We are symbionts with our mitochondria and our microbiome species.
Symbiont - two or more species living in symbiosis - supporting each other's survival integrally - in an interconnected way that would not survive as well individually or at all.
Symbiosis is based on a Greek word that means “living together.” We, humans, are the larger host species with many smaller symbiont species living within us.
Other examples of symbiont organisms include fungus which may live in symbiosis with algae that can create energy from sunshine (fungus don’t do that). Some plants have fungal species living in the root system which fix nitrogen in the soil, making it more bioavailable for the plant.
“For example, mycorrhizal fungi are symbiotes that colonize the root systems of plants and help to increase water and nutrient uptake while they benefit from the carbohydrates produced by the plant.” (study.com)
Legumes, bean plants, tend to have the nitrogen fixing mycorrhizal fungi. The larger species is called the host and the smaller is called the symbiont or symbiota. That makes humans the host rather than the symbiont however the big point to remember is not jargon, it is that we are beings who are designed to be a host to other beneficial species living in balance.
What are the responsibilities of a good host? To provide hospitality - shelter from weather and food and warmth and water. A good host will also kick out guests who overstay their welcome or cause too much trouble - go home dunk guests, I called a taxi for you. Anti-parasitic/worm treatment is a standard habit in many places even a few times a year, quarterly. Modern medicine has not continued prescribing or recommending that habit but alternative healers can have good success for patients with chronic low level symptoms.
But what if the host is the drunk guest? or the person who dwells on worry? or who exercises or works too hard regularly? or who stays up too late doom-scrolling and eating too much? That would be a host situation that leads to imbalance in the microbiome species and dysfunction in the mitochondria of the cells. The leader can make or break the team.
Our microbiome species help us by making B vitamins in our gut and serotonin and butyrate and other short chain fatty acids - if we have the beneficial species and are feeding them what they need to survive — zinc and resistant starches and other trace minerals. Plant phytonutrients also can play a protective role in keeping negative species in check and promoting beneficial types.
Pomegranate peel is particularly helpful for microbiome growth -too helpful pre- bowel surgery was found in an animal study. (Tavasoli, et al, 2014) Pomegranate peel was trialed in cattle feed to see if odor could be reduced. The smelly results (puntentional) found it did reduce some negative odor chemicals but increased others, so the hope for better smelling stockyards was not met. (Varma, et al, 2018)
Post-biotic nutrients or metabolites are those formed from food by our gut microbes. The butyrate and short-chain fatty acids made from resistant starch are a post-biotic benefit of a healthy gut microbiome. Pomegranate phytonutrients can be turned into urolithin A and B which have anti-inflammatory benefits for brain health — when we have the butyrate producing species. Research on that found that only about 40% of us have those species.
Excerpt from Table 3 of my unpublished pomegranate paper:
Neuroprotective in Parkinson’s disease - Pomegranate juice found neuroprotective in Parkinson’s disease and the postbiotic urolithin A, derivative of ellagitannins, was found in the brain. (Kujawska, et al, 2020)
Mitochondrial health. Pomegranate phytonutrients have been found to help protect the health of mitochondria by promoting the removal of defective ones. (Tan, et al, 2019) This could help protect against diseases that can be associated with aging such as Parkinson’s Disease which can be caused by defects in mitochondria. (Park, J.S., Davis, Sue, 2018)
Muscle endurance and mitochondrial benefits with long term use for older adults. Urolithin A supplementation (four 250 mg soft gel capsules per day, Mitopure; Amazentis SA) didn’t show significant improvement over placebo for short term muscle endurance and mitochondrial health but did show improvements with long-term use for older adults (four-month study). (Liu, et al, 2022)
Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (Multiple sclerosis animal-model) and microbiome health. Pomegranate peel extract, (PPE), 100 mg/Kg/day, Animal-based study. Improved experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (Multiple sclerosis animal-model) by modulation of the gut microbiome, reduced myelin loss and reduced CNS inflammatory factor infiltration were observed. Microbiome changes included an increase in Lactobacillaceae and a decrease in Alcaligenaceae and Acidaminococcacea. Nutrients identified by metabolomics evaluation of the PPE included: phenols, flavonoids, amino acids, fatty acids, lipids, organic acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, and alcohols. (Lu, X.Y., et al, 2020)
Promotes Gut Microbiome Growth. Sepsis - did not help in one animal model. Pretreatment for a month with pomegranate may have increased gut microbiome leaving the animals at increased risk of sepsis effects when surgery was performed. (Tavasoli, et al, 2014)
Increased and altered fecal odorants in a study on concentrated pomegranate peel extract added to pre-weaning milk, or post-weaning diet for calves (4% of the diet). Reducing odor in cattle-yards would be helpful. The pH of the PPE treated calve’s fecal samples was 1.26 units lower and the amount of volatile fatty acids was 5.2 times higher, suggesting increased fermentation and microbial growth to Varma, et al, 2018.
*Which suggests that caution may be needed when using PPE treatments for patients with suspected Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, (SIBO). Generally [however], in humans, PPE would not be used for 4% of the total diet. The author [*me] considers ¼ teaspoon of dried powdered inner pith as a serving of pomegranate peel and might use a few servings throughout the day in various foods (2 tablespoons in a batch of 24 muffins for example) or might also use outer peel made into tea.
**But don’t overeat the muffins. ;-)
Tannin content in the peel is a strong diuretic so increased urination is the clearly obvious sign of too much intake of pomegranate peel - but it can be many hours later. The tongue will also tell you as bitter taste receptors are very sensitive and when we have eaten too much of a bitter substance the initial good but strong flavor will just seem bad, too strong. Learn to stop when your body signals you to do so.
It takes about 20 minutes for food to move through the esophagus to the stomach, so eating until your stomach is full feeling may leave you over-stuffed feeling 20 minutes later. Pause during meals and take your time to eat slowly and chew thoroughly as that helps digestion and maybe your comfort level.
This post includes two more sections of my plan for a series of posts that may help people prevent or improve inflammatory conditions or the low level inflammation common in modern life.
We are symbionts, Part 1 - Mitochondria
Mitochondria are bacteria like organelles that live within our cells and create energy for us and for the mitochondria. They have their own DNA and generally are related or descendants of the mother’s family line. There are mitochondria in the mother’s ovum and when the sperm connects with the ovum for conception, it opens and its DNA enter the ovum without much else, like cytoplasm or mitochondria from the sperm cell. The sperm and its flagellum for directing its movement stay outside of the ovum.
Mitochondria are one of the three locations where our methylation cycles need to be functioning - the cytoplasm and cell nucleus are the other two locations. Metabolites produced in the cytoplasm or mitochondrial methylation are needed for methylation to take place normally in the cell nucleus. Without the needed metabolite (SAMe) methylation can’t take place which prevents normal epigenetic control of the genes in the nucleus, which may lead to cancerous changes and an out of control cell - no epigenetic brakes are on any of the genes!
Mitochondria can develop DNA changes that are dysfunctional and cause health conditions. Since mitochondria are numerous, it might only be a small percentage that have the dysfunctional DNA.
11/4/23 - We are symbionts - Part 1.
11/9/23 - Oxidative stress & antioxidant need by mitochondria.
Support nutrients - many are needed - could be a lengthy series
11/14/23 - Movement - any is better than none. We may need to keep moving to let our microbiome and mitochondria now that we are not dead and not ready for decomposition to take over.
11/19/23 - Sunshine - infrared warmth
11/26/23 - Mitochondria, mitophagy & polyphenols.
11/29/23 - Mitochondria & glyphosate.
This could get into a lengthy detailed series of things that harm mitochondria.
12/8/23 - Mitochondria and excess acidity.
12/13/23 - Mitochondria and zinc storage.
12/19/23 - Pharma drugs often harm mitochondria and that can be screened for but may not be consistently.
12/28/23 - Mitochondria & trace minerals, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, iodine…
1/2/24 - Mitochondria & terpenes
1/11/24 - Mitochondria - fibromyalgia and energy levels (12/29-phosphorus)
1/15/24 - Aether/chi, energy flow and structured water within us may be part of the need for movement and benefit of full range gentle repetitive exercise. Also Primo vascular system & stem cells.
1/25/24 - Mitochondrial transfer between glia and neurons to aid health or to remove damaged mitochondria. https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4409/11/22/3603
1/30/24 - Vitamin C is a pro-oxidant in excess.
See a recent post by Chris Masterjohn, linked below - I may summarize his take home points for vitamin C supplements and oxalate risk and post it sooner. Cancer, IV Drips, and the Glutathione-Vitamin C Connection. (Substack)
2/3/24 - Mitochondria, CoQ10, cholesterol & statin drugs.
2/7/24 - Mitochondria & methylation cycles – prevent cancer.
Microbiome - We are symbionts Part 2
Our microbiome includes bacteria, virus, yeast, and any other organisms like helminths (worms) or parasites. Some of these organisms might be pathogenic in larger amounts but non-disruptive when in balance with other species.
“These symbionts are called parasites. Just a few examples include lice, fleas, ticks, and tapeworms. These animals are ectosymbionts and benefit by feeding off of their hosts. The negative effects of these parasites aren't usually bad enough to cause diseases or death.” (study.com)
The smaller organism/s are called a symbiont or symbiota and the larger species is called the host. (study.com)
Bacterial growth tends to keep yeast growth in check. Use of antibiotics can kill the bacteria in the body and lead to a yeast infection in the gut or other body parts. We have microbial species on our skin and in our ear canals, on our eyelashes, … throughout the body.
We have learned as C-section delivery became common that the newborn’s gut microbiome is seeded during the baby’s passage through the mother’s vaginal canal. Human breast milk contains a type of fiber that is not digestible by our own enzymes - it is food for healthy gut microbiome species however. We are symbionts as indicated by the milk designed to grow a new human has food for the human gut and our gut bacterial species. A lactating mother is supporting and feeding their infant's microbial species in addition to feeding the hungry baby.
We are symbionts, yet the mainstream medical system has been focused on viewing illness as problem to attack rather than figuring out how to restore normal function.
11/5/23 - We are symbionts - Part 2.
11/8/23 - Stress is a cause of gut dysbiosis - which then adds inflammatory endotoxins from negative species, increasing the total body load of oxidative stress chemicals needing to be cleaned up.
11/13/23 - Gut brain axis & serotonin, positive mood
11/20/23 - Beneficial species that make B’s, balance & infection resistance
11/28/23 - Microbiome & glyphosate
12/4/23 - Centenarians & Akkermansia
12/7/23 - Endotoxins and histamine, hydrogen sulfide, lactic acid production by negative species -> digestive illness and other symptoms.
12/11/23 - Zinc - Our microbes eat a lot.
Zinc supplementation or a zinc rich diet is also benefiting our intestinal microbiome. Beneficial bacterial species need zinc in their diet too. When low zinc is available less beneficial species that don't need zinc thrive instead. (Tako, IECN2020) (jenniferdepew.com/zinc) *as much as 30% of the zinc in our diet.
More zinc may be needed than the current nutrition guidelines for optimal health, particularly as we age. The thymus gland needs zinc to help make antibodies and mature T-cells. Extra zinc supplementation has been found to improve age related loss of thymus gland function in animal based research. (Haase et al 2009) (jenniferdepew.com/zinc) *Senior Citizens likely need at least double the current recommendation of ~ 18 mg/day zinc. Use 2-3 mg of copper if supplementing with higher dose zinc to maintain trace mineral balance.
12/16/23 - Bitter phytonutrients, zinc & pom peel.
12/21/23 - Overeating can overfeed - SIBO. Gassy indigestion.
12/26/23 - Buddy species that help each other
1/3/24 - Microbiome - colitis, IBD & terpenes.
1/9/24 - Pomegranate peel & ratio of Firmicutes to bacteroides
1/18/24 - Resistant starch & butyrate species.
1/21/24 - Microbiome & essential oils for cleaning house.
1/22/24 - Virome, exosomes & pheromones.
1/31/24 - Gut dumping syndrome or IBS & acidity (diet and microbial sources)
2/4/24 - Microbiome – house plants, Methyl folate, formaldehyde.
2/9/24 - Microbiome – leptin interactions & weight control.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use and is not intended to provide individual health guidance.
…and peace in your gut is nice too!
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