A grumbling gut can be just plain uncomfortable, or worse, symptomatic of larger problems. Get the latest news and information to keep your tummy in tip-top shape on the NorthStar blog on digestion.

  1. Don’t fall for this BOGUS safety alert about your heartburn [False alarm!]

    Americans are DITCHING some of the most dangerous drugs in the pharmacy… and turning to SAFER options for acid reflux.

    We should CELEBRATE that, right?

    Well, friend, you’d better believe the drug industry ISN’T celebrating.

    They’re in full-blown PANIC mode!

    See, they don’t look at the part where drugs for reflux such as PPIs are DANGEROUS.

    No, they’re only looking at the balance sheet… where these meds are some of the most PROFITABLE.

    When people SWITCH, they lose big bucks.

    So, in a desperate attempt to save their bank accounts, they’re pulling an ugly little stunt behind the scenes.

    They hoped you’d never see it…

    But today, I’m going to pull back the curtain… and EXPOSE how they’re putting the screws to your doctor right now…

    To get you BACK onto their money-making drugs.

    More importantly, I’ve got what they’re so afraid of: safe and proven home remedies that’ll chase away the excruciating agony of acid reflux.

    The SURPRISING cause of your acid reflux… and how to FIX it

    The new report in Medscape – a website for doctors and nurses and such – urges doctors to be frank with patients about the “limited evidence” and “potential risks” of reflux treatments.

    No, they haven’t finally come to their senses about reflux drugs like PPIs, whose risks are serious and, in some cases, SEVERE…


    It’s only the NATURAL stuff they want docs to rip into!

    And of course, the report delivers a whole lotta claptrap.

    Here’s a real beaut…

    The report claims apple cider vinegar – a time-tested reflux remedy some people swear by – is “toxic” when it has acetic acid concentrations of 20%.

    Except as the same report quietly notes, the apple cider vinegar people use contains less than 5% acetic acid… and most people dilute it FAR beyond that.

    Uh...why bring it up then???

    So they can make a bogus safety claim, of course!  

    Then the report claims vinegar shouldn’t be used anyway since it’s acidic and “reflux isn't related to a lack of acid but is due to an excess of acid.”

    And that, my friend, is so much BUNK… I started yelling at my computer like a crazy person.

    It is absolutely proven that not enough acid can CAUSE reflux, since low levels weaken the esophageal sphincter. That allows any acid left to reach the wrong place -- even when levels are low.

    In other words… if that’s the cause of your reflux… then something like apple cider vinegar can be EXACTLY what you need.

    Yet these ninnies are trying to scare you away from it!

    The report isn’t ALL negative. It actually recommends melatonin for reflux – something I’ve never really had near the top of my list for reflux, but certainly worth a shot.

    Apple cider vinegar isn’t at the top of my list either, for that matter…

    Most people see much bigger improvements with acidophilus supplements and digestive enzymes.

    In fact, this easy approach works for about 2/3 of patients.

    And one of my favorites is DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice).

    If you’ve tried ALL of the above… and still aren’t getting relief… get tested for other possible problems.

    You’ll want to rule out an undiagnosed ulcer and/or hidden food sensitivity.

    In Your Corner,

    Dr. Allan Spreen

  2. [Finally!] Heal your gut wounds with this rainforest vine

    You’re WRITHING in pain… and SCARED out of your wits.

    Having an ulcer isn’t just painful…

    It can put you in the crosshairs for cancer!

    As if that weren’t bad enough, the drugs the mainstream offers put a target on your back for bone loss

    And even dementia.

    That’s about as bad as anything can get.

    But you don’t have to SACRIFICE your bones… or LOSE your precious memories

    Because there’s a secret from the Amazon rainforest that’s helped indigenous South Americans BEAT gastric ulcers since the Incan Empire.

    And it’s just as effective today as it was in pre-Columbian time.

    The cat’s out of the bag

    Native to Peru, cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a woody vine with curved – or “claw-shaped” -- thorns.

    The tribes of the Andes call it “uña de gato”… and they’ve used its bark as medicine since the time of the Incans.

    Hence its nickname, the “life-giving vine of Peru.”

    Its ability to REVERSE peptic ulcers stems WAY beyond Amazonian folklore…

    Because scientific studies have PROVEN how cat’s claw…

    1. HEALS wounds
    2. BOOSTS immunity, and
    3. EXTINGUISHES inflammation by inhibiting TNF-alpha.

    Its ability to close up those open sores in your stomach lining means you’re MUCH less likely to experience the DEVASTATION of “leaky gut” syndrome, too.

    And if you’re worried about the heightened cancer risk that comes with peptic ulcers… you’ll be relieved to know that cat’s claw has demonstrated anti-cancer and anti-tumor action as well.

    That may be in part because of its ability to repair DNA damage… which is a hallmark of the oxidative damage that occurs with a wounded gut

    Fortunately, cat’s claw is a potent antioxidant

    And it can BEAT BACK the production of reactive oxygen species that cause oxidative stress.

    You can find cat’s claw as a liquid extract, in capsule or tablet form, or as a tea at your local health food store or online.

    Another cat’s claw species with therapeutic value is Uncaria guianensis, best-known for its wound-healing abilities.

    But Uncaria tomentosa is the best-studied… and most commonly available… species.

  3. The FDA just dished out TERRIBLE heartburn advice [Beware!]

    I’ll say one nice thing about the FDA. After all, we’re entering the season of giving. When the chips are down… times are tough… and it feels like everyone’s turning on you… I hope you have a friend in your corner who’s as loyal to you as the FDA is to its drug company pals. Right now, one drug is...
  4. WARNING: Common autoimmune drug linked to deadly new risks

    If you watch any TV at all… you’ve almost certainly seen the ads. They show happy, active autoimmune patients bouncing through life without a care in the world -- thanks to the magic of tofacitinib (a.k.a. Xeljanz). Just pop a pill or two, and you’re off to climb the Himalayas… audition for the NFL… skydive with the Army Rangers… wrestle...
  5. Do acid reflux drugs pack the world’s most DEVIOUS side effect?

    Here’s a question for ya today… If you got on a plane and the pilot announced it was a “largely safe” aircraft… and that he has a record of landing intact “for the most part”… what would you do? I know I’d calmly get up from my seat… and walk right back out the door and straight to the rental...
  6. Could Big Pharma’s constipation ‘cure’ make you want to OFF yourself? [Scary]

    I’ve heard of plenty of ways to describe constipation. Painful… frustrating… exhausting… embarrassing… and a few I can’t print here! But I’ve never – not once – heard anyone say they’ve thought about KILLING themselves over it. But if you take the new gut-clearing med, that’s EXACTLY what could be running through your head! That’s an ACTUAL RISK linked to...
  7. [Urgent Warning] Big Pharma tips docs off to ALARMING drug risks

    It’s the letter you were NEVER meant to see. It was sent to doctors around the country on the hush-hush… to quietly warn them about a whole mess of new dangers linked to a popular drug. People with inflammation of the large intestine are suffering horrific, newly uncovered drug risks. But all the dirty details were being HIDDEN from those patients! Well, guess what...
  8. Why a Lack of Fiber Could Be Killing You

    fiber lack ofThe average adult needs between 25 and 30 grams of fiber per day. Unfortunately, the average American adult only gets about 15 grams of fiber per day – just about half the amount you need! And it turns out this lack of fiber could be killing you. Sound alarmist? That’s because it’s alarming – but it’s also the truth. Getting enough fiber isn’t just about feeling fuller, longer, so you stick to your diet. It’s not even only about the sustained energy that comes from the healthy carbohydrates where most people find their fiber. Getting enough fiber is about fighting off diseases that can actually kill you. Now that we’ve gotten your attention, let’s look at what a lack of fiber is doing to your health… Continue reading →
  9. 10 Tips to Cure Acid Reflux Naturally

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    acid reflux cureThat burning sensation in the middle of your chest. That acidy taste in the back of your throat. You may think they are the issues, but they might just be the symptoms. If you experience these more than twice a week, you could be dealing with more than just heartburn. You could be dealing with acid reflux. The good news is, that you can cure acid reflux at home, naturally. And in this article, we’ll tell you how… Continue reading →
  10. Listen to Your Gut: The Complete Guide of Good and Bad Gut Bacteria

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    Nothing is more important than your health – but if don’t know how to listen to your gut, you aren’t taking care of your health the way you think you are. Don’t get us wrong, eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising are essential steps to maintaining your health and we’re not arguing that. But listening to your gut is the piece you may be missing. We’ve been taught that bacteria is bad, and when it’s on your kitchen counter or in a scrape on your knee, it is. Bad when it’s in your gut, it’s the cornerstone of health. Continue reading →
  11. How is My Stomach REALLY? [Take the Leaky Gut Test]

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    test leaky gut Are you suffering from symptoms from your head all the way down? Do you really not feel well, in spite of being “just fine”? Has your doctor given you a laundry list of treatments that don’t seem to be working? If any of this sounds familiar, we may have answers for you – finally. Because your symptoms may not be the problem at all. The problem may be in your gut. Take the leaky gut test, and learn if relief is just around the corner…   Continue reading →
  12. Probiotic health benefits: May help women lose twice the weight

    Since you’re a Guide to Good Health reader, I’m guessing I probably don’t need to tell you how important a bellyful of good bacteria is. As you know, your gut is the center of your entire immune system. And keeping your intestinal flora balanced can help keep you healthy. The trouble is, in today’s world it can be tough to do that. An on-the-go diet that’s way too high in junk and way too low in fresh healthy organic foods, stress and even medications like antibiotics all act like bulls on the loose in a china shop, shattering the balance of your gut flora making you vulnerable to getting sick. The health benefits of probiotics can quickly get you back on track, replenishing the good bacteria in your digestive tract. And what a difference it can make! One UK study I told you about a few years ago, found one of the health benefits of probiotics is that they could boost your immunities by an astounding fifty percent, in some cases. And it almost goes without saying that probiotics are some of the best protection you can get against antibiotic-resistant superbugs. In fact, because of the amazing health benefits of probiotics, I think they are a “must take” supplement that everyone should be including in their daily routine.

    Lower your body fat with belly bugs

    Good belly bugs do a lot more for you than just fight off the common cold or the flu. And we’re learning more about their effects every day. Just last year I told you about an exciting mouse study that revealed a connection between gut flora and diabetes. Researchers found that gut bacteria produce biochemicals and hormones that can literally stop diabetes from ever developing! But as I read the latest issue of the British Journal of Nutrition it wasn’t that diabetes study that came to mind, but rather an earlier one that I had shared with my readers years ago. I’ll get back to that new probiotic research in BJN in just a moment, but first let me refresh your memory about that earlier study. In 2009, Finnish researchers concluded that certain probiotics can help women manage their weight after a pregnancy.  They divided 256 pregnant women into three groups. The first group received dietary counseling and a daily probiotic. The second group got the same counseling, but received a placebo. And the third group didn’t get any dietary counseling, but got the placebo. The women continued with whichever regimen they were assigned to throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Once they stopped breastfeeding they were brought in for measurements of weight and waist circumference. The women who took the probiotic came out on top. A year after having their babies they were sporting the best post-baby bodies, with the lowest body fat percentages. And just as exciting, the women taking the probiotic ended up carting around less fat around their midsections than the other two groups.

    Drop more pounds with probiotics

    Now, Canadian researchers have more exciting news for us about probiotic health benefits and weight. And this time it could lead to you taking your belt in a few extra notches. Scientists recruited 125 overweight men and women. For 12 weeks all of the volunteers followed a prescribed weight loss plan. That was followed with another 12 weeks of weight maintenance. During the study half of the group was given a probiotic (in this case from the Lactobacillus rhamnous family), and the other half was given a placebo. The women who got probiotics lost more weight than the placebo takers during the diet phase—an average of 1.8 kg more. That’s almost 4 extra pounds. And during the maintenance period the probiotic takers continued to lose weight, eventually dropping a total of 5.2 kilograms or about 11.5 pound each! In other words, the women in the probiotic group lost twice the weight. And the only difference between the two groups was the probiotic. Unfortunately, the guys in the study didn’t see the same results. The researchers aren’t positive why that is. The study may simply not have gone on long enough, or the dosages might need adjusting for the men. But there’s no reason to think that probiotics can’t have similar effects on weight for men, too.
    For their immune and digestion health benefits alone, probiotics should be on YOUR daily menu. And if they also happen to help you beat the battle of the bulge, that’s just very welcome icing on an already delicious cake.
  13. Is gut bacteria making you fat and sick?

    By now the significance of keeping your belly bugs balanced is probably pretty obvious. I know I’ve written about the subject of gut bacteria over three dozen times myself. In fact, a quick check of the online archives confirms that we first started covering the importance of good bacteria, balanced gut flora and probiotics in the Guide to Good Health and on the NorthStar blog at least five years ago now. We, of course, know that immunity starts with your gut bacteria… which means that probiotics could be the key to helping you avoid getting a cold or the winter flu this year. And if you do fall victim, one study found they can help you bounce back 30 percent faster than the sad saps that just suffer through without them. In my book, if you’re ever on an antibiotic, taking a probiotic to replenish the good bugs is not optional… it’s essential. Some experts even believe the gut bacteria in your belly can affect your mood and behavior. And just last year exciting new findings about a potential link between the gut bacteria in your intestines and type 2 diabetes began to emerge. (To catch up… and learn how a “hostile gut” could be to blame for your blood sugar battles… check out the complete story on the NorthStar blog.) Now a new study published in the journal Nature has strengthened the apparent link between diabetes and gut bacteria. But, it’s gone much further than that. Scientists say your gut bacteria could predict your risk for obesity and obesity-related illnesses including heart disease and diabetes. It’s a lack of variety in the bacterial strains that appears to be the key. Generally, we walk around with trillions of the little suckers in our bellies. But if those strains of bugs aren’t diverse enough, your risks for being fat and sick could skyrocket, according to the study. Now we can’t say for certain yet that balancing your gut bacteria with a probiotic will help you shed pounds and lower your disease risks, but the signs are all starting to point in that direction. And what the experts do agree on is that changes in your gut germs… which they suggest increasing fiber to accomplish… might make it easier for you to lose weight.
  14. Brain friendly bugs – probiotics and brain health

    Your belly bacteria may be your best bet for brain health. According to a group of UCLA researchers the good bacteria you get from the foods you eat… like the probiotics in yogurt… can affect your brain health. When a group of women were given a yogurt that contained a mix of several probiotics, MRI scans performed before and after the four week study showed some remarkable results. According to the scientists, the tests that were designed to measure how engaged certain regions of the brain were to a variety of visual stimuli confirmed that belly bugs do indeed affect your brain. When shown pictures of angry of frightened faces and asked to match them to other faces showing the same emotion, the brains of the women who got the belly-bug supplements lit up less in response to the images than the brains of the women who got a placebo or nothing at all. In other words, the probiotics appeared to help them manage the emotional stress the images caused. Not only that, when the probiotic-supplemented brains were at rest they showed more activity in a key area of the brain connected to cognition. The researchers say that the brain health findings may be a first step in coming up with new ways to prevent or treat digestive, mental and neurological disorders. But of course, if you’ve been following my advice you don’t need to wait for any more steps to reap the many benefits of probiotics. I’ve explained before how probiotics may be able to help you improve your mood and reduce your anxiety, how they could play a role in diabetes,  and how they may even be able to help boost your immunities by 50 percent! If you’re not already taking a probiotic this is one wagon you’re going to want to climb up on. Just be sure to choose a quality probiotic from a supplement maker you trust.
  15. Frozen foods and food borne illness

    Frozen food fiasco

    I've got an important warning about food borne illness for anyone who occasionally snacks on frozen foods. Freezing E. coli contaminated food will not kill the nasty bugs...or many other germs for that matter. In fact, it may even help preserve them. It's a lesson that at least 24 people in 15 states had to learn the hard way recently when frozen pizzas, cheesesteaks, quesadillas, and other frozen snack food they ate caused them to get violently ill. Only thoroughly heating food according to package directions will guarantee those nasty bugs that carry food borne illnesses are killed. But, let's be honest, who is going to actually pull out a meat thermometer and check the internal temperature of their microwaved pizza bites in several different spots? The simplifier solution is to just skip the frozen microwave foods altogether. Instead go with fresh foods you cook the old-fashioned way yourself. Sure it will take a few more minutes, but you'll be rewarded with delicious good for you food instead of a tasteless piece of cardboard that could end up leading to food borne illness.
  16. CRE superbug kills one in two people who are infected

    Defend against deadly CRE superbugs with this gut secret

    Picture this: an out-of-control, untreatable superbug, the CRE superbug, runs amok, killing up to half of the people it infects. It certainly sounds like the plot of Hollywood's latest apocalyptic thriller, but you don't have to visit your local movie theater to see how this story unfolds. Instead, head to your local doctor's office, nursing home, or hospital...because, unfortunately, this is no movie. No, this seemingly scripted-for-film story is only too real...and make no mistake, it poses a serious threat to you, and everyone else you care about. The ugly bug at the center of this plot is carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE for short. And while CRE superbug may be the latest drug-resistant bug to join the line up, it's shaping up to be the deadliest superbug of the lot. Our first clue to just how bad this nasty bug really is lies in the name itself. Carbapenems are what is known in medical circles as "last resort" antibiotics. These are the drugs that docs pull out when all the other antibiotics have failed. The one class of drugs they could always rely on in a pinch. The only trouble is, with widespread antibiotic overuse and misuse there are a lot of drug-resistant bugs out there. As a result docs have been relying on these so called "last resort" drugs more and more often. And now we're paying the deadly price with a truly out-of-control superbug that kills 1 in 2 infected patients, and that we have no way of stopping.

    CRE superbug spreading like wildfire

    So far, CRE superbug has reared its ugly head in 42 states. But that's just the official numbers from the CDC. This bug is spreading like wildfire, and chances are by the time you're reading this letter it has spread to all fifty states and beyond. And I only wish that was the worst of the news I had to share. It gets nastier. Like most bullies, CRE superbug apparently feels safer in a crowd, so the bug "recruits" other bacteria, literally transferring its antibiotic resistance to other relatively >harmless bugs like common E. coli. And this one "little" trick turns an incredibly bad situation into a potential nightmare. The only bright spot, if you can call it that with a straight face, is that so far CRE is sticking mostly to long-term hospital settings, with 18 percent of cases being found in long-term acute-care facilities, and one in 25 acute-care facilities reporting at least one CRE infection in 2012. But don't start celebrating yet, because it's really only a matter of time before this bug follows the path of other superbugs like MRSA, escaping into the general community.

    Restore good bacteria to beat bad bugs

    Now you may be wondering how we got here. Well, it all goes back to that antibiotic overuse and misuse that I mentioned earlier. Antibiotics really are wonder drugs... or they were. When penicillin first hit the market in the early 1940's it was like a miracle. It, and the many antibiotics that followed, have saved countless lives. But too much of a good thing can quickly turn into something bad. It wasn't long before doctors were handing out prescriptions for antibiotics whether they were needed or not. And soon patients were demanding them for every cut, cough, and sniffle...despite the fact that they're perfectly useless against viruses like those that cause the common cold. When we misuse antibiotics (taking them when we don't need them, not taking them as prescribed, or taking them for too long), we're essentially putting a normal process on fast-forward. With so many of us killing off the good bacteria in our bellies right along with the bad, we open the door for sinister strains of bacteria to gain a foothold, and antibiotic-resistant superbugs are born. Mainstream medicine has hit a brick wall when it comes to superbugs like CRE. They're in defense mode, simply trying to keep the bug contained with too-little-too-late measures like frequent hand-washing. But, while the situation IS dire it's certainly not hopeless. And, as any football fan can tell you, the best defense is always a good offense. Shoring up your immune system is the best way to avoid becoming a victim of the CRE superbug, or any other antibiotic-resistant bug. And to do this you need to start in the same place that those antibiotics did their damage...in the gut. Probiotics can restore the good bacteria in your belly, where they can help guard against superbugs like C-diff, MRSA, and CRE. In fact, I like to tell people that probiotics just aren't optional anymore. If you aren't on one already, you probably should be. And vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, garlic, and green tea can all help you stay healthy so you can avoid hospitals and other settings where these nasty bugs thrive.
  17. Garcinia weight loss breakthrough

    South Asian Garcinia fruitweight loss secret

    "Garcini-what?" That's the reaction I usually get when I mention this remarkable South Asian secret to weight loss that, quite literally, grows on trees. But I expect that to change very soon...and I'll explain why in just a moment. The small sour Garcinia cambogia fruit resembles a miniature pumpkin in shape. It's a staple ingredient in many of the curry dishes you will get in Southeast Asian countries. And, in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine, the fruit has long been recognized for its ability to aid with digestion and to make meals feel more filling. Although most American's have never even heard of garcinia... and I wouldn't expect to see it anytime soon in the produce aisle at your local grocery store... you will likely be hearing a lot more about it in the months ahead. And that's because Dr. Oz, who recently referred to it as a "revolutionary fat buster" on an episode of his popular TV show, is a real cheerleader for garcinia as a weight loss breakthrough. In fact, Dr. Oz couldn't say enough good things about garcinia , even referring to it as "the holy grail" and saying that garcinia might be "...the most exciting weight-loss breakthrough discovered to date." Now I've told you before that, despite the fact that Dr. Oz began his career fully dedicated to mainstream medicine, I rather like the guy. I think he has some good things to say, and when it comes to natural medicine you can see he tries to keep an open mind and he usually does his homework. And in this case, he got it right. And garcinia weight loss is indeed a breakthrough. That's because it packs a one-two punch both supporting your metabolism so your body can effectively burn fat, and helping you to feel full so you can avoid the dreaded diet-sabotaging munchies. If you're interested in giving garcinia extract a try you can find a supplement in your local health food store or in your favorite online supplement shop. Garcinia comes both as a stand-alone extract as well as an ingredient in some more comprehensive weight loss formulas.
  18. Reduce healthcare acquired infections through regular disinfection

    The spray-bottle secret to beating superbugs

    I'm filing this one under "no brainer." Researchers have found that cleaning hospital surfaces more often reduces the amount of dangerous germs lurking on it, cutting down on possible healthcare acquired infections. Yup...you read that right. Cleaning things makes them cleaner. Film at 11:00! Not exactly what you'd call a shocking revelation is it? But hey, sometimes in the mainstream world of medicine you need a study from the Department of Duh to prove the obvious. Now, to be fair, the actual numbers in this study are striking...if only because they do such a great job of illustrating a glaring oversight by hospitals. And that oversight is putting you, and your loved ones, at grave risk every time you walk through their doors.

    Superbug shenanigans

    There's a quiet battle raging in hospitals and healthcare settings all over the country...and even the world. Antibiotic overuse has turned garden-variety regular germs into mutated super versions of themselves. And these mutated monsters are now resistant to the drugs that we once relied on to kill them. With our first-line-of-defense antibiotics out of the picture, what would have likely been a relatively minor illness in the past may now be a serious threat to your health. And, in a growing number of cases, even a deadly one. The two antibiotic-resistant bugs that have made themselves the most at home in hospitals are Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In fact, 86 percent of all invasive cases of MRSA, and nearly all C. diff infections are healthcare acquired infections. It's not unusual to have C. diff in your intestinal tract. Most of us do, and it doesn't pose any kind of a threat. But an overgrowth of the bug...usually due to taking an antibiotic...can lead to it making you sick. And when this happens, because the bug is resistant to the standard treatments, your health may be in grave danger. In fact, C. diff-caused diarrhea leads to 14,000 deaths in the United States alone every year. Similarly, MRSA is not an uncommon germ. It's found on the skin, or in the nose, of 1 out of 3 people. Most of the time the bug doesn't make the person carrying it sick. But, according to the CDC, 94,360 people a year in the United States aren't so lucky and they do get infected with MRSA. And of those infected, it's estimated that 18,650 die.

    Down and dirty with disinfection

    These bugs are super all right...super killers that is. Combined they're responsible for the deaths of well over 32,000 Americans a year. And while hospitals and healthcare workers do have some protocols in place like hand washing, gloves, and isolation rooms for those infected it's clearly not enough. And that's where this new study of healthcare acquired infections comes in. It may seem glaringly obvious to you and me that disinfection is the name of the game when it comes to curbing the spread of these superbugs. But apparently this has escaped the attention of those in charge at hospitals. In turns out, according to a study published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, that the most touched surfaces in those superbug isolation rooms...like bed rails, phones, toilet seats, and call buttons...are only getting cleaned daily less than 10 percent of the time. High-touch surfaces were only getting attention from housekeeping staff if they were visibly soiled. But I don't think I have to tell you that no matter how hard you look, you're not going to spot a germ doing a jig on a bedrail. Researchers found that when rooms were disinfected the number of pathogens found on healthcare workers hands plummeted from 30 percent with the standard cleaning down to just 6.4 percent. And all it took was just 20 minutes of cleaning to get that huge drop. The bottom line is, if you find yourself (or a loved one) in the hospital insist on daily disinfection of the room. Or bring along your own bleach water in a spray bottle and spritz the most touched surfaces at least once a day. It may save your life.
  19. Is your proton pump inhibitor drug doing more harm than good?

    A new warning from the FDA should have you thinking twice before popping a proton pump inhibitor drug (PPI) like Nexium, Protonix, Prilosec, or Prevacid to soothe your heartburn. If you're a regular Guide to Good Health Reader you already know that PPIs can be bad news...they have been linked to increasing your risks for hospital-acquired pneumonia, bone fractures, and magnesium deficiencies. But, it turns out, the acid-suppressing drugs have yet another super-nasty trick up their collective sleeve. According to the FDA, a proton pump inhibitor drug (PPI) may increase your risk for chronic diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile (C. diff) bacterium. It seems that while the drugs are suppressing your stomach acid they're also making your gut a much friendlier place for C. diff to grow and thrive. And trust me when I tell you that you don't want dangerous...and sometime deadly...C. diff running the show in your intestines. Your best bet for ending your acid reflux problems without resorting to a potentially dangerous proton pump inhibitor is to consult a naturopath who will likely use a combination of probiotics and digestive enzymes to soothe your digestive troubles once and for all.
  20. Exposed: A MRSA superbug surprise for dinner

    Quick, put down that slice of bacon. Back away from that pork chop. And whatever you do don't slice another piece of that pork roast! You're going to want to read this before you take another bite. New research on antibiotic resistance and MRSA superbug by the University of Iowa College of Public Health and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy could have you second-guessing your choice for dinner tonight. Apparently, whenever you serve pork you may unknowingly be serving up an unwanted side dish right along with it. You may recall... I've written before about the dangers of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA). This nasty MRSA superbug—a by-product of our long love affair with antibiotic drugs—mows down at least 185,000 people a year with food poisoning. But it gets worse... MRSA superbug infections can target the blood, lungs, organs, and skin (it's one of those "flesh-eating" bacteria you've heard so much about). And those infections can be deadly since they're resistant to most common antibiotics. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2005 alone 18,650 people who lost their lives had a documented case of MRSA during their hospitalization.

    MRSA superbug makes a move to the meat case

    You see... Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem worldwide. And really, the way we've abused antibiotics we've only got ourselves to blame. On the one hand there are the doctors that hand out antibiotics like tic tacs for every sniffle, sneeze and cough. And this despite the fact that they're perfectly useless against the common cold. Then on the other hand, there is Big Agriculture dosing livestock with antibiotics to promote growth and to ward off the effects of the unsanitary conditions the animals are kept in. The problem has gotten so bad that estimates are that more than 70 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are being used on chickens, cows, and pigs that aren't even sick. And one of the consequences of all this overuse of course is this MRSA pickle we now find ourselves in. But wait... We’re winning the battle against MRSA superbug and other antibiotic-resistant superbugs...right? It's easy to think so. After all, you never hear much about them in the news anymore. That's got to be a good sign...right? Don't be fooled. The mainstream media has a notoriously short attention span. They've merely moved on because, well, MRSA just isn't the hot topic it once was. Instead they're off chasing the next sensational story of the moment. (Something about the Kardashian family no doubt.) The fact is that up to 278,000 hospital patients are being treated for MRSA infections nationwide every year. I don't know about you, but I'd call that far from under control. So, naturally, limiting our exposure to this potentially deadly bug should be a top priority. And that's why those recent findings that I mentioned earlier are so disturbing. Because, suddenly, it looks like simply sitting down for a meal could come at the cost of exposing yourself to this ugly bug. Here's how... The study, published in the January 19th issue of the journal Plos One, covers the largest ever sampling of raw meat products tested for MRSA in the United States. The researchers pulled 395 raw pork samples from grocery store shelves in 36 different stores across three different states (Iowa, New Jersey, and Minnesota). The samples included everything from pork chops to sausage. What they found was, frankly, rather alarming. Heck, the results even surprised the researchers. Twenty-six of the samples that were tested were contaminated with MRSA. When we transfer those findings to the real world that means than potentially 7% of the meat that we buy every day in the grocery store...and serve to our families...is carrying the MRSA superbug.

    Resisting antibiotic resistance

    And that wasn't the only unwelcome surprise. Shockingly, the researchers reported that they found no significant difference in MRSA contamination between factory-farmed conventional pork products and those that came from pigs that were raised without growth-promoting antibiotics. A finding that at face value appears to be a real blow to the antibiotic-free meat movement. But wait, not so fast. You've really got to dig a little deeper to see the reality of the situation. Things are not always what they seem. Our first clue is that the researchers admit that their findings regarding MRSA superbug and alternative meat might have a lot more to do with the handling of the raw meat at the processing plant rather than how the pigs were actually raised. Gee, ya think? I'd say when you look at the whole story this is likely the case. Our second important clue is revealed when you look more closely at the numbers. Of the twenty-six samples that were contaminated with MRSA seven came from alternative pork products. Six of those seven were from the same retail chain across two states. And, perhaps most telling of all, four of them were from the very same store. This, of course, makes a scenario in which they were contaminated during handling and then shipped together to the same stores seem much more likely. Plus... We already know from previous studies that antibiotic-free meats are less likely to harbor superbugs. An earlier study on poultry in the Netherlands found that both chickens that were raised without antibiotics and wild fowl had lower incidents of MRSA than meat from conventional factory farmed birds. In addition, another United States study found MRSA in four out of nine pigs from conventional factory farms, but didn't find any of the bugs in pigs from alternative antibiotic-free farms. The bottom line is whenever possible you should still be choosing free-range and antibiotic-free meats. And although some of the big factory farms have started producing their own organic meats because of the potential for mishandling and cross contamination I'd still recommend you skip the big "brand-name" producers. Instead look for locally grown small-farm products whenever possible. Try your local farmer's market. Oh, and don't forget that the sniffles are never a good reason to take antibiotics. Check out Surviving Cold Season 101 for some advice on avoiding getting a cold in the first place and dealing with one once you have it.

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