Unbelievably, in what feels like the blink of an eye, it’s that time of year again. Logs on the fire, cosy festive jumpers on and the promise of festivities and time spent with loved ones right around the corner. If you’ve stayed connected with us over the past few years, you’ll know our final Sunday Journal of the year is something quite special. The final Sunday Journal of 2021 sees us continue this special tradition with a curated collection of our invivo team’s favourite podcasts, webinars and personal ‘ah-ha’ moments of the year.
We can’t wait for you to explore this collection of favourites that have both excited and influenced us throughout 2021 and look forward to welcoming you back in 2022.
podcasts & webinars
The podcast episode that has stuck with me this year is Bonnie Bassler on “Talkative Bacteria and Eavesdropping Viruses” for the Joy of X. She has such a passion for microbiology and makes the story of microbial communication so accessible. She also explains her journey to becoming a world-renowned researcher and how taking a chance can lead to great things. I would recommend it to anyone!
The Life Scientific on BBC Radio 4 is my favourite podcast. It is a short 30-min interview with exceptional scientists talking about their life, how they became scientists and discussing their work. While almost all episodes are excellent, a recent episode with David Eagleman kept me thinking for much longer after I finished listening to the episode. The topic of the conversion was on how we grasp reality and how to create artificial senses.
Hands down, Debbie’s ‘The Ecosystem of the Gut: Patterns of Health and Disease‘ webinar with IHCAN from May this year. Debbie provided an unparalleled exploration of common GI health issues, including bile disorders, SIBO, and IBD, from an ecosystem perspective. She explored the ‘dance’ of the gut ecosystem and the known microbial and host marker patterns which we can look for in a private stool test to help us restore gut health at a deep level by rebalancing the entire gut ecosystem. In addition to some serious clinical pearls, Debs contextualised the entire discussion within a strong, timely message about how we are part of an interconnected ecosystem and the importance of taking care of all parts of the chain, including the health of our oceans, our soil, and our air. I was literally tending to my kitchen garden at home while listening to Debbie speak on my headphones and it couldn’t have felt more fitting. This webinar inspired me to think big and ask myself how can we help to nurture the wider ecosystem in which we live in too? After all, we cannot be truly well in an unwell world!
I only discovered the Love & Guts podcast this year and it has been my buddy on the drive to and from HQ ever since. I’m honoured that two of my favourite episodes are from my amazing colleagues, Debbie (The Mucosal Barrier and Immunity) and Emily (Gut-Vagina-Bladder axis). Another one that stands out is from no-nonsense naturopath Mona Morstein on gall-bladder health. I’m not sure I was supposed to laugh so much! This is a trove of microbiome gems from some of the best speakers in this arena.
Mind, Mood & Microbes by Debbie Cotton – While we are often talking about the gut-brain axis and mental health, I found this deep-dive webinar fascinating, from Debbie’s wonderful overview from her perspective as a psychotherapist, as well us distilling all the research around the role microbes play in mental health and the concept of “Our internal microbial internet.” Following on from that I found the episode with Dr Stephen Porges on Polyvagal Theory & Healing Trauma on the “Love and Guts” podcast by Lynda Griparic a really interesting introduction and hope to look into it further.
Not a podcast or a webinar but a course that involved both. Bonfire with Soul exceeded all of my expectations but also wrapped up perfectly so many of life’s experiences, lessons and mantras. Navigated in the style which I resonate with best- storytelling with life’s examples. You could call it a business, branding and marketing course but it’s so much more and I cannot imagine many wouldn’t finish it with ah and aww moments. Perfect for team building, developing culture, inspiring creativity, business and entrepreneurship, sales, marketing, joy and courage. Each time I watch it, I resonate all over again. It invigorates creativity, an appetite for optimism, inspires and lights my soul on fire.
Reflecting on the enormous list of webinars we produced I would say The Oestrobolome. I have always been fascinated by our complex hormone web and its far-reaching and systemic effects. The role of the GIT and the microbiome is often simplified and underappreciated for its role in hormone balance. This webinar is a great place to start and has some actionable recommendations.
The Green Dreamer Podcast was one of the podcast shows that I found after a bit of rummaging on Spotify, and I am hooked. Every episode is teaching me something new and asking questions about the way in which we perceive ecology, culture, food, people and the planet. This great episode with Prof. Jamie Lorrimer looks at natural ways to restore soil and land health through symbiotic and probiotic strategies amongst other things.
‘ah-ha’ moment of 2021
With butyrate an important mediator of human health and disease and it’s production influenced by exposure to nature it’s essential we invest in rewilding, regeneration and accessibility. Environmental ecology is a mirror of our internal ecology- kinda makes you go ahh
Inspired by a conversation with one of our scientific advisory board members, I have spent a while trying to get my head around quorum sensing in the bacterial realm. Quorum sensing is how bacteria communicate with each other and regulate their activities in bacterial sociality, which has a profound influence on us.
One of the ah-ha moments I had this year was on the subject of COVID and how the gut microbiome can play an impact on disease severity. Some great papers written by the team at the Chinese University of Hong Kong showed microbial patterns associated with low Bifidobacterium and low butyrate-producing species. It linked in for me how important gut mucosal immunity is for systemic health.
My main ‘ah-ha’ moment of 2021 was finding Invivo! After finishing my PhD earlier in the year, I was looking for a fulfilling and motivational role to kickstart my career. The values Invivo hold and their mission of restoring human health and ecology were a huge draw. I’ve since come to really appreciate how knowledgeable and friendly the team are and can’t wait to see what 2022 brings!
There have been a lot! The one that stands out? I’d have to say my deep-dive learning about the ‘gut-vagina-bladder axis’ and how nurturing the health of each of these microbiome sites holds immense promise for helping to tackle the growing problem of recurrent urinary tract infections. This 2021 review paper by Perez-Carrasco et al about the current state of knowledge of the urobiome was formative for my learning in this area (it actually gave me goosebumps!) and I’m grateful to the team for bringing it to my attention.
One of my ‘ah-ha’ moment’s came from an article featured in issue 91 of The Sunday Journal titled: “Viruses Can Help Us as Well as Harm Us“. It was a real reminder that humans cohabit with viruses. With an estimated 380 trillion viruses living on our bodies, 10 times more than bacteria, the article was an interesting look at the role they play, including the positive role they play in health, too. Another “ah-ha’ moment came when reading “Finding the Mother Tree”. A fascinating article, “Finding the Mother Tree” details how trees communicate with each other through an underground neural network in the soil and defined the source of that earthy smell after rainfall as “the bacteria burst.” This has stuck in my mind on my forest walks since.
The Monocle Guide To Good Business. Not a new book, but I am always looking for inspiration for the work we do at Invivo from across the globe and from a multitude of businesses addressing sustainability, culture & product design. It is both a manual and a manifesto.
“The Untethered Soul – The Journey Beyond Yourself” by Michael Alan Singer. In the past couple of years, I have been working on becoming more aware of internal resistance or tension, based on old trauma. I have found this book has helped me become more conscious of negative, self-limiting thoughts and energy. A good one for helping to live in the moment and let go of limiting beliefs etc.
“Before the coffee gets cold” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. This is a book about living and making the most of opportunities before it’s too late. It’s fiction, it’s about having the opportunity to go back in time and talk to one person, and it’s set in a coffee shop – which for many years has been my comfort place for reading, study, friendships, and alone time. It’s a slow-paced, almost meditative book that was a joy to escape to.
Definitely ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ by Mitch Albom. I’m not sure how it took me so long to discover this classic but I’m a big believer that we gravitate towards certain books, people, opportunities and life lessons when we are ready and open to growing in a particular area. That was definitely the case with this book. After another uniquely challenging year for all of us, and another year in which far too many have experienced loss and grief in various forms, this book is a heart-warming tale, packed with wisdom, about how we can start to live our lives to the full, right now. My biggest learning from it was one which I think we all need to hear and will over time learn to be true: “Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
“I Contain Multitudes’ by Ed Young is an insightful book all about the organisms that make up your being and the world around you. It takes an enthusiastic deep dive into the microbiome and is a great digestible way to begin to understand the fascinating ecosystem within us.
I really enjoyed Michael Pollan’s book ‘This is your mind on plants’. I have an unabashed love affair with plants in general, and what I loved in this book was the social-political stories behind the plants themselves.
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