Genetic testing is trendy today! Yip, we are comprised of roughly 28 000 – 30 000 genes, and this was established by the Human Genome Study done by the NIH. This was a disappointing outcome to say the least, as we have about as many genes as the fruit fly or an earthworm. Really! I have yet to see either navigate an I-phone! So how can it be that with our intelligent brain, and multi-tasking and multi-functioning ability we only have a limited genetic make- up – like a fruit fly that buzzes around the ripe banana?

The answer followed in the Human Microbiome Project, which funded five years later by the NIH. This study investigated the balance of microbes in a large study group. Checked out were microbial communities in the gut, skin, ear, nose, mouth and urogenital tract. It is in these areas that we have unique colonies of microbes that have specific protective functions against disease-producing microbes associated with foods, outside infections and overgrowth of harmful bacteria that remain dormant in our body in smaller numbers. It is also microbes that are responsible for many functions in the human body. It is this that made it clear that our genes are not our destiny.

With our nutrition and lifestyle, and our daily exposure to toxins in the environment, we have the ability to alter our genes.

And that is powerful to know.

Our body is compromised of over 100 trillion microbes, of which only 10 trillion are human cells. We are made up of bacteria, fungi, worms, and parasites. We have C-diff, staph, strep and more harmful pathogens in our microbiome, but as long as they are outnumbered by health-supporting bacteria, they do not cause a problem. Who knew!

This study reversed thinking and scientific findings dramatically. Rather than staying focused on the germ, now it was time to reconsider the impact of our terrain, esp. in the gut, sinuses, nose and urogenital tract where low-grade infections can linger with chronic inflammation?.

Dr. Metchnikoff claimed in the early 20th Century that microbes in our gut affected mental wellness. He said that he did not treat one psychiatric case that did not also involve digestive troubles in the individual. He based his finding on cultured yoghurt strains that he introduced to improve the gut microbiome of his patients.

Our mind and our gut are connected. Microbes in our gut are responsible for producing a large amount of feel-good brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Forward thinking doctors know that any gut dysbiosis or infection has the potential to also produce insomnia, anxiety, depression, mania and ADHD. Try telling that to a conventionally trained psychiatrist!

Incidentally, with any chronic health condition, the gut microbiome diversity greatly matters. Today we like to eat from a limited realm of foods compare to the diversity of 400-600 foods consumed by a traditional tribe, such as the Hudza tribe. In my consulting practice, I stress the need to eat a diverse diet (not a perfect diet!) Instead of oatmeal every morning, change it up. Each time you go grocery shopping, but one vegetable or fruit (in season) you have never consumed. Surprise your taste buds and your gut microbes. Eating the same foods limits the diversity of our gut microbes.

This makes us susceptible to:

  • Food sensitivities
  • Bacterial overgrowth of harmful bacterial
  • Bacterial overgrowth of beneficial bacteria (yes, that is not good either. The gut microbial world needs its own checks and balances by not having one large group of any microbes.
  • Fungal overgrowth esp. with more refined sugars, alcohol (yip, that cocktail at Happy hour counts there too?)
  • Lack of diversity, decreased functional ability to make nutrients out of foods we eat and drink
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Weight Gain
  • ?Leaky gut? syndrome
  • Mood disorders
  • Skin troubles
  • Allergies
  • Joint pain
  • Vitamin B-12 production, or lack of?

At Mount Sinai in NYC, there is currently a Resilience Study with an emphasis on studying how to improve and support wellness. This is different to other studies where the emphasis was on pathology and diseases. Genetic testing is part of this study.

In my health practice I do use 23and Me and use a specific software program that places the focus on ?genetic functional potential?. Genetic testing must not be confused as a diagnosis, it is not. In this test, genetic predispositions how potential to gluten, dairy or mold sensitivity. It can show an inability to produce bifidia bacteria that are a mainstay for a healthy gut microbiome. It can show lack of histamine breakdown that is associated with conditions including IBS, food reactions, headaches, and allergies. Gut health matters greatly and when chronic illness is present (or a degenerative disease is diagnosed) it is worthwhile to consider genetic testing to get a glimpse on genetic vulnerabilities that also affect the gut microbiome. Stool testing from a specialized lab can provide another snapshot and I am grateful for having these 21st Century testing avenues.

So rather than succumbing to ?gloom and doom?, it is important to know what you can do at foundational levels to protect your resilience, and your ability to become and stay well.

Gut health is crucial and the first step is to support microbial diversity. Here are options that you can consider:

  • Eat a diverse and seasonal diet filled with organic foods as much as possible. What you eat and drink can shift the balance of power in your microbiome ? towards wellness ?.or later sickness?
  • Consider cultured and fermented foods that act as prebiotics, the necessary substrate needed by microbes in our gut. (Do consider food sensitivities though.) Kombucha, kefir, yoghurt, sauerkraut, Kim-chee are examples.
  • Play in dirt: Get into the garden, feel the dirt, breathe in the aroma of fertile earth.
  • Walk in Nature and breathe in health-supporting spores in the air.
  • Take a techno-detox away from tech devices.
  • Rotate your probiotics. Do include soil-based spores.
  • Consume enough high fiber foods including bananas, plantains, garlic, onions, broccoli and more. An additional supplement such as phsyillum husk can be helpful.
  • Avoid commercial cleaning products, ?Go Green? or organic at home, your dry-cleaning, and most-importantly on your body.
  • Use soap and water to clean hands, not chemical hand cleansers that also kill to health-supporting microbes on our skin.

They say you are what you eat ?

that is more true than ever today!

Rika Keck

NY Integrated Health

Published author: NOURISH,THRIVE, HEAL:

A comprehensive and holistic guide to living with Lyme disease



Lyme disease is a global epidemic.

As said by ILADS (International Lyme and associated Disease Society):

“Ticks know no borders and respect no boundaries. A patient’s county of residence does not accurately reflect his or her Lyme disease risk because people travel, pets travel, and ticks travel. This creates a dynamic situation with many opportunities for exposure to Lyme disease for each individual. ”



Washington Depot, CT

Saturday: MAY 27th


Rika Keck, NY Integrated Health

Holistic health consultant, FDN-P, ACN


A comprehensive and holistic approach to living with Lyme disease

Join Rika Keck for a health-talk at the Depot so you can become informed about Lyme disease, co-infections and transmission (it is not only ticks.) Learn about the complexities that keep many individuals sick, even after a correct diagnosis and antibiotic treatment.

Whether you are dealing an acute infection or ongoing sickness post-treatment, Rika explores key points that impact the body?s ability to heal, or live more easily with Lyme disease over years.

We look forward to sharing this important

and timely talk in the Depot.

See you there!

Lyme disease health talk with health expert Rika Keck


WHY YOU STAY SICK AND TIRED: chronic fatigue, environmental toxicity, obesity & genetics!

Toxicity: A Key Factor In Chronic Illness

Excessive toxicity from today?s environmental exposures, commercial foods and internal infections harm our cells. This is also known as cellular metabolic dysfunction, as the toxins enter the molecular structure of our cells. The toxins create tremendous harm, and that limits the cell?s ability to perform its daily duties!

When our cell walls become damaged and porous, the energy center in the cell, called the mitochondria, gets damaged too. Imagine this as if the software program inside the cell becomes altered and now the cell does not do the job it is designed to do. This becomes a great problem for our bodies and it will induce ongoing fatigue, sustained inflammation and mysterious pain, and lack of brainpower for daily tasks.

And what else plays a role in our ability to get rid of toxins? Methylation.
Methylation is a biochemical process that protects our DNA inside the cells, and it facilitates getting rid of toxins in every cell. What we eat , how we live, emotional trauma, vaccinations and poisonous substances we are exposed to affect this important biochemical process. For it to occur optimally, we need a select group of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin b6, B12 , zinc, magnesium and selenium. Methylation happens in every cell, but especially in the liver ? over a billion times a day. This is hard to imagine!

Life stress, pollution, lack of nature, urban lifestyles, air pollution all contribute to toxicity and inflammation.

Life stress, pollution, lack of nature, urban lifestyles, air pollution all contribute to toxicity and inflammation.

Why does this process matter regarding detoxification and our ability to become well?

Methylation creates and recycles an important anti-oxidant called glutathione (GSH). We need glutathione to help us get rid of poisons and toxins. Individuals who are diagnosed with cancer, or suffer from persistent or chronic Lyme, often have low levels of glutathione. This makes it very difficult for their bodies to get rid of infections and toxins. Both inflame the body and contribute to ongoing sickness.

Some individuals have genetic predispositions, or glitches, that affect this biochemical detox pathway. Imagine this like a car where not all pieces of a car are present, thus the car does not drive very well and is at risk of breaking down along the way. If not all nutrients are available, this biochemical process does not work very well, just like the car analogy.The body does it?s darnedest to compensate but it will not operate optimally. Environmental toxins can accumulate, have metals add another burden, and infectious endotoxins build up too. In addition, methylation affects how an individual tolerates and metabolizes medications, alcohol, antibiotics and anti-microbial herbal therapies.

Biochemical irregularities are called methylation defects, and they affect various gene markers that can be tested in your saliva or blood. Individuals with methylation challenges often have multiple health, neurological, and mental ‘unwellness’ symptoms. This is not (yet) accepted in conventional medicine or psychopharmacology.

The brain and brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, are specifically more influenced by challenges in biochemical process. The insufficient clearing of bodily toxins?including heavy metals and toxic mold exposures, pesticides, plus toxins from chronic infections such as Lyme disease or a Bartonella infection?will especially impact the brain.

The genetic mutations are called polymorphisms, and there are multiple variations. It can mean that some individuals detox too fast (overmethylate) and others too slow (undermethylate). It is important to note that individuals often present the opposite reaction to medications, supplements, and herbal applications when genetic glitches are present.

What about testing regarding methylation if I have chronic health problems?

Genetic testing can be done with a saliva test called 23andMe, which needs to be interpreted by a professional. Again, it will show information about genetic vulnerability; it will not determine genetic expression.

In conventional blood labs, large red blood cells, elevated homocysteine and CRP (C – Reactive Protein, an inflammatory marker) can indicate irregularities in the methylation pathway.
This particularly affects the B12/folate mechanism. Nutrients, i.e. activated vitamin B vitamins (especially P-5-P, methyl folate, zinc, SAMe, homocysteine, hydroxocobalamin B12, magnesium, taurine and other nutrients) come into play to support methylation challenges. Consult with a practitioner if the above discussion resonates with you as this might be a missing piece in your treatment protocol.

Methylation plays an important role with chronic Lyme, biotoxins from mold exposures and Spectrum-related disorders.Even though it plays a important role, it is a spoke in a wheel. Nutrition, lifestyle, emotional wellness, stress, infections, toxic exposures and trauma all are other spokes in the wheel that must be considered in the landscape of wellness.

Rika Keck
Upcoming Author
A comprehensive and holistic guide when living with Lyme disease