WellBelly

Pathway to Freedom

Tag: digestion (Page 1 of 2)

It Really Is A Gut Feeling

The feelings you experience are related to the health of your gut.  As our understanding of the microbiome evolves, new understanding of the gut-brain link is unfolding.  

The link between the gut and the brain, known as the microbiome-gut-brain axis., is a two way communication system.  Researchers are asking:  do the bacteria in our gut affect our psychology and behavior? 

The trillion single-cell organisms that reside in the intestines creating the microbiome influences our health in a variety of ways.  Recent discoveries reveal that the microbiome is involved in the synthesis of vitamins B and K; the production of short-chain fatty acids; inflammatory and autoimmune conditions as well as obesity.

Those minuscule creatures that lie in different parts of your gut, most of them sitting at the mucus layer just on top of your gut surface.   That allows them to be just microns away from receptors and sensors with which your gut records the chatter that goes on between them and measures what does on inside.  So the microbes know what state of mind you are in, and at the same time, our brain knows the signs that microbes send up to us.  The chatter between the brain in the gut is cross-talk with a huge impact on our immune system, hormones, mood and behavior.

 Most of us have experienced the relationship between stress, anxiety and a soft bowel movement…the brain impacting the gut.  However, studies, also, show a relationship between gut dysregulation impacting anxiety and depression.  Other studies have shown that  gluten-induced gut inflammation can show up in images of brain inflammation. Lastly, the majority of serotonin (a neurotransmitter related to emotional well-being) is produced in the digestive system.

Bottom line:  the cross-talk chatter between the brain and the gut depends on the health of the digestive system.  Improving the quality of your emotional life and cognitive function requires attention to the health of your gut.

Coffee Jitters?

 

Jittery hands, rapid heart rate, difficulty sleeping….you have a sensitivity to caffeine.  Thanks in part to your genetics, you are caffeine sensitive…your body breaks down caffeine more slowly which makes it stay in your system longer. 

Here are ten ways to wake up without coffee and be kind to your body:

Turn on some tunes that make you happy

Stretch your body to increase blood flow

Break the fast with a morning meal that includes protein

Drink a tall glass of water to rehydrate from hours without a drink

Get moving with a short stretching routine

Replace the coffee ritual with another hot drink such as hot water with lemon or herbal tea.

A cold water splash on your face rattles your alert button

Expose yourself to sunlight

Smell your way to alert with essential oils such as peppermint and eucalyptus

Meditate with a few moments of deep breathing to oxygenate your brain

Good Morning!!!   Great Day!!!

Fire in the Brain

Fire in the Brain

A friend is moving cattle through a wild fire damaged area in the Sierras to  the protection of green pastures.  She describes the earth as a surreal canvas of black and white staying alert to the hidden danger of smoldering fire just beneath the surface.

Of the three primary threats to brain health, inflammation smolders beneath the surface while the brain protects the neurons with the amyloid plaques of Alzheimers Disease (AD). Inflammation is the natural immune system response to invaders; however, chronic exposure to invaders results in an immune response in overdrive – smoldering fire in the brain.

Once believed to be impenetrable, the blood/brain barrier is now known to be comprised by infectious invaders such as viruses, oral bacterias, spirochetes of lyme disease, fungi such as candida albican and black mold as well as proteins modified by binding with glucose to form AGEs, advanced glycation end-products.

Smoldering Fires

Just beneath the surface of everyday life are the the smoldering fires of brain inflammation grow into the flames of AD.

Elevated blood glucose leads to insulin resistance and diabetes.  In addition, excess glucose silently attaches to many different proteins, like remoras to a shark creating AGE’s (Advanced glycation end-products).  These AGEs cause free radicals to form.  Free radicals are unstable molecules which damage anything they bump into such as DNA, cell membranes and blood vessels thus reducing nutritional support to the brain and causing leakiness of the barrier between blood and brain.

Compromised gut health weakens our immune system defense against to the impact of exposure to viral and bacterial invaders.  Digestive incompetence; SIBO (small intestine bacteria overgrowth and Candidasis (overgrowth of fungi in the large intestine and colon) disrupt the fueling of the body with nutrients and damages the immune system.

Poor oral hygiene allows damaging bacterias in the mouth to dominate the oral micro-biome and permits the migration of these bacterias across the blood/brain barrier.

Fire Prevention

Preventing chronic inflammation prevents fire in the brain.  The following three habits cools systemic inflammation:

Balanced diet of clean, whole foods dominated by vegetables, healthy fats and proteins reduces blood glucose preventing insulin resistance and diabetes. Ketonic and paleo are examples of brain healthy dietary choices.

Gut health supported by adequate digestive enzymes and gastric acid; maintaining a balanced micro-biome builds the critical foundation of a resilient immune system.

Regular oral hygiene takes on a new importance as it discourages the growth of damaging bacteria.

Need a “Smokey the Bear” to make your way though the fire zone to green pastures of brain health?   Functional medicine physicians, nutritionists and holistic dentists know where to look for the smoldering fire beneath the surface and how to stamp out the Alzheimers flames in the brain.

How to Choose a Probiotic

 Probiotics can improve the health of your all-important microbiome but choosing one can be mystifying.  There are hundreds of probiotics on the shelves at your favorite health food store.  Equipped with the right information, you won’t need a degree in biology to choose the best product to get great results without doing harm to your community of friendly bacteria.

Who should take a probiotic?

Probably everyone.  Certainly, everyone with digestive symptoms should take a probiotic reflective of their individual condition.  Even healthy people can benefit from a probiotic to protect against daily assaults and expand diversity to the microbiome.

Contemporary life delivers daily environmental injury; nutrient deficient foods and medications  to challenge our gut balance.  Adding a probiotic to a diet that includes a variety of fermented foods within a fresh, whole food diet creates a solid foundation of diverse organisms. Diversity is key and relying on one food source, such like yogurt with live and active cultures does not provide enough variety of organisms. (http://www.wellbelly.net/blog/page/2/).

How to choose the right dosage and the right match for me?

The dosage of probiotics varies from 1 to 10 billion CFUs (colony forming units). One billion meets the needs of a healthy digestive tract.  Think closer to 10 billion if you are taking antibiotics or showing signs of an imbalanced microbiome (http://www.wellbelly.net ). Pricing and marketing claims can be tricky so it’s important to read the label to determine how many capsules it will take to get the dosage you need.  A less expensive product may be misleading as it may take several capsules to reach an adequate dosage or not contain human strains.

How to take an oral probiotic. 

Avoid taking an oral probiotic at the same time as taking an antibiotic.  Mixed together the antibiotic will destroy many of the CFU’s in the probiotic.

Best to take the probiotic away from a meal so less harm is done to the CFU’s by gastric acid and digestive enzymes.  Right before bed can be ideal.

Storage has become more convenient.  Extreme heat and light exposure can damage the organisms but most products, today, are safe at room temperature if packaged in a dark container.  Requiring refrigeration does not make a probiotic more effective, but following the directions on the package does preserve the efficacy.

What bacterial strains should be contained in my probiotic?

The best products contain a minimum of seven, varied bacteria strains most common to humans.

Many probiotics will be derived from soil-based organisms (SBOs).  SBOs are generally less expensive but are not naturally found in the human digestive tract and have never been part of the symbiotic relationship.  SBOs are in the form of spores which can compete with the normal residential community of organisms.  This competition  can be detrimental to the microbiome that is out of balance.  Once established, the SBO spores can be difficult to get rid as they  occupy precious space that human strains need to flourish. Ask the store personnel to direct you to the human strain probiotics.

The research surrounding the microbiome is evolving on a daily basis.  Current thinking indicates that there are at least 500 species of bacteria and yeast that comprise the average 2.2 pounds of microbiome.

Two dominate families of friendly bacteria organisms comprise human strain probiotics, lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.  The following describes the strengths of the most common strains.

Lactobacillus

Lacto Bulgaricus, Acidophilus and Casei assist with lactose intolerance.  In addition, Acidophilus may be helpful at reducing cholesterol and Casei supports brain function. Lacto Plantarum can reduce inflammation and Rhamnosus supports the immune system, GI health and eczema.

Bifiodobacterium

Bifido Lactis and Bifidum support immunity, Longum supports brain function and constipation and Beve supports GI health and has anti-aging properties.

Others:

Streptoccus thermophilus which is not related to strep throat is a friendly bacteria that assists lactobacillus bulgar by making nutrients that assist with growth.

Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast that competes with candida albican (an opportunistic yeast), supports immunity, GI health and reduces diarrhea.

Pre-biotics

Some products contain pre-biotics which are nutrients to foster growth of friendly bacteria.  More information on pre-biotics  can be found in the blog dated:

Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to select a perfect match.  The science continues to evolve at this time but is not positioned to offer products with an exact match for every individual need.

Use this information as an engaged consumer in evaluating the multitude of probiotic products and can make an informed purchase that will contribute to your overall health.

Keep it simple: Consider the primary reason you are considering probiotics and select a product that has dominate numbers of CFUs which reflect your general condition.  Probiotics are good for you and should be considered an important tool for maintaining health.

Seven Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Seven Benefits of Dark Chocolate 

Rarely can anything taste so good and be so good for you.  Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively effect your health in seven key ways.

The Good Stuff dark chocolate is primarily made from  at least 60% organic cocoa powder, coco butter and sugar (milk chocolate packs more sugar and fat while white has nearly no health benefits).

Dark chocolate contains soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals and antioxidants.  The primary minerals in dark chocolate include iron, magnesium, copper and manganese accompanied by smaller amounts of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. The fat content is mostly saturated and monounsaturated with small amounts of polyunsaturates.  It also contains caffeine and theobromine but in small amounts that should not keep you awake at night.

Enjoy one to two ounces of dark chocolate guilt free to reap the following benefits:

Brain:

1. Powerful antioxidants (polyphenols) increase blood flow to the brain boosting smarts and memory.

Skin:

2. The flavinoids contained in cocoa can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.

Heart:

3. Epicatechin one of the compounds that lends cocoa its bitter taste lowers blood pressure.

4. Raises HDL and protects LDL against oxidation.

Energy:

5. The same epicatechin can boost your cells’ mitochondrial function.  Mitochondria are the organelles, little energy factories, found in the nucleus of every cell in the body.

Weight Loss

6. Research has found the regular chocolate eaters were slimmer than those who abstained altogether.  Chocolate satisfies cravings as it  lights up your grain’s frontal lobe, its reward center.

Mood:

7. Cocoa butter fats trigger natural endorphins (natural opiates) and serotonin (a mood modulator).  These brain chemicals induce calm, decrease pain sensation, improve sleep and elevate mood.

2017 Body Reset

Most of us have done some slipping off our health routine between Thanksgiving and the New Year.  If you have just run off the shoulder of the road a couple of times or careened over the cliff, now is the time to reset our body for 2017 with these five easy steps:

  1. Morning Body Wake-up Ritual.  Begin each morning with lemon tea:  Add the juice of 1/2 organic lemon to a cup of hot water.  This simple warm beverage stimulates your liver to kick into detox action.
  2. Add a Dash of Gratitude.  While quietly sipping your lemon tea, recall five things for which you are thankful.   The attitude shift can last the whole day.
  3. Enjoy an infrared sauna session.  Infrared heat increases metabolism as it raises your core temperature and mobilizes the lymphatic circulation to hasten detoxification.  It is one of my favorite ways to untangle muscle stress and take 45 minutes just for me.
  4. Drink water, lots of it.  Wash out the sugar and sodium intake from holiday foods.  How much?  Divide your current body weight in half.  This is the number of ounces of water you should drink daily for your body size.  Add to this number the ounces of dehydrating beverages you’ve consumed such as coffee and alcohol plus some extra to replenish what you loose in exercise or sauna.
  5. Just move.  Don’t jump in to make up for lost exercise during the holidays.  Walk, stroll or hike with a friend.  Gently commit to moving your body into recovery.

Taking time to reset builds a foundation to succeed in all your resolutions to improve your health in 2017.

 

Holiday OverEater’s Survival

Eggnog and wine; Christmas cookies and candies; and just too, too much fun can leave your belly uncomfortable and bloated.  Tea, baking soda and vinegar can rescue your digestion and your waistline.

Digestive Teas –The warmth of hot tea is comforting in the winter season and these herbal teas bring a cozy feeling to an over-worked belly.

Ginger tea stimulates digestion by increasing blood flow to relive that sluggish feeling. Ginger works throughout the digestive tract to activate digestion and prevent the formation of gas.

Peppermint tea stimulates bile flow which works to digest fats.  Fats slow digestive action. Too much brie cheese can slow digestion to a near standstill.

Chamomile and licorice root teas calm the digestive tract.  Sit down, put your feet up, sip your tea and fully relax your belly for optimal digestion.

Chai tea is made from ginger, cinnamon, cardamon and pepper all of which aid in various aspects of digestion and absorption.  These spices added to black tea and milk are effective and delicious.

Apple Cider Vinegar –  is a tried and true kitchen remedy to increase the stomach acid required to  breakdown foods and prepare nutrients for absorption.  1-3 teaspoons in a glass of water taken 15-20 minutes before a meal increases the production of HCL.

Only 50% of those with symptoms of acid-reflux or GERD actually have too much stomach acid.  The other 50% have too little stomach acid causing poorly digestion food to ferment generating a reflux of fermentation acid – not stomach acid. Apple cider vinegar is an easy antidote for the 50% with too little stomach acid  while baking soda handles the symptoms of too much stomach acid.

Baking Soda –  1-2 teaspoons dissolved in about 4 ounces of warm water can neutralize the unpleasant symptoms produced by too much stomach acid.

Evening Constitutionals  – once a way of life in earlier  centuries.  Men and women took a mild walk after the evening meal to aid digestion and discuss world affairs.  Bring back the evening constitutional to unwind from the day while aiding digestion.  Gentle physical movement aids digestion while focusing thoughts on the day’s blessings reframes your mood for restful sleep.

OverEater’s Tonic  is a great antidote for over-indulging during the holidays.  This tonic combines several digestive aids to sooth the belly.  Epicurious is one of my favorite sites for menus and recipe ideas.  This month Epicurious published a recipe for the Overeaters Tonic. Click for the  Overeater’s Tonic recipe.

Magical Sleep

Tranquil scene of a young woman dreaming and sleeping on a cloud up in the sky

Oh, for a Good Nights Sleep!  Waking refreshed from deep, restful sleep really is magical to rejuvenate the body and mind. Add some magic to your nighttime habits with these six tips:

1. Warm Bath Warmth coaxes your body to relax.  Dissolve one cup of epsom salts in your bath water and you will benefit from magnesium, the relaxation mineral.  A few drops of essential oil of lavender in the water engages your sense of smell to enhance the relaxation experience.

2. Sleep Snacks Choosing small bites of the right snacks enhances sleep chemistry.  A warm glass of milk, cherries, walnuts and honey are high in  the amino acid tryptophan.  Tryptophan makes  melatonin… your natural sleep sedative hormone. Remember the turkey coma after Thanksgiving dinner?  It was the high levels of tryptophan in the turkey that did it.

Potassium and magnesium are minerals that promote relaxation.  Sweet potatoes, low sodium popcorn (oil popped), rice cakes and potato chips are high in both potassium and magnesium.

Pistachios are high in the vitamin B-6 required to make melatonin.  If you do not recall your dreams, you may be low in B-6.

Dark Chocolate, one ounce of 70%  or greater cocoa, is a superstar snack containing potassium and magnesium while promoting serotonin, which proceeds the production of melatonin.  Yum.

3. Lights Out Total darkness stimulates your brain to produce the sleep hormone, melatonin.  Yes, that translates into no reading, TV, computer, Kindle or Facebook on your smart phone thirty minutes before going to bed.

4. Soothing Sounds Your choice: nature sounds, soothing instrumentals or white noise intices the brain to surrender into a relaxed rhythm.

5. Sleep on Your Left Side  Sleeping on your left side aids digestion thus reducing heartburn. Left-side sleeping, also, works with gravity to move lymph fluid along it’s natural course toward the heart.  Circulation of lymph fluid boosts  immune activity and the elimination of toxins.

6. Count Sheep One by one, appreciate the positive things in your life.  Research has shown gratefulpeople sleep better.

Developing sleep habits creates body memory to expedite your transition into quality sleep.  As you practice your sleep ritual it will, soon, take less effort to fall asleep and enjoy better sleep.   Good night, sweet dreams.

Tending Your Gut-Garden with Fibre

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Fibre plays an all-star role in the mini-ecosystem within our body known as the gut microbiota (gut- garden flora).  Discover the evolving science surrounding your personal gut microbiota and the ten foods to tenderly cultivate your gut-garden.

Importance of the Gut Microbiota

Science is just uncovering the benefits produced by your gut microbiota garden of primarily bacteria with some fungus and virus and a bit of non-threatening free-loaders.  So far we know that the gut microbiota is fundamental to our immune defenses as it shields against opportunistic pathogens; synthesizes vitamins B and K; aids in the absorption of calcium; makes our food digestible; impacts mental and emotional health as well as metabolic functions of energy production and calorie storage.

Comprised of 40 trillion cells, (it only takes 30 trillion cells to make the human body) from 30-40 different microbe species, the gut microbiota was designed to be self-regulating to maintain balance among the microbes of bacteria, fungi and viruses.

However, maintaining balance in this ecosystem has become a challenge for all these little guys in today’s world.  The gut-garden flora we humans inherited from a single ancestor some 15 million years ago is essential for sustaining life.   Since then, these microbes have evolved for better or worse as a consequence of our environment resulting in unique personal gut-garden microbiota.

Your individual gut-garden got its start in the birth canal and has been altered in numbers and specific microbes ever since by mother’s milk, diet; ingested chemicals, medications and medical treatments involving radiation.

Environmentally-altered imbalances in the gut garden are associated with chronic inflammatory disease, auto-immune conditions, obesity and psychological well-being.

Tending your Gut Garden

The gut-garden flora is dynamic and imbalance can be restored to this delicate ecosystem.  Much like tending a garden, discouraging weeds of environmental assaults that destroy the flora and fertilizing growth of healthy flora will allow your gut microbiota to flourish.

A diet of whole, organic foods vegetables and fruit provides the fiber required to fertilize your gut-garden.  This necessary fibre is soluble having both simple (fructooligosaccharides) and complex (inulin) features. Plant sources of these two types of fiber include:  blue agave extract, bananas, onions, garlic, asparagus, jicama, leeks, chicory root, wild yam and whole grain wheat.

New bacteria microbes can be added to your garden with fermented foods that contain live bacteria such as cow-milk-based kefir and yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, pickled fruit and vegetables and fermented meat, fish and eggs.

Two types of supplements are available to complement your diet to both fertilize and add new microbe flora.  Pre-biotics containing both fructooligosaccharides and inulin can fertilize your garden.  Probiotics containing a wide variety of strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium common to human guts can add new microbes to your gut garden.

Tending your gut garden with both all-star fibre and fermented foods remain the most natural, effective and least expensive path to a thriving gut-garden microbiota.

Ole! Healthy Mexican Dining

Guacamole with raw veggies occupies your appetite and aThe word Fiesta written on a sandy beach, with sombrero, traditional serape blanket, starfish and maracas (studio shot - warm color and directional light are intentional).voids starchy, deep-fired appetizers like the chips and salsa.

Fajitas is your healthiest  entree choice.  Combine chicken, shrimp or lean meat with salsa, onions, peppers, black beans and guacamole on top of a big salad.

The salad encourages you to skip the tortillas unless they have gluten-free corn tortillas.  Skip the empty calories by skipping the cheese (cheese look-alike), sour cream and rice.

If you enjoy a Margarita, request a “skinny” one.  It’s made with lime juice, tequila and agave.  No agave? Request a splash of simple syrup and No, No on the sweet and sour.

Ole!

 

 

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