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. Are there side effects of BenVia Gold chia seeds? A close look at the side effects of chia

    Side effects of BenVia Gold chia seedsWhenever you add a new supplement to your diet, you already know about its benefits. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be adding it. But what about its side effects? No matter how effective, or useful, something is, it’s important to be aware of any problems that may arise. Knowing the side effects of BenVia Gold is no different.

    Most of the side effects reported with using BenVia Gold, or chia seeds, occur when using unusually large amounts of the seed and are caused by one culprit: fiber. For most people, these BenVia Gold side effects can be avoided by using the recommended amount – 1 scoop per day. Still, they are worth talking about.

    Temporary Side Effects of Fiber

    Most of us don’t get enough fiber in our diets. Because of this, when we add fiber to our daily routine too quickly, it can often cause physical discomfort, including mild cramping, bloating, even occasionally diarrhea. Since BenVia Gold is high in fiber, some people may experience this adjustment period.

    One way to minimize the effect of the fiber is to spread the amount of BenVia Gold you take throughout the day. Instead of using the entire scoop with breakfast, use a third of it with every meal. The good news is these symptoms of this chia seed side effect will decrease, and eventually disappear, as our bodies adjust to having enough fiber working in our systems.

    Is BenVia Gold Worth It?

    Yes, definitely. First, the benefits of BenVia Gold reach far beyond just the amount of fiber you will get. BenVia Gold chia benefits your system in so many ways, providing amazing support to your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol balance, energy, skin, digestion and so much more. For complete details on all the health benefits of BenVia Gold chia, check out this article. Or if pictures are better than words for you, take a look at this awesome infographic.

    But aside from the benefits of BenVia Gold chia, fiber itself is good for us. Most of us don’t get enough in our diets. And fiber does everything from help keeping us regular to promoting heart health. Adding BenVia Gold to our diets gives us all the benefits of chia – including healthy amounts of fiber.

    When Used Safely, BenVia Gold Is Safe

    Everything has side effects, especially if used incorrectly or improperly, even something as essential as fiber. So, while we won’t say there are no BenVia Gold side effects, we will say that they are almost all avoidable. When used correctly, BenVia Gold will improve your health and make you feel better. It’s that simple. More isn't always better – but feeling good always is.
    To learn more about BenVIa Gold, including how to purchase it, click here.

  2. What are the health benefits of BenVia Gold chia?

    Health benefits of BenVia GoldYou’ve heard about the health benefits of BenVia Gold chia. You’ve heard it supports heart health and brain function. You’ve even heard it gives people more energy, which you really like. So now you’re interested. Definitely. But you want to know more. You want details about BenVia Gold health benefits. You want to know why you should take it. Not just chia, but BenVia Gold chia.

    Well, we’re about to tell you. But make a cup of tea and settle in, because the list of BenVia Gold’s health benefits is long…

    BenVia Gold Health Benefits: An Impressive List

    BenVia Gold is 100% pure chia seed. We only accept the highest quality seeds available. So, one scoop can provide you with all this:

    Calcium (79 mg – a little more than ¼ cup of milk): As you know, calcium is essential in building healthy bones. It keeps our teeth and bones strong, even as we age.

    Fiber (6 g – 1 ½ cups cooked instant oatmeal): Fiber keeps our digestive tracts healthy, from the stomach to the colon, which helps prevent problems. It also makes us feel full, which can be useful in maintaining a healthy weight.

    Iron (1 mg – more than 1 cup of raw spinach): Iron is one of the minerals that keeps blood healthy, giving it that deep red color. Iron deficiencies can cause anemia.

    Magnesium (49 mg – 2 tablespoons of peanut butter): An entire article could be devoted to the benefits of magnesium. It’s required for healthy muscle and nerve function. It keeps the heart rhythm steady. Like calcium, it helps keep bones strong. Plus, it supports our immune systems. It regulates blood sugar, and keeps blood pressure normal. And BenVia Gold is a good source of it.

    Omega-3 (2775 mg – 7 to 8 whole walnuts): What isn’t omega-3 good for? It keeps our brains, skin, and hearts healthy. It reduces inflammation in muscles and joints. It even allows us to think more clearly, and may stave off age-related memory lapses.

    Protein (3 g – ½ inch cheese cube): Protein is required for proper nutrition and to prevent muscle atrophy.

    Riboflavin (.03 mg – 3 sundried tomatoes): Also known as B-2, this vitamin protects against premature aging. It breaks down nutrients into energy. And even interacts with iron, enhancing iron’s efficiency.

    Thiamin (.07 mg – 3 ½ medium sized apples): Most people know thiamin as B-1. Our favorite use for thiamin is that it helps the body handle stress. But it also maintains the cardiovascular and nervous systems, promotes healthy skin, hair, and eyes, and converts carbohydrates into energy.

    BenVia Gold offers all of this, in one 15 gram scoop. That’s a huge list of health benefits for such a tiny seed.

    You’ll get the health benefits of BenVia Gold no matter how you prepare it. Eat it raw, or cook it up. Sprinkle it on salads or cereal. Bake into your favorite breads, or our favorite -- brownies. BenVia Gold is available in 2 forms, whole seed or ground, however you prefer it. Either way, the health benefits of BenVia Gold are the same.

    For more information about chia in general, check this out infographic – Chia: The Perfect Food for your Perfect Health. But know that BenVia Gold chia is some of the best available, thanks to our highly controlled growing conditions and commitment to quality. BenVia Gold has more nutritional value than many forms of generic chia, thanks to the nutrient rich soil in which it is grown.

    Now that you know the impressive health benefits of BenVia Gold, life doesn’t have to slow you down any longer.  All you have to do is give it a try. BenVia Gold will do the rest.

  3. Is BenVia Gold A Scam? An Honest BenVia Gold Review

    BenViaGold-BlogContest Is BenVia Gold a scam? This is a question we get from time to time. So we’re happy to talk about it and give you an honest review of BenVia Gold. But first, let’s back up a minute and talk about chia seeds in general. There are lots of claims out there about chia seeds, so it’s easy to think some of them are far-fetched. Some companies claim that chia seeds will help you lose weight, and this simply hasn’t been supported. But study after study has proven the overall health benefits of chia seeds – and every claim we make about BenVia Gold has been backed up (and we have the documentation on file to prove it!). So here’s an honest BenVia Gold review, to set the record straight. Here’s what we know about BenVia Gold… …BenVia Gold gives you energy. As long ago as 3800 BC, the Mayans named chia after their word for “strength.” And the Aztecs called chia seeds “the running food” because of the energy and endurance their warriors experienced after eating them. Today, athletes report that same endurance boost, thanks to chia. …BenVia Gold assists with regularity and digestive issues. Fiber has been known to promote regularity for as long as anyone can remember. A diet full of fiber helps keep our intestinal tract healthy and moving properly. BenVia Gold gives you 24% of your daily recommended allowance of fiber in one single scoop. …BenVia Gold helps you manage your weight. But wait, didn’t we just say that weight loss claims haven’t been proven? We did, but that doesn’t mean BenVia Gold is a scam. Other chia seed suppliers may claim that their product will actually cause you to lose weight. But that’s not what we’re saying. What we know is that the fiber that helps keep you regular also helps keep you feeling full. And when you feel fuller, it’s easier to manage your weight. Plus, one scoop of BenVia Gold is only about 55 calories, giving you the full feeling you need, for less than 100 calories. …BenVia Gold supports your cardiovascular system, including blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It’s packed with the fatty acids – Omega 3, Omega 6, and Omega 9 – that are shown to support heart health, which keeps our arteries and blood pressure healthy, too! Plus, Omega 3s help raise the levels of good cholesterol and support healthy triglyceride levels. …BenVia Gold can help you look younger. Those same omegas are important to healthy skin, hair, and nails. A serving of BenVia Gold gives you over 3,800 total milligrams of omegas, plus calcium to help keep your teeth and bones strong, too. Is BenVia Gold New? BenVia Gold may be relatively new to the market, but chia isn’t. It’s believed the Aztecs used chia seeds centuries ago. And modern research into their health properties started over 20 years ago. In fact, long-term customers of NorthStar Nutritionals may remember Salba, which was the first chia we offered. Even though we decided not to offer Salba any longer, we were too impressed with chia to stop offering it altogether. That’s why we now have BenVia Gold. Because we want to make sure you have access to all the benefits promised by chia. Although BenVia Gold was originally harvested by the mighty Aztecs in modern day Mexico, today the golden crop thrives further south in Bolivia. You see, Bolivia has the ideal climate and a pristine environment for BenVia Gold to grow in all year long. It’s grown under controlled conditions in some of the most nutrient-rich soil in the world. Because the soil's natural nutrient stores have never been depleted, BenVia Gold is packed with more naturally occurring beneficial vitamins and minerals than many fruits, vegetables and dairy products farmed elsewhere. The growers also take great care in harvesting under strict guidelines to maximize the total nutritional benefit, which means crops are harvested only a few times a year. All while worldwide demand continues to skyrocket. Happily, though, NorthStar Nutritionals has been designated BenVia Gold's premier U.S. supplier. Our Gold Standard: Our Customers’ BenVia Gold Reviews So you see, there’s no BenVia Gold scam here. BenVia Gold is real. And its health benefits are very real.  Not only do the science and medical communities back us up, thousands of our own customers agree – which is the BenVia Gold review we care most about. But if you’re still skeptical, just give BenVia Gold a try for yourself. If it doesn’t work, or you don’t like it, you can return it at any time for any reason, thanks to our Gold Standard Guarantee. But, we’re sure you’ll come to believe in BenVia Gold as much as we do.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Scientists unlock new secrets about probiotics and brain chemistry

    You know probiotics are good for your gut. But can these "friendly" bacteria also affect your mood or your behavior? John Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland, thinks it's entirely possible. He recently completed a study of probiotics and brain changes that suggests friendly bacteria in your gut can actually alter your brain's chemistry! For this study, Cryan and colleagues fed mice broth containing the bacterium, Lactobacillus rhamnosus. The name probably sounds familiar to you. That's because you'll find the Lactobacillus strain of bacteria in most probiotic supplements and forms of yogurt. After six weeks on this magic broth, the mice showed fewer signs of stress and anxiety! For example, the mice spend more time running through the narrow, elevated walkways and wide-open spaces. These spaces are generally scary to mice (who knew?!). The mice also pumped out fewer stress hormones when the researchers placed them in water. "This was really exciting because it tells us the animals are more chilled out and don't mount the same stress response," Cryan said. And best of all, researchers found a link between  mice taking probiotics and brain  changes occurring in their genes that program GABA, a neurotransmitter. GABA typically dampens neural activity in the brain. And many drugs used to treat anxiety target GABA receptors. None of these changes occurred in the mice that ate plain broth. Mike Lyte, a microbial endocrinologist at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Abilene, commented on the work with the mice, probiotics and brain changes in Science Now. He said, "This is pioneering work. It's really showing that you can alter emotional states by regulating the microbiome." So keep up your probiotic regimen. Not only will your digestion improve, you mood may improve as well!
  13. Two key vitamins boost cure rate for H. pylori bacteria

    You may think that stress triggers stomach ulcers, a type of peptic ulcer. But consider this... In 1982, a scientist named Barry Marshall proved that the helicobacter pylori bacteria (known as H. pylori bacteria) cause most peptic ulcers, even those in your stomach. Initially, the medical community branded Dr. Marshall as a quack. No one believed bacteria could survive in your stomach's highly acid environment. But his theory proved scientifically sound. And now, newer research suggests H. pylori bacteria infections play a role in autoimmune disorders, heart disease, and even cancer. Dr. Marshall made this important discovery nearly 30 years ago. Yet here we are in 2011 and most folks still think that stomach ulcers come from worrying too much. If that were true...they'd be much easier to get rid of. But the H. pylori bacteria are stubborn and crafty... In fact, experts estimate that about 30 percent of men and women in the U.S. have H. pylori bacteria in their gut. Most don't even know it! And that's dangerous, because over time these bacteria burrow into the protective mucosal lining of your stomach. This allows acid to eat away at the sensitive walls of your stomach, creating an ulcer. To make matters worse, H. Pylori bacteria has grown very resistant to antibiotics in recent years. That's why you must take two, even three, heavy-duty antibiotics to get rid of an ulcer. Plus, your gastroenterologist probably throws in a Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) like Prevacid to keep your stomach acid down. But even then, the odds that you'll completely eradicate H. pylori aren't very good. Now here's the good news... Two key vitamins may help get rid of these harmful bacteria -- for good. In fact, in a recent study, patients who added these two vitamins to their standard medical treatment boosted their cure rate by a staggering amount!

    Standard treatment falls short

    In a recent study, Turkish researchers recruited 200 patients infected with H. pylori bacteria. They divided the patients into two groups. One group received a standard triple drug therapy. This means for 14 days they took:
    • 1,000 mg of amoxicillin 2x a day
    • 500 mg of clarithromycin (another type of antibiotic) 2x a day
    • 30 mg of Prevacid 2x a day
    Now -- you know just thinking about this heavy drug cocktail makes me break out in purple spots. First of all, antibiotics upset your stomach's natural balance of bacteria. Sure -- they wipe out the bad bacteria, such as H. pylori. But they also wipe out the GOOD bacteria. This can lead to all sorts of on-going problems. Second, as you know, I am not a fan of PPIs. These drugs block your body's natural production of stomach acid. They also appear to increase your risk of getting a recurrent infection with C. difficile. They also increase your risk of fractures. And the longer you take them, the greater your risk could be. As a naturopath, you know that I want to see you get off of these drugs -- like, yesterday! Here's what may help...

    Vitamins boost immune response

    The Turkish researchers gave the second group of patients some added ammunition against the bacteria. Along with the standard treatment, these patients took 500 mg of vitamin C (twice a day) plus 200 IU of vitamin E (twice a day) for 30 days. Researchers then again tested the patients for H. pylori bacteria four to six weeks after beginning the treatments. They found that many more patients who took the vitamins in addition to the drugs cured their infections. In fact, 37 percent more vitamin takers COMPLETELY CURED their infections compared to the standard therapy group. The researchers believe that these two powerful antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress in the mucus lining of your stomach. Plus, they believe taking these vitamins boosts your immunity so that your body more effectively targets harmful bacteria.

    Add to your arsenal with probiotics

    If you have a peptic ulcer and your gastro doc puts you on these meds, make sure to take vitamins C and E. And don't forget about probiotics. Taking probiotics will help to replace the "good" bacteria wiped out by the antibiotic treatment. And you'll want to get off that PPI as fast as you can as well. In many cases, I have found combining mega doses of probiotics (with DGL (DeGlycerrhizinated Licorice), the ulcer clears up on its own without antibiotics. And remember, mega doses of probiotics are ok -- you can't overdose on this stuff! (Although, some folks are sensitive to probiotics. Remember, you can be sensitive to anything.) Lastly, to find a doctor adept at treating ulcers naturally, go to The American College of Advancement in Medicine's web site at acam.org. They have a search box that will help you locate an experienced naturopath in your area.
  14. How to tell if the effects of gluten are causing problems for you

    A friend recently told me that she was allergic to her couch. But was the couch really the problem? Of course not. My friend was the problem. She sat on that couch every night for hours, watching TV and munching on junk instead of doing something productive. This ignorance is kinda how I feel about the "new" gluten-free diets all the celebrities now rave about. First, these diets aren‘t really new. Nutritionists have known for decades that for some people, the effects of gluten are a serious problem. (Keep reading to learn about my 12-point checklist to see if you may have gluten sensitivity in a moment.) Second, the effects of gluten aren‘t really the main culprit for most people. The problem lies in their overall diet. Too much sugar. Too many fried foods. Too much white flour. But when you cut out gluten, you tend to cut out most processed foods as well. You start feeling great and losing weight. Just watch out for gluten-free junk food now hitting grocery store shelves. More and more you see gluten-free cookies, cakes, and snack foods on the shelves. This stuff is pure junk, minus the gluten. Stay clear of it. What is gluten, anyway? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. So if you‘re on a gluten-free diet, it means you don‘t eat foods that contain "regular" flour. This includes bread, pasta, cereal, pizza, and most convenience foods. Food manufacturers also use gluten to bind together and thicken their product‘s ingredients. So surprisingly, you will find gluten in processed products like ice cream and salad dressing. So how can you tell if the effects of gluten are really a problem for you? First, take a good, hard look at your diet. How much processed or fried food do you eat? Do you eat sugar? Do you eat foods that contain white flour? If you said "yes" to any of those questions, try starting there to measure the effects of gluten. Cut out all this and see how you feel in a week or two. If you feel better, you‘ll know that gluten wasn‘t the problem. You see, like my friend, some people think the couch is their problem. But the couch isn‘t the problem. And neither is gluten. Eating a donut and a Mountain Dew for breakfast is what‘s killing them. On the other hand, if you follow a clean diet and still suffer from a range of symptoms (see the checklist below), you may have a gluten sensitivity. How to tell if the effects of gluten are really a problem for you Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that‘s becoming more and more common. If you have Celiac disease and eat gluten, for some reason your immune system misfires. It begins to attack and destroy the tiny villi that run along the walls of your intestines. These villi transport nutrients from your intestines out to your blood. So if your villi become damaged, you become malnourished, no matter how much healthy food you eat. Each person is different, but some of the hallmark symptoms include: 1. Abdominal bloating & pain 2. Diarrhea & fatty stools 3. Vomiting 4. Unexplained weight loss In adults, Celiac disease can be much more subtle. Some of the symptoms include: 5. Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia 6. Fatigue 7. Headaches 8. Joint pain or arthritis or osteoporosis 9. Depression or anxiety 10. Tingling numbness in the hands and feet 11. Canker sores inside the mouth 12. An itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis As you can see, Celiac disease in adults can be very hard to diagnose. Most adults suffer for years before they receive the right diagnosis. To find out if you have Celiac disease, ask your doctor for a blood test. To test positive for Celiac, certain hallmark antibodies will show up in your blood. You may also ask for an intestinal biopsy. You can also ask your doctor or allergist for a skin test to see if you are allergic to wheat. This will help you determine if the effects of gluten are detrimental to your health or not. However, another hidden condition can be mistaken for a gluten sensitivity... Candidiasis: The Black Sheep Problem Candida albicans is a form of yeast that inhabits the human body. However, the healthy bacteria in your gut called flora normally keep it in check. But if your stock of good bacteria gets wiped out, the yeast can grow and take over. And the effects of gluten may actually wipe out this good bacteria. Things that zap your supply of good bacteria include: antibiotics, birth control pills, steroids, synthetic hormones or chemo. If you get the flu or have chronic diarrhea, you can also run into trouble. I also see it occur in folks who eat lots and lots of white flour and processed foods. All these things wipe out healthy bacteria that normally keep the yeast in check in your intestines. There is no blood test for candidiasis, so most conventional docs deny it exists. But it does exist. The symptoms are very real. Though, they‘re often vague and may appear unconnected, such as:
    • Fatigue
    • Irritability
    • Multiple GI problems
    • Headaches
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Depression
    • Obsessions
    • Cravings (for wheat, yeast, sugar, refined carbs)
    • Bloating
    In addition, recurrent vaginal or oral yeast infections almost always points to an underlying systemic yeast problem. How to solve the problem of yeast There‘s no quick fix for candidiasis, but research suggests the effects of gluten may irritate the condition. To eradicate it completely, first of all you‘ve got to get off all sugar and refined carbs. This won‘t cure the problem. But steps 2-4 won‘t work unless you‘ve done this first. Second, you will want to reintroduce the "good guys" back into your digestive system. High doses of probiotics will help create an environment in your gut where yeast can‘t survive. Third, you may have to take a prescription anti-fungal med such as Diflucan, Sporonox, or Nystatin. You can also try a natural agent like caprylic acid. I only recommend trying this under the guidance of an experienced natural health practitioner. Fourth, you‘ll want to make your gut more receptive to healthy bacteria. Start by taking a daily dose of prebiotics (such as FOS). This will feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. You may also consider taking garlic extract or the antioxidant powerhouse l-glutamine. Lastly, I highly recommend reading a book called The Yeast Connection Handbook by Dr. William Crook. (Skip The Yeast Connection. It‘s an older version.) In the newer book, Dr. Crook says Candida is a major pathogen that can weaken the immune system, allowing other infections to occur. You could also try reading The Yeast Syndrome, by John P. Trowbridge. (You will also find a shorter version of their guidelines in my book, Nutritionally Incorrect, 2nd edition.) So after reading all this, are the effects of gluten a problem for you? Perhaps. Though I recommend cutting out the sugar and processed stuff first to narrow in on the problem. If it turns out that the effects of gluten are really a problem for you, there are plenty of other whole grain options besides wheat. Grains that don‘t contain gluten include corn, potatoes, rice, millet, and quinoa. Just don‘t get into the habit of eating gluten-free junk food. Skip the gluten-free neon orange cheese balls that cost $5 per bag. Try some hummus and celery instead.  
  15. Get off laxatives quickly and painlessly – probiotics regulate bowels

    I read a statistic recently that said at least 75 percent of men and women living in nursing homes take laxatives to regulate their bowels. This is a huge mistake. When you take a laxative on a regular basis, you can develop "colonic dysmotility." Translation? Your bowel stops doing its job. To be more specific, peristalsis stops. This is the wavelike motion your bowels perform to push waste out of your body. But once it stops, it‘s tough to get going again. So you take another laxative. It‘s a brutal cycle that many seniors fall into, even those living independently. Now here‘s the good news... Even if you take laxatives regularly, there is a way out. Israeli scientists found that men and women who take one natural agent significantly reduced their laxative use.

    Seniors let go of their laxatives

    For the study, researchers recruited 215 men and women ages 65 and over. They divided the seniors into two groups. One group took a probiotic containing billions of viable bacteria for 45 days. The other group took a placebo for 45 days. You can guess what happened. Laxative use decreased by 26 percent among the men and women taking probiotics (compared to the placebo group). The volunteers who suffered from diarrhea also saw improvement. In fact, theses folks reduced their episodes of diarrhea by 60 percent (compared to the placebo group). Clearly, probiotics can help regulate your bowels. Look for a capsule that contains billions of units of several different strains of helpful bacteria.
  16. 3 super-easy secrets for healthy bowels

    When I was in medical school, we were taught that if your patients has three bowel movements a week, that‘s perfectly "normal." Well, have you ever gone two or three days without a BM? I have, when traveling. It feels horrible. You feel bloated and blocked up. You have to strain to get the compacted BM out of your body. Plus, going to the bathroom once every three days allows waste materials to spend far too much time in your digestive tract. As a result, toxins and antigens have the opportunity to invade your body. In a healthy body, the GI tract performs a wave-like motion called "peristalsis." This constant motion of contracting and releasing pushes unwanted materials through your bowel. With regular peristalsis, you should have at least one to two solid bowel movements per day. Plus, when you do go, it should only take 60 seconds. You should not have time to read a whole magazine (much less a whole page), waiting for your BM to pass. On the other hand... When peristalsis happens too quickly, you have another type of problem on your hands. You can feel your gut spasm and churn. As a result, you run to the bathroom several times a day with runny, burning, explosive bowel movements. Now, most people don‘t realize the answer to both bloating and burning bowels is the exact same. (Laxatives or anti-diarrheals are quick fixes that don‘t address your overall gut health.) The good news is, you can have fast, solid, healthy bowels by making a few simple changes to your routine.

    STEP 1: Get the right kind of fiber

    Most people know they need fiber for healthy BMs. It keeps your GI tract in a state of optimal peristalsis. But here‘s where they slip up: they don‘t get both kinds of fiber. Your body needs both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber each and every day. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and increases your stomach‘s productivity. This slows the release of sugar into your bloodstream. Plus, soluble fiber contains prebiotics. These nutrients help to boost the level of friendly bacteria in your intestines. In fact, prebiotics help "prepare" your intestines so that colonies of helpful bacteria can flourish. Sources of soluble fiber include: legumes, oats, barley, nuts, and the pulp of most fruits. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, passes through your intestines almost unchanged. It helps to bulk up and keep your stools firm. Insoluble fiber also pushes the waste through your intestines in a timely manner. Lastly, it helps to control the acidity (or pH) in your bowels. Sources of insoluble fiber include: the skins of most fruits and root vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables. Overall, aim for at least 35 grams of total fiber day. A good step in the right direction is to eat an organic apple every day. Apples contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. (The inside of the apple contains soluble fiber and the skin contains insoluble fiber.) Try this for two weeks and see how your BMs improve. I think you‘ll see a major improvement. Also, when you shop for grains, choose carefully. For example, is your bread 100 percent whole grain? Check the label. If the first ingredient on the list says "enriched flour," it‘s not 100 percent whole wheat. Eating enriched fiber foods sabotages your digestion. Don‘t believe me? Squish up a piece of "enriched" bread and pour water on it. It turns into a sticky, gloppy mess. That‘s the last thing you want in your gut if you‘re prone to digestive problems! Of course, some folks resort to taking a fiber supplement or a fiber drink. But I wouldn‘t recommend it on a routine basis. Fiber supplements flush out the good as well as the bad so you tend to not to absorb vital nutrients. If you must resort to taking a fiber supplement occasionally, be sure to drink plenty of water. This will help break down the supplement and aid in the absorption of other nutrients.

    STEP 2: Add in probiotics and digestive enzymes

    If you regularly read my Guide to Good Health, you know that I‘m a huge proponent of these two digestives aides. Make sure to take a daily probiotic such as acidophilus before meals and at bedtime. Look for a capsule that contains billions of active units of healthy bacteria. You‘ll find these in the digestive aid section of the store. In terms of digestive enzymes, make sure you get a "full spectrum" capsule. It will contain the proteolytic, lipolytic, and amylolytic fractions. This makes your capsule a little bigger, but it will help you digest proteins, fats, and carbs. Take one capsule immediately after meals. If you can handle this without any stomach upset, you might try increasing it to two capsules after meals.

    STEP 3: Round out your regimen

    Some of us just need extra digestive support...no matter how many apples you eat a day! If this sounds like you, I suggest giving NorthStar Nutritionals‘ Advanced GI Support a try. It‘s an all- in-one drink that helps soothe your digestive-tract and promote regularity. Specifically, Advanced GI Support contains 5,000 mg of l-glutamine, an amino acid that fuels your gastrointestinal tract and really keeps things moving. L-glutamine also helps promote the health of the GI tract‘s mucosal lining. This may help to cut down on those occasional burning, sizzling bowel movements. Advanced GI Support also contains 500 mg of aloe vera leaf extract. Yes, you know that aloe vera can heal cuts on your skin, but years of traditional use also show this extract can also have a beneficial effect on the epithelial tissues found in your GI tract. Plus, the aloe leaf is also covered in a waxy latex substance that is used to keep you "right as rain." In a recent trial with 10 healthy volunteers, aloe vera extract enhanced overall digestion. Specifically, volunteers experienced an increase in peristalsis, bulking of their stool, and normalized gut flora (or friendly bacteria). If you really want to get serious about your digestive health, Advanced GI Support may make all the difference!
  17. Why the FDA’s latest move on fluoride is a red herring

    Did you know that for the past 70 years you’ve been drinking fluoride, one of the most toxic chemicals found in nature? You can’t smell it…you can’t taste it…and you probably have long-since forgotten that this dangerous substance was ever added to our water supply. But the fact is that the EPA started adding this toxic element to public drinking water in the 1940s. Ironically, the goal was to protect children. This stuff is the equivalent of ingestible gasoline. In fact, it’s probably even far worse than petrol. Yet for all these years, it’s been heralded as “good for you.” Now, the FDA has finally decided to limit the amount of this “gasoline” they’re putting in our water, because of noticeable side effects. Many in the health community will praise this move by the FDA. But not me. Why? Well, in my book, the FDA’s new move is just a red herring. It distracts us from the real problem…primarily, that this “gasoline” doesn’t belong in our water at all.

    Seriously, gasoline doesn’t belong in our water!

    Of course, I’m talking about fluoride. You see, fluoride is a waste product of aluminum mining. In fact, any guesses on who funded the research back in the ’40s that convinced us we all needed fluoride for our teeth? Yep, you got it: The aluminum mining industry. Those captains of industry weren’t concerned about cavities. They wanted to make a quick penny by selling their aluminum by-products. And 70 years later, we’re all still buying their toxic leftovers.

    Dead rodents with clean teeth…

    Here’s another little-known fact about fluoride: It’s rat poison. Just go to any hardware store and check it out. Most brands of rat poison (the old-fashioned kind with the skull and crossbones on the box) contain sodium fluoride. What’s it doing in rat poison? Well, it’s not to prevent the rats from getting cavities…I can tell you that much. Nope, scientists classify fluoride as the most toxic chemical found in nature, second only to arsenic. (See, you would have been better off with gasoline, not fluoride, added to your water!) Fortunately, fluoride won’t kill a human being right away. It’s considered an “accumulative poison” that gradually builds up in your system. Dental fluorosis (those discolored patches on your teeth that the FDA is so concerned about) is usually the first sign of toxicity. But the side effects become much more serious as your exposure increases. That’s because once inside the body, fluoride tends to collect in areas with lots of calcium, such as your teeth…and your bones. In fact, in 1990, the New England Journal of Medicine carried a report that too much fluoride exposure increased “skeletal fragility” and lowered bone density in women with osteoporosis. But even that’s just the tip of the iceberg… Excessive fluoride exposure has also been linked to:
    • Neurotoxicity
    • Genetic damage
    • Tumors
    • Atopic dermatitis
    • Eczema
    • Gastro-intestinal problems
    • Headaches
    • Immune system disruptions
    • Loss of collagen (a protein critical to skin, muscle, tissue, ligaments and bone health)
    • Arthritis
    • Learning problems
    • Thyroid disorders
    Fluoride in your water supply is serious stuff, folks. It even affects unborn babies. In fact, two years ago, U.S. researchers looked at rural communities in upstate New York. They discovered that women who live in towns with fluorinated water deliver premature babies much more often than do women who live in towns without fluoride. So while it’s great that the FDA wants to limit the gasoline -- er, fluoride -- in your water…I wouldn’t start drinking straight from the tap any time soon.

    So how do you get rid of it?

    There are two ways to get rid of the fluoride in your drinking water. And neither one is very simple, I’m afraid. Your first option is to buy bottled water from the grocery store. But you have to be careful. Obviously, you want to avoid any brand that contains nothing more than bottled tap water. That’s because it probably contains as much fluoride as water straight from your tap…only it’s more expensive. If you’re really curious, you can contact the manufacturer to find out exactly how much fluoride your bottled water contains. Secondly, skip anything that calls itself “pure” water. You see, pure H20 is not normal in nature. All natural sources of water contain some “impurities.” Spring water contains natural minerals and electrolytes that your body needs. But when you distill or completely purify water, you remove these natural elements. I call this “soft” water or mineral-free water. And your body has a heck of a time processing this kind of water. In fact, there is significant evidence that drinking “soft” water increases your risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke. I remember, as a child, seeing warnings on bottles of distilled water for steam irons: “Not for internal use.” The only kind of bottled water I consider safe is high-quality spring water, drawn from a deep natural spring. Check the bottle’s label to see how many minerals the spring water contains. Pick the brand with the most magnesium. That’s your best bet…though it won’t be cheap. Your second option is to install a high-quality water filter. Lots of companies will dazzle you with a long list of chemicals their filters remove. But ask them if their filter removes fluoride.That’s the million-dollar question. If it does, you’ve got a winner on your hands. Lastly, aside from your drinking water, make sure to use fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwashes. They are widely available now, even at big-name stores. Also, skip the fluoride rinse at your next visit to the dentist.
  18. Boost your health with sunflower seeds

    I keep sunflower seeds in my kitchen cabinets, at my desk, and in the car. These crunchy seeds contain lots of natural vitamin E. In fact, just a quarter cup of sunflower seeds contains almost 100 percent of your Recommended Daily Allowance of this fat-soluble vitamin. As you’ll recall, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that patrols your body for harmful free radicals that lead to disease and aging. It also blocks free radicals from damaging cholesterol in your body. You see, every cell in your body needs a certain amount of cholesterol, but when attacked by free radicals, it becomes oxidized (or unstable). And cholesterol, once it has oxidized, can stick to blood vessel walls and lead to atherosclerosis. But eating a handful of sunflower seeds each day will give your body the tools it needs to flush out these unstable molecules. But that’s not all… When you eat a handful of sunflower seeds, it’s almost like taking a multivitamin. That’s because they contain all the nutrients your body needs, except for vitamin D. So when you bite into a sunflower seed, you also get:
    • Selenium, another powerful antioxidant shown to help with DNA repair
    • Magnesium, a versatile mineral that plays a major role in controlling blood pressure, migraines, muscle cramps, asthma, and fatigue.
    • Phytochemicals, such as phenolic acids and lignans, which may help prevent heart disease and cancer.
    • Fiber & protein, to help you to feel fuller longer.
    • Potassium, which helps to counteract too much sodium in your diet.
    • And even Tryptophan, the hormone that encourages the release of the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.
    When shopping for sunflower seeds, look for black-and-white shells that are firm and unbroken. Skip any packs that have shells with a yellowish tinge…this means they’ve probably gone rancid. And if you buy them from a bulk bin, give them a sniff to make sure they still smell fresh. Add fresh seeds to salads, yogurt, oatmeal, and homemade muffins…or just eat them by the handful as I do.
  19. These immune system boosters can protect you against winter’s worst germs

    Think your digestion has nothing to do with how well you fight off a cold? Well, think again. A new study finds that a natural digestive aid may be your ticket to a healthier winter with fewer colds. In the Guide to Good Health, I‘ve talked often about the "good bacteria" (also known as intestinal flora) in your gut. These tiny microorganisms help you digest food. They also defend against toxins and germs. In fact, your digestive tract is your first line of defense against disease and the common cold. Normally, billions of these good bacteria line your digestive tract. But a poor diet, antibiotics, and other drugs can wipe out these healthy bugs. Also, as you get older, your body‘s supply of good bacteria falls off. The good news is, you can replenish your body‘s supply of these natural immune boosters with probiotic supplements. These supplements contain billions of units of good bacteria. (As a comparison, yogurt only contains a few million active bacteria by the time you eat it. And that‘s hardly enough protection against today‘s resilient germs.)

    Boost your immunity this winter with probiotics

    Scientists recently put probiotics to the test against the common cold. They recruited 272 healthy volunteers to take part in this double-blind placebo- controlled study (the gold standard in scientific circles). They gave half of the volunteers a daily probiotic that contained billions of units of healthy bacteria. The other volunteers received a placebo. After 12 weeks, the volunteers who took probiotics had a clear edge. In fact:
    • The probiotic group got 12 percent fewer colds.
    • The probiotic group also got over their colds 30 percent FASTER than the placebo group.
    • Lastly, the probiotic group‘s symptoms were LESS SEVERE than the placebo group.
    Not bad for a digestive aid that you‘re hopefully already taking! Plus, while we‘re talking about cold and flu season, don‘t forget about vitamin D.

    Tiny vitamin packs a wallop against flu...

    In addition to probiotics, Vitamin D also helps to boost your natural defense. It kicks your T cells into action. And these cells track down and kill foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. Plus, a recent study showed that vitamin D also packs a wallop against the flu. For this study, scientists divided healthy patients into two groups. One group received 1200 IU of D3 (the most active form of D) each day for four months. The other group received a placebo. During the four-month period, 40 percent fewer participants taking D3 got the flu compared to the placebo group. Plus, the patients going into the study with the lowest levels of D got the biggest protection. These patients experienced a 74 percent reduction in the incidence of the flu. And these results only stem from a period of four months! I have a feeling that these results would have been even greater had the participants taken vitamin D supplements all year long. You see, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that gets absorbed into your body through your intestinal tract. Plus, your body can store it for up to 60 days. So even though it‘s not quite flu and cold season, now‘s the time to kick your immune system into high gear. I recommend taking up to 5,000 IU of D3 a day, especially if you live in the northern part of the country. In addition, load up on the probiotics. Look for a capsule that contains billions of units from many different strains of bacteria.
  20. High fiber foods may help tame Crohn’s disease

    If you‘ve got Crohn‘s disease, don‘t visit the Mayo Clinic. That‘s because if you follow the advice posted on their web site and avoid problem foods such as broccoli, you may never get control of your disease. In fact, according to a new study, eating broccoli may actually help block your symptoms from ever returning.

    Small bacteria create big problems

    Crohn‘s disease is an autoimmune disorder characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, researchers have recently discovered that harmful bacteria may also play a role. You see, individuals with Crohn‘s disease also tend to have elevated levels of the E. coli bacteria in their gut. These harmful bacteria penetrate your intestinal walls via a type of cell called an M-cell. Technically, it‘s called translocation. And these bacteria stoke the fire in your gut, which can make you suffer from sores, bleeding, diarrhea, infection, and abscesses along the lining of your intestines. Conventional wisdom tells you to avoid high-fiber foods -- especially foods in the cabbage family -- because these foods can make these symptoms worse. But researchers from the University of Liverpool recently discovered that the opposite might be true. The high-fiber foods may actually prevent the E. coli bacteria from taking hold in the first place. In fact, Crohn‘s disease is very low in parts of the world -- like Africa, India, and Central America -- with high-fiber diets. By comparison, in the United States –- where we eat very little natural fiber -- the occurrence of inflammatory bowel disorders is very high.

    UK scientists test out their theory

    Scientists from the UK removed M-cells from human subjects. Next, they applied plant soluble fibers from leeks, apples, broccoli, and bananas to the cells. Then, the scientists unleashed the E. coli bacteria on the cells. They found that M-cells applied with broccoli and banana fibers didn‘t let the E. coli bacteria pass through. Instead, these cells blocked E. coli translocation by up to 82 percent. Leeks and apples, on the other hand, did not have any protective effect on the cells. Then, the scientists applied banana fibers to cells taken from an area of the small intestine called a Peyer‘s patch. Peyer‘s patches contain lymphoid tissue that are supposed to help protect you against diseases like Crohn‘s. They block harmful particles from entering or exiting the small intestine. However, in Crohn‘s patients, Peyer‘s patches don‘t work properly. Yet in this case, after the banana fibers were applied, E. coli translocation decreased by more than 4,500 percent. Clearly, something in the fibers "rebooted" the Peyer‘s patch cells. Next, the scientists applied a type of food emulsifier -- Polysorbate-80 -- to the M-cells. Food manufacturers commonly use this kind of emulsifier to bind ingredients. For example, you‘ll find Polysorbate-80 in most types of ice cream on the shelf. But -- apparently -- M-cells don‘t deal with emulsifiers very well. E-coli translocation increased by 200 percent among M-cells applied with Polysorbate-80. According to the researchers‘ published report, "Different dietary components may have powerful and contrasting effects on bacterial translocation across intestinal M-cells. These effects may be relevant to the role of environmental factors in the pathogenesis of Crohn‘s disease and suggest possible novel therapeutic approaches." Translation? If you‘ve got Crohn‘s disease, go ahead and add broccoli and bananas back into your diet. They may just help keep the harmful E. coli from invading your gut. And this -- instead of drugs or surgery -- may help control your symptoms in the long run. In addition, make sure to avoid anything that contains an emulsifier. I‘d avoid them all together. In particular, keep an eye out for Polysorbate-80. Check the ingredients list if you‘re not sure. The last thing you want in your body is something that increases the spread of bacteria!

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