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

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

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

Cheese lovers, rejoice! Now you can celebrate the taste, andaccording to new studies—also celebrate its health-boosting nutrients. You see, cheese isn’t just good for building strong bones, like we were taught in school as a kid. Certain types of cheese are chock-full of friendly bacteria, or probiotics, which keeps your microbiome happy and healthy. 1

Continue reading “Cheese Can Improve Gut Health! (find out which types to eat)”

How to Soothe Stomach Ulcers Using Natural Remedies

Stomach ulcers, also called peptic ulcers, are sores in the lining of your stomach. People who have stomach ulcers experience indigestion and burning stomach pain that may come and go. 1 Stomach ulcers occur when the acid in your stomach damages tissue. 2 An estimated six million people in the United States suffer from stomach ulcers each year.3

Continue reading “How to Soothe Stomach Ulcers Using Natural Remedies”

9 Natural Remedies for Gas & Bloating (look in your kitchen pantry!)

Everyone has experienced gas-related bloating at one time or another. It’s a normal part of the digestive process — and even if it’s embarrassing, it’s usually only temporary. But why does this problem occur? And what are the best gas remedies that you can find at home?

Let’s explore this issue and find some real (and simple) solutions:

Continue reading “9 Natural Remedies for Gas & Bloating (look in your kitchen pantry!)”

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

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

Continue reading “How to Prevent Gas (one method may surprise you!)”

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

Microbiome … it sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, but it is very real and very important to your overall health. Scientists have developed this term to describe the vast ecosystem of living microbacteria in your gastrointestinal (GI) system, which includes an estimated 100 trillion living symbiotic microbial cells. Continue reading “How Stress is Destroying Your Microbiome (+ 3 stress-busting tips)”

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame

Dealing with chronic stomach pain? The solution could be as simple as what you’re eating. The Standard American Diet, or SAD, is just that … sad. Today, it is estimated that the average American consumes mostly processed foods, instead of raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These processed foods often come in brightly colored bags and boxes, which is usually a good indication that what’s inside is not so good for you.

Continue reading “Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame”