The 21st Show

Gut Microbes And Mood; Reading Cursive In Historical Documents; Kids And YA Book Recommendations


Bacteria in the human microbiome IBM/Flickr(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

We all know that the nutrients we eat affect our physical health, but what about our mental health? We talk about the connection between the gut and the brain. And, fewer students are learning cursive in elementary and middle school. And some educators worry that this could spell trouble for preserving the billions of handwritten documents in our national archives. Plus, we’re wrapping up our series of summer book recommendations with some of our favorites for kids and young adults. 

A lot of us have experienced having a gut feeling about something, but it turns out the microbes in our gut and other parts of our body may indeed be affecting our mood and sense of well being in ways we’re just beginning to understand. 

A study from the University of Illinois published last month found that there was an association between diet, gut bacteria, and symptoms of anxiety, and depression. Hannah Holscher, co-authored that study. She’s a professor of nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois. She joined us in the studio to tell us more about this microbiome research.  

Doctor Trupti Gokani is certified by the American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry. She also has training in ayurvedic medicine, which she has incorporated into her practice helping patients at the Zira Mind & Body Clinic in Glenview, Illinois. 


When’s the last time you saw someone write in cursive? Maybe your grandmother still uses cursive in your birthday card. Perhaps you see it scrawled on the back of old family photos.

But, in most cases, using cursive on an everyday basis has become a thing of the past. 

Throughout Illinois, fewer students are being taught cursive in elementary and middle school. And, with cursive on the way out, some historians and educators are worried about who will be left to read the billions of handwritten historical documents in the National Archives. 

Sarah Gehant is an eighth grade social studies teacher at Northbrook High School in Mendota, Illinois. Chandra Manning is a history professor at Georgetown University.


All this week we’ve been speaking with librarians, authors and book store owners from around the state about some of their favorite books for this summer.

Today we’re talking about great summer books for the kids and pre-teens in your life. Not only can reading keep kids entertained during the summer months, it can also keep their minds active and ready for the upcoming school year. 

Mike Rogalla is the Children’s Services Manager at the Champaign Public Library. George Rischel is the owner of the independent bookstore the Sly Fox. Jason Smith is the co-owner of the Book Table in Oak Park.

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