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Healthy Gut, Healthy You

Gut Health: The key to all round good health?

Healthy Gut, Healthy You

Just as the gut is the centre of our bodies, we’re also starting to think that it might be at the centre of our health too. The gut is far from being just an organ that simply digests food and excretes the waste. It also produces more than 20 kinds of hormones, contains more than a thousand species of bacteria and is controlled by its own nervous system that is almost as complex as the brain’s. An unhealthy gut can contribute to a wide range of diseases including: obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, hormonal imbalances, chronic fatigue, autism, depression, as well as joint and heart problems.

Good Digestion for Good Health

Ensuring good digestion is vital. Good chewing prepares the food, mixing it with enzymes that help to break it down. In the stomach, stomach acid and pepsin released from the liver thoroughly work on the food, simplifying the proteins with great efficiency. Many people experience problems with stomach acid ‘reflux’ where it is pushed up into the food pipe or throat, causing burning and an unpleasant taste. This can be helped by some natural herbs to calm the stomach down and help it heal any damage. Slippery elm, marshmallow, aloe vera and licorice are all especially important.

Once food passes through the stomach it enters the small intestine, where additional enzymes break down food groups into the simplest molecules to make them both absorbable and usable by the body. If this does not happen very well – perhaps it is a rushed meal, lack of preparation or the concentration of acids/enzymes are compromised by age or medication (possibly the overuse of Omeprazole and other Proton Pump Inhibitors), then larger particles of food are propelled through the system to cause mischief. They may be fermented by bacteria in the gut causing wind and/or they may get through the gut wall’s strategic defences. The body’s protective immune system (mostly seated in the gut) may even decide that they look similar to a potential enemy and attack them, causing inflammation. To help the body digest difficult proteins like gluten and other foods, it may be useful to take supplementary digestive enzymes. Gluten digesting enzymes may be particularly useful as well as certain beneficial or probiotic bacteria.

Bacteria in the Gut: Our little friends

Our friendly bacteria have been living with us all of our lives, resident in our gut like billions of bacterial pets. The beneficial ones play a very important role in maintaining health. They help to keep the immune system on a low-level alert and therefore support its function. In some studies, when babies do not develop this layer of good bacteria properly, they are more likely to develop an allergy or have an immune system that doesn’t work efficiently. The best and safest way to support beneficial bacteria is to take a high-strength daily probiotic with carefully selected and well-researched bacterial strains. If the balance of bacteria is disrupted, then certain plant oils can help to speed up the recovery. Garlic is king here, and is nature’s best natural antibiotic, but also consider using clove oil, cinnamon and oregano oil for a multi-pronged approach on a short-term basis.

While it is true to say that gut problems are on the increase, and that sub-optimal gut function seems to be having wide ranging effects on health beyond the digestive system, we can also do a great deal to help ourselves. Take good care of your gut, and you will reap the health benefits for years to come.

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Udos Choice spotlight part 2 – 30 billion reasons to choose Udo’s Choice Probiotics

Hippocrates
Hippocrates, wrote "let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food”.

Even back in ancient Greece, it was known that the gut played an important role in our health.   Hippocrates, known as the “Father of Modern Medicine” wrote “All diseases begin in the gut”.  He also said, “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food”.  It seems he knew a thing or two about the fundamentals of optimal health which remain true to this day.

Probiotics, or “Beneficial” bacteria, pathogenic “bad” bacteria and yeast should balance each other out in the intestines but the balance can be disrupted by our modern diets, lifestyle, stress and medications.   When this happens ill health can arise in the form of allergies, leaky gut syndrome, IBS, candida and a weakened immune system.

A properly functioning immune system is our main internal defence and it is estimated that 84-86% of our body’s immune function is carried out within the wall of our intestines; the surface area of which if laid out flat would cover the size of a football pitch.   A healthy balance of bacteria is around 85% “good” bacteria versus 15% “bad” bacteria.

Udo’s Choice Super 8 Hi-Potency Probiotics has been specially formulated to help sustain this balance.

What to look for in a Probiotic

By supplementing your diet with enough of the appropriate bacteria strains for your age and lifestyle you can expect to achieve the best results.

Udos Choice Super 8 “Hi Potency” Probiotics
Udo’s Choice Super 8 Hi-Potency Probiotics provide 30 billion active bacteria in every one of the 30 capsules.

Udo’s Choice Super 8 Hi-Potency Probiotics provide 30 billion active bacteria in every one of the 30 capsules.   This compares with around just 10 billion or less contained in a typical daily yoghurt drink.   Super 8’s therefore provide better value for money per billion bacteria than leading yoghurt drinks.

Each capsule also contains 8 different probiotic strains compared with 1 to 3 strains contained in yoghurt drinks.

All the bacterial strains in Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotics have been specially developed and tested for their gastric resistance.   Therefore, when taken as recommended on a full stomach, the micro-organisms in Udo’s Choice Probiotics will reach the intestinal tract safely and at full potency without being destroyed by harsh stomach acids.

The specific strains used in Udo’s Choice Super 8 Hi-Potency Probiotic have been specially chosen for their value to upper bowel health:

 

 

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus 45%
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus 25%
  • Streptococcus thermophilus 10%
  • Lactobacillus plantarum 7%
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum 6%
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus 3%
  • Bifidobacterium longum 3%
  • Lactobacillus salivarius 1%

Super 8’s are formulated as high strength in order to tackle such health issues as yeast imbalance and symptoms of leaky gut syndrome as well as to optimise gut health.

Udo’s Choice Super 8 Hi-Potency Probiotics
Each capsule also contains 8 different probiotic strains compared with 1 to 3 strains contained in yoghurt drinks.

Francesca Boers, a top UK fitness model is a big fan of Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotics.  “I have suffered with IBS since I was a child and therefore have struggled with my digestion.  Since taking Super 8’s along with maintaining a healthy diet I barely even notice that I have it any more.  I no longer suffer with stomach cramps and never feel sluggish or bloated”

Make sure your probiotics are refrigerated

As is the case with all probiotic products, refrigeration ensures maximum potency and stability.   Should any probiotics be kept out of the fridge for more than a few days then the number of viable bacteria decreases.  Udo’s Choice Super 8’s are manufactured and stored refrigerated and have one of the largest number of live bacteria of any probiotic product in the UK.

Content and Images provided by Udos Choice

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Probiotic pessaries: a new natural way to tackle chronic UTIs

A recent study offers women with urinary tract infections (UTIs) a natural way to tackle chronic symptoms for good (1).

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, investigated the effect of a probiotic pessary on recurrent UTIs.  Adding healthy bacteria to the vagina and surrounding areas appears to keep more harmful bacteria at bay.

UTIs are common in women of all ages. These types of infections can be very troublesome as they can be fiercely stubborn.  After treatment of a UTI, about a third of female patients will have a recurrence of the infection within 6 months.

Probiotic Pessaries
Probiotic pessaries: a new natural way to tackle chronic UTIs

The most common cause of infection is a bacteria called E.coli.  This bacteria can make its way up the urinary tract and into the bladder where it multiplies, causing symptoms such as bloating, lower abdominal pain, frequent urge to urinate and painful urination.  Women are more likely than men to contract this sort of infection as the opening of the urethra is near to the anus, and they have shorter urethras, allowing easy access for harmful bacteria.

The study’s researchers enrolled a group of 100 women suffering with chronic UTIs. Half of the group were given a probiotic-filled pessary, to be inserted into the vagina. The other half of the group were given a placebo pessary. Each of the women used 1 pessary each day for 5 days, and then used weekly pessaries for 10 weeks. During this time, 13 of the women in the placebo group experienced a recurrence of the infection, compared with only seven of the 50 women in the probiotic group.

It is hoped that larger clinical trials will support the findings from this small-scale study.  Previous studies have examined the effect of probiotic foods on UTIs, supporting their role in preventing recurrent infection.  For example, consumption of fermented milk products – such as probiotic yoghurt – is found to reduce the risk of UTI recurrence (2).

Another natural remedy that can be recommended for UTIs is cranberry.  It seems that some of the chemicals in cranberry juice can help prevent E. coli from sticking to the wall of the bladder (3).  A sugar called d-mannose, which can be taken in supplement form, also shows promise in protecting from UTIs. Other simple ways to help prevent UTIs include drinking plenty of water throughout the day to keep the bladder flushed.

Probiotic pessaries certainly represent a convenient way to support the health of the vagina and surrounding areas.  Biocare (Intrafresh) and Higher Nature (Vagiclear) both provide easy-to-use pessaries with active strains of lactobaccilus bacteria.

Written by Nadia Mason

References

1. Stapleton AE, et al. (2011) Randomized, Placebo-controlled Phase 2 Trial of a Lactobacillus crispatus Probiotic Given Intravaginally for Prevention of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection. Clinical Infectious Diseases. doi: 10.1093/cid/cir183.

2. Kontiokari T, Laitinen J, Järvi L, Pokka T, Sundqvist K, Uhari M, (2003) Dietary factors protecting women from urinary tract infection. Am J Clin Nutr. 77(3):600-604.

3. Di Martino P, Agniel R, David K, Templar C, Gaillard JL, Denys P, Botto H (2006) Reduction of Escherichia coli adherence to uroepithelial bladder cells after consumption of cranberry juice: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled cross-over trial. World J Urol. 24(1):21-7.

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Beta Glucan- The Invader Defender!

With the peak holiday season now in full flow and the exciting prospect of travel abroad for much needed relaxation, adventure or indulgence, your thoughts may be naturally turning towards protecting your health while you are away.  This may be through sun protection such as astaxanthin or natural sun creams or maybe you are thinking about some form of digestive support.  However there is one special little polysaccharide that may be just what you’re looking for to help protect you and your loved ones from illness while in foreign environments.

Beta Glucan- The Invader Defender!
Beta Glucans can function to create gut balance and provide an effective immune system boost (2)

Beta Glucan is a non-starch polysaccharide present in oats, barley, yeast, rye and mushrooms.  A recently published (1) research study has found that Beta Glucans can function to create gut balance and provide an effective immune system boost, helping to increasing your immune system before your holiday and while away, which is a great way to support your body from new germs and changes in lifestyle.  As discussed recently in the bodykind blog, supporting the gut is an important aspect when looking for ways to boost your immune system.  Beta Glucans act to strengthen your body’s natural resistance to bugs through the digestive system, lowering the likelihood of contracting illnesses such as colds and flu.  Furthermore, Beta Glucans could significantly enhance the survival of probiotics which have also been associated with increased immunity through improved ‘friendly gut bacteria’, reducing the dreaded ‘holiday tummy’ so many of us suffer from while away.

Additionally, Beta Glucans have been shown to increase immune activity through their ability to resist harmful bacteria, viruses and pathogens (3) acting as a safeguard for your health.  This makes them a great addition to your pre-holiday routine.  They also have the amazing ability of sensing fungal infections and releasing the necessary defending properties to deactivate the infection and reduce inflammation (4).  Moreover increased resistance through Beta Glucans have been shown against many different infections including Streptococcus, potentially reducing the need for antibiotics, especially useful while away on holiday.

There are numerous longer term benefits of enhancing your supplementation regimen with a Beta  Glucan.  They are reported to help reduce the risk of other illnesses and diseases such as tuberculosis and those that are septic and they have also been shown to promote anti tumour activity. (2)  In addition to these health benefits, Beta Glucan has been found to potentially reduce cholesterol and the likelihood of contracting diabetes and can also improve the lipid and glucose profiles of those already suffering from diabetes and hypertension (5).

This means that although this may begin as a holiday protector, continuation of this ‘invader defender’ may bring fantastic benefits to your health all year round.

As well as in supplement form, Beta Glucan is naturally found in oats, barley, yeast, rye and mushrooms and can also be fortified to foods such as bread and cereals.

 

Written by Lauren Foster

(1)  Stack, H.M., Kearney, N Stanton, C., Fitzgerald, G.F. and Ross, R.P. (2010). Association of Beta-Glucan Endogenous Production with Increased Stress Tolerance of Intestinal Lactobacilli. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 76, p. 500–507.

(2)  Image courtesy of  Salvatore Vuono.

(3)  Murphya, E. A., Davisb, J.M. and Carmichael, M.D. (2010) Immune modulating effects of b-glucan. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 13, 656–661.

(4)  Kankkunen, P., Teirilä, L. Rintahaka, J., Alenius, H., Wolff, H. and Matikainen, S.  (2010) 1,3 -b-Glucans Activate Both Dectin-1 and Inflammasome in Human Macrophages. Journal of Immunology, 184, 6335-6342.

(5)   S. Liatis, P. Tsapogas, E. Chala, C. Dimosthenopoulos, K. Kyriakopoulos, E. Kapantais, N. Katsilambros. (2009) The consumption of bread enriched with betaglucan reduces LDL-cholesterol and improves insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes & Metabolism, 35, 115–120.

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Healthy Gut Flora Could Prevent Obesity

‘Good’ bacteria in the gut may help to control weight, according to a recent study.

Probiotics are bacteria that help to maintain a bacterial balance in the digestive tract by reducing the growth of harmful bacteria. They are an important part of the digestive system, helping to control inflammation and support healthy digestion.

‘Good’ bacteria in the gut may help to control weight.
‘Good’ bacteria in the gut may help to control weight, according to a recent study. (1)

Caroline Karlsson, a researcher in food hygiene at Lund University, has tested the effects of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria on weight gain in rats (2). One group of rats were given a daily dose of probiotic lactic acid bacteria, Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL19. A second group were given Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, a pathogenic bacteria known to cause inflammation. Both groups of rats were fed the same diet.

When the rats were tested, it was found that the E. coli bacteria had led to changes in the gut flora and increased body fat. The group of rats given the lactic acid bacteria, however, were found to have a better balance of naturally occurring bacteria in their intestines. These rats put on significantly less weight than other rats, even though they ate the same amount of high-energy food.

Previous studies have presented similar findings. A human study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tested the effects of lactic acid bacteria on body weight (3). A milk drink containing lactobacilli was given to 87 participants every day for 12 weeks.  Another group was given a milk drink free from lactobacilli. After 12 weeks, the lactobacilli group showed a greater reduction in abdominal fat and body weight than the control group.

A further study (4) indicated that women were less likely to become obese after giving birth if they had taken probiotics (Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium strains) during pregnancy. One year after giving birth, the women who were given probiotics had the lower levels of obesity and body fat than those who were given placebo capsules.

Research regarding the role of probiotics in weight loss is in its early stages, and many studies to date have been fairly small. The results look promising, however, and there is increasing evidence that probiotic supplements can be benefical for promoting a healthy digestive and immune system.

Topping up your levels of healthy gut flora is simple. A good quality probiotic supplement such as Biocare’s Acidophilus Forte provides good levels of lactic acid bacteria. Those looking to increase their levels of probiotics through diet can also enrich their meals with probiotic foods. Try fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi and miso – or even a simple probiotic yoghurt with your morning cereal.

References

1.  Image courtesy of  luigi diamanti.

2.  Lund University. “Healthy gut flora could prevent obesity, rat study suggests.” ScienceDaily, 26 May 2011. Web. 29 May 2011.

3.  Kadooka Y, Sato M, Imaizumi K, Ogawa A, Ikuyama K, Akai Y, Okano M, Kagoshima M, Tsuchida T. “Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomized controlled trial.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jun;64(6):636-43.

4.  Luoto R, Laitinen K, Nermes M, Isolauri E. Impact of maternal probiotic-supplemented dietary counselling on pregnancy outcome and prenatal and postnatal growth: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Br J Nutr. 2010 Feb 4:1-8.

Written by Nadia Mason

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