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Defeat Enemy Number One
Everyday new research expands our knowledge of how essential a balanced and diverse microbiome is to the health of your entire body. We are learning how to cultivate a healthy gut, but now it’s time to turn our attention to the obstacles that can interfere with our best efforts. Candida albicans (C. albicans) is a common yeast infection known as Candidiasis. This critter is an aggressive survivor taking advantage of all opportunities to flourish with a sophisticated power to resist taming. Minimizing the impact of Candida albicans plays a central role in recovering your GI health. Read More:
Probiotics can improve the health of your all-important microbiome but choosing one can be mystifying. There are hundreds of probiotics on the shelves at your favorite health food store. Equipped with the right information, you won’t need a degree in biology to choose the best product to get great results without doing harm to your community of friendly bacteria.
Who should take a probiotic?
Probably everyone. Certainly, everyone with digestive symptoms should take a probiotic reflective of their individual condition. Even healthy people can benefit from a probiotic to protect against daily assaults and expand diversity to the microbiome.
Contemporary life delivers daily environmental injury; nutrient deficient foods and medications to challenge our gut balance. Adding a probiotic to a diet that includes a variety of fermented foods within a fresh, whole food diet creates a solid foundation of diverse organisms. Diversity is key and relying on one food source, such like yogurt with live and active cultures does not provide enough variety of organisms. (https://wellbelly.net/blog/page/2/).
How to choose the right dosage and the right match for me?
The dosage of probiotics varies from 1 to 10 billion CFUs (colony forming units). One billion meets the needs of a healthy digestive tract. Think closer to 10 billion if you are taking antibiotics or showing signs of an imbalanced microbiome (https://wellbelly.net ). Pricing and marketing claims can be tricky so it’s important to read the label to determine how many capsules it will take to get the dosage you need. A less expensive product may be misleading as it may take several capsules to reach an adequate dosage or not contain human strains.
How to take an oral probiotic.
Avoid taking an oral probiotic at the same time as taking an antibiotic. Mixed together the antibiotic will destroy many of the CFU’s in the probiotic.
Best to take the probiotic away from a meal so less harm is done to the CFU’s by gastric acid and digestive enzymes. Right before bed can be ideal.
Storage has become more convenient. Extreme heat and light exposure can damage the organisms but most products, today, are safe at room temperature if packaged in a dark container. Requiring refrigeration does not make a probiotic more effective, but following the directions on the package does preserve the efficacy.
What bacterial strains should be contained in my probiotic?
The best products contain a minimum of seven, varied bacteria strains most common to humans.
Many probiotics will be derived from soil-based organisms (SBOs). SBOs are generally less expensive but are not naturally found in the human digestive tract and have never been part of the symbiotic relationship. SBOs are in the form of spores which can compete with the normal residential community of organisms. This competition can be detrimental to the microbiome that is out of balance. Once established, the SBO spores can be difficult to get rid as they occupy precious space that human strains need to flourish. Ask the store personnel to direct you to the human strain probiotics.
The research surrounding the microbiome is evolving on a daily basis. Current thinking indicates that there are at least 500 species of bacteria and yeast that comprise the average 2.2 pounds of microbiome.
Two dominate families of friendly bacteria organisms comprise human strain probiotics, lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. The following describes the strengths of the most common strains.
Lacto Bulgaricus, Acidophilus and Casei assist with lactose intolerance. In addition, Acidophilus may be helpful at reducing cholesterol and Casei supports brain function. Lacto Plantarum can reduce inflammation and Rhamnosus supports the immune system, GI health and eczema.
Bifido Lactis and Bifidum support immunity, Longum supports brain function and constipation and Beve supports GI health and has anti-aging properties.
Streptoccus thermophilus which is not related to strep throat is a friendly bacteria that assists lactobacillus bulgar by making nutrients that assist with growth.
Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast that competes with candida albican (an opportunistic yeast), supports immunity, GI health and reduces diarrhea.
Some products contain pre-biotics which are nutrients to foster growth of friendly bacteria. More information on pre-biotics can be found in the blog dated:
Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to select a perfect match. The science continues to evolve at this time but is not positioned to offer products with an exact match for every individual need.
Use this information as an engaged consumer in evaluating the multitude of probiotic products and can make an informed purchase that will contribute to your overall health.
Keep it simple: Consider the primary reason you are considering probiotics and select a product that has dominate numbers of CFUs which reflect your general condition. Probiotics are good for you and should be considered an important tool for maintaining health.
Nearly 20% of Americans suffer from chronic indigestion sometimes called heartburn, acid reflux or GERD. Widely used remedies can cause even more problems for your health.
The uncomfortable burning of “ I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” can lead to real damage to the esophagus and throat making acid-reducing remedies such as Prilosec one of the most widely used medications.
Common theory is that heartburn is caused by too much stomach acid and the solution is to simply reduce or bind the gastric acid. Heartburn medications fall into a category of proton pump inhibitors (proton/potassium pump inhibitors) which inhibits the function of the parietal cells in the stomach and thereby suppress the production of stomach acid.
If only the solution was as simple as taking a pill.
However, serious complications to the regular use of proton pump inhibitors (PPI) include:
(1) proton pumps are not limited to the stomach but found in all energy producing cells in the body. The function of the proton pumps is essential in the ATP cycle to produce energy. Regular use of PPIs can lead to fatigue of cell function.
(2) the highly acidic pH created by gastric acid is required for the absorption of minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium as well as vitamins B12 and C. Gastric acid sets the stage for the an effective process of digestion through the remaining digestive tract.
(3) Gastric acid is the first line of defense against ingestion of opportunistic pathogens and harmful bacterias. SIBO (small intestine bacteria overgrowth) and an infection of colostridium difficle (CDI) is common among PPI users. CDI disrupts the normal function of digestion with symptoms of diarrhea, nausea and fever causing colitis perforation of the colon and sepsis.
(4) Fifty percent of the people using proton pump inhibitors actually produce too little gastric acid which shows up with the same acid reflux symptoms as too much gastric acid. Too little gastric acid prevents normal digestion and nutrient absorption leading to a wide range of poor health conditions.
Interference with natural production of gastric acid has been linked to increased risk for heart attacks, dementia, osteoporosis, kidney disease, decreased diversity of the microbiome community, malabosroption and deficiency of essential nutrients. Too little gastric acid can cause an acid rebound effect causing even more acid to be produced as your body tries to make up for the missing gastric.
Recent research at the Veterans Administration identified a link between the use of Prilosec and kidney disease. Kidney disease is particularly worrisome as it develops without warning signs until it is too late to reverse.
TUMS, although not a PPI creates other health risks. TUMS contributes to the acid rebound effect as it binds the acid your body needs to secrete for digestion and your body responds by increasing production. In addition TUMS contains aluminum, a metal ,that has been associated with risk for dementia.
Home remedies like baking soda in water can provide temporary relief but does not resolve the cause of the condition that interferes with proper digestion and nourishment of the body.
No-risk freedom from heartburn
Fixing the cause of heartburn is the solution for both the dangers of heartburn, acid-reflux or GERD and the dangers of using heartburn medications. Triggers for heartburn include reactions to specific foods and alcohol, insufficient digestive enzymes and/or gastric acid, use of other medications such as antibiotics, SIBO, infectious pathogens and emotional stress.
Healthcare professionals who practice integrative or functional medicine are experts at identifying and reversing the underlying cause digestive problems. Working with a healthcare professional can help you determine if your symptoms are the result of too much or too little gastric acid. Then they can expedite your discovery of the triggers for heartburn that are specific to you. Institute for Functional Medicine, www.IFM.org and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals, www.NANP.org, are good resources to locate a healthcare professional in your locale.
Seven Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Rarely can anything taste so good and be so good for you. Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively effect your health in seven key ways.
The Good Stuff dark chocolate is primarily made from at least 60% organic cocoa powder, coco butter and sugar (milk chocolate packs more sugar and fat while white has nearly no health benefits).
Dark chocolate contains soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals and antioxidants. The primary minerals in dark chocolate include iron, magnesium, copper and manganese accompanied by smaller amounts of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. The fat content is mostly saturated and monounsaturated with small amounts of polyunsaturates. It also contains caffeine and theobromine but in small amounts that should not keep you awake at night.
Enjoy one to two ounces of dark chocolate guilt free to reap the following benefits:
1. Powerful antioxidants (polyphenols) increase blood flow to the brain boosting smarts and memory.
2. The flavinoids contained in cocoa can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.
3. Epicatechin one of the compounds that lends cocoa its bitter taste lowers blood pressure.
4. Raises HDL and protects LDL against oxidation.
5. The same epicatechin can boost your cells’ mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are the organelles, little energy factories, found in the nucleus of every cell in the body.
6. Research has found the regular chocolate eaters were slimmer than those who abstained altogether. Chocolate satisfies cravings as it lights up your grain’s frontal lobe, its reward center.
7. Cocoa butter fats trigger natural endorphins (natural opiates) and serotonin (a mood modulator). These brain chemicals induce calm, decrease pain sensation, improve sleep and elevate mood.
Wine paired with food is a culinary pleasure. Wines, and in particular red wine, interfere with this pleasure by causing some to experience a headache with just one glass. Headaches from red wine is so common that it has it’s own signature: RWH syndrome.
The culprit in the wine that triggers the headache can be difficult to determine. Sensitivity to sulfites that occur naturally in wine usually cause allergy-like and asthma reactions.
Histamines seem more likely to be the culprit for a headache reaction. Histamines are, also, naturally occurring from foods, such as aged and fermented foods, alcohol, chocolate, smoked meats, some beans, walnuts and cashews.
Headache reactions can vary depending on the difference in grapes while wines from California, Washington or Oregon seem to be less likely than imported wines to be offending.
If you don’t want to avoid wine, a natural supplement taken before enjoying red wine or other histamine producing foods can avoid the headache reaction. Xymogen has a supplement called HistDAO that has produced great results by taking two small capsules 15 minutes before drinking red wine. HistDAO can be purchased from Xymogen through the link on the e-store page.
Avoid an unpleasant headache this Valentines day and enjoy your dark chocolate and red wine celebration.
Celebrations took a toll on your waistline and you jut don’t want to face another diet of measuring, calorie counting and special diet foods to purchase. Here is how to make it simple with choices you can adjust to fit your preferences. Eat until your stomach is no longer hungry. Whenever possible choose clean food sources which are organic and non-GMO.
Follow these guidelines to establish a smaller waistline and a healthy pattern for 2017
- Protein breakfast such as eggs, paleo granola or vegan protein shake (see Healthy Recipes page for ideas)
- Lunch and dinner meals are comprised of 2/3 vegetables and 1/3 protein (your choice of non-GMO, pesticide free, animal or vegan protein)
- One cup of fruit daily, eat the whole fruit, avoid fruit juice
- Plan for a go-to alternative when you experience cravings. Snack on vegetable sticks with yogurt dip or hummus, handful of nuts or cup of hot tea
- Strive to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water every day
- Use raw, organic agave or stevia, no artificial sweeteners
- Move…… your choice of 10,000 steps and 30 minutes of elevated heart rate activity 4 times a week
Enjoy the shrinking waist and create a eating style that will sustain you through 2017.
Most of us have done some slipping off our health routine between Thanksgiving and the New Year. If you have just run off the shoulder of the road a couple of times or careened over the cliff, now is the time to reset our body for 2017 with these five easy steps:
- Morning Body Wake-up Ritual. Begin each morning with lemon tea: Add the juice of 1/2 organic lemon to a cup of hot water. This simple warm beverage stimulates your liver to kick into detox action.
- Add a Dash of Gratitude. While quietly sipping your lemon tea, recall five things for which you are thankful. The attitude shift can last the whole day.
- Enjoy an infrared sauna session. Infrared heat increases metabolism as it raises your core temperature and mobilizes the lymphatic circulation to hasten detoxification. It is one of my favorite ways to untangle muscle stress and take 45 minutes just for me.
- Drink water, lots of it. Wash out the sugar and sodium intake from holiday foods. How much? Divide your current body weight in half. This is the number of ounces of water you should drink daily for your body size. Add to this number the ounces of dehydrating beverages you’ve consumed such as coffee and alcohol plus some extra to replenish what you loose in exercise or sauna.
- Just move. Don’t jump in to make up for lost exercise during the holidays. Walk, stroll or hike with a friend. Gently commit to moving your body into recovery.
Taking time to reset builds a foundation to succeed in all your resolutions to improve your health in 2017.
Digestive Teas –The warmth of hot tea is comforting in the winter season and these herbal teas bring a cozy feeling to an over-worked belly.
Ginger tea stimulates digestion by increasing blood flow to relive that sluggish feeling. Ginger works throughout the digestive tract to activate digestion and prevent the formation of gas.
Peppermint tea stimulates bile flow which works to digest fats. Fats slow digestive action. Too much brie cheese can slow digestion to a near standstill.
Chamomile and licorice root teas calm the digestive tract. Sit down, put your feet up, sip your tea and fully relax your belly for optimal digestion.
Chai tea is made from ginger, cinnamon, cardamon and pepper all of which aid in various aspects of digestion and absorption. These spices added to black tea and milk are effective and delicious.
Apple Cider Vinegar – is a tried and true kitchen remedy to increase the stomach acid required to breakdown foods and prepare nutrients for absorption. 1-3 teaspoons in a glass of water taken 15-20 minutes before a meal increases the production of HCL.
Only 50% of those with symptoms of acid-reflux or GERD actually have too much stomach acid. The other 50% have too little stomach acid causing poorly digestion food to ferment generating a reflux of fermentation acid – not stomach acid. Apple cider vinegar is an easy antidote for the 50% with too little stomach acid while baking soda handles the symptoms of too much stomach acid.
Baking Soda – 1-2 teaspoons dissolved in about 4 ounces of warm water can neutralize the unpleasant symptoms produced by too much stomach acid.
Evening Constitutionals – once a way of life in earlier centuries. Men and women took a mild walk after the evening meal to aid digestion and discuss world affairs. Bring back the evening constitutional to unwind from the day while aiding digestion. Gentle physical movement aids digestion while focusing thoughts on the day’s blessings reframes your mood for restful sleep.
OverEater’s Tonic is a great antidote for over-indulging during the holidays. This tonic combines several digestive aids to sooth the belly. Epicurious is one of my favorite sites for menus and recipe ideas. This month Epicurious published a recipe for the Overeaters Tonic. Click for the Overeater’s Tonic recipe.