7 Amazing Health Benefits of Sauerkraut (And a DIY Recipe!)

Sauerkraut has been a staple of the European diet for thousands of years. While most people in the U.S. probably know it as a great addition to a hot dog or a Reuben sandwich, this fermented food is so much more. There’s actually a lot of health benefits of sauerkraut.

Here are just a few of the reasons why you might want to think about getting more sauerkraut into your dietary routine:

Probiotics and the Fermentation Process

The fermentation process is key to unlocking the health benefits of sauerkraut. Turns out, fermented food is preserved in a way that changes its chemical structure, producing beneficial bacteria known as probiotics.1

Now, you might not find the idea of willingly ingesting bacteria that appetizing. After all, bacteria are supposed to be bad for you and cause diseases, right?

But, your body is filled with trillions of bacteria. And while many of them are bad for you, many more are actually good for you. These beneficial bacteria help to offset the bad ones, helping keep your digestive system working normally. That’s why probiotics are so important.2

Benefits of Sauerkraut | Probiotic AmericaThe fermentation process has been used for thousands of years. It was key to preserving vegetables before the advent of refrigerators – even before canning. Fermented food undergoes substantial changes.3

Now, the type of fermentation that creates probiotic bacteria is known as lactic acid fermentation.

The lactic acid created during the fermentation process helps to keep harmful bacteria from forming.4

The probiotics found in fermented foods like sauerkraut can greatly lower the risk of suffering from several different types of health problems. These include digestive problems such as –

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Obesity
  • Immune system disorders.5

A Nutritional Powerhouse

Sauerkraut is packed with nutrients – and it’s very low in calories. Just a one-cup serving contains only 27 calories. It also delivers 4 grams of fiber and a substantial amount of vitamin K (23 percent).6

Here are some of the amazing health benefits that have been associated with this humble dish made from fermented cabbage.

1. Immune System Support

The probiotics in sauerkraut play a role in helping maintain the health of the immune systems. They do so by helping prevent autoimmune reactions. These occur when the immune system mistakes healthy cells for dangerous invaders and attacks them.7

Probiotics have been shown to help the body fight infections. They can also help replenish the body’s supply of good bacteria after you take antibiotics.8

2. Cardiovascular Health

The fiber found in sauerkraut may help reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood. This, in turn, will help support the health of the cardiovascular system.9 There is evidence that probiotics can support cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure.10

There are two studies that show vitamin K can help reduce the risk of dying from heart disease. One showed that people who regularly ate foods rich in the vitamin were 57 (such as sauerkraut) percent less likely to die from the condition than people who didn’t have a significant vitamin K intake.11

3. Stronger Bones

Benefits of Sauerkraut | Probiotic America

The benefits of sauerkraut extend to keeping your bones strong, thanks to its high vitamin K content. Vitamin K not only helps support heart health, it also helps to promote improved bone health.

In one study, women who took supplements containing the vitamin saw a slower rate of bone density loss than those who did not.12 There is also evidence that vitamin K can help substantially reduce the chances of suffering a hip or spine fracture.13

4. Brain Health

Probiotics might even help your brain function better. Studies show that the bacteria in your “gut,” or gastrointestinal tract, send messages to the brain that help determine the way it perceives your environment.14

Sauerkraut and other fermented foods that are rich in probiotics help make sure there are plenty of good bacteria in the gut. Research indicates that a good supply of beneficial bacteria in the gut can help lower anxiety.15

5. Weight Loss

Because sauerkraut is low in calories and high in fiber, it can help you feel more satiated, or full, for a longer period of time. And a high-fiber diet helps lower the number of calories you take in each day.16

There is also evidence that probiotics can help lower the amount of fat that you absorb through the foods you eat.17 In one study, one group of participants was overfed on purpose while receiving probiotics. The other group also overate but received a placebo. According to the results, the group that took probiotics gained half the body fat of the participants in the placebo group.18

6. Better Digestion

Probiotics can also help replenish the body’s supply of good bacteria after you take antibiotics.19 This is important in regard to digestive health because antibiotic use can sometimes result in a condition known as antibiotic-associated diarrhea, or AAD.

AAD occurs because antibiotics not only kill harmful bacteria but good ones as well. As a result, there are not enough beneficial bacteria to balance out the harmful ones that survive the antibiotic regimen. This, in turn, can lead to stomach problems.20

But probiotics can help with other digestive issues as well. They can, for example, help reduce the symptoms associated with problems such as irritable bowel disease.21

7. Antioxidant Properties

The fermentation process, when used in making sauerkraut, produces lactic acid, which has antioxidant properties.22 Antioxidants are important because they help protect the body from the effects of oxidization.

In particular, they inhibit the development of free radicals. These are molecules that are missing an electron and scour the body looking to find it. Free radicals take electrons from cells. This, in turn, can lead to severe tissue damage.23

Recipe: Making Your Own Sauerkraut

Benefits of Sauerkraut | Probiotic AmericaYou can buy sauerkraut at just about any grocery store, of course. But if you’re the adventurous type and want to learn more about the fermentation process you can easily make it yourself at home. Here’s how.

1. Pour about 10 cups of shredded cabbage in a plastic or ceramic bowl with a teaspoon of salt. Release the juices of the cabbage by stirring thoroughly. The bowl can’t be metallic because of the way the metal will react with the salt.

2. Add a cup of water, a teaspoon of pickling salt, 10 juniper berries, and a teaspoon each of caraway seeds and yellow mustard seeds. Mix thoroughly.

3. Put the mixture into a sterilized canning jar. Then pack the mixture using a wooden spoon.

4. Next, pour some water mixed with pickling salt (one teaspoon of salt for each cup of water) into the jar. Pour enough to fill the jar, leaving ¼ inch of space under the lid.

5. Place the jar in an area between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit for two-and-a-half to three weeks. You’ll notice the contents will start to bubble after a few days, but this is normal. It’s a sign that the fermentation process is working.

6. Once the bubbling stops add some more of the pickling salt/water mix if the level of the sauerkraut has gone below the rim of the jar.

7. You’ll probably see a film at the top. Scrape them off. The sauerkraut will then be ready to eat. Keep the jar in the refrigerator until all the sauerkraut is gone.24

The Bottom Line

As you can see, the fermented benefits of sauerkraut are incredibly far-reaching. But before you start making it a part of your dietary regimen, talk to your doctor first to make sure he or she agrees that it will be right for you.

Learn More:
12 Awesome Benefits of Lactobacillus Acidophilus
Probiotic Skincare: A New Frontier in the Pursuit of Youthful Skin
NEWS: Probiotics May Provide Help with Allergies


Sources
1.http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/73/2/374s.full
2.https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
3.https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-fermented-foods
4.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123739445001516
5.https://www.medicinenet.com/probiotics/article.htm
6.http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2614/2
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19584499
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16696665
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21776465
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25047574
11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15514282
12.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23525894
13.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16801507
14.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904694
15.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23497650
16.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224414002386
17.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25884980
18.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26466123
19.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16696665
20.http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/gastroenterology/antibiotic-associated-diarrhea
21.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19220890
22.http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08905436.2012.755694
23.https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/10/antioxidants-explained-why-these-compounds-are-so-important/247311
24.https://www.thespruce.com/homemade-german-sauerkraut-1447249

9 Easy Solutions to Get Rid of Constipation

If you’ve ever had to deal with the annoyance of constipation, you’re far from alone. It’s so common, in fact, that an estimated one in five people in the United States has to deal with it at one time or another.1 It can lead to serious discomfort and other symptoms, including bloating and pain.

Thankfully, though, there are many remedies designed to help eliminate constipation, without having to get medical help. Here are just a few ways to finally find that constipation relief you’ve been looking for:

Drink More Water

Constipation | Probiotic AmericaNot getting enough water can lead to dehydration. And dehydration is a contributing factor to constipation.2 If you’re all of a sudden finding it difficult – if not impossible – to pass stool, a lack of water might be the culprit.

There is some research that suggests sparkling water might be a more effective remedy than plain tap water. This seems to especially be the case for people who have chronic constipation or irritable bowel syndrome.3

Up Your Fiber Intake

Increasing your consumption of high-fiber foods may not only help increase the consistency of your stool, it might also make it easier to pass through your colon, so that you can have a successful bowel movement.4 According to the results of one study, nearly 80 percent of people suffering from chronic constipation may be able to benefit from adding fiber.5

Exercise Regularly

Exercising on a regular basis is obviously good for your overall health. And there is also evidence it could reduce some of the symptoms associated with constipation.6 Before you start a new exercise regimen, however, talk to your doctor first, to make sure it will be completely safe.

Drink More Coffee

Coffee stimulates the muscles of the digestive tract, helping to move stool through the colon.7 Research shows that caffeinated coffee has a similar effect on the digestive system as eating a meal. According to the results of one study, this effect is 23 percent stronger than drinking decaf and a whopping 60 percent stronger than drinking water.8 So, a cup of morning Joe might just go a long way toward helping you find constipation relief.

Laxatives

Some people turn to over-the-counter or herbal laxatives when trying to find constipation relief. Of course, it is always best to consult with a medical professional before trying a laxative — there may be underlying medical conditions that need attention. But if your doctor gives you the go-ahead, try gentler herbal laxatives first.

Constipation | Probiotic AmericaMany herbal laxatives contain glycosides. These are compounds found in plants that help stimulate the nerves in the gastrointestinal tract, or “gut.” This stimulation may help you achieve a bowel movement.9,10

Talk to your doctor about what types of laxatives may be best for you. They may recommend laxatives with bulking agents to help increase the amount of water in your stool, or your doctor might suggest a stool softener. You may even be better off trying osmotic laxatives which work by pulling water into the digestive tract from nearby tissues. Just make sure you get your doctor’s permission before trying any sort of laxative.11

Change Your Diet

There are certain foods you should avoid when you’re constipated. These are typically foods that have little or no fiber, such as potato chips, meat, ice cream, some frozen or microwave dinners, and hot dogs.12 There are some instances where dairy products could play a role in causing constipation.13

If your doctor suggests that you try cutting back on dairy, just make sure you eat other foods that are high in calcium. You don’t want to run the risk of not getting enough of this vital mineral.

Eat Probiotic Foods

Constipation | Probiotic AmericaOne way in which altering your diet might help bring constipation relief is to eat more foods that are high in probiotics. You might not think willingly consuming bacteria is a good idea, but probiotics are incredibly beneficial bacteria that help support the health of the gut and colon.

You have trillions of microbes in your body. If the bad microbes outnumber the good, that can make you susceptible to many types of digestive problems, including constipation.14

There are many foods that are rich in probiotics. These include yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, and sourdough bread. The good bacteria in these products help to provide constipation relief by stimulating bowel movements.15 You can also find many types of probiotic supplements in capsule form.

Don’t Forget Prebiotics

As important as probiotics are in helping to ensure gut health, prebiotics are just as vital. Prebiotics are, in a nutshell, fibers that the human body can’t digest. These substances help to feed the good bacteria in your digestive system, so they can thrive. You can find them in foods such as bananas, onions, and garlic.16 Prebiotics have not only been shown to be an effective stool softener, they may also help increase bowel movement frequency.17,18

Prunes

Prunes, or dried plums, have long been associated with constipation relief. They not only contain fiber, but also sorbitol, which is a natural laxative.19,20

Research shows that consuming about seven medium-sized prunes once a day can be an effective way to get over your constipation symptoms. As with any dietary change, get medical clearance before you start eating prunes, and if you’re unsure about the effects, start slowly, with just 1-2 prunes… all 7 may be too much.21

When to See a Doctor About Constipation

As frustrating as this condition can be, constipation is usually not serious. It will typically subside within a few days. However, there are some instances where symptoms become so severe that medical help is necessary. Here are some signs that you will need to see a doctor:

· There is blood in your stool, or your stools are black.
· You have anemia, or a lack of iron in your blood.
· You unexpectedly lose weight.
· Your symptoms last for three weeks or more.
· You experience severe stomach pain when passing stool.22

The Final Word

Hopefully, you’ll find constipation relief from one of the remedies suggested above. But if you don’t, and your symptoms persist for an extended period of time, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. They will need to rule out other potential health problems and then determine the best course of action to help you feel better.

 

For more digestion tips, keep reading here:
Best Probiotic Foods to Improve Your Gut Health
Want a Healthy Belly, Both Inside and Out? Try these 4 Foods
Constipated? Here are 5 Ways To Find Relief


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1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15089911
2.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16028566
3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12352219
4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23326148
5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27170558
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3206558
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2338272
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9581985
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8234429
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26171992
11.https://www.medicinenet.com/laxatives_for_constipation/article.htm
12.https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation/eating-diet-nutrition
13.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3533146/
14.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867412001043
15.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4951383/
16.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705355/
17.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2607002
18.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26232505
19.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11401245
20.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24090144
21.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21323688
22.http://www.gastro.org/info_for_patients/constipation-103-when-to-call-your-doctor

An Apple A Day: Why This Simple Fruit Shouldn’t Be Overlooked

The saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has been around for centuries – and it turns out, it’s more than just an old wives tale. There are many health benefits of apples – from improving the brain to the skin.

Here are just a few reasons why you should make apples a part of your regular dietary regimen — maybe not daily, due to their high sugar content, but at least weekly.

How Apples Benefit the Body

Research indicates that one of the antioxidants in apples, known as quercetin, might play a role in helping to improve neurological health. One study showed it may help to prevent the death of brain cells due to oxidation. This, in turn, could substantially reduce the risk of many kinds of neurodegenerative problems.1

Another study involving more than 9,000 people showed that those who ate apples most often had a lower risk of suffering a stroke.2 Apples may also lower the levels of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol in the blood.

Researchers found that women who ate apples each day for six months saw a more than 20 percent reduction in bad cholesterol. They also saw a 4 percent increase in high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol, which can lower the chances of developing heart disease.3

Apples for Weight Loss?

Apples might also play a role in helping with weight loss, according to one study. According to the results, participants who ate apple slices consumed 200 fewer calories on average per meal than those who had apple juice, applesauce, or no apples. They also experienced greater feelings of fullness.4

In another study, a group of 50 obese women ate either apples or oatmeal cookies as part of their daily routine for 10 weeks. Both the apples and cookies were similar in fiber content and calories.

Researchers found that the women who ate apples not only lost two more pounds on average, but they also consumed fewer overall calories. The reason, they believe, is that apples provided a greater sense of fullness, or satiety, than the cookies.5

Apples: Gut Friendly?

Apples have also been shown to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the “gut,” or gastrointestinal tract. Apples contain pectin, a type of fiber that is a prebiotic. The human body can’t digest this type of fiber – but the good bacteria in our gut can. The bacteria use prebiotics as food. This gives them the energy to balance out the bad microbes in the gut, and it helps our digestive system work properly.6

Benefits of Apples | Probiotic America

The benefits of apples are stretched even further when they’re fermented.  Fermented apples can be turned into apple cider vinegar, and vinegar produces acetic acid. This helps to produce beneficial bacteria. Acetic acid also plays a role in helping keep your blood sugar under control after you eat a meal.7

Other Apple Benefits

Could the antioxidants in apples help improve breathing? A study involving nearly 70,000 women showed that those who regularly ate apples had a lower risk of developing certain breathing problems.8

The benefits of apples have also been associated with improved bone health. One of the indicators of overall bone health is increased bone density.

Research shows that the antioxidants in apples may help increase bone density. Calcium is also key to bone health, and one medium-sized apple (approximately 3-inches in diameter) contains 11 mg of this important mineral.9

One study was performed on four groups of women to determine how apple consumption affects the body’s supply of calcium. According to the results, the women who consumed apples had more calcium in their blood than those who didn’t have any kind of apple products.10

Hair Benefits of Apples

Many of the vitamins and minerals in apples help promote the health of your hair. For example, vitamin E helps blood circulate properly in the scalp – which may help hair grow.11 Vitamin B6, also found in apples, helps to produce a hormone known as melanin. This may help keep hair from aging prematurely.12 Procyanidin, a compound found in apples, may also help promote hair growth.13

Apple cider vinegar also has properties that could also boost your hair’s health. Diluted apple cider vinegar might, for instance, help reduce dandruff.14

Skin Benefits of Apples

The vitamin C in apples may also help your skin. The vitamin C in apples helps promote the development of collagen – which helps to keep the skin firm. Skin lacking enough collagen is more prone to wrinkling.1516

Benefits of Apples | Probiotic AmericaApples also contain copper, a mineral that also helps to promote healthy skin. Copper plays a key role in producing melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its color. But melanin also helps to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.17

Another important vitamin for skin health found in apples is vitamin A. It helps ensure that cells reproduce the way they should. It also helps keep the skin from developing signs of aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines. Vitamin A is often used in topical form to help people suffering from severe cases of acne.18

Different Types of Apples

These are some of the most common types of apples you’ll find at most supermarkets and at farmers markets.

Braeburn

This apple has red and pink coloring and a sweet, tart taste. It is great for making a cobbler or apple pie.

Honeycrisp

The honeycrisp usually has a bit of green mixed in with red. This type of apple will usually have a longer shelf life than most of its counterparts.19 It also works very well in an apple pie.

Fuji

Fuji apples are typically larger and are usually more yellowish in color than other varieties. They are especially hearty, with a shelf life of as long as six months when refrigerated.20 Fuji apples are especially good for sprinkling into a salad. They’re also very juicy, making them a good choice for making apple cider.

Gala

The gala apple is typically yellow in color and has red stripes. It’s not as sweet as other varieties, but it does feature a hint of vanilla taste.

Granny Smith

The granny smith apple is known for its green coloring and tart taste. It’s another good choice for a salad, since it doesn’t brown as fast as other types once you cut it.21

Benefits of Apples | Probiotic America

A Final Word

As you can see, apples not only taste great – they also help deliver substantial health benefits, including for your hair and skin. They’re loaded with fiber and antioxidants, and they contain other beneficial minerals and vitamins that can help keep your body strong. The apple is a mighty nutritional powerhouse – the benefits of apples should not be overlooked!

Want more dietary tips, keep reading here:
How To Make Low-Sugar Apple Crisps
9 Gut Friendly Foods That Supercharge Your Health
Sapodilla: The Strange Fruit With Incredible Health Benefits


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1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17929310
2.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10822289
3.https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412131923.htm
4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664987
5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18439712
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705355
7.https://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/articles/2017-01-18/the-health-benefits-of-vinegar
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16396945
9.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2122
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15105040
11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819075
12.http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-B6
13.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11406858
14.http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/18/health/apple-cider-vinegar-uses/index.html
15.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1720597
16.https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen#section2
17.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556990
18.http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-a-retinol
19.http://www.tctimes.com/news/honeycrisp-apples-so-good-but-so-expensive/article_8e3d35ec-35d3-11e4-8f05-0019bb2963f4.html
20.https://www.gardenguides.com/124226-honey-crisp-vs-fuji-apples.html
21.https://www.finechoicefoods.com/2013/10/apples-to-apples-a-comparison-taste-test

Probiotic Skincare: A New Frontier in the Pursuit of Youthful Skin

What do you think of first when you read the word ‘probiotics’? Gut health, right?

Well, it turns out probiotics can help you with so much more than your digestion. For instance, have you heard about probiotic skincare?

If you’re struggling with unsightly blemishes, discoloration, or some other type of skin issue, there is a chance that probiotics could help.

Let’s take a closer look…

The Basics

If you’re taking a probiotic, you’re taking a capsule full of beneficial bacteria in order to boost the “good” bacteria already in your system. Probiotics are also found in foods such as sauerkraut and yogurt. And there’s been a lot of buzz about how they can help your digestion for years now…

But these days, there’s more and more evidence that probiotics may help more than just your gut — welcome news for people suffering from issues such as acne, eczema, and rosacea.1

Topical Products For Probiotic Skin Care

Lactobacillus Acidophilus | Probiotic America News

There are quite a few probiotic skin care products on the market now, and many of them are topical — meaning you apply them to the surface of your skin. These include cleansers, creams, and masks.

And these work because your immune system works for your whole body — including your skin. In some cases, the immune system senses that there are foreign microorganisms present on the surface of your skin, and it reacts by fighting those invaders. And that’s great, until it leaves behind pain, redness, swelling, and blemishes in its wake.2,3

A topical probiotic can also keep your immune system from attacking perceived threats to the skin.4

That’s because the beneficial bacteria in this type of product could neutralize or crowd out bad bacteria — so what’s left on your “skin microbiome” is actually good for you. And that, in turn, could prevent the cells of the skin from producing an immune system response.5

The “skin microbiome” is a term used to describe the overall community of microbes that live on the skin. It’s very important that the skin microbiome has a good balance between beneficial and harmful microbes. If there are too many harmful bacteria present, it can lead to skin problems.6,7

Oral Probiotics and Skin Care

Oral probiotics can also help people suffering from skin issues.8

Probiotic Skin Care | Probiotic America

Lots of supplements contain groups of beneficial bacteria known as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium. These bacteria have an effect known as the “gut-brain-skin axis effect.”

You see, stress and a poor diet can lead to a slowing of the digestive process.9  As a result, unhealthy bacteria can overtake the gut and weaken the gastrointestinal tract allowing toxins to enter the bloodstream. This string of events can result in the development of frustrating skin issues.10

However, recent studies show a relationship between oral probiotics and an improvement in skin conditions. For example, one study involving nearly 60 acne sufferers showed that drinking a beverage fortified with Lactobacillus bacteria saw a decrease in acne lesions.11

In another study, half of the participants received an oral probiotic supplement to take with their usual treatments for rosacea and acne. The other half only received their standard treatments.

The group taking the probiotic saw a bigger improvement in symptoms than the group that did not receive the supplement.12

Probiotic Skin Care | Probiotic America

There’s also evidence suggesting that probiotics may be able to help support your body as it builds collagen — the substance that helps makes your skin appear firmer. As a result, probiotics could potentially help reduce wrinkling and the other visual signs of aging skin.13

Another potential benefit of probiotic skin care is the ability of beneficial bacteria to promote the production of ceramides. These are molecules that act as a sort of “glue,” helping skin cells bond together. And they play a key role in helping to moisten the skin.14

Turns out, probiotic products help to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria by producing lactic acid. Lactic acid not only reduces the number of bad bacteria on the skin, it also helps good bacteria flourish.15

Wrapping Things Up

Research is only beginning to expose the potential of probiotic skin care. But if the early results are any indication, it appears that probiotics can deliver substantial benefits that could help greatly improve your appearance.

As with any new skin care regimen, however, talk to your doctor first to make sure he or she agrees that it will be safe to try probiotic products.

Learn More:
9 Gut Friendly Foods That Supercharge Your Health
NEWS: Probiotics May Provide Help with Allergies
Everything You Need to Know About Probiotics (a complete guide)


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1.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/26/health/acne-eczema-skin-bacteria.html
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3.https://www.rosacea.org/patients/causes/immunesystem
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8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3038963
9.https://www.healthline.com/health-news/are-probiotics-answer-to-acne
10.https://nypost.com/2016/04/06/the-secret-to-sofia-vergaras-gorgeous-skin
11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20692602
12.https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/27e8/56f9a1df44e1f81729c1b293ea3b1179f089.pdf
13.http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jam.12137/full
14.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18336739
15.http://dermatologytimes.modernmedicine.com/dermatology-times/news/skincare-products-probiotics

Sapodilla: The Strange Fruit With Incredible Health Benefits

If you haven’t heard of the sapodilla, or sapota fruit, you’re definitely not alone.

If you’re like most people, you’re familiar with fruits that you see at your local grocery store: apples, oranges, bananas, etc. The end.

But if you enjoy trying new foods that are beneficial to your health, then this is one Central American fruit that you may want to investigate.

Here’s some information on where the sapodilla comes from and some of the health benefits that it might provide.

Sapodilla 101

Sapodilla | Probiotic America

The sapodilla tree is native to the northern parts of Central America and the southern portion of Mexico. It’s also known as the Manilkara Zapota tree.1 The tree belongs to the Sapotaceae family, which also includes the Mamey Sapote and Green Sapote.2

The fruit that comes from the tree is also known as the Sapota fruit or the Chikoo fruit.3

A ripe sapodilla has a sweet flavor, comparable to a mango, with a yellowish-brown hue. It’s also very juicy.

During immaturity, the flesh of the fruit contains a latex substance used to make chicle – an ingredient that was historically used in the making of chewing gum.4

Potential Health Benefits

Sapodilla, also known as Chikoo fruit, is rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and protein.5,Here are just some of the health benefits associated with the fruit.

Vitamin C –

You’ll get nearly 15 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C in a 100-gram serving of sapota fruit (the sapota fruit typically weighs about 150g).7 Research indicates that the vitamin C found in fruits and other foods, as well as supplements, could reduce the risk of heart problems.8

Fiber content –

The sapodilla fruit is also a great source of dietary fiber. You’ll get about 5g of fiber per 100g-serving.9

Of course, fiber is very important to the digestive process. It helps keep stools firm so they move at the correct pace through the intestines. Fiber can also reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels and help you maintain a healthy weight.10

Calcium –

The sapodilla fruit provides 21mg of calcium in a 100g-serving.11 This mineral is important not just for building strong bones but also in terms of keeping them strong as we get older. Calcium also plays a role in keeping our blood circulating properly and helping us control our muscles.12

Potassium –

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just 100g of this fruit provides a whopping 193 mg of potassium.13 Potassium is also very important to maintaining bone health, especially in older women.14 Potassium is also associated with improved cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and a reduced risk of developing digestive problems such as inflammatory bowel disease.15

Magnesium –

You’ll get about 12mg of magnesium per 100g of sapodilla fruit.16 Magnesium plays a role in helping make bones stronger. A lack of this mineral has been associated with an increased risk of migraine headaches.17

How to Buy Sapodilla

You might be able to find sapodillas in your local farmer’s market. And there’s great news – the plant is evergreen, meaning it grow year round.18 As a result, it shouldn’t matter what time of the year it is when you look for it.

Sapodilla | Probiotic AmericaAlso, you’ll want the freshest fruit you can find. So make sure the fruit you buy doesn’t have any bruising, cracking, wrinkling, or cuts on the skin. If you buy an unripe sapodilla, you’ll need to keep it at room temperature for about 7-10 days until it ripens. The ripened fruit will usually last about six weeks in your refrigerator.19

A Final Word

The sapodilla fruit is rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential to your health. Plus, it tastes great. It would be worth it for you to give it a try. Before you do, however, have a talk with your doctor to make sure it will be safe to do so.

Learn More:
9 Gut Friendly Foods That Supercharge Your Health
Cheese Can Improve Gut Health! (find out which types to eat)
Eat Your Way to 100: 4 Longevity-Boosting Superfoods to Try Now


Sources
1.https://www.britannica.com/plant/sapodilla
2.http://rfcarchives.org.au/Next/Fruits/MameySapote/MameyGreenSapote1-89.htm
3.https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/sapodilla.html
4.https://www.britannica.com/plant/sapodilla
5.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
6.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
7.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12875759
9.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
10.https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
11.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
12.https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/calcium-nutrition-and-bone-health
13.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
14.http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/potassium
15.http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/potassium
16.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
17.https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
18.https://www.britannica.com/plant/sapodilla
19.http://www.foodofy.com/sapodilla.html

Clean Eating: How to Do a Processed Foods Detox

Most processed foods are, quite frankly, filled with junk. Sugar, and many other ingredients found in these kinds of products, can have damaging effects on the body. Some processed foods even contain toxins.1 If you’re hooked on processed foods, you need to start cutting them out.

Here’s some information on why processed foods are really that bad for you, and some of the steps you can take to avoid (or eliminate) them entirely from your diet.

Why Are Processed Foods So Bad for the Body?

There are a lot of reasons why you need to avoid processed foods whenever possible. One of the most important is that they are usually loaded with sugar. Consuming too much sugar can really do a number on your system. It can make it harder, for example, for your body to process insulin. If that happens, it could lead to serious health issues.3 It can also lead to an increase in not only “bad” cholesterol (LDL), but also the accumulation of fat in the liver.4

Many types of processed foods are specifically made to be rewarding – too rewarding, in fact. They basically act against our body’s natural inclination to eat only what we need. We eat these foods, and we immediately want more … and more … and more. This can make it extremely hard for us to keep our weight at a healthy level.5

Artificial Ingredients

preservatives

Processed foods typically contain a lot of artificial ingredients. These are chemicals that are added to food for several different reasons. Preservatives, for instance, keep food from spoiling. Coloring is used to make a product more attractive. Flavors and textures are added as well. One of the more common processed food additives is monosodium glutamate, or MSG. This is actually a type of toxin that can damage cells in the body. Studies show that people can develop a sensitivity to MSG that can lead to headaches and muscle pain.6

Eating processed food can even introduce heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic to the body. These toxins get into food for many reasons. Contamination can occur during the preparation and storage of the food, for instance. A heavy metal can also get into your body due to the equipment used to process products, as well as equipment used to package them.7

Breaking Free From Processed Foods

It can be challenging to try and cut processed foods out of a diet entirely. You’re so used to grabbing that sugar-filled snack that it becomes second nature. But there are ways to break free of processed foods and begin clean eating. Here are some tips that might help:

1. Buy local.

Your nearby farmer’s market offers a wide variety of fresh, wholesome foods that aren’t processed. Some grocery stores even feature sections of foods fresh from local farms. If you’re unsure of the source of your food, ask your grocer for help. You might also consider asking them to stock more fresh foods in the future (hey, it can and does work!).

2. Read the labels.

reading nutrition labels

The next time you’re in the supermarket, pay close attention to the artificial ingredients listed on the labels of the products you’re thinking of buying. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, steer clear of that product.

3. Eat in.

It’s fun to go to a restaurant, but do you know all of the additives in the foods you’re being served? Either ask your server to give you a list of ingredients, or simply make your meals at home, using all-natural ingredients. That way, you’ll be in total control of what’s going into your body.

4. Sugar alert.

One of the best things you can do is to try and find products that are free of sugar. But corn syrup, one of the most common ingredients you’ll find in food, can be just as bad for your body.8 Again, this is where checking the label will be key.

5. Substitute good for bad.

So, you’ve got a potato chip addiction? It happens. But if you want to avoid processed foods, you’ll need to find an alternative. Non-fat popcorn might be a good choice. And if you’re a morning cereal eater, try switching to non-sweetened oatmeal for breakfast. You’ll eliminate loads of sugar that way.

6. Steer clear of fast food.

fast food options

Not all processed foods are found in a grocery store, of course. Most fast food dishes are loaded with processed ingredients. While fast food is convenient, it’s usually bad for your body. Bring some natural snacks with you on your next trip, and pack some homemade meals as well. And during the week, bring your lunch from home. Prepare some yummy salads or some grilled chicken to enjoy at the office. This way, you won’t be tempted to hit up a fast food joint on your break.

The Bottom Line

If you’re making healthy changes to your diet, start by nixing processed foods. It’s going to take a little time to adjust, but by finding good substitutions for your favorite “bad” foods, you will slowly adapt and begin to enjoy your good choices. By eating clean and eliminating the toxins from processed foods, you’ll know you’re doing the best thing you can to keep your body healthy!

Learn More:

What is the Healthiest Bread to Eat? (recipe inside)
7 Effective Strategies to Stop Food Cravings


Sources
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10335377
2. https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/what-are-processed-foods.aspx
3. https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-2-5
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2673878/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22011680
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19438927
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10335377
8. https://www.livescience.com/52852-science-sugar-corn-syrup-health.html

Why You Need Zinc In Your Diet (And The Best Food Sources!)

You already know that minerals like calcium and potassium are vital to your health. But did you know that zinc is just as important?

If you have a zinc deficiency, you could be at risk of a whole host of health problems. Here’s some information on just why you need to make foods high in zinc a staple of your everyday diet.

An Incredibly Important Mineral

One of the many reasons you need to find good sources of zinc is that the mineral helps fight infections.1 It also provides protection against the damage that oxidation can cause.

For example, oxidation creates free radicals, which are very dangerous molecules. They’re missing an electron and will move through your body looking for a replacement. Free radicals don’t really care where they get that extra electron. So, they usually steal it from other cells. When this happens, that can lead to significant damage to tissues and muscles.

In addition, a deficiency makes it hard for people to be able to effectively fight off respiratory illnesses like colds. And zinc-deficient patients may also find it hard to recuperate from surgical procedures or other injuries.2

You see, when you have a deficiency, it can put your immune system at risk.

These are just a few of the other problems that can occur:

zinc protects colds

  • Appetite loss
  • Concentration problems
  • Depression
  • Lack of nail and hair growth
  • Night blindness
  • Overall growth problems
  • Smell and taste impairments
  • Wound healing delays3

Do You Have a Zinc Deficiency?

Your body’s actually the most reliable tool when it comes to figuring out if you have a deficiency.

One sign is that you get an upset stomach on a regular basis.4 This is because zinc helps your body to digest food.

And if your eyes have a hard time adjusting when you go from a light place to a dark one, you might be surprised to know a deficiency could be the culprit.5 Weight gain and fatigue are other signs you need more of this vital mineral. A deficiency can affect the way the body metabolizes protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

zinc soreness

One sign of a zinc deficiency you might not have thought of concerns exercise. If it’s been a few days since your last workout but your muscles are still sore, you might need more zinc.6 The same holds true if you suffer a bruise and it lasts longer than it should.7

The Health Benefits of Zinc

Now, there are several health benefits associated with increasing your intake. And research indicates that zinc plays an important role in helping brain neurons communicate. This, in turn, has an effect on how we learn as well as how we form memories.8

Furthermore, zinc helps maintain the integrity and structure of your skin. When people have a deficiency, they’ll usually be at higher risk for problems such as chronic wounds or skin ulcers. One study showed that zinc could stimulate the healing of leg ulcers by decreasing the growth of harmful bacteria.9 There are even indications that it can help slow the progression of vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration.10

So, now that you know all about the health benefits, you may be wondering…

Where Can I Find a Good Source of Zinc?

sources of zinc

The amount of the mineral you need each day varies according to gender and age. Children need from 2-8 milligrams a day while men need about 11 mg. Women need about 8 mg, but pregnant women should strive to get around 11 mg each day.11

There are a lot of different foods that are high in zinc. Many of them are on the shelves of your local grocery store. Here are just a few:

Cereal – A staple of breakfast tables across the country, cereal is high in zinc, especially whole grain and multi-grain cereals. But cereals that have a lot of sugar can counteract any benefits you might receive. So, make sure you opt for low sugar cereals.

Dark Chocolate – Wait – something that tastes as fantastic as chocolate can also be good for you? It’s true. Dark chocolate is a great source.

Fruits – A cup of blackberries contains nearly 1 mg of zinc. Dates and raspberries also contain the mineral.

Meat – Just 100 grams of lean beef will provide you with 12.3 mg of zinc. Lean pork is another good source with 100 grams proving about 5 mg. Eating 100 grams of chicken will deliver 2 mg. Meat can also help with zinc absorption, but most types are also high in cholesterol. So don’t go overboard eating meat. Get your meat in moderation.

Mushrooms – A cup of white mushrooms will provide slightly more than 1 mg of the mineral.

nuts high in zinc

Nuts – Almonds, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, and hazelnuts are all great choices. Especially the cashew which has 6mg per 100-gram serving.

 

Pumpkin seeds – If you eat as little as 100 grams of raw pumpkin seeds you’ll get a whopping 10.3 mg. But you have to eat them raw.

Shellfish
– Crabs, lobsters, and clams are all really high in zinc. The oyster is also a good source of the mineral. Eating a plate of six oysters will deliver an astounding 80 mg. Be careful, however. As you’ll see in the following section, too much can be just as harmful as a deficiency.

Vegetables – Many vegetables are high in zinc, including peas, lima beans, and soybeans. Just a cup of soybeans will provide 9 mg, while the same amount of peas and lima beans provide 2 mg each. Spinach, Brussels sprouts, and green beans are some of the other vegetables that contain healthy amounts of the mineral.

Can You Have Too Much in Your System?

The answer, yes. While there are a lot of benefits associated with getting enough zinc, there are also quite a few problems associated with getting too much. If you get more than 40 mg each day, you could be at risk for some potentially severe side effects.

For example, an overabundance of zinc in the body could lead to serious digestive issues and can also reduce the amount of “good” cholesterol in your blood. It could also weaken the immune system.12

So it’s best to stay on the safe side and talk to your doctor before making major changes to your diet. This should also be the case if you’re thinking of taking a supplement. Play it smart and get medical advice first.

Learn More:

What is the Metabolome? (And Why It’s Essential to Health)

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame


Sources
1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130207131344.htm
2. http://www.dummies.com/health/nutrition/zinc-the-immune-system-nutrient/
3. https://www.healthline.com/health/zinc-deficiency
4. http://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/signs-youre-not-getting-zinc
5. https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/zinc
6. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/signs-youre-not-getting-zinc
7. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/signs-youre-not-getting-zinc
8. http://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(11)00646-5
9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2275309
10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11594942?dopt=Abstract
11. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/
12. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/#h8

9 Gut Friendly Foods That Supercharge Your Health

It’s no secret… your gastrointestinal tract – or gut – is filled with billions of bacteria and microbes – aka gut flora.

While many of those bacteria are actually good for you, there are others that aren’t. When the balance between good and bad bacteria goes the wrong way, you’re at risk for a wide range of digestive problems. Fortunately, there are several foods that can help make sure you have a good supply of beneficial bacteria.

Here are nine gut-friendly foods that you should consider making a part of your regular dietary routine.

The Big 9 – Your Gut’s Friendliest Foods

1. Kefir

This fermented drink is typically made from goat or cow milk. You can think of it like drinkable yogurt. It’s filled with probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, that help offset the harmful ones. The result? A good assist for your gut health.

Making kefir is simple – just add kefir grains (which are actually probiotic cultures) to milk. The cultures multiply and ferment and 24 hours later you’ve got kefir. You can even take the grains from the liquid and repeat the process.

Kefir contains about 30 different strains of beneficial microbes, so it is an incredibly diverse source of probiotics. One strain, Lactobacillus kefiri, has been shown to help inhibit the growth of the harmful Helicobacter pylori strain – a strain associated with severe gastrointestinal problems.1

But it doesn’t just provide you with beneficial bacteria. It also provides other key nutrients like vitamin B12, magnesium, vitamin D, calcium, protein and phosphorous.

gut friendly foods | Probiotic America

2. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is also a rich source of probiotics and contains several types of beneficial bacteria. It’s become hugely popular in mainstream grocery stores, but you need to be careful when buying it.

Why? Because some brands might be labeled Greek yogurt, even though they’re basically just regular yogurt with gelatin added for thickness. True Greek yogurt should only have two main ingredients – probiotic cultures and milk.

The beneficial bacteria in Greek yogurt help boost your immune system and protect you from digestive problems like leaky gut syndrome. This problem occurs when the walls of the intestines become weak. Of course, when this happens, toxic microbes can enter the digestive tract. Clearly, nobody wants that.

Also, Greek yogurt is loaded with protein, which helps build strong muscles, cartilage, bones, and skin.

Furthermore, it can give you added energy. Getting enough protein is even more important as you get older. In fact, people 65 and older need about a gram more per day than younger adults.2 Greek yogurt’s also high in calcium, which can play a key role in helping keep your bones and muscles healthy and strong.

3. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is basically fermented cabbage. While you can get it in your local grocery store, you need to make sure that it hasn’t been pasteurized. Pasteurization can be an important food safety process, but while it kills bad bacteria it can also destroy your good microbes.3 If your sauerkraut is pasteurized, you won’t get the probiotic benefits.

Sauerkraut’s also filled with beneficial microorganisms that act as reinforcements to the good bacteria in your gut. There are nearly 30 beneficial strains in sauerkraut that are great for gut health. They help you avoid digestive problems like diarrhea and constipation.4 They also help your body do a better job of absorbing nutrients from the foods you eat.

4. Kimchi

Kimchi is the delicious Korean version of sauerkraut. Kimchi is made through a fermentation process that produces beneficial bacteria. The longer it ferments, the more bacteria develop. People have known for decades that kimchi can be a very effective way to reduce the symptoms of many different digestive issues.

Beyond being tasty, Kimchi is also pretty high in fiber. Of course, fiber helps promote a healthy digestive tract too. And fiber also helps lower your “bad” cholesterol levels. Also known as LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) bad cholesterol can contribute to heart problems. In addition, fiber helps you feel full after a meal, which will reduce the chances you’ll overeat.5

gut friendly foods | Probiotic America

5. Artichokes

Next up – artichokes. They’re a great source of prebiotics, which are fibers the body can’t digest. But guess what… probiotic bacteria can.

They serve as a critical energy source for the good bacteria that live in your gut. Artichokes also contain a substance known as cynarin, which helps produce bile. And bile is important to your digestive process because it helps your body do a good job of absorbing nutrients. If you don’t have enough bile, there’s a good chance you won’t get the nutrients you need from the food you eat.6

6. Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea that contains a lot of beneficial bacteria. Many people drink it instead of soda – and you should too. The fermentation process that goes into making kombucha not only produces good bacteria, but also several different B vitamins. Some of the bacteria in kombucha also produce cellulose, a substance that protects cells.

Kombucha also acts as an antioxidant, which helps to protect the body from the effects of oxidation. Antioxidants inhibit the growth of free radicals, dangerous molecules that can damage cells and tissues. Beneficial bacteria, such as those found in the drink, also help stop the formation of the dangerous candida yeast in your gut.7 And it’s a good thing too because candida is associated with many serious health issues.8

7. Miso Soup

Believe it or not, miso soup is extremely popular in Japan – and not just for lunch or dinner. The Japanese love to serve miso soup at breakfast. It has a salty taste and comes in a variety of colors, including yellow, red, brown and white. Miso is not only high in good bacteria, it also contains vitamin K, copper, and manganese.

gut friendly foods | Probiotic America

8. Bananas

Not only do bananas taste great, they’re filled with healthy fiber and beneficial bacteria. They’re also high in magnesium and potassium. Also, bananas have almost no fat, so they’re super low in calories. In fact, a banana only has a little more than 100 calories.

And bananas help to regulate blood sugar levels and control appetite too.9 There’s even evidence that eating bananas can also help with weight loss.10

9. Blueberries

One of the best superfoods out there, blueberries not only taste great in muffins, they also contain beneficial bacteria and a lot of vitamin C. Of course, vitamin C can help improve the texture of your skin and also protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.11

The fruit might also help improve your cognitive functioning. One study involved a group of people who were in mild cognitive decline and ate blueberries each day for four months. According to the results, they not only showed improved cognitive performance, their brains functioned better overall.12

Blueberries are also rich in magnesium, calcium, and potassium which can lower the risk of developing high blood pressure.13 They can also help make your heart healthier because they contain anthocyanins. These substances not only give blueberries their unique color, they might also reduce the risk of a heart attack.14

One Last Thought

You never want to start any new dietary routine or take any sort of supplement without talking to your doctor first. Even though you can benefit from an increased supply of good bacteria, you don’t want to take the risk of eating something you might be allergic to. Your doctor will let you know what you can eat safely.

For more health tips, keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame

Sources:
1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4273153/
2.https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/seniors-beef-it-up-to-prevent-muscle-loss/bgp-20136508
3.https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/cellular-microscopic/pasteurization2.htm
4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12788716
5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23885994
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3958332/
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23361033
8.https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/thrush/index.html
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2849298
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/238859
11.http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-C
12. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/307797.php
13. http://jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672%2814%2901633-5/abstract
14.http://www.uea.ac.uk/documents/1493191/4649679/FMH-SF-14-03+Cassidy.pdf/b0561527-4268-4920-a396-38d73383faf4

7 Common Habits That Damage Your Gut Health

You might not know it, but there are probably a few things you’ve been doing for years that could be hurting your gastrointestinal tract. Your gut health has a lot to do with your overall health. Some of your bad habits could be doing some severe damage.

Here’s just a bit of background about how the bacteria in your body play a role in your gut health – and how your bad habits might be causing big problems.

What’s Going On Down There?

The gut is home to trillions of bacteria. Some of them are bad for you, but some of them are actually very good for you. When you’ve got the right balance between your good and bad microbes, your digestive tract will work as it should.

But, when there are too many bad bacteria, that’s when your gut health can suffer. As a result, you could end up at a high risk for a lot of different digestive problems.

Now, your gut microbiome is the collection of bacteria and other microbes in your gastrointestinal tract. And your gut health is extremely important because it has a lot to do with how you feel every day. You see, if your microbiome is disrupted it can lead to problems like leaky gut or intestinal permeability. That’s where the walls of your intestines become weak and allow toxic bacteria and bad microbes to enter. When this happens, you’ll probably have to deal with a lot of problems in your digestive tract.

Seven Common Habits that Damage Your Gut

Not all habits are bad, of course. Showering and brushing your teeth every day are clearly great habits. But far too many of us fall into unhealthy routines that can harm our gut health.

1. Using Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

When you have a headache or some other type of body pain, it’s only natural to reach for an over-the-counter drug. It’s the easiest thing to do when you’ve got pain and want to stop it fast. But, the most common OTC drugs are ibuprofen and aspirin, known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). While these can be very effective medicines, they can also do quite a number on your gut health.

Turns out, NSAIDs work by blocking the cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzyme. This enzyme is largely responsible for causing inflammation that can lead to pain.

However, COX also plays an important role in gut health. The stomach produces powerful, corrosive acid. And this acid can actually do a lot of damage your stomach. But COX helps protect your stomach from its own acid. So, when an NSAID inhibits COX, the enzyme can’t do its job. As a result, you’ll be at a higher risk of developing leaky gut. NSAIDs have also been linked to the development of ulcers.1

2. Using antibiotics –

Antibiotics are extremely effective medicines that have saved the lives of millions of people around the world. But unfortunately, they not only kill harmful bacteria and other microbes but beneficial microbes as well. This can have a major impact on your gut health.

So, if you take antibiotics you should also take steps to replenish the good bacteria in your system. One way to do this is to take a probiotic supplement. Your doctor can tell you more about how probiotics can help maintain your gut health during your antibiotic regimen.2

gut health | Probiotic America

3. Stress –

While you already know that stress isn’t good for you, you might not know the role it can play in damaging your gut health. Stress can weaken your immune system, which is responsible for helping to keep you protected from infections and other problems. But it can also disrupt what is known as the “gut-brain axis.”

Now, a lot of the same hormones that work in the brain also work in the intestines. In fact, scientists often refer to the gut as “the second brain.”3 This is a large reason why when something is wrong in the gut it can affect your entire body.

4. Drinking too much alcohol –

Overindulging in alcohol can be especially damaging to your gut. Drinking too much can lead to the accumulation of harmful bacteria and that can lead to a leaky gut.4

If you do drink, make sure you do so in moderation. In moderation, there’s evidence that drinking a moderate amount of red wine could actually help your gut health. In fact, one study shows that red wine can increase the supply of a beneficial form of bacteria known as bifidobacterium.5

5. Eating too many grains –

There’s evidence that even gluten-free grains contain substances that can make it very hard for you to obtain nutrients from the food you eat. The lectins found in these grains bind to your intestines and inhibit your body’s ability to absorb important nutrients.6

6. Eating too often throughout the day –

You might be damaging your gut health if you tend to snack a lot at different times over the course of your typical day. Eating when you’re not hungry can disrupt your gut bacteria. The reason is that you’re putting your digestive tract under a ton of stress. It has to work very hard to break down all the food you’re consuming.

But taking a break can be really good for you. Research indicates that intermittent fasting helps ease the workload of your digestive tract. It promotes a process known as autophagy. In a nutshell, autophagy helps cells detoxify themselves. It even helps remove unneeded proteins and clear out damaged cell components.7

7. Overdoing it with caffeine –

As much as you might love your coffee (or soda), when you take in too much caffeine it can wreak havoc on your gut. Overindulgence in caffeine stimulates stress hormones. These hormones contribute to a “fight or flight” response in your body. This diverts energy to the heart – increasing your heart rate – and taking it away from the gut. And this type of stress response – over time – can lead to an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in your gut.8

gut health | Probiotic America

Kicking Bad Habits that Wreck Your Gut

Now, eliminating a bad habit is no joke – it can be really tough. Issues such as alcohol abuse and overeating develop over years and years. As a result, it can take some time to break them.

You see, research indicates that bad habits are an odd way of “rewarding” yourself. They release a chemical in the brain known as dopamine. The more dopamine you get, the more you want. It’s a vicious cycle. In fact, studies show that in many cases you don’t even derive any pleasure from the habit itself. You get your pleasure from the dopamine instead.9

So how can you help yourself? Well, exercise is one way you can get rid of bad habits. Studies suggest that physical activity releases endorphins – chemicals in your brain that also bring pleasure.10 Exercise can also help suppress a hormone known as ghrelin, which plays a major role in making you hungry.11

Increasing Your Supply of Good Bacteria

In addition to working out regularly, you can also promote good gut health by consuming more good bacteria. Certain foods are good sources of beneficial bacteria. But it can be hard to get the amount you need through food alone.

That’s why a lot of people turn to probiotic supplements. These are products filled with beneficial bacteria. They come in a lot of different forms, but capsules are the most efficient. The reason is, they protect microbes from the harsh environment of the stomach. The good bacteria survive so they can reach the gut and do their jobs.

Wrapping it Up

If you work on eliminating the bad habits that can damage your gut health, it won’t be long until you’re reaping serious benefits. But since it can be tough to go it alone, be sure to talk to your doctor first.

More ways to add probiotics to your diet:

Cheese Can Improve Gut Health! (find out which types to eat)

Sources:
1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7991640
2.http://www.pnas.org/content/108/Supplement_1/4554.full.pdf#page=1&view=FitH
3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28925886
4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12828956
5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22552027
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15302522
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990190/
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24153250
9.https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2012/01/breaking-bad-habits
10.https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-compass-pleasure/201104/exercise-pleasure-and-the-brain
11.http://www.the-aps.org/mm/hp/Audiences/Public-Press/Archive/08/40.html

What is the Healthiest Bread to Eat? (recipe inside)

Few things in this world are as delicious and inviting as a warm, freshly-baked loaf of bread. You know the type: a baguette from your favorite bakery or a crusty round loaf filled with piping hot chili. Cue the hunger pangs! But with endless choices available, how do you know the best bread for you?

The Argument for Health

From the start, it is important to understand the right bread may provide several health benefits. For starters, bread can be a great source of natural whole grains. By definition, whole grains are unrefined and still contain everything in the original kernel, including bran, germ, and endosperm, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.1

So, what is a whole grain, then? According to the Whole Grain Council, whole grains “include grains like wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, and rye.2

Even popcorn is considered a whole grain!

With so many options, getting the daily recommended amount of whole grains is easy. Depending on your age, the recommended serving size of whole grains is different, but for adults, between 9 and 11 daily servings is great, and between 6 and 9 servings for children.3 To put this in perspective, one slice of whole grain bread equals one serving of whole grains.4

Remember the Food Pyramid? Well, it’s still being used today, and the health benefits provided by the “Grains” section (yes, still the base of the Pyramid!) are just as powerful today as you may remember from your school days. When you get your whole grains through items such as whole-wheat bread, you’re giving your body loads of fiber. Fiber is one of those super-nutrients that helps with everything from lowering your cholesterol to controlling blood sugar levels, and it aids in balancing a healthy weight.5

The Best & Healthiest Bread for You

healthiest bread

If you’re like most people, you don’t just like bread, you love bread. Sandwiches, breadsticks, as an appetizer, or with your soup, bread is the perfect companion for snacks and meals. But, all bread is not created equal, especially when it comes to your health. While white bread may be light and fluffy, it isn’t exactly packed with nutrients, so take a look at the great breads below and give one of them a shot.

Whole Grain Bread

Unless you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, whole grain bread is a great option when it comes to breads that many consider healthy. Don’t be fooled by other breads that look like whole grain bread. Just because a bread is brown doesn’t mean it packs the same nutrients and punch that whole grain bread does. Many breads are actually dyed brown using sugars or molasses to get that “healthy brown” look. That’s why it is always important to look at the ingredients list or ask your baker what is in the bread. Whole grain bread should list “whole grains” as one of the first three ingredients.

Rye Bread

Rye bread is bread that is made with flour produced from rye grain (as opposed to flour produced from wheat, for example). Commonly used as sandwich bread, and famously on Reuben sandwiches, rye bread has been linked to lower blood sugar levels.6

Another benefit of rye bread is that it contains resistant starch. This resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that functions like fiber, leaving you feeling fuller and more satisfied after eating than other breads.

Sourdough Bread

If a loaf of sourdough bread makes you dream of Paris nights and the Eiffel Tower, you’re in good company! Just because sourdough bread is white doesn’t put it in the same league as white bread. A quality sourdough bread is packed with qualities that, like rye bread, may help lower blood sugar in the body.7

Not only that, but sourdough uses active wild yeast strains, lactic acid, and bacterias when it is baked. These factors give sourdough its unique, tangy flavor, and the wild yeast actually makes sourdough bread a probiotic. Pair sourdough’s probiotic benefits with the crunchy-crusty outside and the chewy delicious inside, and you’ve got a recipe for one healthy bread!

Irish Soda Bread (aka Irish Brown Bread)

irish soda bread recipe

A classic staple on the breakfast table in Ireland, Irish Soda bread, also called brown bread, is ripe with nutrition and healthy qualities. The secret to Irish soda bread’s health appeal is its use of whole wheat flour and low-fat buttermilk. The buttermilk gives it density, which leaves you feeling full. And one serving of Irish soda bread contains only 70 calories and 0 grams of saturated fat.8

Another great benefit of Irish soda bread is that anyone can make it. If you follow this easy recipe, you’ll be munching on this healthy loaf in no time.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups low fat buttermilk

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 F and line or lightly grease a nonstick baking sheet.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Gently the whisk dry ingredients together.
  • Add in the buttermilk. With a rubber spatula, gently fold (don’t stir) the ingredients together until everything is just moistened.
  • Fold the dough onto your baking sheet and form it into a round loaf. Dust a bit of all-purpose flour on the top of the loaf (optional) and cut a large “X” about four inches across and ½ inch deep into the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the bread is firm and golden brown.

Slice and enjoy!

Happy Eating

Different breads all have their own time and place: Some are better for sandwiches, and others are begging to be toasted and topped with tomato and mozzarella. Whatever the reason, be sure to check the ingredients list before digging into that next loaf.

For more health news and tips, keep reading here:

Everything You Need to Know About Probiotics (a complete guide)


Sources
1. https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/WholeGrainResource.pdf
2. https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101
3. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2000/document/build.htm
4. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2000/document/build.htm
5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
6. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-8-42
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18317680
8. http://www.diabetes.org/mfa-recipes/recipes/2013-03-whole-wheat-irish-soda-bread.html