Janus Baker, Author at Wakunaga of America

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

Greens for healthy digestion can be an easy fix for gut health if you know what you are looking for in your green drink ingredients. 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 has been shown to improve the survival of probiotics as they pass through the digestive tract and support the growth of probiotics1 (Mayo, 2019).

Greens for Healthy Digestion

powdered green drink with green flowerNow that you’ve had a brief glimpse into the importance of prebiotics, let’s explore some ingredients to consider in your greens for healthy digestion. One ingredient that should be high on your list is 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 lots 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 of 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 grams 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, 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.

How can I improve my gut health fast?

Sometimes you can just tell when your gut health is a little off. Your food sensitivities may become a bit worse, you may have more gas, bloating, and skin issues, and you may also feel more tired. These are all classic signs that your gut health could use a little TLC. Here are some of our top tips for improving your gut health…and fast.

Greens for healthy Digestion-Kyo-Life

Start taking a probiotic. Incorporating a clinically studied probiotic into your daily routine is a great place to begin, in terms of improving your gut health. A quality probiotic can help your beneficial bacteria flourish and can keep harmful microbes in check. This can help to manage gas, bloating, and other GI issues. Look for a probiotic that is shelf-stable, which means it can safely be stored at room temperature, and also make sure it is guaranteed to be viable (live cells) through expiration, not just at manufacture. Look for a probiotic that lists the full species and strain codes and can verify strains with DNA sequencing, to ensure that what is on the label is in the capsule.

Move every day. Adding physical activity to your day—even a brisk 10-minute walk—can benefit your gut health. The amount of blood diverted from your digestive system when you move decreases because your muscles are more efficient when you exercise. Regular exercise also makes positive changes to the bacterial composition in your gut.

Eat a diverse range of food. There are many different species of bacteria that live in your intestines. Each species plays a different role in maintaining your health and each requires different nutrients for growth. This is why it’s important to eat many different types of food, especially fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes. It’s also smart to add fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, and yogurt to that list. Many fermented foods are rich in Lactobacilli, a type of bacteria that can benefit your health.

Incorporate more prebiotic fiber into your diet. Probiotics feed on nondigestible carbohydrates called prebiotics, which encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics essentially act like fertilizers, stimulating the growth of healthy bacteria. Prebiotics can be found in many different fruits and vegetables, especially those that contain complex carbohydrates like fiber (think – chicory root, onions, bananas, artichokes). 

What superfood greens aid in healthy digestion?

Your body can actually create new microbiota in as little as 24 hours just by changing what you eat, which is pretty miraculous. Here are some of the top foods we recommend to support a healthy gut:

Kimchi: This fermented cabbage staple is rich in two different classes of good bacteria associated with better gut health, Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium. Research shows that fermented kimchi alters the bacterial environment of the gut, potentially reducing the risk of insulin resistance, obesity, and even high blood pressure.

Garlic: In addition to providing inulin fiber, garlic is also rich in the natural prebiotic fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Research has shown that garlic increases the good Bifidobacterium in our gut, which may help prevent some gastrointestinal diseases and irregularity.

Apples: An apple a day keeps the doctor away…which may be due to its pectin content. Pectin makes up about half of the fiber content in apples and has been shown in some research to increase the total SCFA content (i.e. bacteria’s favorite food) in the bowels. It also appears to reduce bad bacteria in the gut as well.

Which foods are bad for your gut health?

Now that we know the top three “good gut” foods, and important greens for healthy digestion, here are the foods (and drink) we recommend avoiding, in order to protect your gut health.

Alcohol: We know that drinking too much alcohol is bad for our overall health, but it turns out that it is pretty bad for our gut health, in particular. Research looking at alcoholics suggests that chronic alcohol intake is associated with negative changes in the bacterial microbiome.

Saturated fat: A diet high in saturated fats and trans fat may not be so healthy for the gut. Studies have shown that a diet rich in these fats (like fat from butter or fatty meats) may increase the bad gut bacteria population and decrease the good gut bacteria population.

High animal protein diet: Research has linked animal products like red meat, to an unfavorable microbiome. Studies show that red meat may reduce the beneficial short-chain fatty acids that help feed the bacterial community, promote the growth of bad bacteria, and potentially increase the risk of IBS.

Sugar: The Standard American diet is unfortunately packed with sugar. A diet high in sugar can decrease the number of good bacteria in your body. This imbalance can cause increased sugar cravings, and if you give in to them, it has the potential to damage your gut even more – by continuing to feed the bad bacteria. High amounts of sugar can also cause inflammation in the body. Try to reduce the sugar you consume daily to minimize the unhealthy yeast in your digestive tract.

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.

 

 

Green Power! Unlock the Health Benefits of Super Greens Powder

From the veggies that grace your dinner plate to nutrient-dense algae and grasses, super greens are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that scavenge free radicals, help detoxify the body, build blood, and enhance energy. One of the most important ways these green foods foster good health is by balancing the body’s pH.

This is Your Body on “Acid”

Think back to high school chemistry class and you may remember hearing about pH, which is the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The pH scale ranges from 0, which is the most acidic, to 14, which is the most alkaline –with 7 considered neutral. In your body, your blood needs to be kept in a slightly alkaline range between 7.35 and 7.45. Normally your blood pH is tightly regulated and shifts only when a person is very sick. However, intercellular acidity, which is measured by urinary or saliva pH testing, can change significantly due to lifestyle, including things like diet, exercise, and sleep. Fortunately, the body has a unique “buffering” system that protects your blood’s pH to keep it in a safe range – but it does so at a cost.

When blood and other bodily fluids become too acidic, the pancreas and kidneys secrete neutralizing bicarbonate. Key alkalizing minerals can also be pulled from bones to aid in this buffering process. But as a result, this extra buffering can deplete the body of alkaline minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. At the same time, cells become less efficient at making energy and they produce more waste (lactic acid), increasing intracellular acidity. In fact, when you are acidic, energy production in the cells is as much as 19 times less! Being acidic lowers the body’s ability to repair damaged cells, and undermines its ability to detoxify heavy metals and other contaminants. Over time, intracellular acidity can contribute to a host of health problems including osteoporosis (bone loss), muscle wasting, and high blood pressure. It also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cognitive problems.

What causes acidity? Everything from environmental intoxication, stress, diet, and mineral deficiencies can contribute to an acidic pH. Arguably the most detrimental – and the easiest to fix – is your diet. If you’re eating the typical American diet, filled with overly processed foods high in sugar and carbohydrates, soft drinks, and meat and dairy – especially cheese – you’re on a bad dietary acid trip.

Super Greens to the Rescue

What can you do to rebalance your pH? Eating all kinds of vegetables, but especially leafy greens tops the list. These foods provide potassium and other minerals in a low-calorie package that has the net effect of helping to alkalinize the body. Some fruits (but not fruit juice), and healthy fats, like olive or avocado oil, are also alkalizing. Many beans and legumes along with whole grains can be either neutral to moderately acidic. Sprouting beans and grains can change their properties, making them highly alkaline. The bottom line is that there is no substitute for green and sprouted foods to maintain one of the most important aspects of your cellular health.

Superfood Greens Power Leafy VegetablesThe goal is to eat about 75 to 80 percent alkalizing foods and about 20 to 25 percent acidifying foods. Including a high-quality powdered greens drink as part of your routine can help you reach this goal. Choosing an item from our Kyo-Green® line can help you reach this goal even quicker. Kyo-Green Greens Blend, for example, contains barley and wheat grasses, FOS, cooked brown rice, chlorella, and kelp, and provides an all-natural boost of energy. Kyo-Green Harvest Blend contains a wholesome blend of organic and naturally sourced grasses, ancient grains, fruits, vegetables, and herbal extracts, combined with nutrient-dense Spirulina to support and protect your immune system. Green drinks help increase your consumption of leafy greens, as well as other alkalizing superfoods like chlorella and spirulina. They also improve hydration and deliver essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When used on a regular basis, these drinks can support digestion and immunity while enhancing the body’s natural detoxification capabilities. It is one of the easiest, most convenient ways to support good health every day.

What are some of the other top benefits to Green Superfoods?

Improve digestion: Super greens powder can help to improve 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 healthy ingredients provides a natural, gentle prebiotic for healthy digestion. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that serve as food for probiotics. They are usually found in high-fiber food like whole grains, greens, garlic, soybeans, and more, and prebiotics are necessary for probiotics to grow and multiply. The problem is that most people don’t get enough fiber or the variety of fibers needed to feed a diverse community of bacteria. 

Provide a natural boost of energy: Greens can also help to ward off the dreaded afternoon slump. Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee or an energy drink, we recommend trying a powdered green drink mix instead, which can provide a natural boost of energy by charging your metabolism. Find a green drink with a natural, light taste, similar to green tea. Look for ones containing barley grass, wheatgrass, and other natural green nutrients.

Helps kids to eat their veggies: We know how tough it can be to get your kiddos to eat their veggies. This is where a super greens powder drink can help! Green drinks are a perfect vehicle for boosting their daily intake, especially for leafy greens and superfoods – something all kids can benefit from. Adding a spoonful of powdered green drink mix into a delicious smoothie provides a concentrated source of nutrients to support growing bones and bodies. 

Why are Super Greens Powder Ingredients Important?

Spoon of super greens powderWheatgrass: This juice bar staple is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, and amino acids. Among its 17 amino acids, 8 are considered essential, meaning your body can’t produce them—they must come from your diet. Wheatgrass is a powerful source of glutathione, known as the “master” antioxidant. It’s little wonder that preliminary research has found that it reduces oxidative damage to cells. Other studies suggest that wheatgrass may support healthy cholesterol levels, aid in balancing blood sugar, counter an inappropriate inflammatory response, and induce the destruction of damaged or abnormal cells.1

Chlorella: This freshwater alga has survived on the earth for over two billion years. The secret to chlorella’s longevity is its fibrous outer wall. Although this defensive wall protects this single-cell alga, it also prevents the body’s ability to take advantage of chlorella’s detoxification benefits. Fortunately, scientists have found that breaking this wall releases chlorella’s natural ability to bind toxins and heavy metals through a process known as chelation.2 Chlorella also boasts a wealth of vitamins including vitamins B1, B2, B12, folic acid, C, and K. Plus, chlorella is a potent source of minerals, essential fatty acids, protein, and fiber.

Spirulina: High in antioxidants, spirulina has been shown to inhibit the production of inflammatory signaling molecules. Spirulina is also rich in high-quality protein, B vitamins, iron, copper, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Not only does this make spirulina an alkaline food, but its rich nutrient profile also gives this alga numerous health benefits as well. Research shows that spirulina supports healthy lipid levels, helps maintain blood sugar balance, benefits those with seasonal allergies, and improves muscle strength.3

Kelp: This common seaweed is rich in B vitamins, which play a critical role in cellular metabolism. Because it absorbs nutrients from its surrounding environment, kelp contains more than 15 amino acids and is also a great source of calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, boron, and manganese. As a result, this mineral-rich seaweed helps maintain bone density and muscle health.4

Don’t like eating your veggies…not a problem. You can drink them instead! These nutritional grasses are ready to give you a steady stream of nutrients and keep you strong and powerful throughout the day!

 

 

 

Hormones As You Age: Unlocking the Power of the Endocrine System

If you are of a certain age, you may spend a bit more time thinking about hormones, aging, and certain changes your body might be going through, or preparing to go through. When most of us think about hormones, we probably jump to estrogen and testosterone, but there is so much more to our endocrine system than the sex hormones that command our reproductive cycle. Every second of every day, you have dozens of hormones acting in your body to get certain physiologic functions accomplished. Hormones control much of what we feel, be it tired, hungry, hot, or cold. Simply put, they are like little traffic signals telling our body what to do and when, so it can run smoothly. 

Hormones As You Age: Signals to Watch

Hormones affect people in different ways throughout their lives, and hormone levels can spike dramatically at physical or emotional transitions. It is important to understand these hormones, especially at these transition points in our life, and how they can affect our bodies.

The endocrine system is an amazing thing. Without your endocrine glands – and the hormones they release – your cells wouldn’t know when to do important things. Your body’s endocrine system secretes and controls the hormones that regulate many body processes like your metabolism, use of nutrients, excretion, and reproduction. When you age, these systems become less efficient, leading to changes in our bodies like menopause, which are important to understand.

The Endocrine System

One of the easiest ways to answer the question “what are hormones,” is to take a look at some of the major hormonal systems in the body. Hormones are created by glands, which are part of the endocrine system. The main glands that produce hormones are:

  • Pituitary: Often thought of as the master control gland, the pituitary gland controls other glands and makes the hormones that trigger growth.
  • Thyroid: The thyroid produces hormones associated with calorie burning and heart rate.
  • Adrenal: Adrenal glands produce the hormones that control sex drive and cortisol, the stress hormone.
  • Hypothalamus: This gland is responsible for body temperature, hunger, moods, and the release of hormones from other glands. It also controls thirst, sleep, and sex drive.
  • Pancreas: The pancreas produces insulin that helps control blood sugar levels.

The body has many types of hormones:

  • Insulin 
  • Estrogen
  • Progesterone
  • Prolactin
  • Testosterone
  • Serotonin
  • Cortisol

Certain types of hormones have a larger role to play in the body’s overall health and well-being. For women, estrogen is the main sex hormone. It causes puberty, prepares the body and uterus for pregnancy, and regulates the menstrual cycle. During menopause, estrogen levels change, causing many of the uncomfortable symptoms women experience¹.

Menopause: Natural Solutions

older women in blue shirt (Hormones as you age)The most common consequence of age-related hormonal changes for women is menopause. Even though roughly half the world’s population is female, it often seems that we do not all know what truly goes on during major life changes like menopause, and do not know very much about how these changes can affect us.

At around age 50, women’s ovaries produce decreasing amounts of estrogen and progesterone. The pituitary gland tries to compensate by producing more follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH – regulates the function of the ovaries). While menopause is normal and happens to all women, symptoms might include the following: hot flashes, decreased libido, insomnia, depression, and osteoporosis.

Current health guidelines indicate that it may be beneficial to take a supplement medication containing estrogen/progesterone to alleviate these symptoms². For those that want something more natural, try looking for natural, plant-based supplements containing the nutrients below.

Look for supplements that contain:

  • Black cohosh root extract (for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms), 
  • Soybean isoflavones (which the body uses to maintain normal estrogen levels),
  • Wild yam extract (often used as a natural alternative to estrogen therapy, which increases energy and sexual drive),
  • Sage extract (aids in digestive problems like bloating, gas and reduces perspiration),
  • Chaste tree berry extract (used to treat menstrual cycle problems and pain),
  • Vervain extract (used to treat many conditions like depression, headaches, anxiety, and insomnia), 
  • Astragalus extract (used to fight the common cold, respiratory infections, and allergies) 
  • Motherwort extract (used to treat heart conditions including irregular heartbeat, fast heartbeat, and anxiety).

Being more in tune with our body’s hormonal changes as we age can help us to be more aware of our health, and can help us understand what to expect, what is normal, and when we should see a healthcare professional.

 

 

Heart Health Hacks

It’s been a challenging couple of years of social restrictions for the good of public health, that many of us may have become a bit more sedentary than in the past. We may have engaged in things like emotional eating, skipping workouts, spending less time outdoors, and all of that was most likely coupled with some additional stress. We commiserate with you; it was a tough year for all of us! A sedentary lifestyle though can have a negative effect on your heart health.

Luckily, improving your cardiovascular health doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal and simple lifestyle changes can get you back on track in no time. From being conscious about what you eat to blocking out time to catch those Zzzz’s, we are sharing some of our favorite heart health hacks below, to strengthen your heart and keep it as healthy as possible. Click here to learn more about the cardiovascular and immune benefits of AGE.

Don’t worry, these hacks will not be hard to keep up with. We chose these for a reason…they are very achievable. Living a heart-healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive, anyone can do it by making a few small tweaks in their everyday routine.

Before we get into the list, we want to preface this by saying that one of the best ways to keep up these heart health hacks and habits is to repeat them for 21 days and build them into your daily routine. Eventually, you will take part in these hacks so many times that they will become second nature, and you won’t have to think twice (Richardson, 2017).

5 habits you can practice every day to achieve a more heart-healthy lifestyle:

  1. Eat colorful foods: It is recommended by the American Heart Association to get at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It sounds like a lot but you can do it. Each time you feel the need to snack on something, try reaching for something fun and colorful, like an apple, cucumber, bell pepper with hummus, and you’ll be at eight servings in no time. Much healthier than reaching for a bag of chips or a handful of candy. Nowadays, lots of grocery stores even offer to-go style cups of fruits and veggies with hummus and small pieces of cheese, pretzels…etc., so take advantage! Remember: eating healthy can help you maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while also reducing your risk for obesity and diabetes.
  2. Portion patrol: Eating fruits and vegetables is all well and good, but not if you’re eating two or three times what your portion-size should be. In fact, the CDC noted that portion sizes in this country have increased over the past two decades. The CDC’s research showed that portion size influences how many calories a person consumes, and may hinder the ability of individuals to accurately assess how much they are eating. This puts people at risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and more. A quick way to get the right portion size is to eat off of a smaller plate. The average dinner plate today clocks in at twelve inches, so switching to a slightly smaller plate, like eight inches, will help you control your portions (it will also make your portions looks larger since your plate is a bit smaller, win-win!).
  3. Catch those Z’s: Sleep is so important for a healthy heart. People who don’t sleep enough are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Also, sleep is when your body repairs itself, so you want to give it ample time. Your sleep also affects your energy levels for the next day, as well as your ability to control your weight. Insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Over time, poor sleep can also lead to unhealthy habits that can hurt your heart, including higher stress levels, less motivation to be physically active…the list goes on.  Make a bedtime, and stick to it. Aim for getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night. It helps to shut off your electronic devices half an hour before bedtime, and just let the body unwind.
  4. Get moving: Walking improves cardiac risk factors like cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, inflammation, and more. When it comes to walking for heart health, some is better than none, but more is even better. If you are new to being physically active, start with a 10-minute walk around the block each day. Try to increase the number of steps you take in a day. That could mean incorporating a daily 30-minute walk, or it could just mean parking farther away from the entrance of the store. Parking towards the perimeter of the parking lot will help get those steps in and increase your heart rate. If you are at work, once an hour, try to get up, get outside, and take a lap around the office. Walking for an average of 30 minutes or more each day can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke by 35%.
  5. Brush and floss: This might not sound like it is related to heart health, but you’d be surprised. There are some studies that show that dental health and cardiac health are intertwined. Gum disease, for instance, is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. Poor dental health also increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the bloodstream, which can affect the heart valves, which, in turn, can lead to heart attack and stroke. So make sure to brush twice each day, and floss once.

Bonus Heart Health Hack

Try a natural supplement, one containing Aged Garlic Extract, to improve cardiovascular health. Aged Garlic Extract is one of the most heavily researched herbal medicines today and is among the most commonly used supplements in people with heart disease. To read more about AGE’s heart health benefits, check this out.

One 12-week clinical study of 88 patients with uncontrolled hypertension found that AGE reduced systolic blood pressure by 11.5 mmHg and diastolic pressure by 6.3 mmHg compared to a placebo. This same study discovered that AGE improved cholesterol levels and arterial stiffness while also reducing artery-damaging inflammation. A more recent review of 12 clinical trials reported similar results and noted that this AGE-induced reduction in blood pressure was associated with a 16-40 percent drop in the risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event. 

A heart-healthy dose is 1,200 mg daily. AGE can support healthy blood pressure levels, keep bad cholesterol in check, protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, increase adiponectin (a hormone that helps protect against inflammation), thin your blood, and stave off plaque in your arteries. 

By prioritizing yourself with these heart health hacks, and practicing them each day, you are committing to living a healthier and longer life!

 

What are Probiotics, Exactly?

For a long time, the word “bacteria” was associated with germs and disease. But the reality is that the body is teeming with healthy bacteria that keep digestion, immunity and a score of other bodily functions in balance. Once people began to understand this, they looked for products and foods to help them maintain this balance. Enter probiotics. Probiotics refer to the specific live strains of “good” bacteria that help the body maintain wellness. They’re found naturally in foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickled vegetables, in supplement form and increasingly as additives in a number of functional food and beverage products.

How do probiotics work?

Once they arrive in an adequate host environment, these microbes can replicate. Generally, a moist environment is necessary for probiotics to stay alive. But in the case of supplements, if the bacteria are stabilized and dried properly, they remain alive and can start to grow and replicate again once they return to a moist environment (in this case, in your body).

When you supplement the body with probiotics, you’re essentially repopulating the gut with the healthy bacteria it needs to maintain a balanced microbiome (the collection of microbes that lives in and on the human body). The microbiome can be thrown off balance by a lack of sleep, antibiotics, stress, travel or a poor diet, so probiotics can play a positive role for many people.

Because the intestines are home to trillions of bacterial cells – not all of them friendly –introducing healthy bacteria into the diet through probiotic-rich foods or supplements can result in better digestive health. Probiotics also benefit immune health because the intestines house about 70 percent of the body’s innate immune function. Increasingly, scientists are also beginning to link microbial balance with body-wide benefits ranging from heart health to mental health.

What’s the difference between probiotics species?

In general, any probiotic supplement will help maintain or restore gut bacteria. But each probiotic genus – and the different species within that genus – performs a different role. Important to remember is that more may not be better when it comes to CFU count. Below are some general guidelines of CFUs to look for based on species, but be wary of claims that exorbitantly high numbers of CFUs are superior.

The microbiome affects almost every part of your body, your digestion, your immune system…even your allergies! One way you can support your microbiome is through a daily probiotic supplement. There are lot’s of top-notch probiotics out on the market, so how do you know which one is best for you? Here are some tips to help you get started.

Finding the right probiotic for your needs means looking a little deeper into the genus, species and strains, [link to blog that explains these- think we have one right?] and really assessing what specific benefits you are looking for. There are dozens of friendly bacterial species found in commercial probiotics, and they all help the body in different ways. It’s important to know what these different bacteria do, so that when you buy a probiotic you’re choosing one that has the specific species that will be most helpful to meet your health needs. Here are some of the most beneficial genus/species below, along with which conditions they may be able to improve.

Bifidobacterium bifidum: This specific species can help reduce allergy symptoms like itchy skin, sinus congestion, headaches, and even diarrhea.* It does this by discouraging the production of histamine, a chemical that is released in the body to trigger allergic reactions during times of stress or allergy.1

Bifidobacterium longum: This species may help improve the immune response and help to prevent gut disorders.* Research suggests it may also suppress allergies and improve skin health.2

Bifidobacterium infantis: This species may improve IBS symptoms and help to eliminate E. coli in the gut.* 3

Lactobacillus gasseri: This species produces vitamin K, lactase, and anti-microbial substances. It may also help people with lactose intolerance to digest dairy foods. L. gasseri also helps prevent indigestion, diarrhea, and yeast infections.*4

Lactobacillus rhamnosus: This species boosts cellular immunity. It also helps reduce IBS symptoms and may help to prevent recurrent bacterial vaginosis.*5

Another strong indicator of a great probiotic supplement is if its species and strains have been clinically researched and even more than that, if they have been clinically researched as the combined blend that is found in the supplement. Many probiotics out there do say “clinically studied” on their packaging, but oftentimes they are referring to clinical studies that have been carried out for each of the species, separately. The best-case scenario is if the probiotic’s combined species have been researched together which adds to the studies’ validity. For example, let’s say your probiotic contains these three species: Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium longum. A clinical study reflecting the benefits of this blend of bacteria, not just each as a standalone bacterial species, is all the better, because then you have proof that they work well together, and you can see from the clinical study which gut health benefits you can look forward to enjoying.

When looking for a new probiotic to try, here is another helpful tip: more CFUs does not equal a better probiotic! When shopping for a probiotic, many people believe that more is better, when it comes to colony forming units (CFUs) so they grab whatever product boasts the highest number. There is no standard recommended daily dose for probiotics, but research suggests aiming for one to two billion live CFUs to maintain good health. If you are taking antibiotics, have digestive problems, or suffer from Candida or frequent urinary tract infections though, you may want to boost that amount.

Lastly, watch out for binders and fillers. Make sure you read the “other ingredients” listed on the probiotic label. Some commercial probiotic supplements contain binders and fillers, including lactose or cornstarch, and these can cause unwanted side effects like gas and bloating.

So, who should take probiotic supplements? In short, anyone who is interested in supporting and improving their digestive health should consider taking a daily probiotic. And not just adults, children can benefit from taking a probiotic too. A healthy gut is more important than you might think. The state of your gastrointestinal tract can impact much more than your digestive system — it can affect your immune health, brain health, and allergies too!* Considering what your GI tract does for you, it makes sense to give it some extra attention and support with a probiotic.

Generally regarded as safe, probiotic supplements cause no significant side effects apart from the intended improvement in your gut health. But not every probiotic is right for each person. It may take some trial and error to find the probiotic that works best for your body. If you notice no benefits from one probiotic after several weeks, try a different one with a different species of bacteria and see if that works better for you.

Something else to be aware of when starting a probiotic is that it may cause some initial gas and bloating, as well as changes in your stool patterns – which are indications that the probiotic is doing its job. If these unwanted side effects continue to persist for several weeks though, it may not be fully compatible with your body. You may want to try a different combination of probiotic bacteria.

 

 

Understanding the Microbiome

What it is, why it’s important and how to support it

Microbiome. The word alone sounds complicated. In fact, the microbiome is one of the body’s most complex systems—and one of its most important.

Essentially, the microbiome is the collection of microbes (bacteria, fungi and viruses) that lives in and on the human body. These microbes number in the trillions and impact nearly every bodily function. In fact, the human body has about 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells, most of which reside in the large intestine. This collection of microbes is known as the gut microbiome.

While promoting healthy digestion and nutrient absorption is the most obvious role of the gut microbiome, it isn’t the only role. The healthy bacteria within the gut microbiome also impacts the body’s inflammatory response, immunity (because up to 70 percent of the immune system resides in the gut), and even functions like mood, blood pressure and congnitive function. Scientists are still understanding how exactly the microbiome can do all of this, but one thing’s clear: a healthy microbiome is linked to overall health.

So how can you support a healthy microbiome? Here are five simple ways:

Repopulate with probiotic-rich foods.

One, or ideally two, servings of probiotics per day will serve up healthy bacteria and keep the microbiome running smoothly. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickled vegetables are all natural sources of probiotics. Tip: Purchase these products from the refrigerated section to be sure that the cultures remain intact.

Take a supplement.

Probiotic supplements are another great way to inject more beneficial bacteria into your diet. Just be sure that the packaging of the supplement indicates that the bacteria will be live at expiration, rather than simply live at manufacture. Some labels may indicate that the supplements are heat-stable or stomach acid resistant, which means they’re able to reach the large intestine intact. Keep these supplements in a cool, dark and dry location to promote the stability of the bacteria inside.

Support with prebiotics.

Think of prebiotics as food for bacteria. And bacteria love fiber. Boosting the diet with soluble fiber from sources such as chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp fiber, sprouted grains and organic fruits and vegetables will give these microbes lots to munch on. Also, some probiotics include prebiotics in them, which can provide the benefits of colonizing good bacteria, as well as providing food to thrive.

Reduce sugar.

As good bacteria need soluble fiber to survive, bad bacteria feast on sugar. Eliminate or minimize refined sugar in the diet to minimize unhealthy yeast in the digestive tract.

Diversify.

According to the American Gut Project, eating a wide variety of plant foods and soluble fiber is linked with a greater diversity of gut bacteria. Essentially, different bacteria prefer different foods, so the more diverse the diet, the more diverse the bacteria in the gut. And when it comes to bacteria, the more diverse the merrier. Ideally, aiming for 25 to 35 different species of plant foods can change the diversity of the microbiome within days. Bonus points for organic plants: Soil that clings to garden-fresh food is teeming with beneficial microbes.

 

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.

New to probiotics? Here’s what you need to know.

How to read the label.

While most supplements are measured in milligrams, probiotics are measured in CFUs, with numbers normally in the billions. CFU stands for Colony Forming Units and refers to the number of live bacteria cells capable of dividing and forming colonies. You’ll want to look for dosages of at least 1 billion, though products can contain 50 billion or more. If you are healthy and are looking for maintenance, aim for a dose of 1 billion to 5 billion CFUs per day.

Because probiotics must reach the intestines live and intact in order to produce results, choosing a stable supplement with bacteria count guaranteed through the product’s expiration date is critical. In other words, it’s not enough for a product to list the organism counts at the time of manufacture. Supplements must also be stable at room temperature (for storage purposes) and heat resistant (so they can travel through the body).

How to choose a probiotic.

“Probiotic” is a catch-all term for good bacteria. But there are many, many different kinds of bacteria in the gut – and on the shelves as supplements – and they each provide a different benefit. These different kinds of bacteria are organized into genus and species. For example; in the case of lactobacillus gasseri, “lactobacillus” is the genus, and “gasseri’ identifies the species. Taking this one step further, some (but not all) manufacturers include a strain code, which is a unique identifier of the strain, which can be traced back to its origins.

The species you choose will depend on your health goals. Strains in the Lactobacillus genus, for example, are generally helpful for boosting immunity and fending off allergies. Strains in the Bifidobacteria genus, on the other hand, are linked closely to digestive health and reducing gastrointestinal symptoms. Often, products will provide a combination of probiotics to encourage diversity in the gut for better overall health.

How to make it part of your routine.

It’s common to experience some mild stomach upset, gas or bloating when you first start taking probiotics. Some experts believe these fleeting symptoms are a result of the “bad” bacteria dying off in a newly healthier environment. If symptoms are bothersome, try to avoid inflammatory foods (like sugary or processed options) and load up on anti-inflammatory antioxidants instead. If symptoms persist, it’s possible that you are taking bacteria strains that may not compatible with your system. You may want to try a different combination of probiotics. While this process could take a little time and trial to find a match, it will be worth it to support your overall well-being.

 

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.

Moducare for a Balanced Immune System

Today, we are finally getting the message out that the immune system plays a huge role with your vitality and how well you feel every day, and not just when you are getting sick. When your immune system gets out of balance, it can affect inflammation, mood, and your overall energy, so it truly can have a huge impact on your daily life.


Moducare® is one of the most important supplements I teach about and recommend in my practice, because it is one of the only supplements I know of that can help people restore and maintain balance in their everyday immune system functions.

Moducare is a blend of compounds extracted from pine, known as plant sterols and sterolins. These two substances are combined in in a very specific 100:1 ratio and have been heavily researched. Moducare is unique to the supplement world because it is acts as an immune modulator. In other words, it can help balance out immune system function. Studies have shown some pretty incredible results.

A surprising benefit of Moducare is its ability to help manage the effects of stress on our immune system. Virtually every patient that I see has some measure of stress pounding away at his or her immunity and vitality. Moducare helps control the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. When someone is under a lot of stress, whether physical from intense workouts, mental or emotional stress, cortisol is elevated triggering an increase production of IL-6, an inflammatory cytokine. This suppresses the part of our immune system known as the TH1 immune system. The TH1 side produces cells that can kill cells infected by viruses (so they are side of our immune system that works against colds and flu.)  And at the same time, if your TH1 Immunity is too high you could begin to attack your own tissues like in the case of autoimmune thyroiditis. Moducare is my go to recommendation in that situation. Other studies have shown that it can help with allergies, so it can help balance out the TH2 side of the immune system also.

The take away is that Moducare lowers production of heightened cortisol from physical and mental stress. It doesn’t mean that it automatically lowers cortisol, it just protects the immune system from the changes that occur under stress that lead you to being more prone to getting sick. A study showed that marathon runners that took Moducare did not get the same immune deficits or cortisol spikes as people who did not take it, resulting in less post event upper respiratory infections for those runners taking Moducare.

Moducare has Anti-inflammatory Activity

The effects of the inflammatory cytokines are very far reaching. For example, IL6 mentioned above, can contribute to depression, pain, and leaky gut. Our immune cells produce many inflammatory cytokines, not just that one, so the production of cytokines from the immune system can be a big source of inflammation in our bodies. When IL-6 gets turned up in your body, it triggers the re-release of a compound called claudin-2 and once that happens big changes start to occur in the immune reactions that go on in the gut. When claudin-2 upregulates, the tight junctions between mucosal cells of the intestine loosen. This sets people up for food intolerances and allergies along with setting their bodies up for even bigger immune problems.

As you can see, our immune system affects many areas of health. Here are just a few of the situations where Moducare can help by providing nutritional support for the immune system:

  1. Allergies – environmental or food allergies
  2. Autoimmune conditions
  3. Chronic high stress
  4. Athletes or people who do regular intense workouts
  5. High cholesterol
  6. Hepatitis C
  7. Leaky gut
  8. Mood issues
  9. Mycotoxins and other infections like Lyme’s disease

With the emergence of CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome), people are finally beginning to understand that the immune system needs to be supported every day for its best function, just as we take a nutrient for the heart or for better cognition. Daily maintenance to help keep balance in the immune system may well be the single most important thing you can do for your healthy longevity.

 

James B. LaValle, R.Ph., CCN, is an internationally recognized clinical pharmacist, author, board certified clinical nutritionist and naturopathic doctorate with more than 30 years of clinical experience. He works with the NFL, NBA, MLB and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village to offer personalized health, wellness, diet and performance strategies. LaValle is best known for his expertise in metabolic and integrative medicine, with an extensive background in natural products, lifestyle drug/nutrient depletion and uncovering the underlying metabolic issues that keep people from feeling healthy and vital.  https://www.metaboliccode.com/

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: The Importance of Probiotics with Dr. LaValle

Dr. LaValle will show listeners how to become proficient in their probiotic use by sharing three things probiotics can do for your health now that science supports and two things they can’t do, just yet.

To listen to this radio show, click here.

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 “Herbally Yours” Radio 

Hosted by Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D., RN, this radio program focuses on current issues in natural health, such as natural foods, herbs, essential oils and mind-body techniques.

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.