July 2019 - Wakunaga of America

5 Signs You Have an Unhealthy Gut, and What You Can Do to Help it Heal

Why is it important to keep your gut healthy, you may ask? You may have heard that your gut is referred to as your body’s “second brain,” and with good reason.

Our brain and gut have an important connection. You may have experienced having a “gut feeling” about something or someone may have told you to trust your “gut instinct.” This mind-gut connection is not just a metaphor…our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones that constantly provide feedback on whether you’re experiencing stress, whether you’re hungry, whether you’ve ingested a dangerous microbe, and more. This informational superhighway is called the brain-gut axis, and it provides constant updates on your body’s current state1 (Sonnenberg, 2015). For example, that sinking feeling you have in the pit of your stomach when you look at your credit card bill after a vacation is a clear example of the brain-gut connection. Your gut immediately knows when you’re stressed.

Gut health clearly matters…a lot. There are over 100 trillion bacteria in your body, and most are located in your intestines. What you eat determines what kind of bacteria enters your gut. This is why it is important to realize that what you eat can have a direct impact on your body and your gut health. The health of your gastrointestinal system is very important to you and your well-being. Largely responsible for the critical functions of the body’s digestive and immune systems, beneficial bacteria in your digestive system have the capability of affecting your body’s vitamin and mineral absorbency, hormone regulation, digestion, vitamin production, immune response, and ability to eliminate toxins, not to mention your overall mental health2 (Elerick, 2017).

Signs of An Unhealthy Gut

There are several signs to look for, that can alert you that you may have an unhealthy gut:

  1. Upset stomach: Stomach disturbances like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut. A balanced gut will have less difficulty processing food and eliminating waste.
  2. Unexplainable weight changes: Gaining or losing weight without making changes to your diet or exercise habits may be a sign of an unhealthy gut. An unbalanced gut can impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat. Weight loss may be caused by small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, while weight gain may be caused by insulin resistance or the urge to overeat due to decreased nutrient absorption3 (Sethi, 2018).
  3. Sugar Cravings: A diet high in processed foods and added sugars can decrease the amount of good bacteria. This imbalance can cause increased sugar cravings, which can damage your gut even more. High amounts of sugar can also cause increased inflammation in the body.
  4. Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue: An unhealthy gut may contribute to sleep disturbances like insomnia, or just poor sleep in general, and all of this can slowly lead to chronic fatigue. The majority of your body’s serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and sleep, is produced in the gut. So having an unhealthy gut can definitely affect your sleep.
  5. Food intolerance: Food intolerances result from your body being unable to properly digest certain foods. It is thought that food intolerances may be caused by poor quality of bacteria in the gut. This can lead to difficulty digesting “trigger” foods, and unpleasant symptoms like bloating and gas.

If you are experiencing some (or all) of the issues described above, fear not! There are many things you can do to get your gut health back on the right track, like: getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, working on lowering your stress levels, reassessing your diet and taking a quality probiotic. Taking a few positive steps can heal your gut and improve your overall wellbeing.

References

  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-feelings-the-second-brain-in-our-gastrointestinal-systems-excerpt/
  2. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/is-gut-health-important-a-review_b_58f57566e4b048372700db07
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/gut-health

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

First Responders Respond Well to CoQ10 and Aged Garlic Extract

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which was conducted at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, looked at the impact CoQ10 (ubiquinone) had on a group of firefighters at moderate risk of heart disease. All of the firefighters underwent testing using Cardiac CT, a revolutionary imaging technology that accurately measures coronary artery calcium deposits (CAC) and plaque buildup in the arteries. C-reactive protein—a marker of internal inflammation that may contribute to a higher risk of heart attack—was also measured.

Once their risk was determined, the firefighters were given either a placebo or a combination of 1,200 mg of Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) and 120 mg of CoQ10 every day for 12 months. The UCLA researchers found that the firefighters taking the AGE/CoQ10 supplement had significantly less CAC in their arteries and lower CRP levels than those taking the placebo. And that translated to a lower risk of future cardiovascular issues.

Benefits of CoQ10

But the benefits of CoQ10 aren’t just reserved for firefighters or other people in highly stressful careers. Since both calcification and inflammation are hidden risk factors for heart attack and stroke, taking CoQ10 daily (especially when paired with AGE) is a smart and simple way to protect your cardiovascular system.

If you are taking statin drugs like Lipitor and Crestor to lower your cholesterol levels, you are probably familiar with coenzyme Q10, or more commonly known as CoQ10. This vitamin-like substance is found in every single cell in the body, where it provides the mitochondria with the energy it needs to function. In fact, CoQ10 is so important that your cells could not survive without it! It is particularly critical for creating cellular energy in tissues that make up energy-demanding organs like the heart, brain, liver, and kidneys.

CoQ10 is one of the most powerful and protective antioxidants against free radical damage, and without adequate levels, no vital organ or system can perform optimally. Perhaps CoQ10’s most critical role however, is to protect and create energy within the cells of the heart. Since these particular tissues demand an enormous amount of energy to function properly, you will find a greater concentration of CoQ10 in the heart than anywhere else in the body. It’s so important to our cardiovascular system that low levels are implicated in virtually every form of heart disease.

Different Forms of CoQ10

There are two forms of CoQ10: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinol, the active antioxidant form of CoQ10, is naturally made in the body from ubiquinone as needed. As we age, the body’s ability to accomplish this conversion declines. The use of statin drugs also reduces levels of both forms of CoQ10. Here’s why: Your liver creates most of your body’s supply of Coenzyme Q10 with the help of a special enzyme. By coincidence, your liver uses the very same enzyme – known in medical circles as HMG-CoA Reductase – to produce another, more familiar substance – cholesterol. Since CoQ10 and cholesterol are both triggered by HMG-Co Reductase, using one of the popular statin drugs lowers both substances.

While you can sidestep the natural conversion process with an ubiquinol supplement—an expensive option at best—most of the research on CoQ10’s benefits has been done using ubiquinone, which is the more stable form. But what about the foods we eat, are there any food sources that have CoQ10? You’re in luck! Food sources of CoQ10 include: fatty fish like trout, herring, sardines, vegetables like spinach, cauliflower and broccoli, fruits like oranges and strawberries, legumes like soybeans and lentils, and nuts and seeds like sesame seeds and pistachios. Add these foods to your diet for an all-natural way to boost your CoQ10. And if the CoQ10 “diet” isn’t really your thing, consider taking a CoQ10 supplement, and enjoy all of it’s free-radical fighting, cholesterol lowering, heart healthy benefits.

References

  1. Budoff M, Zeb I, Ahmadi N, Nasir K, et al. Aged garlic extract and coenzyme Q10 have favorable effect on inflammatory markers and coronary atherosclerosis progression: A randomized clinical trial. J Cardiovasc Dis. 2012;3(3):185-90.
  2. Vitetta L, Leong A, Zhou J, et al. The plasma bioavailability of Coenzymd Q10 absorbed from the gut and oral mucosa. J Funct Biomater. 2018;9(4). pii:E73.

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Podcast: Dr. Hoffman and Dr. LaValle Team Up to Tackle the Topic of Hypertension

Yes, that is almost half of all adults in the United States (Heart.org, 2018). High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common but dangerous condition that occurs when your blood pressure increases to unhealthy levels.

On July 2 Dr James LaValle joined Dr. Ronald Hoffman on his podcast to discuss the perils of hypertension/high blood pressure, and how these “silent epidemic’s” can be prevented. To listen to this two-part podcast, click here:

Spotlight on Hypertension, Part 1

Spotlight on Hypertension, Part 2

About Dr. James LaValle

Jim LaValle, R.Ph., C.C.N, a nationally recognized clinical pharmacist, author, board-certified clinical nutritionist, and founder of Metabolic Code Enterprises, Inc. a web platform and practice solution enterprise, launching AIR Support and the Metabolic Code Assessment.

About Dr. Ronald Hoffman

Dr. Ronald Hoffman is one of New York’s pioneering Integrative Medicine practitioners. He obtained his MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and has been practicing for 34 years. His radio program, Intelligent Medicine, is the longest-running physician-hosted health program on the air.

References

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/05/01/more-than-100-million-americans-have-high-blood-pressure-aha-says

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Greens to the (Gut) Rescue! How Greens Can Aid in Healthy Digestion

If you love greens, and digestion is your main concern, there are certain ingredients you should look for in your green drink. Look for blends that include ancient grains, seeds, grasses, and spirulina. This mix of these healthy ingredients provides a natural, gentle prebiotic for healthy digestion, which is the foundation for whole body wellness. Before we further dissect each of these ingredients, let’s take a look at the importance of prebiotics.

You may have just read the word prebiotic in the paragraph above and thought…was that an error, isn’t it spelled “probiotic?” No, that wasn’t a typo! Probiotics are important, and thanks to effective marketing and education over the past decade, it’s obvious to most people that these friendly bacteria provide a host of benefits for the gut, brain, immune system and more. But as it turns out, probiotics alone don’t represent the whole story. Prebiotics are just as important for whole body wellness.

Bonus benefits of prebiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that serve as food for probiotics. Typically found in high-fiber foods such as whole grains, bananas, greens, onions, garlic, soybeans and artichokes, prebiotics are necessary for probiotics to grow and multiply. The problem? Most people don’t get enough fiber, or the variety of fibers needed to feed a diverse community of bacteria, which is emerging as the key to a healthy microbiome. Prebiotics and probiotics are better together. When paired with probiotics, prebiotics have been shown to improve the survival of probiotics as they pass through the digestive tract and support the growth of probiotics1 (Mayo, 2019).

Seeds and grasses

Now that you’ve had a brief glimpse into the importance of prebiotics, let’s explore some ingredients to consider in your green drink for optimal digestive health. One ingredient that should be high on your list are ancient grains. You can think of “ancient grains,” as kind of a sub-type of the whole grain, and this sub-type includes varieties of quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, chia seeds, farrow, spelt, and flax. We can trace the roots of grains back to the beginning of time but unlike wheat, which has been constantly bred and modified; these grains have largely been unchanged over the past several hundred years. Many ancient grains are actually gluten free, making them a good choice for those who have gluten allergies. Ancient grains contain lot’s of essential vitamins, particularly B vitamins, minerals like magnesium and potassium, more amounts of iron and they also, most importantly, contain protective elements like fibers and antioxidants, which keep your gut healthy and balanced2 (Palmer, 2014).

When we talk about “seeds and grasses”, we are thinking pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, etc. And the grasses we are referring to are barley grass and wheatgrass. These seeds are great sources of dietary fiber. In fact, shelled seeds provide 1.1 gram of fiber in a single 1-ounce serving3 (Brown, 2018). These seeds also contain antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals. Grasses like barley grass and wheatgrass, on the other hand, provide rich amounts of vitamins and minerals, many of which are antioxidants. Chlorophyll, the substance that gives these grasses their green color, may also provide numerous health benefits, like promoting healthy blood production, detoxification, and wound healing. In terms of digestive benefits, these grasses contain digestive enzymes, which help reduce toxic and indigestible materials in food4 (McLaughlin, 2018). These enzymes may also improve wellness in people with indigestion and food allergies.

Spirulina, a blue-green algae, is a freshwater plant that is probably one of the most talked about superfoods today. This immune-strengthening superfood detoxes the body of heavy metals like arsenic, may help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and also helps to eliminate candida5 (Edwards, 2019). By eliminating candida, spirulina promotes the growth of healthy bacterial microflora in the intestines.

Next time you are looking for a quality powdered green drink blend, try and pack as many of these healthy prebiotic ingredients into your drink as you can, and enjoy optimal digestive benefits.

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.


References

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/prebiotics-probiotics-and-your-health/art-20390058
  2. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/what-the-heck-are-ancient-grains/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-pumpkin-seeds
  4. https://www.livestrong.com/article/245706-health-benefits-of-wheatgrass-barley-grass/
  5. https://draxe.com/spirulina-benefits/