Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Weight?

If you’re looking for ways to maintain your health, you’ve probably done some online research. And odds are good that you’ve run across articles on the health benefits of apple cider vinegar. But did you know that new evidence suggests apple cider vinegar for weight loss might also be a good idea?

The idea that something you have in your pantry right now might play a role in losing weight is exciting, isn’t it? Here’s a look at how apple cider vinegar, or ACV, could help you drop a few pounds – as well as some of its other potential benefits.

How It’s Made?

Apple Cider Vinegar For Weight Loss | Probiotic America
Acetification of Vinegar in a Schützenbach Barrel, 1875

The fermentation process is key when it comes to making the apple cider vinegar you see at your local grocery or health food store. It’s made by crushing or cutting apples and combining them with yeast. The yeast converts the sugar in the apples to alcohol. Bacteria are then added to convert the alcohol to acetic acid.1

Acetic acid is one of the main reasons that people recommend apple cider vinegar for weight loss.2 Here are some of the ways it works:

Reducing Body Fat

A lot more human research needs to be performed on whether apple cider vinegar for weight loss is a good idea. But the early results show promise.

For example, there is some evidence to suggest that acetic acid helps with weight loss by reducing body fat.

According to one study, more than 150 people received either 15 milliliters (ml) of apple cider vinegar, 30 ml of the liquid or a placebo daily for three months. The participants who consumed apple cider vinegar had less abdominal fat and lower body weight than those who drank the placebo.3

Increasing the Sense of Fullness

Another way that apple cider vinegar could help with weight loss is by making you feel fuller. One study included a group of people given bread soaked in apple cider vinegar. The other group received regular bread. According to the results, the participants who ate the vinegar-soaked bread reported feeling fuller than the other group.4

Other Health Benefits of ACV

Additional research suggests that apple cider vinegar may offer other types of health benefits. Here are just a few of them:

Blood Sugar Maintenance

People suffering from health conditions related to increased blood sugar levels, according to one study, had lower levels when they consumed apple cider vinegar along with a high-protein snack shortly before going to bed.5

Potential PCOS Benefits

Apple Cider Vinegar For Weight Loss | Probiotic AmericaApple cider vinegar has been shown to help reduce symptoms in women suffering from a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. This is a hormonal disorder characterized by increased levels of the male hormone androgen, as well as irregular menstrual periods.6

According to one study, women suffering from PCOS saw an improvement in their symptoms after consuming apple cider vinegar daily for 110 days.7 There is also evidence that massaging the liquid into stretch marks after pregnancy could help to reduce both their appearance and their size.8

Anti-Microbial Properties

Research shows that apple cider vinegar is effective in killing two kinds of harmful microbes known as Candida albicans and Enterococcus faecalis.9 Another study showed that the liquid also kills the dangerous E. coli bacterium.10 E. coli can cause serious symptoms, and it can potentially cause kidney failure in older adults and children.11

Reducing Bad Cholesterol

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is known as “bad” cholesterol because it accumulates in the arteries and increases the risk of developing cardiovascular problems.12 There is evidence that apple cider vinegar may play a role in reducing the levels of LDL in people who have high cholesterol readings.13

Diarrhea Relief

The pectin found in apple cider vinegar, according to research, helps to support the beneficial bacteria found in the “gut” or gastrointestinal tract. As a result, it may help to reduce the occurrence of diarrhea in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.14

Skin Health

Probiotic Skin Care | Probiotic AmericaApple cider vinegar contains several organic acids that have been shown to kill Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) bacteria.

P. acnes has been associated with the development of acne.15

The Bottom Line

Is apple cider vinegar a “miracle” weight loss product? No, but ACV is linked to weight loss, and other health benefits. Combined with a healthy diet and exercise, ACV may be helpful in the battle of the bulge.

That being said, ACV is powerful, so always dilute it before you take it. And, if you’re not sure whether you should incorporate it into your daily health routine, check with your doctor first.


Learn more about weight loss:
12 Awesome Benefits of Lactobacillus Acidophilus (including weight loss!)
Want Weight Loss? Drink More Water (+ healthy soda recipe)
Why Psyllium Husk is a Powerful Weight Loss Helper

8.Najafi,S. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine.2015 Supplement, Vol. 5, p110-111. 2p.

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.


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, 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


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


7 Foods to BAN From Your Diet if You Have Thyroid Issues

There’s a fair chance that you have never thought about your thyroid. However, this small butterfly-shaped gland is a vital piece of your endocrine system, helping the body regulate hormones. If you are one of the millions of people living with health concerns, it could be your thyroid – a gland highly sensitive to your everyday diet. Because the entire endocrine system can be sensitive to diet, there are foods to avoid, and also foods that you can add to your health regimen in order to restore proper thyroid function.

What is the Thyroid Gland and How Does it Work?

Located on the front of the neck, this “master gland” is charged with many critical bodily operations. The thyroid gland’s function impacts nearly every cell in your body, and many processes, as it is responsible for the production of essential thyroid hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). To produce these hormones needed to regulate everything in your body from your appetite, to your good mood, and even your deep sleep, the thyroid must find iodine. If there is not enough of it in your bloodstream, the thyroid may not function properly, and you may notice these symptoms of common thyroid dysfunction:

  • The “jitters,” or a feeling of physical nervousness and anxiousness
  • Mental fog, and an inability to focus
  • Changes in your menstrual cycle
  • Gastrointestinal distress like gas and bloating
  • Racing heartbeat or palpitations
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Unwanted weight gain
  • Cholesterol imbalance
  • Enlargement in the front of the neck, at the location of your thyroid
  • Growing intolerance to heat, or hot flashes, or the opposite (cold flashes)

If you notice that you have three or more of these symptoms, avoiding these seven worst foods for thyroid health.

1. Gluten

Many things can cause the immune system to attack your thyroid gland. Gluten is a tiny protein present in grains, however, this substance is added into so many foods today that many people have reported negative symptoms associated with consuming it. Not only is it used in baked goods as a leavener, but it also works as a preservative. That’s why health professionals suggest that gluten is perhaps the biggest culprit of thyroid dysfunction today.1 Seen as an invader by the immune system, gluten leads the body to create large amounts of antibodies in the blood when it enters the intestinal tract.

2. Soy

This term encompasses many different items, all made from the soybean. These can include protein powders, milk, and many vegetarian items like cheeses and meats. However, when people consume so many soy products, they often do not realize it. This can be problematic for the proper function of the thyroid gland, as soy contains phyto estrogenic compounds called isoflavones, which have been scientifically shown to negatively affect thyroid functioning.2

Because soy contains what are known as phytoestrogens (isoflavones), they may cause your body confusion. These compounds mimic natural estrogen hormones produced in your body. For this reason, if you are worried about a healthy thyroid, you may choose to eliminate all soy-based foods including edamame, tofu, and soy sauce from your diet.
thyroid problems | Probiotic America

3. Caffeine

In our fast-paced lifestyles today, many people drink more than just one cup of coffee in the morning. In fact, most people can be found drinking about 3-5 cups of Joe every day. This constant consumption of caffeine boosts energy levels, but it can also have a disruptive effect on your metabolism. Your body’s metabolism is naturally regulated by the thyroid gland. However with so many “boosts,” from caffeine during the day, coffee can disrupt the adrenal glands, causing an overproduction of epinephrine and norepinephrine – hormones that harm your thyroid. This, in turn, produces adrenaline that you do not need in regular day-to-day applications.

Thus, consuming caffeine in large quantities every day could burn out the adrenal glands, and overstimulate the thyroid over time. Not only that, but caffeine also increases blood sugar and insulin levels, which can cause cravings for sugary foods and refined carbohydrates – also overtaxing the thyroid.

4. Alcohol

The thyroid gland plays a vital role in the health of the liver, and its ability to detoxify potentially dangerous hormones in your body. While drinking small amounts of some types of alcoholic beverages can promote good health, too much can harm your healthy thyroid. In clinical studies, alcohol consumption has been directly shown to have a toxic effect on healthy thyroid cells, and this direct toxicity may account for a reduction in thyroid volume.3

5. Sugar

Don’t be fooled by food labels: Sugar goes by over 50 different names, including corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, maltodextrin, maltose, and many more. Is it any wonder that people often don’t realize just how much sugar they are actually eating? When you consume large amounts of sugar, as most do, it can tamper with gut bacteria balance.

Studies have confirmed that eating excessive amounts of sugar allows non-beneficial bacteria in the stomach to proliferate, putting a damper on active thyroid hormone (T3 and T4) production. This shows that gut bacterial balance plays a major role in thyroid health, and that it may also influence the regulation of other hormones.4

thyroid problems | Probiotic America

6. Red Meat

Studies have shown that vegetarian diets are rarely associated with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).5 For this reason, eliminating meat, including ground beef, bacon, and certain cuts of steak, may help reduce your risk of potential thyroid complications.

7. Seafood

Since iodine and heavy metals have a very similar molecular structure, the thyroid often grabs for elements such as mercury, mistaking it for iodine. Seafood tends to be high in these metals, due to ocean contamination. Heavy metals like mercury often prohibit the body from absorbing essential minerals, including zinc, magnesium, and selenium. Mercury also disrupts thyroid hormone production, limiting the amount of necessary T3 and T4 hormones in your body. This makes seafood a hazardous dietary choice for those looking to maintain, or improve their thyroid health.6

Foods to Feed your Thyroid

Talk to your doctor if you feel like you may need a little extra help promoting your thyroid health. Until then, you may want to add these foods to your everyday menu to boost the proper functions of your oh-so-important thyroid gland.

Best foods for your thyroid: Coconut oil, seaweed, kefir, yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, sprouted seeds, filtered water, bone broth, and fiber-rich foods like apples, beans, seeds, and lentils.

The Takeaway

It is so important to take good care of your thyroid gland, because as a central part of your endocrine system, it takes great care of you. While most of the time, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is all you need to keep your thyroid working properly, you may also want to adjust your diet to avoid these seven worst foods for your thyroid. Today, there are so many factors that can mess up the proper functioning of this essential gland, including the natural aging process, immunity problems, stress, and environmental pollutants. So, always try to keep your thyroid humming, by eliminating these foods.

Want more health tips? Keep reading here:

12 Probiotic Foods to Help You Feel Great

1. Chin Lye Ch’ng, MRCPI, M. Keston Jones, MD, FRCP. Celiac Disease and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease. Clin Med Res. 2007 Oct; 5(3): 184–192.
2. Messina M, Redmond G. Effects of soy protein and soybean isoflavones on thyroid function in healthy adults and hypothyroid patients: a review of the relevant literature Thyroid. 2006 Mar;16(3):249-58.
3. Yatan Pal Singh Balhara and Koushik Sinha Deb. Impact of alcohol use on thyroid function. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jul-Aug; 17(4): 580–587.
4. Hays MT. Thyroid hormone and the gut. Endocr Res. 1988;14(2-3):203-24.
5. Serena Tonstad, Edward Nathan. Vegan Diets and Hypothyroidism. Nutrients. 2013 Nov; 5(11): 4642–4652.
6. Offie P. Soldin, Daniel M. O’Mara. Thyroid Hormones, Methylmercury Toxicity. Biol Trace Elem Res. Apr. 2008.

Get Better Abs… By Doing Less, More Effectively (4 tips!)

If you’re into fitness, then better abs are probably one of your continual goals, right? So, you do sit-up after sit-up, plank after plank, but your abs aren’t quite as tight and toned as you’d like them to be. Sometimes, traditional ab workouts just aren’t enough. You may need a little something extra to transform typical ab exercises into that coveted six-pack and a stronger body overall.

Your core muscles go far beyond simply your abdominals, and include all the muscles besides the ones in your arms and legs.1 They offer support, initiate movement, stabilize the body, and make it easier to do a variety of physical activities. The core muscles include deeper muscles that are not visible when performing typical workouts, including the transverse abdominis and the pelvic floor.2 These are also the muscles that ought to be utilized when working towards a more efficient exercise plan.

There are other ways to work your abs than doing rep after rep of crunches or sit-ups. Some of them may even seem counterintuitive, but they are great ways of engaging and activating your ab muscles, which, in turn, make them more toned and defined. Incorporate these tips into your daily ab regimen for a better, more effective workout.

1. Work Your Glutes

Though it may seem odd, flexing your glutes during ab exercises can give you that extra edge to really hone your stomach muscles. Working your glutes has two functions that work your abs. First, it causes hip extension, which helps activate your ab muscles. Second, it causes your pelvis to do a posterior tilt that further activates those same muscles. All this ab activation allows you to get a better, more efficient workout.3

How To Do It: When doing a plank, squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. You will feel your abs tightening and becoming extra tense. This tension will work your abs like nothing else. Strengthening your glutes by doing exercises like squats and lunges will also help to strengthen your core.

2. Focus On Breathing

Simply exhaling – yes exhaling – can have a profound effect on your ab exercises. When you exhale completely and fully before each ab rep, you set your rib cage down, and this helps to effectively activate your ab muscles.4

Breathing deeply each time also helps activate your abs and provides stability. This stability allows all of your muscles to work at their maximum capacity. When doing a plank or crunches, for example, take the deepest breath you can, then blow it out completely. Count each breath as you would count a rep, and focus on making each breath as efficient as it can be.5

3. Engage Your Pelvic Floor

When you engage your pelvic floor, you better work your transverse abdominis. These muscles are at the front and sides of your abdominal wall, layered underneath your obliques, and they are considered an important part of your core. They act as a girdle for your frame and provide excellent stability for your spine. You will generally feel them contracting every time you cough.6

How To Do It: To engage your pelvic floor, as funny as it sounds, act like you’re trying to hold in your pee. Maintain this tension as you do sit-ups and other ab exercises.7

4. Build And Maintain Tension

Developing tension throughout your entire core is essential in building strong muscles and also protecting your lower back. Additionally, it helps build muscles in places that aren’t immediately visible when you look in the mirror, but that are necessary in getting the rest of your abs to get that desired taut and defined look.

How To Do It: Sitting up straight and tall, put your hands on either side of your waist near your lower back and flex the muscles around your waist so that you feel your ribs pull into your center and your shoulders pull back a little. You should also feel a contraction under your hands. It’s important to maintain this tension as you breathe, because flexing can sometimes restrict breathing. This action of flexing and breathing is also known as bracing. Practice bracing as you do your ab exercises to get in a better workout.8

Another way to build tension is simply to flex your abs (like you’re bracing yourself for a punch) while doing your sit-ups and crunches.9

Better abs | Probiotic America

Make The Most Of Your Workout

Small adjustments can help take your standard ab routine to the next level. Try to change things up every once in awhile by incorporating a different tip on alternate days of exercising. But remember, any type of physical activity can potentially cause injury. If you feel excessive pain or discomfort during a workout, stop doing the activity. If pain persists or gets worse, you might want to contact a professional.

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



10 Canker Sore Remedies to Make Them Disappear…Fast!

If you’ve ever had a canker sore, you know how painful they can be. Canker sores are a type of mouth ulcer also called an aphthous ulcer. An estimated 25 percent of Americans have recurring canker sores. While canker sores can be annoying, they are not serious and usually go away on their own within two weeks. 1

What Causes Canker Sores?

The good news is that canker sores are not contagious. The not-so-great news is that researchers are unsure of the exact cause of canker sores. 2 Family history, as well as nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes, food allergies and stress are often associated with mouth ulcers. Mouth injuries, usually due to dental work, may also cause canker sores.

What Do Canker Sores Look Like?

Canker sores are usually small and either oval or round. They often have a white or yellowish center. They occur inside the lips, cheeks, or other soft tissues of the mouth. Some people confuse canker sores with cold sores, but the two are different. Cold sores are blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores can appear outside of the mouth; canker sores cannot. Cold sores are usually smaller than canker sores, and they also tend to heal faster. 3

When you’ve got a canker sore, you want to feel better fast. Here are 10 canker sore remedies to ease your pain and help your mouth heal.

1. Swish with Baking Soda

Household baking soda and water can make an effective mouth rinse for dealing with canker sores. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with ½ cup warm water.4 Swish this mixture around in your mouth for a few minutes, then spit it out. Some people also experience good results by dabbing baking soda directly onto canker sores several times per day.

2. Try Vitamin B12

Many people are deficient in vitamin B12. Since nutrition deficiencies are a possible cause of canker sores, it stands to reason that meeting these deficiencies can help cure them. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that taking a vitamin B12 supplement effectively treated repeat canker sore outbreaks. Study participants who suffered from recurrent canker sores took 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 at bedtime for six months. Participants reported fewer canker sore outbreaks, outbreaks of shorter duration, and less pain. 5

3. Zinc Up!

Zinc is an essential mineral your body needs for good health. Research has shown that patients with recurrent canker sores may have low levels of zinc. For these patients, zinc supplements have been found to decrease canker sores in clinical trials.6 Women need 8 grams of zinc daily; men need 11 grams.7 Many people prefer to take zinc supplements in lozenge form.

canker sore | Probiotic America

4. Chill Out

Just like you’d ice up an injury to help alleviate pain and inflammation, ice can help your canker sore as well. Hold an ice cube on the canker sore until it becomes numb. Popsicles and cold drinks may also help to decrease the inflammation and pain of canker sores.8

5. Pump Iron

Iron is a mineral your body needs to make hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells. 9 Iron deficiency can cause anemia and other symptoms of poor health. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research showed that iron deficiency may cause oral ulcers. 10 How much iron is enough? Men ages 19 to 64 and women ages 50 to 64 need 8.7 mg of iron daily. Women ages 19 to 50 need 14.8 mg. 11 If you’re not getting enough iron in your diet, you may need to take an oral supplement.

6. Reduce Stress

Stress can cause canker sores to flare up, especially in people who are prone to them. A 2009 study showed that psychological stress may be a trigger for canker sores.12 Ways to reduce stress include exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and getting enough sleep.13 Do what you can to alleviate daily stress, and you may have fewer canker sore outbreaks.

7. Mix It Up

When it comes to quick relief, a combination of over-the-counter medications may help ease the pain of canker sores and help them heal more quickly. Some experts recommend a mixture of 50 percent hydrogen peroxide and 50 percent liquid Benadryl as a mouth rinse. Swish the mixture around in the mouth for approximately one minute before spitting out. Take care not to swallow the liquid. Additionally, you can apply a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide directly on the canker sore with a cotton swab several times daily. Follow up by dabbing a small amount of Milk of Magnesia on the sore. Following this regimen should take away some of the pain, allowing the canker sore to heal faster. 14

8. Go SLS-Free

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a cleaning agent found in many toothpaste brands. There is some evidence that SLS can cause or exacerbate canker sores in people prone to them. 15 Try using a toothpaste free of SLS, such as a natural brand.

9. Patch It Up with Licorice Root

Licorice root, a common herbal remedy often used in traditional Chinese medicine, may help heal your canker sore, or at least lessen the discomfort. Scientists at the University of Washington found that an oral licorice root patch alleviated canker sore pain within three days. 16 The patch also caused canker sores to shrink within seven days. Chewable licorice root supplements may also help.

Canker Sores | Probiotic America

10. Snooze Away

There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that getting plenty of quality sleep can help your canker sore disappear. Sure, it’s nice to slumber so you don’t feel the pain, but since stress may trigger these painful sores, and we know getting rest can help alleviate stress, it makes sense to get your ZZZs on. Many parents tell their children that canker sores are your body’s way of telling you to slow down and rest. Seems to make sense!

Having a canker sore can make it painful to eat, drink, and talk. It may help to remember that, even without treatment, your canker sore will likely go away in one to two weeks. In the meantime, try these remedies for less canker sore pain and a quicker recovery.

For more helpful health news, keep reading:

How to Achieve a Healthy Immune System (all-natural hacks!)

The Dangers of Hidden Sugar in Breakfast Foods (6 ‘healthy’ foods to avoid)



Can Probiotics Improve Symptoms of Autism? (what you need to know)

There is some research that suggests harmful microbes in the gut, or digestive system, can worsen some of the behavior issues associated with autism. There are also medical professionals who believe an unhealthy gut microbiome (the collection of microorganisms that make up the gastrointestinal tract) could contribute to the development of autism. Probiotics, or beneficial microbes, could play a role in helping reduce some of these issues.

Continue reading “Can Probiotics Improve Symptoms of Autism? (what you need to know)”

Watermelon Tea Recipe – The Ultimate Healthy Summer Drink

Want to know my number one favorite part of summer? It’s going to the beach in August… hands down.

I like everything about the beach… the warm sand, the gently crashing waves, the salty air…

But most of all, I love the food!

Growing up, going to the beach meant days and days of amazingly fresh, delicious food.

First, we’d get together for a big barbecue one night… then a couple of days later, we’d buy a bunch of fresh tilapia fillets and grill out, watching as the sun set over the water.

Oh boy, it was heaven… And just thinking back on it now makes me hungry!

Even now, when I’m heading to the beach I like to load up the cooler with good things to eat… Things like homemade sandwiches, ice-cold bottled water, and fresh cut fruit.

But there’s one thing I don’t ever bring… I’m talking about soft drinks.

I know it’s tempting to load the cooler with soft drinks — they’re cheap, convenient, and kids LOVE them.

But soft drinks are absolutely packed with addictive sugar. And even if you’re on vacation, all that sugar’s just as bad for you as ever.

Now, skipping the soda doesn’t mean you’re stuck with just drinking water. If you want to sip something refreshing AND sweet, I’ve got just the thing!

Dr. Nelson’s Watermelon Tea Refresher

This is one of my favorite finds… and it’s totally delicious!

This drink is naturally sweetened, refreshing, and perfect for summer — with no unhealthy added sugar or artificial sweeteners in sight.

Here’s all you need to make it yourself –– and if you want to make a full pitcher, just triple the recipe:

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 1 cup green tea, brewed and cooled.
  • 1 cup diced watermelon, seeds removed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 sprig fresh mint
  • 1 cup club soda

1. Add watermelon and tea to a blender, and blend until smooth.
2. Add lime and mint and pulse in blender, until mint is chopped.
3. Add club soda and taste — adjust sweetness as suggested above, then enjoy!

Note: If the Refresher isn’t quite sweet enough for you, try adding a teaspoon of honey (which has some big health benefits of its own) or a splash of 100% apple juice to the mix.

Just make sure to taste it BEFORE adding anything sweet… after all, a ripe watermelon is pretty sweet on its own!

Summer Drink | Probiotic america

So there you go. Pretty simple, right?

I’m really loving this drink… In fact, I’ve started calling it my “Official Drink of Summer!”

And I think you’ll like it, too. So try it out and …


Dr. Cary Nelson 

P.S. If you’re having a cocktail party, I’ve heard my Refresher is amazing when mixed with a touch of vodka or white wine. I haven’t tried it that way myself, but I’ve heard some rave reviews. If you do try it out, remember to always drink responsibly!

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


The Dangers of Hidden Sugar in Breakfast Foods (6 ‘healthy’ foods to avoid)

Breakfast. Some say it’s the most important meal of the day. Indeed, it can jump start our day. A healthy breakfast that’s high in fiber, protein and healthy fats can boost your mood and give you energy all day long.

Continue reading “The Dangers of Hidden Sugar in Breakfast Foods (6 ‘healthy’ foods to avoid)”