending their growth to four days increase degree-of-sprouting categories 4 and 5, and change their taste?

An extra day from 5 to 6 didn’t make a difference in Sprouting whole oats germination rate. I don’t expect non-germinated percentages to change from 3 to 4 days, but we’ll see.

I expect similar overall increases in antioxidants, GABA, phenolic compounds, protein, amino acids, β-glucan, and polyunsaturated fatty acids as hulled oat sprouts.

Update: Four-day-old hulless oat sprouts have a little more sweetness and enzyme aftertaste. Their degree-of-sprouting and germination rate didn’t change much, though. I’ll stick with four days for this variety.

Gut microbiota and aging

This 2020 review explored the title subject:

“The human body contains 1013 human cells and 1014 commensal microbiota. Gut microbiota play vital roles in human development, physiology, immunity, and nutrition.

Human lifespan was thought to be determined by the combined influence of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors including lifestyle-associated factors such as exercise or diet. The role of symbiotic microorganisms has been ignored.

Age-associated alterations in composition, diversity, and functional features of gut microbiota are closely correlated with an age-related decline in immune system functioning (immunosenescence) and low-grade chronic inflammation (inflammaging). Immunosenescence and inflammaging do not have a unidirectional relationship. They exist in a mutually maintained state where immunosenescence is induced by inflammaging and vice versa.

Immunosenescence changes result in both quantitative and qualitative modifications of specific cellular subpopulations such as T cells, macrophages and natural killer cells as opposed to a global deterioration of the immune system. Neutrophils and macrophages from aged hosts are less active with diminished phagocytosing capability.

Gut microbiota transform environmental signals and dietary molecules into signaling metabolites to communicate with different organs and tissues in the host, mediating inflammation. Gut microbiota modulations via dietary or probiotics are useful anti-inflammaging and immunosenescence interventions.

The presence of microbiomic clocks in the human body makes noninvasive, accurate lifespan prediction possible. Prior to occurrence of aging-related diseases [shown above], bidirectional interactions between the gut and extraenteric tissue will change.

Correction of accelerated aging-associated gut dysbiosis is beneficial, suggesting a link between aging and gut microbiota that provides a rationale for microbiota-targeted interventions against age-related diseases. However, it is still unclear whether gut microbiota alterations are the cause or consequence of aging, and when and how to modulate gut microbiota to have anti-aging effects remain to be determined.” “Gut microbiota and aging” (not freely available; thanks to Dr. Zongxin Ling for providing a copy)

1. The “Stable phase” predecessor to this review’s subject deserved its own paper:

“After initial exposure and critical transitional windows within 3 years after birth, it is generally agreed that human gut microbiota develops into the typical adult structure and composition that is relatively stable in adults.

gut microbiota by age phenotype

However, the Human Microbiome Project revealed that various factors such as food modernization, vaccines, antibiotics, and taking extreme hygiene measures will reduce human exposure to microbial symbionts and led to shrinkage of the core microbiome, while the reduction in microbiome biodiversity can compromise the human immune system and predispose individuals to several modern diseases.”

2. I looked for the ten germ-free references in the “How germ-free animals help elucidate the mechanisms” section of The gut microbiome: its role in brain health in this review, but didn’t find them cited. Likewise, the five germ-free references in this review weren’t cited in that paper. Good to see a variety of relevant research.

There were a few overlapping research groups with this review’s “Gut-brain axis aging” section, although it covered only AD and PD research.

3. Inflammaging is well-documented, but is chronic inflammation a condition of chronological age?

A twenty-something today who ate highly-processed food all their life could have gut microbiota roughly equivalent to their great-great grandparents’ at advanced ages. Except their ancestors’ conditions may have been byproducts of “an unintended consequence of both developmental programmes and maintenance programmes.

Would gut microbiota be a measure of such a twenty-something’s biological age? Do we wait until they’re 60, and explain their conditions by demographics? What could they do to reset themself back to a chronological-age-appropriate phenotype?

The future of your brain is in your gut right now

A 2020 paper by the author of Sulforaphane: Its “Coming of Age” as a Clinically Relevant Nutraceutical in the Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Disease:

“The gut and brain communicate bidirectionally via several pathways which include:

  1. Neural via the vagus nerve;
  2. Endocrine via the HPA axis;
  3. Neurotransmitters, some of which are synthesized by microbes;
  4. Immune via cytokines; and
  5. Metabolic via microbially generated short-chain fatty acids.

How does nature maintain the gut-microbiome-brain axis? Mechanisms to maintain homeostasis of intestinal epithelial cells and their underlying cells are a key consideration.

The symbiotic relationship that exists between microbiota and the human host is evident when considering nutrient requirements of each. The host provides food for microbes, which consume that food to produce metabolites necessary for health of the host.

Consider function of the human nervous system, not in isolation but in integration with the gastrointestinal ecosystem of the host, in expectation of a favorable impact on human health and behavior.” “Chapter 14 – The gut microbiome: its role in brain health” (not freely available)

Always more questions:

  1. What did you put into your gut today?
  2. What type of internal environment did it support?
  3. What “favorable impact on human health and behavior” do you expect from today’s intake?
  4. How will you feel?
  5. Will you let evidence guide feeding your gut environment?

See Harnessing endogenous defenses with broccoli sprouts for further elaboration. See Switch on your Nrf2 signaling pathway for an interview with these papers’ author.

How will you feel?

Consider this a partial repost of Moral Fiber:

“We are all self-reproducing bioreactors. We provide an environment for trillions of microbes, most of which cannot survive for long without the food, shelter and a place to breed that we provide.

They inhabit us so thoroughly that not a single tissue in our body is sterile. Our microbiome affects our development, character, mood and health, and we affect it via our diet, medications and mood states.

The microbiome:

  • Affects our thinking and our mood;
  • Influences how we develop;
  • Molds our personalities;
  • Our sociability;
  • Our responses to fear and pain;
  • Our proneness to brain disease; and
  • May be as or more important in these respects than our genetic makeup.

Dysbiosis has become prevalent due to removal of prebiotic fibers from today’s ultra-processed foods. I believe that dietary shift has created a generation of humans less able to sustain or receive love.

They suffer from reduced motivation and lower impulse control. They are more anxious, more depressed, more selfish, more polarized, and therefore more susceptible to the corrosive politics of identity.

Other recent blog posts by Dr. Paul Clayton and team include Skin in The Game and Kenosha Kids.

Image from Thomas Cole : The Consummation, The Course of the Empire (1836) Canvas Gallery Wrapped Giclee Wall Art Print (D4060)

Part 2 of Sprouting hulled oats

In Sprouting hulled oats, seeds were sprouted at 21°C (70°F) for 3 days. That post ended with a question raised by Oat sprouts analysis regarding desirability of enzymes.

Here’s that study’s analysis of its hulled oat variety’s enzymes, excluding results not pertinent to this post. There was neither a 72-hour measurement period nor a 20°C 60-hour period analyzed. Interpolate measurements accordingly.

1. α-amylase enzyme was described as:

“Alpha-amylase plays a key role during germination since it catalyzes hydrolysis of α-1,4 glucosidic linkages of starch, yielding maltose and glucose necessary for seedling development. Activity of this enzyme increased considerably during oat sprouting [reference to Degree of oat sprouting] but it is also de novo synthesized during this process.

High glucose content in sprouted flour can increase its glycemic index (GI). Foods with low GI are beneficial due to low postprandial glucose response compared to foods with a high GI. Selection of germination conditions is crucial to modulate α-amylase activity in oat for obtaining healthier sprouted flours with lower GI.”

A. 3-day-old hulled oat sprouts probably don’t have “High glucose content.” Studies such as Optimization of Oat Amylase During Sprouting to Enhance Sugar Production found:

“Maltose was the primary sugar, though there was a detectable but smaller amount of glucose.”

B. I understand that researchers have adopted a glycemic index. Does that one dimension indexed on glucose at 100 adequately inform health-choice decisions about oat sprout α-amylase enzyme content?

What’s the point of indexing healthy choices like sprouted whole grains to unhealthy choices that healthy people aren’t going to make anyway?

2. Increased protease enzyme activity was analyzed as desirable, and used as an optimization parameter.

3. Lipase activity increased from 18°C 60-hour to 20°C 96-hour measurements in the above graphic. All sprouted oat lipase levels were below unsprouted control oat flour, however:

“Lipase activity decreased in sprouted var. Meeri flour during germination. Our results suggest that there must be an important lipase activity in oat hull.

Lipase hydrolyse triglicerides to free fatty acids that are prone to oxidation and cause rancidity of cereal flours. According to our results, use of dehulled oat grains is desirable to obtain sprouted oat flours with increased stability and longer shelf life.”

Don’t know which enzyme is responsible for mild throat burn after eating 3-day-old hulled oat sprouts. It isn’t unpleasant, just unexpected. Research so far indicates that people pay for catalytic enzymes that increase proteolytic and digestive activity.

What if we index health decisions on a standard at 100 of drinking a beer first thing in the morning? Would anything scaled by that one dimension inform fine tuning of health-choice decisions?

“Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer
The future’s uncertain and the end is always near”

Sprouting hulled oats

My Sprouting whole oats trial was a hassle with hulls and a poor germination rate. This week I used hulled oat seeds from a different vendor, and a different study, Degree of oat sprouting, as my model.

  • Oat variety of Avena sativa was a small seed, 7 mm x 2 mm. The model used “huskless oat ‘Gehl'” which is a different species (Avena nuda).
  • 100 seeds weighed 1.5 grams. There were over 1,300 seeds per 20 g batches.
  • Oat sprout batches were processed the same way I do broccoli sprout batches. A new batch started soaking to start germination every 12 hours, then was rinsed three times every 24 hours on a 6 hours – 6 hours – 12 hours cycle. I have an open question to the model’s corresponding coauthor to explain their “4.5‐hr wet steeping, 19‐hr air rest, and 4‐hr steeping, all at 20°C” procedures to start germination, since I didn’t have access to its cited study. The model grew oat sprouts for 1, 2, and 3 days.
  • Temperature in my kitchen was 21°C (70°F) because it’s winter outside. The model grew oat sprouts at 10, 14, 20, 25, and 30°C. Their findings included “Temperatures between 20° and 25°C yielded the most dramatic changes in properties of sprouted oats.”

I evaluated germination results per the model’s Degree of Sprouting finding:

“Length of the coleoptile [shoot] was selected as a criterion of categorization of degree of sprouting. Grains of degree 0 do not show any radicle [root] or coleoptile growth. Degree:

  1. Has visible embryos (small white point), while radicles and coleoptile are not visible;
  2. Shows a developed embryo emerging from the seed coat;
  3. Coleoptile lengths of at least half the oat grain length;
  4. Coleoptile lengths between half and a full grain length; and
  5. Coleoptile longer than a full grain length.”

Most of this trial wasn’t a big deal, adding just a few extra minutes onto what I do three times a day with broccoli sprouts. Here’s what this oat variety’s hulled seeds and 3-day-old sprouts looked like:

The tedious part was evaluating degrees of sprouting. I took as large a bottom-to-top sample as I could tolerate sorting (235 seeds / sprouts, about 17%), with these results:

A 97% germination rate. 🙂 Average weight of three 3-day-old batches was 51.9 grams, for a 260% weight gain. My 5-day-old whole oat sprouts trial had a 22% germination rate and a 221% weight gain.

The model’s Figure 3 Degree of Sprouting finding for 20°C and 25°C at 3 days was hard to read:

Don’t know how > 1% 0 degrees of sprouting at 20°C and 25°C reconciled with their statement “Germinability after 3 days was about 99% at all temperatures.” A numerical table wasn’t provided – yet another question for the corresponding author. Meanwhile, I’ll estimate:

Their hard-to-read Figure 3 also wasn’t completely congruent with their statement:

“Around 20% of grains sprouted at 20° and 25°C had a coleoptile longer than a full grain length (degree of sprouting 5).”

These oat sprouts tasted milder than my previous trial’s. With more than a third at a degree-of-sprouting 5 measurement, they’re sweet, concurrent with the model’s findings that:

“Increased amounts of reducing sugars and ascorbic acid were found particularly in the radicles and coleoptile. Coleoptile and radicle growth (input parameters for the degree of sprouting) and reducing sugars and α‐amylase activity are interdependent.”

Corresponding increased enzyme concentrations produced an aftertaste, though. I ate them along with either food or drink.

Can eating three-day-old oat sprouts of this Montana cultivated variety help with what I’m already doing? Here’s what I expect, given the model was a different oat species, and the Sprouting oats and Oat sprouts analysis studies used different oat cultivars.

1. In order of magnitude: increased antioxidants, GABA, phenolic compounds, protein, amino acids, β-glucan, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Don’t know about GABA and protein, but the others may help counter inflammation.

2. Increased enzyme intake. The model study used α-amylase as a marker for α-amylase enzymes (catalyze starches), protease enzymes (catalyze proteins), and lipase enzymes (catalyze fats).

Oat sprouts analysis characterized increased α-amylase and lipase activities as undesirable in a sprouted oat flour context. More on enzymes in Part 2 of Sprouting hulled oats.