Mojo and Microbiome:: Part 1

We have a little treat for you in the next 3 weeks.  I am so pleased to introduce my dear friend Allison Hopkins to contribute as a guest blogger.  Allison and I have known each other for over 11 years – she is my go to when I want to hash out the virtues of grass fed vs organic or really anything else in life.  We were colleagues for 9 years when I worked in the Biotech industry. We covered the State of Maine together and have clocked hundreds of hours in the car together.

Let me tell you a little bit about long car rides with curious minds… they discuss a lot.  Allison and I are similar in a lot of ways – we love data, we love analyzing that data, and we love talking about it.

Allison has studied immunology & molecular biology at the master’s level and is the best person I know who can take something super complex like Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and break it down so anyone can understand it.

Allison has always lived a healthy lifestyle – she is the one that first warned me in my early twenties of the dangers of chemicals in our cleaning and personal care products.  Recently she has invested an incredible amount of time learning about nutrition and exercise – she has recently become Precision Nutrition Certified and has embraced our Habits for Massive Impact, starts her day each morning with our Morning Mojo and works out 3 times per week with our at home workout guide.

I am so excited for you to learn from Allison in this 3 part blog series on our Morning Mojo from a scientific perspective.  I have had the privilege of learning from her for years and I am excited to share her brain with you!

Allison has experienced first hand the benefits of starting her day with the Morning MoJo and in this blog series, she is going to share with us her research with WHY this is such a powerful drink for health.  She will share with us the incredible benefits to the Microbiome, Alkalization, and Hydration.

Here’s Allison
Part 1: Microbiome

I have known Mike & Paige Wilcox for many years (oh the stories I could share…), and as Paige notes, we have enjoyed many inquisitive conversations with each other pondering various curiosities.  The latest of which is the amazing attributes of the Morning Mojo, which is a concoction of apple cider vinegar (ACV), freshly squeezed lemon juice, and freshly grated ginger.

You have probably seen a recent resurgence of these olde timey concoctions.  Some of us may be familiar with the idea of drinking ACV, lemon juice, or both from our grandparents.  So what is it about the come back around these of things, and do they actually work?

Well, I can tell you that I’ve been drinking the morning mojo daily since last October, and I’ve noticed a few benefits for myself.  This past winter was brutal for cold and flu, and I’m happy to say that I made it through the entire winter healthy, despite airline travel, days trapped in conference rooms and exposure to the kids in my life.  Additionally, my allergies to my cats seem to have subsided, and so far spring allergies aren’t bothering me at all.

So is all of this due to drinking morning mojo?  Perhaps!

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on nutrition over the past several months, and there are three common themes that I am encountering, all of which lead us to some answers about the benefits of morning mojo. They are Alkalization, Gut Biome health, and Hydration. Over this and two additional blog posts I will share some of the interesting information that I have discovered about these three influences on our health and well being, and why I think they provide some insight into why morning mojo is an excellent way to start your day and maintain a healthy and energetic body.

To kick off this series I am going to start with the Microbiome of the gut.  You might not think of the term “gut” as a scientific term, yet it’s common to hear the phrase “gut biome” when referring to the relatively new interest in the microbes that live within our digestive system.  “Gut” generally refers to the stomach and intestines. The microbiome is a term referring to a population of bacteria, viruses and fungi, and their associated genetics, in an environment (3). There are microbiomes in all kinds of environments including other parts of our bodies such as the microbiome of the skin, but can also refer to bacterial populations outside of the body, such as the microbiome of a wetland.

The microbiome has been a topic that has been receiving all kinds of attention in the research arena across many areas of study including the area of nutrition.  In fact, National Institute of Health (NIH) has engaged in a 5 year study to better understand the bacterial population of our gut and its association with disease (3).

Bacteria are very prevalent in our environment and in our body.  We often associate bacteria as something bad. We spray hand sanitizer and antibacterial cleaners all around us to prevent us from these seemingly harmful critters.  But a lot of the bacteria in and on our body are there to help us out and we should think twice before trying to kill all of them.

In fact, there is at least as many bacterial cells in our bodies as our own human cells (5)!  And the majority of those bacterial cells populate the colon and are associated with digestive health.  Our gut bacteria play a much bigger role than you may realize. The bacteria in our gut are directly involved with the breakdown of food, gaining access to all of the amazing nutrients so that our body can use them to keep us strong and energized.  But the population of bacteria in our gut can vary with good and bad bacteria, and the way that we eat can influence the proportion of beneficial bacteria and those who have their own interests in mind over ours.

Bacteria have been on this planet longer than we have and they have developed a very keen ability to survive.  They are actually able to influence signals that are sent to our brain that tell us that we’re hungry and cause us to crave foods that support their survival.  This is the root of sugar addiction. Eating refined sugar causes changes in our gut bacteria, resulting in bacteria that need sugar to survive (2). When our gut bacteria gets out of balance we’ll find ourselves craving unhealthy foods.  On the other hand, when we develop a habit of eating whole, healthy foods our gut bacterial population will change in response, and before long you will probably find yourself craving an apple over a candy bar or bag of potato chips.

TRUTH BOMB – our gut bacteria is responsible for our cravings and we have the ability to train our gut to crave the good stuff!

The morning mojo is a great way to jump start or maintain your efforts in developing healthy, whole food eating habits by supporting beneficial bacteria in your gut that will crave other healthy foods.  Consuming lemon juice and ACV helps to support a healthy gut environment through their role as a prebiotic, not to be confused with probiotics. Probiotics contain the healthy bacteria that support our gut health, and include foods like yogurt, miso, kimchi and sauerkraut.  A prebiotic is a food that beneficial gut bacteria eat, and in the case of ACV and lemon juice is found in the pectin. The pectin comes from the apple skins and from the pulp of the lemon, so when you make your morning mojo be sure to get the pulp out of the lemon too.

Apple cider vinegar also helps to increase stomach acid and delay gastric emptying, providing additional time and help breaking down the food in your stomach.  This helps to aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. Additionally, acid reflux is thought to be due to low acid content in the stomach, so drinking ACV and lemon water can help to reduce these types of symptoms if you experience them.

Although not directly associated with your gut’s microbiome it is worth noting that ACV is also known for decreasing the release of histamines (4).  Histamines are chemicals released by our bodies in response to an intruding particles like pollin or pet dander. We typically respond to our allergic reactions with over the counter antihistamines, which often leave us feeling groggy.  Apple Cider Vinegar naturally reduces the release of histamines, thus reducing the overproduction of mucus in response, and therefore relieving those unpleasant symptoms.

There are many believers in the benefits of ACV and lemon water.  Some recommend drinking it in warm water to assist with the ramp up your digestive juices first thing in the morning.  Others recommend drinking ACV about a ½ hour before each meal. Personally, I prepare a concentrate using the Wilcox Wellness & Fitness Morning Mojo recipe and then combine 12oz of water with 2T of concentrate each morning.  If the taste is too strong at first, consider starting with 1T of concentrate in your water and working your way up over time.

From Paige:  She’s great, isn’t she?  I love how she is able to take complex scientific information and give us just the chunks that we care about in a way that is important to us.

I think it is absolutely amazing that our gut bacteria has control over our cravings and we have the ability to change it to crave the good stuff.

We hope this has inspired you to give our Mojo a try.  It certainly is an acquired taste – I think it is absolutely delicious – like a fancy lemonade but a lot of our clients absolutely hate it at first.  (They do grow to love it!)

If you are interested in giving it a try, you can download our recipe here:

click here to get your mojo recipe

Let us know what you think!

Can’t wait to share next week’s post with you on the benefit of alkalization in the body.


Paige & Allison

Inspired to give the Morning Mojo a try – download our recipe here:

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Paige Wilcox

About Paige Wilcox

This blog, Inspire Healthy Living is focused on actionable strategies for healthy living that are going to make a major impact on your life. I will be working with our trainer team to cover a broad range of health and fitness topics that can be easily integrated into your daily life. At Wilcox Wellness & Fitness, we are passionate about helping people live their very best life and we believe that the foundation for your best life starts with a commitment to healthy living.