Friendly bacteria in probiotic foods and probiotic supplements not only offer a large number of positive health benefits (particularly for our gut), they also help to prevent and treat a wide variety of problems.
Probiotics help to strengthen immunity
One of the key functions of friendly bacteria is to stimulate our immune response, which means that by consuming probiotic foods, drinks and supplements, we can in turn strengthen our immunity to illness and disease. Probiotics increased production of lymphocytes - sub-types of white blood cell (Natural killer cells, T cells and B cells) that are found in our immune system and a marker of immune response.
As a result, probiotics can help to prevent and treat the following:
Researchers have found that those who are obese tend to have different gut bacteria than those with a healthy weight – a strong indication that gut flora plays a role in weight management. Research also indicates that probiotics can help those who have received weight loss surgery to maintain their weight loss. Also, a study of post-partum women demonstrated that a probiotic supplement containing lactobacillus and bifidobacterium helped to reduce waist circumference.
Probiotics also pump up the good bacteria in your gut and help the digestive process along in a healthy way. Not only will you look slimmer because you will be less bloated, but you will also get rid of a little bit of backed up waste to leave you literally feeling pounds lighter!
Probiotics help to promote mental wellbeing
Probiotics may also be beneficial for healthy brain function and mental wellbeing. In fact researchers at UCLA discovered that brain function in healthy women who regularly consumed a probiotic yoghurt actually improved. As a result, it’s thought that probiotics might have the potential to change brain neurochemistry and, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, could additionally be used to treat anxiety and depression.
Probiotics help tooth and gum health
Taking a probiotic everyday can not only reduce the effects of gingivitis but also can help kill the bacteria that causes tooth decay.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (fatty liver for short) and is caused by the 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour in our diet. In the United States, 70 to 90 million Americans have a fatty liver and almost none of them know they have it. In fact, you might have it, as well, and not even know it – this is dangerous because it is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart attacks, and even cancer.
What is a fatty liver?
Some of you may have heard of foie gras. Foie gras is the French term for fatty liver that is used to describe a delicacy made from duck or goose liver. What happens to the livers of these animals as a result of the controversial practice of overfeeding is what you could be doing to your own liver, unknowingly. For those people who have this disease, essentially what they have is a liver that is full of fat, and that is a major cause of chronic disease and inflammation in the body.
What causes it?
In order to make foie gras, ducks or geese are force-fed sugar in the form of corn and starch. In the body, this sugar turns on a fat-production factory in the liver, a process known as lipogenesis, which is the body’s normal response to sugar. Fructose actually ramps up the lipogenesis response (making high fructose corn syrup specifically potent!). The high fructose corn syrup found in our processed foods is the single biggest cause of fatty liver, and carbonated sugary beverages are the number 1 culpret.
How do you know if you have it?
Blood tests can detect a fatty liver. You can also see it on an ultrasound. The bottom line is, if you eat a lot of sugar and flour, if you have a little bit of belly fat, or if you crave carbs, starch, and sugar, you probably have this to some degree.
Why is this a problem?
Fatty liver causes inflammation in your body. This inflammation creates insulin resistance and pre-diabetes, which causes your body to deposit fat not just in your liver but also all around your organs and in your belly.
That dangerous belly fat caused by the sugar and starch in your diet then creates even more problems. It causes you to have high triglycerides and low HDL, the good cholesterol. It causes you to have small LDL, the dangerous cholesterol particles that cause heart attacks. It also puts you at great risk for having a heart attack. Certain populations like Latin Americans have a much higher risk of having a fatty liver.
We are now starting to see children as young as 12 who have lived on soda for years needing liver transplants from fatty liver - that’s scary! We really need to think about what we are doing to our children by feeding them these toxic foods.
How to fix your fatty liver
There are some really simple things you can do with diet, exercise, and supplements to help heal your fatty liver.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
- inability to recover appropriately from exercise (you should feel tired post-workout for MAYBE 20-30 minutes, then you should feel just fine – if you are dragging for hours or the rest of the day, you overdid it!)
- headaches with physical or mental stress
- weak immune system & allergies
- slow to start in the morning
- gastric ulcers
- afternoon headaches
- feeling full or bloated
- craving sweets, caffeine or cigarettes
- blurred vision
- unstable behavior
- becoming shaky or light-headed if meals are missed or delayed
- cannot stay asleep or cannot fall asleep
- dizziness when moving from sitting to standing or lying to standing
- transient spells of dizziness
- hemorrhoids, varicose veins
What can you do about it?
- Avoid draining people or situations. Learn to say NO to things!
- Do not over-train: (training vs draining, working out vs working IN, READ: Paul Chek’s book “How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy” for more on this)
- Do restorative exercises: see Paul Chek’s book – listed above – Qigong, meditation, restorative breathing, walking, very light/restorative yoga. Depending on your status, if you are going to lift weights, keep it moderate weight and low reps- not high intensity over long periods of time.
- Whenever you are not enjoying your life, assess whether you can:
1. change the situation
2. change yourself to fit the situation
3. leave the situation
- Play! With family, friends, pets.
Diet: The food you eat is your first line of defense against Adrenal Fatigue.
- A well-balanced diet free from refined grains (or all grains), and any added sugar– focus on quality proteins and fats, add starch pre and/or post workout as-needed for energy and recovery.
- A variety of (organic) vegetables
- EFAs (omega 3 fatty acids) to manage inflammation and quiet the loop that feeds into higher cortisol production
- Add mineral sea salt to food / water
- Balanced meals – judge your “success” by how you feel entering your next meal (starving, shaky, low blood sugar?!)
- make sure to stay well hydrated
- cut out coffee (or switch to decaf)
- take a probiotic with your meals
Vitamin C – Citrus, strawberries, kiwi, cruciferous vegetables and green leafy vegetables are good food sources. Vitamin C has been shown to induce an anti-inflammatory response to prolonged exercise and stress and limits the rise of cortisol and response to physiological stress
Vitamin B5 (or only a complex as noted below) – Helps to activate the adrenal glands and deficiency results in adrenal insufficiencies characterized by fatigue, headaches, sleep disturbances, nausea and abdominal discomfort.
Vitamin B Complex– Liver, meat, seafood (wild/pasture raised, grass-fed sources), seeds, mushrooms are good food sources. All B vitamins are critical for the entire adrenal cascade
Magnesium Glycinate or Malate – Green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds (also tahihi) salmon and halibut are good food sources. Magnesium is “essential to the production of the enzymes and the energy necessary for the adrenals.
Omega 3 – Fatty cold water fish: salmon, mackeral, herring, some tunas, etc. are good food sources. In supplemental form, fermented cod liver oil from GreenPasture.org is the one that I recommend.
Licorice root extract (DGL) – no more than 1000mg of glycyrrhizin/day – when cortisol is lower than normal. This is also easily taken via licorice root tea .
Acetylcholine – To support poor circadian rhythm function (tired & wired/can’t sleep), supporting brain and neurotransmitter function.
L-theanine – As a calming amino acid, works by increasing GABA which is a relaxer and creates a sense of well-being in the brain.
Ashwaganda root & leaf, Panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng, Ginger root – adaptogenic herbs that can help to modulate cortisol levels, normalize blood pressure, heart rate and increase metabolic rate by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes for protein and fat.
Ginkgo biloba – a powerful antioxidant that helps to calm free-radical production and thereby protect the adrenals from the imbalance of inputs to the hypothalamus that the free-radical damage would create.
GMO foods are often genetically modified to achieve greater size, sweetness, and shelf life. But a they healthier or less healthy than their “natural” counterparts?
What are GMOs?
All living organisms have genes, which control how the organism functions. They influence appearance and behavior. For example, there is a gene that corresponds to eye color, others than control physical characteristics like how tall you will grow, and others that may increase your risk of developing a certain disease.
Scientists figured out that if genes were changed before the organism is developed, it will develop differently. Many techniques have been discovered that allow genes from one organism to be inserted into the genetic makeup of a drastically different organism.
If we pick the right genes to put into a seed, we get a fruit or vegetable that is more desirable, either from a growing or taste perspective. However, any change to one gene can affect other surrounding genes as well. This has led to concern that genetically modifying organisms may lead to unforeseen consequences.
GMOs are Resistant to Insects and Weeds
Seeds are genetically modified for a variety of reasons, but the most common reasons are to make the crop resistant to insects (insect-resistant) or herbicides (that are used to control weeds) that might harm it. In addition, crops can be made resistant to specific diseases that plague certain areas.
Less Use of Pesticides and Herbicides
When a crop is resistant to bugs and invasive plants, the farmer needs to use a smaller quantity of herbicides and pesticides.
Better Yield and Longer Shelf Life
These are benefits for the farmer, but not necessarily for you. The longer shelf life is usually a sign of low-quality foods, although GMOs are entirely different from highly processed foods, and don’t necessarily have the same drawbacks.
The Major Concerns over GMOs
GMOs are fairly new, only really becoming popular in the last 30 years or so. And with anything new, it takes time to test and learn about the full range of implications.
Can GMOs be Allergenic?
Introducing a gene to a foreign organism can result in adding allergens to the food. For example, adding the genes of a nut variety with another whole food will cause allergic reactions in a person with a nut allergy.
Are GMOs Safe to Eat?
I think the most basic thing that everyone wants to know is if GMOs are safe on a basic level. There have been no long-term epidemiological studies completed, because it’s really hard to track GMO consumption. If anyone tells you they are 100% certain that GMOs are safe in the long term — they’re lying. Some studies on animals have shown significant toxic effects from regular consumption of certain GMOs - this raises concerns.
As you can see, the science of GMOs is still relatively new and quite muddled. I wish there was a nice straightforward answer about GMOs being good or bad, but there isn’t. For now, we simply do not know the long-term effects that GMOs have on environment and health. It doesn’t appear that there is any disastrous consequences of eating modified foods, but there could be minor ones that are currently unknown. Another issue is that even if you wanted to avoid them, GMOs do not have to be labeled in most parts of North America.
What are the most common GMOs?
The most common GMOs are soy, cotton, canola, corn, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, and squash (zucchini and yellow). Many of these items appear as added ingredients in a large amount of the foods we eat. For instance, your family may not eat tofu or drink soy milk, but soy is most likely present in a large percentage of the foods in your pantry.
GMOs may be hidden in common processed food ingredients such as: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.
For more information, you can visit www.nongmoproject.org