Diarrhea can be caused by anything from digestive problems to food poisoning to too much caffeine. But when you’re stuck on the porcelain throne, you’re not so much concerned about what caused your condition. Instead, you want to know how to fix it. Fast.
We caught up with Deborah Malkoff-Cohen, a registered dietitian and nutritionist in New York City and self-proclaimed “poop expert,” to help you do just that.
Here are six tips on how to get off the pot and back to feeling like yourself again.
1. Reduce Stress Levels
If your belly starts rumbling before a job interview, a public speaking event or a long flight, it could be a symptom of stress. In these cases, meditation, visualization and other relaxation techniques could help settle your stomach.
“The calmer you are, the calmer the stomach will be,” Malkoff-Cohen says. But she warns that this won’t help with all cases of diarrhea. “If you get E. coli, singing Kumbaya won’t help.”
2. Eat a Bland Diet
Sticking to the BRAT diet (which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) is Malkoff-Cohen’s top tip for anyone experiencing stomach issues, especially diarrhea. These foods contain fiber, pectin and other ingredients that have a binding property, which can help firm up your stools.
“Those foods will help clog you up, if you will,” Malkoff-Cohen says. “Think about it: You use applesauce as a binding ingredient when baking.”
3. Avoid Fats and Dairy
Eating high-fat foods makes your digestive system work harder and can lead to loose stools, which is the last thing you want when you have the runs, Malkoff-Cohen says. It’s also wise to avoid dairy when you’re dealing with diarrhea, she says. Milk products contain lactose, a natural sugar that can be harder to digest when your stomach’s fighting a bug.
“When your digestive system is already on the fritz, why add anything into the mix to complicate things?”
4. Embrace Probiotics
Diarrhea is sometimes a symptom of an imbalance in your gut flora. Probiotic supplements can help strengthen the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal system and shorten a diarrhea spell, she says.
5. Be Careful What You Drink
You want to stay hydrated when you have diarrhea, but some drinks can make your symptoms worse, Malkoff-Cohen advises.
Coffee, tea, soda and alcohol are all diuretics. Drinking these can cause you to lose fluids. You also want to watch out for drinks that are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, including many sodas, juices and energy drinks. Large quantities of fructose can cause gas, bloating and, you guessed it, more diarrhea. Finally, any food or drink sweetened with sorbitol and other artificial sweeteners can have a laxative effect on the digestive system.
“Say no to all sugarless items,” Malkoff-Cohen says.
6. Try Over-the-Counter Remedies
Over-the-counter medicines like Pepto-Bismol and Imodium A-D can help bring fast relief when you have diarrhea, Malkoff-Cohen says. Both drugs slow peristalsis, the involuntary muscle movements responsible for digestion. Pepto-Bismol also reduces inflammation and kills bacteria that may cause diarrhea, she says, while Imodium A-D reduces the frequency and volume of your stools.
Pro tip: “Beware, the next poop you have after ingesting Pepto-Bismol may be very dark or even black,” she says. That’s because Pepto-Bismol contains bismuth. When the bismuth mixes with small amounts of sulfur (which can be found in saliva and the gastrointestinal tract), a black chemical compound called bismuth sulfide is formed.
“Do not freak,” Malkoff-Cohen assures. “It is both temporary and harmless.”
Living with an anxious dog can be a struggle. You hate seeing your canine companion in distress, and naturally want him to receive immediate relief. Pinpointing an effective treatment is not always straightforward, however.
“They pick up on our anxiety, little changes, so sometimes it takes a while for us to figure out what is actually causing that. And that can be frustrating for a pet parent to not have an obvious answer right away,” says Dr. Casara Andre, founder of Veterinary Cannabis – Education and Consulting, based in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
Pet parents have a number of available treatment options, including prescriptions, behavior therapy, supplements and essential oils. Hemp-based products—generally available as chews, or in liquid form given orally or added to food—are another increasingly popular option. But do they work, are they safe, and most importantly, are they right for your anxious dog?
Hemp for Dogs
Hemp is essentially the same plant (Cannabis sativa) that marijuana comes from, says Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinarian who practices at Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California. “Except legally speaking, hemp plants are only allowed to contain, at most, 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC is the compound that triggers euphoria). So there are effectively no issues as far as drug abuse.”
Pet supplement manufacturers use flowers from the hemp plant to extract cannabidiol (CBD), the primary compound coveted for its health benefits, he says. “CBD can have a very positive effect as it pertains to stress, anxiety and a number of other medical conditions. It’s a pretty good pain reliever, too.”
Most of the research for veterinary use is in its infancy, he says. “We’re just starting to see some studies come out looking at the use of CBD to treat arthritis in dogs (1), but with regards to studies for stress and anxiety, there’s all types of evidence when it comes to humans, but not just yet in the vet field.”
Despite the lack of research, experts say hemp is generally safe for pets. “There really is no such thing as CBD toxicity,” Richter says. “Worst case scenario is if a dog gets too much, he might get too sleepy, and every once in a blue moon you might see a dog with a tummy upset, and they may have vomiting and diarrhea. And if that happens, you just stop giving it and they get better.”
Vets say most concerns about hemp-based products for pets relate to quality control (for example, products containing too much THC).
Can Hemp Calm an Anxious Dog?
As with any supplement or pharmaceutical, hemp is not a cure-all, and it doesn’t target any specific issue, such as separation anxiety or noise phobia. “It may be effective on its own for some dogs or for some conditions, or work better in combination with additional treatments in other cases,” says Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinary writer, editor and consultant based in Fort Collins, Colorado.
What hemp does do is make behavior therapy easier to administer, Richter says. “If you think about it in terms of humans, you cannot medicate an anxiety order away. At best, a medication or supplement like CBD will calm dogs down enough to where they can pay attention to training and behavioral modification, and in many ways that’s what you’re hoping to do,” he explains.
“If you can change the situation from them being in an absolute blind panic to them being able to focus enough to pay attention, then you can start to change their behavior with training and other methods,” Richter continues. “But it’s never going to be just about the supplement or just about the medication.”
It’s also not as simple as giving your dog a hemp chew when he’s in the midst of an attack; treatment is an ongoing process. “Whenever you give an animal something for anxiety, you have to start from before they’re actually having the anxiety,” Richter says. “If you can get the dog before they get all worked up, then sometimes you can prevent it from happening, and CBD can certainly help with that.”
When Should I Give My Dog Hemp?
Experts strongly recommend giving dogs hemp only under the guidance of a vet. The challenge here is that vets can seem evasive on the subject of hemp, and with good reason. The DEA—the agency that licenses a vet’s prescription-writing ability—classifies all cannabinoids, including commercially-available hemp, as Schedule 1 substances, Andre says.
The legal concerns surrounding hemp can be confusing. A company that’s certified to grow hemp in its state can produce cannabis as long as it remains at .03 percent THC, Andre says. “Tracking the ‘correctness’ of this is often difficult, but it does take advantage of loopholes in the law and differences between state and federal regulations,” she says.
In multiple places, the policy contradicts itself. “However, between written policy and verbal stances by the DEA, no veterinarian can prescribe or recommend any cannabinoid,” she says.
Vets can provide education, however. “Vets can absolutely educate pet parents to promote harm reduction, and to make sure the animal is safely using CBD,” Andre says. If you’d like to consider hemp as a treatment option, still talk to your vet, but be aware that the information you receive may be limited by necessity.
If you keep your expectations about hemp-based products for pets realistic and use them in conjunction with behavior therapy, your furry family member may benefit. Whether or not hemp is suitable for your dog and situation is a decision that should be made by your vet.
Here’s why you should drink apple cider vinegar, and how to get your daily dose.
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Of all the claims made by apple cider vinegar proponents, this one has the most meat to it: One study by researchers at Arizona State University found that the glucose levels of participants were 34 percent lower than the controls when they drank 20 grams of apple cider vinegar mixed with 40 grams of water and one teaspoon of sugar during a meal (1).
A separate study found that patients with diabetes who consumed two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed woke with improved fasting glucose levels (2).
It’s not a direct link, but for some of the same reasons apple cider vinegar helps with your blood sugar levels, it can also help with your waistline. Glucose levels were lower after participants in the Arizona State study drank vinegar because it contains acetic acid, which increases insulin sensitivity and can slow the absorption of calories from a meal.
Additionally, lower glucose levels have been linked to feeling more full and, presumably, eating less. To date, however, there isn’t much data linking apple cider vinegar directly to weight loss.
What’s the Best Way to Drink Apple Cider Vinegar?
The most basic way you can get your daily fix of apple cider vinegar is by taking it straight up as a shot. But not everyone enjoys that burning sensation in the back of their throats, especially first thing in the morning!
If a shot of ACV is too strong or sour for your taste, you can try diluting it with water, seltzer or tea and sweeten it up with a bit of honey to make it more palatable.
If you’re feeling even more creative, you can incorporate apple cider vinegar into everything from smoothies and detox drinks to cocktails and mocktails.
Here are two ACV drinks you can enjoy equally for their taste and their health benefits:
Spiced Cranberry & Rosemary Mocktail
(Recipe and photo courtesy of Miss Allie’s Kitchen)
Cranberries, lime and rosemary for garnish (optional)
Add the water, cranberries, raw honey, Fire Cider Original and rosemary to a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture out, and place it in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes. Fill a glass with ice and to each, add ½ cup of the spiced cranberry and rosemary syrup and 1 cup of lime seltzer. Mix, garnish with desired toppings and enjoy.
In a mug, add whiskey, lemon juice and turmeric sipping vinegar. Top with hot water and mix well. Add one star anise and serve.
Other Ways to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar
If you’re still not keen on drinking apple cider vinegar, there are other ways to consume it. For example, you can work it into a marinade or sauce for a little extra zip.
Of course, salads are a great vehicle for apple cider vinegar, and a tasty vinaigrette or dressing might make you more likely to eat nutritious leafy greens and veggies. Combining vinegar with oil also helps balance the pH level and prevent tooth enamel erosion from the acetic acid.
If you can’t stand the taste no matter how you prepare it, apple cider vinegar capsules might be your best bet. Keep in mind that the amount of acetic and citric acids in commercially available apple cider vinegar tablets reportedly varies dramatically between samples (3). This means dosage information on apple cider vinegar capsule packages may not be accurate, and taking too much can cause digestion issues.
As tempting as it is to bask in the sun on a warm summer day, you’ll want to protect yourself from its rays every time you head outdoors.
The best way to prevent a sunburn, of course, is to not get one in the first place. But we all know that things happen, even to the savviest SPF advocates.
As soon as you notice a burn, cover up, head inside and try one of these natural healing remedies:
The Right Moisturizer
Dr. Jeremy Wolf, LuckyVitamin’s lead health advisor, recommends using calendula lotion to treat sunburns or even urtica urens, a plant-based cream that can be used to treat first-degree burns.
Stacey Rex, creator and owner of Pure Stella Skin Care in North Carolina, suggests using aloe vera to soothe and hydrate sunburned skin. If possible, she recommends using aloe straight from the plant, but it can also be used in a gel or lotion.
In addition, Wolf cautions against using lotions or creams that contain petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine. Moisturizers with petroleum trap heat in your skin, he says, and benzocaine and lidocaine can also be irritating.
“Stick to moisturizers that are free from fragrances and preservatives, which may further irritate your skin,” Rex adds.
Florida-based beauty chemist David Pollock considers tea to be the greatest at-home remedy for sunburns.
“You can brew a strong pitcher of black tea using several tea bags, then bring it to room temperature,” says Pollock, founder of JustAskDavid.com. “The tannic acid in the tea will instantly restore the acidic nature of your skin, take out the stinging and help to prevent peeling.”
He suggests using a compress to dab the tea across your burn, or run a bath and pour the pitcher of tea into the tub to soak in.
Baking soda can have a similar soothing effect on sunburns. “It helps balance the pH of your skin to promote healing and soothe your skin,” Rex says.
Add a cup of baking soda to a cool or lukewarm bath and soak for 20 to 30 minutes, Rex says, or apply a paste of baking soda and water to clean skin with a cotton ball. Let it sit for up to 10 minutes before rinsing with cool water.
Like tea, white wine vinegar is acidic and can be used to soothe a sunburn naturally, Pollock says. (It just has a stronger smell.) In addition, Rex recommends using apple cider vinegar as a sunburn-treating solution.
“Mix equal portions of water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray on skin,” she says. “I also recommend adding lavender essential oil; not only will it mask the vinegar smell, but lavender is also great for soothing burns and speeding up the healing process. You can also add a cup of vinegar to a warm (not hot) bath and soak.”
The acidic nature of yogurt is close to that of our skin and can help promote natural healing, Pollock says.
In addition, Rex says that the probiotics in yogurt help moisturize and reduce pain. “Make sure you find a plain, full-fat version, then apply to the skin, wait 10 minutes and rinse off in the shower.”
Hydrating Foods and Beverages
One of the most important things you can do to help heal a sunburn is to stay hydrated, Wolf says. Drink plenty of water, and even consider adding a scoop of electrolyte powder to your water bottle to maintain hydration, he says.
You can also consider trying certain foods to help ease your pain. “Snack on foods that are high in vitamin C, like oranges and watermelon, to promote healing,” Rex adds. “As an added bonus, they also help keep you hydrated.”
Though trends in the world of health and beauty might come and go pretty fast, there are some products that can withstand the tests of time. Castor oil, for example, has been used for so long that there is a ton of anecdotal evidence suggesting Egyptian ruler Cleopatra regularly relied on the oil to keep her skin and face fresh (1). Whether you’re presiding over an entire nation or you’re simply looking to get rid of some acne before a date, castor oil might be a great fit.
Take a look at some of the exciting ways you can incorporate castor oil into your daily routine. The more you learn about its benefits, the easier it will be for you to grab yourself a bottle and see for yourself.
1. Heal Your Skin
To begin, let’s look at the example of Cleopatra. In order to keep her face moisturized and protected against the harsh climates of Ancient Egypt, the ruler was said to have used castor oil regularly. There is a lot of scientific evidence to suggest that this would have been a very sensible move for anyone living in this region at the time. The fatty acids found in castor oil can do wonders for dry, irritated skin (2). The fatty acids keep the skin moisturized while simultaneously helping to heal any wounds or abrasions on the skin’s surface.
Several studies also suggest that castor oil can help to reduce inflammation of the skin. By using castor oil on your face, you might be able to reduce the odds of an acne breakout by reducing inflammation and encouraging healthy skin cell growth (3). For best results, rub a small amount of castor oil on your face before you go to bed. You can wash it off right away or leave it on until the morning. Some health experts suggest using a warm cloth to open the pores on your face before applying castor oil to see the best results.
2. Protect Your Hair
Your hair can also benefit from a bit of castor oil. As with your skin, the fatty acids found in this oil can help to keep your hair hydrated. These same fats reinforce hair follicles, making it far less likely you’re going to see breakage or feel like your locks are in an unhealthy place (4). You can also expect your scalp to benefit from using a bit of castor oil when you wash your hair. Some studies have suggested that you can lower the odds of developing dandruff by using a little of this oil (5).
The best way to use castor oil on your hair is as a conditioner. After washing, apply a small amount of the oil on your hair and vigorously rub it in. Start with warm water and slowly switch to a cold rinse. The colder water at the end helps to lock the oil into your hair. For best results, be sure to condition in this fashion two or three times a week.
3. Ease Stomach Troubles
Castor oil is also useful by the spoonful as a laxative. No matter how much time you dedicate to cultivating a healthy diet, there are plenty of surprises that can come along. When you find yourself feeling constipated, it can make you feel terrible and prevent you from going about your routine with the same vigor. Castor oil is perfect in this situation. The oil itself is a fantastic natural laxative, helping to encourage muscle movement in the intestines (6).
While there is a ton of evidence out there suggesting that castor oil can relieve constipation, there are also some drawbacks to stay mindful of. Using castor oil might actually be too much of a good thing when unblocking your system and cause diarrhea. If you go from being backed up to being in the bathroom every five minutes, you might want to reduce how much castor oil you’re using or try another method.
4. Dental Health
You might not like hearing it, but your mouth is swarming with bacteria (7). For the most part, the germs that lurk in the mouth are safe. Some simply exist on the tongue and teeth to encourage healthy digestion. Of course, you also want to get rid of most of this bacteria when you brush. Some substances that grow in the mouth can lead to serious dental issues like plaque. By swishing some castor oil around in your mouth before brushing, you can clear our some of this bacteria in an effective manner (8).
Castor oil is a simple product with a ton of uses. When you want to add an extra level of protection to your teeth, hair, and skin, this is definitely an option worth your consideration!
Fermented foods seem to have become quite popular in recent months. Whether you’ve heard about the benefits of drinking vinegars or are simply wondering why yogurt is such a hot option for breakfast, you most likely want to know what all the fuss is about. People are clamoring for fermented products lately because these foods and drinks are excellent sources of probiotics.
For those a bit shaky on what probiotics are exactly, it is best to think of them as good bacteria for your gut (1). While you might associate bacteria with germs and other sickness-causing agents, the truth is there are many bacterias your body requires for healthy functions. Probiotics help to encourage digestion by affecting the nerves that control the various muscle movements in the stomach and intestines, keeping a person regular and comfortable (2).
If you feel like you’re ready to explore these options for yourself, you will be happy to learn there are several simple ways to get started. Take a look at these tips on how to work fermented foods into your diet and see which tactics work for your lifestyle.
Do you like yogurt? If you do, then you’re already on your path to including more fermented products in your diet. The cultures found in dairy products like kefir and yogurt can provide your body with the right daily dose of probiotics to encourage a happy gut. Start your morning right by grabbing a bowl of yogurt and topping it with your favorite crunchy granola and fresh fruit slices. You might even enjoy the experience so much that you forget you’re treating your body to a healthy meal.
While dairy cultures are excellent fermented products to include in your daily meals, there are a number of people who cannot eat dairy. For those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, there are other avenues to explore. Coconut yogurt cultures can offer all the digestive power offered by dairy without the discomfort or bloating.
Yogurt is the centerpiece ingredient for fermented breakfast options, but there are less obvious ways to include probiotics in your meals. Plenty of people enjoy eating quick meals like sandwiches and salads for lunch. For those who want to work more probiotics into lunchtime, consider adding fermented pickles to the mix.
By themselves, pickles do not offer a ton of nutritional value. Though tasty, these briny cucumbers are more for flavor and crunch than anything else. Still, eating a pickle on or with your lunch has been reported to increase the good bacteria in your gut and promote easy digestion (3). While pickles might be an acquired taste, the simple health benefits can make them a lot more palatable.
Speaking of acquired tastes, sauerkraut is another great option when it comes to eating more fermented foods. Since it is made from cabbage, sauerkraut contains a ton of fiber. This by itself is enough to encourage a healthier digestive system (4). Due to the fermented nature of sauerkraut, it also enhances the digestive experience by introducing healthy probiotics into the mix.
It is also important to note that introducing too much sauerkraut to your system at once can have a negative impact on the way your stomach feels. You don’t want your stomach to turn from the experience, so it is best to use sauerkraut sparingly at first. Increase how much of it you use with time and you’re likely to feel the benefits in your stomach in no time at all.
Switch to Sourdough
Finally, you can do wonders for your diet by switching what kind of bread you eat at home. Unlike other options found at your local grocery store, sourdough bread packs a ton of digestive benefits into one loaf. This type of bread is made with only water, salt and flour, with the rest of the process being more about fermentation than anything else. While sourdough has long been considered a great option for people having trouble achieving glucose homeostasis (5), there are many who are now seeing the digestive benefits.
The longer the dough has been fermenting, the better it will be for your gut. Instead of opting for whole wheat or white, see how using long-fermented sourdough can transform your meals.
Get creative with the way you infuse fermented foods into your day. While you might not want to eat a sauerkraut and pickle sandwich on sourdough with a side of yogurt, you can easily find more practical ways to ingest these helpful sources of probiotics.
When summertime rolls in, so do the mosquitoes and other biting pests. If you’re looking to protect your skin without resorting to harsh chemicals, try DIY bug spray!
Benefits of Homemade Bug Spray
That’s right, you can totally make your own bug spray using natural ingredients (like apple cider vinegar and witch hazel) and essential oils. And the best part is, your homemade solution can also nourish your skin while it repels. Plus, it’ll smell better than traditional bug sprays!
Essential Oils That Repel Insects
“Many essential oils have properties that are known for repelling insects,” says Jessica Klingbaum, certified aromatherapy specialist. Consider using the following for your homemade concoction: arborvitae, cedarwood, cinnamon, citronella, clove, geranium, lemongrass, spearmint, peppermint, rosemary and thyme.
There are also some oils that are said to be more effective in repelling specific kinds of insects, Klingbaum adds. For example, citronella, peppermint, lemon, lemongrass, geranium and lavender repel mosquitoes. Grapefruit, juniper berry, thyme and oregano can keep ticks at bay. For spiders, you can use peppermint, melaleuca, eucalyptus and cinnamon.
Vanilla is a great addition to any bug spray because it not only will make it more effective, it’ll also add a nice aroma, Klingbaum says.
Klingbaum warns that essential oils are volatile and aromatic compounds can dissipate fairly quickly. “It’s very important to have a fixative ingredient, like fractionated coconut oil, to help keep the essential oils on the skin longer,” she says. Doing so will then help to increase the efficacy of the bug spray and help it last longer.
DIY Bug Spray Recipe
Ready to make your own bug spray? Here’s a recipe from Klingbaum, founder of BeHipandHealthy.com: Start with a 4-ounce bottle. Add 2 ounces of fractionated coconut oil and 2 ounces of distilled water. Then, add 30-40 drops of essential oils in any blend that you prefer from the list above. And voila! It’s that easy!
When you’re looking for a bit of refreshment on a hot day, you might not immediately think about tossing back a cup of vinegar. Yeah, it sounds a bit weird at first. Still, drinking vinegars seem to be the newest obsession among people who want to revitalize their bodies.
While drinking this pungent liquid is not an appealing prospect to many, the people behind the brands of drinking vinegars currently lining the shelves have taken some great considerations to make the beverage more palatable.
If you still find yourself shaking your head, you are not alone. Many publications have been discussing how odd this beverage trend seems at first glance and pointing out that many celebrities are getting into the fad (1). Though drinking the tangy beverage might seem unusual, people also turned their noses up at kombucha when it first hit the market. Nowadays, kombucha is a very popular fermented drink for health enthusiasts (2), and it seems like drinking vinegars might be following the same path.
If you want to determine whether drinking vinegar should be a part of your daily routine, here’s everything you need to know.
We know vinegar is mainly comprised of acetic acid and water, but what else is inside the bottle? Vinegar also contains chemicals called polyphenols. These chemical compounds are naturally found in plants and help them to fight off predators, enhance pigmentation, and strengthens flora against potential infections (3). Beyond these functions, polyphenols have also been shown to be incredibly resistant to rot, whether found in a natural form or within a processed item like vinegar.
Research on polyphenols over the years has revealed some impressive benefits. While there are a number of different types of polyphenols found in the various plants of the world, the types found in vinegar are excellent when it comes to protecting and preserving the functions of the gut. Specifically, drinking vinegars help to strengthen the gut microbiota found along the lining of your stomach and intestinal tract. By using vinegar to keep this bacteria present and active, you are likely to experience improved digestive functions (4).
Gut microbiota aside, you might be wondering why people are drinking vinegar when there are so many other sources of this chemical chain readily available in nature. Polyphenols are just one of several antioxidizing components of vinegar. That’s right, vinegar is packed with antioxidants (5). While you’ve been hunting down blueberries and acai extract, there has been a great antioxidant source right in your pantry!
Now, to clarify, you probably should not just grab any bottle of clear vinegar from your kitchen, toss in a straw, and see what happens. In fact, you have to go for the right kinds of vinegar to see the benefits. Of the household varieties of vinegar out there, apple cider vinegar is your best choice. You probably have heard that gargling with apple cider vinegar is good for your throat and the same is true of drinking a small amount and feeling a difference in your gut.
If you want to test out the drinking vinegar craze, you’re not limited to sipping on the same apple cider vinegar you use to cook with. There are a variety of exciting brands currently on the market made with fruits, herbs and spices. Instead of plugging your nose and hoping for the best, you can explore a wide range of flavors and ingredients, including honey, ginger, turmeric, pineapple and pomegranate.
Whether you jump on the bandwagon or not, there is a lot of science behind the act of drinking vinegar for health. Look more into polyphenols and see what foods and beverages you can find these chemical chains in. If vinegar isn’t for you, then there’s bound to be another option to provide your body with some helpful antioxidants.
You can’t count how many times you have struggled to zip up your skinny jeans or caught a glimpse of your four-month-pregnant-looking belly in the mirror. Blame bloat.
Digestive bloating is caused by air, fluid or gas in the digestive tract. It makes your belly look and feel swollen or tight. While bloating is normal, it can also be uncomfortable.
Whether it happens occasionally or every month during your period, follow these seven tips to prevent stomach bloating and improve digestion.
Regular exercise can help keep you regular. One study found that physical activity helped participants move gas and ease their symptoms (1).
Remember, “Movement of the body is good for movement of the bowels,” notes dietitian Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Dehydration is a common cause of constipation, which worsens gas and bloating. Drink plenty of water each day to help keep your stool soft and easier to pass through the colon, Sandon advises.
Steer Clear of Artificial Sweeteners
Certain artificial sweeteners, including high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol and xylitol, are linked with bloating. “Artificial sweeteners are poorly absorbed in the intestines,” explains Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, a physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and author of A Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Stomach. “If you’re having increased bloating, check food labels for artificial sweeteners.”
The faster you eat, the more air you swallow (and the more gas you create). If you struggle with bloating, Wolf suggests slowing down during mealtimes. Eating more frequent, smaller meals may also help.
“A larger meal will take longer to empty out of your stomach and that can leave you feeling bloated,” says Wolf, who is also an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Avoid Carbonated Drinks
The fizz in your favorite drinks can cause bubbles to build up in your belly. “Carbonated beverages are a huge trigger for bloat,” Wolf warns. Instead of soda or seltzer, choose flavored water or green tea. A 2016 study also found that peppermint helped alleviate bloating (2).
Focus on Fiber
Foods high in fiber and sulfur like apples, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, onions and garlic are harder for your gut bacteria to break down, according to Sandon. These are also really nutritious foods, so you don’t want to cut them from your diet. In fact, Sandon notes, “The more you eat them, the better your bacteria are likely to get at breaking them down.”
Cook fruits and vegetables to soften them. (Your gut has to work harder to digest raw fruits and veggies). Sandon also suggests switching to canned fruits packed in their own juices or water, or applesauce if eating raw fruit triggers bloating.
Get OTC Relief
Although diet and lifestyle changes can reduce digestive bloating, you may need to reach for an over-the-counter remedy for immediate gas relief. Your doctor may also recommend supplements to improve digestion, such as probiotics or digestive enzymes.
With the right lifestyle changes, you can beat bloat and start feeling better.
There are a lot of conflicting opinions out there about what to do when you start developing the symptoms of a seasonal cold. Everyone has a recipe or suggestion for what will get rid of your sniffles and help you to feel well again. For the most part, Vitamin C is a popular choice. Though many studies show how helpful Vitamin C can be for the immune system, it is not the best supplement for shortening a cold.
To take full advantage of the power of Vitamin C, one must take the right level of the supplement before the onset of a cold. This helps to shorten the presence of the symptoms, though it is not effective at changing the overall duration of the sickness. To fight back in a more effective way, consider these three helpful supplements that might pack more of a punch.
The downside to Vitamin C is you have a very limited window for taking it in order to see the results you’d like. With other supplements like elderberry, the experience is a bit different. The extract of the black elderberry plant has been used for medicinal purposes for a long while. Native Americans first used the plant as a way of combating fevers brought on by various conditions. Nowadays, black elderberry extract can be found in a multitude of cough syrups and lozenges.
Elderberry is effective at treating both the symptoms of the common cold as well as the symptoms brought about by influenza. About a day after experiencing the aches and pains of being sick, taking an elderberry supplement should help. Studies show this extract is incredibly useful at eliminating some of the more frustrating symptoms of a cold, including sore throat, coughs, and aches of the head and body. The next time you feel a cold coming on, see what this supplement can do for your situation.
The common cold tends to appear the most prevalently in the winter. Since this has been the case for most of human history, a large chunk of remedies for colds contain ingredients that are bountiful in this season. This is especially true when it comes to ginger root. This spicy and delicious root is used in everything from cooking, to baking, to brewing teas and other elixirs. The anti-inflammatory agents in ginger assist with relieving the many pains associated with the common cold, including calming down a sore throat.
When one is suffering from a cold or the flu, it can be incredibly difficult to feel comfortable. Hot flashes and cold chills can rock the body and cause a person to feel as if he or she is completely disconnected. Ginger is useful here because it can help a body to return to normalcy in regards to temperature. Ginger can easily warm a person up when consumed in the form of tea, which can be perfect for anyone dealing with terrible chills throughout the duration of a cold.
Finally, there is zinc. Though ginger and elderberry are far better at helping a person get through the stages of a cold, zinc plays a slightly different part. Various studies over the years have concluded a person taking zinc during a cold helps to prevent the virus from multiplying and spreading throughout the body. This can be a huge help in fighting the cold but there is little to suggest it can prevent a cold outright.
Before taking zinc it is important to remember that there are side effects. Many people who take zinc supplements complain about nausea, which is something to stay alert of. Whenever a supplement you are taking is making you feel ill, stop taking it right away and consult with your primary care physician. This is the best way to get the most from your health without causing any adverse effects along the way.
Article written by Joe Palinsky
Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.
Hearing a lot of talk about your gut microbiome lately? There’s a lot of information circulating around the wellness world about how important it is to keep our microbiome balanced…but what exactly is a microbiome? In short, it’s the complex ecosystem of microbes—bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc—located in our bodies, the majority of which live in our gut and digestive system.
Why it’s important to keep your gut healthy
So far, researchers have found poor gut health as a root cause for a number of diseases, ailments and health issues. The Standard American Diet (SAD) has been linked to the state of our of digestive health, so what we eat greatly impacts our microbiome. As additional studies about the microbiome continue to surface, we are learning more and more about the different ways our gut can have a serious affect on our overall health.
1. Vitamin production and nutrient absorption
It makes sense that nutrients need a healthy environment to do their job! Research shows that bacteria live in the gut and feed off undigested food, and in turn produce vitamin K for the body to use, as well as B vitamins that help generate and maintain energy. Microbes also help with the absorption of nutrients such as antioxidants, helping the body to fight free-radicals and inflammation.
2. Immune system regulation
According to studies like this one, 80% of our immune system greatly relies on the functionality of our microbiome. Because of this, researchers are able to deduce that autoimmune diseases like IBS, type 1 diabetes, lupus and arthritis can be traced back to an unbalanced and unhealthy microbiome.
3. Mental health and brain function
While not responsible for deep thoughts and understanding, the second brain (a.k.a your gut) is responsible for housing 95% of our body’s serotonin levels. Researchers say there is actually an elaborate system of neurons embedded in the walls of our gut, which can explain why gastrointestinal distress can affect our mental health and create mood swings.
4. Weight management
Some research shows that the condition of our microbiomes can greatly affect weight gain and our ability to lose weight, and obesity has also been linked to an unbalanced gut. Our microbes appear to have influence over appetite regulation, and our diet is crucial in determining the type of bacteria, good or bad, that develops in our gut.
What we can do to keep our gut healthy and balanced
If you have concerns about your digestive health, talk with your doctor about the best approach. Every person’s microbiome is different, so work with a physician to create a plan that suits your specific needs. Below are a few tips to offer guidance and help start a conversation with your doctor.
1. Be wary of inflammation
We are learning more and more that diet and lifestyle play a huge role in maintaining good gut health. Staying away from foods that cause inflammation, like refined vegetable oils, refined carbohydrates and sugars and trans fats can help keep your gut in check. Dairy can cause inflammation and many people find they have sensitivities. Making sure to incorporate high-antioxidant foods and anti-inflammatory foods like cruciferous vegetables, healthy fats, and probiotic-rich foods.
2. Be mindful of stress levels
Too much stress weakens your immune system and causes inflammatory responses in the body. Chronic stress throws off the balance of bacteria in your gut, and when your body thinks it’s in danger you become more susceptible to infections. Try working in some mindfulness meditations in the morning. Even just 10 minutes a day can help keep your stress levels in check.
Speaking of stress relievers, exercise is extremely helpful in reducing the stress that can cause damage to your microbiome. Research shows that exercise is critical for balancing your gut, and sitting at a desk all day can actually negatively impact your gut flora. Try to get up, walk around and stretch every 20 minutes or so, and make an effort to work more intensive exercise into your schedule.
4. Supplement when advised and necessary
When paired with a healthy diet that reduces inflammation and the amounts of bad bacteria in your gut, probiotics can replace the bad with the good. Talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement regiments, and make sure to get a good quality probiotic. Getting a healthy amount of antioxidants in your diet is a great way to help to prevent free-radical damage from disturbing your microbiome.
Want to know more about prebiotics and digestive health? Learn more from our ND, Dr. Jeremy Wolf!
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You might not realize it, but certain foods may be the culprit to everyday problems such as daily headaches, joint pain, fatigue and digestive issues including gas, bloating or constipation. Did you know that often time these symptoms are your body’s way of telling you that what you are eating might be aggravating you? Even your food cravings may be a hidden sign of food sensitivities. If you’re an individual who is suffering from food sensitivities, an elimination diet, where you take out certain foods from your diet, could be a helpful tool to identify the causal factors.
This is an immediate immune-mediated response to a specific protein in food. This is what you would think of when you hear an individual say they are allergic to peanuts or shellfish. Common symptoms include itchy skin, hives, coughing or wheezing and swelling of the throat. Food allergies can be fatal and for that reason most of these individuals needs to carry epinephrine pens with them when they go out to eat.
Food sensitivities also refer to an immune-mediated reaction. While allergies are mediated by IgE antibodies, sensitivities are mediated by slower acting IgG antibodies. Typically food allergies occur immediately while sensitivities tend to be a delayed reaction occurring hours or days after ingesting the aggravating food. Symptoms may vary but typically include brain fog, fatigue, gas, bloating, constipation, mood disorders, joint pain and more.
Food intolerance occurs when the body can’t digest a food or food component properly. This type of reaction does not involve the immune system and is what you might think of when someone says that they are lactose intolerant. Normally the enzyme lactase is responsible for breaking down lactose into simpler sugars. If a person is lactose intolerant, this enzyme activity is low and the lactose sugar does not get broken down properly, which can give rise to symptoms of flatulence, pain and diarrhea. Unlike food allergies, individuals with food intolerances may be able to tolerate small amounts of these foods.
How to Perform an Elimination Diet
Before starting the diet you should consult your health care provider. Make a note of how you feel. Start at your head and work your way down towards your feet, jotting down any major or minor complaints. You can also work with your health care practitioner to help get a better understanding of which foods might be causing you problems.
The elimination diet is often times performed for a period of 3 weeks to 1 month. In general, adults and children can do an elimination diet. Make sure to pick out a time that works best for you where you can commit to completing the diet.
Below are the food groups most often recommended to avoid (this may vary person to person). When performing an elimination diet, choose one food group to avoid entirely. For instance if you think egg causes a problem, avoid eating eggs and anything that has egg in it. However, to rule out multiple possible culprits, I usually recommend people avoid all of the main culprits at the same time.
Since the elimination diet is a good time to help the body detox, it is also a good idea to avoid alcohol, caffeine, sodas and other sweetened fruit juices as well as any other foods you believe may be causing issues. Try to avoid processed foods, fast foods and simple sugars such as candy and sweets as well.
While on the diet, it is important to read the entire ingredients label before purchasing any foods. In order for the elimination diet to be successful, 100% elimination of these foods is a must. Don’t eat the foods whole or as ingredients in other foods. For example, if you are avoiding all dairy products, you need to check labels for whey, casein, and lactose so you can avoid them as well.
Once the elimination diet is finished, you will gradually reintroduce these foods back into your diet. It is best to do this one food at a time over a period of 3 days. You will want to eat that food during at least two of the three meals daily for those 3 days. The reason for doing this is because once you being to reintroduce foods back into your diet, you may notice your symptoms flare again. This is an important sign that means you are sensitive to that food. If you notice a reaction before the 3 days are up, stop eating the offending food. It is also important to wait until any reactions have subsided before re-introducing another food.
When reintroducing foods back into your diet pay attention to your energy level, any joint or muscle pain, skin condition, headaches, bowel function and gut symptoms or any symptoms you noted before starting the diet.