If you have symptoms like exhaustion, body aches, depression, irritability, dizziness, and poor concentration, a controversial condition called adrenal fatigue could be to blame.
Your adrenal glands are small, triangular-shaped glands located on top of each kidney. They produce hormones that control your immune system and regulate metabolism and blood pressure. The adrenal glands also secrete cortisol (the stress hormone) and regulate the stress response (1).
Natural health practitioners believe that chronic stress taxes the adrenal glands, rendering them unable to keep up with a constant state of fight-or-flight (2). In 1998, chiropractor and naturopath James L. Wilson coined the term “adrenal fatigue” to describe the stress-induced condition (3).
There are no blood tests to confirm adrenal fatigue—proponents argue that standard blood work is too insensitive to detect small declines in adrenal function. Naturopaths take saliva samples to test cortisol levels.
Without a definitive blood test, conventional medicine does not support adrenal fatigue as a medical diagnosis. A 2016 meta-analysis claimed that “adrenal fatigue does not exist” and highlighted several studies with inconsistent or unfounded claims (4).
Natural health practitioners disagree. Online support groups with thousands of members who have been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue (or who suspect they have the condition) are looking for answers and embracing strategies to feel better.
Here are four strategies to help heal adrenal fatigue:
The foods you eat are believed to play an integral role in alleviating adrenal fatigue. The recommended diet for adrenal fatigue includes a combination of fat, protein, and complex carbohydrates to avoid dips in blood sugar and provide energy throughout the day (5). The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians also suggests a diet rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium to help with adrenal fatigue (6). Processed foods are best avoided (7).
Your naturopath might recommend a combination of supplements to boost energy and ease exhaustion. Research shows that ginseng regulates the immune and hormonal responses to stress and controls hormones in the adrenal gland (8). Additional research found that ginkgo biloba had a similar effect on cortisol (9). Another study reveals that a botanical called Rhodiola rosea has been linked with lower levels of stress-induced fatigue (10).
Because chronic stress triggers adrenal fatigue, stress management is essential. A 2017 study published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience reported that practicing yoga and meditation had positive effects on stress resilience (11). Deep breathing exercises and journaling can also help keep stress in check (12, 13).
Both stress and adrenal function can take their toll on sleep. If you struggle with insomnia or feel exhausted throughout the day, establishing regular sleep and wake times can be helpful. Avoid staying up too late at night or waking up too early in the morning and steer clear of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol (14).
As the controversy about adrenal fatigue rages on, it’s important to remember that whether you believe the condition exists or not, these are all science-backed, common sense strategies for healthier living that are beneficial regardless of the status of your adrenal system.
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.
Are you always complaining about everything? Do you often worry about the future? Are you constantly ruminating about the past? If you answered yes, you might be in need for a “mental decluttering”.
A cluttered mind affects the way you can think clearly and make the best decisions in your life. When that happens, some people can’t get anything done as a result of a restless and unfocused mind. However, there are a few things you can do to stop feeling overwhelmed. Let’s look at 5 ways to declutter your mind this spring.
Happy people live better. Laughing is one of the best ways for relieving stress. Try to laugh more often and stop taking everything so seriously. Talk about funny things, watch comedies or read a funny book.
Meditation is one the best ways to relief stress and feel better, there’s no doubt about it. Meditation is learning to focus the mind completely on the present moment which is essentially the best technique to declutter your mind. Finding a way to zone out and rest your mind is essential to improve focus and feel better.
3. Fresh Start
A fresh start may be an excellent way to clear up your mind. Let go of the past and start taking a new approach to life. Start on the first day of the month, or even on a specific day such as your birthday. Mind clutter is often related to the past and clearing up that stuff off your mind will only bring benefits to you.
4. Minimize Multi-Tasking
Multi-tasking is great, particularly at the workplace but some people have a real hard time turning it off at the end of the working day. You don’t have to multitask at your home all the time as it may be taking too much from your mind. Try to focus all of your attention on one task and try to enjoy doing it.
Exercise is a great way to declutter your mind. With the winter coming to an end and the warmer temperatures around the corner, the spring season provides a great opportunity to get outdoors, get fresh air, move, stretch, and sweat. Exercise helps clear your mind as well as make you sleep and feel better.
What’s the telltale sign of spring for you? Is it the weather finally breaking and the trees starting to bloom? Or is it relentless itchy eyes and a runny nose that has you reaching for the antihistamines?
To put it simply, allergies are an immune system overreaction to allergens. This triggers the annoying puffy eyes, sneezing, and congestion that can leave you stuck inside on gorgeous spring days. While conventional drugs may relieve allergy symptoms, they don’t address the root cause and often come with side effects—like heavy drowsiness that can leave you nodding off at your desk.
So what’s the solution? We talked to our ND, Dr. Jeremy Wolf, about a few natural remedies to help keep you from sniffling through an entire season!
Treating allergies through diet
When it comes to diet, Dr. Wolf says, “natural substances such as quercetin, stinging nettles, bromelain, vitamin-C, and omega 3 fatty acids may help kick the allergy symptoms. You can find many of these ingredients in every day foods such as onions and berries for quercetin, salmon and fatty fish for omega 3’s, citrus fruits for vitamin c and pineapple for bromelain.” Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods can help keep your immune system strong so it can help fight off common allergies.
Try homeopathic formulas
“There are some homeopathic remedies that are more commonly used for allergies than others,” says Dr. Wolf. “One of these is Allium Cepa, a formula made from onions. If you think about the symptoms you experience when chopping an onion (burning and watery discharge from the eyes and nose) it makes sense that this may be used to combat allergies.” This follows the homeopathic principle of “like cures like.”
You can also try combination remedies “which include a variety of single remedies that are commonly used to treat allergies. The idea is if you take a variety of different remedies, your body is likely to react to one of them.”
An important note from Dr. Wolf: “there isn’t one homeopathic remedy for allergies that trumps others, as it depends on the individual and the symptoms a person is experiencing.” This is why you should alwaystalk to your physicianbefore starting a new supplement or treatment.
Can eating local honey prevent allergies?
A common practice touted in the wellness world is taking a tablespoon of local raw honey every day in the weeks prior to allergy season. When asked about this, Dr. Wolf replied “The thought process behind that treatment is if you eat local honey, you might be ingesting local pollen, and over time you may become less sensitive to pollen which could result in fewer allergy symptoms. This is similar to using allergy shots or sublingual drops to desensitize the body to the allergens.”
He continues to say “It’s hard to know exactly how much pollen you’re actually ingesting. I don’t recommend this to my patients as I don’t think there is any research that currently proves the honey trick to have actually worked.”
You don’t have to stay stuck indoors this spring! Talk with your doctor about your options, and consider taking a natural route to allergy prevention this season.
If you’ve been experiencing joint pain, silica supplementation may be the key to finding relief! Several studies have examined silica for its ability to provide the body what it needs to boost collagen and form healthy connective tissue. Silica is a critical component in the substances that make up bones, muscles, joints, cartilage, ligaments and tendons, so how can supplementation benefit you?
Silica for your joints
Collagen is the steel chain that unites our tissues. It’s more resistant and is present in all parts of our body, but especially in our joints. Therefore, our body’s collagen levels affect the way our joints perform.
Healthy, youthful, well-nourished collagen is flexible, strong and rich in silica. As we age, overwork our joints and neglect our nutrition, our collagen starts to deteriorate. This can manifest as limited mobility, sore and inflamed joints, tendonitis and more. By supplementing silica, you can help offset the decline in collagen levels and promote healthy cartilage
Silica for your bones
Calcium and vitamin D alone are not enough for healthy bone growth, density, strength and flexibility. Research data suggests excessive calcium intake can actually accelerate the deterioration of bone minerals, leading to osteoporosis and similar diseases that affect the joints and connective tissues.
Silica has a unique function that supports the calcium and phosphorus that make up our bones, and is required to re-mineral the damage and wear and tear they face as we age.
Experiments in which a silica deficiency is induced demonstrate the importance of silica for the healthy development of connective tissue and bone. Deficiency always produced deformities in joints and bones often characterized by poorly formed joints, defective bone growth, reduced cartilage and low calcium, magnesium and phosphorus levels
Why Living Silica
As we age, silica naturally decreases in the body, slowing functions that are essential to health. Living Silica is a doctor-formulated, professional-grade supplement that boosts your biological collagen production. Increasing your daily intake of silica with this safe but potent supplement can improve your quality of life, athletic performance and make beauty concerns a thing of the past.
The active ingredient in Living Silica ™ contains a breakthrough Si molecule, created through a proprietary process that locks silica in its most active form. Living Silica has the highest bioavailability which helps you to absorb silica into your body more effectively.
An independent comparative study published in the British Journal Nutrition was conducted to investigate the bioavailability of Si from eight different sources. Living Silica ™ was found considerably higher than for other known silica supplements.
Source: The comparative absorption of silicon from different foods and food supplements. Supannee Sripanyakorn, Ravin Jugdaohsingh. 2009.
Are you ready to feel more energized, flexible, and healthy? Get your Living Silica daily supplement to make aches and dullness a thing of the past!
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.
Want to enhance your immune system? Multivitamins and supplements may help. During the winter months, your body may require a little bit of help getting all the nutrients it needs to stay strong. Even for those who eat well, it’s difficult to get enough nutrients from diet as a good number of foods have been depleted of various vitamins and minerals. For example, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc supplements can help boost your immune system defenses. Plus, probiotic supplements are a great addition as well as adding healthy bacteria stimulate the intestine’s immune system and slow the growth of infectious organisms in the digestive system.
2. Fresh Air
Some people tend to think that one of the best ways to avoid getting sick is stay inside and avoid going outside in the cold winter days. That’s a common misconception as fresh air can be great for your immunity. Of course, walking by a busy road or in downtown areas isn’t the best choice for quality fresh air, but a walk in a park or along a lake can be a great boost of fresh air for your body.
A healthy and well-balanced diet is obviously essential to fortify the immune system. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of fluids, particularly water and juices high in vitamin C. Try to avoid skipping meals as lack of nutrition is one of the reasons our bodies feel weak and are less likely to prevent diseases.
Making healthy lifestyle choices can drastically affect your ability to keep illness at bay. A few simple lifestyles changes such as exercising regularly, reducing alcohol consumption, and limiting caffeine, and sugar. Walking, stretching and promoting relaxation daily are great ways to minimize stress, which often affects immune system function, and can potentially make the body less able to fend off bacteria and viruses.
Collagen has been a top-selling product for skin health for many years but did you know that this powerful supplement offers many other health benefits? Let’s look at 4 ways collagen can improve your health.
1. Joint Health
Collagen is a major component in forming your body’s tendons, ligaments, muscles and cartilage. As you age, your body is less able to manufacture a sufficient amount of collagen and supplements can help maintain your body’s repair process. Collagen contains the amino acids glycine and proline, which help repair tissue, lessen inflammation, and provide relief from joint pain. Collagen products are used for treating osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis.
2. Weight Loss
Collagen supplements can help in weight loss. A great source of protein, collagen provides 18 grams of protein per 2 scoops. Studies have shown that collagen peptides consumed at breakfast are 40% more satiating than other proteins such as whey or soy, and may lead to a 20% reduction of food intake at lunch.
Collagen supplements can help improve digestion by repairing the mucous lining. Collagen soothes and heals the digestive tract and helps break down the protein and fat from foods, making them easier for the body to digest.
4. Athletic Performance
As mentioned above, the amino acids glycine and proline help repair tissue and lessen inflammation. Consequently, supplementation with collagen peptides shortens recovery after exercise and helps with sports related injuries on muscle, tendons, and ligaments.
Aromatherapy is so much more than cleverly named and pleasant smelling candles. When practiced correctly, and to the fullest, aromatherapy has the potential to not only enhance and elevate moods but positively alter fundamental brain functions in amazing ways.
With another summer firmly in our rearview, and with several months of colder weather and darker days ahead, now is a great time to unlock the full slate of healing and rejuvenating benefits aromatherapy can offer. Whether you work in an office or stay at home with your littles, get through these hectic times with these essential oil blends that will have you feeling laser-focused and ready to conquer the world (or just back to school season).
Memory & Concentration Blend
This blend uses rosemary essential oil which is known for boosting memory and concentration. Throw in some lemon essential oil to heighten the senses and you’ve got yourself a dynamic pairing that will keep you on point all day.
Pour the carrier oil (jojoba) in a glass dropper bottle or a roller bottle. Then add your essential oils. With essential oils it’s important to remember that a little goes a long way. Just add a drop or two and rub on your temples.
Crunchy Concentration Blend
Calling all bohemians! Sandalwood is the star of this earthy blend that provides a sense of clarity and pairs well with the calming effect of patchouli.
We often take the ability to move about freely for granted until joint pain flares up. When your daily life is constantly interrupted by sore wrists and creaky knees, finding fast relief is a top priority. Popping a pain reliever can make the pain bearable and help you power through the day, but relying on them is not great for your health, and ultimately only masks the root problem. Luckily, there are several, drug-free options to find pain relief from irritated joints and even help determine what the root cause of your issues could be.
1. Take supplements
This seems like the obvious step, but if you haven’t tried a supplement for chronic joint pain—get on that! Glucosamine and chondroitin are incredibly popular for treating pain and swelling associated with joint pain and comes without any known risks. Omega-3 fatty acids are also helpful in preventing and easing joint pain, which is why many people take fish oil supplements regularly. If you’re vegetarian or not into the fishy aftertaste, consider alternatives like flaxseeds, chia seeds or supplements derived from algae.
While there’s not much scientific proof that acupuncture directly improves joint pain, a 2013 review showed some evidence that this alternative treatment can alleviate pain, swelling and stiffness. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that aims to balance the energy in the body to help address a range of disorders and encourage pain relief. It’s an excellent wellness practice that can do many things for your overall health, even if your joints are not directly improved as a result.
3. Go swimming!
Swimming uses strengthening movements and helps develop flexibility without the high-impact that can irritate and worsen joint pain. Studies show that not only does swimming prevent further damage to joints that high-impact exercises can bring, but can actually improve your joints by strengthing them without irritation.
4. Take up a Tai Chi practice
Similar to the rationale behind swimming, Tai Chi is a great way to strengthen muscles around your joints without the high-impact of other physical activities. A Tai Chi practice can actually expand your range of motion to improve flexibility in the joints and aiding pain relief.
5. Anti-inflammatory diet
Keeping a diet rich in Omega-3s and anti-inflammatory foods can be a great way to find pain relief. While this is not an immediate solution to the problem, eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help address the root cause of inflammation in the body instead of acting as a band-aid. Foods like fish, green leafy veggies, and turmeric tea are excellent staples to an anti-inflammatory diet.
Finding an ability to deal with your thoughts and feelings regarding pain is a crucial step to finding relief that not many are willing to take. The idea of facing your pain can be intimidating, but making the choice to be mindful and practice acceptance can change the way we feel about it. If we can increase our pain tolerance, the more willing we might be to take additional steps towards healing. Using meditation to relax and reduce stress can have a diminishing effect on inflammation and swelling as well.
7. Get up and move throughout the day
There are more benefits to exercise than just weight loss! Regular movement helps maintain flexibility in your joints—preventing and easing joint pain. Like I mentioned earlier, try low impact exercises like swimming, or gentle practices like Tai Chi to keep your joints flexible and strong. If you work in an office and can’t jump in a pool midday, making time to get up and walk around a bit is better than sitting still!
When it comes to joint pain, over the counter pain relievers will mask the pain, but will not address or help treat the root cause. Have you tried any of these natural remedies? What are some of your go-to joint pain relief techniques?
Checking labels for potentially dangerous ingredients has become a must for shoppers. A number of chemicals used in hair care and personal care products have reached a new level as companies work to grow their profits and improve production efficiency. Some of these ingredients required to accomplish that can be harmful to your health, especially phthalates. Let’s have a quick look at this chemical ingredient.
What Are Phthalates?
Phthalates are chemical compounds often used in plastic products to increase flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity. Phthalates are found in many shampoos and hair products, personal care, toys, electronics and a variety of household products including detergents, adhesives, plastic wrap, plastic containers, flooring, furniture, wallpaper, shower curtains and other things made of vinyl or PVC. Additionally, food products contain phthalates because foods such as milk, butter and meats are commonly packaged or stored in plastics containing this toxin.
Why Are Phthalates Dangerous?
Phthalates are known as endocrine disruptors because they mimic the body’s hormones and can interfere with natural hormone activity. This can cause abnormalities in the body and may lead to fertility problems and cancer. Phthalates are colorless and odorless liquids and these toxins can be absorbed into the body not only with food but through the air and skin too. Plus, higher temperatures result in higher concentrations of phthalates in the air.
How to Avoid Phthalates
You can reduce your exposure to this harmful chemical by taking a few simple steps. First, don’t microwave food in plastic containers as heat allows phthalates to leach out of products. Second, use glass and stainless steel for storage and drinking, particularly hot beverages. Lastly, phthalates are used in perfumes, eye shadow, moisturizer, deodorant, nail polish, liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner and hair spray. Shop only natural personal care products and check the labels to ensure they are phthalates-free.
Fresh, clean air is essential for a healthy lifestyle but how can you ensure that the air you breathe is actually good? That’s a difficult task but there are many ways you can reduce a number of toxins in your home which may be affecting your health.
Exposures to toxic chemicals in your everyday life can actually increase your chances of becoming sick. A good number of these indoor pollutants are not easily detected but can still affect your overall health.
For example, chemicals released from modern building furnishing materials as well as chemical fumes from paints and solvents may only be noticed in the first couple of days but these potentially dangerous gases may hang around for weeks, sometimes months. Additionally, combustion gases from fireplaces and wood burning stoves, carbon monoxide fumes from attached garage as well as chemicals from cleaning products can stick around inside your home and damage your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to get sick. Removing these toxins from your home allows your immune system to regenerate naturally, and fight off all infectious diseases.
So, how to avoid these toxins? A few simple steps can significantly improve the quality of your home’s air.
First, increase fresh air supply (in other words, open the windows). Proper ventilation is the key to filter out some of the toxins and maintain healthy air inside your home.
Second, indoor plants can also help to purify air quality as plants can up oxygen levels by absorbing chemicals in your air.
Lastly, keep your home clean by regularly dusting and vacuuming to minimize the number of airborne particles. Choose natural cleaning products to reduce the amount of chemicals inside your home and definitely avoid disinfectants as some of these products contain immune-toxicants such as cresol, phenol, ethanol, and formaldehyde, which reduce the ability of the immune system to fight the germs they are killing.
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!
Ever wonder if drinking sparkling water has any health benefits? It sure does. It’s water in a very refreshing form but other than keep you hydrated, sparkling water has also a few other benefits to your health.
Proper hydration is key to optimal health and adding carbonated water to your drinking routine may help you meet your daily fluid needs to stay hydrated. Sparkling water is a calorie and sugar-free fluid that can maintain adequate hydration by helping your body cool itself, keeping your mouth, nose and eyes moist, promoting optimal joint and muscle function, maintaining healthy skin, cleansing your body of toxins, and improving cardiovascular health.
Additionally, sparkling water offers a little more.
It can help improve Indigestion, particularly if you’re feeling sick to your stomach after eating. Drinking a glass of carbonated water might help as it can reduce bloating and nausea, and may even prevent vomiting.
Sparkling water can help alleviate constipation as well. Research has suggested that carbonated water along with the intake of foods high in fiber help when you’re dealing with constipation. Fluids, such as carbonated water, can help enhance the way fiber work in your gut and make stools normal and regular.
Sparkling water is also a healthful alternative to soda as carbonated water is just plain water with dissolved carbon dioxide. When choosing a sparkling water, opt for a variety that’s high in minerals and free from sugar and artificial sweeteners, flavorings and colors. You may add fresh fruit to your sparkling water for some natural sweetness or even mix in with juices such as orange, apple, blueberry, or cranberry. You can also make flavored carbonated drinks with slices of orange, lemon, lime, cucumber, or sprigs of mint.
Digestive enzymes can improve the functionality of your digestive system and make you feel a lot better after eating a meal. The majority of digestive support supplements contain a blend of enzymes, but with so many ingredients on every label, it can be hard to choose the right supplement for your needs.
Below are three highly effective digestive enzymes to consider when choosing a supplement.
1. Papaya Papayas are a rich source of valuable proteolytic enzymes, such as papain, chymopapain, caricain and glycyl endopeptidase, that can greatly aid in the digestive process. The enzyme papain is one of the most effective at breaking down meat and other proteins, comparable to the enzyme pepsin that we produce in our pancreas.
In fact, papain is often considered a more effective enzyme than pepsin. Eating the papaya enzyme papain in a meal containing meat can significantly speed up its digestion. It may also help with the breakdown of other troublesome proteins, such as the gluten in wheat and the casein in milk, that are often implicated in digestive problems.
2. Bromelain Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple juice and in the pineapple stem and is known to improve digestion. Used for reducing swelling and inflammation, bromelain has been shown to treat a bowel condition that includes swelling and ulcers. Often used in digestive support products, bromelain can also help improve the absorption of antibiotics. Bromelain seems to cause the body to produce substances that fight pain and inflammation.
3. Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) Hydrochloric acid, also called HCL, is one of the many chemicals released in our stomach when we eat a meal. The role of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, along with the other gastric juices, is to break down foods and cause the release of enzymes that further aid digestion. HCl also protects the body from illness by killing pathogens commonly found in foods.
HCL supplements can aid the stomach’s acid to destroy harmful bacteria as well as relieve the symptoms of heartburn. Low stomach acid causes indigestion, gas, bloating, acid reflux, constipation, and diarrhea. Supplementing with Hydrochloric Acid in the form of Betaine HCL can dramatically help people with low stomach acid. Make sure you choose an HCL product that contains pepsin because, without it, the body can’t break down proteins into the peptides required for proper absorption.