7 Effective Strategies to Stop Food Cravings

Nothing derails a diet faster than food cravings. Just a few seconds of binging on fatty, sugary snacks can set you back to 0… even if you’ve done everything right for the past week!

So if you’re serious about losing weight, getting a grip on cravings is an essential part of your diet strategy.

Now, I know from my own experience just how persistent cravings can be (even today, I still have a weakness for Heath Bars!)

But there are ways to control your urges… And today, I want to share with you some of the most effective strategies I know of.

Do these consistently, and soon you’ll be in full control of your appetite.

7 Ways to Control Food Cravings

Stop food cravings | Probiotic America

1. Avoid Extreme Hunger

By avoiding extreme hunger, you can prevent food cravings from popping up in the first place.

Here’s how you do it: Always eat at regular times, and never skip meals. When you skip, you’ll only sap your willpower… which leads directly to cravings.

Also keep healthy snacks around – things like almonds, fresh blueberries, and string cheese. For those times you do get hungry, you’ll have nutritious options ready to go.
Stop food cravings | Probiotic America

 

 

2. Reduce Your Stress

Stress plays a major role in triggering food cravings, especially for women.1,2,3

When stressed-out, women are prone to frequent cravings as well as increased appetite, so they eat even more bad calorie – not a good combination! 4

An not only that – stress also raises your levels of the hormone cortisol, which can lead to gain weight, especially in the belly area. 5,6

To reduce stress, exercise at least 3 times per week, and try meditating for 10 minutes at a time each day.

Stop food cravings | Probiotic America

3. Eat More Protein

Eating high-protein diet helps you feel full and satisfied longer.

In one study, overweight teenage girls who ate a high-protein breakfast experienced significantly fewer cravings. 7

And in another study, overweight men who increased protein to 25% of daily calories reduced cravings by a full 60%, and reduced their desire to snack at night by 50%. 8

Increasing your protein intake is easy – just add foods like greek yogurt, almonds, and whey protein shakes to your diet.
Stop food cravings | Probiotic America

 

4. Don’t Grocery Shop Hungry

Going to the grocery store hungry is like putting a kid in a candy store.

You have easy access to any food you crave… and the worst of the worst at right at eye level – sugary cereals, cookies, and candy – to tempt you into buying.

To prevent the sweets from getting to your house in the first place, simply don’t go to the supermarket when you’re hungry!
Stop food cravings | Probiotic America

5. Change Your Environment

When cravings kick in, sometimes all you need to do is put some distance between yourself and the food.

That’s why changing your environment works – get outside and go for a walk, or even hop in the shower to get your mind on other things.

Even if it’s just for a few minutes, it’s enough to get over the urge to eat the things you know you shouldn’t.
Stop food cravings | Probiotic America

6. Eat Nutritious Meals

When the meals you eat aren’t nutritious, it starts a dangerous cycle… and the next time you eat, you’ll want unhealthy food again.

The answer is to eat healthy, balanced meals – include protein, vegetables, whole grains, fruit, and fats with each one.

If you need a guide, the Healthy Eating Plate from the Harvard School of Public Health is a great resource.

 

Stop food cravings | Probiotic America

7. Get Enough Sleep

The hormone “fluctuations” in your system – the natural rising and falling of the chemical throughout the day – play a big role in your appetite.

And when you don’t get enough quality sleep, it disrupts the fluctuations, which can lead to food cravings. 9,10

Studies show that sleep-deprived people are up to 55% more likely to become obese, compared to the well-rested. 11

So get at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night to give your body time to recharge and keep your hormones at a healthy level.

So there you go – 9 strategies for getting a handle on your food cravings, once and for all. And listen, these take a bit of work – don’t expect to have superhuman willpower over night!

The goal is to practice these strategies a little each day, building up your appetite control as you go.

Just stay consistent, and before you know it, you’ll be able to say “No!” to your cravings, whenever they pop up.

Cheers!

Dr. Cary Nelson 

For more health tips and delicious recipes, keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame

Sources:

1. MN, Yau. “Stress And Eating Behaviors. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.
2. Hormes JM, et al. “Chocolate Craving And Disordered Eating. Beyond The Gender Divide? – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.
3. RW, Macedo. “Sweet Craving And Ghrelin And Leptin Levels In Women During Stress. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.
4. Epel E, et al. “Stress May Add Bite To Appetite In Women: A Laboratory Study Of Stress-Induced Cortisol And Eating Behavior. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2001. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.
5. P, Björntorp. “Do Stress Reactions Cause Abdominal Obesity And Comorbidities? – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2001. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.
6. Moyer AE, et al. “Stress-Induced Cortisol Response And Fat Distribution In Women. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 1994. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.
7. Hoertel, Heather A, Matthew J Will, and Heather J Leidy. “A Randomized Crossover, Pilot Study Examining The Effects Of A Normal Protein Vs. High Protein Breakfast On Food Cravings And Reward Signals In Overweight/Obese “Breakfast Skipping”, Late-Adolescent Girls”. N.p., 2014. Print.
8. Leidy, Heather J. et al. “The Effects Of Consuming Frequent, Higher Protein Meals On Appetite And Satiety During Weight Loss In Overweight/Obese Men”. N.p., 2011. Print.
9. Taheri, Shahrad et al. “Short Sleep Duration Is Associated With Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, And Increased Body Mass Index”. N.p., 2004. Print.
10. Markwald, R. R. et al. “Impact Of Insufficient Sleep On Total Daily Energy Expenditure, Food Intake, And Weight Gain”. N.p., 2013. Print.
11. Cappuccio FP, et al. “Meta-Analysis Of Short Sleep Duration And Obesity In Children And Adults. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2008. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

Quick and Healthy On The Go Veggie Bowl Recipe

If you’re trying to slim down, lunch can be downright dangerous.

When you’re busy all the time, sometimes it’s easiest to just grab a drive-thru burger…

Or even skip lunch entirely, and snack on muffins and granola bars all afternoon.

Ugh.

Both of those are terrible options, but… we’ve all been there.

Here’s the good news, though: lunch doesn’t have to be a diet destroyer.

Your midday meal can be a chance to eat very well –

All it takes is a little planning, and a killer recipe like my On-the-go roast veggie protein bowl.

This bowl is packed with fiber, healthy fats, and lean protein – enough to keep you feeling full all the way to dinnertime.

Here’s how to make it:

Roast veggie protein bowl

Ingredients (makes 5 meals)*:

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 2 red bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2.5 cups cooked quinoa

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. In a large bowl, combine all the vegetables with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Add chicken breasts to the mix and toss until well coated with oil and seasoning.
3. Spread mixture on a sheet tray. Roast about 10 minutes before turning vegetables and chicken.
4. Continue to roast until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 and vegetables are tender, about 10-15 more minutes.
5. Divide cooked quinoa into 5 to-go containers, then top with vegetables and chicken.
6. Add one of the sauces in the “variations” section to each dish, and refrigerate until needed. Serve warm or cold.

Variations:

Since we kept this recipe pretty basic, it’s the perfect blank canvas for a flavorful Ranch sauce. Just add a couple of tablespoons (about ¼ cup), and store what’s left in the fridge!

Here’s how to make it:

Veggie bowl recipe | Probiotic America

Healthy Ranch:

This one’s super-easy to make. SImply combine the ingredients below in a mixing bowl:

  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon dried dill
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt.

And if you like a thinner ranch, just add a little skim milk. Oh, and remember to add the dressing to your veggie protein bowl after heating.

So there you go – a healthy and delicious lunchtime meal.

Lately, I’ll make the veggie bowl on Sunday, then divide it up for the rest of the week. With some small tweaks to the seasoning, it tastes fresh every time.

Try it out, and let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Dr. Cary Nelson 

For more health tips and delicious recipes, keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame

Want Weight Loss? Drink More Water (+ healthy soda recipe)

If you’re looking to slim down…

Start drinking more water.

That’s right… According to research published in Annals of Family Medicine, water intake may play a key role in how heavy you are.1

In the study, researchers recorded the height, weight, and hydration level of participants.

What they found was incredible –

The less-hydrated people were 1.59 times more likely to be obese than people who drank enough!

Now, scientists aren’t sure exactly how water intake affects weight…

But they think it may simply make you feel more full during the day, and therefore less likely to overeat.

But there’s one thing they do know for sure – Swapping sugary drinks for water is always a good idea.2

I gave up canned sodas years ago… and have more energy, and less of a belly because of it!

My go-to healthy drink is soda water with lemon… but every so often, I like to switch it up.

And lately, one of my favorites is this Cranberry Lime Sparkler. I call it my healthy soda recipe.

It’s packed with polyphenols and vitamin C – so it’s not only delicious, it’s also good for you.

Dr. Cary’s Healthy Soda Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 4):

½ cup unsweetened cranberry juice (NOT cranberry cocktail – 100% Cranberry juice)
2 tablespoons granulated stevia (or more, to taste)*
¼ cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries
Juice of 2 limes
4 cups sparkling water
Fresh mint, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

*Stevia is the only no-calorie sweetener I like, but feel free to use whatever works best for you and your diet…you can also use a little honey if you’d prefer. Liquid stevia also works – just add 4-5 drops.

Lose Weight | Probiotic America

Instructions:

1. In a small saucepan, combine the cranberry juice, stevia and whole cranberries, and bring to a simmer until stevia is completely dissolved – about 3 minutes.
2. Taste, and adjust sweetness accordingly – it should only be slightly sweet.
3. Let cool completely, and store in the fridge until you’re ready to make your sparkler.
4. Whisk lime juice into the cranberry mixture, and divide between 4 glasses (or pour into a pitcher!)
5. Top with ice, and divide the sparkling water between the 4 glasses. Garnish with mint and lime.

And that’s it! This healthy soda recipe is a tasty and a great way to stay hydrated.

So try it out for yourself, and enjoy.

Salute!

Dr. Cary Nelson 

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.Chang, T., Ravi, N., Plegue, M. A., Sonneville, K. R. and Davis, M. M. Inadequate Hydration, BMI, and Obesity Among US Adults: NHANES 2009-2012

2.Daniels, M. C. and Popkin, B. M. Impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status: a systematic review

Warning: When fruit is dangerous (+ a green smoothie recipe)

Fruit can be a problem. It wilts in the refrigerator. It can go bad within a few days of buying it. And sometimes it’s just plain inconvenient to eat!

BUT… all that being said, fruit is an absolutely crucial part of a healthy diet.

And you should always make sure you’re getting about 4-5 servings of fresh fruit in your diet each day.

Fruit contains essential nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, and folic acid… plus it’s naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories.

And get this: A major study of more than 12,000 adults even shows a link between eating fruits and vegetables… and increased feelings of happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being!1

So healthwise, there isn’t much of a “downside” to fruit. But, like I mentioned, it’s not always the most convenient food to eat.

So it’s no wonder many people find it easier to drink their daily servings, either as juice, or in smoothie form.

And that’s totally fine…

But fruit smoothies and fruit juices are NOT created equal… And I strongly suggest you always choose smoothies.

Why?

Because while they may seem similar, there’s one major difference between juices and smoothies: fiber.

Most juices have had all the pulp removed, which makes the sugar or “fructose” much more concentrated. And when the fructose content is highly concentrated, it can “spike” your blood sugar when you drink it. Over time, these blood sugar spikes can do serious damage — they’ve even been linked to increased body weight, metabolic disorders, and cardiovascular problems.3

But with a blended whole-fruit smoothie, all the plant fiber is included — and that fiber slows down sugar absorption in your body.

The more slowly the fructose is absorbed, the less it will spike your blood sugar. 4

And there’s another big reason fiber is good for you — it actually serves as food to the healthy bacteria in your gut— nourishing them and helping them increase in number. 5

And the more healthy bacteria you have in your system, the more likely you are to be regular, and have less gas and bloating.

Plus… you’ll be less likely to crave unhealthy foods like sugary snacks, pastries, and soda.

So fiber is the way to go… and the reason smoothies are the much better option!

If you’re new to smoothies, don’t sweat it –– they’re actually really easy to make. All you need is a blender, a few healthy ingredients, and about 5-10 minutes.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes. I call it:

Fruit | Probiotic America

“Dr. Nelson’s Sweet and Spicy Green Smoothie”

Ingredients
1-inch knob of ginger, peeled
2 cups kale
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 carrot
1 orange, peeled
1 cup water or unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons flax meal

Instructions
Add everything to your blender, with greens and ginger at the bottom.
Blend until smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little extra water. If it’s too thin, blend with ½ a frozen banana or ½ an avocado.

Benefits – My Sweet and Spicy Green Smoothie is packed with vegetables and fruit: It contains 2 full servings of fruit, and 3 servings of vegetables. So when you drink this in the morning, you’re getting half of your daily recommended values – in one go!

It’s rich in fiber, which is crucial for blood sugar regulation and good for your gut health.

It tastes amazing! And when fruits and vegetables taste like a tropical drink, it’s that much easier to eat more of them each day. So try it out, and let me know what you think. And if you have a favorite smoothie recipe of your own, let me know – I may just try it myself.

After all, I’m always on the lookout for healthy new recipes to try in my “home health lab” (otherwise known as my kitchen)!

For your health,

 

Dr. Cary Nelson

P.S. If the taste of kale is a little too strong for you, try using spinach instead. It’s just as healthy as kale, but has a milder flavor… It can be easier to find at the grocery store, too.

For more health tips and advice, keep reading:

How Stress is Destroying Your Microbiome (+ 3 stress-busting tips)

Why Your Immune System Depends on Your Gut Health

Sources:

1 Mujcic, Redzo and Andrew J.Oswald. “Evolution Of Well-Being And Happiness After Increases In Consumption Of Fruit And Vegetables”. Am J Public Health 106.8 (2016): 1504-1510. Web. 12 Aug. 2016.

2 Livesey G, Taylor R. Fructose consumption and consequences for gly-cation, plasmid triacylglycerol, and body weight: meta-analyses and meta-regression models of intervention studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;
88:1419–37.

3 Tappy, L. and K.-A. Le. “Metabolic Effects Of Fructose And The Worldwide Increase In Obesity”. Physiological Reviews 90.1 (2010): 23-46. Web.

4 “Improving Your Health With Fiber”. My.clevelandclinic.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 12 Aug. 2016.

5 Holscher, H. D. et al. “Fiber Supplementation Influences Phylogenetic Structure And Functional Capacity Of The Human Intestinal Microbiome: Follow-Up Of A Randomized Controlled Trial”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 101.1 (2014): 55-64. Web.

Why Psyllium Husk is a Powerful Weight Loss Helper

Psyllium offers a multitude of serious health benefits for a healthy digestive system. Pronounced “sili-em,” this fiber is derived from the husks of a plant seed known as Plantago ovata. After the seeds are removed from the shell, the psyllium husk is then milled to create a powder. Commonly used as a dietary supplement, psyllium husk powder is an effective and convenient way to increase your daily intake of this essential nutrient.

The National Fiber Council recommends adults consume approximately 32 grams of fiber daily. It’s no surprise that most Americans fall short of reaching this daily recommendation. It can be challenging to consume enough fiber-dense foods. Adding psyllium husk powder is a simple way to reach a daily fiber goal.

Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber

All fibers are not created equal. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble is a term used to describe a substance’s ability to dissolve in water. When consumed, soluble fiber blends into the natural water of your digestive tract, forming a gel-like substance. However, insoluble fiber does exactly the opposite. Instead of absorbing the water in the environment of your GI tract, it actually passes through undigested. As the fiber travels through your digestive system, it acts as a bulking agent, clearing out everything – including toxins, pollutants, and stored waste.

Psyllium husk is comprised mostly of soluble fiber (70 percent), but it provides insoluble fiber as well. Because psyllium husk fiber works this way, it is a wonderful addition to a gut-healthy diet.

Here are just seven reasons to add psyllium husk to your diet, today!

Psyllium husk | Probiotic America

1. Regularity

Psyllium husk fiber works in your GI system to help speed up the digestive process. As it passes through your intestines, and down into the colon undigested, it pushes food through your digestive system faster, thus increasing transit time. Additionally, this may help to remove any lingering waste from your colon, supporting your overall health.1

2. Diarrhea

Use psyllium husk as a home remedy for stomach upset with accompanying diarrhea. To increase the surprisingly fast results of psyllium for diarrhea relief, consume the powder along with yogurt or milk for the additional benefits of probiotics.

3. Acidity

To maintain optimal health, our bodies must maintain a balance between acidity and alkalinity. The stomach has the highest acidity in the body, with a pH of 1.35 – 3.5. This acidity not only aids in digestion, it also protects against pathogens.2

Again, though, maintaining balanced pH levels throughout the body is key. Without it, damage to the lining of the stomach and intestines may occur. Psyllium husk’s high insoluble fiber content may help, by coating the stomach lining, and reducing acidity in the GI tract.

Psyllium husk | Probiotic America

4. Fewer Cravings

If you suffer from hunger pains and food cravings that seem to strike all day long, you may need to find more filling snacks. Psyllium husk powder can easily be added into recipes to increase satiety. As the bulk-forming fiber enters your digestive tract, it promotes feelings of fullness.3

5. Nutrient Absorption

Fiber is the best food to feed hungry, helpful gut bugs. While your digestive tract contains an estimated 100 + trillion living bacteria, some of those tiny bacteria can make you very sick if you let them get out of hand. Kill off the “bad” gut bugs that can cause illness by feeding the “good” bugs (probiotics) what they need to grow: fiber.

Studies have shown that by consuming more fiber, prebiotic microbacteria in the gut flourish. This can lessen GI inflammation and promote better nutrient absorption through the intestines.4,5

6. Piles Relief

Because psyllium husk softens stool and makes the digestive process easier, it is also known to reduce the pain of swollen blood vessels around the anus and rectum. For those suffering from “piles,” commonly known as hemorrhoids, the added fiber may really help to reduce pain and irritation of bowel movements.

7. Difficulty Passing Stool

Most people today aren’t getting enough water. The right amount is different for everyone, but what you may not realize is that if you are thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated. This can take a toll on the proper function of the digestive system. For people suffering with pain associated from passing dry stools, psyllium husk may help. Because of the high content of insoluble fiber contained in this plant-based fiber, it holds water inside the GI tract, making stools easier to pass.

Fiber is an essential nutrient needed for proper digestion and a healthy body. While some forms of fiber can be overly-binding (including psyllium), it is highly recommended that you aim to drink at least 8-10 8-ounce glasses of water every day to see how your body reacts to psyllium husk fiber. From there, you can consume fiber every day to fuel optimal digestive health!

Note: As with any new health regimen, check with your doctor before adding psyllium husk to your diet.

Dr. Cary Nelson

For more health news, keep reading:

How Stress is Destroying Your Microbiome (+ 3 stress-busting tips)

Why Your Immune System Depends on Your Gut Health

Sources:
1. National Fiber Council. About Fiber. Are you getting your fill of fiber? http://www.nationalfibercouncil.org/af_are.shtml

2. Gerry K. Schwalfenberg. The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? J Environ Public Health. 2012; 2012: 727630.

3. Clark MJ, Slavin JL. The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: a systematic review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(3):200-11.

4. Shiu-Ming Kuo. The Interplay Between Fiber and the Intestinal Microbiome in the Inflammatory Response. http://advances.nutrition.org/content/4/1/16.full

5. Krishnan S, Rosenberg L, Singer M, et al. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and cereal fiber intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in US black women. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:2304-9

Are You a Soda Addict? (the truth about sugar revealed)

Are you slowly killing yourself by too much sugar? As disturbing as that sounds, millions of Americans are doing this every day. And even though we doctors constantly talk about the dangers of too much soda (and sugar)…

Too many people don’t get how dangerous sugar really is!

High sugar consumption is linked to all kinds of serious health problems, such as:

  • Addiction and Craving

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Tooth Decay

  • Elevated Cholesterol

  • Diabetes

But… scientists have discovered another, even more serious side effect:

HEART DISEASE.

Yes… Heart Disease.

According to research published in the esteemed Journal of the American Medical Society, eating too much sugar can significantly increase your risk of death from heart disease.1

The joint study, conducted by a team of scientists from the CDC, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Emory University, looked at people’s sugar habits in detail.

Here’s what they found:

People who get between 17-21% of their calories from sugar are at a far greater risk for heart disease, compared to people who eat less…

38 percent higher, in fact!

But the findings get even more extreme…

For the people who ate the most sugar (more than 21% of their daily calories)…

Their risk for heart disease shot up to more than double that of the people who ate the least sugar!

So when I tell you to avoid excessive sugar, I’m not just talking about staying slim… I’m trying to help you stay alive!

And thankfully, word is spreading and people are cutting back on unhealthy foods like sugary cereals, pastries, and candy.

But… there’s one area where I still see people damaging their health with sugar:

sugar addict | Probiotic America

Soft Drinks.

Soft drinks are bursting with added sugar. But most people have no idea just how much is in there.

Here are the facts: A 12oz can of Coke contains about about 9 teaspoons of sugar.

But according to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of daily sugar you should eat is:

  • 9 teaspoons per day for Men

  • 6 teaspoons per day for Women

In other words, a single serving of Coke equals your entire daily allowance for sugar if you’re a man…

And if you’re a woman, that one little can will to put you 50% over the daily limit!

See how sneaky the sugar in soda can be?

So you can understand why cutting out soft drinks (or at least cutting back) is the smart thing to do for your health! And just because you ditch soda doesn’t mean you have to live on tap water alone…

There are many delicious options for staying hydrated and refreshed. Some of my favorite sugar-free drinks are fruit-infused water, lime-flavored seltzer, and pure coconut water.

Now, if you’ve been a diehard soda drinker all your life, making the switch could take some time. But I guarantee you it’s worth it.

P.S. How are your soda habits? Are you trying to cut back, or look for alternatives? Please be honest and leave your comments below this article… because the more we know about people’s sugar habits, the easier it will be to find solutions.

Dr. Cary Nelson

For more health news, keep reading here:

How Stress is Destroying Your Microbiome (+ 3 stress-busting tips)

Why Your Immune System Depends on Your Gut Health

Sources:

1. Yang, Quanhe et al. “Added Sugar Intake And Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults”. JAMA Internal Medicine 174.4 (2014): 516. Web. 21 July 2016.

Breakfast Myth Exposed (new study says it’s bad for you!)

Here’s something shocking:

Each and every morning, you may be doing something dangerous for your health, without even realizing it.

It’s something you were likely told is good for you…

But may actually be making you heavier than you should be… sapping your energy… and even making you feel depressed.

I’m talking about the “breakfast myth.”

Continue reading “Breakfast Myth Exposed (new study says it’s bad for you!)”

Stretch Your Way to Digestive Health (3 easy yoga poses)

Digestion problems affect an estimated 70 million Americans. They include everything from irregularity to diarrhea and vomiting, but no matter what the issue is, there may be a simple solution.

It’s as easy as a toe touch.

Okay, maybe not that simple – but almost.

While it can be intimidating to take a yoga class– you don’t have to. In fact, you can gain all of the benefits of stretching and deep breathing right at home.

Just try these simple yoga poses (known as “asanas”) when you have a few moments to stretch. It could make all the difference in your digestion.

Here are three yoga stretches that helps with digestive problems:

stretches to relieve stomach pain | Probiotic America

1. Dandasana (Staff Pose)

Dandasana is super easy to do, so it is a great pose for beginners. Use this posture to lengthen the spine, and open the chest and torso to stimulate the digestive process.

To perform Dandasana, sit with your legs fully extended out in front of you. With your palms, place the hands deep into the floor at the sides of your body. Bring your elbows close to your ribs. Ensure that your spine is straight, and that your posture is aligned. Direct your gaze forward.

As you sit in Dandasana, take 3-5 minutes to practice deep breathing. To do this, inhale through both nostrils and fill your belly with breath. Exhale and blow the air out of your mouth. As you exhale, you may choose to engage your core by squeezing your thighs together and pointing your toes inward, closer to your body.

2. Bharadvaja’s Twist (Pose Dedicated to the Sage Bharadvaja)

This is (literally) a new twist on an ancient asana. Using the traditional seated position of Bharadvajasana I, this pose includes and additional twist to further stretch the spine and torso while opening the belly to improve digestion. To perform Bharadvaja’s Twist, begin in Dandasana pose. Then, shift your weight to the right side of your buttocks. Bend the knees inward towards your body, and then bring both legs over to the left side. Rest your legs on the floor and place your right foot on your left inner thigh.

Hold that pose and then inhale. On the inhalation, elongate your spine. Imagine it extending into the floor and upwards, toward the ceiling. As you exhale, twist the upper part of your torso to the right, placing your right hand on the floor behind you to support yourself. Rest your left hand on your outer right thigh, and turn it palm up.

Draw your shoulder blades down, and inward. There will be a slight bend in your back. Twist your spine from your tailbone to the crown of your head. On every twist, look over your shoulder, turning your gaze towards a wall or other focal point. Hold that position for up to one minute. Release the twist slowly, exhaling as you unwind your torso. Return to center in Dandasana pose. Then, repeat Bharadvaja’s Twist on the opposite side.

yoga to improve digestion | Probiotic America

3. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

This pose is a wonderful chest opener, and it also works well to open the torso and ease digestive problems. To perform Bhujangasana, lie on your stomach with your legs fully extended behind you. Keeping the tops of your feet shoulder width apart, place your hands under your shoulders. Face your fingertips forward, and bring your elbows close to your body. Inhale as you lift your head and chest off of the floor, gently pushing your hands into the ground. Keep your lower ribs on the floor, and slowly push your shoulders backwards.

Inhale deeply, filling your chest with oxygen. As you inhale, bring your gaze to the sky and feel the natural extension of your spine. Do not force the backbend. Only straighten your arms if you are able to. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds. Release as you exhale slowly, and lower your chest back to the ground. Turn your head to the right, and rest your left ear on the mat. Lay your arms at your side and relax your body until you feel able to stand up comfortably.

Breathe Your Way To Digestive Health

Deep breathing techniques, an intrinsic part of yoga, aren’t just great for stress reduction, they are also like a massage for your vital digestive organs. Because taking repetitive deep breaths moves your diaphragm and opens the ribcage, it increases transit time for bowel movements, and helps deliver essential nutrients throughout your body. This can help to stimulate the digestive process, easing digestive problems.

So, get off of your asana, and try these three yoga stretches for a healthier digestive system! They are easy to do, even while you’re watching TV.

For more tips on achieving optimum digestive health, keep reading here:

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame

Want a Healthy Belly, Both Inside and Out? Try these 4 Foods

7 Amazing Probiotic Foods to Add to Your Diet

The bacteria found in your gut have a major impact on your digestive functioning and much more. They not only help bolster the immune system, they even have an effect on your behavior and other aspects of your overall health.1 In order to help make sure you have plenty of beneficial bacteria in your system, you need to eat as healthy as possible.

These seven incredibly probiotic-rich foods are some of the best you can eat in order to boost the number of good bacteria in your digestive tract.

1. Kefir

Kefir is full of the beneficial Lactobacilli strain of bacteria. In fact, the Turkish translation of the word keif is “good feeling.” This Eastern European drink is a combination of kefir grains and milk. Some people compare the taste to that of liquid yogurt. Kefir is not only a great source of good bacteria, it is also rich in calcium and antioxidants.

Antioxidants are important because they help to not only slow damage to cells but, in some instances, they can even prevent that damage. They control free radicals, which are the archenemies of cells because they start chain reactions that can be fatal. However, antioxidants stop this reaction.

2. Kombucha

This is a type of tea that is usually green or black in color and has a tangy taste. Many people prefer to add fruit or even herbs to kombucha tea in order to enhance the flavor. Stop in to a nearby farmer’s market or a natural food store and you’ll more than likely be able to find it.

Kombucha contains yeast, along with a great deal of beneficial gut bacteria. It has been associated with a stronger immune system as well as increased liver and digestive tract health. This tea also contains B vitamins that help improve the functioning of the nervous system and strengthen skin, nails, and hair.

3. Sauerkraut

Not only is sauerkraut an indispensable part of a Reuben sandwich, it also contains probiotic bacteria and is a good source of fiber.2 Sauerkraut is also a source of vitamin C, which helps keep cells healthy and prevents the wrinkling of skin.

4. Yogurt

This is one of the best sources of probiotics, filled with beneficial cultures. You need to be careful when purchasing yogurt, however. Many brands contain artificial sweeteners and flavors that can help offset some of the nutritional value.3

5. Miso

This is a soup popular in Japan that consists of a stock that includes fish and dried kelp. When combined with miso paste, miso soup is the result. Miso helps to replenish the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut, and it also helps digest other food in the intestine. But it does a lot of sodium, which could be a problem if you’re on a restricted diet.

6. Tempeh

Made from cooked, fermented soybeans, tempeh has a flavor that is comparable to nuts. It’s not only filled with probiotics, it also contains vital amino acids. Tempeh is also an excellent protein source.

Probiotic foods | Probiotic America

7. Kimchi

Kimchi is closely related to sauerkraut. In fact, it’s the Asian version of the dish. While it has a lot of good bacteria, it’s also very spicy.

Consuming kimchi may also benefit other aspects of your health, including brain and skin health.4

So the next time you’re at the store, check out some of these products. It’s always a good idea to add probiotic-rich foods to your diet whenever possible. Your gut – as well as the rest of your body – will thank you.

Dr. Cary Nelson

Want more useful health tips? Keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame

Sources:
1. Forsythe, Paul. “Mood And Gut Feelings”. N.p., 2010. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.

2. “7 Must-Eat Fermented Foods For A Healthy Gut – Eatingwell”. Eatingwell.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.

3. Maskell, James. “Top 10 Probiotic Foods To Add To Your Diet”. mindbodygreen. N.p., 2013. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.

4. Park KY, et al. “Health Benefits Of Kimchi (Korean Fermented Vegetables) As A Probiotic Food. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2014. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.

How to Prevent Gas (one method may surprise you!)

Farts … they’re at the center of hundreds of jokes, but flatulence isn’t so funny when you’re the butt of the joke. Unwelcome, unexpected flatulence isn’t just unpleasant and embarrassing – it can be downright revolting. Sneaking out a little gas during the day is one thing (we’ve all been there), but if you are troubled by recurring flatulence – passing gas more than 20 times a day – that always seems to creep up in the worst situations, and at the worst times, you aren’t alone.

It is estimated that approximately 15-30% of Americans suffer from flatulence, and while symptoms vary from person to person, it is common in both men and women.1 Excessive flatulence can be a major source of anxiety, understandably. Let’s get to the root of what’s behind this normal bodily function, what it means for your overall health, and how you can potentially prevent gas.

What is Causing My Flatulence?

Common causes of recurring gas include swallowing air during meals, constipation, acid reflux, over-the-counter medicines, prescription drugs, dietary supplements, hormonal changes, and genetics.

Some amount of intestinal gas is normal, but excessive amounts can cause physical and emotional distress for a number of reasons. Follow
these nine simple, effective tips for stopping gas before it starts:

prevent gas | Probiotic America

1. Change Your Diet

You may not realize that the foods you are eating can cause your flatulence. Stop bad gas in its tracks by cutting out these gas-causing foods: beans, legumes, apricots, bananas, melons, peaches, pears, wheat bran, eggs, milk, sugar, fried foods, carbonated beverages, and most packaged foods like bread, cereal, and salad dressing. The amount of gas that these foods produce as you eat them will vary from day to day and person to person. As a general rule, they usually produce gas with odor.

Note: Any foods that contain sulfur will cause gas. These include cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

2. Chew Slowly

Being in a hurry is part of regular life, but don’t be in a rush when you eat, if you can help it. Seek out healthy foods, and eat them as slowly as possible. Studies have shown there are many benefits to chewing slowly – you burn more calories, and you feel more full. While there is no clinical evidence that slowing down your chewing can help to reduce gas, it might help cut back on how much air you’re swallowing as you chew. Swallowing excess air is a leading cause of flatulence.

3. Address Irregularity

If you struggle to maintain optimal digestive health, you probably are quite familiar with excessive flatulence. Check with your doctor to see if common stomach upsets like acid reflux, bloating, or irregularity could be causing your recurrent flatulence. Oftentimes, additional GI problems are associated with extra-smelly gas.

prevent gas | Probiotic America

4. Check Your Meds

When you are sick, you probably head out to the local pharmacy and pick up what you need to feel better. This may include any type of OTC (over-the-counter) medicine, or even a prescription from your doctor. However, what you may not realize is that both OTC and prescription medicines can cause gas, bloating, and other unpleasant side-effects to your digestive tract. Always read the indications on your medications carefully. Some medicines should be taken with food, in order to prevent a gassy stomach.

5. Feeling Hormonal?

Changes in your hormone levels happen for a variety of reasons. These can include everyday stress, poor sleep, weight gain, adolescence, menstruation, pregnancy, and perimenopause. Your body contains many different hormones produced by the endocrine system which includes your thyroid and pituitary gland, ovaries, adrenals, testicles and pancreas.

During times when your hormone levels are high, you may want to consider consuming more foods that support proper endocrine system function.
These include lignans, flaxseed, coconut oil, sesame oil, avocado, ashwagandha, and whole grains, as they provide natural hormone-mimicking compounds which may help rebalance your hormone levels and reduce flatulence.

6. Try Charcoal

One of the best cleansers on the planet, this substance has been used for centuries as a water filter. Today, you can use charcoal to reduce the smell and frequency of your flatulence. One study revealed that taking activated charcoal was effective in reducing both gas and accompanying symptoms, including bloating and abdominal cramps.2
Other studies have shown that using external devices containing charcoal, including briefs made from carbon fiber, helped to reduce the odor associated with flatulence.3, 4

Activated charcoal can be taken as a dietary supplement in a capsule, as a powder, or in pre-measured, water-cleansing tablets.

7. Take Probiotics

Many of the most common causes of digestive problems, including gas, bloating, diarrhea, and other issues, can be reduced by getting more probiotics into your diet. While you may not realize it, your gastrointestinal tract contains over 100 trillion living microbacteria. In order to keep those little buggers happy, you must consume a good amount of probiotics. Also known as the “good” type of gut bacteria, you can find these beneficial strains of microbacteria in foods like apples, bananas, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, microalgae (spirulina), miso soup, and kimchi.

Studies have confirmed that adding more probiotic bacteria to your gut plays an important part in the pathophysiology of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and, for this reason, it may help with bloating and flatulence.5

prevent gas | Probiotic America

8. Give Yoga a Whirl

It may sound a little hippy-dippy, but you can do yoga to help reduce flatulence. It’s true! And there’s no need to venture into a funny-smelling yoga studio to practice with a guru, either. Just try a few simple asanas (poses) at home, in your most comfortable spot.

Here’s one for you to start with – the Virasana pose:

  • Kneel down on the yoga mat with your thighs perpendicular to the floor.
  • Be sure that the top of your feet are flat on the ground.
  • Bring your inner knees together, and slide your feet away from each other – slightly further than hip-width apart. Point your feet in line with your shin bones.
  • Pull your calf muscles back, and rest your buttocks between your feet.
  • Check that your pelvis is at a 90-degree angle with your thighs.
  • Sit back with your spine straight.
  • Stay in Virasana pose for 2-3 minutes, and allow your breathing to deepen. Inhale through your nose into your belly, and then exhale through your mouth until the pose becomes comfortable to sit in.

Performing this, and other yoga poses, is a simple, at-home way to release trapped gas and reduce bloating. So, sneak in an asana when you can, at the workplace or even at home, so you can breathe easier.

You can stop flatulence from holding you back with that uncomfortable, embarrassing blast that always seems to happen at the wrong time. Just follow these nine tips. Everyone has a certain amount of gas, but this will help you stay within the norm!

For more health related news and helpful tips, keep reading:

Why Your Immune System Depends on Your Gut Health

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

Sources:
1. Bagher Larijani, Mohammad Medhi Esfahani. Prevention and Treatment of Flatulence From a Traditional Persian Medicine Perspective. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2016 Apr; 18(4): e23664.

2. Jain NK, Patel VP. Efficacy of activated charcoal in reducing intestinal gas: a double-blind clinical trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 1986 Jul;81(7):532-5.

3. Effective Management of Flatulence. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Jun 15;79(12):1098-1100.

4. Ohge H, Furne JK, Springfield J, Ringwala S, Levitt MD. Effectiveness of devices purported to reduce flatus odor. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005;100(2):397–400.
5. Elizabeth C. Verna. Use of probiotics in gastrointestinal disorders: what to recommend? Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2010 Sep; 3(5): 307–319.