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 And Sex Hormone Depletion

Book excerpt from?


A comprehensive and holistic approach to living with Lyme disease

Rika K. Keck

“We are designed to live with short-term stress followed by periods of recovery and rest with the help of the calming parasympathetic nervous system. Being in balance, with acute stress followed by rest, is called healthy stress adaptation. But with sustained inflammation from excessive environmental toxins, unhealthy foods, and Lyme-related infections, the body experiences insufficient rest and repair because it remains in fight-or-flight mode. This directly impacts our energy, blood sugar balance, fertility, sleep, and the ability to heal. The body is not concerned with those functions when it is in survival mode. Hormonal imbalances make Lyme symptoms worse, as they are closely connected with our nervous system, digestion, moods, and immune function.

The good news is that our body is always looking out for us; it is continually adapting or compensating to ensure our survival. In its innate wisdom, the body creates resources to fight infections, but it comes with a price. . . . For instance, when it is challenged with chronic infections, the body will resort to using building materials meant for sex hormones, such as progesterone or testosterone, for the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol. However, lower levels of DHEA, testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen, contribute to depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and increased pain and inflammation.

Not sure if you have Lyme disease or co-infections? Test with DNAConnexions lab with a urine test at home.

When living with chronic Lyme or mold-related illnesses, the sex and steroid hormones are often out of balance, but there are many treatment options avail- able. Some individuals respond well to hormone replacement therapy; others prefer glandulars, herbals, and homeopathy to support hormonal balance that is closely interlinked with the immune system. I recommend avoiding all synthetic hormones and only choosing a bio-identical option if you opt for hormone replacement therapy.

In those with persistent Lyme, the menstruation cycle is often affected, and even the cessation of menses can occur. With lower sex hormones, the libido is diminished, which can create conflict in personal relationships. Hormonal imbalances with symptoms such as PMS, insomnia, and migraines add other dimensions to an already complex Lyme scenario. Infertility, low sperm counts, or repeated miscarriages are also a concern.

Order now: All electronic platforms, including Ibook, Nook, Kindle

BUY NOW at Amazon.com

Functional testing from specialized labs is very helpful to gain additional information about the hormonal status in your body. But it is only as good as its interpretation within the context of clinical findings, and if the appropriate action is taken by your practitioner or doctor. Testing from specialized labs can be expensive, and the financial aspect can be restrictive and prohibitive for many because these tests are often not covered by insurance companies. Integration of hormonal balance is an important factor when living with the ongoing stress of Lyme disease, yet it is often neglected.”

Rika Keck, author


To read more, order you book online at Amazon/ Ibooks/ Barnes&Noble

In bookstores:


Shakespeare BookCo, Lexington Ave, 69th str

In Litchfield, CT:

Hickory Stick bookstore, Washington Depot


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