Who Needs Dietary Supplements? - Healthy Aging Tips

by Health News

Who need's vitamin supplements? - Healthy Aging TipsIt's important for everyone to benefit from taking dietary supplements, mainly because the majority of the foods grown today are grown in depleted soils.  Taking dietary supplements is even more important under these circumstances:  

  • You have poor eating habits, or you consume less than 1,600 calories a day
  • You are a vegan or a vegetarian who eats a limited variety of foods
  • You are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or you are breast-feeding
  • You are a woman who experiences heavy bleeding during your menstrual period
  • You are a postmenopausal woman concerned with healthy aging (remember men experience hormonal changes too, so supplements for men are very important to consider)
  • You have a medical condition that affects your digestive system and how your body absorbs, uses or excretes nutrients, such as chronic diarrhea, food allergies, food intolerance or a disease of the liver, gallbladder, intestines or pancreas.
  • You have had surgery on your digestive tract and are not able to digest and absorb nutrients properly.
  • You are very athletic, and perhaps are in some sort of intense physical training; or your job is very demanding physically
  • You smoke or drink.  While everybody knows it's not good for us, many do it anyway. Although dietary supplements will not reverse the effects that alcohol and smoking will do to your body, they can help your body deal with the demands placed on it by these habits.
  • Your age.  The older you get, the more you need to make sure that you are getting the correct nutrition your body needs.  Educate yourself, and ask a trusted health care practitioner what may be the best dietary supplement for you.
  • Peace of mind.  Since most of us are not getting enough nutrients from the foods we eat, taking a quality dietary supplement can ease your mind.


  • Read and understand supplement labels. Product labels should tell you about the ingredients and which nutrients are included; also recommendations for use, such as the serving size and the amount of nutrients in each serving.
  • Check expiration dates. Dietary supplements can lose potency over time, especially in hot and humid climates. If a supplement doesn't have an expiration date, don't buy it. If your supplements have expired, discard them.
  • Store all vitamin and mineral supplements safely. Put supplements in a locked cabinet or other secure location out of children's reach (and pets). Don't leave supplements on the counter or rely on child-resistant packaging. Store dietary supplements in a dry, cool place. Avoid hot, humid storage locations, such as in the bathroom.
  • Don't overdose your supplements. Some vitamins such as vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin B6 can be bad for your health when taken in extremely large amounts for extended periods of time. Follow the dosage instruction on the label.
  • Tell your doctor. Some dietary supplements can interact with medications, so tell your doctor about the dietary supplements you take.

Healthy Aging: Tips for a Healthy Digestive System


Why Women Should Increase Their Fiber Intake

by Health News

Foods Good for Digestion: Women Should Increase Fiber IntakeFoods good for digestion include fruits and vegetables as well as other available products contain fiber. What's the big deal about fiber?

Fiber: You love it because it fills you up, keeps your digestion regular and is great for helping you get to and stay at a healthy weight. Moderate eating, a healthy digestive tract and a healthy weight can all help you live a longer, higher-quality life. But a recent study* points to another specific area where fiber is your friend: It may protect you against cardiovascular disease.

The study, which was recently published in the scientific journal PLOS One, looked at the eating habits of over 20,000 residents of the Swedish city of Malmö, with a focus on the risk of cardiovascular disease. The researchers analyzed the importance of 13 different nutrient variables (aspects of fiber, fats, proteins and carbohydrates).

“Women who ate a diet high in fiber had an almost 25 per cent lower risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease compared with women who ate a low-fiber diet. In men the effect was less pronounced. However, the results confirmed that a high-fiber diet does at least protect men from stroke”, says Peter Wallström, a researcher at Lund University and the primary author of the article.

While the reason for the different results between men and women is unclear, the researchers suspect it is because the women consumed fiber-rich foods from healthier sources than the men. The women got most of their fiber from digesting fruits and vegetables whereas the men in the study got most of their fiber from bread.


Digestive Problems? Read this ebook.



Winter Vegetable Casserole

by Health News

Are you looking for tips on how to eat healthy during the holidays or a seasonal side dish that’s out of the ordinary and also really good for you? This recipe makes the most of the season’s natural bounty and is a nice deviation from the standard stand-alone vegetable side dish or salad. It’s only 218 calories per serving and offers a healthy 5 grams each of fiber and protein to boot!

How to Eat Healthy During the Holidays - Vegetable Casserole


  • Cooking spray
  • 1½ potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1½ sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup turnips, sliced
  • ½ cup onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1½ cups low-fat milk


Spray 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

Clean, peel, and slice potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and turnips; combine. Chop onions and set aside.

In small saucepan, melt butter; add flour, salt, and pepper to make a roux. Gradually stir in milk, cooking over low heat; stir well with wire whisk.

Bring milk to a boil, stirring constantly until milk has thickened into a sauce, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Arrange ½ of sliced vegetables in casserole dish; top with ½ of chopped onion and white sauce; repeat to make second layer. Cover and cook at 350°F for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until all vegetables are tender, about 60–70 minutes.

Let casserole stand 10 minutes before serving.

Healthy vegetable dishes like this casserole are an excellent choice if you are looking for delicious ways of how to eat healthy during the holidays.
What are some of your favorite winter recipes and “how-to” tips for eating healthy during the holidays?


Supercharge Your Immune System Before You Travel

by Health News

Whether it’s for business or pleasure, travel requires careful planning. That’s why we develop extensive to-do lists that include filling up the gas tank, making airline reservations, obtaining maps and packing suitcases. Unfortunately most of us make travel plans that provide little or no focus on the most important thing of all - our health. 

Boost Your Immune System Naturally

While maintaining a strong immune system is critical for vibrant health every day of our lives, it becomes increasingly important when we are on the move. Travel can compromise the immune system because it upsets the internal body clock that regulates sleep, hunger and digestion. (This can be particularly troubling when you cross time zones.) Many travelers fall into poor eating habits and consume more caffeine and alcohol than their bodies can tolerate. 

To further complicate matters, travel also means increased exposure to germs and viruses that thrive when people are hoarded together in cars, airplanes, buses or trains. Poor air circulation contributes to the spread of illnesses and doorknobs, counters, banisters and other surfaces are likely to be contaminated by germs.   

With a little planning you can supercharge your immune system so that you can enjoy your travels and protect your health. One of the best ways to prepare your immune system for travel is to take nutritional supplements before and during your trip. Supplements containing green tea and resveratrol are particularly important. Green tea contains an agent called catechin polyphenol that is considered “jet fuel” for the immune system.

Resveratrol is another potent immune system booster that can help keep you healthy before and during your travels. This powerful antioxidant, which is present in red wine, fruit and the skin of grapes, is associated with a lower risk of developing cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Because it would be difficult to obtain optimal amounts of resveratrol from food and wine, many people use resveratrol supplements. 

Many people also add probiotics to their daily regime before and during travel to prevent gastric distress. Probiotics, which are available from natural health stores, populate the intestinal tract with “friendly” bacteria that limits the growth of “bad” bacteria such as salmonella, clostridia and E coli. 

The next time you make travel plans, make sure you take your healthy habits with you. Supercharge your immune system so that you can enjoy every second of your trip.  

What do you do to stay healthy while traveling?


How to Pick the Right Probiotic For Your Digestive System

by Health News

How to choose a probiotic supplement

Scientists estimate that the human body is home to more than 750 trillion bacteria, and most of them exist in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. They are essential for the digestion of food, neutralizing hormones and supporting the body’s immune system. Having an imbalance of these bacteria can cause digestive or intestinal problems that manifest themselves as fatigue, depression, recurring yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation or cramps.

You may be surprised to learn that people over 60 have 1000 times less “friendly” bacteria in their guts than younger healthy adults. Probiotics can play an essential role in aging healthy. Many studies suggest that overall health depends largely on the healthy functioning of the digestive system.

One major cause of an imbalance of bacteria is taking a course of antibiotics. They not only treat the virus that they are prescribed for, but also lay waste to the bacteria in our digestive tract. Other medications such as heartburn pills can also be harmful to gut flora as they alter the balance of intestinal bacteria.

If your gut has too many “bad” bacteria releasing toxins, your body will feel the effect with a range of health problems. If you lack sufficient digestive enzymes, a probiotic with a high count of bacteria can be taken to rectify the situation.

Picking the Correct Probiotic

Increasing the good bacteria in your intestine is easy. Yoghurt, miso and soy drinks all contain live cultures that can improve digestive or intestinal problems. The “good” bacteria thrive on nutrients called prebiotics which are found in onions, green leafy vegetables, bananas, artichokes and garlic. Bad bacteria thrive on sugars and fats from processed foods and these foods should definitely be avoided.

Live bacteria can be taken as supplements. There are many strains, each with a different function. It is wise to read the labels and learn more about what each probiotic does. For example, Lactobacillus casei (in the yoghurt drink DanActive) was found to reduce ear infections and gastrointestinal upsets in children. Studies on Bifidobacterium Infantis (found in the probiotic supplement Align) found it reduces the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

How to Take Probiotics
Some probiotics come in capsule form while others are in powder or liquid form and need to be kept refrigerated. Follow the instructions and never expose probiotics to heat or processing or they will be damaged or killed.

Most good probiotic supplements combine several beneficial bacteria with live yeast. Look for a probiotic containing billions of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Saccharomyces and Bifidobacteria. A supplement such as First Milk Flora is easy to take as a chewable tablet and contains 1.5 million colony forming units per tablet to promote healthy digestion. The best probiotics also include a prebiotic which helps the flora survive in the intestine.

To continue on a healthy aging path, consult your doctor before taking any probiotics as they may interfere with some medications. Once taken, you should begin to feel an improvement in your health after one to two weeks. If not, switch to a different probiotic to find one that aids your particular medical problem or gives a general boost to your feeling of wellbeing. As the probiotics change the acidic balance of your body, it is important to keep a record of any changes, and to consult a doctor beforehand if you are already taking medications. Cheers to maintaining your path of aging healthy!



10 Things You Should Know To Have a Healthy Digestive System

by Institute for Vibrant Living

10 Things You Should Know To Have a Healthy Digestive System:

  1. A healthy digestive system influences and is influenced by many different body systems.
  2. Believe it or not, your digestive tract is a critical part of your immune system.
  3. A full 75 percent of your immune system is in your gut, which means that all of health truly starts here.
  4. Intestinal bacteria influence your body’s ability to pull nutrients and energy from the foods you eat.
  5. Research is beginning to reveal that the types of flora in the intestines determine whether a person is lean or overweight.
  6. Every day, you are exposed to hundreds (if not thousands) of chemicals, many of which did not even exist 100 years ago.
  7. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and released into the intestine to aid in fat digestion and absorption.
  8. The mucous membranes that line your intestines are not only designed to absorb nutrients, but to reject poisonous substances and waste.
  9. All of the blood coming out of your intestinal tract passes through the liver before being carried to other parts of the body.
  10. When your intestines have been compromised, your liver acts as a backup defensive to keep toxic substances out of your blood

Did you know that as we age, our bodies start to change how they digest food? Many age-related factors affect your digestive system, including medications, a sedentary lifestyle and oral hygiene. These and other factors all take a toll on a healthy digestive system.

When these factors aren’t given the proper attention you may experience indigestion, constipation, diverticulitis, and ulcers. 

Healthy Digestive System



Probiotic Supplements: Not Just for Intestinal Health

by Health News

If you’re taking probiotics to improve your digestion problems, current research suggests you’re not just helping your gut—you’re doing your entire body a favor! And if you’re not taking probiotics, you might want to consider starting. Read on to find out why!

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast in a person's digestive tract. These microorganisms are “friendly” (beneficial to the host). Among many benefits, they help degrade toxic and allergenic substances in the intestine and colon. Probiotics occur naturally in certain foods like yogurt and cottage cheese. They are also available as nutritional supplements which can be purchased in health food stores. 

Probiotic Supplements

How do probiotics help my whole body?

These tiny organisms can do some pretty amazing things! To name just a few:

They help you absorb nutrients. The friendly bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus helps with the absorption of the B vitamins and vitamin K, along with fatty acids and minerals such as calcium.

They improve immune function. Beneficial bacteria have a critical and powerful effect on your gut’s immune system and your systemic immune system. They also aid in the production of antibodies to pathogens.

A study* published in the journal Pediatrics in 2009 looked at the potential benefits of probiotics in children during cold and flu season. According to the authors, “Daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe effective way to reduce fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidence and duration and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as the number of missed school days attributable to illness, for children 3 to 5 years of age.”

They have a systemic, anti-inflammatory effect. While mechanism behind this benefit is not fully understood, recent studies strongly suggest that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus works against inflammation. One such study** looked at biological markers for inflammation in patients taking the probiotics and those take a placebo. The researchers concluded “…probiotic bacteria have strain-specific anti-inflammatory effects in healthy adults.”

Another study*** from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, looked at the effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus in infants with eczema, an inflammatory skin condition. The researchers concluded that infants receiving this probiotic had a significantly reduced risk of eczema symptoms.

So if you thought probiotic supplements were just for digestion problems, think again! Now you have many more reasons to consider taking probiotic supplements.

Digestive Health






There’s an ongoing war for your health raging in your gut - whose side are you on?

by Health News



According to health experts, our health is being profoundly affected by an ongoing bacterial war raging deep inside our gut.Are the Bacteria in Your Gut Dangerous | Institute for Vibrant Living
Our body has 100 trillion bacteria in it, which live (mostly) in the gut with the surface area of a football field. Most experts say the optimal ratio is 85%:15% good to bad bacteria.
An excess of pathogenic bacteria has severe and widespread consequences for health. They create mold, putrefaction and release toxins into blood causing diarrhea, bloating, bad breath and even emotional problems, including depression. The liver has to work overtime to filter the toxins they make. Not only that - up to 80% of the immune system is in now believed to function in the gut, so immune function is also likely to be compromised.
On the other hand, having enough beneficial bacteria in the gut ensures proper nourishment, that foods are broken down and necessary macro- and micro-nutrients absorbed, vitamins B and K are made, minerals are extracted from the diet and retained, toxins do not damage the intestinal lining, colon cancer risk goes down and immunity is boosted. Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to ensure you have enough of the good bacteria in your system, simply by eating probiotic foods such as yogurt and soft cheese.
Antibiotics have dramatically changed the course of human history by lowering the incidence of many diseases to negligible levels. However, thanks to massive over-prescription and self-medication, today they actually act to damage health by eliminating most of the good bacteria with the bad.
Not only that - there are antibiotics in meats and dairy, non-organic foods are laced with pesticides and other chemicals and pollution is in the air. In other words, the environment is full of chemicals that threaten the well-being of gut probiotics - and by extension, our health as well.
A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: ‘Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.’ When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, ‘The one I feed the most.’”
Which dog do you feed regularly?
Probiotic bacteria thrive on soluble fiber, which reach the colon more or less intact. The standard recommendation is six grams a day. On the other hand, feeding pathogenic bacteria requires sugar and processed foods low in fiber.
So creating the right bacterial balance in the gut is very simple: consume quality probiotics, consume fiber-rich, fresh foods and cut out as much sugar and processed food as possible.
You can also help the probiotics in your body stay on top by regular consumption of fermented foods including pickled vegetables, tempeh and fermented milk products like kefir or yogurt, natto and kimchi.
And while it would be ideal to get all the probiotics and the food they thrive on from the diet, that may not always be feasible - in which case quality probiotic supplements are invaluable.
So why not consult a dietician or nutritionist and start feeding your ‘good dog’ today?



Study Shows Fruits and Vegetables Target Cancer in Different Part of the Colon

by Health News

IVL ProductsWe’ve long believed that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables offers protection against colon (as well as many other) cancers and certainly these foods have been know to aid having a healthy digestive system. But a recent study published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests that different fruits and vegetables might be site-specific in their anti-cancer properties. Researchers believe this might help explain inconsistent results from other studies which sought to examine the effects of plant foods against colon cancer.

For the study, Lin Fritschi, PhD and colleagues at the University of Western Australia compared 918 colorectal cancer patients to 1,021 controls who had no history of the disease. Questionnaires completed by the participants were analyzed for the frequency of consumption of 38 different vegetables and fruits.

The researchers found a protective effect for increased intake of brassica vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, against cancer of the proximal section of the colon. Total fruit and vegetable intake, total vegetable intake, and the consumption of dark yellow vegetables and apples were associated with a reduction in distal colon cancer risk.

"It may be that some of the confusion about the relationship between diet and cancer risk is due to the fact that previous studies did not take site of the colorectal cancer into account”, says Professor Fritschi, who is the head of the Epidemiology Group at the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research. “The replication of these findings in large prospective studies may help determine whether a higher intake of vegetables is a means for reducing the risk of distal colorectal cancer."

It is important to note that while apple consumption was protective against rectal cancer, consuming a high amount of fruit juice was associated with a greater risk of the disease. The authors note that "Fruit juice may have similar composition to fruit with respect to a range of phytochemicals, but it is low in fiber and some fruit juices contain added sugar. In addition, there is some evidence to suggest that foods containing high amounts of sugars may increase risk of colorectal cancer.”

To read the full text of the study, click here: http://www.adajournal.org/article/S0002-8223%2811%2901215-6

Beyond the findings of this study, there are many other benefits to eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Mainly, it helps create a healthy digestive system, can increase energy levels and keep the entire body running smoothly. So make sure you get enough fruits and vegetables every day. Your body will thank you.


White Willow Bark For Safe And Effective Pain Relief

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that the therapeutic use of white willow bark dates back thousands of years - to the time of Hippocrates (400 BC) when patients were advised to chew on the bark to reduce their fever and inflammation?

White willow bark continues to be used today for the treatment of pain, especially headaches, lower back pain and osteoarthritis as well as inflammatory conditions such as bursitis and tendinitis.

That’s because the bark of white willow contains salicin, which is a chemical similar to aspirin (chemical name acetylsalicylic acid). In fact, in the 1800s, salicin was used to make aspirin.

Studies show that white willow is as effective as aspirin for reducing pain and inflammation - although not fever - and at a much lower dose. White willow causes pain relief more slowly than aspirin, but its effects also appear to last longer.  

Along with salicin, polyphenols and flavonoids - white willow’s powerful anti-inflammatory antioxidant compounds are believed to be responsible for white willow’s therapeutic benefits.

Studies suggest that white willow may be useful for treating the following conditions:

  • Headache - white willow has been shown to relieve headaches. Evidence suggests that it is less likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects than other pain relievers - however, if you are prone to getting stomach upsets easily, you may want to avoid white willow.
  • Lower back pain - in a study of nearly 200 people with lower back pain, those who were given white willow experienced a significant improvement in pain compared to those who received control therapy. Higher doses worked better.
  • Osteoarthritis - in a study of people with osteoarthritis of the neck or lower back, those who received white willow had better improvement in symptoms compared to those who received control therapy. Another study of 78 patients hospitalized with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip joint found that those who received white willow had better pain relief compared to those who received control therapy.

Source: White Willow Bark for Safe and Effective Pain Relief.   

Copyright: kalcutta / 123RF Stock Photo


Chronic Joint Pain: Top 5 Dietary Tips

by Not in Use Not In Use

For many, chronic joint pain caused by inflammation is a disability that affects almost every aspect of their movements during the day. While some chronic joint pain is caused by injury of repetitive motion, much of jointChronic Joint Pain: Top 5 Dietary Tips ailments are diet-related. Below are some dietary tips which can reduce the amount of inflammation and strengthen the muscles and bones involved in relieving chronic joint pain.

  1. Drink Lots of Water - As children, our cartilage consists of 85% water; as adults, that percentage drops to 75%. One of the best ways to keep the joints - which are comprised of cartilage - properly lubricated, drink at least eight (8) glasses of 8 ounces of water. Avoid diuretics such as soda, carbonated water, and alcohol.
  2. Make Bone Broths - An old-fashioned remedy and a staple of a more agrarian time, bone broths have a great deal of benefits. Making a stock made of bones and/or eggshells is easy, nutritious, and great for your bones and your joints. By boiling bones from chicken, pork, or beef, hyaluronic acid - an important anti-arthritic component - is released into a tasty broth. Eggshells also contain hyaluronic acid, glucosamine, chondroitin, and collagen.
  3. Omega-3 Fatty Acid - Studies have demonstrated that omega-3s can reduce the pain and inflammation of stiff joints in people with arthritis. Foods rich in omega-3s include fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, as well as green vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
  4. Calcium - The ideal diet for preventing bone and joint problems contains about 1,200 mg of calcium per day. Aside from common calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, fish and soy, there are non-animal sources like broccoli, artichoke hearts, and beet greens. Supplements can also provide a good amount of calcium for those that need it.
  5. Antioxidants - Free radicals can have adverse effects on joints, and antioxidants can fight these damaging molecules. Aside from foods rich in vitamins A, C, E, and selenium, anything containing polyphenols and flavonoids, such as green tea, can benefit. Supplements of antioxidants can also prove effective in battling free radicals.

Copyright: tatyanagl / 123RF Stock Photo


How Does Gut Flora Promote Better Health and Healthy Aging?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Gut Flora | Institute for Vibrant Living

In an exciting new study, scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging have shown that changing the

 relationship between gut bacteria and epithelial cells that line the intestine promotes health and increases lifespan in fruit flies, known as Drosophila.

These results support the newly emerging idea that having the right balance of gut bacteria may be the key to healthy aging and enjoying a long and healthy life.

In recent times, research in humans has linked the composition of gut bacteria with diet and health in the elderly - while unhealthy changes in gut bacteria are emerging as a crucial factor in the development of cancer, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
However, health experts still don’t understand how we go from having a young, healthy gut to one that is old and diseased as we age.

This study looked at age-related changes in the fruit fly gut - including greater oxidative stress, inflammation, impaired immune response and overgrowth of stem cells. It also separated out these changes into cause and effect and identified ‘intervention points’ where the negative results of microbial imbalance could potentially be prevented.

The number of bacteria in fly intestines increases dramatically with age, leading to an inflammatory condition. This imbalance is driven by chronic activation of a stress response gene, which suppresses the activity of a class of molecules known as PGRP-SCs that normally work to regulate immune response to bacteria.

The rapid growth of bacteria in fly intestines triggers an inflammatory response, formation of free radicals and eventually leads to a dangerous pre-cancerous condition known as epithelial dysplasia.

Interestingly, when study researchers increased the expression of PGRP-SC molecules in fruit fly epithelial cells, gut microbial balance was restored and stem cell proliferation was suppressed. In fact, enhancement of PGRP-SC function was responsible for prolonging lifespan in these flies.

In other words, improving our understanding how aging affects gut bacteria in fruit flies as well as in people may turn out to be the key to both improving health and prolonging lifespan.

Millions of Americans suffer from digestive disorders ranging from irregularity and constipation to chronic diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). An easy and inexpensive remedy for these conditions is probiotics, or ‘good’ bacteria, which is now available conveniently as a supplement.

Take a probiotic supplement can improve digestive problems. Look for one that has a ‘delayed release’ to deliver the living probiotics necessary to balance your gut bacteria and relieve digestive disorders quickly - and as this study shows, likely to increase your chances of aging healthy and prolonging your lifespan.


Read more:
Could Stress Cause My Digestion Issues?
What are the signs of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth?
Could Stress Cause My Digestion Issues?
Probiotics: Treatment For Hepatic Encephalopathy?
5 Ways to Increase the Effectiveness of Healthy Foods
How to Pick the Right Probiotic


Altering Gut Bacteria Promotes Health and Prolongs Lifespan.




Do Probiotic Foods Benefit Your Overall Mood?

by Health News

Do Probiotics Benefits Your Overall MoodDid you know that beneficial ‘probiotic’ bacteria in yogurt and other food foods keep more than your tummy happy?

A recent UCLA study shows that women who regularly ate yogurt had altered brain function and improved mood, likely because probiotics in their yogurt modified the bacterial environment in their gut.

In other words, when your gut is happy - so is your brain.

Researchers have known for a while now that the brain sends signals to the gut, which is why you sometimes get a tummy upset when you’re really stressed. But this study shows that signals travel from the gut to the brain as well.

36 women between the ages of 18-55 years participated in this study. They were divided into three groups - one group ate a yogurt containing several probiotics twice a day for four weeks, while another group consumed a dairy product that looked and tasted like the yogurt but contained no probiotics - and a third group ate nothing at all.

All the study subjects underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after the four-week study on 2 occasions. First, their brains were scanned when they were doing nothing.

Next, their brains were scanned while they looked at pictures of people with frightened expressions - and matched them to other faces with the same emotions, a test known as emotion-recognition test, which measures how different brain regions respond to visual stimuli.

Women who consumed probiotic yogurt showed lowered activity in the insula - a brain region that is responsible for gut sensations - and in the somatosensory cortex, another brain region responsible for emotional reactivity tasks.

This study shows that probiotics change the way our brain works and how it responds emotionally to the environment.

Other studies have shown that what we eat alters the composition of gut bacteria. For example, people with high-vegetable, fiber-based diets have different gut bacteria than those who eat a diet high in fat and carbs. Clearly, our diet affects not only our metabolism, but also how our brain works.

So - do antibiotics affect the brain?

We typically take antibiotics routinely for various infections, which have been shown to eliminate certain types of gut bacteria - so they can certainly influence our brain function as well.

Also, can gut bacteria be used in future to treat brain-related diseases such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and autism?

Only time will tell.

Do you currently take a probiotic supplement? 

Other related blog posts:

There’s an ongoing war for your health raging in your gut - whose side are you on?

The Power of Probiotics

How to Pick the Right Probiotic


Are Probiotics a Good Mood Food?


5 Ways to Increase the Effectiveness of Healthy Foods

by Nancy Maneely

Effectiveness of Healthy Foods“Eat healthy food” is advice we hear at least once a day. It comes from everywhere: TV, magazines, our doctor, well-meaning family and friends. So, we make smart selections at the grocery store and feel very good about choosing an orange for a midday snack rather than, say, a donut.

That’s a great start … but really, how do you know your body is getting the benefit of the healthy foods you eat? Unfortunately, your body doesn’t issue an itemized receipt every time, listing the calories and nutrients that were effectively utilized. In fact, you might be surprised at how little of the valuable nutrients actually reach their goal – that is, being absorbed and put to work doing what they are meant to do: keep you functioning at an optimum level.

Here are five simple ways you can increase the effectiveness of the food you eat:

  1. Take a digestive enzyme supplement. What are digestive enzymes? Our bodies make their own digestive enzymes that break down food in the mouth, stomach, and small intestine into smaller, absorbable molecules. However, while all fresh food contains enzymes, our modern habits destroy them. We grow fruits and vegetables in depleted soil, gas them to prolong shelf life, and cook them at high heat. All of this reduces their enzyme levels.
  2. Take a probiotic to increase friendly flora. Friendly bacteria help produce the enzymes we need to break down food. They also support immune health and help protect the vulnerable cells along the linings of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines.
  3. Chew your food! Mom’s advice was sound. Chewing produces amylase that breaks down carbohydrates and stimulates digestive juices.
  4. Slow down. The chemicals needed to for healthy digestion are produced when we are relaxed. A calm, quiet atmosphere signals the digestive system to kick in.
  5. Avoid taking antacids. In the stomach, high levels of acid are necessary to break down food (and kill off bad bacteria like H. pylori that can lead to stomach cancer). There are natural ways to reduce the problems of heartburn and acid reflux. Drinking enough water, reducing salt, eating fewer fats, and taking digestive enzymes and probiotics can take care of the problem.

Do you take probiotics or digestive enzymes? What benefits have you experienced?


What are the signs of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth?

by Health News

Did you know - if your stomach gets bloated or gassy after meals, it may be a sign of intestinal inflammation? You may even have a gut infection such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO.

SIBO is one of the common diseases of the digestive system. Thankfully it is just an infection and can typically be remedied rather easily.

These are typical signs of a SIBO infection:

  • Gas and bloating
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation (much less common than diarrhea)
  • Diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Food intolerances such as gluten, casein, lactose, fructose and more
  • Chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, neuromuscular disorders and autoimmune diseases.
  • Deficiency of vitamin B12 as well as other vitamins and minerals
  • Poor fat absorption

SIBO happens because of too much bacterial growth in the small intestine.

What are the signs of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Unlike the colon or large bowel, which is rich with bacteria, the small intestine usually has much fewer bacteria in it. When it does get overrun with bacteria - for example, in people who consume too much sugar, alcohol and refined carbs - symptoms such as nausea, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, malnutrition, weight loss and poor absorption develop.

That’s because certain strains of bacteria feed on refined carbs and break them down into short-chain fatty acids in the small intestine, creating gas and causing bloating. Yet another type of bacteria breaks down bile salts, which are needed for fat breakdown. Without them, fat is poorly absorbed. A third type of bacteria can produce toxins that damage the lining of the small intestine - preventing your body from absorbing vital nutrients it needs to function properly.

So - what exactly causes SIBO?

As it is being digested, food is physically being moved from the stomach to the small intestine and to the colon. In a healthy gut, bacteria also get passed along with the food. Any damage to nerves or muscles in the gut can result in leftover bacteria in the small intestine, increasing risk for SIBO.

For example, diabetes mellitus and scleroderma can affect gut muscles. Physical obstructions in the gut, like scarring from surgeries or Crohn’s disease, can also cause abnormal buildup of bacteria in the small intestine.

Diverticuli, tiny pouches that form in the wall of the small intestine, can collect bacteria instead of passing it on to the colon. Medications such as antibiotics, acid-blocking drugs and steroids can also disrupt normal gut flora.

If you feel that you persistently have any of the symptoms of SIBO, check with your physician. Of course, an easy way to restore your normal balance of gut bacteria and prevent diseases of the digestive system like SIBO is to cut down on sugar, refined carbs and alcohol in your diet.



Signs You May Have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.


How Do You Naturally Prevent Acid Reflux?

by Health News

How Do You Naturally Prevent Acid Reflux?Digestion problems are a growing problem in the US, causing an increasing number of clinic visits and hospitalizations. Yet there's something about them that make it difficult to discuss them in polite company - leaving many unfortunate people suffering in silence.

Symptoms of reflux, such as heartburn, are common digestive problems experienced by most people. In a Swedish study, 6% of people reported experiencing reflux symptoms daily, while 14% had them at least weekly.

Heartburn typically involves a "burning feeling” rising up from the center of the abdomen and into the chest. This feeling may be accompanied by a sour taste, excess salivation or finding food or fluid in your mouth, particularly at night.

Pregnancy, some medications as well as alcohol and certain foods can cause digestive problems, specifically, heartburn.

Acid reflux happens when the lower esophageal sphincter - a circular muscle that acts as a gate between the esophagus and stomach - does not keep its tone, allowing stomach acid to backwash into the esophagus.

Frequently occurring symptoms of reflux may indicate GERD, known as gastroesophageal reflux disease - which is a very common digestive problem. Along with being painful and inconvenient, GERD can harm the esophagus and even lead to esophageal cancer.

Typically, treatment includes drugs that reduce acid levels. However, these medications can be risky. In severe cases, surgeons may tighten a loose muscle between the stomach and esophagus to stop the upward flow of acid.

Surprisingly, avoiding tomatoes and spicy dishes don’t necessarily help to avoid reflux. While they are acidic, they're not "trigger foods”.

On the other hand, mint and anything containing mint oil, chocolate, deep-fried foods, coffee and alcohol have all been shown to trigger GERD. Of these, deep-fried foods are most likely to trigger an acid attack, since they're hard to digest.

Here are some further eating tips to avoid heartburn and other digestion problems:

  • Increase your fiber consumption - some fiber types draw moisture into the gastrointestinal tract, while others add bulk or feed the good gut microbes. Aim to eat one whole fruit, four non-starchy veggies and both soluble and insoluble fibers - like beans, grains and nuts.
  • Add ginger and fennel - ginger has calming digestive powers and may speed up passage of food from the stomach into the small intestine. Fennel is believed to relieve bloating and gas.
  • Be careful with food preparation - instead of frying meals, you may want to try roasting, grilling or poaching instead. Use extra-virgin olive oil for cooking instead of butter or margarine.
  • Be choosy with dairy - opt for goat's milk dairy products, which contain less fat and are easier to digest than cow's milk dairy.
  • Eat like an Italian - the incidence of heartburn among Italians is only 14.8% compared to 42% in the US. Italians eat small portions in their meals and dessert is usually fresh fruit. Afterwards, Italian families usually take a walk together, which has been shown to aid digestion.
  • Prescription drugs used to treat acid reflux, GERD and other digestive problems can cause headaches, nausea and diarrhea.

On the other hand, some natural supplements may be safe alternatives for long-term acid reflux relief. Look for a digestive supplement with ingredients chosen to help resolve your acid reflux problems without any dietary restrictions.

Healthy Aging: Overall Health Starts With Digestion


Four Foods Rich In Essential Magnesium

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that nutritional magnesium deficiency may have caused up to eight million sudden coronary deaths in the US between 1940 and 1994? This frightening estimate is based on census data and studies of similar deaths from magnesium deficiency conducted in other countries.

Globally, magnesium deficiency has reached epidemic proportions. In the US, the Dept. of Agriculture reported that only a quarter of 37,000 consumers they surveyed had a dietary magnesium intake that was equal to or exceeded the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) - while 39% of those surveyed ingested less than 70% of the RDA.

Four Foods Rich In Essential Magnesium

Magnesium is a vital mineral that is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It regulates enzyme reactions, helps energy production, assists in transporting ions across cell membranes and more. In fact, every one of the body's organs requires magnesium to function properly.

Magnesium deficiencies can lead to anxiety, restless leg syndrome, nausea, muscle cramps, insomnia and other health problems. Although poor diets are partially to blame, the biggest reason for magnesium deficiency is ongoing soil erosion, which has significantly reduced the earth’s mineral content.

If you want to prevent or correct magnesium deficiency through your diet, here are four foods that have still retained their magnesium content:

  1. Kelp - sea vegetables remain the best source of many essential minerals. A cup of kelp contains approximately 121 milligrams of magnesium (30 percent of RDA). Kelp is also one of the best sources of iodine, another mineral in which many people are deficient.
  2. Blackstrap molasses - the roots of sugar cane grow deep into the soil, so it’s able to tap into nutrients that other plants cannot reach. This is the reason why organic blackstrap molasses - the treacle-like byproduct of sugar cane refinement - is so rich in essential minerals like iron, calcium, manganese, selenium, potassium and magnesium. Just one tablespoon of this dark, viscous molasses will provide you with 48 milligrams of easily digestible magnesium.
  3. Cacao - magnesium deficiencies often manifest as chronic chocolate cravings, because cacao beans are one of the most magnesium-rich foods in the world. One cup of powdered cacao beans contains a whopping 429 milligrams of magnesium, or just over 100 percent of RDA. That’s why cacao and cacao products make you feel relaxed and energized after eating them.
  4. Rice bran - rice bran is the world's greatest source of magnesium. Just one cup of this byproduct of the rice milling process contains 922 milligrams of magnesium, or more than twice the RDA. It is also unusually high in manganese, phosphorus, iron and the B vitamins. Like blackstrap molasses, rice bran is an excellent gluten-free nutrient supplement and can be added to cereals, soups, muffins, cakes and other baked goods. In fact, a lot of recipes that incorporate blackstrap molasses can also easily incorporate rice bran, providing you with a double dose of essential magnesium.

Given the many health problems associated with magnesium deficiency, why not add one or more of these nutritious foods to your diet today?

Source: Four Foods Rich in Essential Magnesium.   

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Processed Red Meat Linked To Heart Failure, Death In Men

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to a recent study, men who eat moderate amounts of processed red meat may have an increased risk of incidence and death from heart failure.

Heart failure affects nearly 6 million Americans. Over 600,000 people are diagnosed with heart failure each year, making it the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than 65.

Processed Red Meat Linked To Heart Failure

Processed meats - including cold cuts such as ham and salami as well as sausage, bacon and hot dogs - are typically preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. They are known to contain sodium, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives. In addition, smoked and grilled meats also contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

According to health experts, all of these compounds are likely to contribute to greater risk of heart failure. On the other hand, unprocessed meat is free from food additives and usually contains less sodium.

The Cohort of Swedish Men study was the first to examine the effects of processed red meat separately from unprocessed red meat. It included 37,035 men aged 45-79 years old with no prior history of heart failure, ischemic heart disease or cancer.

Study participants first completed a questionnaire on food intake and other lifestyle factors - and then study researchers followed them from 1998 to the date of heart failure diagnosis, death or the end of the study in 2010.

After almost 12 years of follow-up, researchers established the following:

  • Heart failure was diagnosed in 2,891 men, of whom 266 died from heart failure.
  • Men who ate the most processed red meat had a 28 percent higher risk of heart failure compared to men who ate the least, after adjusting for multiple lifestyle variables.
  • Men who ate the most processed red meat had more than a 2-fold increased risk of death from heart failure compared to men in the lowest category.
  • For each 50 gram increase in daily consumption of processed meat, the risk of heart failure incidence increased by 8 percent and the risk of death from heart failure by 38 percent.
  • The risk of heart failure or death among those who consumed unprocessed red meat didn't increase.

Results for total red meat consumption are consistent with findings from the Physicians' Health Study, in which men who ate the most total red meat had a 24 percent higher risk of heart failure incidence compared to those who ate the least.

In summary - to reduce your risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases, health experts recommend avoiding processed red meat in your diet as much as possible, and limiting the amount of unprocessed red meat to one to two servings per week or less.

Instead they recommend switching over to a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, nuts and eating more servings of fish.

Source: Processed Red Meat Linked to Heart Failure, Death in Men.   


Six Ways Flaxseeds Lower Breast Cancer Risk

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that flaxseeds have potent anticancer effects?

Researchers from the University of Toronto recently reviewed a number of studies on flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, as well as lignans found in flaxseed.    Six Ways Flaxseeds Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Lignans are a class of phytoestrogens or plant estrogens that also act as antioxidants. Other foods also contain lignans - including sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, grains such as rye, barley, wheat and oats as well as broccoli and beans - but flaxseeds have hundreds of times the amount of lignans as any of the others.

Flaxseeds and lignan intake have been associated with reduced breast cancer risk, particularly in postmenopausal women. Lignans reduce breast cancer mortality by 33-70% and all-cause mortality by 40-53%. 

Further, diets containing 10% flaxseeds have been shown to increase the effectiveness of Tamoxifen, the usual anti-estrogen therapy for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer in pre- and post-menopausal women.

Clinical trials show that taking 25 grams per day of flaxseeds - containing 50 milligrams of lignans - for 32 days reduces tumor growth in breast cancer patients.

Specifically, flaxseeds protect women from breast cancer in these six ways:

  1. Lowering tumor cell proliferation - lignans are broken down by bacteria in the gut into 2 estrogen-like compounds that circulate through the liver. These compounds have been proven to prevent breast tumor growth in animal studies.
  2. Blocking tumor blood supply - all tumors need new blood vessels (known as angiogenesis) to supply oxygen and nutrients for growth. Flaxseeds block the growth factor needed to stimulate angiogenesis.
  3. Lowering estrogen production - lignans block an enzyme involved in production of estrogen, lowering estrogen production. This may be beneficial in breast cancer, because high estrogen levels have been linked to breast cancer growth.
  4. Blocking estrogen receptors - lignans are believed to be hundreds of times weaker than human estrogen, but they dock on estrogen receptors and prevent the activity of stronger cancer stimulating human and synthetic estrogens. 
  5. Generating more protective estrogen metabolites - estrogen is broken down in the liver into three different metabolites. Two have been linked to the growth of breast cancer cells, but the third is considered protective. Lignans seem to trigger production of more of the protective metabolite relative to the others.
  6. Lowering the risk of metastasis - in one animal study, a diet rich in flaxseeds reduced the incidence of metastasis by 82% compared to the control group.

Many of these studies show that consumption of just 25 grams or 2.5 tablespoons of flaxseeds daily is effective against breast cancer.

You can introduce flaxseeds into your diet by adding 1-2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds to cereals, smoothies, yogurt or salads. You can also add it to baked breads and muffins. Aim for 2-4 tablespoons per day

Source: Six Ways Flaxseed Lowers Breast Cancer Risk.   

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Four Common Myths About Calcium

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You’ve probably heard of the old saying - ‘Milk does a body good’.

Most people have been raised to accept this as gospel. However, more and more health experts are now saying that not only are we not getting much benefit from Four Common Myths About Calciumcalcium consumption, but it may in fact be actively sabotaging our health.

Calcium is essential for bodily function, but it seems we may be pumping too much of it into our bodies. The fact is, most healthy adults don’t need to consume a lot of calcium - and that need rapidly decreases with age.

Here's the scary thing - excess calcium consumption has been shown to raise risk of heart disease, high blood pressure (BP), strokes, cancer and other chronic diseases. In fact, it increases the overall likelihood of death - known as all-cause mortality - by a staggering 250 percent!

Here are four common myths about calcium you may need to rethink:

  1. Osteoporosis means calcium deficiency - yes it does, but only in bones. It’s not necessarily true that calcium deficiency exists throughout the rest of the body, so consuming more calcium will not always solve the problem. The real problem with osteoporosis is that the body is unable to make new bone and integrate calcium into it - a problem that pumping in more calcium will not solve. The real problem is that most of the calcium leached from bones moves to other parts of the body, where it can be toxic to health.
  2. Dairy products are the best source of calcium - the fact is, you don’t need dairy to get enough calcium. Cultures that drink little to no milk have a much lower incidence of osteoporosis than Americans do. The average person's need for calcium can be easily met by consuming moderate amounts of meat, eggs and vegetables.
  3. More bone density means stronger bones - bone density may indeed improve a little with calcium supplementation, but this does not automatically lead to stronger bones or lower risk of fracture. In fact, bone quality doesn't improve unless other important factors are also addressed.
  4. Bone fracture is the biggest danger in osteoporosis - bone fractures are a serious business, no doubt. However, having a fracture is much less serious than suffering or dying from a heart attack, stroke or cancer. A groundbreaking study showed a 60 percent increase in the risk of death for individuals with lower bone densities - in whom calcium had likely leached to other parts of the body - compared to those with the highest bone densities.

These myths about calcium are currently accepted as fact by most people, and even some healthcare givers. More and more health experts are saying - and with good reason - that raising calcium concentrations is not beneficial, and it can even be toxic for health.

Source: Four Common Myths About Calcium.   

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