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How to Keep Your Liver Healthy and Happy

Your liver is the largest organ in the body, and has about 500 important jobs to do. It removes all toxins from your body, clears medication from your body and metabolizes all your food. It also adjusts cholesterol levels, builds proteins, and makes bile, stores sugar for when you really need it, and regulates hormone levels1. As you can see, the liver wears many hats! To keep it running smoothly and efficiently, a liver cleansing/detox every once in a while is beneficial. By the time you finish this article, you will be an expert in what you can do to keep your liver healthy, and how to detox it.

How do you know when your liver needs to be cleansed/detoxed?

The liver, being the jack-of-all-trades that it is for our bodies, gets overtaxed from time to time. There are some pretty clear signs that your liver is a little stressed out2:

Excessive fatigue: Fatigue is a common symptom, and is usually experienced when the liver is under stress. The liver converts glucose into glycogen, a form of sugar that can be stored, and then later released as glucose when the body needs a burst of energy. By storing and supplying the body with glucose, the liver helps combat fatigue and make us feel more energetic. If the liver is overworked, it may become less efficient at regulating blood glucose, and you may have more sugar cravings than normal.

Hormone imbalance: The liver detoxes more than chemicals and pollutants. It also detoxes our own hormones, including excess estrogen. When the liver is overworked, extra estrogen may not be excreted, and can build up. Signs of excess estrogen in women can include PMS, moodiness, weight gain, fibroids, and more.

High levels of heavy metals: Our exposure to heavy metals and environmental toxins has exponentially increased, due to an increase in metals in industrial, agricultural, and technological applications. From textiles to electronics, to paper processing and so much more, metals are a part of our everyday life, whether we like it or not. Heavy metals can cause DNA damage and can contribute to a variety of illnesses. When the liver’s detox pathways are impaired, heavy metals can accumulate in the body. Specifically, the liver’s stores of glutathione, which safely and effectively bind to toxins and metals, can become depleted. This can result in nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, and more. A comprehensive medical test can be run to see if your body’s heavy metal content is too high.

How your liver deals with toxins

The liver is pretty much ground-zero for dealing with toxins –  it’s where all of the contaminants within the body are broken down or transformed into a form that can be excreted from the body. As blood is pumped through the liver, it is filtered by rows of liver cells that are separated by spaces which act like a sieve through which the blood flows. This filtration process, known as the sinusoidal system, is designed to remove toxins such as dead cells, ammonia, metabolic waste, pathogens, drugs, alcohol, and chemicals from the blood stream.

But this detoxification process is not quite as straightforward as it sounds. Because most toxins are fat soluble, they are extremely difficult to eliminate. Neutralizing them requires two primary enzymatic pathways known as Phase i and Phase ii reactions. In a nutshell, Phase i is equivalent to putting your garbage in a bag and Phase ii is like carrying it out of the house. Here’s how it works: 3

Phase i: Phase l enzymes begin the transformation process that turns fat-soluble toxins into water molecules that are bound to bile. This transformation requires a specific family of enzymes, known as Cytochrome P-450 mixed function oxidase enzymes that convert a toxic chemical into a less harmful substance through oxidation. However, as well as this works, the process produces harmful free radicals. What’s more, excessive levels of certain toxins like pesticide can disrupt the P-450 enzyme system.

Phase ii: Once the toxins have been broken down into more benign compounds, they are then excreted from the body during this phase. Known as the conjugation pathway, the oxidized chemicals from Phase l are combined with sulfur-containing amino acids like taurine or cysteine. This turns drugs, hormones, and various toxins into substances that can be excreted in bile. This phase can be put into jeopardy, though, by nutritional deficiencies, and alcohol consumption.

Make good choices to support your liver

While we can’t eliminate the hundreds of harmful chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis, there are things we can do to minimize our exposure. One thing we can do is to avoid at-home toxins like second hand smoke, and also try to steer clear of gasoline fumes, paints, glues, household cleaners, and nail polish. Eating healthily can also help greatly, as there are certain toxins that can be found in some foods. Opt for organic, to minimize the consumption of foods containing preservatives, synthetic dyes, pesticides, and fertilizers. Choose wild-caught fish, which are low in mercury, to help avoid both the heavy metals and the pesticides commonly found in farm-raised fish. Also, drink purified water whenever possible, since tap water can contain chlorine, lead, fluoride, and other chemicals.

One last tip is to add a supplement to your routine that contains healthy nutrients for your liver. The ingredient Aged Garlic Extract® is rich in beneficial organosulfer compounds and is a potent antioxidant. Studies have shown that it can also help fortify liver function thanks largely to an organosulfer compound called S-allyl cysteine4. Milk thistle extract is also a great herb for liver support. Milk thistle’s most active compound is silymarin, a polyphenol with powerful antioxidant activity that scavenges damaging free radicals. It also boosts the activity of the body’s own antioxidants, such as glutathione. Studies suggest that milk thistle also inhibits inflammation, stimulates new liver cell production, and prevents glutathione depletion5.

Another supplement that can help support liver function is a probiotic that contains enzymes. A probiotic that contains enzymes can assist the body’s natural ability to break down proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and dairy into absorbable nutritional elements, and can also regulate your body’s healthy bacteria and normalize your GI system.

Incorporate some of these tips into your day-to-day life, and your liver will be refreshed and detoxed in no time!

 

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.

The Importance of Probiotic Bacterial Strains

The microbiome affects almost every part of your body – your immunity, heart health, brain health, oral health…even your allergies! What’s tricky, is that there is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to choosing your probiotic supplement, more specifically, the bacterial species and strains in your probiotic. The bacterial species that work well for your grandmother, will not necessarily be the best ones for you. The best probiotic for you depends on which good bacteria your body specifically needs. While you can go the route of testing each and every probiotic supplement (which takes time) and seeing how your body responds, you can also try listening to your body. Do you typically have a lot of digestive problems? Do you get sick often? Are you lactose intolerant? Your answers to these questions can shed some light on which types of species are right for you1. So we are here today to talk about which species do what. Buckle up, and let’s dive into the world of bacterial species!

First, let’s review the nomenclature.  Probiotic bacteria are classified as Genus – Species – Strains, i.e. Lactobacillus is the genus, gasseri is the species and the number after it is the strain code.  Knowing the “species” helps to more closely identify the specific characteristics of the bacteria genus. And the strain code provides even more detail on exactly which bacteria is in a supplement.  Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are the two main genera (plural for genus) of probiotic bacteria. We’ll discuss the next level, the ‘species’, to better help you target which probiotic may be best for your needs.

Why the Bacteria in Your Gut Matters

Your gut microbiota contains about 100 trillion bacteria. That’s ten times more than the cells in your body! What’s more, there are more than 3 million microbial genes in your gut microbiota – that’s 150 times more than are in the entire human genome2. Simply put, without bacteria, you wouldn’t exist.

The beneficial bacteria in your intestine perform a multitude of important tasks. Not only do the human strains that naturally live in your gut favorably alter the microflora in the large and small intestines, they also promote good digestion and a healthy intestinal lining. One of their most important roles though, is that they protect your body against harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses. They also help your body synthesize vitamins and absorb nutrients, and directly interact with your immune system to improve your overall health.

Human Strains vs. Other Strains

When it comes to choosing a probiotic, many people are beginning to look more closely at the source of the bacteria in their probiotic supplement. While some probiotic bacteria are sourced from plants or dairy, some also come from humans. You may be asking, what are human strain probiotics? Despite the name, human strain probiotics don’t actually contain human byproducts or ingredients. They are simply strains of beneficial bacteria that have been found to live in the human digestive tract3. This means that they are already adapted to thrive in the human gut. Bottom line, human strains can help make a probiotic supplement more effective.

Know Your Species

There are dozens of friendly bacterial species found in commercial probiotics, and they all help the body in different ways. Here are some of the most beneficial species for a healthy gastrointestinal tract4, and what each species can help with:

Bifidobacterium bifidum: Strengthens gastrointestinal immunity.

Bifidobacterium breve: Reduces intestinal inflammation and boosts the immune system

Bifidobacterium infantis: Improves IBS symptoms and helps eliminate E. coli in the gut.

Bifidobacterium lactis: Promotes good colon health.

Bifidobacterium longum: Enhances immunity. Effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. May also reduce LDL cholesterol levels.

Lactobacillus gasseri: Produces vitamin K, lactase, and anti-microbial substances. May help people with lactose intolerance digest dairy foods. Helps prevent indigestion and diarrhea, as well as yeast infections. L. gasseri also shows promise in healthy weight management.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus: Boosts cellular immunity. Reduces IBS symptoms and helps prevent recurrent bacterial vaginosis.

One of the hallmarks 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. Now, 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.

Finding the right probiotic for your needs means looking a little deeper into the species and strains, and really assessing what specific benefits you are looking for. Choose a probiotic with species that are diverse and are compatible together. This can provide the beneficial support for good gut health that you need.

References

  1. https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/probiotic-bacteria-strains/slide/2/
  2. https://kyolic.com/the-story-behind-human-strain-probiotics/
  3. https://kyolic.com/the-story-behind-human-strain-probiotics/
  4. https://kyolic.com/healthyguides/The-Good-Gut/index.html?page=10

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.

Easy Steps to Building Your Immunity

We will be exploring a couple of easy steps you can take to fortify your immunity, by making some simple lifestyle changes, to help you to (hopefully) make it through these tough few months of cold and flu season unscathed. First, let’s explore why our immune system is so important, and what its primary roles are.

The role of your immune system

Our immune system has two major roles. One is to protect us from danger, like infections. The other is to repair our tissues and help our cells “take out the garbage” (i.e. clear up cellular waste/remove dead cells) on a regular basis. The immune system uses inflammation as the primary tool in both of these functions, but that inflammation must be held in almost perfect balance for us to stay healthy. Too much inflammation and we can develop chronic illnesses such as arthritis, diabetes, and dementia, among others1. The good news? We can ‘tune up’ our immune system by modifying some of our behaviors, such as by exercising and eating healthier.

Benefits of exercise

Most people are familiar with the public health recommendations for physical activity to improve our health, which is that adults should do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. Physical activity is associated with reduced rate of heart complications, stroke, diabetes, and dementia. It also gives us endorphins and helps us achieve and maintain our weight. Exercise is also thought to improve our immunity, as well. Some studies show that moderate physical activity may help to flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may in turn reduce the chances of getting a cold or flu. Exercise can also cause changes in antibodies and white blood cells. For reference, white blood cells are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. These antibodies or white blood cells circulate more rapidly after we exercise, which enables them to detect illnesses earlier than they may have before2. Also, the brief rise in body temperature during and after working out may even prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection better. Lastly, exercise slows down the release of stress hormones, and lower stress hormones may protect you from getting sick. So, step #1 is to get in your weekly exercise! This could be as simple as taking a 20 minute walk, playing golf, or bicycling a few times a week. Get out there and get active!

Eating Right

Maintaining a healthy diet helps keep the immune system balanced and ready to fight against infections and viruses. Since your immune system requires a healthy balance of real foods, these nutrients should be a top priority for your everyday eating pattern. This is step #2: make healthier choices with the foods you eat.

Protein: Protein is the building block of immune cells. A diet lacking in protein can seriously put a damper on your immune function. Most adults need at least 50 grams of quality protein per day (or a palm-sized portion per meal). It may help to make a weekly meal plan so that it’s easier to incorporate healthy protein. This could be doing eggs for breakfast, turkey chili for lunch, and salmon for dinner. Also, throw in a handful of pumpkin seeds, many people don’t know that they are packed with protein!

Antioxidants: Fill your plate with some colorful foods! A general rule of thumb is that the more colorful the foods on your plate, the healthier they are (unless it’s a bag of M&M’s, of course). Deep, rich colors indicate micronutrients and antioxidants, which your body needs for protection and for recovery from illness3. Studies have shown that antioxidants improve immune responses, so don’t be afraid to throw some bell peppers, purple cabbage, and green beans on your plate.

Supplements for success

In addition to these immune-boosting tips, we also encourage you to take a look in your medicine cabinet (or kitchen pantry). Odds are, there are a few different type of vitamins and supplements in there that can help boost your immunity. You can combine several different types of supplements, in order to really fortify and build that immune system. Your vitamin C supplement, combined with a daily probiotic, and even a nutritious powdered green drink, can pack quite the punch to any would-be illnesses, and stop them in their tracks. Something extra to add to the mix is a supplement containing Aged Garlic Extract. Supplements that contain this potent ingredient can really strengthen your cardiovascular and immune system by maintaining circulatory function and promoting overall well-being.

Finding balance in your routine and making changes to diet and exercise habits can be tough, so start small. Try introducing/eliminating one new food item each week, and adding 10 minutes of exercise to your regimen each week as well. Here’s to staying healthy and flu-free this fall and winter!

References

  1. https://health.usnews.com/health-care/for-better/articles/2017-07-28/how-to-train-and-maintain-your-immune-system
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm
  3. https://www.oregonclinic.com/about-us/blog/how-healthy-eating-patterns-shape-your-immune-system

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.

Candidiasis Warning Signs and Solutions

When this fungus is at normal levels, it is not problematic, but when it starts to grow uncontrollably, it can cause an infection known as Candidiasis. In fact, Candida overgrowth is one of the most common causes of fungal infection in humans. That’s right, it can affect men, women, and even children too, though predominantly women.

Here are a few “warning signs” to look out for, if you think you might have a Candida infection: exhaustion, cravings for sweets, bad breath, brain fog, hormone imbalance, joint pain, chronic sinus and allergy issues, and digestive problems.

Usually, the healthy bacteria in your body keeps Candida levels under control. But, if healthy bacteria levels are disrupted or the immune system is compromised, Candida can begin to overproduce. Taking antibiotics, eating a diet high in sugar, and taking oral contraceptives, among other things, can all lead to Candida overgrowth. When Candida begins to overproduce, it can lead to various health problems, such as the ones listed below.

Thrush: Common in newborns and the elderly, a Candida infection that develops in the mouth is called “thrush.” Also, people with poor oral hygiene or removable dentures are also at an increased risk for developing this infection. Oral thrush is often associated with redness or soreness of the tongue and mouth (McDonell, 2017).

Fatigue: One of the most common symptoms associated with Candida is also fatigue.  First of all, Candida infections are usually accompanied by nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B6, essential fatty acids and magnesium. Particularly, magnesium deficiency has been shown to cause fatigue. Second, Candida infections primarily occur, as mentioned above, when your immune system has been weakened. A low-functioning immune system in it of itself may leave you feeling tired and fatigued.

Yeast Infection: Another common place Candida is found is in the vaginal tracts of most women. An overgrowth of it can lead to Candidiasis of the vagina, also known as a yeast infection. It is estimated that 75% of all women will get at least one yeast infection in their lifetime, and half of those will have at least one recurrence.

We mentioned above that a diet high in sugar, use of oral contraceptive pills, and frequent use of antibiotics, among others factors, can contribute to Candida infections. Here is how:

Antibiotics: Sometimes, antibiotics are needed to fight a stubborn infection to kill the offending bacteria in your system. The problem with antibiotics and with overusing them is that they don’t just kill the bad bacteria, they also kill the good bacteria too. Your body’s good bacteria is responsible for digestion and keeping Candida under control. A long course of antibiotics can make your body a breeding ground for Candida, leading to overgrowth.

Birth Control Pills: To clarify, birth control pills do not directly cause yeast infections or Candida overgrowth. But, if a woman eats a diet high in refined sugar and is taking antibiotics concurrently, birth control pills can negatively affect her immune system, leading to infection

Diabetes: In a type 1 or 2 diabetic, sugar levels in the mouth or other mucous membranes are traditionally higher than in an individual without diabetes. Since Candida is a type of yeast and sugar feeds yeast, it is understood that people with diabetes are at greater risk of developing infection.

When Candidiasis infections occur, many opt to try a Candida Cleanse. A Candida Cleanse helps a person get rid of their extra Candida through the flushing of the digestive tract, and the introduction of healthy Candida fighters found in organic vegetables. There are usually two options people select from for these cleanses: a liquid cleanse, or a gentler cleanse with food. When people embark on the first cleanse, they make a vegetable broth from organic vegetables. Throughout the day (2 days total for this cleanse), they sip on this broth. It is imperative that you drink lots of broth, but also lots of water, to fully flush out all of the toxins in your system. This is not a long-term cleanse. For the second type of cleanse, the participants usually consume steamed vegetables for 3-5 days. By eliminating grains, sugars, fruits, starches, and alcohol, you can reduce the amount of Candida in the body (Axe, 2019).

For some added help in fighting Candida overgrowth, Kyolic has a Candida Cleanse product. Kyolic Formula 102, is geared towards fighting Candida overgrowth. It contains Aged Garlic Extract (AGE), ginger and enzymes, and is designed to support Candida balance, cleansing and digestion.* AGE and Ginger are used to support healthy GI cleansing and function, as well as manage yeast overgrowth.* Glucanase, Lipase and Protease are a comprehensive enzyme combination to support complete digestion and nutrient assimilation.* This formula can also be used as a preventative if you know your immune system may be compromised by antibiotics or if you are susceptible to yeast infections.

If you think any of the Candidiasis symptoms described above could be affecting you, talk to your health care professional today. Take the time to take care of you!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

References (in sequential order they appear in post)

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/candida-symptoms-treatment
  2. https://draxe.com/candida-symptoms/

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.