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 Best Food Sources of Zinc)

You already know that minerals like calcium and potassium are vital to your health. But did you also 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 And zinc also provide 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 zinc 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 zinc deficiency, it can put your immune system at risk. These are just a few of the other problems that can occur if you have a zinc deficiency.

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 zinc deficiency.

One sign is that you get an upset stomach on a regular basis.4 The reason is that zinc helps your body digest food. If your stomach is giving you problems, it could be due to a lack of zinc.

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 zinc deficiency could be the culprit.5 Weight gain and fatigue are other signs you need more of this vital mineral. A zinc 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

Health Benefits of Zinc

Now, there are several health benefits associated with increasing your zinc 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 zinc 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 zinc 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 of zinc supplementation, 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.

Foods Rich in Zinc

Cereal – A staple of breakfast tables across the country, cereal is high in zinc. While whole grain and multi-grain cereals tend to have the highest amounts, they can make zinc absorption difficult for the body. Cereals that have a lot of sugar counteract any zinc 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 of zinc.

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 of zinc, 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 just because it’s high in zinc. Get your meat in moderation.

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

nuts high in zinc

Nuts – Almonds, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, and hazelnuts contain zinc. An especially good source of zinc is the cashew. A 100 grams serving delivers 6 mg of zinc!

 

Pumpkin seeds – If you eat as little as 100 grams of raw pumpkin seeds you’ll get a whopping 10.3 mg of zinc! But you have to eat them raw. If you roast them they’ll lose their zinc content.

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 of zinc. Be careful, however. As you’ll see in the following section, too much zinc could be just as harmful as a zinc deficiency.

Vegetables – Many vegetables are high in zinc, including peas, lima beans, and soybeans. Just a cup of soybeans will provide 9 mg of zinc, 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 zinc healthy amounts of zinc.

Can You Have Too Much Zinc 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 zinc 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

Think You Might Have a Parasite? Try These DIY At-Home Cleanses

You haven’t been feeling yourself lately. Your stomach hurts and you feel tired all the time. Could a microscopic enemy be at the cause?

Parasites are organisms that need another living organism to survive. Parasites often harm the other organism, or host. Did you know? More than 1,000 types of parasites can exist within or on human hosts.1

Though many people think of parasitic infestations as only happening in third world countries, they are common in all parts of the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control, parasites are responsible for five common diseases in the United States, including toxoplasmosis, Chagas disease, toxocariasis, neurocysticercosis, and trichomonas.2 These diseases affect millions of people each year, with devastating health effects.

Intestinal parasites, such as giardia and cryptosporidium, are also common. They can live for years in the human intestinal tract without any symptoms. When symptoms do appear, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause.

Symptoms of Parasites

Parasites can cause a wide variety of symptoms in their human hosts. Some of the most common symptoms include stomach problems, such as gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.3 Additional symptoms may include problems sleeping, aches and pains, allergies, and anxiety. Some types of parasites may cause an increase or decrease in appetite.

If you’re showing signs of a parasites, a cleanse can help your body get rid of these unwelcome visitors.

DIY Parasite Cleanse

Here are some foods that help your body cleanse itself from harmful parasites:

Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin parasite cleansePumpkin seeds are a simple and delicious method of ridding your body of parasites. A 2012 study done in China showed that eating pumpkin seeds can rid the body of tapeworms.4 Unlike the two main medicines used for treating tapeworms, pumpkin seeds are well-tolerated and readily available.

To use pumpkin seeds for a cleanse, eat about one cup per day. You can eat ½ cup in the morning and ½ cup at night. Pumpkin seeds are great in trail mix, on top of salads or even blended into smoothies.

Garlic

Garlic has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy. It can also effectively kill certain parasites. Several studies have proven garlic’s effects on giardia and many other types of parasites.5 Garlic is also anti-bacterial and antimicrobial.

For parasites, fresh, raw garlic is best. Crush some raw garlic into your salad dressing or mix it with butter on toast. If you don’t like the taste of garlic, you may prefer to take a supplement. Garlic can interact with some medications, such as blood thinners, antiplatelet medicines, and protease inhibitors.6 Consult your doctor about taking garlic if you are taking these medicines.

Probiotics

probiotic parasite cleanseYour body is not only a host to parasites, which can harm you, but also to beneficial bacteria and yeast that help your digestion and many other aspects of your health. These helpful microorganisms make up your gut microbiota. Probiotics are either the same or very similar to the helpful microorganisms that already exist in your gut microbiota.

The health benefits of taking probiotics for stomach problems and yeast infections are well-documented.7 There is also some evidence that probiotics can help fight a parasite infestation. A case study of a 12-year-old girl published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal showed that probiotics can treat the parasite cryptosporidium.8

Probiotics are available as supplements. They are also present in many healthy foods, such as plain yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut. Eating these foods regularly can help you live healthier and parasite-free.

Oregano Oil

oregano oil parasite cleanseOregano oil is essential oil made from the oregano herb. It is commonly available as a supplement. In a 2000 study, researchers gave oregano oil supplements to 14 people who had tested positive for three types of intestinal parasites. After six weeks, a majority of the patients no longer tested positive for the parasites, and most had improved stomach conditions.9

Taking 200 mg of oregano oil as a supplement three times daily for six weeks may help to kill parasites.10 You could also opt to take a few drops of oregano oil each day mixed with water or juice. If you have diabetes, a bleeding disorder, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your doctor before taking oregano.

Papaya Seeds

A 2007 study of 60 Nigerian children found that an elixir of dried papaya seeds and honey successfully got rid of a majority of the kids’ intestinal parasites.11 This method also did not lead to negative side effects. You can purchase dried papaya seeds from large grocery stores or online. You could also eat fresh papaya seeds alone or in a smoothie. Aim to consume about one tablespoon per day.

A Healthy Diet Wards Off Bugs

Make your body less attractive to parasites by eating a healthy diet. Cut out processed simple carbohydrates, such as refined sugar and white flour. Replacing these foods with healthier complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can make your body a less hospitable place for parasites12 Complex carbohydrates also contain dietary fiber, which is necessary for proper digestion.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience severe symptoms, contact your doctor right away. Your doctor can diagnose parasites by blood test, fecal test, endoscopy, colonoscopy, or x-ray.13

Parasites can infiltrate your body and negatively affect your overall health, so if you suspect you’ve been infected, take action as quickly as possible. Try these natural cleanses to clear these unwelcome invaders from your system.

For more tips on digestive health, keep reading:

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


Sources
1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/220302.php
2. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/resources/pdf/npi_factsheet.pdf
3. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/220302.php
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22910218
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103721/
6. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb-interaction/possible-interactions-with-garlic
7. http://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
8. http://pmj.bmj.com/content/80/940/112
9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10815019
10. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/644.html
11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17472487
12. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/intestinal-parasites
13. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/references_resources/diagnosis.html

How Mindful Meditation Helps Digestion (and may improve leaky gut)

Is there an association between meditating and the health of your gastrointestinal tract? Scientific research seems to say that’s the case. In fact, mindfulness, or the practice of being in the moment, can benefit your GI tract in many ways. Read on to find out more about how meditation can benefit your stomach and improve digestion.

What is Leaky Gut?

how to improve digestion

Your gut contains billions of bacteria, yeast, and other microbes. You might think bacteria are all bad, but there are actually many strains that are good for you. They help keep your gut working well, so you won’t have digestive problems. But there are also a lot of bad microbes as well. If the bad/good balance becomes disrupted, you’ll be most at risk for digestive issues, like leaky gut.

When the lining of the digestive tract weakens, harmful microbes can enter, or “leak,” into the body. This can lead to problems so severe that they interfere with your quality of life.

Evidence suggests that meditation can help reduce the chances of leaky gut occurring. As a result, it might also help lower the risk of gastrointestinal disorders.

What the Science Says

Regular meditation practice may play a role in reducing gut problems. In one study, researchers wanted to know if mindfulness meditation could help people with GI problems.

Fifty people with digestive issues participated in the study. They took part in programs that addressed many issues. Among them: cognitive skills, stress reduction, and other behaviors that provide health benefits. All the participants took part in weekly sessions involving meditation. They also practiced meditation at home for between 15 and 20 minutes each day.

According to the results, all the participants showed major improvement in their symptoms. They also reported an improved quality of life and a reduction in anxiety. But these results didn’t stop with the end of the study. Follow-up visits showed that the participants were still seeing benefits three weeks later.1

How Mindfulness Meditation Works

Mindfulness meditation isn’t some recent fad. In fact, people have practiced it for more than 2,000 years. The best way to describe it is a method of focusing the mind on the moment, instead of worrying about the future or past. There are different levels of mindfulness-based stress reduction. If you’re a beginner, you’ll spend about 20 minutes meditating during any one session. But advanced practitioners spend as long as an hour.2

Advocates of mindful meditation say it’s a way to help them deal with anything that happens to them. Whether something good or bad occurs, they’re ready to deal with it. It helps them lead fuller lives, because they’re actually experiencing life.

Popular Types of Meditation

 

Mantra meditation

meditation for stomach problems– This involves staying in a seated position with your legs crossed, usually on a mat. Practitioners will usually repeat some sort of phrase. The most common one is “Om.” But whatever the phrase may be, it helps clear the person’s mind. The mantra, often spoken at a low volume, helps make the person more in tune with their environment.

Transcendental meditation

– Millions of people, around the world, practice transcendental meditation. It’s basically a technique that promotes a state of relaxed awareness. To try it out, sit in a comfortable position and silently repeat a mantra (words) or sound. The typical practice is two times a day for 20 minutes each session.

Spiritual meditation

– This is the form of meditation most associated with praying. People do it to find a deeper connection with their God. Christians, Hindus, and people of many other faiths practice it. Some practitioners choose to enhance their experience by using oils. These include myrrh, cedar, and frankincense.

Movement meditation

– Most people think of yoga when they think of movement meditation. But it can work with most any type of gentle motion. You can practice movement meditation anywhere. Try it while walking around your neighborhood, or working in your garden.3

Why Meditate?

A lot of people meditate, and they do it for a lot of reasons. They’re all looking to find peace, but they also do it to help reduce stress or anxiety. Some use it to improve their focus, so they can be more productive. Still others use it to try and kick bad habits, such as drinking alcohol or smoking. Some meditate to get over a stressful or traumatic experience. Others are seeking an understanding of their life’s purpose.

Meditation Myths (hint: it’s not that hard)

One of the misconceptions about meditation is that there’s only one way to do it. You have to sit in a certain way or put your body in a specific position. The reality is, you need to find the position that you find the most comfortable. Whether that means sitting in your favorite chair or lying on your bed, it doesn’t matter.

There is another common misconception that you need to work to clear your mind. The opposite is actually true. You shouldn’t force yourself to empty your mind. Let whatever feelings, emotions, or thoughts that you have flow. Let them come and go without judging them.

The Bottom Line

Meditation practice is a great way to reduce anxiety. And scientific evidence shows that it can also help improve your digestive health. Try it yourself, and find out how meditation can benefit your gut. Don’t be afraid to start what could be a fruitful, mindful journey.


Sources
1. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-05/mgh-srh050515.php
2. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/07/mindfulness-meditation-empathy-compassion/398867/
3. https://www.gaia.com/article/which-type-meditation-style-best-for-you

Are There Side Effects of Probiotics? (and which type is best)

Advertisements for probiotic supplements are all over the place. It seems that you can’t turn on your television or browse the Internet without seeing one. But there’s a good reason: Millions of people have taken these products, and for many different reasons.

Of course, some want to address a digestive issue. Others are looking for something that will help their overall health.

But whatever your reason, it’s important that you know as much as possible about how probiotics can actually help you before you make your purchase, including are there side effects of probiotics?

So, check out the info and tips below. These will help you discover the right types of probiotics for you and your family.

What is a Probiotic Supplement?

Let’s start with the word probiotic. Simply, it means to promote life.

And probiotics are actually alive. In fact, they’re the beneficial bacteria and other microbes in your “gut” or gastrointestinal tract.

Turns out, there are trillions of little microscopic organisms inside of you. And many of them are good for you, but some of them are quite harmful.

However, when there’s a good balance between good and bad microbes, your digestive system will typically work properly. But if the bad bacteria outnumber the good, it can lead to digestive problems.1

Now, a probiotic supplement is a product that’s designed to provide reinforcements to your supply of good bacteria.

Of course, you can find beneficial microbes in many kinds of foods. These are mainly fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and sourdough bread. But it can be extremely hard to ensure you have enough beneficial bacteria in your gut through diet alone.

That’s why lots of people turn to supplements.

The Benefits of Probiotics

What does science have to say about how probiotics can improve your health? Here are a few reported benefits, backed by solid scientific evidence.

· Respiratory issues – Research shows that probiotic use could help reduce the risk of certain kinds of respiratory concerns… including catching a cold.2 In fact, in one study children were divided into two groups: One group received milk enriched with probiotics and the other received regular milk.
According to the results, the children who drank the regular milk were 17 percent more likely to suffer an upper respiratory infection than the group who drank the probiotic enhanced milk.3

· Constipation – Probiotics can benefit bowel function as well. In one study, people suffering from constipation received two servings of yogurt with probiotic bacteria daily for several weeks. At the end of the study, the participants reported they not only had increased bowel movements but also a reduction in bloating.4

· Feminine problems– Good and bad bacteria not only fight for control of the gut, but also the female reproductive system. When some women take antibiotics or birth control pills, they often develop yeast and urinary tract infections.A probiotic supplement can inhibit some of the bad bacteria that can cause these problems.5

· Diarrhea – Antibiotics can really help nurse you back to health once in a great while, but they can also seriously deplete the number of good bacteria in your gut that results in loose stool. And this condition actually has a name: antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). The lactobacillus group of bacteria found in many types of probiotic supplements have been shown to help relieve many of the symptoms associated with AAD.6

side effects | Probiotic America

· Oral health – Finally, the health of your mouth can actually have a significant impact on your general health—just as there is good and bad bacteria in your gut, there’s also the same in your mouth. That’s why it’s important to support your mouth’s good bacteria with good oral care. Low birth weight and blood sugar issues are just two health problems that have been associated with poor oral hygiene. The Lactobacillus reuteri bacterium has been shown to help strengthen oral health and reduce tooth decay.7

So, now that you know how probiotics can help you, you just need to…

Find the Right Probiotic Product

Now, you probably already know there are thousands of probiotic supplements on the market. It can be difficult to narrow down your choices and find the supplement that’s right for you.

That’s why it’s so important you carefully look at the labels of the products you’re considering. They provide key clues that can give you a good idea of whether or not you’re getting your money’s worth.

You want to make sure the label provides information about the viability of the bacteria contained in each specific product.

Viability simply means whether or not the microbes will be alive when you ingest them. If the label says the bacteria were viable at the time of manufacture, that really doesn’t tell you anything. You have no idea whether or not they’re still alive.

You need to make sure your product labels say something like, “viable until expiration date”.

If you see that phrase or something like it, chances are you’re about to purchase a truly helpful probiotic. Thing is, the microbes inside need to be alive to do their job in your gut. As long as you follow the storage instructions, the product should work.8

Furthermore, you’ll want to check on the number of good bacteria per serving.

This number will be measured in colony forming units, or CFUs. This is the amount of bacteria in a supplement that have the ability to divide and form colonies.

Now, here you’ll probably see a wide range of numbers. Some products offer 100s of millions of CFUs per serving, while others have CFUs in the trillions. Most products will provide anywhere from 15-30 billion.

The next thing you need to know when you’re looking at probiotic labels…

Bacterial Strains

Of course, it’s super important to know the strains of good bacteria in the probiotic products you’re considering. Here are just a few that should be in whatever you eventually purchase.

· Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum)

This is one of the first strains of bacteria that develop in the body. It’s really important when it comes to helping your gut stay healthy and it’s a great strain for helping you metabolize carbohydrates.9,10

· Lactobacillus acidophilus

L. acidophilus is a very important strain of good bacteria. It plays a vital role in inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. Also, it helps ensure that there is the right balance between beneficial and harmful microbes in the gut.11

· Lactobacillus reuteri

This is another bacterial strain that inhibits the growth of harmful microbes. It’s called L. reuteri and it also helps strengthen your immune system. Of course, this can help provide protection against several different kinds of serious illnesses and health issues.12

side effects | Probiotic America

Are Probiotic Supplements Safe?

In general, probiotic supplements are safe for the vast majority of people. In select cases, some people report minor issues like bloating or gas, but that’s about it.

But, no matter what your health may be like, talk to your doctor before taking any sort of probiotic product. They will have a good idea of how ingesting beneficial bacteria could affect your gut.

But your doctor will know something even more important – whether or not a probiotic will interact with any medications you might be taking. So, definitely check in with your healthcare professional.

And remember, when you take a probiotic, you’ll be adding billions of good bacteria to your digestive system. While this is a good thing, you’ll still be affecting the balance of microbes in your gut. It might take a few days for your system to adjust. It’s during this time that you might experience minor bloating and gas.14 But those effects usually subside quickly.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, taking a probiotic supplement can provide many different health benefits. And the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages for the majority of people.

However, you should still talk with your doctor first to make sure it will be safe for you to start a probiotic regimen.

Again, you want to pay close attention to what your body is telling you. If, for example, you’re experiencing side effects after three or four days, talk to your doctor to see if you might need to stop your probiotic regimen.

More ways to add probiotics to your diet:

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

Sources
1 https://www.medicinenet.com/probiotics/article.htm
2 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006895.pub2/abstract
3 http://www.bmj.com/content/322/7298/1327
4 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2007.03362.x/full
5 http://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
6 http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.904.1374&rep=rep1&type=pdf
7 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168160504001552
8 https://isappscience.org/probiotics
9 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10831430
10 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3145055/
11 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1988.tb09312.x/abstract
12 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3871281/
13 https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
14 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/07/probiotics_n_5563618.html

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

Advertisements for probiotics supplements are all over the place. It seems that you can’t turn on your television or browse the Internet without seeing one. But there’s a good reason –

Millions of people have taken these products, and for many different reasons.

Of course, some want to address a digestive issue. Others are looking for something that will help their overall health.

But whatever your reason, it’s important that you know as much as possible about how probiotics can actually help you before you make your purchase.

So, check out our simple probiotics guide with info and tips below. It’ll help you discover the right types of probiotics for you and your family.

What is a Probiotic Supplement?

Let’s start with the word probiotic. Simply, it means to promote life.

And probiotics are actually alive. In fact, they’re the beneficial bacteria and other microbes in your “gut” or gastrointestinal tract.

Turns out, there are trillions of little microscopic organisms inside of you. And many of them are good for you, but some of them are quite harmful.

However, when there’s a good balance between good and bad microbes, your digestive system will typically work properly. But if the bad bacteria outnumber the good, it can lead to digestive problems.1

Now, a probiotic supplement is a product that’s designed to provide reinforcements to your supply of good bacteria.

Of course, you can find beneficial microbes in many kinds of foods. These are mainly fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and sourdough bread. But it can be extremely hard to ensure you have enough beneficial bacteria in your gut through diet alone.

That’s why lots of people turn to supplements.

The Benefits of Probiotics

probiotics benefits

What does science have to say about how probiotics can improve your health? Here are a few reported benefits, backed by solid scientific evidence.

Respiratory issues – Research shows that probiotic use could help reduce the risk of certain kinds of respiratory concerns… including catching a cold.2 In fact, in one study children were divided into two groups: One group received milk enriched with probiotics and the other received regular milk. According to the results, the children who drank the regular milk were 17 percent more likely to suffer an upper respiratory infection than the group who drank the probiotic enhanced milk.3

Constipation – Probiotics can benefit bowel function as well. In one study, people suffering from constipation received two servings of yogurt with probiotic bacteria daily for several weeks. At the end of the study, the participants reported they not only had increased bowel movements but also a reduction in bloating.4

Feminine problems – Good and bad bacteria not only fight for control of the gut, but also the female reproductive system. When some women take antibiotics or birth control pills, they often develop yeast and urinary tract infections.A probiotic supplement can inhibit some of the bad bacteria that can cause these problems.5

Diarrhea – Antibiotics can really help nurse you back to health once in a great while, but they can also seriously deplete the number of good bacteria in your gut that results in loose stool. And this condition actually has a name: antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). The lactobacillus group of bacteria found in many types of probiotic supplements have been shown to help relieve many of the symptoms associated with AAD.6

Oral health – Finally, the health of your mouth can actually have a significant impact on your general health—just as there is good and bad bacteria in your gut, there’s also the same in your mouth. That’s why it’s important to support your mouth’s good bacteria with good oral care. Low birth weight and blood sugar issues are just two health problems that have been associated with poor oral hygiene. The Lactobacillus reuteri bacterium has been shown to help strengthen oral health and reduce tooth decay.7

So, now that you know how probiotics can help you, you just need to…

Find the Right Probiotic Product

Now, you probably already know there are thousands of probiotic supplements on the market. It can be difficult to narrow down your choices and find the supplement that’s right for you.

That’s why it’s so important you carefully look at the labels of the products you’re considering. They provide key clues that can give you a good idea of whether or not you’re getting your money’s worth.

You want to make sure the label provides information about the viability of the bacteria contained in each specific product. Viability simply means whether or not the microbes will be alive when you ingest them. If the label says the bacteria were viable at the time of manufacture, that really doesn’t tell you anything. You have no idea whether or not they’re still alive.

You need to make sure your product labels say something like, “viable until expiration date”.

If you see that phrase or something like it, chances are you’re about to purchase a truly helpful probiotic. Thing is, the microbes inside need to be alive to do their job in your gut. As long as you follow the storage instructions, the product should work.8

Furthermore, you’ll want to check on the number of good bacteria per serving. This number will be measured in colony forming units, or CFUs. This is the amount of bacteria in a supplement that have the ability to divide and form colonies.

Now, here you’ll probably see a wide range of numbers. Some products offer 100s of millions of CFUs per serving, while others have CFUs in the trillions. Most products will provide anywhere from 15-30 billion.

The next thing you need to know when you’re looking at probiotic labels…

Popular Probiotic Strains

probiotic strains
Of course, it’s super important to know the strains of good bacteria in the probiotic products you’re considering. Here are just a few that should be in whatever you eventually purchase.

Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum) – This is one of the first strains of bacteria that develop in the body. It’s really important when it comes to helping your gut stay healthy and it’s a great strain for helping you metabolize carbohydrates.9,10

Lactobacillus acidophilus – L. acidophilus is a very important strain of good bacteria. It plays a vital role in inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. Also, it helps ensure that there is the right balance between beneficial and harmful microbes in the gut.11

Lactobacillus reuteri – This is another bacterial strain that inhibits the growth of harmful microbes. It’s called L. reuteri and it also helps strengthen your immune system. Of course, this can help provide protection against several different kinds of serious illnesses and health issues.12

Are Probiotic Supplements Safe?

In general, probiotic supplements are safe for the vast majority of people. In select cases, some people report minor issues like bloating or gas, but that’s about it.

But, no matter what your health may be like, talk to your doctor before taking any sort of probiotic product. They will have a good idea of how ingesting beneficial bacteria could affect your gut.

But your doctor will know something even more important – whether or not a probiotic will interact with any medications you might be taking. So, definitely check in with your healthcare professional.

And remember, when you take a probiotic, you’ll be adding billions of good bacteria to your digestive system. While this is a good thing, you’ll still be affecting the balance of microbes in your gut. It might take a few days for your system to adjust. It’s during this time that you might experience minor bloating and gas.14 But those effects usually subside quickly.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, taking a probiotic supplement can provide many different health benefits. And the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages for the majority of people.

However, you should still talk with your doctor first to make sure it will be safe for you to start a probiotic regimen.

Again, you want to pay close attention to what your body is telling you. If, for example, you’re experiencing side effects after three or four days, talk to your doctor to see if you might need to stop your probiotic regimen.

Sources
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4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2007.03362.x/full
5. http://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
6. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.904.1374&rep=rep1&type=pdf
7. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168160504001552
8. https://isappscience.org/probiotics
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10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3145055/
11. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1988.tb09312.x/abstract
12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3871281/
13. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
14. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/07/probiotics_n_5563618.html

12 Awesome Benefits of Lactobacillus Acidophilus (including weight loss!)

If you have done any research into probiotic supplements, you’ve likely run across a lot of long, Latin terms. They’re used to describe certain types of beneficial bacteria found in most probiotic products. One of the most important is Lactobacillus acidophilus. That’s a mouthful, to be sure, but this bacteria strain is offers a myriad of health benefits.

What is Acidophilus?

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a type of bacteria that feeds on sugars provided by the food you eat. You want to increase the amount of this strain in your “gut,” or gastrointestinal tract. Lactobacillus acidophilus and other “good” bacteria can help counteract “bad” bacteria. When there’s balance between good and bad microbes in the gut, your digestive tract will usually work as it should. But when the bad ones outnumber the good, you may be at risk for many types of digestive problems.1

Lactobacillus acidophilus is associated with many health benefits. Here are 12 ways this bacteria can benefit your health:

1. Helps With Feminine Infections

There is some scientific evidence that women who take suppositories containing Lactobacillus acidophilus may find relief from bacterial vaginosis. This is a relatively mild infection in most instances, but there are rare occurrences of more severe complications.2

2. Reduces Symptoms of Traveler’s Diarrhea

Everybody has to deal with the frustration of discomfort of diarrhea at one time or another. There is one particularly troublesome version of the condition. It’s known as “Montezuma’s revenge,” or traveler’s diarrhea. It often strikes people who visit underdeveloped countries. These countries often have contaminated water or food. Research indicates that Lactobacillus acidophilus could help reduce symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea.3

3. ReDuCES IBS Symptoms

One of the most common diseases of the gut is irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. This condition can make life miserable, forcing sufferers to head for the nearest bathroom at a moment’s notice. Studies show that Lactobacillus acidophilus helps to ease inflammation in the gut. According to research, the strain helps to reduce the activation of blood platelets. A high blood platelet count is one of the indications of IBS.4

4. May Help Manage Cholesterol Levels

Studies show that Lactobacillus acidophilus may help lower “bad” cholesterol levels.5 In one study, people who took a probiotic containing the strain saw a major reduction in LDL, or bad, cholesterol levels.6 In another study, participants who ate yogurt containing 300 grams of Lactobacillus acidophilus also saw an improvement in their ratios of good vs. bad cholesterol.7

5. Inhibits Allergic Reactions

allergies | Probiotic AmericaThere is evidence that Lactobacillus acidophilus could help people suffering from allergic asthma. This is the most common form of asthma, affecting approximately 60 percent of the estimated 25 million people in the U.S. who have the condition. Allergic asthma occurs when an allergen triggers a reaction. Common allergens include mold, dust, pet dander, and pollen.8

One study suggests Lactobacillus acidophilus may help inhibit an allergen’s ability to trigger an asthma attack.9

6. Boosts Immunity

Your immune system is key to your health. It helps to protect you from infections, and it also helps you heal from an injury. According to research, taking Lactobacillus acidophilus regularly could help strengthen your immune system. In one study, researchers studied children who frequently suffered from the common cold. Those who ate food rich in Lactobacillus acidophilus for three months saw a reduction in their symptoms. According to the study’s results, the children developed colds less often.10

7. Improves Absorption of Nutrients

If your body can’t do a proper job of absorbing nutrients from the food you eat, that can lead to major health problems. Certain nutrients can be hard for us to get from food, such as rutin. However, rutin is in citrus fruits, apples, and black and green tea—which helps promote blood circulation. Research indicates that Lactobacillus acidophilus helps the body absorb rutin, to your benefit.11

8. Protects Against Gut Infections

There are indications that Lactobacillus acidophilus may help inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori. This is a harmful bacterium that can cause peptic ulcers. It’s unclear how H. pylori spreads. Researchers believe unclean water and food may be to blame.12-13

9. Eases Eczema / InHibits ECzema in NewBorns

If your skin becomes itchy, painful, and inflamed on a regular basis, you might have a condition known as eczema. One of the most common forms of eczema is atopic dermatitis. Lactobacillus acidophilus may help reduce the symptoms of this condition.14

In one study, researchers provided a mixture of Lactobacillus acidophilus and other beneficial bacteria to pregnant women. They gave the mixture to the women, as well as their infants, three months after delivery. According to the results, the children given the mixture were 22 percent less likely to develop eczema than those who did not receive it.15 In another study, researchers found that children who received Lactobacillus acidophilus in combination with standard medical treatment showed fewer symptoms of atopic dermatitis.16

10. Strengthens the Gut

The gut contains trillions of bacteria. Again, many of them are good, but many of them are harmful. Lactobacillus acidophilus helps bolster the number of beneficial gut bacteria. It also helps increase the amount of something called butyrate in the gut.17 Butyrate is a fatty acid that is very important for maintaining gut health.18

11. Reduces Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

Lactose intolerance can be a serious issue for some people. It can lead to a host of digestive problems, including diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. It occurs due to an inability to digest lactose, which is a sugar found in many kinds of dairy products. According to a study, Lactobacillus acidophilus could help reduce these symptoms.19

12. Inhibits Acne

Lactobacillus Acidophilus | Probiotic America News

Lactobacillus acidophilus, and other beneficial bacteria in probiotics, might help clear up acne. These beneficial bacteria, according to research, may also help patients better tolerate antibiotics used for their condition. Studies suggest applying probiotics to the skin might help inhibit acne-causing bacteria.20

Other Important Lactobacillus Strains

Aside from Lactobacillus acidophilus , there are other strains of good bacteria that are important for your health. Here are a few strains you should look for in any probiotic supplement you’re considering:

· Lactobacillus rhamnosus –

This strain has also been shown to help reduce the symptoms of IBS.21 It might even play a role in helping to reduce the occurrence of seasonal allergy attacks, such as hay fever.22

· Lactobacillus brevis –

Lactobacillus brevis is found in many kinds of fermented foods. These include yogurt, pickles, and sauerkraut. This strain may help boost the immune system.23 It has also been shown to promote gum health.24

· Lactobacillus gasseri –

There hasn’t been as much research conducted on the benefits of Lactobacillus gasseri, compared to other strains. But, there is an indication that it could help you lose weight. In one study, obese adults taking supplements containing Lactobacillus gasseri lost almost 10 percent of their abdominal fat. They did so over a period of three months.25

How to Get More Lactobacillus Acidophilus Into Your Gut

Lactobacillus acidophilus and other beneficial bacteria are in many fermented foods. These include not only yogurt and sauerkraut, but also sourdough bread, and others. You can find milk enriched with Lactobacillus acidophilus in many grocery stores.

But you can’t get beneficial amounts of Lactobacillus acidophilus only from food. You’d have to eat them almost exclusively to get enough, and this would likely cause weight gain. So, it’s best to supplement your diet with probiotics that include this important strain.

Sources
1 http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/lactobacillus-acidophilus
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24299970
3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17311979
4 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0075664
5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10702159
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7 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25197295
8 http://www.aafa.org/page/allergic-asthma.aspx
9 https://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2013/481651/

10 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22507276
11 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0142376
12 http://www.clinicaladvisor.com/alternative-meds-update/lactobacillus-acidophilus-gastric-infections-autoimmune-conditions/article/463037/2/
13 https://medlineplus.gov/helicobacterpyloriinfections.html
14 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24954372
15 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19840300
16 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20861645
17 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23758634
18 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3070119/
19 http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/specific-strain-lactobacillus-acidophilus-may-relieve-symptoms-lactose-intolerance/
20 https://www.livescience.com/46502-probiotics-hold-promise-skin-conditions.html
21 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2886445/
22 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25899251
23 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4285317/
24 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17577323
25 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23614897