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.

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

What is Causing My Flatulence?

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

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

prevent gas | Probiotic America

1. Change Your Diet

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

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

2. Chew Slowly

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

3. Address Irregularity

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

prevent gas | Probiotic America

4. Check Your Meds

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

5. Feeling Hormonal?

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

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

6. Try Charcoal

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

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

7. Take Probiotics

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

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

prevent gas | Probiotic America

8. Give Yoga a Whirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Your Immune System Depends on Your Gut Health

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

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

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

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

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

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. This microbiome can always be found in the gut, and can also be found in places like your mouth and skin. 1

The role of the microbiome in your health is not limited to your gastrointestinal system. In fact, the trillions of bacteria are involved in just about every aspect of your overall health including digestion, immunity, detoxification, cardiovascular health, mental function, dental health, weight gain, your mood and so much more!

The proper function of your healthy gut microbiome can easily be influenced by many factors including antibiotics, illness, aging, dietary habits, stress and other lifestyle factors. If any of these factors negatively affect your body, they can change the composition of your harmonious microbiome, and that can rapidly become harmful. 2

Stress and Your Gut Microbiome
The 100 trillion (+) living bacteria in your microbiome have a mind of their own! When they want to eat sugary foods, you want to eat sugary foods. When they want deep-fried foods, you want deep-fried foods. When they want to be depressed, you get depressed … and so on. Scientists call this the “gut-brain-connection” and it is why numerous studies have shown the microbiome’s ability to influence the stress response in both humans, and animals. 3

Here are just 3 ways stress is destroying your microbiome:

1. It Damages Your Feel-Good Chemicals.

The Enteric Nervous System, ENS is a part of the autonomic nervous system of your body, and it is located mostly in the gut. Scientists have called this the “second-brain” as the microbiome has so many similarities to your actual brain. In fact, your gut is home to many of the same chemicals as your brain, including these neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine. 4

Did you know that a whopping 95% of your serotonin (the “feel good” chemical) is found in your gut – not your brain?! 5

That means if you suffer from prolonged periods of stress you may not just be damaging your gut health. Your mood could suffer too, as exposure to stress has been shown to negatively affect gut-brain interactions. 6

2. It Alters Intestinal Permeability.

You have probably heard the term “leaky,” used before, but that’s one word you don’t ever want to hear your doctor use to describe your gut. Many people suffer with a loss of strength in the epithelial cells of their intestinal walls, which leads to the aforementioned “leaky gut.” Recent research has shown that one of the effects of chronic psychological stress on the gut barrier includes an increase of intestinal permeability, which can cause leaking of the gut into your bloodstream. 7

3. It Lowers Your Immunity.

The microbiome is home to trillions of living (and dying) microbacteria, and those little buggers are your first line of defense against foreign invaders that can threaten your health. Without a happy, and balanced microbiome you would not be able to fight off common infections like a cold or the flu.

Studies have shown that when people are under stress, they have lower levels of sIgA – an immunoglobulin essential to high immunity. 8

Another study showed that relaxation exercises, on the other hand, actively increase sIgA production. Just one more reason to take a yoga class or practice relaxation breathing techniques! 9

How Can I Reduce My Stress Levels?
Stress is no joke. It can deplete the strength of your immune system, damper the health of your skin, destroy good circulation, and even increase your risk of mortality. One study showed that high amounts of stress were associated with increasing the risk of premature death by 43%. 10

microbiome | probiotic america

Reduce your stress with these 3 tips:

1. Cut Out Alcohol.

Most people turn to drugs or alcohol when they feel stressed in attempts to feel better. However, these substances are only a temporary fix, and can quickly add to your problems, only increasing stress overall.

Get Support. There are plenty of people, online groups, and social communities available to help you get through stressful times.

2. Take Good Care of YOU.

The fast-paced world that we live in today can take a lot out of you! Most people report not only being stressed during the day, but actually experiencing chronic stress levels throughout their daily lives. But you don’t have to let stress drag you down! Always try to eat a healthy, balanced diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and always take a timeout for a break if you feel overly stressed. It’s worth it! 11

3. Stress is a useful response that originated with our paleolithic ancestors.

As part of the fight-or-flight survival response to environmental threats, stress is not a reaction that should last for more than a few minutes. However, many people today experience chronic stress – bouts that can last days, weeks, or even years. This type of stress results in alterations to the microbiome and thus a brain-gut connection that can send you the wrong signals. So, follow these 3 stress-busting tips to keep all of your little buggers happy, and healthy!

Dr. Cary Nelson

Want more health tips? Read More:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

Sources
1. Luke K Ursell, Jessica L Metcalf. Defining the Human Microbiome. Nutr Rev. 2012 Aug; 70(Suppl 1): S38–S44.

2. Yu-Jie Zhang, Sha Li. Impacts of Gut Bacteria on Human Health and Diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Apr; 16(4): 7493–7519.

3. Winnie-Pui-Pui Liew, Jia-Sin Ong. Gut Microbiome and Stress. Volume 28 of the series Microbiology Monographs pp 223-255.

4. The New England Journal of Medicine. Mechanisms of Disease. Franklin D. Epstein, M.D., Editor. 1996.

5. Doe-Young Kim, M.D., Michael Camilleri, M.D. Serotonin: a mediator of the brain–gut connection. The American Journal of Gastroentrology. 2000.

6. Konturek PC, Brzozowski T. Stress and the gut: pathophysiology, clinical consequences, diagnostic approach and treatment options. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2011 Dec;62(6):591-9.

7. John R. Kelly, Paul J. Kennedy. Breaking down the barriers: the gut microbiome, intestinal permeability and stress-related psychiatric disorders. Front Cell Neurosci. 2015; 9: 392.

8. Renate Deinzera, Christian Kleineidama. Prolonged reduction of salivary immunoglobulin A (sIgA) after a major academic exam. International Journal of Psychophysiology. Volume 37, Issue 3, 1 September 2000, Pages 219–232.

9. Laura A. Pawlow, Gary E. Jones. The Impact of Abbreviated Progressive Muscle Relaxation on Salivary Cortisol and Salivary Immunoglobulin A (sIgA). Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. December 2005, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 375–387.

10. Abiola Keller, Kristin Litzelman. Does the Perception that Stress Affects Health Matter? The Association with Health and Mortality. Health Psychol. 2012 Sep; 31(5): 677–684.

11. Coping with Stress. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2016. Accessed February 23, 2017.

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”

Why Your Immune System Depends on Your Gut Health

What comes to mind when you envision your immune system? You might see it as a sort of armor, surrounding your body and keeping harmful microorganisms from penetrating the skin and assaulting your organs.

But you’d be wrong.

The human immune system isn’t an external barrier at all. Rather, it’s a complex internal network of microbe-fighting energy production. And it’s capable of manufacturing the ammunition necessary to attack and destroy potentially harmful invaders. Whether it’s healing a paper cut or fighting off a serious illness, your immune system is always at work.

This hub of defensive activity is centered within the digestive system. In fact, up to 80 percent of a person’s immunity can be found in the gut. The population of microbes living in the digestive tract, collectively known as the gut microbiota, is where microscopic gladiators are produced. They are then distributed throughout the body, where they fight to maintain maximum immunity against disease, viruses, and other maladies.

Gut: The Immunity Nerve Center

Inside the large intestine, there is an inner barrier which protects against potentially harmful agents. This is called the mucosa, and its surface membranes constitute an adaptive immune system – which, as its name implies, constantly changes to defend against various foreign microbes as they attack the gut. The lymphoid tissue in these membranes makes up the largest single mass of such tissue in the entire body. Because the gut microbiota continuously “communicates” with the immune system, the two work together to identify and combat pathogens which live in the digestive tract.

When a pathogenic invader is detected, cells located in the wall of the intestine produce and secrete antibodies that specifically target the unwanted microbe. This is how pathogens get destroyed by the immune system while the beneficial microbes in the gut remain protected. And, when this lymphoid tissue in the intestine’s mucosa initiates this type of immune response, other areas of lymphoid tissue throughout the body often follow suit, repelling similar attacking organisms elsewhere.

immune system | Probiotic America

Probiotics: Immunity Soldiers

One of the key components of the gut microbiota and its support of the immune system is the trillions-strong group of so-called “healthy” bacteria known as probiotics. Though researchers are still trying to figure out precisely how probiotics work, the end result is that these bacteria contribute greatly to optimal health – including providing a stronger level of immunity.

Probiotics protect the body not only against harmful bacteria, but also from viruses, infections, toxins, and other disease-causing parasites. In addition, probiotics facilitate the absorption of important minerals like iron and magnesium, while producing essential B-vitamins and pathogen-destroying enzymes.

Probiotics and Good Health: Benefits on Several Fronts

Microbiologists and physicians are just starting to understand the complete range of benefits that probiotics provide with regards to immunity.

Battling the Common Cold

A 2011 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition revealed that taking probiotics reduced both the probability of contracting the common cold and the duration of the illness itself.1 Similar results were achieved when researchers examined the effects of probiotic supplementation on 30 elite rugby players from New Zealand.2

Easing Digestive System Disorders

Currently, the largest body of research into the effectiveness of probiotics centers around its impact on the digestive system itself. For example, there is a growing body of evidence to support using probiotics to treat acute, infectious diarrhea.3 This is especially prevalent in hospitalized young children, who are susceptible to diarrhea caused by Rotavirus, which is commonly found in healthcare settings.4

Probiotics for Antibiotic Issues

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the administration of probiotics is being recommended for hospitalized patients and nursing home residents who are taking antibiotic medications and/or are at greater risk of being infected with the superbug known as Clostridium difficile (or C. difficile). This antibiotic-resistant bacterium, which can trigger severe diarrhea and colonic inflammation, has reportedly caused a half million infections and 14,000 deaths in a single year.5

immune system | Probiotic America

Fighting Inflammation

Moreover, scientists are beginning to learn about the strong relationship between the gut microbiota and a wide range of inflammatory diseases and disorders. It is thought that when the balance between probiotics and unhealthy bacteria is upset, the likelihood of the person suffering from inflammation-related symptoms increases.

In contrast, when probiotics are introduced into the digestive system, there is a corresponding reduction in the amount of inflammatory mediators (substances that transmit energy between nerve cells or from a nerve ending to an organ) secreted in the digestive tract, which in turn normalizes the equilibrium of intestinal microflora so that gut homeostasis is achieved.6

Be Good to Your Gut

Researchers don’t yet know what the precise balance between probiotics and other bacteria in the gut should be, nor are they certain which strains of probiotics are necessary for gut homeostasis. The good news, though, is that for everyone (excluding some patients who suffer from autoimmune disorders), the supplementation of probiotics is safe and free of side effects.7 Most importantly, physicians are starting to recognize the necessity of strong gut health in protecting their patients from colds, infections, and any other illnesses that target the human immune system.

Dr. Cary Nelson

Sources:

1. Berggren, Anna et al. “Randomised, Double-Blind And Placebo-Controlled Study Using New Probiotic Lactobacilli For Strengthening The Body Immune Defence Against Viral Infections”. N.p., 2011. Print.
2. Black, Katherine. “Probiotic Supplementation Reduces The Duration And Incidence Of Infections But Not Severity In Elite Rugby Union Players”. Sciencedirect.com. N.p., 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
3. Allen, Stephen. “Probiotics For Treating Infectious Diarrhoea”. Onlinelibrary.wiley.com. N.p., 2003. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
4. Szajewska, H., M. Wanke, and B. Patro. “Meta-Analysis: The Effects Of Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG Supplementation For The Prevention Of Healthcare-Associated Diarrhoea In Children”. N.p., 2011. Print.5. https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/biggest_threats.html
6. Isolauri, Erika et al. Ajcn.nutrition.org. N.p., 2001. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
7. Al-Salami, Hani et al. “Probiotics Applications In Autoimmune Diseases”. N.p., 2012. Print.

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

Antibiotics are medications that your doctor prescribes when you get sick. Common bacterial infections, including those of the eyes, respiratory tract, urinary tract, and skin, respond well to a cycle of prescription antibiotics. However, with so many foods that damage the healthy balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut, it can be especially difficult to fully restore gut health after taking a round of antibiotics.

Continue reading “5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics”