The Second Genome

“You are what you eat” may be truer than we think, or at least in terms of the composition of our gut microbiota. Until recently, we didn’t know how quickly the microbiota – or the hundreds of trillions of bacteria and microorganisms that live in our digestive system – responds to short-term changes in the types of food we eat.

A study published in Nature has cleared up any doubts by proving having volunteers for five days, limiting their food intake to meals made with rice, tomato, squash, peas, garlic, lentils, banana, mango and papaya. They then returned to their regular balanced diet for a week. Finally, they spent another five days eating just animal and fatty products, essentially bacon, eggs, pork ribs, beef, salami, prosciutto and cheese. By analysing the evolution of the microbiota throughout the period, they saw that just three days after each change in diet, the activity and composition of the bacteria present in the gut had undergone significant variations.

These findings lead researchers to consider that dietary changes could be used in the future to treat certain medical conditions, rather than drugs or even surgery. “One day, we hope we might be able, through an altered diet or behaviour, to shape the microbiota to improve health”, says Professor Lawrence David, co-author of the research. No wonder, then, that the gut microbiota receives the name of “second genome” and, as Professor David stresses, “what’s interesting is that this second genome is potentially plastic and responsive to the way we choose to live our lives.”

2ndActHealth establishes all its health programs based on the principal that food medicine is the pathway to optimal health and healing.

What’s in your mascara?


Eye cosmetics like mascara, can easily deteriorate your vision, especially if you use them daily and aren’t hygienic about it. If you don’t frequently change your cosmetic products, bacteria and fungi are most likely to grow and leach onto your eyes. These are issues in addition to the principle ingredients that are found in the product that can affect not only vision but your overall health. Mascara is a go to staple for women, and there are great options out there. Here are the top items to beware of:

These preservatives in cosmetics are used in mainstream beauty products to prevent bacteria from growing in mascara. The hygienic preservatives have been linked to mimic or disrupt estrogen in the body, also known as an endocrine disrupter. High amounts of parabens have been found in human breast tumors by Dr. Philippa Darbre, a research scientist at the University of Reading in the UK. Parabens found in foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics are getting into the breast at high rates.

Mascaras with Parabens: L’Oreal, Cover Girl, Avon, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Maybelline, Neutrogena, Revlon, Chanel, Lancome

Aluminum Powder
This metallic substance is used as a cosmetic colorant and is a neurotoxin, rated as a high concern by the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This neurotoxin is considered to be far worse than mercury because it has been linked to interfere with a variety of cellular and metabolic processes in the nervous system and other tissues, says a study published in the journal of Pediatrics. If there is long-term exposure of aluminum powder, it can impair the body’s ability to excrete mercury and as a result, can make whatever amount of mercury that is in your system more toxic.

Mascaras with Aluminum Powder: Cover Girl and Estee Lauder

Propylene Glycol
This mascara ingredient, although deemed safe by the FDA, appears to cause severe skin irritation and sensitization in people. Individuals who may be sensitive to this product can be exposed to a special form of irritation – allergic contact dermatitis, an allergic skin reaction caused by direct contact with an allergen.

Mascaras With Propylene Glycol: L’Oreal, Mineral Fusion, Rimmel, Avon, and Maybelline

Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A Acetate)
This harmful mascara ingredient is ranked as a high concern by the EWG because it can cause biochemical or cellular level changes. Retinyl acetate can produce excess reactive oxygen species that interfere with cellular signaling and can even cause mutations in your genes. While there is restricted use in cosmetics where beauty companies must meet recommendations or requirements in the U.S., the use of this toxic ingredient is prohibited and restricted in Canadian cosmetics.

Mascaras With Retinyl Acetate: Elizabeth Arden, Almay and Revlon
There are many more chemicals to list that are known health hazards. As well the colours including but not limited to: FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number (e.g. FD&C Red No. 6, D&C Green No. 6). These are believed to be carcinogenic, meaning that they can contribute to developing cancer.

Brands have we tested and use:

Health News: Blood Type & Brain Health


Blood type may affect brain function as we age, according to a new large, long-term study. People with the rare AB blood type, present in less than 10 percent of the population, have a higher than usual risk of cognitive problems as they age.

University of Vermont hematologist Mary Cushman and her colleagues used data from a national study called REGARDS, which has been following 30,239 African-American and Caucasian individuals older than 45 since 2007. The aim of the study is to understand the heavy stroke toll seen in the southeastern U.S., particularly among African-Americans. Continue the rest of the article here.