WellBelly

Pathway to Freedom

Tag: IBS

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.

Gut Health Reduces Risk for Heart Disease

Your Gut Health Impacts Your Risk for Heart Disease

Researchers have linked the health of the gut microbiome to the risk for obesity and diabetes. Now, we have substantial evidence that the microbiome can impact the risk for atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries).

How does the gut microbiome influence disease?  Humans actually have 2 genomes:  human genes and the collective genes (the gut microbiome); trillions of microbes that coexist within each human gut.  In fact there are 100 times more genes in the microbiome than there are human genes in the body.  

These microbiota genes generate proteins, including hormones, neurotransmitters and molecules of inflammation that can enter the circulation and affect human health. This activity of the microbiota creates not only a second genome, it is also like an additional endocrine organ.

A recently JAMA published article gives considerable evidence to how the human gut microbiome may affect the development of atherosclerosis by influencing risk factors for heart disease and by directly effecting the initiation and progress of atherosclerotic plaques.

 Conclusion:  Improving the health of your gut microbiome can modify your risk for three major causes of death:  diabetes, obesity and hearth disease.

For more than a dozen years, Dr. Sandy Muran has helped her clients measurably reduce their risk for disease.  Contact her for more information at drsandy@wellbelly.net.

TAKE A PEEK

 Don’t be shy, take peek before you flush.
Just looking at your stool can tell a lot about your health.  In 1997, Dr. Heaton from the University of Bristol in England developed the Bristol Stool Chart to better understand diseases of the bowel.  Little did he know that he had developed a visual aid to evaluate the health of the whole body.
Go ahead, take a peek, if your stool does not look like type 3 or 4 you have digestive issues that can damage the health of your body in so many ways.  Discover how to restore the health of your gut with the Four WellBelly Steps.

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.

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.

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.

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