Coffee drinkers have healthier gut microbiotas as reported by Ana Sandoiu for, 30 October 2019.  New research suggests that heavy coffee drinkers have healthier compositions of bacteria in their guts.  GREAT NEWS, yes?!

More and more research is unpacking the health benefits of drinking coffee. Drinking just one cup may fight off unhealthy fat, ease inflammation associated with obesity, or even protect the brain into old age.  Furthermore, drinking at least three cups of coffee every day may keep arteries healthy and supple by preventing a calcium buildup and staving off the risk of clogging.  Coffee could also help fight off diabetes by improving blood sugar control and can keep the liver healthy and “happy.”

But how exactly coffee yields all of these wonderful health benefits has remained somewhat of a mystery.  New research shines some light on the mechanisms behind coffee’s effects by looking at the links between coffee and the health of the gut microbiota.

Dr. Li Jiao, senior and corresponding author of the study, is an associate professor of medicine–gastroenterology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, and a researcher at the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.  Dr. Shawn Gurwara, also from Baylor College, who is the first author of the paper, presented the findings at the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting, which took place in San Antonio, TX.

The authors conclude: Higher caffeine consumption was associated with increased richness and evenness of the mucosa-associated gut microbiota, and higher relative abundance of anti-inflammatory bacteria, such as Faecalibacterium and Roseburia and lower levels of potentially harmful Erysipelatoclostridium.”

Read more:  Coffee drinkers have healthier gut microbiotas

Holding Hands Is Natural Pain Relief was written by Dana G. Smith for Medium/Elemental, 30 October 2019. The touch of a loved one can synchronize brain waves and make you feel better.  If you hurt, this just might help you!

Research presented at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago last week confirmed what parents worldwide have always known: Touching and empathizing with a loved one helps relieve feelings of pain. But something mom might not have known is that touch also synchronizes people’s brain waves in a way that may dull the pain.

“When we share the pain of others, basically we’re activating our brain in the same neural system that we activate when we feel firsthand experiences of pain,” says Simone Shamay-Tsoory, a psychology professor at the University of Haifa in Israel, who led the research.

They discovered that holding hands while one partner was in pain caused the two people’s brain waves to synchronize, with cells firing in the same pattern in the same location. This time, more synchrony between the two brains was related to more pain relief, as well as more empathy.

“We all know that hand-holding is important for social support, but here we show the brain mechanism for this effect,” Shamay-Tsoory says. “We show for the first time that brain waves are synchronized during hand-holding, and this support is effective at pain reduction.”

It’s important to note that the pain signals from the arm — what scientists call nociception — don’t change at all; rather it’s the perception of those pain signals that feels different to people when they are holding their partner’s hand. “I don’t think anybody’s suggesting that nociception itself is necessarily impacted by touch,” says Juulia Suvilehto, a postdoctoral research fellow at Linköping University in Sweden, who was not involved in the research. “But somehow when the message goes to the brain… something happens that makes us perceive it as less painful.”

Here’s a recipe for Low Carb, Peanut Butter Crunch Balls that sound yummy, provided by Carolyn Ketchum on, 2 November 2019. (Disclaimer:  I haven’t tried eating or making these yet) 

Sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy, all at the same time. These low carb peanut butter crunch balls are absolutely delectable and no one will guess they are keto and sugar-free. The crunch comes from crushed pork rinds, a great low carb replacement for the standard rice crispies. 



  • 2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • Powdered sweetener equivalent to 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed pork rinds (see notes)
  • 4 to 6 tbsp coconut flour
  • 3 ounces sugar-free dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 ounce cocoa butter (or 1 tbsp coconut oil)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped peanuts


  1. In a large bowl, beat together the peanut butter and butter until smooth. Beat in the powdered sweetener and vanilla extract.
  2. Stir in the crushed pork rinds. Sift a few tablespoons of coconut flour over the mixture and stir in by hand. Add additional coconut flour, 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough is no longer too sticky to roll into balls.
  3. Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze until firm, at least one hour.
  4. In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, combine the chopped chocolate and the cocoa butter or coconut oil. Stir until melted and smooth.
  5. Drop a frozen ball into the chocolate, tossing to coat thoroughly. Lift out with a fork and tap gently on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate.
  6. Return to the baking sheet and quickly sprinkle with a few chopped peanuts before the chocolate sets. Repeat with remaining balls.
  7. Refrigerate until completely set.
Notes: To crush the pork rinds, place them in a ziploc bag and simply pound them with your fist. You want them to be pretty small pieces but not totally ground, so that they retain their “crunch”. Try to find pork rinds that don’t contain a lot of seasoning. You will need about 2 to 3 ounces to make 1 cup crushed.

Yield: 20 truffles. (1 truffle per serving)

  • Calories: 127
  • Total fat: 10.32g
  • Carbohydrate: 4.73g
  • Protein per serving: 4.37g
  • Total dietary fiber: 1.88g
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