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.

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
6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25954637
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

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

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

What is the Thyroid Gland and How Does it Work?

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

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

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

1. Gluten

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

2. Soy

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

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

3. Caffeine

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

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

4. Alcohol

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

5. Sugar

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

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

thyroid problems | Probiotic America

6. Red Meat

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

7. Seafood

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

Foods to Feed your Thyroid

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

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

The Takeaway

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

Want more health tips? Keep reading here:

12 Probiotic Foods to Help You Feel Great

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

Can Yoga Help Improve Digestion? (the research may surprise you!)

In the U.S., an estimated 70 million people suffer from digestive problems every day. 1 From indigestion and constipation to diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), these conditions cause discomfort, anxiety and stress in the daily lives of Americans. We’ve all been taught to reach for relief in the form a chalky, chewable tablet from our local drugstore. Is it possible to find relief without medication?
Continue reading “Can Yoga Help Improve Digestion? (the research may surprise you!)”

Soothe Your Sore Throat with These 7 Natural Remedies

Think colds are just reserved for the wintertime? Think again. And no matter the weather outside, a scratchy, red, irritated throat is never welcome. Sore throats can cause pain when swallowing, or even talking. An inflamed throat, or pharynx, is sometimes referred to as pharyngitis. Sore throats are often accompanied by other symptoms of an illness, such as a runny nose or cough.

What is Causing Your Sore Throat?

It’s important to know why your throat is sore in order to properly treat it. Viruses, including the common cold, often cause throat soreness. Sore throats can also be caused by bacteria, as is the case with strep throat. Some additional causes of sore throat include allergies, smoking, or tonsillitis.

When to See a Doctor

If your sore throat is strep throat, you’ll need antibiotics to recover. Signs of strep throat include white patches inside the throat, severe pain in the throat, swollen glands, an upset stomach, and a high fever. 1 If you experience any of these symptoms along with a sore throat, it’s time to visit your doctor.

Viral sore throats will not benefit from antibiotics. They normally go away on their own within one to two weeks. 2 In the meantime, try these seven tips to help you feel better.

1. Keep Your Throat Moist

When your throat is sore, dryness can irritate it further. This is why you feel the effects the most when you wake up, as you breathe heavily while you sleep without drinking a single drop of water. Keep your throat moist by drinking hot fluids, such as broth and tea. Stay away from excessive caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate your body. Lozenges can help your throat stay moist when you’re not drinking liquids.

2. Gargle With Salt Water

Gargling with warm salt water has been used as a sore throat remedy for hundreds of years. It’s also recommended by doctors, because it is convenient and can temporarily ease throat pain. 3 Mix ¼ -½ teaspoon of salt into an eight-ounce glass of warm water, then use this mixture to gargle. Repeat as often as you like for relief.

Sore throat | Probiotic America

3. Soothe With Honey

Honey is a popular folk remedy that has been proven to work. A study by Pennsylvania State University found that honey before bedtime was an effective cough suppressant in children. 4 Drinking tea with honey is a great way to soothe your throat. It’s important to note that honey should never be given to infants under one year of age because of the risk of botulism.

4. Herbal Help: Geranium Root Extract

An extract from South African geranium root, pelargonium sidoides, has been shown to effectively treat the common cold. In a 2007 study, 103 people with cold symptoms took liquid preparations of pelargonium sidoides three times per day.The herbal treatment significantly reduced the severity and symptoms of the common cold, including sore throats. 5 Pelargonium sidoides is an ingredient in some over-the-counter cold medicines.

5. Ease Soreness with Licorice Root

Licorice root is an herbal remedy with a long history of use in folk remedies, particularly traditional Chinese medicine. A 2009 study examined the effects of licorice root on patients with postoperative sore throat associated with endotracheal tube use. The study found that gargling with licorice water before surgery led to less incidence of sore throat after surgery. 6

Note that some medications can negatively interact with licorice root. Consult your doctor if you are taking prescription medicines or have a health condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease.7

Sore Throat | Probiotic America

6. Garlic: Yes, Garlic

If your sore throat is caused by a cold, garlic may help you get better faster. A 2001 study of 146 volunteers found that taking a garlic supplement daily for 12 weeks reduced both the number and duration of colds. 8 Garlic contains allicin, an organic compound which has been found to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. 9

Raw garlic is best for sore throats. To try this remedy, peel a clove of garlic and cut it in half. Put half in each side of your mouth and suck on the clove pieces, swallowing the juices. The garlic will taste spicy, but many people report that this method effectively treats sore throat pain. Raw garlic added to food or taken as a supplement may also help to soothe your sore throat.

7. Spray the Pain Away: Sage and Echinacea

Sage and echinacea are both common medicinal herbs. A study conducted in Switzerland found that a throat spray made from sage and echinacea effectively treated sore throats for study participants. 10

Commercial sprays containing sage and echinacea are available in health food stores. You can also make your own by adding dried sage leaves and echinacea roots to boiling water. Allow the mixture to steep for about 30 minutes, then strain. After the mixture has cooled down, you can add it to a small spray bottle, or use it to gargle.

The Takeaway

Sore throats are no fun. While they usually aren’t serious, having a sore throat can ruin your day. Try these seven tips to soothe your throat and get back to your life.

For more health tips and delicious recipes, keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame



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

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

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

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

1. Work Your Glutes

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

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

2. Focus On Breathing

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

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

3. Engage Your Pelvic Floor

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

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

4. Build And Maintain Tension

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

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

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

Better abs | Probiotic America

Make The Most Of Your Workout

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

Want more useful health tips? Keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics
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10 Canker Sore Remedies to Make Them Disappear…Fast!

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

What Causes Canker Sores?

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

What Do Canker Sores Look Like?

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

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

1. Swish with Baking Soda

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

2. Try Vitamin B12

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

3. Zinc Up!

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

canker sore | Probiotic America

4. Chill Out

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

5. Pump Iron

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

6. Reduce Stress

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

7. Mix It Up

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

8. Go SLS-Free

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

9. Patch It Up with Licorice Root

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

Canker Sores | Probiotic America

10. Snooze Away

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

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

For more helpful health news, keep reading:

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

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


1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303311.php
2. http://www.aaom.com/index.php%3Foption%3Dcom_content%26view%3Darticle%26id%3D82:canker-sores%26catid%3D22:patient-condition-information%26Itemid%3D120
3. https://publications.usa.gov/epublications/fever-blister/fever-canker.html
4. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/canker-sore/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20021262
5. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210092732.htm
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/870981
7. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263176.php
8. https://www.ghc.org/kbase/topic.jhtml?docId=zd1065
9. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002422.htm
11. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Iron.aspx
12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2710437/
13. https://www.adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress
14. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000998.htm
15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7825393
16. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070322161029.htm

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

A healthy immune system is your body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders, including pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and fungi which can cause infections. The immune system works very hard to defend you against those infectious microorganisms. However, sometimes it fails, and those tiny little germs get in – and they make you sick. You suddenly find yourself out of the game for awhile, with nothing but a warm cup of tea and some sudoku to keep you company until you can kick your illness for good.

What if you could give your immune system a leg up? Boost your immune system with these five DIY tips:

healthy immune system | Probiotic America

1. Activated Charcoal Tonic

Incorporating a morning tonic using activated charcoal powder is a great way to remove harmful pathogens from your body. Activated charcoal is commonly used in hospitals as a remedy for food poisoning and other stomach problems because of its unique ability to attract and bind to harmful substances in the body, allowing for fast and easy elimination.

You can find activated charcoal at specialty stores, or online. To use activated charcoal as an immunity tonic, try this recipe:

Mix 16-ounces of fresh or filtered water with 1 tsp. of activated charcoal in a small glass jar. Seal the lid, and give it a good shake until the tonic is fully blended. Then, drink up! Ideally, you will want to take the immunity tonic on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.

For a more advanced protocol, add in 1 tsp. of fossil shell flour and the juice of one large certified organic lemon. Fossil shell flour, also known as diatomaceous earth, is a microscopic material that cleans the walls of your colon, removing any unnecessary mucus or harmful types of bacteria. This anti-parasitic mineral also aids in nutrient absorption while boosting your immune system’s potency.

NOTE: Activated charcoal may interfere with absorption of medications. So check with your doctor before adding activated charcoal to your health regimen.

healthy immune system | Probiotic America

2. Complete Oral Hygiene

Your oral health has a major impact on your immune system. Inflammation in the mouth is a huge burden on the immune system as it works overtime to get rid of it. The mucous membranes of the mouth can usher an infection directly into the blood, allowing it to quickly spread throughout the body.

You already know that daily brushing and flossing are imperative to maintain oral health, but there are other good ways to keep your mouth healthy as well, including:

  • Tongue Scraping. This practice is essential for the removal of bacteria, and various toxins from the tongue’s surface. The tongue absorbs around half of the bacteria in your mouth, and scraping – not brushing – is the only way to remove it.
  • Oil Pulling. This technique is an effective way to remove the bacteria from the rest of the mouth that the tongue scraper does not address. The ancient practice of oil pulling can be used to effectively clean those tiny cracks and crevices of your mouth, unlike any other oral hygiene technique. Coconut oil is particularly effective to use, due to its high content of lauric acid.1 To use oil pulling for oral care, take just one tablespoon of coconut oil, and place it in your mouth. Solid at room temperature, the natural heat of your body will turn the oil to liquid in seconds, so that you can “pull” or swish it through your teeth and gums. Continue the oil pulling for up to 10 minutes, and then spit. Do not swallow the oil, even if it is food grade, as it may contain many bacteria.
  • Baking Soda Mouthwash. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, regular baking soda is clinically shown to be one of the most effective ways to get rid of dental plaque.2 Add it to your oral care regimen as a mouthwash. To make the mixture, just add 1 tsp. of baking soda to ¼ cup of filtered water. For extra freshness and antibacterial activity, you may choose to use 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil as well. Gargle and swish the mouthwash in your mouth for about 1-2 minutes. The baking soda will remove plaque from along the gumline, while also helping to neutralize the pH balance of your mouth. The peppermint oil will make your breath refreshingly minty, too!

healthy immune system | Probiotic America

3. Sauna Detox with Niacin

Perhaps the most effective way to rid the body of accumulated toxins that can cause infections is by using your body’s largest detoxification organ: the skin. Through sweating, your skin works to remove all of those lingering toxins, and there is no better place to have a sweat session than a sauna. But you can also utilize niacin (vitamin B3) as you sauna, to help encourage toxic release from your fat cells. A well-known metabolic booster, niacin works to release toxins trapped deep within adipose tissue, or fat cells.

So, the goal of coupling the sauna with a boost of niacin is to transfer the toxic components from the fat into the bloodstream, and ultimately remove them via the skin.

Ask your doctor about the right dose of niacin for you. Sauna time can go up to 45 minutes, depending on the temperature and your overall level of health.

healthy immune system | Probiotic America

4. Intermittent Fasting

Eliminating the flow of solids into the body for an extended period of time is an excellent way to give your hard-working digestive system a rest. It may also help boost your immune system. As stagnant metabolic waste in the GI tract is moved through the digestive system with the help of juice from fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and other nutrients, the intestinal tract begins to free up slow-moving debris. By eliminating waste matter from the body, your intestines begin to improve nutrient delivery to the blood, thus improving immunity.4

healthy immune system | Probiotic America

5. Probiotics

The immune system is one of the most complex of any in the body. And while you probably don’t realize it, an estimated 80 percent of your immune system lies in your gut. In fact, recent studies have revealed that an estimated 100 trillion living microbacteria call your GI tract home. And they too work very hard to kill off any pathogenic species of bacteria, like infectious E. coli, so that you don’t get sick.5,6

For this reason, consuming these probiotic-rich foods may help stave off common illnesses: miso soup, tempeh, kimchi, fermented cabbage (sauerkraut), dark chocolate, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir.

The Takeaway

In order to keep your healthy immune system going strong, you must keep choosing a healthy lifestyle. This includes:

  • Eating a balanced diet with plenty of raw, whole foods
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining balanced cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Getting adequate, restful sleep every night
  • Washing your hands frequently, and maintaining a clean kitchen
  • Drinking alcohol only in moderation
  • Quitting smoking

And of course, don’t forget to add these five DIY immune boosters to your daily health regimen. It could help you stave off all types of common infections that can hold you back from doing the things you love.

Check With Your Doctor

As with any new health regimen, always check with your doctor, and tell them about plans you have for adding these immune boosters to your lifestyle. They will be able to point out if you have interactions with other supplements, or medications you are taking, and recommend an ideal dosage, or duration for these changes in your health regimen.

Want more health tips? Keep reading here:

12 Probiotic Foods to Help You Feel Great


1. Faizal C. Peedikayil, Prathima Sreenivasan. Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis — A preliminary report. Niger Med J. 2015 Mar-Apr; 56(2): 143–147.

2. Putt MS, Milleman KR. Enhancement of plaque removal efficacy by tooth brushing with baking soda dentifrices: results of five clinical studies. J Clin Dent. 2008;19(4):111-9.

3. Jason Allen, ND, MPH, Melissa Montalto, MS. Detoxification in Naturopathic Medicine: A Survey. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Dec; 17(12): 1175–1180.

4. Valter D. Longo, Mark P. Mattson. Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications. Cell Metab. 2014 Feb 4; 19(2): 181–192.

5. Michael H. Hsieh, M.D., Ph.D, James Versalovic, M.D., Ph.D.2. THE HUMAN MICROBIOME AND PROBIOTICS: IMPLICATIONS FOR PEDIATRICS. Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Jun 28.

6. Hsin-Jung Wu, Eric Wu. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes. 2012 Jan 1; 3(1): 4–14.

NEWS: Probiotics May Provide Help with Allergies

By now, everyone knows that probiotics, whether you get them from food or a supplement, drastically help to improve the gut health and overall digestive systems in our bodies. But did you know that they could also help allergy sufferers? It’s true. A study says that a certain combination of probiotics could help ease the symptoms of hay fever if it’s taken during allergy season.

The probiotic combination providing this relief includes lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. Researchers believe the reason this specific combo might work so well for allergy sufferers is because it increases the body’s percentage of regulatory T-cells. T-cells are a specific types of white blood cells, or lymphocytes, that work in the body to recognize invaders like bacteria, viruses or parasites and then produce effective weapons against them. Some T-cells kill virus cells directly. These white blood cells work 24-hours a day to keep us healthy.

“Not all probiotics work for allergies. This one did,” said Jennifer Dennis, the study’s first author and a doctoral student in the UF Food Science and Human Nutrition department in UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Researchers at the University of Florida put this theory to the test when, at the peak of allergy season, they gathered 173 allergy sufferers. They split them into two groups, giving one group the probiotic combination and a placebo to the second. The experiment went for eight weeks, and each week, as a check-in process, the study participants completed an online survey to describe the level of discomfort they were feeling. DNA from the participants’ stool samples were also analyzed to chart how their bacteria changed. Because probiotics send good bacteria to the body’s intestines, the DNA samples also served as confirmation that the participants were actually taking the probiotic.

Those who received the probiotic combo said they felt better overall. They also had less allergy-related nose discomfort and felt better while doing day-to-day activities, compared to those who were just given the placebo, according to the study.

While this is a big find for probiotic fans and people plagued with allergies, it’s important to note that no one in the study was considered an extreme or severe allergy sufferer. So don’t toss your favorite hay fever symptom remedy in the trash just yet. Using probiotics to treat hay fever symptoms probably would work best for those who suffer from mild allergies.

Want more useful health tips? Keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics
Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame